"These accolades just keep coming but they're not something that we even went looking for," said Ott. "It's a tremendous feeling that I think my colleagues and I need to take a step back to truly appreciate. National recognition like this doesn't happen everyday. It's incredibly exciting news."
Though Ott said he was "extremely humbled and flattered" Thomas lauded his leadership, he added it was "the people who do the work" that deserve the credit.
"It's very nice to be recognized as a contributor to work that has been honored," said Ott. "And, to have Job suggest my contribution as a leader was a catalyst to enable this to occur is a very high honor and a great accomplishment."
Morrisonville Elementary was also selected earlier this year to be a mentor school - one of 14 such schools to achieve that level of excellent and receive a $10,000 grant. The grant will assist the school with helping S3TAIR document what Morrisonville Elementary has done to become a standout school. The money will help with hiring substitute teachers so S3TAIR representatives may conduct interviews with staff, pay for travel when staff members are invited to speak at other schools, and other necessary items for helping S3TAIR conduct its research.
Thomas said he believes by Morrisonville and other like schools sharing their recipe for success, more and more schools could reach such a level of excellence.
"I definitely think it really depends on the ability of a school district to really take a step back, reflect and say, 'Where are we right now? What are the things we need to do to refine them? And, are there models out there that can help support us?,'" said Thomas. "It can happen in any school."