Newsweek tells us what we already know

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

When I saw the news that two of Shelby County’s high schools, Oak Mountain and Spain Park, had again made the Newsweek and The Daily Beast list of America’s best high schools, I was pleased but unsurprised.

You have to understand — this is an honor that has become a tradition for the two schools, which have both made the list for the past six years straight.

I have extensive experience covering both schools, as both are part of my coverage area. I’ve truly enjoyed learning about the innovations explored at both schools, and I routinely find myself amazed at the opportunities students at those schools have — especially compared to my high school, where opportunities to take advanced placement classes were sparse and an arts education, outside of band, was basically nonexistent.

Meanwhile, students at Oak Mountain and Spain Park can choose from a variety of foreign languages, such as French, Spanish, Latin and German, and arts courses such as photography, graphic arts, ceramics, studio art, show choir, dance and theater. There are also myriad AP courses at both schools, as high-achieving students can use their knowledge to build up college credit before they even step foot on their university campuses.

However, Shelby County is home to dozens of other excellent schools, as well — both public and private. During the school year, we routinely do stories on what’s going on across our county schools, and I’m always proud to see how the administrators, teachers and students at each school go above and beyond for education and for their communities.

My husband and I decided to move to Shelby County largely for the excellent schools, and we chose to stay here and buy a house here because we’ve seen proof of the opportunities our local schools offer.

I believe great schools are the backbone of great communities, and I’ve seen that belief proved true again and again over the five years I’ve spent in Shelby County. So congratulations to the Oak Mountain and Spain Park communities, and for our other county schools — trust me, many people realize how great you are as well.

Amy Jones is the Associate Editor for the Shelby County reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 30 or by email at