AUTHOR: GINN

HED:Pontotoc school tops in U.S.

5/21

By Jennifer Ginn

Daily Journal

PONTOTOC - The U.S. Department of Education recognized Pontotoc's D. T. Cox Elementary School as one of two Mississippi schools belonging in a roll call of the nation's best.

D. T. Cox and Jackson's Hattie Casey Elementary were named Blue Ribbon Schools.

The award recognizes schools that excel in academic leadership, teaching, teacher development and curriculum. The schools also must show exceptional levels of community involvement, high student achievement and rigorous safety and discipline programs.

This year, 221 public schools and 45 private ones were selected from 37 states and Puerto Rico.

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Second honor

This is the second time in the past decade D. T. Cox has won the Blue Ribbon honor and only the second time the school has applied for it.

Charles Harrison, superintendent of the Pontotoc City School District, said consistent attention to each student has made the school a success.

"I don't think it could be any one thing in particular," he said. "I think it is overall excellence. It is treating each child as an individual and literally trying to do the most you can for each child.

"We've got good leadership, a community that cares about and supports the school. I think our strength is in our diversity."

In order to be considered for a Blue Ribbon award, schools send an application to the state Department of Education. Winners from the state are referred to the U. S. Department of Education, where they undergo extensive evaluation and a site visit.

Harrison said the award was a nice recognition of the district's efforts to serve children.

"This is an exciting thing for Pontotoc," he said. "One of the things we try to do is conduct education in an exemplary manner. We try to do a better job than we did the year before. Sometimes we don't succeed, but sometimes we do."

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