8 NC Schools Named 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools

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For immediate release

Sep. 21, 2021


Eight North Carolina Schools Named 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools


blue ribbon schools

Eight North Carolina public schools were named National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021 today by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. The eight schools are among 325 schools nationwide recognized this year for their overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps.

North Carolina public schools receiving this honor are:

  • Pender Early College High School, Pender County Schools
  • Sampson Early College High School, Sampson County Schools
  • Pearsontown Elementary School, Durham Public Schools
  • Elkin Middle School, Elkin City Schools
  • Brush Creek Elementary School, Madison County Schools
  • Union Elementary School, Lincoln County Schools
  • Blue Ridge Elementary School, Ashe County Schools
  • Sallie B. Howard Charter School, Wilson


“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” Cardona said.


“I commend all our Blue Ribbon honorees for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs,” he said. “In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect, and teach our children.”


State Superintendent Catherine Truitt congratulated North Carolina’s eight recipients for aiming high even during the unavoidable disruptions and challenges of last year and setting a high bar for all students while also providing strong support.


“These schools – their leaders, teachers and students – deserve our praise for creating cultures that truly support teaching and learning,” Truitt said. “They exemplify what’s best about public education in North Carolina, and I’m thrilled to see these schools recognized for their efforts.”


Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has conferred approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years. In North Carolina, a total of 164 schools have been recognized as Blue Ribbon schools since the program’s inception in 1982.


All schools are honored in one of two 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 subgroups and all students over the past five years.


North Carolina’s recipients honored as Exemplary High Performing Schools:

  • Brush Creek Elementary School
  • Elkin Middle School
  • Pearsontown Elementary School
  • Pender Early College High School
  • Union Elementary School


As Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools:

  • Blue Ridge Elementary School
  • Sallie B. Howard Charter School
  • Sampson Early College High School


Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by The Council for American Private Education.


Photographs and brief descriptions of the 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools are available at https://www.nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/.


Read the news release from the U.S. Department of Education.