COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. — At one point in its history, Grassy Fork Elementary School had been considered an 'underperforming' school by national standards. That's long changed, though.

The rural Cocke County school was honored Wednesday as a distinguished school under the National Elementary and Secondary Education Act -- and was one of only two schools in the state to earn that distinction in 2018.

"Our kids excel here because from the time they walk in the door, everyone from the custodian to the principal is working for the students to be the best that they can be," after-school program coordinator Jennifer Baxter said.

Principal Judy Webb said Grassy Fork has been in the top two schools for academic performance for the last two years.

One of the special programs Dr. Webb uses to encourage students rewards exceptional readers with a fishing trip with her.

"If you've read 50 books, then I get to take you fishing... and I love to fish," she said.

In 2018, the school was given a perfect 4.0 status by the state in achievement. It's made many strides in recent years, celebrating an 'All A's' achievement from the state each year since 2013, as well as being named a Reward School in 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2018.