Oakland, CA — On Wednesday, December 18, Oakland Unified School District received some remarkable news from State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond and communicated in this release to Zennie62Media. He announced his list of 2020 California Distinguished Schools, and OUSD has not just one, but three schools that are receiving the honor. They are Cleveland Elementary School, Crocker Highlands Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond.
“These outstanding schools don’t just educate students; they also provide the young people of California the tools they need to be successful after graduation,” Thurmond said about all 323 Distinguished Schools across the state. “Thanks go to all the staff at these schools – teachers, administrators, classified employees – and parents, who are working together to provide high-quality educational experiences for all of their students.”
The Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools based on performance and progress on the state indicators including test scores, suspension rates, and conditions and climate. Elementary schools and middle and high schools are recognized in alternate years, therefore, awardees hold the title for two years.
Cleveland Elementary School.
In a press release, the California Department of Education used Cleveland Elementary as an example and said it “serves the very diverse and historically underserved city of Oakland, with a large percentage of students living in poverty and a large percentage of English learners. With a student body from varied backgrounds, the school came together to identify that they wanted to build a community around the shared values of inclusiveness and responsibility. They also specifically focused on the academic achievement and feelings of connectedness of African American students, English language learners, and students with disabilities.”
“It feels great,” said Cleveland Principal Peter Van Tassel. “Our kids are going to be really excited about it. It’s going to reinforce that they are doing the hard work. For our teachers, this really shines a statewide light on the work they are doing. The way we have organized ourselves, in which we have always put underserved communities first, is clearly paying off.” Van Tassel added that he shared the news with his staff during a potluck after school on Wednesday, and that they erupted in cheers.
Lincoln Elementary School.
Lincoln Elementary Principal, Mukta Sambrani, is overjoyed at the recognition and says it would not have been possible without the steady support of their parents and guardians. “I am proud and humbled to have our school recognized as a California Distinguished School. Our students have always exceeded expectations academically. Our award this year is a testament to our student outcomes and our staff’s consistent efforts to meet the needs of every one of our diverse students, academically, socially and emotionally, through multi-tiered systems of support. In becoming Principal of Lincoln, I knew that much of my work was going to be around streamlining systems of support and accountability and shining a bright light on the great work our staff does. I love our big little school with a heart for equity and soul for excellence.”
Crocker Highlands Elementary School.
“I am so proud to represent the students, faculty, staff and families at Crocker,” said Crocker Highlands Elementary Principal Jocelyn Kelleher. She explains the school was nominated for the award based on its academic achievements, reduction of the opportunity gap and positive climate and culture. “I believe we received the recognition for four reasons. First, because our teachers create safe environments in which students are highly engaged, inspired to think broadly and feel safe taking academic risks. Second, the adults at school regard all students as ‘our kids,’ and we always work together on their behalf. Third, we offer academic, social and emotional programs to support students most in need. And finally, we benefit from high levels of our parent and community involvement.”
“I am so proud of the work of these three schools, their staff, their students, and the entire school communities,” said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “This recognition as a 2020 California Distinguished School is the result of a true team effort involving every young person and every adult on each campus. Our students have to contend with so much growing up in our world, and this recognition clearly shows their ability to thrive in spite of adversity, and their ability to bond with their teachers and other school staff and together create outstanding environments for learning. It’s also a wonderful reminder that we have the best teachers and school staff anywhere. We all send a heartfelt congratulations to everyone at Cleveland, Crocker Highlands and Lincoln elementary schools.”
Our California Distinguished Schools, along with the rest of the schools from across the state, will be honored on February 10, 2020 during an awards ceremony at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.
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