SOUTH TAMPA — Like many parents of students at Christ the King Catholic School, Dana Andersen has long praised the school's sense of community and emphasis on faith.
But less talked about is the school's attention to academics and the ease with which parents can see how their child is being educated.
The latter was recognized Sept. 15 when the U.S. Department of Education designated Christ the King as a 2011 Blue Ribbon School. The school was one of only five private schools in Florida to receive the prestigious award.
"I'm excited about this because I've always known about the great academics the kids get there," said Andersen, past president of the school's Parent Teacher Club. "This just highlights that piece of the pie."
The Blue Ribbon designation honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on two criteria — high student performance and a showing of significant improvement in academic performance especially among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Christ the King will be among 49 private schools nationwide to be honored at a conference and Blue Ribbon Awards ceremony Nov. 14 and 15 in Washington, D.C.
Christ the King Catholic School, at 3809 W Morrison Ave., was founded in 1949 and serves 500 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
"The award validates the good work we do here at Christ the King," said Gerad Carrier, the school's principal. "Our teachers embrace the ethos of continuous improvement."
Carrier gave partial credit for the award to the school's newly implemented use of a teaching model known as "understanding by design." The model has teachers plan lessons by asking themselves two questions: What do I want students to learn? How can I know that the students understand and walk away with the new knowledge?
Christ the King received the Blue Ribbon distinction in the high performing school category. Carrier noted that the school's students achieve test scores on average are in the top 10 percent in the nation.
Dan Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3321.