Congratulations to the nearly 50 elementary campuses in the East Bay that have been named 2014 California Distinguished Schools!
State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson announced this week that 22 Alameda County schools and two dozen Contra Costa County schools are among 424 elementary campuses statewide designated as distinguished, based on innovative strategies for narrowing the achievement gap.
“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” Torlakson said in a prepared statement. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”
Here is a list of East Bay 2014 California Distinguished Schools by county and district.
Alameda Unified: Edison Elementary
Dublin Unified: Harold William Kolb Elementary (also award for Exemplary Physical Activity and Nutrition Program)
Fremont Unified: Ardenwood, Fred E. Weibel, James Leitch, John Gomes, Joshua Chadbourne, Mission San Jose, Mission Valley and Niles elementary schools
New Haven Unified: Pioneer Elementary
Newark Unified: James L. Bunker and John F. Kennedy elementary schools
Oakland Unified: Achieve Academy, Montclair Elementary and Think College Now
Pleasanton Unified: Donlon, Henry P. Mohr, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Vintage Hills and Walnut Grove elementary schools
Sunol Glen Unified: Sunol Glen Elementary
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY
Lafayette Elementary: Lafayette Elementary
Mt. Diablo Unified: Mt. Diablo, Sequoia, Silverwood, Strandwood, Valle Verde and Walnut Acres elementary schools
Orinda Union: Del Rey, Glorietta, Sleepy Hollow and Wagner Ranch elementary schools
San Ramon Valley Unified: Bollinger Canyon, Coyote Creek, Golden View, Greenbrook, Hidden Hills, John Baldwin, Live Oak, Neil A. Armstrong, Rancho Romero, Sycamore Valley, Tassajara Hills and Vista Grande elementary schools
Walnut Creek School District: Walnut Heights Elementary
The “signature practices” that helped earn these schools their recognition will be posted online later this year. Signature practices of past campuses named as California Distinguished Schools are at www3.cde.ca.gov/signaturepractices.
Each school is visited by a team of local educators to see how the signature practice have been implemented. In Contra Costa County, a team of 19 educators from the Contra Costa County Office of Education, along with 18 school district administrators and four retired district administrators visited the sites, according to a news release.
Greg Santiago, principal of Hanna Ranch Elementary in Hercules, was one of the district administrators on the site visits. Hanna Ranch was one of two West Contra Costa district elementary sites named as California Distinguished Schools in 2012.
Its signature practices were analyzing test data to provide extra support to low-performing students and trying to close the achievement gap between high-achieving Asian and Filipino students and lower-achieving African-American and Latino students by using culturally relevant teaching methods.
One such teaching methods is “call and response,” which allows students to chant responses to teachers’ prompts instead of raising their hands to be acknowledged. In reading the signature practices, it is clear that the principal keeps the staff, students and parents focused on them.
The school’s description of signature practices states: “The principal’s message about academics is simple, ‘You may not get it the first time, but you never give up!” Santiago heads up a school equity team, which walks through classrooms with a checklist that includes these questions: “Are students engaged? Are they participating? Is there bell-to-bell instruction?”
I met Santiago last month during a ride-along with Hercules School Resource Officer Greg Sanchez, who told me when we arrived: “This principal has got it down.”
What are the signature practices at your school?