LAWTON, Okla._Students and staff at a Comanche County school received a special honor from the U.S. Capitol.
Flower Mound Elementary is one of only five schools in Oklahoma to be listed as a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School. Flower Mound Elementary is being recognized for its continuous success over a span of several years. Schools can also qualify for a Blue Ribbon award if they show vast improvement over a few years.
The school says a lot of the credit goes to a group of teachers at Flower Mound Elementary called the 'team leaders.' These leaders span all the classes from pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade. Their goal is to promote a universal way of thinking throughout the students and staff. They also say having this core group helps to spark new ideas.
Vhonda Longacre is the librarian at Flower Mound Elementary, and also a team leader. She says this award reassures them that what they are doing is right.
"We've put in all these extra hours, digging into every child's background, looking at every need they could possibly have and bringing every staff member together. It's just like, yes, we did it," Longacre said.
The team leaders meet and collaborate with each other on teaching techniques they have found to be successful. They also talk about strengths and weaknesses of students, so they can pair them with someone of opposite skill sets, no matter the grade. This provides students with mentors and allows them to learn how to work together and make each other better.
Special education director and music teacher Marianna McGrew says the leaders' duties start way before the students enter the classroom.
"Several of us are outside greeting them, telling them good morning, helping them get to class if they need to. Teachers and assistants are in the hallways greeting students so they are starting off their day with a friendly face and a helping hand," McGrew said.
Throughout the years, Longacre says one thing remains consistent.
"We don't have any average students. Our kids seek to go above and beyond. We don't look at anything as average, everything is success for all and whatever it takes. We're going to get to the top...whatever it takes to get there," Longacre said.
Flower Mound Elementary also uses a watch dog program that brings dads into the classroom. Teachers believe having a father figure in the class helps give students someone they can connect to. As for the future of the school, they plan to keep working on new ways to promote education.