FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) — Fort Payne City Schools earned its first-ever “A” grade on its annual state report card from the Alabama Department of Education (ALSDE).

The grades are given out every year, and out of 139 district in the state, six in the Tennessee Valley got the top grade.

“I was not surprised, I really thought… they deserved that,” said Brenda Ivey, the grandmother of a Fort Payne City student. “I have a grandson in the 9th grade, and I’ve been subbing for nine years and I love this school system.”

Ivey says the school system is top-notch, and she sees it day in, and day out.

Fort Payne City Schools (FPCS) was in a six-way tie for the 19th place on the top school district rankings in the state — earning a 90. The score is calculated based on multiple indicators, including academic achievement, academic growth,

“We’ve scored an 84, an 85, and an 89 before,” said FPCS Superintendent Brian Jett. “It’s our first time to get an A and we are very excited.”

The score comes despite the fact that more than half of FPCS students live below the poverty line.

“We have around 65% of free and reduced lunch students and a third of our population [have] Latino [or] Hispanic heritage,” Jett continued.

Jett said the secret to success is simple for them.

“It’s people and not programs,” Jett said. “If you hire the right people and get them in the right places if takes care of a lot of things.”

As for those programs, Jett says that is certainly helping too.

“It goes back to having a strong pre-K program here,” he told News 19. “Having interventionists and coaches K through five, so what we have decided to do now is lean into having more coaches at the middle and high school.”

“We love the A, it’s very good,” Jett concluded. “There’s a lot to be thankful for and to praise about but we want it to be even higher.”