Educating during the pandemic has been a constant and thankless task. The faculty at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Valparaiso were recognized for their work in making sure Valparaiso’s children received their proper education amidst a global pandemic. Thomas Jefferson Elementary School was awarded the honor of Distinguished School for their tireless work during the 2019-2020 school year.
The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) only gives this honor to two schools every year. The Distinguished School honor is awarded to schools that demonstrate a wide array of strengths, including team approaches to teaching and learning, focused professional development opportunities for staff, individualized programs for student success, and strong partnerships between the school, parents, and the community.
David Muniz, Principal of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, was ecstatic when he received the news.
“On November 4 the IDOE conducted a phone interview with me,” Muniz said, “We were one of six schools nominated for the award. On Monday, November 16 Dr. Jennifer McCormick (Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction) personally called me to inform me that we had been selected. I am blessed to be the leader of great people.”
Muniz wasn’t alone in sharing this excitement for his staff. Superintendent of Valparaiso Community Schools, Dr. Jim McCall, was one of the first to learn of Thomas Jefferson Elementary’s selection.
“I was honored to receive a phone call from our State Superintendent,” McCall said. “I was informed that Thomas Jefferson Elementary had received this award as the Distinguished School for Indiana. It was exciting to talk to Mr. Muniz to share the immense pride in his staff and students’ collective success.”
The staff at Thomas Jefferson Elementary pride themselves on the culture that has been cultivated by Muniz and his staff. The culture of teachers showing their students that they care. The school has cultivated relationships with students, parents, and the community at-large.
“Our philosophy has become quite simple,” Muniz said. “If you can get a kid to believe, you can get a kid to achieve. Kids come to school with different experiences, different home lives, different backgrounds, and different challenges. It is our job to learn about each child, their background, their challenges, and their successes. We need to fully understand each child's needs, be them great or not, in order to educate and bring out the fullest in each kid.”
Muniz expressed his gratitude and praise for the staff at Thomas Jefferson Elementary. Their hard work and dedication to their students will help shape the future of the Region’s youth.
“I have one of the hardest working staffs around,” Muniz said. “Every single one of them goes the extra mile every day to reach every kid. The award represents the efforts that are put in daily by the staff. My staff is very humble and quite simply will tell anyone that we are just doing our job.”
To learn more about the Distinguished School honors, go to https://www.doe.in.gov/sig/distinguished-schools.