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'It's such an honor': HISD school named one of the best urban schools in the nation

James DeAnda Elementary is one of just 16 schools nationwide to receive the award.

HOUSTON, Texas — HISD's James DeAnda Elementary school is heading in the right direction and it's something validated by a recent recognition.

It's one of just 16 schools nationwide to receive a prestigious award.

"The America’s Best Urban School Gold Award,” said principal Lauren Mailhiot.  "It's such an honor."

The award is given out by the National Center for Urban School Transformation, or NCUST.

“DeAnda is an elementary school where more than 85 percent of the students come from homes of poverty, speak multiple languages," said HISD interim superintendent, Dr. Grenita Lathan in a video produced by NCUST. "They have done an outstanding job.”

Mailhiot, who's been principal for three years, said it’s a testament to the critical thinking and global initiatives adopted by the school and fully embraced by its staff and nearly 700 pre-K through fifth grade students.

"Letting them know about what’s going on in the world and then what can you, as a person and a citizen of the globe, do to take action to be responsible for our world and our globe," said Mailhiot.  "But also for their own learning.”

NCUST, which is run through San Diego State University, sent a team to personally visit the school after its submission, which was suggested by the district.

"They actually came to DeAnda at the end of February and spent an entire day in our classrooms talking to our students, talking to our teachers, talking to our families, talking to our community,” said Mailhiot.

And while the awards ceremony was virtual because of the pandemic, Mailhiot said it doesn't diminish the school’s sense of accomplishment.

"We’re going to have, once we get back together, just a giant celebration,” said Mailhiot.

Find out more about the award here: America's Best Urban Schools Award winners.