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U.S. Department of Education Salutes North Star Academy as a National Blue Ribbon School

U.S. Department of Education Salutes North Star Academy as a National Blue Ribbon School


The United States Department of Education has named Redwood City School District’s (RCSD) North Star Academy as a National Blue Ribbon School, honoring the school’s overall academic performance and progress. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made the announcement honoring North Star Academy among the 349 schools from throughout the nation that hold the national prestigious title. 

“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” said Ms. DeVos. 

Principal Shackel and Superintendent Baker Accept the Award

For North Star Academy Principal Sara Shackel, the honor speaks to the hard work of the Gryphon learning community as teachers, parents, and community partners prepare students for a successful transition to high school and beyond. She explains that the honor is “meaningful because it represents the time and effort that our teachers have invested into improving their practices. It is meaningful because it represents the students’ efforts to communicate what works for them as students, how they learn, and how they show their own growth. It is meaningful because it represents the hours that our parents dedicate every year for our students. It is nice to know,” she adds, “that our hard work for the future of our students is being noticed by fellow educators.” 

All National Blue Ribbon Schools are honored in one of the two following performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores, and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students over the past five years.

North Star Academy is honored under the Exemplary High Performing Schools category. It is one of only six California schools and two Bay Area schools recognized this school year with the other Bay Area school located in Cupertino. 

“North Star embodies the 'above and beyond' attitude that was ingrained in us as students.  From the teachers, administrators, support staff and parents, the entire school community went well beyond the call of duty to provide a safe, nurturing, and rigorous learning environment that gave me and my classmates the foundation we needed to thrive later in life.” 

Jason Galisatus - Class of 2007

“North Star has totally shaped the trajectory of my life. It is where I first discovered my passion for science and learned how I could turn curiosity and problem solving into a career. I now work in research and development for a clinical diagnostics company that focuses on fertility and cancer. I never would have gotten here if it wasn’t for the encouragement of my former teachers at NSA. I will never be able to thank them enough for that.” 

Viktoria Sjolund - Class of 2009  

“NSA taught me the importance of intellectual curiosity and learning for the sake of learning. Some of my favorite school projects happened at North Star where our day to day work would often involve building models of ancient civilizations, acting out Shakespearean plays, preparing creative math projects, or working through our hands on science curriculum in lab. I still use what I learned at NSA everyday whether it’s from the classroom, student government, or from the playground.”

Marissa MacAvoy, - Class of 2012 Junior at Stanford University in Bio-Engineering

RCSD’s North Star Academy focuses on the combination of creativity, task commitment, and high academic rigor, to support students in developing to their fullest potential. The pace of responsive instruction, the depth and complexity of the grade level curriculum, the types of assignments, and the range of experiences provide a learning atmosphere that promotes excellence. 

All students are expected to demonstrate personal growth through the development of self-discipline, leadership skills, community involvement, and character growth. Students demonstrate critical, logical, and creative thinking skills throughout the core curriculum, and use emerging technologies as tools to solve problems, to think critically, to express their creativity, and to communicate effectively.

The school allows students an accelerated approach to mastering the core curriculum to allow them to move ahead at their own pace and have more time to pursue a deeper understanding of the curriculum and enriching activities.

RCSD and North Star Academy representatives will visit the nation’s capital in November where the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Department of Education will celebrate North Star Academy and the other schools from across the United States who were named National Blue Ribbon Schools.