US News and World Report releases list of best K-8 schools ranked in Alabama

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 3:27 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - US News and World Report released its list of the best K-8 schools ranked in Alabama.

We talked to a number of principals in our viewing area ranked in the top ten including the number one middle school in our state, the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate Program in Pleasant Grove.

Lori Lightsey is the principal of the middle school and the high school IB programs. The Jefferson County International Baccalaureate Program on the campus of Shades Valley in Irondale has gained national attention as the number one school in the country on Newsweek’s list of the best schools and was also recognized in US News and World Report over the years, but this distinction for the IB middle school in Pleasant Grove is especially noteworthy since the middle school program is fairly new.

Lightsey says the school was formed in 2016 and had to go through an application process and didn’t receive authorization until 2018 or 2019 so to be named the Number one school in the state by US News and World Report for 2021. Lightsey says students think on a global level.

Lightsey says, “We like for the kids to take these big ideas and think about them critically.” She says the ability to use critical thinking makes these middle school students stand out.

Lightsey says, “This process of conceptual learning really opens the doors to important topics. It takes you to places you don’t normally go in middle school settings.”

The Jefferson County International Baccalaureate Middle School Program is taking applications for new students from throughout the district and also outside.

The number two middle school in Alabama is Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle and principal Constance Pewee-Childs is also delighted over an additional distinction for the school.

She says, “To be listed as number two in the state for middle schools is amazing. To be listed as number one in Magnet Schools in particular was even more amazing. The first thought that came to me is this is awesome and I immediately shared this with our faculty and staff. "

Pewee-Childs acknowledges it’s been a tough time for everyone because of the pandemic calling the recognition from US News and World Report “a magical moment.”

It was also magical for the Tuscaloosa Magnet Elementary to be ranked number four among the top ten best elementary schools. Both principals say they heard about the honor through parents and weren’t quite sure if it was legitimate.

Principal Preeti Nachani says, ”After I finished carpool, I had a moment to look at it, and I realized it was even more than what I thought. So, they were very excited, our PTA was extremely ecstatic, parents have been congratulating teachers. Everybody has been very excited about this.” Nachani says it really is a testament to the hard work of students.

Rounding out the top ten in middle schools is Birmingham’s W.J. Christian School. It’s also ranked the number one K-8 school in Birmingham.

Principal Mario Lumzy says, “10th ranking in the state of Alabama out of 435  schools. That says a lot about the work has been done at W.J.  Christian. That says a lot about our students. It says a lot about our faculty and staff.”

All of the principals credited very active parent participation and support from their school districts.

Here are the top 10 elementary schools statewide:

1. W.H. Council Traditional School - Mobile County

2. Forest Avenue Elementary School - Montgomery County

3. Eichold-Mertz School of Math and Science - Mobile County

4. Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary - Tuscaloosa City

5. Heritage Elementary School - Madison City

6. East Elementary - Vestavia HIlls City

7. Crestline Elementary School - Mountain Brook City

8. Eura Brown Elementary School - Gadsden City

9. Guin Elementary School - Marion County

10. Cahaba Elementary School - Trussville City

Here are the top 10 middle schools statewide:

1. Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School - Jefferson County

2. Tuscaloosa Magnet School Middle - Tuscaloosa City

3. Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet - Montgomery County

4. Clark-Shaw Magnet School - Mobile County

5. Phillips Preparatory Middle School - Mobile County

6. Fairhope Middle School - Baldwin County

7. Floyd Middle School - Montgomery County

8. Mountain Brook Junior High School - Mountain Brook City

9. Liberty Middle School - Madison City

10. Christian School - Birmingham City

Click here to find more information or where you school is ranked here’s the link to U-S News and World Report.


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