Natalie Webb laughed as she wrapped up the phone call Wednesday morning.
“I’m going to have to let you go if you don’t need anything else,” the principal of North Elementary School said. “I have two second-graders waiting for me for lunch.”
The North students weren’t doing socially distanced dining with the North administrator due a punishment.
Rather, it was a reward – for good behavior.
“This is what we do,” Webb said. “I want our kids to have good experiences with the principal.”
She even used an apt metaphor, given the school’s green-thumb status.
North is known for its interlocking vegetable gardens, and what is grown outside often ends up inside, on the lunch menu.
It’s so known for the enterprise, in fact, that a group of students traveled to Washington, D.C., eight years ago to prepare vegetarian meals in the Rose Garden with then-First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of her platform on healthy eating.
“We’re ‘growing’ kids,” Webb said. “It’s about good grades and being good people.”
This week, it’s also about being recognized statewide. The Pittsburgh market research firm, Niche, which studies schools and school systems across the country, named North the best elementary school in West Virginia.
Niche uses test scores, socioeconomic data and other factors such as parental involvement to make its rankings.
“Well, we’re obviously thrilled,” Webb said. “And it’s not just us. It’s the entire school system, from our teachers and our custodians, to our cooks and administrators.”
The Niche “best of” list for schools West Virginia, meanwhile, was heavily represented by the local district.
Residing with North on the list in its category are Suncrest Primary and Cheat Lake Elementary, at No. 3 and No. 5, respectively.
Suncrest Middle and Mountaineer Middle also topped the Niche list, as did Morgantown High and University High, which were marked the second- and third-best high school in the state, as per the Niche ranking.
The firm overall gave Mon’s school district an A-minus, which, Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said, was definitely not grading on a pandemic curve.
“I couldn’t be more pleased and impressed, given what everyone is laboring under,” he said.