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Three Downey Unified Schools Named 2020 California Distinguished Schools

Price, Ward and Williams elementary schools honored by California Department of Education

Three Downey Unified elementary schools have earned the designation as California Distinguished Schools. At the end of December, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that 323 elementary schools from across California, which include Downey Unified’s Price, Ward and Williams elementary schools, are being honored under the 2020 California Distinguished Schools Award Program. Sponsored by the California Department of Education and presented by California Casualty, the program recognizes outstanding education programs as well as practices, and schools are awarded for closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.

“These outstanding schools don’t just educate students; they also provide the young people of California with the tools they need to be successful after graduation,” Thurmond said in a news release. “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.”

This is the second time that Price Elementary has earned this designation and the third time for Ward Elementary School. Downey Unified has had 14 schools from across the district receive this honor, these schools include: Warren High School (2013); Alameda, Price, Unsworth and Ward elementary schools (2010); Carpenter, Rio Hondo and Unsworth elementary schools (2006); Stauffer (formerly West) Middle School (2005); Old River, Pace and Rio San Gabriel elementary schools (2004); Doty (formerly East) and Griffiths middle schools (2001).

Distinguished School awardees represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful school climate efforts ranging from real-time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention.

The California Distinguished Schools Program took a hiatus from 2015 to 2017 due to the time required for California to transition to new assessment and accountability systems.  During this time, the California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to have a program focused on honoring schools while the designation of Distinguished School was unavailable. Over this three-year break, Downey Unified had at least one school selected for this award each year. These schools include: Doty Middle School and Warren High School (2015), Old River Elementary (2016) and Griffiths Middle School (2017).

A component of the California School Recognition Program, the Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools based on performance and progress on the state indicators as specified on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include 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.

These California Distinguished Schools, along with California Exemplary Arts Education Schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools, National Terrel H. Bell Awardees, and National ESEA Distinguished Schools, will all be honored on Feb.10, 2020, during an awards ceremony at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. For more information, please visit the CDE California School Recognition Program web page.

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Downey Unified Recognized for High Achievement in Student Success

Eleven Downey Unified Schools Selected for Prestigious Honor Roll issued by a National Campaign of Business and Education Leaders

It was announced in June that many Downey Unified schools have been selected by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP) as 11 of the 1,831 public schools in California to receive the title of 2018-19 Honor Roll School. This program, sponsored by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE), is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and districts that are improving student outcomes.

The schools within Downey Unified that have received the title of 2018-19 Honor Roll School are: Doty Middle, Downey High, Gallatin Elementary, Griffiths Middle, Lewis Elementary, Price Elementary, Rio Hondo Elementary, Stauffer Middle, Unsworth Elementary, Warren High and Williams Elementary.

The 2018 – 2019 Honor Roll is developed by ERP, a nonprofit organization that applies data science to help improve student outcomes and career readiness. ERP maintains the nation’s largest database on student achievement and utilizes this data to identify higher-performing schools and districts. Schools that receive the ERP Honor Roll distinction have demonstrated consistent high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time, and a reduction in achievement gaps among student populations.  For high schools, the ERP Honor Roll recognition also includes measures of college readiness.

“We are so proud to be recognized by leaders in the California business community by having 11 of our schools named ERP Honor Roll Schools,” said Downey Unified Superintendent, Dr. John Garcia. “Our teachers, staff and administrators work tirelessly to keep the focus on high expectations, student academic achievement and continuously improve our practices. This hard work and dedication is paying off for all of our students.”

“The Honor Roll is the only school recognition program in California based solely on objective achievement data,” said Marilyn Reznick, ERP’s board chair. “Schools don’t even know they’ve earned the honor until we tell them. Our goal is to guide other educators to data-informed best practices for raising student achievement.”

“ERP is all about improving educational equity and promoting career readiness for all students, regardless of their family income, background or ZIP code,” said James Lanich, Ph.D., ERP president and CEO.  “These Honor Roll schools and districts are living proof that our students can succeed when schools are committed to removing educational obstacles and accelerating student success. By focusing attention on these bright spots among our schools, we hope to change the conversation from ‘what’s wrong’ to ‘what’s working,’ and encourage others to replicate their success.”

In California, the ERP Honor Roll is supported by numerous businesses and organizations, including the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) Macy’s, Enterprise Holding Inc., the Auto Club of Southern California and Wells Fargo.

To access the ERP Honor Roll, visit www.edresults.org

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Three teachers from across Downey Unified were recognized by the Downey United Masonic Lodge 220 at the Board of Education’s monthly meeting held on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. This annual award, which first began in 1964, is presented to a teacher from each level in the Downey Unified School District. This year’s Masonic Teacher of the Year recipients are Lacy Atlas, Kathleen Carter and John Glaister.

Beginning at the elementary level, Lucy Atlas, a fifth-grade teacher at Old River Elementary School, was selected for her unwavering dedication to the success of every student. Beginning her teaching career in Downey Unified at Gauldin Elementary School in 1986, Atlas then transferred to Old River Elementary School in 1997 when the school was first opened.  She currently assists in the GATE program, the Gator Glee and has coached students in the Carnival of Champions for the past 25 years.

“Ms. Atlas is humble yet determined to do the right things and to do right by our district, our school and our students,” proudly expressed Old River Elementary School principal, Caryn Jasich. “She knows that the support she provides is essential in helping students build the confidence they need to navigate this ever-changing world we live in.”

Kathleen Carter, a Social Studies teacher at Doty Middle School, was chosen as the second Masonic Teacher of the Year representing the middle school level. Previously an ASB Advisor for three years, Carter started at Doty Middle School in 1994 when it was still named East Middle School.  Due to family priorities, she accepted a part-time position at the Downey Adult School assisting in the GED diploma program, then in 2013 she rejoined the Doty staff.  Carter is the co-chairperson for the Social Studies Department and played a key role in assisting the school in receiving the state and national Schools To Watch designation.

“She incorporates new teaching strategies and integrates new technology that she finds effective in always improving student learning,” stated Brent Shubin, principal of Doty Middle School. “Mrs. Carter is a shining example of what being an outstanding educator is all about.”

Selected from the high school level, Art teacher John Glaister from Columbus High School, was the final Downey Unified teacher to be honored. Glaister has been a teacher at Columbus High for 15 years, teaching art and acting as an ASB Advisor. He provides support across the district, helping elementary schools by making classroom sets of student whiteboards and creating signage for various rooms. Glaister is also active in the Downey community assisting in building book boxes around the city while the public library is closed for renovations.

“Above all Mr. Glaister is an example for all on campus,” began Columbus High’s principal, Anthony Zegarra. “He helps in any way he can to make Columbus the best place for all who enter our doors every day.”

All three of the Downey Unified teachers that were awarded the Masonic Teacher of the Year exhibit qualities that direct students down a path that leads them to be citizens of strong character and globally competitive, while providing them with the appropriate tools to be both college and career ready.

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Doty Middle School celebrates selection as California and National “Schools to Watch”

In February, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that 16 new high-performing California middle schools have been recognized in the 2018–19 Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage program.  Included in this Schools to Watch cohort is Downey Unified’s Doty Middle School.  These high-performing model schools demonstrate academic excellence, social equity, and responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents.

“These middle schools make a great impact on students, and I want to thank the staff, administrators, teachers, and parents at these schools for ensuring all students get the education they need to realize their potential,” Thurmond said. “These schools study and support students’ needs, which helps close achievement gaps and creates a better future for these young students.”

On March 13, 2019, Doty Middle School will be holding a celebration at 1 p.m. for staff, district leaders, school board members, local officials and dignitaries in honor of the California designation as a 2018 Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage model middle school. In June, Doty Middle School will also be recognized in Washington DC as a National Schools to Watch.

“We are honored to have received this recognition,” said Doty’s Principal Brent Shubin. “Our staff and students have worked very hard to make Doty Middle School a place where students can thrive.”

Doty Middle School joins last year’s National Schools to Watch designees, Griffiths and Stauffer middle schools.

“This ceremony is an affirmation of the fantastic work so many have done within our school, our Board of Education, the district and even our larger community,” proudly expressed Superintendent, Dr. John Garcia.

California’s Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage program uses a competitive, rigorous review process to identify high performing, high impact middle schools so that all middle schools may have models of real-world success.

To earn this designation, schools must complete an extensive application that is reviewed by middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years. All of the schools will be recognized in Sacramento at the California Middle Grades Alliance annual luncheon on March 14, 2019. For more information about the program, please visit the CLMS High Performing Middle School Models webpage.

The Schools to Watch program is sponsored by the California Department of Education, California League of Middle Schools (CLMS) and the California Middle Grades Alliance.

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Message from DUSD Superintendent

and DEA President

 

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