Worthington's Brookside Elementary School last week was recognized for its academic achievements by the Ohio Department of Education.

Worthington's Brookside Elementary School last week was recognized for its academic achievements by the Ohio Department of Education.

Brookside was one of nearly 40 Ohio schools named a "High Progress School of Honor" for scoring in the top 10 percent of schools, as ranked by gains in reading and mathematics combined proficiency in all tested grades for the past five years.

To receive the ODE's honor, a building must be a Title 1 or Title 1-eligible school with at least 40 percent of its students eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

High-progress schools of honor must have an annual measurable objectives grade of C or higher and must have met or exceeded Ohio's value-added measure for the past three years.

"High Progress Schools of Honor establish an educational goal for their students and continue to pursue and exceed that goal each year," said Richard A. Ross, Ohio's superintendent of public instruction. "The principals, teachers, parents and community members provide a high-quality education and believe that children can overcome significant challenges and that they can learn."

Brookside is a traditional Worthington K-6 elementary school with about 350 students. For years Brookside was led by Fritz Monroe, a principal described by assistant superintendent Trent Bowers as being as unique as the school itself.

Monroe retired at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

This year, Dan Girard took over as Brookside principal. For many years, Girard was principal at Slate Hill Elementary School, which is another of the district's low-income elementary schools that regularly scores highly on tests of academic achievement.

Most recently, Girard was athletics director at Thomas Worthington High School.

Brookside's experiential learning program is strong and based on the "School Yard Enhanced Learning Philosophy," Bowers said. The school's outdoor area, with its gardens and pond, is used as a learning opportunity.

The community grows a garden on property there and has used the homegrown foods in the cafeteria.

The monarch butterfly garden is something that most city zoos would find enviable, and the pond is used for a host of ecological experiences, Bowers said.

In addition to utilizing an experiential approach, Brookside diligently has been teaching the new standards and utilizing formative instructional practices, he said.

The letter to Brookside from the Ohio Department of Education stated, "Clearly, your school is doing whatever it takes to make sure that your students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to achieve academically. This makes you an outstanding example of what is possible when students, educators, parents and community members work together believing that all students can succeed."

"It's something that we in Worthington have known for a long time," Bowers said. "It's fun to see the Ohio Department of Education recognize their efforts."