In 2017, 250 entries in 19 categories were received. Experts from school districts and county offices of education comprised the 17-member judging panel. If you are interested in replicating a program and would like more information on a specific program, please contact us.

Career Technical Education

High School

Lugo Engineering and Design Program

Sylvia Orozco, Board President; Wayne Joseph, Superintendent; Kimberly Cabrera, Ed.D., Principal; Lead Academy Teaching Team; Jon Woodland, Bob Velker, Dr. Scott Boskovich and Mike Benson, Engineering Advisors; Brian Engstrom, Coordinator and Teacher

The Lugo Engineering and Design (LEAD) program at Don Lugo High School is a dynamic four-year experience that allows students to experience a rigorous, hands-on, problem-based curriculum to introduce and prepare students for the many opportunities available in the field of engineering and design. LEAD students engage in professional learning and skill-building through career technical training in school and through work-based learning, such as work place tours, job shadowing and internships. While in high school, students can earn college credits while learning to use current industry software that ensures students graduate better prepared for college and have more confidence in their life and career skills.


Teacher Prep Academy

Carlos Salcedo, Board President; Dr. Edward Zuniga, Superintendent; Jose Marquez, Principal; Mary Boutte and Amy Minick, Co-coordinators

Mountain View High School’s Teacher Prep Academy provides meaningful college prep and CTE curriculum along with long-term, work-based learning that includes income- and scholarship-earning opportunities. For 17 years, the Teacher Prep Academy has been reversing the negative perception of this industry sector, inspiring young people to pursue careers in education while providing financial assistance in college so that they can follow their career dreams.

Medical Assisting Program

Dr. Jose Luis Araux, Board President; Grant Bennett, Superintendent; Velma Borrows, Teacher; Dian Martin, Director of Learning Support; Juan Santos, Principal

The Medical Assisting Program is designed to provide students in high school with the industry skills needed to be competent medical assistants. When the program was fully launched in the fall of 2007, more than 70 students enrolled, constituting two sections for each class. To accommodate these students, the classes were offered during the day, as well as after school. The program has a 100 percent program completion rate for academic classes and over 80 percent internship completion. Students complete classes in medical terminology, medical assisting for administrative needs, as well as medical billing and insurance processing. Students are required to complete 180 hours of externship and about 10 percent are offered employment each year.

Closing the Achievement Gap through LCAP Implementation


Data Driven Targeted Instruction

Richard Martinez, Board President; Dr. William Crean, Superintendent; Linda Rigg, Principal; Andrea Medina, Helena Jaime, Matthew Elorriaga, Valerie Velasco and David Fisher, Teachers

Data Driven Targeted Instruction at Cresson Elementary is a three-tiered plan designed to raise achievement for all students, with special emphasis on closing the achievement gap for English learners. Through biweekly Data Reflection Sessions, teachers, support staff and the administrator work together to analyze data, plan instruction, group students for intervention, monitor student progress and make recommendations for additional levels of support as needed. The three tiers included in the plan are classroom instruction and interventions, additional intervention in flexible, leveled groups and before- and after-school tutoring for targeted groups of students.

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

Transforming Our School’s Academic Trajectory and Our School Culture with the AVID National Demonstration Program

Francisco Javi Santana, Board President; Dr. Gary Gonzales, Superintendent; Dr. Matt Fraijo, Principal; Jan Baird, Sylvia Macias, Deborah Pacheco and Elias Alvarado, Board Members

In 2008, the school board approved the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program in order to combat the perennial under performance and malaise that had persisted at Graves Middle School for years. With the board’s support and direction, the staff of Graves Middle School continued to build the AVID program year after year and applied to be an AVID National Demonstration Site two years ago. During the process, the school developed an elite AVID program (in the top 3 percent in the nation) and transformed the school’s trajectory and culture so all students are expected to obtain a college degree.

High School

Nogales Success Academy

Lynne Ebenkamp, Board President; Julie Mitchell, Superintendent; Yousef Nasouf, Principal; Justin Lopez, Coordinator/Counselor; Esther Tamanaha, Assistant Principal

Nogales Success Academy is a Tier 2 intervention program that provides academic, social, emotional and mental support for “at-risk” students. Three distinct programs make up the academy: Social, Emotional, Recreation, Vocation Education (S.E.R.V.E.), House and Opportunity. S.E.R.V.E. is an elective course taken by ninth- through 12th-graders. Students who are initially at-risk of failing and not graduating improve their academics by building strong social, “family-like” bonds through embedded peer- and adult- mentoring systems. The House program serves at-risk ninth-graders through a cohort model with the same core teachers in English, math and science, intensive socioemotional support and relevant curriculum. The program is a double-block period and allows students to recover lost credits with the goal of preventing their transfer to an alternative high school or not graduating.


Project Moving Forward

Cleveland Johnson, Board President; Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, Superintendent; Dr. Linda Ventriglia-Navarette, Director; Sonia Quinn, Coordinator; Emilio Gallegos, Principal; Debra Johnson, Coach; Dr. Thomas Smith, Dean, School of Education; Dr. Louie Rodriguez, Director, Teacher Education

Project Moving Forward (PMF) is Moreno Valley USD’s exemplary vocabulary program developed as part of a National Professional Development grant funded by the Office of Second Language Acquisition. Acknowledging the need to close the achievement gap for English Learners and economically disadvantaged students, Moreno Valley USD partnered with the University of California to create a professional development program that trains teachers to deliver a fast-paced, dynamic vocabulary program with proven results in closing this gap. Although PMF’s original goal was to help ELs and students of poverty, all subgroups achieved powerful gains in various assessments. Moreno Valley USD expects continuing success reflected by positive student outcomes.


High School

Early College Pathway Program

David Pombo, Board President; Dr. Kirk Nicholas, Superintendent; Matthew Balzarini, Director; Colin Clements, Anne Goodrich and Sharon Lampel, Board Members; Dr. Jessie Garza-Roderick, Dean, San Joaquin Delta College; Noel Balzarini, Executive Assistant

In 2014, the Lammersville USD Board of Trustees approved a plan to create an Early College Pathway Program for Mountain House High School students. Partnering with San Joaquin Delta College, cohorts of students were allowed the opportunity to earn an associate degree in science and mathematics, while concurrently earning a high school diploma in the traditional four-year high school cycle. Students who complete the Early College Pathway Program will enter college two years ahead of their peers. Students in the program are learning valuable lessons about their abilities to perform in a college setting and to adapt to a challenging environment. The results have made the community proud.

Community Schools through Partnerships and Collaboration


Community School Model

Jeffrey Arnett, Board President; Benjamin Picard Superintendent; Christina Ballantyne, Principal

The Community School Model at San Miguel Elementary creates an environment where barriers to learning are removed and students are able to focus on academic learning and thrive within the school setting. By partnering with community nonprofits and businesses, partnership programs have allowed San Miguel Elementary to provide a range of services including health services, enrichment and academic interventions. All services are free, or can be provided free of charge to San Miguel families. By helping families meet their basic needs, they are able to focus their efforts on supporting their students’ achievement so they can reach their fullest potential.

High School

Honors Humanities Seminar

C. Joseph Chang, Board President; Alex Cherniss, Ed.D., Superintendent; Doug Berry, Assistant Principal; Amanda Hernandez, English Teacher; Michelle Pauline, Art Teacher

Honors Humanities Seminar is a reading and writing intensive course co-taught by two highly qualified teachers from the English and Art Departments, with a distinct focus on the study of art and literature. Students read, analyze and discuss various works of literature and art from the collected works of the Huntington Library and Gardens. From the study of literature and art, students produce written critiques that compare and contrast works from several artists and writings over various time periods, and examine the influence of one upon the other. Written work produced in this course by students will be modeled after the writing workshops taught in the course. From this intensive study, students will develop applicable critical-thinking skills through their analysis, writing and production of art and literature.


Norwalk Education Alliance: Enhancing Economic Development through College and Career Readiness

Sean Reagan, Board President; Dr. Hasmik Danielian, Superintendent; Joanne Jung, Director, College and Career Pathways; Leonard Shryock, Vice Mayor, City of Norwalk; Bing Hyun, Acting Director, Community Development

Norwalk-La Mirada USD in partnership with the City of Norwalk led the efforts to establish the Norwalk Education Alliance. The program unites the district’s mission to equip all students with the skills needed for the 21st-century workplace and the city’s mission to boost and elevate its residents’ earning power. This provided a “perfect storm” opportunity to create powerful partnerships among K-12 schools, city government, business and industry, higher education and workforce agencies. This coalition is working together to improve future prospects for students and residents of Norwalk.

County Offices of Education

High School

Countywide Student Advisory Panel

Sherman Garnett, Board President; Ted Alejandre, Superintendent; Beth Higbee, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent; Barbara Alejandre, Chief Intergovernmental Relations Officer; Jim Dilday and Karla Wells, Ed.D., Consultants; Trudy Raymundo, Director, Department of Public Health

For the past three years, students across San Bernardino County have met to share concerns about educational issues across their communities that directly impact their futures and their dreams. Students’ problem-solving and debating skills have focused on four key countywide issues in education, the economy, safety and health/wellness. The events are called the Student Advisory Panels, and during the 2016–17 school year, 164 students from 41 high schools representing 16 school districts took part in a series of four workshops. Student Advisory Panel participants posed solutions to problems impacting their futures and presented their findings and research in areas identified in the county government’s Countywide Vision Plan to a group of legislators, ranging from school board members to state elected officials.


Mariposa Mentoring and Family Engagement Program

Janna Waldinger, Board President; Dr. Barbara Nemko, Superintendent; Johana Navarro, Prevention Coordinator; Damaris Vieyra, Instructional Support Specialist; Vanessa Rubio, Prevention Program Assistant; Jeannie Puhger, Program Manager; Julie McClure, Director, Community Programs; Krystle Arnold, AmeriCorps VIP

Mariposa Mentoring and Family Engagement program empowers Latina youth in Napa County by providing a safe haven in which girls can speak out against violence and substance use, advocate for themselves and one another and become connected to their community. The program fosters positive development, builds protective factors and offers valuable leadership opportunities. Mariposa participants engage in small group mentoring, leadership opportunities and family programs at eight middle and high schools. Through weekly group instruction, girls develop strategies that build resiliency for the difficulties they may face in interpersonal and institutional relationships. Mariposa Youth Leaders are program graduates who receive 45 hours of additional training and serve as mentors and community leaders. The final component is the family program, which connects mothers and daughters through collaborative training in healthy relationships, mindfulness and college and career readiness.

Crime Prevention: Collaboration between Riverside County and Riverside County District Attorney’s Office

Elizabeth Romero, Board President; Dr. Judy White, Superintendent; Michael Hestrin, County District Attorney; Dr. Diana Walsh-Reuss, County Associate Superintendent of Schools; Gerry Lopez, County Supervising Deputy District Attorney; Dr. Susan Levine, Director II, Student and Administrative Services; Amir Alavi, County Deputy District Attorney, Crime Prevention

Riverside County Office of Education believes the best strategy to reduce juvenile delinquency and increase student success is prevention, and has worked closely with the Riverside County District Attorney to achieve these goals. The Crime Prevention program is grounded in collaboration among community and educational entities for coordinated multiagency efforts and is based on the idea of reaching a “tipping point” to create positive change and momentum for safe communities. The program has dedicated time, staff and resources to implement more than 30 effective programs, which have reduced gangs, truancy and crimes. Suspension, expulsion and discipline rates have plummeted, student attendance has dramatically increased and youth arrests and placements in juvenile hall have declined more than 50 percent in the past five years.

Curriculum and Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: Common Core


Dual Immersion

Cecilia Perez, Board President; Dr. Ron Carruth, Superintendent; Dr. Rebecca Rodriguez, Principal

The Dual Immersion program in the Whittier City School District exemplifies the district’s motto: Students First. Every Decision. Every Day. It supports the mission to do whatever it takes to create high-quality, engaging educational opportunities for students. The Dual Immersion program promotes 21st-century learning and global citizenship through bilingualism and multiculturalism.

JR. High/Middle/Intermediate School


Darin Barber, Board President; Jim Coombs, Superintendent; Tamara Irving, Coordinator; Patty Jacobsen, ASB Advisor; Linda Takacs, Principal; Christine Berg, Eric Chittum and Scott Van Diest, Teachers

FLEX is an intervention support and enrichment program built within the school day. New Flex classes begin every three weeks and meet for 38 minutes twice weekly. Students who need more time to master skills are placed in a smaller Core Support Intervention class so they can receive targeted assistance. Core subjects are given priority on a rotating basis providing help to students who may need re-teaching in several subjects. Students who have mastered learning targets sign up for the enrichment FLEX class, which changes every three weeks. Enrichment classes offer students a plethora of choices for new learning experiences such as mini-electives and provide tangible motivation for students to master their core academic skills.

Curriculum and Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: English/Language Arts/Reading


PLC Plus

Nayiri Nahabedian, Board President; Winfred Roberson, Superintendent; Kelly King, Assistant Superintendent; Rosa Alonso, Principal; Ana Tam, Reading Coach; Chris Burt, Teacher Specialist; Jo Anne Bell, Secretary; Teachers at Horace Mann Elementary

PLC Plus is the systematic professional development approach implemented at Horace Mann Elementary that has been a driving force of our successful school improvement efforts. The goal of PLC Plus is to improve the learning and achievement of all students through teacher collaboration, which centers on improved teaching and assessment of the standards and follows a Professional Learning Communities framework, and site-based, targeted training on research-based best practices that support both strong core instructional delivery and reading-strategies instruction.

Curriculum and Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: Foreign Language


Burlingame Elementary School District Spanish Dual Immersion Program

Davina Drabkin, Board President; Dr. Maggie MacIsaac, Superintendent; Paula Valerio, Retired Principal; Dr. Carla Torres and Pam Scott, Principals; Elaine Tarango, Dual Immersion Teacher

The Burlingame School District Dual Language Immersion Program is a choice program that serves both English- and Spanish-speaking students. It is open to students of different backgrounds and abilities, and is designed to meet bilingualism and biliteracy. Students develop a high level of oral and written proficiency in both Spanish and English, achieve academic excellence in all subject areas, meet or exceed district and California State Standards and develop multicultural understanding, demonstrating their ability to appreciate the traditions and values of various cultures in our society and around the world.

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

High School

A Night in the Trenches

Patricia Ingram, Board President; Cali Binks, Superintendent; John Taylor and David Paul, Teachers; Shad Kirkland, Principal; Sharon Bannister, Chuck Christie, Jane Smith and Jim Taylor, Board Members

A Night in the Trenches is a simulated experience for students in Yucaipa High School. From 5 p.m. until the sun rises the next day, two teams of students go on “missions.” Activities include fighting battles, spying on each other, plotting stratagems and binding each other’s “wounds.” A winner is determined based on points earned for the missions. They have only their uniforms and some rations (no phones!) for the whole night. Students who have experienced this event say that it’s life-changing; some decide that history will be their college major, and most show increased interest in, and therefore achievement in, their European and US History courses.

Curriculum and Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: Integrated Content


Dual Magnet Program

Barney Gordon, Board President; Dana Salles Trevethan, Superintendent; Mark Holmes, Former Principal; Sumeet Singh, Principal; Ginette Reeves, Assistant Principal; Walnut Staff

Walnut Elementary Education Center is a comprehensive educational program composed of two magnet programs: Math/Science and Visual and Performing Arts. The program offers diverse opportunities by providing progressive and innovative standards-based instruction that involves family and community partnerships. One of the major defining features of Walnut’s dual magnet program is Walnut Electives, which facilitates the growth and development of students in the areas of their interests and talents. The dual magnet program is a dynamic, evolutionary program that provides an enriched, academically integrated curriculum promoting student application of standards knowledge to real life situations and guiding students towards career and college readiness.

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


Solid Gold STEM

Edward Repucci, Board President; David Pyle, Superintendent; Erica Williams, Principal; Elisabeth Valenzuela Fair, STEM Lab Instructional Assistant

The STEM program at Valley View Elementary provides third through sixth grade students with an integrated approach to the Next Generation Science Standards. Students work in crews to complete weeklong missions on a particular topic for six weeks throughout the school year. Topics span from Climate and Weather to Forces. Each student is provided with a specific role during their mission which allows for collaboration, communication and leadership skills to develop. The program has promoted change in students that are seeing academic success for the first time in the STEM Lab. With the support of the school board, Valley View Elementary has a STEM manager that has taken this program to the next level.


Garden to Classroom STEAM Instructional Strategies

De’Shawn Woolridge, Board President; Janet Schulze, Ed.D., Superintendent; Enrique Palacios, Deputy Superintendent/CBO; Michelle DeCoy, Garden Supervisor; Angelia Nava, Director, Child Nutrition Services; Matthew Belasco, Former Director, Child Nutrition Services

The Garden to Classroom STEAM Instructional Strategies is a districtwide LCAP-supported alternative instructional program at 13 schools in the Pittsburg Unified School District. The Pre-K through 12th grade program provides teachers with unique professional development, delivers innovative educational opportunities to students, and enhances community involvement.


Santa Clara County Office of Education STEAM: Innovative Professional Development Certificates

Dr. Michael Chang, Board President; Jon Gundry, Superintendent; Jeanette Rodriguez-Chien, Chief Academic Officer; Melissa Christie, Director, Curriculum and Instruction; Esther Tokihiro, Director III, STEAM Initiative; Jeff Schmidt, Jennifer Janzen and Jeannine Flores, Coordinators

The Santa Clara County Office of Education’s STEAM Certificate series are yearlong professional development opportunities that promote deeper understanding focused on creating successful integrative practices that support educator learning beyond a one-day workshop. Teachers and administrators participate in this “trainer of trainer” series through integrated learning that aids capacity for STEAM leadership in their school or district. This unique model utilizes either a blended learning platform for digital storytelling and design thinking or a practicum series with project-based learning at an award-winning school site, and partners with key industry and proven practitioners to access trade-level content. Enhancing student learning, the STEAM Certificates provide professional development that ignites engagement and excitement for both teachers and students.

Curriculum and Instruction through the California Standards Implementation: Visual and Performing Arts


Red Barn Arts

Blaise Jackson, Board President; Shannon Hargrave, Superintendent; Kim Read-Smith, Teacher; Erin O’Carroll, Elizabeth LaVine and Errin Arnold, Coordinators

San Pasqual Union School District is the little school in the valley that has been celebrating the arts for decades. In 2013–14, San Pasqual collaborated with Arts Empower to develop a Strategic Arts Education Plan to grow the visual and performing arts program to its fullest potential. Red Barn Arts provides educational opportunities for all students in the visual and performing arts with a focus on the four arts disciplines of dance, music, theater and visual arts. Students receive instruction in visual arts in the dedicated art room and take the stage to perform musicals and/or theater performances yearly. K-5 and most 6-8 students receive instruction from a credentialed teacher in standards-based vocal, instrumental and/or theater instruction, culminating in well-attended, award-winning performances.

Early Childhood Education


Project Screening, Outreach, and Referral Services (SOARS)

Brian Rivas, Board President; David Gordon, Superintendent; Dr. Al Rogers, Deputy Superintendent; Dr. Nancy Herota, Assistant Superintendent; Dr. Natalie Woods Andrews, Director

Project Screening, Outreach, and Referral Services (SOARS) conducts outreach and provides developmental and health screenings for children (infancy through age five) in Sacramento County. Through Project SOARS, family advocates conduct developmental screenings using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and vision and hearing screenings. Family advocates facilitate comprehensive referrals to address family needs and facilitate referrals for further assessment for children who may have a potential developmental delay. Family advocates work closely with families to assist them in navigating access to early intervention or special education services. Project SOARS also works with the regional center and local educational agencies to conduct outreach and education to providers and parents regarding developmental milestones, early warning signs and the importance of early screening and intervention.

Huntington Beach City Learning Link

Paul Morrow, Ed.D., Board President; Gregory Haulk, Superintendent; Carolyn Wertheim and Jenn Kinkel Directors; Dr. Renee Polk Johnson, Retired nurse; Jennifer Shepard, Assistant Superintendent

The Huntington Beach City School District’s Learning Link has been strategically designed in partnership with the community. The overarching goal dictating program strategy is to provide rich and meaningful experiences for children and families prior to formal school entry. Interactive learning sessions that model developmentally appropriate, replicable learning opportunities for young children between the ages of 0-5 are provided weekly at no cost to families. Families are introduced to play entry techniques, best practices in problem solving and experiences that promote fine and gross motor development. The Learning Link program provides local resources to families based on specific individual needs.

English Language Acquisition


First in California: Increasing Language Acquisition through Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion

Penny Loomer; Board President; Olivia Yahya, Executive Director of Language Acquisition; Shannon Villanueva, Principal; Genise Battaglia, Quynh-Tram Vu and Janice Kamada, Teachers

Westminster School District is in the business of preparing students for college, career and life. For students to be A-G prepared and competitive, it is important they speak multiple languages. The Vietnamese Dual Language Immersion program was developed as a part of the board’s vision and Local Control and Accountabiliy Plan goals to increase language acquisition for English learners, biliteracy and college preparedness. As a K-8 district with a population of nearly 10,000 students, with 50 percent English learners, the program meets the needs of students, families and community, as well as meeting the vision of the board and goals of the LCAP.


English Language Development Portfolio

Lynne Ebenkamp, Board President; Dr. Julie Mitchell, Superintendent; Dr. Brian Huff, Director of Instructional Support; Patty Mendoza, Program Specialist; Silvia Rivas, Director of Special Projects

Rowland USD’s English Language Development Portfolio program has built the capacity of teachers to provide English language instruction that aligns to the rigorous expectations outlined in the California ELD Standards. Through a focused study of the standards, a collaboratively developed assessment tool and classroom-embedded instructional coaching, the teachers are engaging English learners in learning activities that improve their ability to communicate, collaborate and think critically in their core content classes.


OCDE Project GLAD®

John “Jack” W. Bedell, Ph.D., Board President; Al Mijares, Ph.D., Superintendent; Nicole Chavez, Manager; Christine Olmstead, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent

The OCDE Project GLAD® program has engaged over 10,000 students and 1,440 teachers since 2004, and is the official National Training Center for the OCDE Project GLAD® training model. The program’s mission is to ensure that English learners develop the language acquisition and literary skills needed to be successful in the 21st century. The OCDE Project GLAD® program encompasses two main components: a language acquisition model and professional development. The structure, strategies and classroom implications are invaluable to the multilingual settings that make up Orange County.

Juanita Haugen Memorial for Civic Education

High School

Downey Unified’s Team Court

Martha Sodetani, Board President; John Garcia, Jr., Ph.D., Superintendent; Nancy Swenson, Donald LaPlante and William Gutierrez, Board Members; Marian Reynolds, Administrator; Robert Jagielski, Ed.D., Director/Principal; Jayro Roman, Student Services and Attendance Coordinator

Downey USD’s Teen Court program is a juvenile diversion and prevention program that links students, schools, teachers, parents, juvenile offenders, local police, civic organizations, volunteer attorneys, the Los Angeles County Probation Department and the Los Angeles Superior Court in a collaborative effort to reduce recidivism and encourage juvenile offenders to accept responsibility for their actions. Downey USD and the Los Angeles Superior Court have embraced a restorative justice model where early intervention becomes the central focus. This model allows selected juvenile offenders to be questioned, judged and sentenced by a jury of their peers, teaching valuable lessons about how courts operate and what it’s like to be a part of the justice system. The alleged offender is given an opportunity to have a meaningful court experience and the ability to restore his character.

Parental/Community Involvement


Parent Reflective Learning Walks

Anna Piercy, Board President; Michael Matsuda, Superintendent; Diana Fujimoto, English Learner Services Curriculum Specialist; Dr. Jaron Fried, Assistant Superintendent, Education Services; Manuel Colon, Chief Academic Officer; Carlos Hernandez, Principal

Anaheim Union HSD’s Parent Reflective Learning Walks program recognizes that parents/guardians are their children’s first and most influential teachers, and that sustained parent involvement in the education of their children contributes greatly to student achievement and a positive school environment. The parents not only become better informed about the California State Standards and classroom instruction, but also build their capacity to advocate for their children.

Escondido Union School District’s Family Engagement Program

Zesty Harper, Board President; Dr. Luis Ibarra, Superintendent; Kimberly Israel, Coordinator; Leila Sackfield, Deputy Superintendent; Kathleen Sorensen, Director, Curriculum and Assessment

The Escondido USD considers parents and family members to be essential partners in efforts to actualize the unlimited potential of every student and the district’s mission. As valued partners, Escondido USD has prioritized the development of a districtwide program geared to encourage true family engagement — empowering family members to serve as leaders, to engage in learning and to serve as participants in their child’s education. The Family Engagement Program welcomes family members as integral members of the school community.

Neighborhood Resource Center

Arturo Montez, Board President; Norma Martinez, Superintendent; Pamela Gandara, Executive Director; Karen Leal, Social Worker; Cecilia Hinojosa, Community Liaison II

The Neighborhood Resource Center in the Centralia ESD is a safe, friendly and caring place where families and community members can access many resources. The Neighborhood Resource Center is a component of the outreach efforts of the Centralia ESD to support families in need. Information is provided regarding the Cal-Fresh program, Housing, ESL adult classes, information for obtaining a GED certificate, counseling services, recreational classes for children, emergency shelters for homeless/displaced families, food distribution services and low-cost medical and dental clinics.

Professional Development and Teacher Recruitment/Retention


Improving Student Mathematical Understanding through Sustained Professional Learning

Doug Rafner, Board President; Holly McClurg, Superintendent; Shelley Peterson, Assistant Superintendent; Dinah Brown, Coordinator; Kristin Gibson, Board Member; Rachel Matteson, Teacher

Del Mar USD’s Improving Student Mathematical Understanding program has been markedly transformed by a highly effective, strategic approach to professional development — the district’s Professional Development Model for Conceptually Based Mathematics. Del Mar USD’s model has been recognized by universities throughout the nation for its job-embedded, multiyear approach to developing teachers’ knowledge and skill in mathematics. For the last six years, all teachers, instructional aides and principals have engaged in extensive learning about children’s thinking, aligned to the implementation of the California Common Core State Standards and Mathematical Practices.


Instructional Coaching: Bridging the “Knowing-Doing” Gap

Evamarie Martinez, Board President; Dan Burns, Superintendent; Blanca Baltazar-Sabbah, Ed.D., Associate Superintendent; Sarah Smith, District Instructional Coach Lead; Leticia Lopez, Math Curriculum Specialist; Gloria Estrada, Assistant Principal; Antonio Garcia, Director

The Salinas Union HSD instructional coaching model includes a multilayered approach to coaching to support teachers at various stages of implementation based on a self-assessment conducted three times a year. The self-assessment is based on the Salinas Union HSD rubric that was developed collaboratively between teachers, administration and labor unit representatives. The design of the model has evolved during the past five years based on feedback from teachers, coaches and administration; it is a dynamic model that is continuously evaluated and refined.

“Grow Your Own” Teacher Recruitment and Retention Program

Dr. Margaret Hill, Board President; Dr. Dale Marsden, Superintendent; Abigail Medina, Dr. Barbara Flores, Michael Gallo, Gwendolyn Rodgers, Danny Tillman, Dr. Scott Wyatt, Board Members

San Bernardino City USD, like many districts throughout the state, is facing teacher shortages. Through a Grow Your Own Program, the district has developed a coordinated program which offers multiple pathways to becoming a teacher in San Bernardino City USD, with the intent of growing the educators of tomorrow within the community. The program offers four specific pathways: San Bernardino City USD high school students; classified employees; college and university students; and members of the community. The key components include a Teacher Academy for high school students, tuition reimbursement for classified employees, opportunities for district classified employment for students and community members, and a strengthened partnership with local colleges and universities.


The Teacher Leadership Collaborative

Janna Waldinger, Board President; Dr. Barbara Nemko, Superintendent; Jill Barnes, Induction Program Coordinator

The Teacher Leadership Collaborative annually launches cohorts of teacher leaders in Napa County by providing comprehensive professional development in the areas of intentional team building, facilitation and effective communication skills. Participants explore how strategic facilitation creates safe, collaborative learning environments and resilient relationships, and promotes group inquiry to increase the creativity and innovation that improves student learning. The Teacher Leader Collaborative engages leaders at all levels in developing the 21st-century skills required for highly evolved and productive schools.

Center for Teacher Innovation New Teacher Induction

Elizabeth Romero, Board President; Dr. Judy White, Superintendent; Barbara Howard, Executive Director; Tonya Almeida, Director; Angel VanHorn, Administrator; Melissa Meetze-Hall, Accreditation Program Manager

Riverside COE’s Center for Teacher Innovation believes high-quality mentoring support within a comprehensive induction program is key to developing and retaining effective teachers. The New Teacher Induction Program has strategically transformed the induction experience by leveraging technology to increase equity and access to a quality system of support. This includes digital curriculum, face-to-face and e-mentoring, classroom and video observation, and virtual collaboration. Students get only one chance to experience each grade level and/or course in their academic career; therefore, it is essential for every new teacher to be well prepared and supported to effectively impact student achievement.

School Climate


Building Bridges

Chris Apodaca, Board President; Dr. Mary Sieu, Superintendent; Annette Janeway, Principal; Stacy Hachiya, School Psychologist; Jessica Boles, District PBIS Coach; Cynthia Santos, Jane Griffin and Patty Alcantar, Teachers

Building Bridges is a schoolwide initiative designed to create a positive, safe learning climate at Bragg School by providing a complete system of support. There are four distinct pillars that build a foundation to create positive, systemic change. Each pillar stands alone and supports the whole. They include: 1) restructuring of playgrounds, including Playworks; 2) school-wide implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports; 3) hiring of key staff (Playworks Coach and Wellness Coordinator); 4) providing trainings and professional development.

Collins is Safe, Civil and Succeeding

Linda Garcia, Board President; Ruth Perez, Superintendent; Vivian Hansen, Alicia Anderson, Sonya Cuellar and Tony Peña, Board Members; Theresa Diaz, Principal; Scott Law, Former Principal

The focus of the Collins is Safe, Civil and Succeeding program at Paramount USD centers around developing better behavior management strategies schoolwide, including in the cafeteria, on buses, in common areas and in classrooms. All teachers and classified staff work together to implement strong and consistent positive behavior supports that build student responsibility. Paramount USD’s board has consistently supported Collins’ efforts with policy, funds and additional site personnel. The results are clearly illustrated in schoolwide suspension rate data.

Changing School Communities and Beyond — Salinas City Elementary School District’s Comprehensive School Climate/Culture Program

Stephen Kim, Board President; Martha Martinez, Superintendent; Lori Sanders, Assistant Superintendent; Everardo Marquez, Principal; Amy Ish and Francisco Estrada, Board Members

Salinas City ESD believes that building positive school communities where students can thrive regardless of their home situations should be the highest priority. Therefore, the district implemented a proactive systems approach to establishing social culture and behavioral supports needed for children to achieve social, emotional and academic success. The comprehensive framework includes implementation of the Restorative Justice Program, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, Olweus: Anti-Bullying Program, and Playworks, a structured recess program. The purpose of these programs is to establish a climate where appropriate behavior is the norm. Each program sets behavioral expectations and rewards students for following them in a positive manner.


Student Youth Court

Robert Garcia, Board President; Elliott Duchon, Superintendent; Ilsa Garza-Gonzalez, Director, Administrative Services

Jurupa USD’s Student Youth Court program is a results-based intervention/prevention program designed to address school-based incidents for youth with school-based behavioral and delinquency problems and/or first-time, school-based, nonviolent misdemeanors, infractions and incidents committed by juveniles who have had no prior adjudicated criminal offenses. The results-based intervention/prevention program also develops leadership skills in all participants while engaging students in restorative practices, civic participation and service learning.

Special Education

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

Circle of Friends

Steve Napier, Board President; Paul Meyers, Superintendent; Vicki Albitre, Principal; Brittaney Lewis and Kayla Coronado, Teachers/Coordinators; Jocelyn Hively, Ed.D., Director

Circle of Friends is a school inclusion program that provides opportunities for students of all abilities to build genuine friendships, as well as to model appropriate social behavior, promote awareness and tolerance of differences and decrease bullying. Students with and without disabilities participate in weekly lunchtime activities in a fun and relaxed setting; they gather together and do what kids do — they talk, laugh, share, play and eat — together. They build rapport and relationships with one another in inclusive settings, and the distinctions between general education and special education are erased. These regular gatherings have built relationships that extend beyond the 45-minute lunch and into students’ daily lives at school. The program has contributed to a more inclusive setting for students with special needs and a more welcoming and friendly school climate.

Redefining Services: Pushing in to Maximize Learning

Craig Bueno, Board President; Kelly Bowers, Ed.D., Superintendent; Pat Avilla, Principal; Steve Martin, Teacher; Chuck Rogge, Kate Runyon, Chris Wenzel and Anne White, Board Members

Schools in Livermore Valley Joint USD are tasked with upholding the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan goal to “increase the number of students who have the skills and knowledge to graduate from high school, college, and/or be career ready.” Targeting a group of academically at-risk students, Christensen Middle School has been creating a supportive environment for all learners that offers students on Individualized Education Plans specific classes with a trained resource teacher where students receive high-quality support, instead of offering the traditional pull-out model. This Resource Teacher Push-In program pairs a resource teacher with a general education teacher, and the two work directly with students as material is initially presented. Christensen Middle School captures the opportunity to go beyond the traditional resource setting and stagnate pull-out model, creating a highly effective and safe heterogeneous learning environment.

Student Services


Project Find-’em

Michelle Rivas, Board President; Steven Martinez, Superintendent; Dayna Russell, Program Specialist; Robyn Brown, Registration; Jackie White and Rudy Puente Directors; Chris Arnold and Carol Young Coordinators

Twin Rivers USD believes that all students should graduate college and career ready. Project Find-’em is a districtwide systematic program identifying and re-engaging high school students who are in danger of not graduating, or have dropped out. Twin Rivers USD recognizes that the backbone of a strong community is a strong workforce. Essential to a workforce is the education of the workers. Project-Find-’em, strives to ensure that all students have a high school diploma and workforce development skills. Project-Find-‘em’s impact has been dramatic — the graduation rate is now higher than the Sacramento County rate and higher than other large school districts within the Sacramento region.

Comprehensive School-Wide Social Emotional Support Program

Barney Gordon, Board President; Dana Trevethan, Superintendent; Dr. Laura Fong, Principal; Stephanie Trussler, Student Support Assistant; Mary Duffy, Music Teacher; Nancy Dailey and Aimee Silva, Facilitators; Marcos Rivera, Character Coach

In order to teach students, we need to meet them where they are and provide them with the necessary support to ensure their success. Sometimes these supports are academic in nature and sometimes these supports are social-emotional. Children thrive in an environment in which they feel cared about and are treated with kindness, compassion and respect. In considering the needs of the whole child when educating them, we can create a better future for the child as well as the community. The social-emotional needs of students at Dennis Earl Elementary School were great, and social-emotional supports were needed to respond to student behavior in a proactive, rather than reactive, manner. It is with this in mind that the Comprehensive School-wide Social Emotional Support program was implemented at Dennis Earl Elementary.

High School

AVID Program “Advancement Via Individual Determination”

Shari Megaw, Board President; Dr. Mathew Holton, Superintendent; Sue Ovitt, John Rhinehart, Art Bustamonte and Charles Uhalley, Board Members; Martin Alvarado, Principal; Danielle Warner, Coordinator

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college readiness program that works “to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.” Montclair High School has been on the forefront as an AVID innovator since the 2000–01 school year. The AVID college preparatory mission interacts with and permeates everything in the campus climate and culture at Montclair High School, and has helped to create a robust college-going atmosphere.


Operation Student Recovery

Dr. Margaret Hill, Board President; Dr. Dale Marsden, Superintendent; Abigail Medina, Dr. Barbara Flores, Michael Gallo, Gwendolyn Rodgers, Danny Tillman and Dr. Scott Wyatt, Board Members

The city of San Bernardino consistently struggles with violence. In an effort to help close the school-to-prison pipeline, San Bernardino City USD formed Operation Student Recovery, a student outreach program designed to create community outreach and help reduce chronic absenteeism. Operation Student Recovery targets student in kindergarten through 12th grade by conducting home visits to offer assistance, interventions and resources to families and students.

Sustainable, Renewable, Energy and Resource Efficient Programs


Comprehensive Energy and Envision Program

Paul Morrow, Ed.D., Board President; Gregory Haulk, Superintendent; Jon Archibald, Assistant Superintendent; Suzanne Gentilini, Senior Manager; Briana Lewis, STEM Education Manager; Curtis Campbell, Project Manager; Jennifer Shepard, Assistant Superintendent; Mike Morado, Maintenance Electrician

By partnering with OpTerra Energy Services for a comprehensive energy program, Huntington Beach City School District leaders have brought benefits to the entire community by investing in sustainable, energy-efficient technology. Multiple energy conservation and renewable generation technologies, including the installation of more than one megawatt of solar capacity, HVAC improvements and new LED lighting maximize financial and environmental benefits for the district. The program went beyond technical energy upgrades by directly tying the infrastructure improvements into classroom learning. District students were provided real-world, hands-on learning opportunities and teaching staff received professional development sessions and resources.

Encinitas Environmental Educational Cluster (E3)

Gregg Sonken, Board President; Timothy Baird, Superintendent; Mim Michelove, Director, Farm Lab

The Encinitas Environmental Educational Cluster program was formed to support the educational initiatives of the government and nonprofit partner organizations who share a common location in our community and a common vision around the importance of teaching learners of all ages about our environment. Original partners included the Encinitas USD, the YMCA, the San Diego Botanic Garden, the Leichtag Foundation, the Heritage Museum, and Seacrest Retirement Community. Encinitas USD facility is a unique learning center called Farm Lab. Farm Lab works in conjunction with its E3 Cluster partners to provide real-world, hands-on learning opportunities for all students in the district, as well as to grow produce for the district child nutrition breakfast and lunch program.



A Schoolwide Take Home iPad Program to Advance Literacy

Rick Ledesma, Board President; Dr. Gunn Marie Hansen, Superintendent; Dr. John Albert, Principal; Anne Truex, Assistant Superintendent; Christina Lin, Administrative Director; Tam Nguyen, Director; Elena Rodriguez, Administrative Director Special Programs

The Take Home iPad program in grades K-5 is a blended learning digital literacy program that increases students’ ability to read, write and communicate with oral fluency. Customized learning pathways are provided for students, with enhanced real-time data for teachers to guide instruction and facilitate targeted interventions. Utilizing data, our Reading Specialist pushes into the classroom to teach high-leverage reading intervention lessons. The “Mind the Gap” data team meets weekly to monitor usage and reading interventions, and provide support to teachers. This program provides opportunities to digitally create and publish using applications such as Google Docs, Educreations and Noteability. The students collaboratively master the writing process. Digitized GLAD strategies, response frames, communication objectives and real-life applications are utilized to individualize fluency for our English learners, producing a higher level of oral and reading comprehension.

Jr. High/Middle/Intermediate School

VEX Jets Robotics

Steve DeMarzio, Board President; Regina Rossall, Superintendent; Matt Anderson, VEX Robotics Teacher; Liz Anderson, VEX Robotics Advisor; Steve Wood, Principal

The VEX Jets Robotics program challenges students to build and program a competition-level robot that must complete a series of actions utilizing ROBOTC and VEX parts. The VEX teams consist of male and female students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade in three separate middle school teams. All participants must be able to complete various tasks throughout the year, including building the robot using a computer-drafting program called Autodesk Inventor and/or using 3D-printing techniques to design and print the season’s game. This robotics platform creates an environment for students to explore a variety of engineering concepts, thinking beyond the limits that are usually set forth in a traditional classroom, and developing real-life robotics designs. Student participants build a strong foundation in engineering design, receive early exposure to STEM careers and gain first-hand knowledge of a future in engineering and similar fields of study.



Health and Wellness — Policies and Practices that Address the Whole Child

Geri Rivera, Board President; Dr. Michelle McLean, Superintendent; Dee Abema, Director, Nutrition Services; Karen Davis, Supervisor, Family Resource Center

The Arvin Union School District created a policy that has impacted thousands of lives for the better by using a collaborative approach spearheaded by the superintendent and Family Resource Center coordinator, and supported by the board. The policy and practices have become a model for the state and Kern County and is now used as an example for other school districts across the state. Arvin Union School District was able to leverage success early on and partner with outside organizations. Arvin Union School District has seen attendance, academic achievement, physical fitness, and community engagement increase steadily, while seeing suspensions drastically decrease.

Nutrition in the Garden

Christina Lucero, Board President; Dr. Froilan Mendoza, Superintendent; John Kerr, Ed.D., Senior Director; Denise Tornatore, Teacher; George Funk, Instructor; Reyna Del Haro, Public Affairs Director, Kaiser Permanente; Maggie Pierce, Senior Vice President/Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente; Sheryl Sack, Chief Administrative Officer, Kaiser Permanente

Baldwin Park USD believes that following a healthy diet is essential to overall health and longevity, and initiating healthy eating habits at an early age is critical. Nutrition in the Garden is a health and nutrition education program that provides students the opportunity to plant seeds, harvest produce and use the ingredients in easy fruit- or vegetable-based recipes. The recipes introduce the children to various vegetables and are easy to prepare. Students and their parents, who often attend the program, are encouraged to prepare the recipes at home.

High School

Wellness Center

Dr. Y. Tony Torng, Board President; Dr. Robert Taylor, Superintendent; Reuben Jones, Principal; David Hong, Assistant Principal; Sandy Davis, Wellness Center Advisor; Dan Roubian, Peer Counseling Advisor; Whitney Prenger, Instructional Dean; Julie Galindo, Wellness Center Supervisor

The Diamond Bar High School wellness staff is committed to providing wellness education and resources, in addition to trained Peer Counselors who can assist students in a supportive environment in order to empower them to develop healthy strategies for personal management, improve school climate and promote academic success. The staff continually strives to be responsive to the educational needs of all students, believing that the physical, emotional, social, intellectual and cultural dimensions of students are the foundation of a well-balanced approach to academic success. In order for students to be effective learners and grow into productive, well-adjusted adults, they must learn how to be more resilient by taking ownership and responsibility for their own wellness.


Nutrition and Culinary Outreach program

Lisa Kaplan, Board President; Chris Evans, Superintendent; Vince Caguin, Nutrition Services Director; Rylee Welly, Nutrition Services Coordinator; Jennifer Orosco, Office Specialist III

Remember the old adage, “Food for thought?” Natomas Unified School District is producing plenty of both through a wide-ranging program that goes far beyond the traditional stocking of school cafeterias to use the expertise of its Nutrition Services Department in working directly with high school culinary clubs and students of all ages through cooking demonstrations, cooking instruction, farm field trips, and by teaching about nutrition, healthy eating, and food-related careers. The purpose is to impact students’ lives by showing them why healthy food matters. Nutrition Services staff, with many years of cooking knowledge and experiences, are a perfect fit to work with students — and staff have been receptive to sharing their knowledge. “This is as true of fruits and vegetables as it is for math.”