DeMaria made himself at home in Mandy Wrasman’s first-grade class at Franklin Elementary school during his visit on Friday. Students (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
DeMaria made himself at home in Mandy Wrasman’s first-grade class at Franklin Elementary school during his visit on Friday. Students (DHI Media/Nancy Spencer)
DELPHOS — State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria made his second visit to Franklin Elementary Friday.

DeMaria’s visit was to congratulate the administration, students and staff on being named a Blue Ribbon School.

Jefferson High School students who volunteer at Franklin during their free time, gave DeMaria a tour of the classrooms they visit regularly. The first stop was to Mandy Wrasman’s first-grade class.

Wrasman’s class was putting together a storyboard about making a snowman and DeMaria enjoyed watching the students turn the exercise into a hand’s 0n activity with clay, pipe cleaners and beads. DeMaria seemed right at home.

“I always learn things. It’s great to interact with the students and the teachers and understand what are the successful experiences they are having, what are some of the challenges they are facing. It helps us anchor ourselves with what’s happening in the real world,” he said.

Franklin Principal Bob Hohlbein, who traveled to Washington, D.C., in November to receive the award, has always pointed to a joint effort for the school’s designation.

“This took group effort. Everyone was involved: the staff, the students, the parents. This tells me we are doing well by the children of Delphos and their education,” Hohlbein said.

Hohlbein said Franklin was using the “it takes a village” approach.

“We are using retirees and high school students to individualize education as much as possible and meet everyone’s needs,” he said.

DeMaria said he and those in Columbus are busy working on report card reform and other education issues.

“The current format of the report card has been in place now for three years and we see a few areas of weakness and opportunities for improvement, so we’ve been working with the different major education associations, whether that’s the superintendent’s association or the principals’ groups or the teachers’ association,” he said.

“We’re also doing some work in our shop centered around the students with disabilities. As you know, there’s an achievement gap and many times students that have the cognitive capacity to be successful still aren’t reaching the accomplishments that their not-disabled peers can reach. What are we able to do about that? How can we focus on that as a system and make a difference in those students’ lives?”

Franklin’s work on closing that achievement gap among its students is what earned the school the Blue Ribbon designation.

Franklin is one of only 14 schools in the state, including Pre-K-12, and one of 362 in the nation to be earn the distinction.