Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Georgia Principal Wins National Terrel H. Bell Award

Eight Public Schools Receive National Blue Ribbon Recognition

MEDIA CONTACTS: Matt Cardoza,, (404) 651-7358 or Keisha Ford-Jenrette, (404) 657-2949
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

November 16, 2011 -- Dr. Traci Jackson, principal at Shirley Hills Elementary School in Houston County, received the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership yesterday at the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony in Washington D.C. Dr. Jackson was one of seven principals in the country to receive this honor.

"I offer my congratulations to Dr. Jackson on this prestigious recognition," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. "Great schools begin with great leaders in the building, and Shirley Hills Elementary School's success is clear evidence of Dr. Jackson's strong leadership."

Among her accomplishments, Dr. Jackson led her school’s transition to a school-wide Title I school and the shift from the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum to the Georgia Performance Standards. Both challenges required her to communicate a sense of urgency while diligently attending to the needs of her students and teachers. With student eligibility for subsidized meals doubling from 33% to 66%, Dr. Jackson secured resources to add more instructional staff and teaching technologies. She led the move to a standards-based curriculum through professional development, collaborative planning, and professional learning communities and continues to ensure that teachers receive advanced professional learning and training in using assessment data.

To meet the needs of struggling students, Dr. Jackson developed a morning tutorial program now in its fifth year. Converting the school cafeteria into a classroom, she serves as lead teacher alongside others in providing students an extra 45 to 60 minutes of math and reading review. Shirley Hills has been a Title I Distinguished School for eight years.

The Terrel H. Bell Award recognizes today’s outstanding school leaders and the vital role they play in overcoming difficult circumstances. Bell began his career as a high school teacher and bus driver. As a teacher, principal, superintendent, state commissioner of education and as Commissioner of the Office of Education under Presidents Nixon and Ford, and Secretary of Education under President Reagan, Bell exemplified educational leadership at its finest.

Bell worked with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to found the Blue Ribbon Schools and the National Distinguished Principals Program to recognize outstanding schools and school leaders.

Along with Dr. Jackson's recognition, eight Georgia public schools selected as 2011 Blue Ribbon Schools were also honored. Each school that attended received a plaque and a flag to signify their status as National Blue Ribbon Schools.

The No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and private schools that help students excel academically and make significant progress in closing the achievement gap. Blue Ribbon Schools are chosen in two categories (see the full criteria descriptions): 

HIGH PERFORMING SCHOOLS: Schools that scored in the top 10 percent in student achievement.

DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED SCHOOLS: Schools with at least 40 percent economically disadvantaged students that have dramatically improved student achievement.

- Big Creek Elementary, Forsyth County
- Calhoun High, Calhoun City Schools
- Fulton Science Academy, Fulton County
- Mount Yonah Elementary, White County
- Peachtree City Elementary, Fayette County
- Shirley Hills Elementary, Houston County
- Timber Ridge Elementary, Cobb County
- Trion Elementary, Trion City Schools

- Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School
- Savannah Christian Preparatory School