Thursday, March 29, 2012

Distinguished School Award Goes to Ten Elementary Campuses

California Distinguished School Eleven elementary schools in the San Diego Unified School District have been designated Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education.

The schools are: Benchley Weinberger in San Carlos; Dingemen Elementary in Scripps Ranch; Doyle Elementary in University City; Hardy Elementary in the College Area; Holmes Elementary in Clairemont; Marvin Elementary in Allied Gardens; Kumeyaay Elementary in Tierrasanta; La Jolla Elementary in La Jolla;  Tierrasanta Elementary in Tierrasanta; Toler Elementary in Clairemont; Torrey Pines Elementary in La Jolla.

"This is truly a great honor for these schools, their students, principal, staff, parents, volunteers and the entire community," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "It's not easy to become a California Distinguished School. It requires great scores and a commitment by the staff to go through the lengthy state process."

The state makes the awards to elementary schools on even-numbered years, middle and high schools on odd-numbered years.

"The schools we are recognizing today demonstrate the incredible commitment of California’s teachers, administrators, and school employees to provide a world-class education to every student, in spite of the financial hardships facing our state and our schools," said Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. "Their dedication is inspiring, and I applaud and admire their passion and persistence."

Each school is unique to its neighborhood.
  • Benchley Weinberger in the San Carlos neighborhood focuses on teaching its students dynamic communications skills. Students produce, film, edit, direct and star in a news program broadcast throughout the school. Field trips to theater performances, museums, floating biology labs, along with art lessons, pen and e-pals, sign language, music, P.E., and assemblies promote artistic/alternative communication.
  • Dingeman Elementary is located in the Miramar Ranch North neighborhood of the Scripps Ranch community and is proud of its community connection: it is named after a local civic activist Bob Dingeman. The school's API exceeds 900 and the school mixes high academic standards with acknowledgement that parents, teachers and community members are all partners in education.
  • Doyle Elementary in the University City neighborhood, near UC San Diego, and is the school for many of children of the university's faculty, research scientists and graduate students. The enrollment includes children from more than 30 countries, speaking more than 20 languages and providing cultural diversity that makes for a rich educational experience. Parent and community volunteers help in classrooms throughout the campus and with special events, such as the annual International Festival.
  • Hardy Elementary School, adjacent to San Diego State University and enjoys strong partnerships with the university; the school is named after SDSU's president from 1910-35. The school has been certified by the district as Family Friendly, has an active PTA and involvement by parents and grandparents as volunteers. More than 100 students participated in the before-school Mileage Club, with runners learning important fitness and life lessons.
  • Holmes Elementary is located in a quiet corner of the Clairemont neighborhood. Its API exceeds 900 and it has been listed on the California Business for Education Honor Roll for two years. All teachers in grades 3-6 are certified for Gifted and Talented Education (GATE). The school's active PTA funds an award-winning art program, a music teacher and the computer lab. The campus includes a student garden, rock-climbing wall and a fitness obstacle-course.
  • Marvin Elementary is in the Allied Gardens neighborhood and relishes its community ties. Several of today's teachers were once Marvin students and the school's Parent Teacher Foundation plays an active role in the school and community. The school has a fully equipped science lab and full-time science teacher, an annual science fair, GATE and Seminar programs. The PTF also purchases books for the library, sponsors assemblies, and produces the variety show.
  • Kumeyaay Elementary is in the northern part of the Tierrasanta neighborhood and provides an enriched curriculum that includes science and music instruction funded through the school's foundation. Three teachers have received the prestigious certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The school has "Caught Being Good Slips," where a student is given the award for random acts of kindness. Military family support is important, with nearby base housing.
  • La Jolla Elementary School is a historic campus located in "downtown" La Jolla. With an active foundation and parent community. The focus is on creating lifelong learners, enthusiastic readers and critical thinkers. Sciences are also important, with oceanography units that help kids learn about the nearby Pacific Ocean. The PTO and Foundation have helped create a beautiful campus learning environment and hold regular events keep the community involved.
  • Tierrasanta Elementary is in the center of the Tierrasanta neighborhood. Parents and community members volunteer in classrooms and provide enrichment programs and special projects. In addition, Art Corps, student recognition, gardening classroom volunteering, as well as the school’s and website, offer multiple ways for parents and community members to become involved.
  • Toler Elementary is located in the southwest part of the Clairemont community, overlooking Mission Bay. Toler parents volunteer in the classroom and serve on various decision-making groups, such as the Parent Teacher Association, School Site Council, Site Governance Team, and English Learner Advisory Committee. Toler parents participate in recognition assemblies, student activities, family events, student performances, and Family Academic Nights.
  • Torrey Pines Elementary is located high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Its proximity to the UC San Diego campus provides an opportunity for collaboration with an institute of higher learning. It consistently ranks as one of the top performing elementary schools in San Diego County and is in the top five percent of schools in the state. It has a very active parent involvement program, spearheaded by the Torrey Pines Elementary School Foundation.
For more information from the state Department of Education, go to For a list of San Diego Unified distinguished schools through the years, go to this web page.