For the second time in less than five months, Mohawk Elementary School in Bensenville has won a prestigious, statewide honor.
This week Mohawk, which is part of Bensenville Elementary District 2, earned the Spotlight School Award from the Illinois State Board of Education. The award recognizes schools where student academic performance is closing the achievement gap for disadvantaged students.
Mohawk was one of 167 Illinois schools to earn the honor for its performance in 2011, and one of just seven in the Northwest suburbs.
"This has installed such a sense of pride," Principal Madelyn Devers said.
This is the second major award for Mohawk since September, when it was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Mohawk was among 304 schools in the country and 19 in Illinois to receive that honor.
Before giving Mohawk its latest accolade, the state board of education considered these factors: The school made Adequate Yearly Progress on state achievement exams in 2011; at least half its students are from low-income families; and 60 percent of students met or exceeded standards in 2010 and 50 percent of students in 2009.
School officials said Mohawk students have continued to improve their standardized test scores for the past six years, allowing the district to also receive the Spotlight School Award in 2009 and School Improvement Award in 2007.
"This has been earned over time and speaks to the hard work of our staff and students," Devers said.
She said parents also have stepped up in recent years to become more proactive in their children's eduction.
"Years ago I saw them coming to fun activities and thought 'We have 200 people here for Bingo, so how can we move that up a level?'" she said.
The other secret to Mohawk's success, Devers said, is creating an environment that is fun and welcoming for students and staff, so they look forward to the school day. This latest Spotlight award is motivation for the school to keep improving.
"We can't get settled because there's always work to do," Devers said. "If we have 92 percent meeting or exceeding state standards in math, where's the other 8 percent? We have to challenge them."
Other area schools that won the Spotlight award this week are: Edgewood Elementary and William F. Murphy Elementary in Woodridge; Lake Louise Elementary, Virginia Lake Elementary and Winston Campus Junior High in Palatine; and Tefft Middle in Streamwood.