In 2016, 260 entries in 19 categories were received. Experts from school districts and county offices of education comprised the 16 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 — LCAP aligned


Data Dashboards

Data Dashboards that Drive Strategic Decision Making

Dana Black, Board President; Fred Navarro, Superintendent; George Knights, Director of Assessment and Data Analysis and Professional Learning Communities; Wendy Allee, District Assessment Specialist

While site administrators, district leaders and board members have access to more performance data than ever before, too often they are overwhelmed by the complexities of the collection and display of the information and are unable to use it strategically to make important decisions that impact the lives of students they serve. Newport-Mesa Unified School District has taken a huge leap forward in the field of dynamic data displays that offer real time, interactive visualizations of the most important data district leaders need to make critical and timely decisions. Newport-Mesa Unified School District has also combined effective processes to use the data dashboards in meetings with principals, site leaders, and even board members who crave this level of meaningful information.

Career Technical Education

High School

Animal Science

Animal Science Career Pathway

Janna Waldinger, Board President; Barbara Nemko, Superintendent; Gillie Miller, Director, College and Career Readiness; Emmalee Casillas, Instructor Animal Science; Ann Cash, Past Board President; Mike Pearson, Principal, Vintage High School; Julie McClure, Director, Community Programs

The four-year Animal Science Career Pathway at Vintage High School is vital to instilling premier leadership, personal growth and career success in participating students. Agriculture is the foundation from which students identify personal interests, goals, and inspiration in order to develop a career path that will ensure the industry is filled with competent and intelligent leaders, business owners and workers. Students are engaged in entrepreneurial and business placement projects that connect them to the professional agriculture community and allow them to build experience in a sector of agriculture that interests them.

College and Career Program

College and Career Program

Alma-Delia Renteria, Board President; Paul Gothold, Superintendent; Gudiel Crosthwaite, Deputy Superintendent; Tony Hua, Director Secondary Education; Juan Barroso, Coordinator

This College and Career program has transformed students’ lives and catapulted their educational trajectories. Beginning in seventh grade, students not only have the opportunity to take Career Technical Education (CTE) courses to explore careers, including STEM fields, but are also able to take a sequence of CTE and college courses which earn them dual-enrollment credits while gaining career training and industry recognized certifications while they are in high school. In addition, students also take the A-G sequence of courses to prepare them for college; last year, 42 percent of the students in this program met these requirements and were thus prepared for both college and career.

Closing the Achievement Gap Through LCAP Implementation — LCAP aligned


Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset is Paramount

Tony Pena, Board President; Ruth Perez, Superintendent; Deborah Stark, Assistant Superintendent; Kelly Williams, Principal; Linda Garcia, Alicia Anderson, Sonya Cuellar and Vivian Hansen, Board Members

Growth Mindset is Paramount is included in Goal 1 of the Paramount Unified School District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, demonstrating how the district aims to support academic progress and behavior and assess student performance. Jefferson Elementary School applies the professional development provided by the district with the support of academic coaches and processes that include learning walks, grade level collaboration and site-based professional learning. Funding for academic coaches, professional development and site-based collaboration is outlined in the LCAP. Teachers are involved in data analysis and connecting the results to student achievement. The collaboration between the administrator, academic coaches, and teachers perpetuates a growth mindset, which then trickles down to the students, enabling them to embrace learning and thus aides in closing the achievement gap.

K2 Institute Reading Gateway to Learning

K-2 Institute: Reading – Gateway to Learning

Tom Hunt, Board President; David Hansen, Superintendent; Antonio Garcia, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction; Brad Shearer, Director, Elementary Education; Lynn Carmen Day, Chief Academic Officer; Adela Flores-Bertrand, Instructional Services Specialist; Judy Fuhrman and Andy Stetkevich, Staff Development Specialists

The K-2 Institute is a comprehensive districtwide effort to ensure that all students master fundamental reading skills prior to entering third grade. After completing an intensive five-day workshop, teachers are equipped to provide a sequential, data-driven, multi-sensory, language-based intervention to their struggling learners. Throughout the year, teachers receive ongoing support through face-to face-coaching, observational feedback, and access to a robust set of online resources. Teachers are encouraged to utilize the instructional principles from the intervention in their core instruction.

High School

Freshmen Success Intervention

Freshmen Success Intervention Program

Lorena Corona, Board President; Randal Bassett, Interim Superintendent; John Porter, Co-Interim Superintendent; Mary Sandoval, Jesse Armendarez, Barbara Chavez and Matt Slowik, Board Members; Jennifer Karpinski, Teacher

Built on the belief that students can help other students succeed, Summit High School’s Link Crew Freshmen Success Intervention Program focuses around the power of junior and senior student’s mentoring freshmen. These Link Leaders serve as positive role models, motivators, coaches, leaders and teachers who guide the freshmen to discover what it takes to be successful during the transition to high school and help facilitate freshman academic success. Through innovative strategies that were launched and tracked this year, the achievement gap was closed by 35 percent through the reduction of the number of freshmen classes failed.

Highlander Student Targeted Enrichment

Highlander Student Targeted Enrichment Program

Robert Hathaway, Board President; Scott Scambray, Superintendent; Stephen Imlay and Joyce Wheeler, Teachers/History Coordinators; Melissa Stinson, Assistant Principal; Karl Zener, Principal

The Highlander Student Targeted Enrichment Program (HiSTEP) is a school-wide proactive intervention program focused on providing academic support, closing the achievement gap, and increasing and rewarding academic success. HiSTEP provides peer-mentoring for ninth grade students through HiSTEP Freshman Focus, individualized academic support for struggling students through HiSTEP Tutorial and Study Hall, and an incentive and reward system for students meeting all academic, attendance and discipline standards through HiSTEP Long Lunch. Since its implementation, La Habra High School has decreased the course failure rate among all lower performing subgroups and met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) two years in a row. HiSTEP has fostered a culture that highly values the academic strengths of their students and provides timely intervention for those who need additional support.


Personal Learning Challenge

Personal Learning Challenge

Rich Alderson, Board President; Devin Vodicka, Superintendent; Matthew Doyle, Assistant Superintendent; Ben Gaines, Kim Morton, Laura Smith, Eric Chagala and Anthony Barela, Principals

Vista Unified School District initiated a plan, as a component of LCAP, in the form of scalable, sustainable actions designed to close the achievement gap. Teacher-leaders ambitiously partnered with Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), Project RED, Classrooms of the Future, and Qualcomm to reimagine the learning experience for all students. The goal is to transform education into a personal learning pathway that flexibly adapts to the strengths, interests and values of each student. This is their “moonshot,” requiring everyone in the learning ecosystem to shift their mindset from a traditional one-size-fits-all style to a dynamic, equitable and personalized approach that places students as stewards of their own learning and growth while providing each student with what they need to achieve success.

Community Schools through Partnerships and Collaboration


Community Partnership

River Church and Lugonia Elementary School: Community Partnership Creating a Ripple Effect Redlands Unified School District

Patty Holohan, Board President; Lori Rhodes, Superintendent; Kathy Jeide, Principal; Nick Int’Hout, Pastor, The River Church

The Lugonia Elementary School, with over 90 percent socio-economically disadvantaged students, was experiencing growth in API scores — although not significant growth. Lugonia Elementary saw a need to explore options to further increase student progress. The school community believed in the students and knew greater growth was possible, but something was missing: community connections. The River Church was the missing piece for Lugonia Elementary. This local church partnered with Lugonia Elementary School to create a caring community, working to strengthen family and student connectedness to the school, and, ultimately, increase student achievement.

Jr. High /Middle/Intermediate School


Ladera Vista UACRE Program

Lynn Thornley, Board President; Robert Pletka, Superintendent; Randa Schmalfeld; Sara Johnson, CSUF Partner; Andrew Schensky, CSU Student Partner; Esmeralda Pulido, Arts Teacher; Kelly Castillo, Assistant Principal; Emy Flores, Assistant Superintendent

The Ladera Vista UACRE Program supports scientific knowledge through sustainable agricultural practices and cross-curricular connections for hundreds of students through hands-on experiences in its beautiful garden and in classrooms across campus. Students start with seeds from the Native American Heirloom Seed Bank. They track the growth of their seedlings using a custom-designed iPad app, and utilize data gathered through the app in science classrooms. Students learn about the historical and cultural significance of their crops in history classes. Best of all, crops grown in the UACRE garden find their way into their culinary arts classrooms, where students learn to prepare ancient grains and other foods grown in their garden.


Whole-child, Whole-community

Whole Child, Whole Community Initiative

Steven Levin, Board President; Joshua Arnold, Superintendent; Katherine Paspalis, Susanne Robins, Anne Allaire-Burke and Kelly Kent, Board Members

The Culver City Unified School District Whole Child, Whole Community Initiative is inspired by the evidence that students’ levels of hope and emotional engagement are directly related to their academic performance. Students who are safe, connected, healthy, challenged, and supported succeed because they are unencumbered by a survival-mode only approach to their daily experience, and are on the contrary, free to be hopeful and engaged in school. In order to provide these supports and remove barriers to learning, an entire community must participate with unwavering commitment. By building a fleet of community partners including health providers, mentoring programs, alternative education institutions, corporate and nonprofit enrichment providers and community service organizations, Culver City Unified School District has shown that success for all, takes us all.

School Grown Movement

Salud, Cultura y Raíces – School Grown Movement

Benjamin Cardenas, Board President; Susanna Contreras Smith, Superintendent; Lani Cupchoy, Hector Chacon, Edgar Cisneros and Joanna Flores, Board Members; John Garza and Eva Cupchoy, Co-Founders

Salud, Cultura y Raíces – School Grown Movement embodies a student-driven garden initiative that focuses on transforming lives and promoting healthy schools through relevant, multi-leveled, hands-on, authentic learning, community engagement, collaboration and partnerships. Whether it be a landscape to beautify the school or an urban farm used to teach nutrition education, this movement fosters intergenerational bonds, bringing all stakeholders together. Students attain an understanding of interconnectedness and develop into stewards of Mother Earth, while families and community members gain access to fresh, locally grown food. This grassroots movement began with one garden and has blossomed to 28 garden sites throughout the TK-12 Montebello Unified School District.

Pomona's Promise

Pomona’s Promise

Adrienne Konigar-Macklin, Board President; Richard Martinez, Superintendent; Roberta Perlman, Board Member; Fernando Meza, Administrative Director; Andrea Rico, Coordinator; Ann Henderson, Pomona’s Promise Community Engagement; Megan Samaniego, Chair, Pomona’s Promise; Edgar Padilla, Pomona Policy Department

The Youth and Family Master Plan is a comprehensive, prenatal to college/career readiness program. Created in 2005 to combat decades of gangland violence, this collaborative model brings together the school district, parents, higher education, community and medical/mental health organizations to change the culture of a community. The school district serves as the central hub for community and partner services, with ongoing meetings among the groups, continually refining the plan’s vision and outreach. Since 2005, despite the great recession, the program has expanded, with more than 26 formal partnerships and many more informal liaisons with the community. By working together, the community and schools have magnified their ability to transform children’s lives.

County Offices of Education


Life Games

Life Games

Sara Wilkens, Board President; Cecilia Massetti, Superintendent; Cheryl Mohr, Executive Director, Student Programs and Services; Paige Sanders, Administrator, Special Education Programs; Loner Abbott, President, Brothers of the Third Wheel; Pam Glueck and Sandra Gostanian, Adapted PE Specialists

The Madera County Office of Education Life Games is an event that brings together approximately 400 community members and 400 students with the most significant disabilities in Madera County for a day of fine art, performing arts and physical activities. Entertainment is provided by groups who serve persons with disabilities. Participants also receive information about resources available in the community. The Life Games allows every single child to participate in every single activity — significant due to students’ high physical, cognitive and emotional needs. Students interact with first responders in a non-threatening environment, parents spend time with other parents who face similar challenges, community members and general education students experience a positive day learning about these special children and office staff see the impact of their work.

Student Annual Needs Determination

Student Annual Needs Determination Inventory

Wendel Tucker, Board President; Kenneth Young, Superintendent; Diana Walsh-Associate Superintendent; Ann Vessey, Executive Director, Special Education; Denise Chappell, Principal, Special Education; Rebecca Silva and Kate Cahill, Retired Administrators; Mike Barney, Executive Director, Instructional Services

The Student Annual Needs Determination Inventory was developed for the specific purpose of providing the 23 school districts and county office-operated special education programs access to student-centered summative and formative assessment data to drive teacher collaboration and increase student achievement. For students with significant disabilities, the Student Annual Needs Determination Inventory mirrors the general education best practice of focusing on data-driven instruction. With this program, special educators have — for the first time — the opportunity to assess students in a meaningful way and analyze student data to inform instruction. The Student Annual Needs Determination Inventory program brings out the potential, the dignity, and the achievement for students with significant disabilities.

Curriculum & Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: History/Social Science


The gift of history

The Gift of History Program

Linda Lindholm, Board President; Al Mijares, Superintendent; Gail Easton, Chair, Children’s Education Foundation; Stan Oftelie, Author; Kristin Crellin, Schools First Federal Credit Union; Cathy Varner, Board Member; Michelle Hart, Executive Director, Children’s Education Foundation

Since 2010, The Gift of History Program has engaged over 85,000 students from 34 cities across Orange County. It is a multi-agency partnership led by the Children’s Education Foundation of Orange County, Orange County Department of Education, and over 20 corporate, government and community agencies. The program is offered at no cost and includes three main components: 1) every third-grader in Orange County receives a copy of the Nothing Rhymes with Orange book, which explores the county’s history from dinosaurs to the present; 2) teachers receive an eight-week companion curriculum aligned with the third grade California State Standards; and 3) students are invited to a capstone event where history comes alive during a spectacular one-hour lesson. The program creates civic pride, builds 21st Century skills, and promotes community engagement.

Curriculum & Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: Integrated Content


School Garden Project

School Garden Project

Frank Lima, Board President; Dana Salles Trevethan; Superintendent; Angela Freeman, Principal; Janet Wheeler and Bodie Bloxham, Teachers

The goal of the Julien Elementary School Garden Project is to provide a space where children and teachers, in partnership with the wider community, can engage in plant-based learning across the curriculum for active discovery and inquiry in an outdoor setting. The program’s impact on the wider school community can be felt on a daily basis as hundreds of children, from a variety of backgrounds, access the garden to explore Common Core State Standards in ELA/ELD, mathematics, science, art and all core subjects. The critical skills of exploration and inquiry are at the forefront of this multi-curricular environment. Although this highly collaborative venture was established in 2000, it has recently doubled in size. Teams of classes access information and use this knowledge to increase student understanding and achievement.

Curriculum & Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: STEM/STEAM




Judi Honeychurch, Board President; Kris Corey, Superintendent; Jas Bains Wright, Principal; Laura Klein, Consultant; Kristin Seguin, Administrative Assistant; Sarah Daly and Christina Brown, Teachers

Once faced with declining enrollment and dwindling budgets, Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District suffered a downward spiral. Agri-Science sparked a culture of collaboration, rekindled a love of learning — for staff and students alike — and sent the school on a trajectory of high expectations, exciting new growth and school pride. In 2007, the American Farmland Trust helped forge a Suisun Valley Vision including a focus on family farms, wine grapes, other farm products, and exemplary landscapes. Today, the Valley is recognized for quality wine grapes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and flowers with annual sales in the millions.

Steam Academy

STEAM Academy

Gail Tremaine, Board President; Marianne Engle, Superintendent; Jose Gonzalez, Principal; Dina Chung, Intervention Teacher

The STEAM Academy is an eclectic educational platform that addresses instruction through project-based learning and specialized classes in art, music and digital storytelling. Students participate in weekly visits to a science teacher who provides lessons and experiments in order to support the Project Based Learning for each grade level. In addition, the program provides a plethora of after school enrichment activities through clubs that enhance its STEAM focus. Some of these clubs are: Coding Club, Robotics Club, Mariachi Club (Mexican music ensemble with violin, guitar, trumpet and voice), Modern Ballet/Ballet Folklorico Club, Kenpo Karate Club, and Soccer Club. The significance of this program to the school’s community, which serves a population of 90 percent Latinos and 86 percent socioeconomically disadvantaged children, is to expose them to 21st Century learning through inquiry-based pedagogy and participation in creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking in order to prepare them for higher education.


STREAM Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics

Vicki King, Board President; Terry Decker, Superintendent; Julie Norby, Director of Instructional Services; Stephanie Anastasopoulos, STREAM TOSA; Debra Schade, Julie Union, Holly Lewry and Rich Leib, Board Members

The STREAM (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) program emphasizes and integrates these subjects through an inquiry-based, hands-on experience where students discover first-hand how they can make an impact in our world. With a “STEM for ALL” approach, students explore real-world issues, develop interconnected and layered content knowledge, while demonstrating deep levels of understanding and comprehension. STREAM provides opportunities for students to develop their strengths and pursue their passions with creativity and student choice. Solana Beach recognizes the importance of their students understanding the issues of today, in an effort to empower them to be informed global citizens for their future.

Evergreen Eagles

Evergreen Eagles STEAM Ahead!

Helen Hall, Board President; Robert Taylor, Superintendent; Tony Torng, Cynthia Ruiz, Phillip Chen and Larry Redinger, Board Members; Carolyn Wills, Principal; Trina Dreyer, Elementary Learning Specialist

Evergreen Elementary’s Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math (STEAM) program embraces academic rigor, provides authentic teamwork practice, develops problem solving skills, collaboration skills, creativity, personal growth and social skills for its students. The Evergreen Eagles STEAM Ahead program — with Project Lead the Way (PLTW) as a key component — engages students and changes instruction and outcomes not only at Evergreen, but in the district. As the first elementary school in the district to implement PLTW Launch, it has paved the way for other schools. Next year, 78 percent of Walnut Valley School District’s elementary schools are following the lead and implementing PLTW, joining a middle school and both high schools immersed in PLTW, and creating a PLTW pathway from K-12th grade.


Robotics K12

Robotics K12

Erick Swanson, Board President; David McLaughlin, Superintendent; Jay Winters, Teacher, Sultana High School; Amanda Arceo, Principal, Krystal Elementary; Tabitha Foraker, Assistant Principal, Lime Street Elementary; Scott Ahlgren, Principal, Canyon Ridge High School; Cindy Costa, Coordinator, Outreach and Support; Darrel Nickolaisen, Director K-12 Programs

The Robotics K12 program leads its students into exciting college and career fields and encourages problem solving, creates logical thinkers, helps students be resourceful, and enables students to be technologically literate. Robotics K12 increased student engagement and elevated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) awareness district-wide and within the community. Robotics teaches the 4Cs of critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity to maximize learning through real world application. Robotics K12 served as a platform to meld industry and 21st century skills to intentionally equip Hesperia Unified School District students with powerful choices for their future.

STEAM: A 21st Century

STEAM: A 21st Century Way of Learning

Susan Walsh, Board President; Rosemary Parga Duran, Superintendent; Adam Cox, Jessica Kazakos, Gene Stamm and Michael Crass, School Board Members; Paula Heupel, Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services; Elaine Keeley, Director, Curriculum and Instruction with STEAM Teachers

The Merced City School District’s STEAM program addresses a critical need for 21st century learning opportunities in an area with unique socioeconomic challenges. It supports on-going staff development in order to provide experiential learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math through daily instruction, extended day offerings, special events, and programs such as the Summer Academy for Academic Achievement. The district also collaborates with community partners for unique STEAM opportunities, including an educational trip to Yosemite National Park with pertinent lessons before and after that eye-opening adventure. The Board continues to show its dedication through funding for staff, equipment, and facilities, with plans to break ground on a cutting-edge STEAM Center in September.

Early Childhood Education


ABC Music & Me

ABC Music & Me

Sheryl Schmidt, Board President; Elliott Duchon, Superintendent; Dave Doubravsky, Assistant Superintendent; Jose Campos, Director Parent Involvement and Community Outreach; Jennifer Briseno, Family Partner; Sandra Rodriguez, Liaison/Outreach Specialist; Antonia Ortiz, Preschool Teacher/Instructor; Adams, Outreach Worker/Instructor

ABC Music and Me curriculum (Kinder Musik International) was implemented to address the learning gap of low socio-economic children prior to entering school. According to research, by the time children of low socio-economic families enter school they will have been exposed to up to 80 million fewer words than their higher socio-economic status counterparts. ABC Music and Me was implemented as a center-based weekly program for ages 2-4 utilizing a trained facilitator as the model. The facilitator modeled for parents and allowed parents to work with their own children through parent and child interaction. Parents were then provided a take-home kit to replicate the experience at home.

School Readiness: Building Blocks

Readiness Building Blocks

John Dobson, Board President; Marc Winger and Joel Shawn, Superintendents; Oralia Birakos, School Readiness Coordinator; Celia Gonzalez, Community Liaison; Teresa Egan, Assistant Superintendent

The Readiness Building Blocks program is a free program designed to expose pre-kindergarten aged children and their families to the 21st Century Learning Framework by learning about their community and interacting with community members in the real-world classroom. Students have the opportunity to connect with their community by visiting key businesses and agencies such as a bank, supermarket, police and fire department, a farm and more. The program is designed to reinforce the learning that is taking place in the classroom in regards to the 21st Century Skills of Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. Children and their families are thoroughly engaged as members of the community teach the importance of teamwork, interact effectively with coworkers and other agencies, and find creative solutions to the challenges of today.

Los Angeles COE Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education Professional Learning Communities

Douglas Boyd, Board President; Debra Duardo, Superintendent; Yvonne Contreras, Director; Kathryn Edwards, Consultant; Daniel Orosco, Project Director; Roberta Gonzalez, Katherine Squires and Omar Ezzeldine, Consultants

Transitional Kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program, functioning to provide students with time to develop foundational skills needed for success in school within an age and developmentally-appropriate setting. The Early Childhood Education Professional Learning Communities Project is a multi-year professional development project that is part of the LA County Early Care and Education Workforce Consortium funded by First 5 LA and Los Angeles Universal Preschool. The multi-year professional development project provides elementary principals and TK professional development and technical assistance with the implementation of developmentally appropriate TK programs and the development of Early Childhood Education Professional Learning Communities. It offers a model for collaboration among preschool educators and TK teachers to support the articulation and alignment of preschool through TK and beyond.

English Language Acquisition — LCAP aligned

High School

Voices of New Americans

Fremont Union High School District’s English Learner

Through a coherent curriculum, new opportunities to learn about academic language production, and new possibilities for English learners to share their stories, all Fremont Union High School District students — not only English learners — reap the benefits of higher expectations and opportunities to shine. One such opportunity is the annual English Learner Speech Contest. The contest was conceived in 2008 as a tangible representation and celebration of the EL students’ accomplishments. Students select their own topic for a three- to five-minute informative or persuasive memorized speech and advance through two preliminary rounds. Top scoring students are awarded trophies in a ceremony attended by participants, teachers, family and the community. The speech contest significantly impacts hundreds of students.

Jaunita Haugen Memorial Award for Civic Education

High School

Comprehensive Common Core Civics

Comprehensive Common Core Civics Program

Gabriel Contreras, Board President; Simon Canalez, Superintendent; Jose Flores, Teacher; Jesse Sanchez, Principal; Ralph Fernandez, Carol Sassie, Patti Wilson and Rusty Garcia, Board Members

The Comprehensive Common Core Civics Program is significant due to the high level of student engagement throughout the year. The students are empowered to take bold action within their school, city, county, state and country — bold action such as tracking their residential water usage through their water bill, then by championing water conservation citywide. This civic action resulted in Brawley being the only city in the county to meet the Governors’ water conservation goal. Students also take the initiative to hold voting drives, voting registration events and campaigning to elect community members they feel reflect their community. They also engage in environmental issues — critical for a school in a city and county with the highest asthma rate in the state. This program prepares students for career, college and civic life.

Parental/Community Involvement — LCAP aligned

High School

Rancho Remembers

Rancho Remembers

Arthur Bustamonte, Board President; Mathew Holton, Board President; Shari Megaw, Sue Ovitt, John Rhinehart and Charles Uhalley, Board Members

Rancho Remembers is an extravagant, heart-touching, and patriotic event in which veterans from World War II to our present-day heroes visit and share their stories with Rancho Cucamonga High School history students. The program is a living history project, where students are privileged to hear our country’s historic legacy from a primary source — someone who has personally shaped history. The event was organized to teach students about the nation’s wars and have them learn from those who fought in them. But it does so much more. It gives students the opportunity to interview and interact with veterans, and pair faces with the history lessons they learn in class. Students are better able to understand the sacrifices veterans have made and how we all benefit

Professional Development and Teacher Recruitment/Retention


Improving Student Achievement

Improving Student Achievement through Curriculum Guides and Professional Development

Christopher Casado, Board President; Janet Young, Superintendent; Debbie Parra, Assistant Superintendent; Elizabeth Lederach, Geoffrey Dean, Judy Bower, Leanne Branham and Kim Judd, Curriculum Design and Team Leads

For the past three years Clovis Unified School District teachers have collaboratively developed Curriculum Guides to serve as the district benchmark of what students should know and be able to do by the end of a grade level or course to support implementation and mastery of California Content Standards in both English language arts and mathematics for grades TK-12. Curriculum Guides are aligned to professional development to support teachers in the understanding and delivery of the California Content Standards. Although Curriculum Guides support all teachers, they are especially helpful to teachers new to Clovis Unified School District or the teaching profession.


Teacher Induction Website

Teacher Induction Website (Mydashboard)

Jacquelyn Levy, Board President; Dave Gordon, Superintendent; Sue Stickel, Deputy Superintendent; Steve Winlock, Executive Director, School of Education; Marty Martinez, Director, Teacher Induction; Andrea Willis, Director, Internet Management Services

Teachers in California must complete a Commission on Teacher Credentialing approved induction program to finish their professional preparation and clear their credential. The Sacramento County Office of Education offers a well-regarded program to support the more than 600 preliminary credentialed teachers from within SCOE’s service area. Included in the induction program is access to the SCOE Teacher Induction (SCOETI) website at (formerly which provides a one-stop location for candidates and their mentors to meet the requirements of clearing their teaching credential. Within this system, candidates can create an e-portfolio, register for professional growth events, access resources, communicate with one another, receive feedback from their mentors, participate in online seminars, and track their journey towards completion.

School Climate and Safety — LCAP aligned



Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports

Maureen Latham, Board President; Terrence Davis, Superintendent; Callie Beitler, Principal; Bobbi Burnett, Assistant Principal

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports is a program centered on students being respectful, responsible and safe. The PBIS Club has two components: a voluntary group component, and individual time through a teacher referral process, which allows students to hone in on a particular behavioral skill where extra support is needed. At lunchtime each Wednesday, the principal and assistant principal work with students on skills through a variety of means such as: art, role play, videos, posters and team activities. Through Boy’s Town activities and other community resources, students are given specific activities to build their skill base. Progress is monitored by the teacher on a tracking form after the five-week intervention club.

Team Bruins

Team Bruins

Rob Hammond, Board President; Katherine Thorossian, Superintendent; Leslie Miller, principal; Ray Alarcon, Custodian; Lynn Ngell, Playground Aide; Joseph Felhner and Steve Little, Parents; Stacy Ayers, Former Principal

Team Bruins is a campus clean-up club at Wild Rose Elementary School in the Monrovia Unified School District. The goals of the program are twofold: establish leadership opportunities for students, thereby instilling a sense of pride in their school community and create an encouraging environment where team effort leads to a safe, organized, and litter-free campus. Every year, 20-30 upper grade students dedicate their time during lunch, recess, before and after school, to provide community service and leadership. Over the 12 years of its existence, the Team Bruins clean-up movement is contagious across all students on the campus. Parents encourage their children to be a part of it as they move up in the grades.

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

Where everybody belongs

Where Everybody Belongs (W.E.B)

Karen Morrison, Board President; Hasmik Danielian, Superintendent; Tracey Ayer and Lisa Concannon, WEB Coordinators; Christina Stanly, Principal; Nathan Arredondo, Assistant Principal

Where Everybody Belongs is a student mentoring program that supports incoming sixth grade students as they transition from elementary to middle school. At Los Coyotes Middle School, Where Everybody Belongs provides a supportive framework of positive peer role models, high behavior expectations, and a sense of connection for students as they prepare for high school. Their eighth grade students serve as Where Everybody Belongs leaders and peer mentors. This program offers opportunities for eighth grade students to develop leadership, service, interpersonal, and socio-emotional skills as they serve and mentor sixth grade students. These opportunities significantly impact their sixth grade students — as they make positive behavior choices, learn how to advocate for themselves and others, access academic support, and contribute to the Los Coyotes Middle School community.


Equity Initiative

Santa Rosa City Schools Equity Initiative

Donna Jeye, Board President; Diann Kitamura, Superintendent; Elizabeth Evans, Coordinator; Santa Rosa City Schools Board Members; Santa Rosa Teachers Association; Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance; California Teachers Association Office of Civil Rights; Stephanie Graham-Rivas

Santa Rosa City Schools is leading the way with its exemplary Equity Initiative changing policies, practices and district climate to better serve Latino students and English learners. Courageous conversations have led to bold action. Staff and other stakeholders enthusiastically embrace training to learn about their cultures, the cultures of their students and the unconscious bias that may impede how they interact with and teach some students. The staff shares disaggregated data and engages in passionate discussions about root causes of disproportionate data patterns. Staff implements research-based best practices for meeting the needs of Latino students and English Learners and closing gaps between them and their English fluent peers. Across the district, conversations have changed from how students are underperforming to how adults may be unintentionally underserving students who matter

Special Education


Social Communications Program

Social Communication Program

Lesli Stein, Board President; Dan Stepenosky, Superintendent; Eric Anhalt, principal; Laila Jorns, Teacher; Brandie Rosen, Program Specialist

The Social Communication Program is a highly specialized research-based program designed to meet the needs of students with deficits in the areas of social, communication, and learning to learn skills. The program includes a research-based behavior intervention model and 60 minutes of daily intensive social skills instruction for students with an Individualized Education Plan. The structure and support of this program is provided throughout the school day. Students receive additional adult assistance in their general education classroom to help monitor their social behaviors and learning to learn skills. Reinforcement is embedded throughout the day through token economies or self-evaluation sheets. Students “cash out” every hour, two hours, or once per day based on their needs.

The Language and Literacy Clinic

The Language and Literacy Clinic and Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Brian Nakamura, Board President; Anne Silavs, Superintendent; Helen Lu, Principal; Ellen Murray, Teacher; Margaret Vento-Wilson and Rachel Pyon, Speech and Language Pathologists

In the fall, an education specialist and two speech-language pathologists at Vessels Elementary School came together to discuss evidenced-based methods of support for a small subset of students in a regional autism program. These students typically demonstrate the slowest mastery of Common Core State Standards and Individualized Educational Plan goals, and include those with no verbal language who use augmentative and alternative communication systems to communicate, those with significantly reduced language abilities, and children who speak at the phrase level, but are impacted significantly by behavioral challenges. The team searched for an existing research-based curriculum, but being unable to find one, created a multi-faceted intervention. This program incorporates input from para-educators as valuable and informed members of the implementation team, a partnership that has also been shown to support an evidence-based approach.

High School


Learning Independence for Transition

Patricia Rodriguez-Mackintosh, Board President; Laura Tellez-Gagliano, Superintendent; Patricia Mahony, Director, Secondary Special Education; Harry Wong, Administrator; Gary Gonzalez, Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services

The Alhambra Unified School District has developed a quality adult transition program to meet the needs of its 18-22 year-old students with disabilities ranging from mild developmental to moderate to severe delays, as well as orthopedically and physically disabled students. The goal of the program is to transition special education students successfully from their role of high school students to their new role as adults in the community. The program is staffed with adult transition teachers, instructional aides, an administrator, psychologist, orthopedic impaired itinerant teacher, speech pathologist, and vocational specialist.

The Adult Transition

The Adult Transition Program

Robert Hathaway, Board President; Scott Scambray, Superintendent; Sandi Layana, Principal; Charlotte Dobyns, Department Chair

In June 2009, the Board of Trustees of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District established the La Sierra High School Adult Transition Program. Disabled adults have an 83 percent unemployment rate and a dissatisfaction rate with the quality of their life which is 70 percent higher than non-disabled adults, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The Fullerton Joint Union High School District strives to combat those statistics by providing a rich, community-based curriculum of vocational, mobility, independent-living and recreational training to these students. Students are placed into classrooms or hubs close to their residence so they can learn to ride the bus, shop, eat out, get a haircut, and work close to their homes.


The Ascend Program

The Ascend Program

Mario Gutierrez, Board President; Jeffery Weinstein, Superintendent; Katherine Notterman, Assistant Principal; Sheryl Taylor, Director, Special Services; Sarah Wilson, Michaele Groutage and Michaele Groutage, Special Education Teachers; Heather Conklin, School Based Mental Health Provider

The Ascend Program provides placements for students who are diagnosed or assessed with extraordinary behaviors and who have not been successful in a comprehensive school environment. The program works with students to focus on controlling these behaviors in a school and group setting while at the same time working on grade level curriculum based on Common Core standards. The program is based on a PBIS/Compassionate school philosophy where staff reaches beyond students’ external behaviors and create an identifiable connection between student learning outcomes and positive behavior. The Ascend Program is a specialized support system in which staff, technology, curriculum, culture, physical environment, and teaching methods have all been designed to achieve what could not be accomplished in a regular or even a special education classroom.

Student Services

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

TMS Intervention

TMS Intervention

Mario Gutierrez, Board President, Jeffery Weinstein, Superintendent; Lea Ann Adams, Opportunity/Intervention Coordinator; Ida Janzen, School Counselor; Nick Cantrell, Opportunity/Intervention Teacher; Trinidad Gonzales, Assistant Principal; Lula Olmos, Credit Retrieval, EL and Migrant Teacher; Nat Adams, Principal

Tropico Middle School’s TMS Intervention Program was originally created in 2001, but was revamped in 2014. The newly restructured program responds to the need for programs that support academically failing students get back on the path to achieving success. The program consists of many components and is supported by multiple student services, including: all-day self-contained opportunity classes, zero period credit recovery for special education students, intervention credit recovery classes in place of electives, after school credit recovery class, after school program, after school migrant education, zero period study hall, AVID classes and tutors, math support classes, academic counseling and free year-round breakfast, lunch and dinner. The significance of the TMS Intervention Program is evident in the decreasing numbers of failing and retained students and the increase of daily academic support to over 50 percent of TMS students.

High School

Closing the Gap

Closing the Gap by Building a Results-Based School Counseling Program

John Norman, Board President; Diane Perez, Superintendent; Vanessa Gomez-Lee, Lead Counselor; April Phillips, Head Counselor; Sophia De la Rocha, Justin Carmona and Danielle Houston, School Counselors; Sherry Smith, Assistant Superintendent

From reactive to proactive, school counselors in San Jacinto Unified School District have led the way in increasing college and career indicators for all students resulting in the highest growth in Riverside County. San Jacinto Unified School District believes in preparing each and every student, preschool through 12th grade, to be college and career ready. The program’s significance is not solely driven by the people who created it, but built on the growth mindset that change is inevitable for those who believe, set expectations, persist, identify barriers that inhibit systemic change, develop the team, use data to monitor progress and celebrate the successes.


Saturday School

Saturday School: Student and Parent Engagement Program

Pat Rodriguez, Board President; Laura Tellez-Gagliano, Superintendent; Laurel Bear, Assistant Superintendent, Student/Employee Welfare

The Alhambra Unified School District’s Division of Student/Employee Welfare developed and implemented a multi-lingual, bi-weekly, three hour comprehensive Saturday School: Student and Parent Engagement Program (SSSPEP). The program creatively re-engages and supports students and parents in middle school and high school who have missed instructional time due to excessive absenteeism, interfering negative behaviors, and/or are in need of social-emotional support to succeed in school. The program’s facilitators address school re-engagement and school/home connectedness while adhering to the Pyramid of Success, a tiered intervention approach. More than 600 students and parents have been referred and participated in SSSPEP, demonstrating a 73 percent increase in parent/student re-engagement in school, as indicated in Alhambra USD’s Local Climate Survey, and LCAP’s measurable outcomes.

Healthy Students, Healthy Outcomes

Healthy Students, Healthy Outcomes

Lourdes Perez, Board President; Scott Siegel, Superintendent; Brian Murphy, Coordinator, Student Services

In serving primarily low-wealth and English learner students and families, Ceres Unified School District has leveraged targeted LCAP funds to prioritize the needs of the whole child through a tiered-model of expanded mental health services focused on prevention and intervention. Teams of mental health professionals, student support specialists, community liaisons, teachers and administrators, working in collaboration with community agencies, have increased the breadth, access to, and immediacy of services that support student’s social, emotional, behavioral, physical and academic needs. The impact of these services has been positive and can be assessed through measures of attendance, behavior and academic achievement.

Health Collaborative

Health Collaborative

Alma Delia-Renteria, Board President; Paul Gothold, Superintendent; Gudiel Crosthwaite, Assistant Superintendent; Kavin Dotson, Director, Student Services; Maribel Martinez, Coordinator, Student Services

The Lynwood Unified School District Health Collaborative works with 30 local agencies to address the whole needs of students to ensure academics and personal success. The Health Collaborative refers and connects Lynwood students and families to agencies who provide direct health and mental health services. Lynwood Unified School District and the Health Collaborative partners meet regularly to analyze community and district needs to support all students. The Health Collaborative is significant because it serves as the foundation for the families and the community it serves. Additionally, the Health Collaborative establishes structures to access a wealth of resources to address the students’ specific needs that otherwise would be inaccessible and, families and staff also receive training, counseling services, and resources under one organized system.

K12 Continuum of Social Emotional Support

K-12 Continuum of Social-Emotional Support

Teri Burns, Board President; Chris Evans, Superintendent; Carol Williams, Executive Director, School Leadership and Support; Cecil Duke, Assistant Superintendent, Student Services and Safety

Reaching out to students with mental health, emotional or behavioral issues, Natomas Unified has created a K-12 Continuum of Social-Emotional Support that provides early detection, intervention, treatment and academic options, regardless of a participating student’s age, grade, or whether they are in special education or general education. Accessibility to all students is key to making Natomas Unified School District’s program both innovative and exemplary. Success stories include that of a teenager who attempted suicide and cut herself more than 200 times before entering the support program. This year, she graduated from high school with high grades and plans a career of working with special education students. The program not only benefits participating students and their families, classmates, schools — but also the district — by enhancing kids’ capacity to learn and by reducing misbehavior that can force an out-of-district placement.

Bus in the Classroom

Bus in the Classroom

Dana Black, Board President; Fred Navarro, Superintendent; Pete Meslin, Director Transportation

The Newport-Mesa Bus in the Classroom program teaches transportation safety and life skills to students with special needs. It also helps redefine the traditional role of transporters to be actual educators rather than just supporters of the educational process. Bus drivers and transportation office staff literally bring the bus to the classroom to teach these crucial lessons. In the process, they build relationships, their own skills, and more successful students. Students as young as three and as old as 22 have learned skills that make them immediately safer, but because the program is fun and engaging, students are eager to continue to learn. The program is designed to be taught early and often to develop safety and independence habits.

Heart for our Homeless

Family Resource Center Heart for Our Homeless

Stephen Kim, Board President; Martha Martinez, Superintendent; Cheryl Camany, Homeless Liaison; Hilda Huerta, Program Improvement and Categorical Programs; Amy Ish, Board Member; Lori Sanders, Assistant Superintendent

Hope is an important aspect of what the Homeless Education Family Resource Center provides to the most at risk families in the Salinas City Elementary School District. Hope creates an idea that goals can be achieved. The center provides a nurturing and supporting environment that helps children to understand their self-worth and heighten their self-esteem. It provides a seed of hope to the children, thereby creating a desire to do their best in school and understand that they too have an opportunity to succeed in school, go to college, to have a career, and to end the cycle of poverty they are experiencing as children. The truth is that every child in America has a right and the opportunity to achieve their dreams through education and the center will help this dream to be realized.

Sustainable, Renewable, Energy and Resource Efficient Programs

High School

ECO Leaders Save the World

Eco-Leaders Save the World

Kim Lasley, Board President; Anne Staffieri, Superintendent; Robert Graeff, Superintendent until 6/2016, David Ostermann, Assistant Superintendent; Kati Harbour, Food Services Director; Gloria Quinn, Coordinator and Teacher; County of San Diego, Public Works Solid Waste Planning and Recycling

Ramona Unified School District’s student-centered food recovery program demonstrates an effective partnership between San Diego County, the community and the district. The program has been recognized as a model in California and the U.S. for implementing the EPA’s hierarchy of food recovery, encompassing source reduction, feeding people, feeding animals, and on-site composting. Over 22,000 pounds of food have been diverted from the landfill, with 4,000 pounds source reduced, 6,200 donated, 4,800 fed to animals, and more than 7,000 pounds composted. Eight schools, with a combined enrollment of 5,400, participate in the program. An in-vessel composter located at Ramona High School handles 50 pounds per day of diverted food and students run the day-to-day operations. Finished compost is used in the student garden, which has been designated an official culinary garden by the San Diego County’s Department of Environmental Health and Food and Housing Division.


High School


Literacy and Achieve

Literacy and Achieve 3000

Carolyn Wilson, Board President; Sid Salazar, Superintendent; Carrie Monlt, Principal; Danielle Romain, Instructional Coach; Rosa Gomez, Assistant Principal

The Literacy and Achieve 3000 program is a computer-based program that provides engaging informational text for students to independently read, study and interact with their individual Lexile level of comprehension. The Literacy and Achieve 3000 program scores each lesson and Lexiles are adjusted upward or downward monthly depending on the student’s comprehension. Since its beginning, the program has helped many students gain the motivation to read.

Future Ready Learning

Future Ready Learning Initiative

Janice Hector, Board President; Denise Clay, Superintendent; Andrew Schwab, Associate Superintendent

Over the last three years, Union Elementary School District has successfully integrated educational technology into classroom instruction. With the full support of the school board, the district’s Future Ready Learning Initiative has built a reputation of excellence and serves as a model for district visitations from around the state. From improving basic technology infrastructure, to increasing staffing for both professional development and technology support, the Future Ready Learning Initiative has proven to be one of success reflected in engaged students and outstanding California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress results. Union Elementary School District is confident that the Future Ready Learning model can be replicated in any school district with the potential to positively affect student learning outcomes across the state.


The i4 Blended

The i4 Blended Learning Academy

Jamison Power, Board President; Marian Kim-Phelps, Superintendent; Jennifer Burks, Executive Director, Educational Technology; Samuel Plambeck, Lana Nguyen, Lauren Vv-Tran and Jason Spence, Educational Technology Coaches

Westminster School District teachers have transformed their teaching and changed the way students learn with the i4 Blended Learning Academy. I4 stands for inspire, innovate, implement and impact. Dedicated, creative TK-8 teachers have taken giant strides to transition their classrooms into a blended learning environment. These i4 Innovators are well equipped with ongoing professional development, embedded coaching, and effective online and traditional classroom resources to support personalized learning for students. Collaboratively with their Educational Technology Coach, i4 Innovators have discovered innovative practices and provided students with new learning experiences. The i4 Innovators have empowered their students to work collaboratively and independently in blended learning environments with the Chromebooks and online tools; this program has allowed students to engage in dynamic learning experiences across a range of modalities.



Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Promoting Healthy Lifestyle Choices Utilizing Family Cooking Classes: Now We’re Cooking

Fred Haynes, Board President; Doc Ervin, Superintendent; Dee Dee Harrison, Coordinator, Family and Community Engagement; Brenda Robinson, Director, Nutrition Services; Jeanette Casalman, Supervisor, Nutrition Services

Wellness is the active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence. Now We’re Cooking is an interactive, educational, monthly program developed to educate families, schools and the community on resources to improve awareness of opportunities to choose a healthier lifestyle that is sustainable for a lifetime. Now We’re Cooking utilizes engaging activities that focus on growing, purchasing, and cooking healthy food options while providing information on habits that pertain to our overall wellness. Creating an exciting atmosphere to prepare healthy meals bonds families while reinforcing communication, reading and math skills. The heart of wellness begins at the family dinner table where habits are taught and carried into the future.

High School

Enochs Care Center

The Enochs Care Center

Steven Grenbeaux, Board President; Pam Able, Superintendent; Deborah Rowe, Principal; Michael Shroyer, Assistant Principal; Penny Sensney, School Nurse; Jennifer Johnson, Clerical Support; Jodie Hofkamp-Echols, School Psychologist

The Enochs Care Center was opened in order to support students seeking physical or psychosocial support, for example: handling a difficult day, struggling with limited funds, grieving a loss, illness, breaking addictions, or other barriers to learning. The supports provided by the ECC are designed to systematically identify and address learning barriers in order to re-engage students that have been disenfranchised from the learning process. These resources and practices empower all students to have an equal opportunity for success at school. Various staff under the umbrella of the ECC provide these supports, including an RN and LVN, marriage and family therapist, mental health clinician and interns, adult and peer mentors and clerical staff. Adding a third component to the school’s management system coalesced support services and created an essential component to the ongoing school improvement process.


Psychological Support Services

Psychological Support Services Program

Dana Black, Board President; Fred Navarro, Superintendent; Sara Jocham, Assistant Superintendent, Student Services; Phil D’Agostino, Director, Student Services; Tucker Connon, School Social Worker; Eby Kent and Michelle LePak, District Behavior Specialists

In 2001 the Newport Mesa Unified School District seized an opportunity to expand mental health services to meet the needs of both general and special education students districtwide. The Psychological Support Services (PSS) Program was created to provide a comprehensive multi-tiered mental health program utilizing district staff and community partnerships. In the five years since, the district has seen an increase in the number of students receiving mental health support from 59 students in 2011 to over 450 students in 2016. As one of the first districts in Orange County to adopt a school-based mental health program, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District has provided program development and support to many other districts creating a program.

Building a Healthy School Environment

Building a Healthy School Environment

Kimberly Kenne, Board President; Brian McDonald, Superintendent; Ann Rector, Director, Health Programs; Katia Ahmed, Project Coordinator

Building a Healthy School Environment involves several Pasadena Unified School District departments working collaboratively — the Health Office; Food & Nutrition Services; Facilities; and Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development — and a network of community partners including the City of Pasadena Public Health Department and multiple nonprofit organizations. The goal of the program is to improve the health and wellness of their students, the majority of whom are from low-income families and are at risk for obesity and other health problems associated with poor nutrition and being overweight. For the last 10 years, the program has integrated school playground improvements; physical education training for classroom teachers; an award-winning Farm to School K-5 curriculum developed by the district; Muir Ranch, an urban farm and community-supported agriculture program; increased access to nutritious foods in schools; and the transformation of underutilized school property into edible gardens.