The San Diego Jewish Academy Golda Meir Lower School (GMLS) has been named a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, the only Jewish school in the United States and the only private school in California to receive the award this year.

GMLS was one of 349 schools recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for 2018. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

Only a handful of Jewish private schools have ever received this award in its 37-year history.

“The school is blessed with teachers who pour their hearts and souls into making it the best it can be, every day for every child,” said Kelley King, head of the Lower School at San Diego Jewish Academy. “That makes it all the more gratifying to see their efforts recognized on a national stage. We are very proud of the caliber of our educational program and the academic accomplishments of our students.”

“A huge mazal tov goes out to everyone who is critical to the success of GMLS: the faculty, staff, parents, and, of course, our wonderful students!” she said.

The coveted award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

All schools are honored in one of two performance categories, Exemplary High-Performing Schools and Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools, which are based on student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.

Now in its 36th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 8,800 schools. On Nov. 7-8, the Secretary and the Department of Education will celebrate with 300 public and 49 private-school honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.