Family, teachers serving as mentors, home – all words used to describe Pauls Valley’s schools, which has been ranked one of the best in the state.

In fact, the school system here came it as the 15th best out of more than 500 districts in the state of Oklahoma.

This most recent ranking comes from a national service called Niche.

It's described as a “rigorous analysis of academic and student life data” from sources like the U.S. Department of Education, along with test scores, college data and ratings collected from millions of online Niche users.

“That’s a pretty big deal,” PV Superintendent Mike Martin said. “We’re really proud of that.

“But we’re not satisfied with that. I’m the kind of person who asks why we’re not number one.”

A closer breakdown of the Niche rankings gives schools in PV an A- score overall.

That same A- score was also given to teachers, clubs and activities and health and safety.

The district’s administration got the top A+ score, while diversity received an A and academics and college prep B+ scores.

It’s also ranked 23rd for best places to teach in Oklahoma.

Then there’s the online remarks from students or former students attending Pauls Valley Schools.

“The saying, ‘Once a Panther, Always a Panther,’ is true,” states one of the online Niche posts about the local school system.

“Pauls Valley Schools isn’t only a school, but a home to each of us. We are like a family that builds and helps everyone around us.”

The post states the schools here provide an opportunity to help the community and even international causes through a variety of clubs.

“The teachers at the schools are mentors. They actually care about us and want us to do good. I became close to quite a few of teachers during my time there and they have helped me become who I am today. They taught me important life lessons during classes and through extracurricular activities.

“I honestly would not go to any other school than in small town Pauls Valley.”

Another post came from a student who started school in PV back in the third grade.

“Critical thinking and problem solving are two very important things the teachers here focus on, concepts and actually learning the material instead of just memorizing answers for the test.

“The teachers also do a very good job at preparing the students for college. College prep is one of the most important things to them.”

Yet another post is from a person who believes Pauls Valley is the best school system within 45 miles.

“No other school has the strong academics or engaging teachers that Pauls Valley does for its small town setting.

“Paul Valley has the best band around, beating everyone at state competitions, even large schools.”

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