Gildo Rey Elementary earns national honor for student success

Gildo Rey Elementary School continues to produce excellence from the classroom.

The Auburn school was recently named a National ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished School, national and state education administrators and officials announced.

Gildo Rey is one of only two schools in the state – the other, Bonney Lake Elementary – and one of up to 100 schools throughout the country to earn the national honor for exceptional student achievement in 2018. It is one of the highest honors given to a school for providing high-quality education to disadvantaged students, resulting in significant academic gains.

The honor comes with a $25,000 award for Gildo Rey to support continued professional development of its staff and educational programs and activities for its students.

“It’s amazing. It’s quite an honor,” said Gildo Rey Principal Lenny Holloman. “My teachers work really hard, and we have amazing kids. We look at it with our mission statement, ‘all of our kids are all of our kids,’ and we champion that. We believe in every kid. We all come together as a staff. We embrace every student.”

Gildo Rey has an enrollment of 620 students, which includes its Early Childhood Education pre-schoolers. Its student population is diverse, with many students being English Language Learners who come from low-income families.

“Working with (our) student population means they can achieve, they can do it, and our instruction practices really get them there,” Holloman said of the school’s student success. “Our intentionality with our work demonstrates that all students can be successful .. it shows in our data, it shows in our work. … and it has for years.”

A project of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators, the Distinguished Schools Program publicly recognizes qualifying federally-funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. It highlights the efforts of schools throughout the country making significant improvements for their students.

The program, which has been in place since 1996, showcases the success of hundreds of schools in one of three categories:

Category 1: Exceptional student performance for two consecutive years

Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups.

Category 3: Excellence in serving special populations of students.

The ESEA provides additional resources for vulnerable students and federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of public elementary and secondary education.

The association is a membership organization made up of state ESEA program administrators, and their staff from each of the states and territories, charged with managing their state federal education program. They ensure compliance with federal regulations, with an emphasis that all children – especially those living in economically-disadvantaged conditions – have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education.

NAESPA implements the National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program to highlight selected schools that have successfully used their ESEA federal funds to improve the education for all students – including economically-disadvantaged students.

Learn more at

The National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators contributed to this report.

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