In 2015, 292 entries in 19 categories were received. Experts from school districts and county offices of education comprised the 28 member judging panel. If you are interested in replicating a program and would like more information on a specific program, please contact us.

Accountability/Assessment

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

Action Research Summits

Action Research Summits

Pam Baugher, Board President; Robert Arias, Superintendent; Aida Molina, Assistant Superintendent; Margaret Gallegos, Warren Ramay and Wanda Bradford, Directors of School Support; Evellyn Elizondo, Director, Research and Evaluation

The Bakersfield City School District established the Action Research Summits program to create a systematic data inquiry practice, inform professional development, and share high leverage best strategies. The foundation of Action Research Summits is rooted in the framework of action research which is a data inquiry process used to empower site administrators to improve their work by finding solutions to challenges and barriers. The Action Research Summits has a significant positive impact on student achievement district-wide and fosters a cycle of continuous improvement.

Collaborative Data Teams

Collaborative Data Teams

David McCabe, Board President; David Pyle, Superintendent; John Huber, Assistant Superintendent; Christine Upton, Board Member; Jennie LaBriola, Principal; Linda Holguin, Erika Campos and Laura Vaughn, Teachers

The Nuview Union School District’s Collaborative Data Teams program is twofold. First, there is a laser-like focus on the learning of each student. Secondly, this community is made up of collaborative teams whose members work interdependently to achieve common goals linked to the purpose of learning for all. They meet once a week to set goals for each grade level in language arts and math that are data driven, developed collaboratively and based on the results from their common unit assessments. The goals help to guide instruction focused on increasing student achievement.

Career Technical Education

High School

Health Careers Academy

Health Careers Academy

Donita Winn, Board President; David Vierra, Superintendent; Krsitina Ramos, Principal; Angela Hefter and Tim Klein, Coordinators; Chris Graves, Steve Wilson and Matt Tassinari, Health Careers Academy Teachers

The Antelope Valley Union High School District’s Health Careers Academy is a program that prepares all students for both college and career. It’s a model program that has been sustained for two decades because of their ability to adapt to the changing landscape of career technical education and consistently obtain positive outcomes for students who are faced with various risk factors. Their high standards of excellence, strong ties to the community and sense of caring for every individual student has helped to create a support system that fosters a culture of success.

Medical Partnerships Supporting Health Careers Pathway

Medical Partnership Supporting Health Careers Pathway

Jerry Cleveland, Board President; Brian Jacobs, Superintendent; Lisa Azevedo, Assistant Superintendent; Colleen McKinley, Director Secondary Education; Diane Duboise, City Council Member; Ronald Fischmann, President and CEO

The Medical Partnership Supporting Health Careers Pathway program at Bellflower Unified School District is a unique program that allows opportunities for students to intern/job shadow in various departments at a local hospital as well as local doctor’s offices. Rotations within the hospital include: nursing, radiology, laboratory, cardiology, admissions, dietary, and health information management. This exposure assists students in making future educational and career choices. Once hospital rotations are complete, students may apply to job shadow for a local doctor for six weeks.

Design Thinking in the Startup Classroom

Design Thinking in the Startup Classroom

Kathleen Geary, Board President; George Sziraki, Superintendent; Wayne Hild, Jonathan Schwartz, and Christian Kinsey, Teachers

The faculty team making up Colfax Career Tech infuses their instruction with a problem-based framework called Design Thinking. Tech Essentials, a freshman requirement, blends a hands-on engineering project—MP3 amplifier—with the digital design, documentation, and marketing skills using Google Apps, SketchUp, and Adobe CS. Units follow a “design, build, document” sequence that culminates in a community showcase where students display their amp, explain their learning process, and provide “digital tours” of their portfolio. By asking students to employ the steps of Design Thinking—articulate problem, assess resources, make plan, execute plan, & assess plan—the teachers provide every Colfax student with a construct to tackle challenges they’ll face throughout college and career.

T-Tech Academy

T-Tech Academy

Francine Scinto, Board President; Gregory Franklin, Superintendent; Tammie Bullard, Coastline Board President; Carol Hume, Coastline ROP Superintendent; Ed Hernandez, Instructor

The T-Tech Academy was developed to bring relevance to the classroom and provide a pathway to college and career success. Students participating in this California Partnership Academy may take four UC approved elective courses that utilize the Project Lead the Way curriculum. Students showcase their academic knowledge and technical skills through participation in the UCI Energy Invitational, an engineering competition where high school and college teams design and build a vehicle to travel as far as possible on one dollar’s worth of energy. Grade point averages and college acceptance rates for students in the T-Tech Academy are consistently higher than other students at the high school.

Wall-to-Wall Academies

Wall-to-Wall Academies

Ward Stewart, Board President; Romona Bishop, Superintendent; Raymond Mommsen, Ruscal Cayangyang, A.C. Ubalde and Burky Worel, Board Members

The Vallejo City Unified School District’s Wall-to-Wall Academies program is a comprehensive four-year program of study that integrates rigorous academics with high-quality core instruction, a sequence of work-based learning experiences, and the supports needed for student success. Each academy is organized around a major industry theme and is its own small learning community serving between 300-500 students.

Closing the Achievement Gap

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

Digital Early Learning, It's a Game Changer

Digital Early Learning, It's a Game Changer

Ann Cash, Board President; Barbara Nemko, Superintendent; Lori Hill, Educational Programs Coordinator

The Digital Early Learning program reflects the fact that children who live in poverty and are English Language Learners enter school with an achievement gap of up to 2 years. It takes a community partnership to work towards the goal of having children enter kindergarten on a level playing field. Introducing digital early learning into preschool classrooms, the data shows that many four-year olds enter preschool with stronger literacy and English skills. This has the potential to be game changing in the ability to close the achievement gap.

Co-Curricular

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

Digital Early Learning, It's a Game Changer

Engage, Perform, Inspire, Connect

Richard Angel, Board President; Mary Labrucherie, Superintendent; Gloria Olmos, Rudy Martinez, Ruth Gonzales and Veronica Lauria, Board Members

The Engage, Perform, Inspire, Connect program provides at-risk students with opportunities to participate in meaningful activities while contributing to their community. The program is a co-curricular visual and performing arts program that places a strong emphasis on meeting the emotional needs of all students. Engage, Perform, Inspire, Connect cultivates strong relationships between teachers and students enabling all students to achieve their potential. Throughout the year students perform for community organizations where their voices are heard and connections are made. Students are empowered to celebrate their own culture and embrace cultures surrounding them. This program helps students understand the importance of connectedness, collaboration, and creativity through developing community entertainment for all individuals to enjoy.

High School

Eagle Robotics Team

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Eagle Robotics Team

Donita Winn, Board President; David Vierra, Superintendent; David Voracek and Jennifer Guertin, Advisors; Betsy McKinstry, Director; Jose Barajas, Principal

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Eagle Robotics program originated 15 years ago. The inspiration came from the region’s innovation and development within the aerospace industry and the commitment of the STEM professionals to create awareness and interest in STEM fields. They continue to learn and build on the lessons of previous teams and by working as a unit that encourages a team mentality where every individual is important to getting the job done. The robot is the end result of a journey that allows students to apply, fail and excel while learning valuable lessons that will aid them as they pursue their education and career goals.

Fullerton Speech and Debate

Fullerton Speech and Debate

Barbara Kilponen, Board President; Scott Scambray, Superintendent; Rani Goyal, Principal; Sal Tinajero and Priscilla Merritt, Coaches and Teachers

The Speech and Debate program was founded as a unique way to bridge the achievement gap of disadvantaged students. By creating a co-curricular program focused on literacy as well as the persuasive elements of writing in the curriculum, students are provided a classroom environment focused on skills needed to be college and career ready and then applied in a competitive setting. This dual learning process supports students not only in Speech and Debate but in every facet of learning as the program supports all disciplines which increases student achievement thus giving students more educational opportunities including college acceptances and scholarships.

Leadership Program

Leadership Program

Larry Vanden Bos, Board President; Don Austin, Superintendent; Mitzi Cress, Principal; Christine Lopez, Counselor; Season Pollock, Activities Director; Heather Myrick, Rebecka Dibble, Loretta Alvillar and Logan Tootell, Teachers; Stephanie Scott, Associate Principal

The Leadership program at Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District provides opportunities for students in grades 9-12, to contribute to a positive school climate and develop lifelong leadership skills through a diverse range of campus and community involvement. Since the program was established, student participation across the five strands has increased to 450 students. Just as importantly, the collective efforts of all the Leadership Department students have contributed to measurable improvements in school climate and decreased referrals for stress-related issues. The department has increased student awareness of the larger idea of giving back and sets the stage for lifelong contributions.

Common Core

Multi-level/Districtwide

Priority 21

Priority 21: The Transformation of our Educational System

Eric Swanson, Board President; David McLaughlin, Superintendent; Jovy Yankaskas, Assistant Superintendent; Robert McCollum, Director Secondary Education; Valerie Turpen, Director Elementary Education; Jason Kleber, Teacher

Priority 21 in the Hesperia Unified School District is a calibrated model to implement the Common Core State Standards. To deliberately transform the educational process, the Board’s vision and leadership guided teachers and administrators on a collaborative and innovative journey to navigate educational policy changes for 21st century learning. The district had the opportunity to embrace change through professional learning communities and the portal of 4Cs learning: communicate effectively, collaborate well with others, critically think to solve problems, and creatively apply learning to new situations. As a result, each student receives a high quality education through real world authentic learning experiences. When students accept their diploma upon graduation, they walk with the assurance that they are well prepared for success in college, careers, and civic life.

Lammersville Strategic Plan

Lammersville Joint Unified School District Strategic Plan

Matthew Balzarini, Board President; Kirk Nicholas, Superintendent; Colin Clements and David Pombo, Board Members; Noel Balzarini, Executive Assistant

The Lammersville Unified School District addressed the onset of a rapidly evolving instructional environment by using the Strategic Plan to build systems that meet the challenges of the Common Core era. The Board of Trustees understood the need for change and has used the implementation of the plan to transform the district’s culture and establish a sustainable 21st Century instructional vision. Increased student outcomes are the result of the district’s commitment to aligned systems and perpetual self-refection in their journey to successfully meet the standards and inspire each student to become college and career ready.

Community Schools through Partnerships and Collaboration

Pre-Kindergarten/K8

Priority 21

I am a Parent, I am a Leader — Parent Workshops

Eric Swanson, Board President; David McLaughlin, Superintendent; Jovy Yankaskas, Assistant Superintendent; Robert McCollum, Director Secondary Education; Valerie Turpen, Director Elementary Education; Jason Kleber, Teacher

Priority 21 in the Hesperia Unified School District is a calibrated model to implement the Common Core State Standards. To deliberately transform the educational process, the Board’s vision and leadership guided teachers and administrators on a collaborative and innovative journey to navigate educational policy changes for 21st century learning. The district had the opportunity to embrace change through professional learning communities and the portal of 4Cs learning: communicate effectively, collaborate well with others, critically think to solve problems, and creatively apply learning to new situations. As a result, each student receives a high quality education through real world authentic learning experiences. When students accept their diploma upon graduation, they walk with the assurance that they are well prepared for success in college, careers, and civic life.

High School

College Bound Today

College Bound Today Program

Edgar Cisneros, Board President; Susanna Contreras Smith, Superintendent; Ben Cardenas, Board Member; Dan Clement and Todd Clark CBT Co-Founders; Jose Suarez, CBT Program Specialist

The College Bound Today program uses a unique team-mentoring system to help predominantly low-income, first-generation college-going students of color achieve unprecedented college admission and attendance successes. Since 2011, 581 of 584 College Bound Today graduates (99.5%) either have attended or will soon attend college. 503 of College Bound Today alumni students (86.1%) have or will soon attend 4-year colleges, including UC’s, CSU’s, and many private colleges and universities. More than 250 community-based volunteers from many different walks of life have served as mentors to college bound students since 2009.

County Offices of Education

High School

Project SOLAR Energy Academy

Project SOLAR Energy Academy

Shelton Yip, Board President; Jesse Ortiz, Superintendent; Deb Burns, Program Specialist; Lori Perez, Director College and Career Readiness; Ronda DaRosa, Deputy Superintendent

Project SOLAR is a partnership between education, government, business and community organizations to provide opportunities for students to gain the knowledge, skills and awareness to pursue college and careers in sustainable energy fields as well as become active, informed consumers and citizens through the establishment of Energy Academy programs. The capstone summer energy academy provides an opportunity for high school students to earn 3 units of college credit towards a certificate in sustainable agriculture and participate in an internship in the application of emerging green technologies.

Multi-level/Districtwide

Inside the Outdoors — Project Zero Waste

Inside the Outdoors — Project Zero Waste

Robert Hammond, Board President; Al Mijares, Superintendent; Dylan Wright, Director, Orange County Waste and Recycling; Isabel Rios, Manager, Orange County Waste and Recycling

The Orange County Office of Education’s, Project Zero Waste program is an Inside the Outdoors’ service-learning environmental science program developed in partnership with the County of Orange Waste & Recycling. Every year, Project Zero Waste engages over 40,000 students in project-based lessons that transform classroom concepts into real life action. Students apply what they have learned to the design and implementation of solid waste reduction campus projects such as school gardens and recycling programs. Project Zero Waste improves academic outcomes, builds 21st century skills, and promotes civic engagement for students, teachers, and community partners.

Multi-District/Countywide/Statewide/Nationwide/International

STEAM Initiative

STEAM Initiative: Leading with Imagination, Innovation, and Integration

Darcie Green, Board President; Jon Gundry, Superintendent; Angelica Ramsey, Associate Superintendent; Melissa Christie, Director, Curriculum and Instruction; Cecilio Dimas, Director, STEAM Initiative; STEAM Initiative Team

The goal of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s STEAM Initiative is to promote high-quality instruction by supporting teachers and administrators through inspiring and fostering imagination, innovation, and integration. The STEAM Initiative provides teachers and administrators with innovative professional development learning communities in science, mathematics, English language arts, engineering, visual and performing arts and career technical education. The Santa Clara County Office of Education directly supports the COE’s goal to reduce limited access to quality educational programs by working closely with districts, community organizations, and foundations to enhance and elevate the learning experiences of all students.

Curriculum and Instruction: English/Language Arts/Reading

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

Accelerated Reader

Accelerated Reader

Diane Koach, Board President; Kurt Madden, Superintendent; Jim Elliott, Glenn Creiman, Chuck Coyne and Patti Latourelle, Board Members; Patrick McKee, Principal; Sarina Bellomo, Media Center Assistant

The Accelerated Reader program is a program that has successfully provided all students with the tools, resources, and motivational rewards necessary to achieve academic greatness. The program, aligned with the Common Core State Standards, unites staff, families, and the local community in fostering the love of reading in all students. The Accelerated Reader program includes student goal setting, on-going data monitoring, and student recognition.

Multi-level/Districtwide

AmeriCorps-Promote

AmeriCorps-Promote

Maria Machuca, Board President; Darryl Adams, Superintendent; Hidali Garcia, EL Services Director

The AmeriCorps Promote program is funded by the Coachella Valley Unified School District and California Volunteers to meet the needs of students in grades first through third who are not reading at grade level. Members create bonds that far surpass reading intervention and create a life-long mentorship. Twenty-eight volunteers work with over 300 at risk English learners and volunteer 1730 community hours. The members serve as community leaders, student mentors, academic tutors, and shape their futures to be leaders in the community.

Curriculum and Instruction: Focus on Middle Grades

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme

Jeanie Nishime, Board President; Melissa Moore, Superintendent; Ali Rabiei, Assistant Principal

The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme is an internationally recognized educational model that provides high levels of rigor and relevance and consistently motivates students to create a better, more peaceful world. Students test and apply their skills, creating an understanding of the world around them and developing the power to make positive changes in their school, community and the world at large.

Data Driven Student Supports

Data Driven Student Supports, from Intervention to Enrichment

Robert Benevento, Board President; Steve Betando, Superintendent; Glen Webb, Director of Curriculum and Instruction; Chris Moore, Principal

The goal of the Data Driven Student Supports, from Intervention to Enrichment program is to ensure all students are supported to achieve at grade level or above. Students are assessed in reading and math three times per year to monitor growth and need for assistance. Based on those assessments, students are provided assistance ranging from intensive interventions to enrichment. As a result, students feel connected to school, morale is high, and instruction can be refined to suit student needs.

Design as a Mode of School Transformation

Design as a Mode of School Transformation

Angela Chunka, Board President; Devin Vodicka, Superintendent; Eric Chagala, Principal; Cindy Anderson, Provost; Angela Townsend and Heather Williams, Teachers; Ellen Crews, Planning Team; Kristina Boian, Math Lead

The Vista Unified School District has succeeded in true school transformation by using Design Thinking as both an approach for school design, and as a part of their layered approach to instruction. Vista Unified School District has turned around the culture and levels of student engagement on campus by developing an innovative approach to school for primarily low-income, Latino students. School suspensions have dropped by 92% in the school and the school has no expulsions.

Curriculum and Instruction: Invigorating High Schools

High School

Math and Science Academy

Math and Science Academy

Ed Gililland, Board President; Kathy Thorossian, Superintendent; Kirk McGinnis, Principal; Kristin Ford and Noel Hernandez, Counselors

The Math and Science Academy program at Monrovia High School is a Gold Ribbon Model Program and a comprehensive 4-year high school curriculum that offers a highly competitive college preparatory program that prepares students for success in pursuing majors and careers in the STEM field. Monrovia High School has realized an increase of AP course offerings, participation, and pass rates; an average acceptance rate of 99% to 4 year universities among academy graduates with 65% seeking a major in a STEM field and a 20% growth of female academy participants. Academy participants have opportunities to take additional courses in math and science, serve annual community service hours, complete a Junior Project, and are linked with partnerships both near and far.

Early College and Dual Credit Program

Early College and Dual Credit Program

David McCabe, Board President; David Pyle, Superintendent; Robert McGinty, Christine Upton, Samir Tehseldar and Ed Repucci, Board Members; Jason Fowler, Principal; Tim Frey, Counselor

The Early College and Dual Credit program offers students the opportunity to personalize their academic pursuits and challenge themselves academically. Through the school’s relationship with its college partners, students are given latitude to select college courses with advice from counselors and staff. The achievement gap between the student sub-populations of the school has steadily decreased at the same time that the school’s population has become more diverse. Nuview has steadily achieved among the state’s highest standardized testing results, 100% graduation rate, and an 87% college acceptance rate as a result of the Early College and Dual Credit program.

Curriculum and Instruction: Mathematics

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

SF Mayor/Salesforce Foundation STEM and Leadership Initiative

SF Mayor/Salesforce Foundation STEM and Leadership Initiative

Emily Murase, Board President; Richard Carranza, Superintendent; Edwin Lee, Mayor, City and County of San Francisco; Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce Foundation; Suzanne DiBianca, President, Salesforce Foundation

Mayor Edwin Lee, the Salesforce Foundation, and the San Francisco Unified School District came together to launch an initiative to bring technology to the District’s middle schools in order to transform education for their students during this pivotal stage in their education. Goals for the project included the deeper integration of technology into teaching and learning, leveraging technological tools to catalyze more engaging learning environments and building teacher and leadership capacity to create a supportive environment in all of their schools.

Curriculum and Instruction: Science

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

Focused Science Through Lesson Study

Focused Science Through Lesson Study

Teresa Vargas, Board President; Froilan Mendoza, Superintendent; Mike Rust, Principal; Travis Nelson, Resource Teacher; Adriana Ghomeshi, Science Department Chair; Tom Lau, Science Teacher

The Focused Science Through Lesson Study program has been a catalyst for systemic change in instruction. The program has brought educational goals and standards to life in the classroom, and promoted data-driven change to impact student achievement. The program focuses on improving students’ ability to conduct careful investigations. Students have benefitted by increased depth of knowledge, exposure to relevant hands-on lab experiences, and increased critical thinking skills. The program has expanded the alliance between teachers and administrators working together to improve student achievement.

High School

Advanced Chemical Research

Advanced Chemical Research

Ketta Brown, Board President; Sherine Smith, Superintendent; Chris Herzfeld, Principal; Steve Sogo, Chemistry Teacher

The Advanced Chemical Research program is a year-long course that engages 20 to 30 high school seniors in authentic research projects in chemistry and biochemistry. In the fall semester, students pursue three 6-week projects, in which they learn methods commonly used in chemical research. In the spring semester, students pursue team projects in fields such as organic synthesis, catalysis, polymer chemistry, and protein chemistry. Many of the projects tackled in Advanced Chemical Research involve experiments that have never been previously attempted, putting students on the cutting edge of science. Even those students who do not pursue a STEM career testify to the value of the Advance Chemical Research experience in enhancing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Multi-level/Districtwide

Claremont Robotics Competition

Claremont Robotics Competition

Hilary La Conte, Board President; Jim Elsasser, Superintendent; June Hilton, Math and Science Specialist

The Claremont Robotics Competition program is a joint effort between the Claremont Unified School District and The Claremont Colleges. In this competition, students in grades 5-12, working in multi-age level teams, under the direction of knowledgeable adult mentors, learn problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. This robotics competition requires the application of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and challenges teams of students to design, build, and program robots to compete in certain categories.

Curriculum and Instruction: Visual and Performing Arts

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

Community Opus Project

Community Opus Project

Glendora Tremper, Board President; Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent; Eduardo Reyes, Leslie Ray Bunker, Francisco Tamayo and Marissa Bejarano, Board Members

The Community Opus Project was launched in the Chula Vista Elementary School District as an after-school program at two high poverty, high English Learner population schools. The Community Opus Project soon grew to six campuses. Full-time music instructors were hired to provide classical music instruction during the school day for nearly 30,000 K-6 students at 45 sites. This exemplary partnership has become a model for restoring arts instruction to the elementary school day.

Visual and Performing Arts Engages All

Visual and Performing Arts Engages All

Caitha Ambler, Board President; Lisa Gonzales, Superintendent; Carlton White, Juliet Green, Jason Braun and Brigid Horgan, Teachers

The Portola Valley School District has a cohesive vision exposing all students to the visual and performing arts which includes TK-8th visual art, TK-8th music and musical theater, 4th -8th instrumental music, and TK-8th theatre. The goal of this district-wide, sequential arts program is to expose students to art forms and successful exploration, tied to the Common Core, while mastering arts and technology standards. The visual arts program teaches students the techniques of two-dimensional and three-dimensional art. Art students use the techniques they have learned not just for project-based learning in the classroom, but also for a variety of service learning projects on campus.

Multi-District/Countywide/Statewide/Nationwide/International

Teaching Creativity with Common Core State Standards

Teaching Creativity with Common Core State Standards

Thomas Saenz, Board President; Arturo Delgado, Superintendent; Yvonne Contreras, Director; Shannon Wilkins, Program Administrator; Dayton Gilleland, Chief Academic Officer

Teaching Creativity with Common Core State Standards program is a professional development series designed to create a new vision of instruction that deepens learning through arts integration. Participants learn how to integrate the arts with Common Core Standards and 21st century skills, using hands-on instruction and real life examples. Teaching Creativity with Common Core State Standards has inspired 70 school districts to transform arts education in their schools and continues to inspire art organizations, county offices of education and state agencies to follow suit.

Curriculum and Instruction: Other Content Areas

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

International Foreign Language Academy of Glendale

International Foreign Language Academy of Glendale

Christine Walters, Board President; Donald Empey, Interim Superintendent; Vicki Atikian-Aviles, Principal; Ana Jones, Teacher Specialist, Monica Bennett and Valerie Sun, Teachers

The Glendale Unified School District offers dual language immersion programs in French, German, Italian and Spanish following a 90:10 instructional model. The goal is for students to be bilingual and bi-literate in a foreign language and English. Teachers are highly qualified and motivated educators who are passionate about providing students with a rigorous and relevant multi-lingual/multicultural curriculum that prepares students with a strong foundation for future learning and 21st century international career readiness. The Glendale Unified School District cultivates community and builds relationships between students, families, staff, Boards of Education, consulates from the countries represented at the school, and the neighboring community in order to enrich and provide an exceptional, innovative educational program.

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

The Real Game and Speech Contest

The Real Game and Speech Contest

Janet Saitman, Board President; Natalie Miller, Superintendent; Scot Yarnell, Board Member

The Real Game and Speech Contest focuses on career interests and how to make choices in high school and beyond. To prepare students as strong speech writers and speakers in 8th grade, the writing and speech festival begins in the 4th grade and continues through 8th grade. All students work on their speech over a seven-month period each year. The curriculum is based on real-world scenarios and is highly interactive.

Multi-level/Districtwide

Physical Fitness at its Finest

Physical Fitness at its Finest

Caitha Ambler, Board President; Lisa Gonzales, Superintendent; Dan Flahavan, Kate Cox and Tim Culleniane, Teachers

The Portola Valley Elementary School District’s cohesive vision for physical education includes physical fitness programs, intramural sports, student wellness, and both traditional and non-traditional skill-building in a non-competitive environment, which truly sets their program apart. Portola Valley Elementary School District maintains rigorous education and fitness activities that their community expects and their students deserve. The PE program goal is to help every child develop a lifelong commitment to fitness by imparting the knowledge, skills, and confidence each student needs to engage in a physically active and healthy lifestyle.

English Language Acquisition

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

English Language Acquisition

English Language Acquisition

Eric Padget, Board President; Doug Domene, Superintendent; Candy Plahy, Assistant Superintendent; Dorie Staack, Director; Rafael Plascencia, Principal; Jose Cabrera, Assistant Principal

Rio Vista Elementary School, in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District is leading the way with their exemplary English Language Acquisition program that has put students on the road to college and career readiness. The excitement level is pervasive throughout the school with students excitedly sharing their personal success stories at every opportunity. Teachers are excitedly sharing their data highlighting the progress students are making in English Acquisition and in academics, and parents are attending school functions and meetings in ever-increasing numbers and have become active participants in school governance. The English Language Acquisition program is transforming the entire school community!

High School

Newcomer Academy

Newcomer Academy

Gary Woods, Board President; Ralf Swenson, Superintendent; Danielle Miller, Maxine Sagapolutele, Annika Goodin and Nichole Jenkins, Teachers

The Newcomer Academy program is an interdisciplinary academy for students who score low on tests and have been enrolled in U.S. schools for less than a year. Before the academy, students at this level did not receive access to core content classes. Because of this program, all students, regardless of their English proficiency, take classes in the core departments. The majority of the students come from Iraq, followed by Mexico, other Latin American countries and Afghanistan. Many of the students come with gaps in their education due to experiencing war, trauma, violence, poverty, and other unimaginable hardships. The goal is to accelerate the English language acquisition process and provide support for developing literacy, so students can catch up to their English proficient peers and experience academic success.

The Language Institute

The Language Institute

Amy Newman, Board President; Pam Able, Superintendent; Lindsey Bird, Coordinator; Mike Rich, Principal; Language Institute Teachers and Paraprofessionals; Grace Davis High School Administration and Classified Support

The Language Institute program is designed to provide rapid English Language Acquisition to immigrant and refugee students entering the U.S. school system at the secondary level. As a program within a comprehensive high school, students are given customized schedules to best match their English and content abilities, while remaining on track to graduate high school. Students from all around the world are exposed to specialized classes to develop the academic English skills that will allow them to mainstream as quickly as possible, pass the California High School Exit Exam, and be successful in any career or higher education option that fits their dream.

Multi-level/Districtwide

Gilroy Unified Dual Immersion K-12 Program

Gilroy Unified Dual Immersion K-12 Program

James Pace, Board President; Deborah Flores, Superintendent; Silvia Reyes, Luis Carrillo, Anisha Munshi and Marco Sanchez, Principals

The Dual Immersion Program in the Gilroy Unified School District follows a 50/50 model where both English-only students and English Learners are immersed in English for half the day and in Spanish for the other half of the day. This fosters 21st Century classroom context where cooperation, collaboration, and communication structures are essential components of instruction in two languages. Students apply skills known in their primary language to effectively learn and apply a second language. As a result of this program, the Academic Performance Index has continuously increased achievement scores in English for over 10 years.

Snowline English Language Professional Learning Community

Snowline English Language Professional Learning Community

Steve Coulombe, Board President; Luke Ontiveros, Superintendent; Ryan Holman, Deputy Superintendent; Charlotte Eckenroth, Coordinator; Andrea Bartlett, Cindy Burleson, Niki Pratt, Robroy Quinn, Liz Trejo, Cathy Fell, Debbie Booth, Gabe Guzman, Georgia Coonce and Heidi Mackenzie, Coaches

The Snowline English Learner Professional Learning Community program has existed for many years; however, the recent efforts of a dedicated group of ten teacher-coaches has dramatically shifted the program, creating passion and pride where there has often been stigma. The Professional Learning Community has made its focus, for the past two years, the celebration of English Learner success by implementing the California State Seal of Biliteracy award at graduation and by hosting an Annual District Reclassification Ceremony. This Hollywood-themed event focuses on the academic achievement of proficiency in language acquisition and promotes the award as a step on the path to biliteracy. Together, the Biliteracy and Reclassification awards make tangible the English Learners’ commendable achievements.

Juanita Haugen Memorial for Civic Education

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One

E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One

Carol Skiljan, Board President; Timothy Baird, Superintendent; Robyn Lih, Teacher

The E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One program actively engages student learning, citizenship, and advocacy through a tiered process to address the needs of students to become prepared leaders of the future. Two units were teacher-designed incorporating the following learning skills and experiences: mock court trials, close reading of blended fictional/nonfictional materials including actual court cases, designing and writing of opinion briefs, formal arguments, visiting the courts and reflecting on larger social themes of fairness and racism. This program raises awareness for the importance of civics education in hopes of inspiring others to keep it at forefront in schools.

Parental/Community Involvement

High School

Harvesting Hope

Harvesting Hope

Cathy Mederos, Board President; Sarah Koligian, Superintendent; Michael Mendoza, Leonard Houser and David Terrel, Teachers; Sarah Ramirez, Executive Director, Food Link Tulare County

What started out as a community service effort by a local grassroots organization (“Be Healthy Tulare”) has turned into a highly effective project-based service-learning experience that has created a “movement” of high school students to fight hunger in Tulare County. A small number of Tulare High School students participated in a project with “Be Healthy Tulare” picking backyard fruit from homeowners donating their fruit trees on the weekends and then donating it to the local Food Bank. This effort has developed into a teacher-directed and student-led organization called “Harvesting Hope” involving more than 300 students. To date, Harvesting Hope has picked over 80,000 pounds of fresh fruit for the food bank, and it continues to attract more student volunteers and recognition from the community.

Multi-level/Districtwide

Parent Engagement Leadership Initiative

Parent Engagement Leadership Initiative

Gary Baugh, Board President; Judy White, Superintendent; Martinrex Kedziora, Academic Officer; Lilia Villa, Director; Beverly Lopez-Armijo, Specialist; Marisela Lopez, Parent Leader

The Parent Engagement Leadership Initiative program at Moreno Valley Unified School District is a sustainable, replicable program that’s transforming parent engagement and influencing student learning and achievement district-wide. Moreno Valley Unified School District parent leaders and staff have trained in two Parent Engagement Leadership Initiative courses; have taught them in Spanish to nearly 200 stakeholders in the district; and are now reaping the benefit of: parent engagement activities implemented school- and district-wide, evidence of improved student achievement, and more effective parent engagement strategies. Most importantly, students, including English learners, are gaining the family support needed to achieve and graduate as a result.

Constituent and Customer Services

Constituent and Customer Services

Scott Dosick, Board President; Chris Evans, Superintendent; Heidi Lahuada, Coordinator; Jim Sanders, Director of Communications

Constituent and Customer Services program is a personal approach to customer service that advocates for parents, students and staff while increasing district accountability by providing Natomas Unified’s Board of Trustees with data to pinpoint areas of public concern, indicate whether previous trends are holding, and spark discussion about potential changes. The goal is to engage parents and families to support student success in school and create safe and welcoming learning environments where students attend and are connected to their schools.

Plaza Comunitaria

Plaza Comunitaria

The Redlands Unified School District Plaza Comunitaria Program is for participants to continue and complete their education in their native language by studying subjects at the elementary and secondary levels and develop proficiency in reading and writing. Families that participate in the Redlands Plaza Comunitaria program build their English fluency and become part of a supportive network, helping one another learn to nurture their child’s successful educational experience.

Multi-District/Countywide/Statewide/Nationwide/International

Riverside County Office of Education Fiesta Educativa

Riverside County Office of Education Fiesta Educativa

Susan Rainey, Board President; Kenneth Young, Superintendent; Diana Walsh-Reuss, Associate Superintendent; Ann Vessey, Executive Director, Special Education; Jan Powell, Principal; Alma Rodriguez and Sal Mendez Parent/Co-Chairs

The Riverside County Fiesta Educativa originated in response to the requests and needs of bilingual parents for special education information, support, and training so they could more fully understand and participate in the educational processes for their disabled children. It has empowered a generation of parents in becoming knowledgeable about their rights and their children’s needs, thus making them more effective participants and advocates. Fiesta Educativa’s family-based activities include family support groups, community outreach, educational workshops and training, special needs advocacy, and parent leadership development.

Professional Development and Teacher Recruitment/Retention

Multi-level/Districtwide

Innovative Leadership Training and Mentoring

Innovative Leadership Training and Mentoring

Patricia DeJong, Board President; Candace Singh, Superintendent; Bill Billingsley, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources

In the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, they recognize that the Assistant Principal’s position is an exceptionally important and demanding job. The Assistant Principal’s impact on the success of teaching, learning, student achievement and campus safety is vital. The Academy’s two overarching goals are to increase student achievement and improve school campus safety. Leadership matters and through the Assistant Principal Academy, Fallbrook Union Elementary School District takes systematic and intentional steps to ensure the assistant principals are prepared and supported to make a difference for students.

Multi-District/Countywide/Statewide/Nationwide/International

Leading Edge Certification for the Online and Blended Teacher

Leading Edge Certification for the Online and Blended Teacher

Greg Robinson, Board President; Randolph Ward, Superintendent; Dennis Danielson, Director, Educational Technology; Mary Kraus, Project Specialist

The Leading Edge Certification for the Online and Blended Teacher is a national certification program which specifically focuses on the pedagogy and strategies necessary for successful implementation of online or blended classroom environments. Since launching the certification in 2011, the San Diego County Office of Education has facilitated 37 cohorts comprised of 638 teachers from four states, 50 school districts, charters and private entities, and three institutions of higher education.

School Climate

High School

Youth Leadership Summit

Youth Leadership Summit

Maynard Law, Board President; Mary Sieu, Superintendent; Valencia Mayfield, Assistant Superitnendent; Terri Villa-McDowell, Coordinator; Vivien Villaverde, Assistant Professor; Sheri Bathurst, Benefit Specialist, Kaiser

The Youth Leadership Summit program primarily focuses on developing African American and Hispanic student leaders. These individuals positively affect the climate at their high schools by using their knowledge of the consequences associated with high-risk behaviors (e.g. bullying, smoking, relationships, etc.) to influence the behaviors and attitudes of their peers. A noticeable decrease in the number of student disciplinary referrals, and the increase in student attendance and participation in leadership opportunities, is an indicator of the impact of the Youth Leadership Summit program.

Excellence through Community

Excellence through Community

Rob Shield, Board President; Ralf Swenson, Superintendent; Laura Whitaker, Principal; Hilary Nau and Rob Stirling Teachers/Coordinators

The Grossmont Union High School District, the Governing Board, students, families, and the entire staff, developed a positive school climate program that has truly made a difference for their school. The vision for the high school soon became, “Excellence through Community,” and four years later, the school is a completely different place than it was. Students have been empowered and the school now has upperclassmen who have realized their undiscovered leadership potential to make positive change among their peers.

Multi-level/Districtwide

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports

Sheryl Schmidt, Board President; Elliott Duchon, Superintendent; Matthew Hahn, Director, Database Administration; IIsa Garza-Gonzalez, Director, Administration Services; Michelle Johnson, Administrator

The Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program came as a result of the findings of an in-depth self-analysis by a stakeholder team comprised of board members, administrators, teachers and community members. The program supports positive behaviors and maximizes student learning opportunities through a multi-tiered, problem solving systems framework unique to each school site in the district. This program supports academic and social behavior success for all students.

Special Education

Multi-level/Districtwide

Techniques for Access, Reaching Goals, and Employment Training

Techniques for Access, Reaching Goals, and Employment Training

Peter Filippi, Board President; Matthew Navo, Superintendent; Kimberly Salomonson, Director; Sandra Richardson, TARGET Coordinator

The Techniques for Access, Reaching Goals, and Employment Training program is an exciting and innovative partnership between Sanger USD and California State University, Fresno. The mission of this program is to continue to provide Sanger students an inclusive educational experience in a post-secondary college setting. Building confidence through competence alongside peers is of utmost importance as young adults move into a more independent life. Students take college courses and explore vocational training across a myriad of work environments in preparation for living as productive and successful citizens within their community. The program breaks down barriers and allows access to a world we all are part of.

Student Services

High School

Academic Mentors

Academic Mentors

Jeff Baird, Board President; Sandy Thorstenson, Superintendent; Timothy Liggett, Assistant Principal; Lou Munuz, Counselor; Cynthia Lara, Teacher; Lori Eshilian, Principal; Martha Arrona, Specialist

Whittier High School’s Academic Mentor program is a dual intervention that supports both “at-risk” underclassmen as well as their upperclassmen mentors. The mentors are placed in classes that contain high concentrations of at-risk students to support increased student learning. Through their training, as well as their experiences working with students, the mentors solidify their own understanding of academic content while also developing invaluable interpersonal skills.

Sustainable, Renewable, Energy and Resource Efficient Programs

High School

Go Green

Go Green

Salvador Ramirez, Board President; Irella Perez, Superintendent

The El Monte Union High School District’s Go Green program represents the ways in which districts can create sustainable facilities and cut school costs. The District’s multi-dimensional sustainability framework encourages young people to save energy and resources, build real-world skill sets that will positively affect the society, economy, and environment, and learn lifelong lessons about stewardship. This vision provides a structure for coordinated efforts - so that all school stakeholders are working together to create stronger, healthier campuses and communities.

Multi-District/Countywide/Statewide/Nationwide/International

P21: Our Future Now Sustainability Program

P21: Our Future Now Sustainability Program

Annemarie Randle-Trejo, Board President; Michael Matsuda, Superintendent; Clay Elliott, Science Specialist; Jeanne Tran, Associate Director; Adriana Badillo, Gear Up Director

The Sustainability Showcase program was created to give students, especially English learners, the opportunity to showcase their oral language skills and development, while highlighting solutions to global issues affecting their local communities and countries of origin. To promote oral language development, students express information and ideas for a specific purpose and audience, using academic vocabulary and other features of academic language in more sophisticated ways. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage students to learn to advocate for and develop solutions to issues involving the unintended consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth, and consumption of natural resources.

Technology

High School

STEAM Power

STEAM Power

Christine Walters, Board President; Donald Empey, Interim Superintendent; Deb Rinder, Executive Director; Douglas Dall, Principal; Susan Newcomer, Award Coordinator; Matt Stroup, Video Producer

The Glendale Unified School District created the STEAM Power program to excite the interest of high school students through electives in engineering, science research, computer applications, and the digital arts. The program uses technology across the curriculum to integrate rigorous, relevant, academic core instruction 21st century Career Technical Education courses in a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) focus that benefits all students, particularly English Learners and the economically disadvantaged. Technology is an integral part of the school’s philosophy which enables students to construct knowledge through the application of core-subject standards to “real world” problem-solving.

Multi-District/Countywide/Statewide/Nationwide/International

The Foster Focus Database System

The Foster Focus Database System

Eleanor Brown, Board President; David Gordon, Superintendent; Mark Vigario, Assistant Superintendent; Patricia Kennedy, Director, Foster Youth Services; Virginia D’Amico, Coordinator

The Sacramento County Office of Education Foster Focus Database System is a secure, web-based system that allows for the instantaneous transfer of the complete academic records of foster youth. Because foster youth experience high rates of school mobility, providing schools, social workers, and probation officers with immediate access to academic records helps ensure that youth are placed in the appropriate classes and receiving the necessary academic supports with a minimal loss of learning time.

Wellness

Pre-Kindergarten/K-8

Growing Healthy Children

Growing Healthy Children

Glendora Tremper, Board President; Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent; Eduardo Reyes, Leslie Ray Bunker, Francisco Tamayo and Marissa Bejarano, Board Members; Sharon Hillidge, Retired Teacher

The Growing Healthy Children program began as a response to startling data about students in Chula Vista Elementary School District who were overweight or obese. The district first measured the height and weight of more than 24,000 students, combined that data with age and gender, and calculated students’ Body Mass Index. Nearly 40% of students measured were overweight/obese - which prompted a multi-faceted response involving the Board of Education, students, families, healthcare professionals, and city and county leaders. It takes an ongoing, collaborative effort to make a difference on the scale.

Multi-level/Districtwide

Multi-Tiered System of Support

Multi-Tiered System of Support

Maynard Law, Board President; Mary Sieu, Superintendent; Terri Villa-McDowell, Coordinator; Cheryl Bodger and Mike Morkos, Directors; George Igi, Cindy Skovgard, and Jeff Farber Executive Directors

The Multi-Tiered System of Support program is a coherent continuum of evidence-based, system-wide practices to support a rapid response to student needs in order to empower each student to achieve their potential. The program provides the following: a) support in classrooms - teaching social emotional skills; b) support for transitions during grade changes through youth leadership programs; c) increased home-school connections; d) early intervention services; e) crisis response/prevention; f) increased community involvement and g) facilitation of student and family access to effective social services and special assistance.

Student Nutrition Services Future Dining Experience Initiative

Student Nutrition Services Future Dining Experience Initiative

Emily Murase, Board President; Richard Carranza, Superintendent; Angela McKee, Project Manager; Daniella Sawaya, Communications Manager; Zetta Reicker, Director; Sara Williams, Philanthropic Partner, Sara and Evan Williams Foundation; Orla O’Keeffe, Executive Director

The Future Dining Experience’s approach has been grounded in user-centered design research and recommendations, through activating student voice and taking into account student needs and desires throughout the planning, implementation and evaluation stages. The district was interested in transforming the school meal experience for SFUSD students and escalating the national school food conversation to one that is more focused on student dining. In this way, the district was not only improving the quality and nutrition of the meals themselves, but engaging students to learn about food, to look forward to meals, to share community through food and to take a vested interest in the food that goes into their bodies.