Meadows Elementary School has advanced a step in its quest for the country's most prestigious award afforded to public schools, National Blue Ribbon School status.
In April, the Conejo Valley Unified School District elementary will be the only school in the county to be toured by national Education Department representatives, Principal Tim Stephens said Friday.
A nontraditional elementary, Meadows stresses meaning-based education over rote memorization. Many student lessons are centered on themes, such as community or family; these themes are woven through various subject lessons. Although test scores are consistently among the school district's highest, two trustees have criticized the school as skimping on the fundamentals.
Apparently the Education Department disagreed.
"It's marvelous to be the only school in the county to get a visit," Stephens said. "It's really a tribute to our staff and the parents who worked so hard over the last four years . . . to improve curriculum and instruction."
The school made the switch from traditional learning methods four years ago.
This year's Blue Ribbon competition, a fierce battle for national recognition, has been a double coup for Conejo Valley Unified. Meadows and Wildwood Elementary, both Thousand Oaks schools, were the only two county schools nominated for the award. The technology-oriented Wildwood did not reach the visitation berth.
Of the 46 California schools nominated for Blue Ribbon standing, 31 will receive visits. Nationwide, about 250 schools receive a visit.
Begun in 1982, the program honors elementary schools in odd-numbered years and secondary schools in even-numbered years. The schools are judged on academic standards, student achievement, teacher qualifications, school leadership and parental involvement. Last year, 39 schools received the much-coveted designation nationwide.
National Blue Ribbon Schools will be announced by June 2.