Austin Elementary celebrates honor with time capsule, ice-cream

austin teachers stand on stageWhen Austin Elementary closes the doors to its current facility in 2019, it will bookend a legacy in the Dunwoody community. The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) campus is well-known throughout the district as one exemplary in parent involvement, staff dedication, and student achievement.

This past October, Austin added to that list of accolades by earning national recognition from the United States Department of Education. For the first time in school history, Austin Elementary was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education. The school was one of 349 selected nationwide out of a pool of more than 130,000.

“The National Blue Ribbon Schools Award acknowledges that Austin is successful in many more ways than just high test scores,” said Dr. Ann Culbreath when the announcement took place on October 1. “We provide opportunities for students to grow socially and emotionally also. We are grateful for partnerships with our parents and community and realize that only by working together are we able to help our students reach their fullest potential and accomplish great things.”

According to the Department of Education, the National Blue Ribbon Award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and school community members in creating safe and welcoming campuses, as evidenced by achievement and subject mastery.

On November 16, Austin celebrated the recognition by sealing a school time capsule and serving ice cream courtesy of Blue Bell Creameries to every student. Students read various portions of the official National Blue Ribbon notification to help celebrate the occasion.

“The United States Department of Education is pleased to recognize your ever-growing commitment to high expectations, and teaching and learning innovations, that have made your school a model of excellence,” read one student. “You have kept a clear vision of what all schools should be: student-centered.”

Austin Elementary Foundation president and parent Katie Keser thanked the school’s teachers, staff and administration for their dedication to academic excellence. Keser presented Austin Elementary’s emblem to be presented at the new school facility in 2020.

“We could not have made this happen without a joint effort from the community,” Dr. Culbreath said. “Our parents, the PTO, our foundation—it takes all of us working together to achieve this monumental accomplishment.”

Students also deposited items into a time capsule to remember the National Blue Ribbon recognition. According to Dr. Culbreath, fifth-graders will dig up the time capsule each year to receive advice, comments, and praise from the preceding class. The capsule was designed by teachers Christina Kramer and Jennifer Westrick.

“It’s representative of who we are as students, staff, and the community,” said Dr. Culbreath.

One fifth-grade student, on behalf of the entire class, deposited a note detailing the fantastic school climate and the Digital Dreamers program. Other grade levels deposited such items as laboratory goggles, a pompom keychain, a compact disc, event programs, gems, a picture of Austin Elementary’s Veteran’s Day ceremony, and a trophy from the school’s Academy Awards of Books event.

austin staff hold book, time capsule and plaqueDr. Culbreath herself submitted a 3D Austin eagle—the school’s mascot—to the time capsule. Dr. Culbreath also presented the National Blue Ribbon plaque, which was received at a national ceremony in Washington D.C., to the team of teaches behind the official application.

“I am so proud to be Austin’s principal,” Dr. Culbreath said. “This is a great moment for our school. We spent many days and many nights writing this application. It had everything we could think of that students, staff, teachers and the larger community do to make Austin Elementary such an amazing school. It didn’t come by happenstance. It came because we are dedicated to what we do every day.”

To finish the event, a representative from Blue Bell Creameries awarded the entire school a serving of ice cream.

“At Blue Bell, we believe education is very important. We recognize schools in our community who perform at the highest level—like Austin Elementary,” Fraser said. “It takes an entire community of teachers, staff, parents and students to earn this award. Congratulations!”

In addition to National Blue Ribbon recognition, Austin has also earned the Greatest Gains Platinum Award in both 2015 and 2016, as well as the Highest Performing Platinum Award in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Austin joined Kittredge Magnet School in earning 2018 National Blue Ribbon distinction. Kittredge will hold a similar ceremony and celebration on December 21.

Learn more information on the National Blue Ribbon Award.