Della Davidson Elementary School of the Oxford School District was designated a National Blue Ribbon School. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, operated by the United States Department of Education, offers the distinction annually to outstanding schools across the nation.
The local school, which serves third and fourth grade students, is one of four schools in the state of Mississippi and one of 325 schools recognized nationwide.
Marni Herrington served as principal of Della Davidson for four years, her last being the 2020-2021 school year, the one for which Della Davidson is being recognized. Herrington now serves as the chief academic officer for the Oxford School District. She has been excited and honored to see the school recognized this way from when they were nominated in the spring to finding out they had won this week.
“We are so excited about the honor. We were excited to be nominated — we got a notification in the spring that we were nominated. That in and of itself is an honor. We had a team of teachers that worked really hard to complete the application and then to find out that we had been chosen as the winners was so exciting,” she said. “To work alongside teachers, administrators, and staff that come to work every day to prove that all students can learn at high levels and to be recognized for that is an indescribable feeling.”
Roughly 700 students attend Della Davidson Elementary School and are supported by a network of roughly 60 academic personnel.
Patches Calhoun is the current principal of Della Davidson, and sees daily the qualities, attributes and atmosphere that contributed to Della Davidson being selected for the honor.
“It’s absolutely amazing! The staff here at Della are like no other. I mean, they work so hard they’re such a great community, they depend on each other and they push kids to do their best,” she said. “All the decisions we make here at Della Davidson, we center around students. It was such a great surprise. It really was. We have worked really hard over the past few years and I’m just glad that it was recognized.”
After the coronavirus pandemic took hold, parents and students nationwide spent the 2020-2021 school year navigating unfamiliar territory. Calhoun described some of the measures and extra steps Della Davidson took to ensure students remained on track and had the support they needed.
“We just kept pushing. We just keep pushing forward. We did everything we did to help all kids. We had kids in school and we had kids virtual. Teachers were very dedicated in making sure students that were quarantined were getting the instruction,” she explained. They set up times after school to tutor for some kids. They reached out when kids were absent just to check on them. It was a very challenging year — but everyone pushed forward.”
Parents and students alike were ecstatic to hear about the honor. The school commemorated the accolade with a celebration at the school on Tuesday.
“This was not just about one facet of Della Davidson,” Herrington said. “It’s really about everybody coming together as a team and making sure that we’re doing what’s best for kids and making sure we’re setting high expectations for kids to achieve.”