Spain Park gains prestigious award

The U.S. Department of Education Tuesday named Spain Park High School a National Blue Ribbon School, the highest honor the department awards.

Assistant Principal Amanda Hood said the honor lets Spain Park staff know just how well they’re doing.

“This is the measuring stick that tells you how you’re doing as a school,” she said. “This is only our seventh year as a school, so we are a relatively young school. It’s unusual for a school that’s so young to get an award of this magnitude.”

This is the first year Spain Park has received the Blue Ribbon School designation. Spain Park is one of five schools in the state, and the only in the Birmingham metro area, to receive the Blue Ribbon School award this year.

To be a Blue Ribbon School, schools must either be in their state’s top 10 percent on standardized tests, or they must have at least 40 percent of their students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and show distinct improvement.

Spain Park is in Alabama’s top 10 percent on standardized tests. The state Department of Education nominated the school for the Blue Ribbon School honor.

Hood said the high school received the honor because students and staff meet their own expectations.

“I think it’s just expectations. That’s a word we use a lot at Spain Park,” she said. “We use it at every level in Spain Park. We expect our students to give us the best every day. I think when you have that combination, a lot of things just fall into place.”

Andy Craig, superintendent of Hoover city schools, said Spain Park’s award was an extension of the hard work the community puts in.

“We think it’s very representative of all the things that make Hoover a great school and a great community,” Craig said. “It’s just a testament to what we can achieve working together.”

Although Spain Park Principal Billy Broadway is ecstatic about the award, he already knew the feeling of helping his school succeed on a national level.

When Broadway was principal at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala., that school also received Blue Ribbon School recognition in the 1992-1993 school year.

“I think I may be one of a few principals in the country to win the award with two different schools,” Broadway said. “It’s a real exciting feeling that I’ve been truly blessed to work at two find schools. I’ve had two very unique situations, and very few people have the opportunity to come in contact with students and teachers like this.”

Broadway, who has been an educator for 38 years, said the experience of winning the Blue Ribbon School award was, and is, the most outstanding thing that’s happened to him during his career.

“What’s neat about this is it’s hard to believe that you could even win it one time,” he said. “It just really brings joy to your heart. But to win it a second time is just overwhelming.”