Graham Local Schools receives three awards in less than week

Graham Local Schools has received three honors in the last week.

The district received the Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award from the U.S. Department of Education, the Strategic Innovation Leadership Award from Ohio State University and the Purple Star Designation from the Ohio Department of Education.

Two of the three awards focus on Graham’s STEM program, which has been a focus for Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke.

In December of last year, representatives from the Ohio Board of Education presented STEM Designations to Graham, making the district one of only four in the state with multiple schools holding the distinction.

MORE: Graham Local Schools receive STEM designation banners

Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award

Graham was the only school in Ohio to be awarded the 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award.

The district received the award for, “reducing environmental impact and utility costs, improving health and wellness and ensuring effective sustainability education,” according to a press release from Graham.

Graham was nominated for the national award by the Ohio Department of Education for the work the district does within their STEM programs.

“This District Sustainability Award acknowledges our district’s commitment to best practices,” Koennecke said. “We commend our students and staff for their leadership in connecting sustainability learning in STEM subjects to school facilities, health and best practices.”

Koennecke, who is leaving the district in July to become superintendent at Indian Hill Exempted School District, said the Green Ribbon award defines Graham as a, “role model district of promising practices to improve achievement and equity.”

Across the country, 35 schools, 14 districts and four post secondary institutions received the honor.

MORE: Graham Local Schools seek to hire new superintendent in June

Purple Star Award

The Purple Star Award is given to military-friendly schools that show a major commitment to students and families connected to the military. Schools that earn the award will receive a special Purple Star recognition to display onsite, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

Around 40 schools across the state were given the award.

To win the Purple Star Award, schools must have a staff liaison who is trained on key issues for military families and communicates those considerations to teachers working with affected students. They must also have a web page with resources for military families.

Schools must then also have either a military recognition special event, a school board resolution of support, or training for additional staff members. The designation is good for two years, after which the school must re-apply to keep the Purple Star.

The award was first given out in the fall of 2017.

MORE: Graham schools announces budget, staff cuts after levy fails

Strategic Innovation Leadership Award

Graham was awarded the 2019 Strategic Innovation Leadership Award for their Career Gears systems.

The district’s Career Gears program exposes students to different career pathways in order for students to explore different career options.

“Managers of Fortune 100 companies have been undergoing this type of training for their own skill development for decades,” Koennecke said. “Why not prepare students with these learnable skills now?”

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