Jennifer Rudd, principal at Bellwood Elementary is so proud of her students and their teachers that she wanted everyone to be present for a very special announcement she made last Tuesday. Along with her staff and members from the school board administration as well as elected officials, Rudd announced to around 420 students and their teachers that their school had been selected as a National Title I Distinguished School for sustained achievement.
“We are a great school with great students who come to school ready to work for their teachers,” she said.
Academic success at Bellwood Elementary, which is fully accredited and achieved AYP, is demonstrated through the school’s pass rates on SOL tests: From 2009 to 2011, social studies pass rates went from 83 percent to 90 percent to 95 percent; math rates went from 83 percent to 90 percent to 93 percent; reading went from 84 percent to 87 percent to 92 percent; and science from 86 percent to 89 percent to 91 percent.
Dr. Marcus Newsome, superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, addressed the student body and remarked about the school’s attendance level, which is 96% every day. “You don’t get these kind of results without a lot of caring people,” he said. “You represent the Commonwealth of Virginia as a National Title I school, one of the best schools in America. Take pride in this award and tell everyone you know that you are a distinguished Title I school.”
According to a press release from the school board, “More than 75 percent of Bellwood students receive free or reduced-price lunches, and 41 percent of the student body changes during the school year as families move in and out of the attendance zone. A school narrative developed in connection with the Title I award states, ‘Our staff lives by the belief “Every Child; Every Chance; Every Day,” which encompasses our commitment to providing an engaging and relevant education that prepares every student to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world…A recent parent/student survey indicated that 99 percent of student believed their teachers cared for them and 92 percent of parents agreed.’”
Bellwood attendance zone is a close-knit community. The school’s strategies and programs that help students achieve include a data-based approach to instruction, grade-level professional learning communities, before- and after-school tutoring, Power of an Hour family nights, strong community partnerships, school wide vocabulary program and celebrations throughout the year for students who demonstrate core values and achieve academic success.
Bellwood Elementary School opened in 1966. Last year they completed a renovation that included an addition of new office space and classrooms.
Marshall Trammell, school board representative for the Bermuda district, shared with the student body how his wife began her teaching career at Bellwood in 1977 and that Bellwood was his son’s elementary school. “I have seen a lot of changes in Bellwood,” he said. “It is an interesting homecoming for me.” With his wife’s teaching career starting at Bellwood he said, “Bellwood holds a special place in my heart. With all the hard work that you and your teachers have put in, you all should be so proud. Congratulations.”
Special cookie treats were given to each classroom to celebrate their special award along with a special lunch for the teachers.
In January, a Bellwood Elementary delegation will participate in the national Title I conference in Seattle.