Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Time to read
3 minutes
Read so far

Devers Elementary celebrates Blue Ribbon

  • Article Image Alt Text
    Devers Elementary celebrates the Blue Ribbon School Award.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Steven Horelica, Brooke Fajkus, Hayley Etheridge, Dana Haidusek, Holly Stouffer, Lauren Fischer and Superintendent Elizabeth Harris

DEVERS – Students, faculty, and staff have been celebrating over the past couple of weeks following the official designation of Devers Elementary as a Blue Ribbon School.

The excitement kicked off when school faculty headed to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to participate in the official awards ceremony by the U.S. Department of Education.

"I think visiting Washington, D.C. is phenomenal enough to see everything you see on TV, the White House, Supreme Court building, Lincoln Memorial, which would have made it enjoyable enough. But for me, I got to go with the team of people that actually made the Blue Ribbon Award possible," said Steven Horelica, fifth-grade teacher at Devers Elementary.

Horelica was joined by fellow Devers educators, Hayley Etheridge; fourth grade, Holly Stouffer; third grade, Brooke Fajkus; prekindergarten, Lauren Fischer; kindergarten, Dana Haidusek; first grade and Superintendent Elizabeth Harris. Zane Blank, who teaches second grade, did not make the trip with the team.

The school board decided when sending representatives that the entire elementary school team had played such a pivotal role in the school's efforts that they wanted to honor them with the trip.

"I'm really appreciative to the district for letting them go and be recognized for what they've done for our kids," said Harris.

The entire team felt the experience was an extraordinary opportunity to get to know one another even more and continue to grow together.

"I thought it was great because I get to interact with Pre-K through second grade, but I don't get to ever spend time with third, fourth, and fifth-grade teachers and it was an excellent opportunity to build those relationships and get that time with them," said Fischer.

Each educator felt the effort that went into the award was contingent on the foundation they had built in Devers and the opportunity to go to the nation’s capital and see that history was inspiring.

"Being there to really experience the history and foundation of our country, but doing it with the foundation of our school, every grade level coming up that has led to the success of the grade before them or the grade after them. It was nice to have that all come together," said Stouffer.

Everyone was proud to participate in the event, and it is safe to say that each faculty member was even more excited to share in the experience with Superintendent Harris.

"Ms. Harris described this as the pinnacle of her career, and she deserves every bit of the credit and the recognition, even though she does not take it for herself and she puts it all on us, and it was great to be there to get to watch her get the recognition that she deserves also," said Etheridge.

Now that everyone has returned home, the entire team is set to keep working with students as they build on their successes and work together as they experience challenges.

“Nobody wants to take their foot off the gas,” said Etheridge.

Blank chimed in and shared how the entire staff takes their roles personally at Devers and is committed to one another every step of the way.

“I think we take things more personal here because we do just have one teacher per grade, and we want to send the very best,” Blank continued, “I think it's neat that we got recognized, because people say that we’re just a small school and they kind of don’t give us the recognition we deserve.”

Each teacher made it clear that even more so important than any award is the kids and the opportunity to be there for them no matter the need.

“We are here for whatever the kids need,” said Blank.

Horelica said, “It is a family here, and we will always care about these kids.”

The teachers made it clear that part of that commitment to their students is accountability and high expectations across the board.

Now Harris believes that level of dedication and the efforts at Devers Elementary is setting up the stage for the junior high, hoping to repeat the same success at the next level.

“It is our hope that our junior high is on the level of a Blue Ribbon designation as well. I truly believe that could happen and I think things are in place to make it a reality,” said Harris.

Some of the evidence is already showing as Devers ISD has added another feather to its cap with the release of the 2022 rankings for Texas schools. This year the district is up two places to number three in the state out of 965 districts.

Devers Junior High ranks 43rd out of 2,254 middle schools in Texas, while Devers Elementary comes in at 58th out of 4,581 elementary schools.

The site compiles the information using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Texas Education Agency. They also utilize school attendance information from a site called ATTOM.

Finally, the entire school got in on the celebration last Thursday, Nov. 10, with an all-day celebration that included Blue Bell for all of the students, faculty and staff.

Big things keep coming Devers way, and the entire community should be commended for their commitment to education on every level.