Altoona Elementary Principal, Steve Stotts, choked up when he shared with the Southeast Polk School Board how proud he is of the Altoona staff and students winning the National Blue Ribbon School award. And rightfully so! This coveted award is an incredible achievement awarded to only 367 schools nationwide and 6 schools in Iowa. The award goes to schools with especially high performance on state and federal testing or those that have closed achievement gaps. 

The National Blue Ribbon award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and the community in creating a safe and welcoming school where students master challenging and engaging content. Altoona Elementary’s mission emulates this. 

Our Mission: To provide a safe community in which all students can reach their full academic, social, and emotional potential in and beyond the classroom. 

Mr. Stotts highlighted how the entire Altoona Elementary team works 24/7 to achieve this mission. One story he shared was when Guidance Counselor Jane Kayser found out one of our homeless families had no dinner. She delivered pizza to them at 9:30 pm that night to ensure they had a hot meal.  

But that’s just one example. Altoona staff show their dedication and commitment every day. As Mr. Stotts exclaimed,

“They’re all in! The teachers do a great job of collaborating, the custodians make the school shine, the front office and nurse work endlessly to take care of all the students and parents that attend and contact the school, the cooks serve healthy meals, and our PTA provides support for our families. We work hard, as a village, to ensure that our students’ needs are met.”

The students that attend Altoona Elementary see this dedication and passion and mirror it. They are respectful and responsible, with Mr. Stotts referring to them as “model students.” When asked how Altoona created this culture, he replied, “We generate connections and build relationships. The students feel safe and cared for inspiring them to do their best. They want to be at school.” 

Nominated by the Iowa Department of Education, utilizing 2018-2019 data, Altoona Elementary was notified of their nomination and completed a very detailed application. Applications provide details of the school’s vision, assessment results, curriculum and instructional plans, professional development and attendance data for both students and staff. To be awarded the Exemplary High Performing School, Altoona Elementary has earned the top 10% on state tests throughout a five-year period and are national models of excellence. In the past, winners were recognized at a national conference in Washington D.C. however, this year, the recognition will be held virtually on November 12th and 13th

Two other Southeast Polk elementary buildings have earned this honor as well: Runnells Elementary won in 2008 and Mitchellville Elementary in 2012. This award is not only a great reflection of each building but also our community. As Mr. Stotts told the Des Moines Register,

“I’m happy for our teachers. I’m happy for our students. I’m happy for our community and for our district as a whole.”

We’re happy and proud too! Congratulations to all on this prestigious achievement! 

Altoona Elementary provides a safe and positive learning environment for our students and the families we serve. We are committed to ensuring academic excellence, mutual respect, and fostering a true appreciation for diversity. We strive to provide rigorous learning experiences and leadership opportunities for our students. We want our students to be established problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and confident learners who have every opportunity to succeed in the school setting and beyond. Throughout this journey, it is extremely important for our staff members to seek and foster healthy relationships with our students, parents, and the community. We truly value the input of our students and parents and realize that developing a strong partnership will go a long way in helping our students: LEARN, LEAD, and LIVE. To learn more about Altoona Elementary, please visit their webpage and Facebook page. 

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