BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Three nearby school districts are ranked in the top five of the very best in our state. This is according to rankings from Niche’s list of the 2023 ‘Best School Districts in Alabama.’

Of the top five listed in Niche’s rankings, Homewood City Schools, Vestavia Hills City Schools and Hoover City Schools were all included.

Hoover was number five, Vestavia Hills was ranked four, and Homewood near the top at number two just behind Madison City Schools.

Homewood’s superintendent, Justin Hefner, said their schools are very fortunate to see success coming from their hard work.

Hefner said he believes they have created a perfect recipe with great faculty and staff, hardworking students, and parents dedicated to their children’s academic success.

He added their core business is teaching and learning but they are very ‘whole child focused’ with each student, emphasizing character education.

They work to maximize unique student experiences, striving for graduates that are well rounded and college or career ready.

“We have the opportunity to help raise these children alongside their families and instill great values to make them productive members of society in the future,” said Hefner. “In Homewood City Schools, we have so many opportunities for our students, both extra curricularly, athletically, and our students are incredibly involved. I think that’s different than a lot of school systems out there- that our students are not only involved in one thing, but typically involved in multiple things.”

Hefner said they put a lot of emphasis on literacy and numeracy skills, especially in elementary and middle schools.

Teachers are highly engaging and very innovative in practices. Students walk into something new and exciting each day.

He noted they are not very program focused, but instead put faith in allowing teachers to work their magic and provide them with resources when needed.

“We put a lot of resources towards intervening when students might be behind and we’ve seen some of that certainly coming out of the pandemic,” said Hefner. “There are students that might not be holistically where we want them to be and so, a lot of resources in both personnel and programming and materials that I really think sets us apart from a lot of school systems- that we’re able to do those things.”

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said by the end of this new school year his goal for all school districts is for students to enjoy learning and get involved with extra curriculars like sports and band.

“We want every student to have the opportunity to build better lives for themselves by bridging themselves to the future through education. That’s my goal, has been my goal, has been my goal my whole career and I feel like we are closer to it today than we’ve ever been. So, I’m excited for this school year.”

Dr. Mackey said although there are still some learning gaps for students that will be addressed, there is steady progress in the right direction that shows schools are finally bouncing back from the pandemic.