Parents, students, teachers, civic leaders and education officials joined representatives of the awarding organization, California Schools to Watch: Taking Center Stage, at a pair of ceremonies honoring the schools.
California Schools to Watch is connected with a nationwide organization to improve middle school education.
Only 12 middle schools in California met the program’s criteria for an ongoing record of student achievement and a proven ability to adapt to the diverse needs of students.
At the ceremony for each school Thursday, the program’s representatives, Director Carole Carlson and Dr. Irvin Howard of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, presented the staff and student body with a large banner recognizing them as a School to Watch.
In his speech addressing the students, staff, and community of San Lorenzo Valley Middle School, Howard described the both campuses as being “on a trajectory toward success.”
“This is a special place, where wonderful things are happening,” he said. “This site will become a site where other (schools) will come to learn.”
Other dignitaries, including Assemblyman Mark Stone and 5th District Supervisor Bruce McPherson, gave remarks at the ceremonies.
Each campus will be recognized as a School to Watch for a three-year term, during which time it will serve as a role model for leaders of other middle schools seeking ways to serve students better.
San Lorenzo Valley Middle School Principal Jeff Calden said the achievement was momentous because it took into account the full scope of the role the school and the community play in students’ lives, not just their test scores.
“It’s what you’re doing for kids, day in and day out,” he said. “It’s everything you’re trying to do to help these kids succeed — it was about our intervention programs, it’s about our special education.”
Calden said the lengthy application process included surveys of the complete staff and compilation of extensive student data. In addition, a panel of four representatives from winning schools visited in December to interact with teachers, students and community members.
“They talked to kids a lot, which was great,” he said. “Every single one of them was previous winners — they know middle school.”
The two local schools were announced as winners in January, and each sent a delegation to Sacramento later that month to speak at a meeting of the California League of Middle Schools.
Calden said he and a teacher would fly to Washington, D.C., in early summer to accept an award from the national Schools to Watch organization.
“It’s a pretty cool honor,” Calden said. “It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.”
At a glance
Scotts Valley Middle School and San Lorenzo Valley Middle School were named 2013 Schools to Watch, a title shared by only 10 other middle schools in California, based on academic achievement, social equity and accommodation of diversity. For information: www.clms.net/stw.
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