Cameron Tournear teaches a lesson in his classroom at Eugene Field Elementary.

Eugene Field Elementary, a state Gold Star School is in the running to be a national Blue Ribbon School

Principal Dusty Allen, center, says he feels at home in the school that is much the same as it was when he was a student there for all six grades.

Eugene Field Elementary Principal Dusty Allen is just days or a couple of weeks away from finding out if the school he grew up in and now leads is being selected as a national Blue Ribbon School.

Even if it’s not, the fourth-grade center is already a Missouri Gold Star School.

It was announced last winter that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had picked Eugene Field as one of eight Gold Star Schools in the state.

With that honor came nomination for the national award.

Allen says the state’s selection process is the same that’s used by the U.S. Department of Education.

He says Eugene Field was selected as a Gold Star School because of its high levels of achievement with a big portion of disadvantaged students.

The Gold Star is based on 2021 test scores, while Allen says they’re waiting on 2022 test scores to see consistency before naming the Blue Ribbon Schools.

“Really, it’s a good thing for the public to hear good things are happening at your school,” says Allen.

He credits the building teachers, as well as students for their achievement, but adds that from preschool up, “certainly it’s an all-district effort. There are a lot of people who help those teachers.”

The Eugene Field building, with its now unique design based on bringing in as much non-glaring natural light as possible, is 68 years old.

Although it’s old, Allen says “every teacher in this building is proud of it.”

He is especially proud of the school because it was like coming home when he was assigned as principal three years ago. He started there as a first grader and didn’t leave until he finished sixth grade and went to junior high school. 

Allen initially taught and then was assistant junior high principal for 18 years. He says he’s in a good place, dealing with fourth graders, which is like “going to a different planet” after being with junior high students.

Bright blue and red paint makes Eugene Field stick out on South Oronogo Street.

Students walk out the back door of the lunchroom to the playground.