Tiny Belle Grove Elementary School has hit it big.
One of Anne Arundel County’s smallest elementary schools, with just 265 students, leapt into the national spotlight today when it was named a National Title I Distinguished School for the 2014-2015 school year. The school, which was honored for its sustained academic progress, is the only one in Maryland and one of just 38 across the United States to be honored.
Title I is the largest federal aid program for school systems across the nation, and is aimed at assisting schools in high-poverty areas. More than 87 percent of Belle Grove’s students receive free and reduced-priced lunches, the second highest among the county’s 79 elementary schools and early childhood centers.
“This is a tremendous honor not only for our school, but for our community,” Belle Grove Principal Tamara Kelly said. “The socioeconomic status of children should not be a barrier to them achieving greatness. Every day in our school we work to instill a sense of pride and belief in our children that they are in charge of their own destiny, and I am so very proud to be a part of a team that is helping to accomplish that for all of our children.”
Belle Grove receives about $450,000 in Title I funding. The school has used part of that to hire math and reading intervention teachers, teaching assistants to supplement the curriculum, and to fund parent outreach activities. It also has invested in additional materials for students and professional development for staff.
More than 84 percent of the school’s students in grades 3 through 5 scored proficient or advanced on the Maryland School Assessment in reading last year. In math, more than 83 percent of students were proficient or advanced.