VALLEY MILLS, Texas — Valley Mills High School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
It is one of just 297 schools across the country and just 31 schools in Texas to receive the distinction, which recognizes high-performing schools and schools that are successfully closing their achievement gaps.
"I mean it's an incredible honor," said Valley Mills algebra teachers John Wachsmann.
"Obviously, there's just a tiny, little percentage of schools that qualify to get that."
Principal Julie Tidmore credits the school's small size and ability to work one-on-one with students for its ability to "close the gap" over the last year.
"It's just one more thing that makes our little town great," Tidmore said.
Tidmore said the school looks carefully at student data to see areas where students can be caught up after the pandemic.
The school incorporated a designated "tutorial time" to allow teachers to assist students as they work to make up for learning lost during the pandemic.
The school received its nomination in February after being within a top tier of Texas schools. It then received the official award from the Department of Education in September.
Another Central Texas school, the Bynum School, just southeast of Hillsboro, also received the distinction. They are the only two schools in the Central Texas area to receive the award.
Valley Mills Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2021.