Three elementary schools in Davis — Willett, Birch Lane and Chávez — were recognized recently as California Distinguished Schools for 2014. The Science & Technology Academy in Knights Landing (part of the Woodland school district) also was recognized.
“Willett, Birch Lane and Chávez elementary schools have each exemplified our high standard of academic excellence in earning the state’s Distinguished School designation,” said Superintendent Winfred Roberson. “I hope all of Davis will celebrate the teachers, students, administrators and parents at these three sites who have focused on building equitable and rigorous academic program and narrowed the achievement gap.”
Willett was recognized for its school climate and connections program. The California Department of Education said Willett Principal Heidi Perry “has made positive changes to the campus based on student feedback received in student surveys. Students, parents and staff alike overwhelmingly agreed that the school climate is safe and nurturing; there is open communication and transparency between staff, parents and students.
“Events such as Community Care offer community involvement at the school and students were very excited about a tree-planting activity,” the department continued. “Students also expressed that the Big Buddies program helps provide a wider range of friends and caring for one another.”
Chávez was recognized for its collaborative, systematic and data-driven reading program. “Collaboration among parents, teachers, counselors, instructional reading assistants and administration was evident throughout each grade level,” the department said. “Students expressed appreciation for the ability to feel comfortable asking teachers to explain and help them understand and explain areas in which they can improve.”
Birch Lane was recognized for its Promoting Literacy for All program. “Literacy and the love of literature permeate the Birch Lane campus,” the department said. “The library feels like the ‘hub’ of the campus where all great books and campaigns begin; and the Reading Room serves as its partner supporting student in a creative, caring partnership.
“Students read 18,805 picture books during February’s ‘Love a Picture Book Month.’ In addition, Poetry Slams, pen pals, creating picture books, reading centers, silent reading, novel groups, written response to literature and reading games and puzzles were evident throughout the campus.”
The Science & Technology Academy in Knights Landing, known as Sci-Tech, was recognized for its “hands-on, minds-on thematic approach to teaching, which integrates science across the curriculum, and the development of personalized learning plans for each student.”
To receive a Distinguished School Award, schools must be invited to apply after meeting a variety of eligibility criteria, including accountability measures. The process consists of a written application and a county-led site validation review process focused on the implementation of the school’s signature practices.