An undated view to the sign for North Shore Middle...

An undated view to the sign for North Shore Middle School in Glen Head. Credit: Google

North Shore Middle School in Glen Head has been named a 2016 Essential Elements School to Watch, which recognizes students’ social and ethical development in addition to academic excellence.

North Shore is one of only 28 schools statewide to earn the recognition over the past decade, said Marybeth Casey, New York State co-director of Schools to Watch and an associate in curriculum and instruction for the state Department of Education. There are more than 400 winners nationwide during the same period.

The Illinois-based National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform established the Schools to Watch program in 1999 and selects winning schools.

“It’s not a prize to be won, but more of a trajectory of improvement that schools have to be on,” Casey said.

Among the characteristics that Schools to Watch recognizes are academic excellence; support for students’ intellectual, ethical, social and physical development; a commitment to high-quality instruction and support for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities; a value for diversity; and norms and policies that encourage achievement.

Marc Ferris, principal of North Shore, said the recognition validates the school’s approach to education.

“While other schools may have been rigorously preparing for tests, we have had a much different approach, which is looking at the whole child and making sure we support the social and emotional needs of young adolescents, in addition to providing an academic program,” he said.

Educators visit schools applying for the recognition and select honorees, Casey said. Schools typically spend a few years preparing for the site visit, to better adhere their programs to Schools to Watch criteria, she said. The rigorous process limits the number of schools that apply.

The only other New York school to apply for first-time recognition this year, Memorial Junior High School in Valley Stream, was named a “rising school to watch,” a step below full recognition.

Six Long Island schools had previously earned the Schools to Watch recognition: Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School in Port Washington; Garden City Middle School; Jericho Middle School; Sayville Middle School; Oceanside Middle School; and Longwood Junior High School in Middle Island.

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