Blue Ribbon schools engage students, earn national recognition

At first, the two children couldn’t agree how long it would take to wash 1,000 dishes, but they ultimately solved their math problem together, working with colored pens on a school desk-sized sheet of paper. The two 10-year-olds and the rest of the children in the fifth-grade class at Timber Ridge Elementary School were bobbing on their feet. The room was abuzz with conversation.

“We started arguing, but I was wrong,” admitted Eleni Haralabidis, gesturing to the boy who was her partner on this problem. “He helped me and explained it to me, and then I got it.”

Such collaborative techniques helped make the school in north Cobb County one of four public schools in metro Atlanta last month to earn Blue Ribbon awards from the U.S. Department of Education.

Timber Ridge and the three other winners — Fulton Science Academy Middle School in north Fulton County, Big Creek Elementary in Forsyth County and Peachtree City Elementary in Fayette County — were nominated by the Georgia Department of Education because they scored in the top 10 percent on statewide tests, said Keisha N. Ford-Jenrette, an official with the state agency.

Their final selection by the federal government suggests they employ methods worth emulating.

In Saturday's newspaper, the AJC takes a close look at what 4 metro Atlanta schools are doing right to earn national Blue Ribbon Schools awards. It's a story you'll get only by picking up a copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper's iPad app. Subscribe today.