MARION, Mich. – Marion Elementary School has been named a 2019 National ESEA Distinguished School, a distinction that only up to 100 schools throughout the country receive annually, by the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA).

“Marion Elementary School prides itself in serving rural, northern Michigan families. While we have seen education funding diminish in recent years, Marion Public Schools has not and will not allow this to prevent a barrier to quality education,” said Chris Arrington, Marion Elementary School principal, and Marion Public Schools superintendent. “As a result of our commitment to and investment in our youth to ensure quality education that benefits the Whole Child, we are honored to receive this national recognition.”

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides resources for vulnerable students and federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of public elementary and secondary education. As a National ESEA Distinguished School, Marion is one of only two schools from Michigan that has received this national recognition for exceptional student achievement for 2019. Marion Public Schools prioritizes investment in a Whole Child philosophy: one that strategically focuses on connecting with students to ensure success in both the classroom and throughout life.

With an original goal in mind of improving academic scores, Marion’s staff realized that while curriculum, instruction, and assessment are important, those things will never be more important than connecting with young hearts, minds, and spirits. Thanks in part to a partnership with Michigan Virtual, Marion Elementary School implemented programming that complements traditional classroom learning and supplements with creative and engaging educational opportunities for both students and staff. The changes that Marion made include:

  • Implemented ​Suite 360​ to ​prioritize social-emotional learning​ topics with both students and parents
  • Improved math outcome scores by tailoring educational supports for students based on their specific math learning needs through Rocket Math
  • Strengthened their reading curriculum to focus on overall reading skills, including phonics acquisition and phonetic awareness, through program supports such as Reading Street, iRead and System44
  • Recommitted to Professional Development for staff, especially around implementation of the ​Essential Instructional Practices for Early Literacy

“By investing in the Whole Child philosophy, we have demonstrated to our students, parents, and staff that we value investments in our students as people. We recognize that by connecting with students as a person first, then focus on test scores, we can better prepare our students for success — which is exactly what we’ve done,” added Arrington.

The National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program began in 1996 and recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. The NAESPA is a membership organization made up of State ESEA Program Administrators, and their staff charged with managing their state federal education program. They ensure compliance with federal regulations, but more importantly, work to see that all children — especially those living in economically disadvantaged conditions — have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education. More information about all National ESEA Distinguished Schools is available at​​.

About Michigan Virtual
Michigan Virtual™ (formally known as Michigan Virtual University®) provides online courses and support programs for Michigan students, professional development for educators and is the parent organization of the Michigan  Virtual Learning Research Institute®. Visit us at ​​.


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