In 2018, 240 entries in 20 categories were received. Experts from school districts and county offices of education comprised the 17-member judging panel. If you are interested in replicating a program and would like more information on a specific program, please contact us.


Attendance = Achievement

Ronald Parker, Board President; Russell Freitas, Superintendent; Terry Anderson, Director of Administrative Services; Karyn Church, Tracey Coelho and Gerrett Suarez, Guidance Instructional Advisers; Brandon St. Lucia, Learning Director; Maria Alvarez, Attendance Clerk

Firebaugh-Las-Deltas USD has taken a fresh approach in getting students to school every day with a program called Attendance = Achievement. The district examined its three-tiered approach of prevention, early identification and intervention, and created an expanded continuum of support for all students and their parents or guardians.


Independent/Alternative Education

Ann Corwin, Board President; Julie Vitale, Superintendent; Reginald Thompkins, Deputy Superintendent; Jessica Poumele, Principal

The Independent/Alternative Education program was developed more than a decade ago to locate students who dropped out of high school — with the goal of bringing them back to school. Teachers frequented local parks and community events and shared highlights about the new program in which students would receive individualized learning plans, flexible scheduling and differentiated instruction, with an emphasis on building relationships.

The Vision, the Partnerships and the Resounding Success

Dan Cunningham, Board President; Julie Duncan, Superintendent; Odie Douglas, Assistant Superintendent; Valerie Arkin and Charles Rogge, Board Members; Amy Brown, Coordinator; Roanna Bennie, Interim President; Kelly Mogilefsky, Instructor

The Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program works with its districts to provide under-represented, college-bound students an innovative, regional alternative to traditional programs. The goal is to give students an opportunity to experience success and pursue higher education.


CATEGORY SPONSOR: United Association of California Apprenticeship Coordinators, $1,000 award eligible

Be Tech Career Academy

Stephen Schluer, Board President; Clark Burke, Superintendent; Roger Goatcher, Deputy Superintendent; Clara Schmiedt, Senior Director; Carey Simoni, Principal

Be Tech Career Academy is a High School in the Manteca USD. Be Tech opened its doors in August 2012, with Be Cuisine (Culinary Arts). Each academy is geared to providing students with job readiness competencies and technical coursework in their career pathway. While enrolled, students also complete requirements to earn their high school diploma. A work experience component provides students with practical employment experience while their Professional Development 101 course, guest speakers and fieldtrip opportunities provide students with broader career and employment exposure.

Biomedical Science Pathway

Emilee Layne, Board President; Melissa Moore, Superintendent; Nancy Cobb, Jeanie Nishime, Board Members; Jennifer Hawn, Principal; Donna Tucker, Kathy Moody and Tiffany Maisonet, Biomedical Science Teachers

The Biomedical Science Pathway at El Segundo USD engages students in a series of courses over four years of high school that combine rigorous curriculum in the life sciences and health care technology with hands-on activities and experiences in the health care industry. Biomedical Science students experience career-focused opportunities and work-based learning with leading industry partners.

Highlander Marketing and Business Academy

Andy Montoya, Board Member; Scott Scambray, Superintendent

The Highlander Marketing and Business Academy at La Habra High School is a small learning community for both college-bound and employment-bound students. The program is rich in technology-based learning, A-G core curriculum, and through a partnership with the La Habra Area Chamber of Commerce community-based work experience.

Canyon Aviation Science Pathway

Alexia Deligianni-Brydges, Board President; Gunn Marie Hansen, Superintendent; Craig Abercrombie, Principal; Steve Smith, Aviation Pathway Teacher

The Canyon Aviation Science Pathway program offers students an opportunity to explore the aviation industry through four courses that will teach them the scientific and mathematical principles of aviation, apply academic and career-readiness skills in a workplace environment, and prepare them to successfully pass the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam.

Inspire a Workforce Development Program

David Isom, Board President; Kris Corey, Superintendent; Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce; Suisun City Salvation Army Kroc Center; Solano County Office of Education, Dixon, Travis and Vacaville Unified School Districts

Inspire a Workforce Development Program at the Fairfield-Suisun USD is an interactive career fair that informs eighth-grade students about the career opportunities in the local communities. Students are introduced, with hands-on activities, to the Solano County career pathways that align to the students’ areas of interest.


Civic Engagement Program

Laura Sanchez-Ramirez, Board President; Tracy McSparren, Superintendent; Michael Lundgren, Principal; Arlene Whitney, Assistant Principal; Susan Nicoletti, Coordinator; Bellflower Unified School District Board of Education

Bellflower USD initiated and implemented the Civic Engagement Program. It institutionalized civic learning and civic engagement at every grade level, guiding students through a civic inquiry and investigative approach to learning.


CATEGORY SPONSOR: Business Affiliates, $1,000 eligible

LCAP in Action

Leslie Bunker, Board President; Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent; Laurie Humphrey, Eduardo Reyes, Francisco Tamayo and Armando Farias, Board Members; Ernesto Villanueva, Executive Director; Matthew Tessier, Assistant Superintendent

When California updated its standards and built matching assessments, it was assumed there would be a learning curve for everyone. Yet, target group students in the Chula Vista ESD, which were prioritized in budgeting and the LCAP, did better at meeting the challenge than most peers. California Assessment of Student Performance English language arts results indicated 51 percent of English learners met or exceeded grade level standards.

Teacher Guided Planning

Alfonso Morales, Board President; Gudiel Crosthwaite, Superintendent; Flavio Gallarzo, Elementary Director; Christine Arostigue-Manson, Assistant Director; Sandra Verduzco, Principal; Stephanie Aguon and Marta Franco, Teachers

The Teacher Guided Planning program at Lynwood USD provides classroom teachers consistent opportunities to come together with their grade level or department colleagues during the school day to collaboratively develop lesson plans, and engage in conversations centered on students and troubleshooting any potential challenges students may face on upcoming standards, concepts, skills or lessons.

Summer Literacy Camp — a Path to Success

Stan Crippen, Board President; Doug Kimberly, Superintendent; Alain Guevara, Assistant Superintendent; Sam Wensel, Executive Director; Amity Conkright, Assistant Principal; Heather Tobler, Teacher

The Summer Literacy Camp at Lake Elsinore USD aims to prevent the “summer slide,” or summer learning loss, by identifying and inviting students who can most benefit from a summer enrichment experience. Research shows disadvantaged students are especially in need of summer enrichment opportunities. As a district with a 66 percent unduplicated population, providing a summer reading program to help close the achievement gap is one of Lake Elsinore USD’s most significant LCAP commitments.

The Morning Read Program

Pam Baugher, Board President; Doc Ervin, Superintendent; Dawn Slaybaugh, Principal; Donna Chicca, Linda Ward, Sydney Harter and Arthur Diaz, Kindergarten Teachers; Anoop Boparai, Parent Helper

The Morning Read program at Bakersfield City SD is a guided reading program designed to give one-on-one support to struggling, below grade level and/or English learner students in grades K-2, by giving them the opportunity to read orally to an adult or sixth-grade peer for a minimum of 20 minutes daily. This program is led by classroom teachers and relies on parents and/or relatives, community members and sixth-grade peer support.


William Hinz, Board President; Jim Coombs, Superintendent; Rhonda Esparza, Principal; Mary Brimmage and Carolyn Kane, Intervention Coordinators/Teachers; Amanda Malm and Kaitlyn Campbell, Teachers

QUEST is a Multi-Tiered System of Support that provides learners with experiences that reach beyond the traditional school setting. The program utilizes layers of support during the school day to enhance student learning and to promote mastery of learning objectives and student goals.

Circle of Growth: A Focus Energy Approach to School Culture and Change

Amanda Morrell, Board President; Crystal Turner, Superintendent; nine teachers, Glen Yermo Leadership Team; Laura Ott, Assistant Superintendent; Debi Greer, Teacher; Michael Gomez and Lisa Graham, Principals

To successfully close the achievement gap within a school or district, focus and attention must support the whole child. The Circle of Growth program, consisting of four quadrants, “Stimulating Environment, Intentional Design, Collaboration and Social Emotional,” is a replicable system utilized to engage and review instructional practice and students’ thinking patterns for problem solving.

Common Language for Effective Instruction, Student Engagement, Achieving Depth of Knowledge, Professional Development to Solidify Model Practices

Mark Hendrickson, Board President; Sandra Schiber, Superintendent; Larry Whitney and Scott Lee, Board Members

Atwater ESD practices include the use of daily learning objectives in English language arts and mathematics, student engagement for all and achieving a depth of knowledge equal or greater than level two within daily lessons (all staff are challenged to “live in the world of Depth of Knowledge 2-3”). Professional development was strategically planned and provided to solidify these elements across classrooms enhancing the learning of all students.

Pyramid of Success!

Beverly Berryman, Board President; Robert Pletka, Superintendent; Emy Flores, Assistant Superintendent; Sue Albano, Director; Rossana Fonseca, Coordinator

Fullerton SD embraces and supports personalized learning for all students. Fullerton SD believes, through effective and systematic implementation, their Pyramid of Success though Response to Intervention and through Professional Learning Communities, that all students have potential and have the ability to achieve at high levels. Student achievement data indicate that the program is having a positive impact for students and their families.


CATEGORY SPONSOR: Business Affiliates, $1,000 eligible

Truckee Tahoe Youth Initiative

Kim Szczurek, Board President; Robert Leri, Superintendent; Kim Bradley, Wellness Coordinator; Corine Harvey, Executive Director, Student Services; Maria Martin, Director of Community Health and Wellness; Tahoe Forest Hospital

The Truckee Tahoe Youth Initiative is a collaboration between the school district and leading public agencies designed to leverage local resources to build an integrated youth health system. A key strategy is the Wellness Hubs that link students’ ages 12-18 to youth-friendly health and wellness supports at their schools. The Wellness Hubs are both a system of care and single health access point for students that include wellness centers, youth peer mentor programs, mental health screenings, school nurses, psychologists, etc.


Programs are eligible for the Apple for Excellence Award, from The California County Boards of Education.

Project Change

Susan Alvaro, Board President; Nancy Magee, Superintendent; Katie Bliss, Project Director; Hector Camacho Jr., and Thomas Mohr, Board Members; Ron Galatolo, Chancellor, Anne Campbell, Former Superintendent

Project Change in the San Mateo County Office of Education is a program that provides vulnerable youth with tangible opportunities to attend and succeed in college. The program provides students with college instruction inside juvenile justice facilities, support in completing college and financial aid applications, and direct access to post-secondary education. Once in college, students receive wrap-around services, including a mentor and their own space on campus to convene regularly.

Educator Effectiveness and Evaluation (E3)

Guadalupe Gonzalez, Board President; Paul Gothold, Superintendent; Chris Reising, Executive Director; Jill Tellier, Coordinator

San Diego COE’s Educator Effectiveness and Evaluation (E3) project is a progressive approach to revising current teacher evaluation systems with a complete focus on professional growth, leadership and student impact. This collaborative two-year process requires teams of representatives from each district and across stakeholder groups to participate in a series of academies and intersessions that examine research and innovative practices.

DataZone: Using Data to Increase Student Success

Rosemary Kamei, Board President; Mary Ann Dewan, Superintendent; Joseph Di Salvo, Darcie Green, Grace Mah, Claudia Rossi, Anna Song and Kathleen King, Board Members

Santa Clara COE has developed a powerful, forward-thinking solution. DataZone, the education data repository and hub for the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust administered by the Santa Clara COE, involves health and human services and justice agencies in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, in partnership with 29 districts, serving more than 258,000 students. DataZone expanded its powerful data analytics capabilities throughout the state with solutions optimized for California.

Care Intervention Program

Alfred Brown, Board President; David Gordon, Superintendent; Matt Perry, Assistant Superintendent; Chris Aland, Director

The CARE Intervention program is a collaborative effort between the Sacramento COE and Sacramento County school districts. Recognizing the need to support disengaged and academically failing seventh- through ninth-grade students, Sacramento COE designed CARE to ensure all enrolled students finish the program ready to succeed in high school. CARE instructors teach the academic core and help students rebuild their connection to school and the community.

English/Language Arts/Reading

Project Reach K-2 Literacy Initiative

Micah Ali, Board President; Darin Brawley, Superintendent; Compton Unified School District Board Members; California State University, Dominguez Hills; Mario Marcos, Director; Anisha Nicholson, Administrator; Arlyn Villamor and Jesusa Rodriguez, Curriculum Specialists

Compton USD K-2 Literacy Initiative answers the call of literacy advancement with an innovative partnership and program design. California State University, Dominguez Hills, has recruited hundreds of college students, many of whom are Compton USD graduates, to participate in the program. The district provides them with the necessary professional development and assigns them to school sites as tutors. This program has increased reading proficiency, improved student behavior, and enhanced interest in learning.

Foreign Language

Dual Immersion Language Program

Gino Kwok, Board President; Cynthia Parulan-Colfer, Superintendent; Elizabeth Bermejo, Ellen Park, Paulina Cho and Rosalie Sinapi, Principals

The goal of Hacienda La Puente USD is that all students will graduate, and upon doing so, be competitive in college and careers. In pursuit of this goal, the board of education made the decision in 2009 to initiate a Dual Immersion Language Program option for their students. Students develop the critical intercultural skills needed to be positive contributors in an increasingly interconnected, global society.

History/Social Science

CATEGORY SPONSOR: Business Affiliates

Ethnic and Gender Studies

Amanda Morrell, Board President; Crystal Turner, Superintendent; Glen Yermo Leadership Team, Nine Teachers; Sara Blomquist, PTA President; Laura Ott, Assistant Superintendent; Debi Greer, Teacher; Michael Gomez and Lis Graham, Principals

Montebello USD became the first district in California to establish a comprehensive K-12 ethnic and gender studies plan. The Montebello USD program is multiethnic, intersectional and provides students with the skills to understand and address historical oppression and inequality. Students are highly engaged in the course and teachers report that the knowledge and critical-thinking skills students develop are transferred throughout the high school curriculum.

Integrated Content

CATEGORY SPONSOR: Business Affiliates, $1,000 award eligible

Family of Learners: Breaking Boundaries of Space and Time

Renee Nash, Board President; Tom Janis, Superintendent; Ginna Myers, Director of Curriculum; Kim Gerould, Principal; Annette Rowsey, Eric Lee and Faye Pope, Multiage Teachers

The Family of Learners program refers to a multiage educational delivery model for students in primary grades at Greenhills School in the Eureka Union SD. The Family of Learners Multiage Program creates a community of learning in the early years of schooling when social growth is as important as academic development.

Sage Creek High School Genius Project

Ray Pearson, Board President; Ben Churchill, Superintendent; Cesar Morales, Principal; Jesse Schuveiller, Assistant Principal; Corrie Myers and Shannon Alberts, Teachers

At Carlsbad USD, the team strives for excellence in preparing students for college and career success. The Sage Creek Genius Project challenges its members to “dare to be great.” All junior and senior students use their passions to explore an idea, while making a positive impact on a community. Over the course of two school years, students are given the freedom to create a product or idea of their choice and present their findings, failures and successes at an all-school, all-city showcase.


TK-5th Grade Elementary STEAM Program

Vickie Brown, Board President; Denise Coleman, Superintendent; Andrew Schwab, Associate Superintendent

Union SD has successfully developed an integrated, districtwide Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, or STEAM, education program in grades TK-5. With the full support of the school board, the district’s innovative approach to elementary STEAM instruction has built a reputation of excellence throughout the state and serves as a model for education visits from around the world.

Traweek Titan Femineers Program

Sue Maulucci, Board President; Richard Sheehan, Superintendent; Mathew Kodama, Principal; Shelly Warschaw and Steve Myers, Teachers/Advisers

In two years the Femineer program in Covina-Valley USD has seen dramatic results, with female student participation in STEM classes and electives rising to 40 percent and projected to reach 50 percent participation by 2018–19. The purpose of the Titan Femineers program is to increase female interest and participation in STEM with overarching goals of increasing female student capacity and enrollment in STEM programs.


Niccole Petersen, Board President; David Olney, Superintendent; Robert McCollum, Assistant Superintendent; Faysel Bell, Assistant Principal; Regina Bell and Leslie McGhee, Teachers

iExpo is a hallmark event for Hesperia USD. For the last three years, students have participated in this uncommon adventure in STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. Hesperia USD designed the event to inspire students to experience science at a deeper level of application. This unique competition was created to broaden and increase the literacy and scientific understanding of students.

Visual and Performing Arts

Pacific Avenue Academy of Music

Robert Garcia, Board President; Elliott Duchon, Superintendent; Maureen Dalimot, Principal; Mike Wasinger, Instrumental Music Teacher; Mary Golden, Music Teacher; Jana McLemore, Strings Teacher

The Pacific Avenue Academy of Music at Jurupa USD is a model of innovation. The Pacific Avenue Academy of Music infuses music into every aspect of learning and is the only academy of its kind in Riverside County and the surrounding region. The school helps every pre-K through sixth-grade student learn music theory, appreciation/analysis and performance, while ensuring that daily reading, writing, math and other academic lessons integrate musical training as well.

Stage: Shared Theater Arts Grand Experience

Beverly Berryman, Board President; Robert Pletka, Superintendent; Emy Flores, Assistant Superintendent; Kyle Myers, Program Specialist; Lauralyn Eschner, Director, Visual and Performing Arts

Shared Theater Arts Grand Experience in Fullerton SD is a free, after-school theater arts program that culminates in a full-scale musical production. STAGE provides directors, scripts, costumes, props and sets for each production. It is a 10-week program, meeting two hours a day, two days a week. The program was designed to inspire, cultivate passion and provide countless opportunities for students to have fun!


CATEGORY SPONSOR: Business Affiliates, $1,000 award eligible

Early Childhood Consultation, Reflective Practice and Social Emotional Professional Learning Program

Carin Ezal, Board President; Donna Lewis, Superintendent; Liz Barnitz, Director, Jon Clark, President, James Bower S. Foundation; Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara; Jennifer Mundy, Program Manager; Lisa Rivas and Lori Lander Goodman, Executive Directors

The Early Childhood Consultation, Reflective Practice and Social Emotional Professional Learning Program in Goleta Union ESD addresses the increase in social-emotional needs by providing daily, embedded social-emotional learning for children between the ages of three and five, with the expectation that the early intervention will result in fewer referrals to counseling and more teachers being trained in how to respond positively, and with expertise, to social-emotional behavioral issues.

MCSD Preschool Program

Adam Cox, Board President; RoseMary Parga Duran; Superintendent; Paula Heupel, Assistant Superintendent; Melanie Cole, Director of Preschool and Child Development Programs; Sara Sandrik, Public Information Officer

Merced City SD Preschool program goes above and beyond requirements to provide outstanding early education for children from diverse backgrounds. The district has implemented an innovative model that utilizes a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, professional learning communities and meaningful family engagement to become a truly exemplary program. The program is helping to level the playing field by giving potentially at-risk children the tools they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

Preschool Inclusion Programs

Jim Van Volkinburg, Board President; Eimear O’Farrell, Superintendent; Elizabeth Sandoval, Sandra Bengel Budd and Ginny Hovsepian, Board Members; Debbie Parra, Assistant Superintendent; Theresa Pafford, Administrator; Janet Samuelian, Director, Child Development

The Inclusion Preschool Program at Clovis USD is an innovative and creative venture that has blended the needs of both general education and special education students through a collaborative effort. The program is staffed with special education teachers, general education teachers and instructional assistants. The beauty of Inclusion Preschool lies in the depth of social-emotional growth and in the cognitive development of all the children learning together.

MVWSD Preschool Program

Laura Blakely, Board President; Ayinde Rudolph, Superintendent; Terri Wallace, Director, Preschool Programs

The Mountain View Whisman SD Preschool program serves at-risk children and their families by providing a comprehensive preschool program supporting the optimal growth of the whole child as part of the district’s commitment to delivering a high-quality, early childhood experience. Mountain View Whisman SD prides itself in the compassion and intentionality with which they work with their students and families to build a strong foundation in early learning that will last a lifetime.


CATEGORY SPONSOR: Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP, $5,000 F3 Education Award eligible

Sustainable Energy and Education Program

Daina Lujan; Board President; Shawnterra Moore, Superintendent; Leticia Bhatia, Director; Michael Krause, Assistant Superintendent; Courtney Jenkins, Engie Services U.S.; Caren Perlmutter, Education Manager, Susanna Oresky, Communications Specialist; Dawn Johnson, Director

South San Francisco USD has developed a pioneering sustainable energy and STEM education program that continues to deliver long-term environmental, financial and community benefits. Through this long-term partnership with ENGIE Services U.S., South San Francisco USD has installed 2.02 megawatts of solar capacity, new LED stadium lighting and a variety of other energy efficiency and infrastructure improvements. This has broadened community understanding of the science behind saving energy and provides educational links for students interested in pursuing STEM careers.


80/20 Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program

Debra Cordes, Board President; Cesar Morales, Superintendent; Ernest Morrison, Denis O’Leary, Veronica Robles-Solis and Monica Madrigal Lopez, Board Members

Juan Lagunas Soria’s Dual Language Immersion program highlights the school’s dedicated focus on diversity and multiculturalism. The design of the 80/20 model immerses students in the Spanish language with the ultimate goal of having students reach high levels of academic proficiency in both English and Spanish while anchoring the value of an additional linguistic approach. The program allows students to heighten, maintain and develop their native tongue and culture with the intent to raise students’ self-esteem and provide continuous connection with their families.

Dual Language Immersion: Pathways to Biliteracy

Bob Harden, Board President; Gabriela Mafi, Superintendent; Lan Nguyen, Teri Rocco, Walter Muneton, Dina Nguyen, Board Members; Cesar Loya, Principal

Monroe Dual Language Immersion Academy was initiated by the school board to meet the needs of underperforming English learners. Monroe Dual Language Immersion Academy is a schoolwide Spanish/English Dual Language Instruction program that serves a population of 50 percent English learners. By the time the student is in sixth grade, the language instruction ratios will progress to 50/50 instruction in Spanish/English.


District Student Advisory Committee

Joseph Martinez, Board President; Cuauhtémoc Avila, Superintendent; Edgar Montes, Joseph Williams and Hardy Brown, Board Members; Syeda Jafri, Media Agent; Ricardo Carlos, Web Technician; Darren McDuffie, Lead Strategic Agent

The District Student Advisory Committee at Rialto USD meets monthly at the central administrative office of the district, under an advisor(s)/coordinator(s) designated by the superintendent. Student representatives from each middle and high school level attend the monthly leadership meetings. Educational tours are held and education/civic leaders address the District Student Advisory Committee meeting to teach about career choices, team building and leadership skills.

L.U.C.H.A con F.U.E.R.Z.A. Mentoring Program

John Zickefoose, Board President; Michael Lin, Superintendent; Sabrina Kaspar and Seth Bond, Principals; Carlos Guillen and Rogelio Padilla, Program Co-Founders; L.U.C.H.A. Teachers/Mentors; F.U.E.R.Z.A. Mentors

L.U.C.H.A. (Líderes Unidos Creando Herencia Académica/Leaders United Creating a Heritage of Academics) was created six years ago at Santiago High School in the Corona-Norco USD as a student-led mentoring and tutoring extracurricular club on campus. The club focuses on addressing the academic and social-emotional needs of at-risk students at Home Gardens Academy. Over the years, it has developed into a targeted program for at-risk male students that utilizes a multilayered approach.

Open Doors: Equal Access for Excellent Achievement

Dan White, Board President; Jason Peplinski, Superintendent

Open Doors at Simi Valley USD was created to systematically remove the barriers to access to higher-level high school classes (Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate) for all students, and especially underrepresented populations. Open Doors is a multi-pronged effort that identifies and recruits those students who could benefit from these classes, regardless of past academic performance; works with students’ families to reinforce support at home; shifts the attitudes and cultures among staff to support the program and its students; and trains staff to work better with formerly underperforming students.

Annual Inclusion Collaborative State Conference

Rosemary Kamei, Board President; Mary Ann Dewan, Superintendent; Kathy Wahl, Director; Steve Olmos, Chief Schools Officer; Charmaine Warmenhoven, Private Donor; Kim Boverio, Manager; Summer Reeves, Supervisor; Lindsey Wong, Coordinator

The Inclusion Collaborative State Conference program is an interactive, reflective, professional and educational opportunity to understand and learn evidenced-based practices for individuals involved in the education and care of children from birth to 12th grade with and without disabilities. The program creates or enhances equity and inclusive practices in participants’ respective programs and the communities in which they live.


Summer Learning Program

Jennifer Kresge, Board President; Barbara Nemko, Superintendent; Yesenia Sandoval Chavira and Casey Wedding, Program Managers; Sara Sitch, Director; Julie McClure, Associate Superintendent

Napa COE serves more than 700 of Napa’s highest need kindergarten-eighth grade youth through the Summer Learning Programs, with the goal of priming students for academic success by building their background knowledge, vocabulary and higher-level thinking skills. Each summer, the program chooses a theme that will spark students’ excitement for learning and allow them to deeply engage in critical-thinking and problem-solving.


CATEGORY SPONSOR: Principal’s Exchange, $1,000 award eligible

Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students)

Soo Yoo, Board President; Mary Sieu, Superintendent; Maynard Law, Board Member; Tom Tracy, Principal; Mike Darby, Assistant Principal; Jeremy Draper, Lead Watch D.O.G.; Melinda Ortiz, Director

The Watch D.O.G.S. (DADS OF GREAT STUDENTS) program is ABC USD’s one-of-a-kind, school-based father involvement initiative that works to encourage family engagement and school safety. These Watch DOGS replicate the school’s culturally diverse population. They engage with all students during lunch hours, playing ball, wiping tears, tying shoes, mediating playground problems, including anti-bullying, serving as valet greeters, and fostering respect and appreciation for individual differences, not just among students but also the school community at large.

Alisal Family Resource Center Network

Fernando Mercado, Board President; Hector Rico, Superintendent; Carissa Purnell, Director; Jairo Arrellano, Assistant Superintendent; Quoc Tran, Assistant Superintendent; Jeanne Herrick, Retired, Assistant Superintendent; Terry Baumgart, Retired AFRCN Founder

The Alisal Family Resource Center Network understands learning happens both inside and outside of the classroom. AFRCN honors the invaluable role parents and guardians serve as teachers in the lives of students, and recognizes every adult has a profound impact on their potential for success. Alisal USD believes in providing a comprehensive scope of care that allows students and each of their family members to thrive in the classroom and their homes, and to become civically engaged in the world around them.


CATEGORY SPONSOR: Business Affiliates, $1,000 award eligible

New Teacher Support and Induction program

John Curiel, Board President; Regina Rossall, Superintendent; Lauri Massari, Trudy Valenzuela and Ana Penaloza, Coordinators; Felicia Goldovsky, Rowdy Dyer and Autumn Lawrence, Mentors

The Westside Union ESD New Teacher Support and Induction program provides rich and relevant support for novice teachers on their journey toward earning the California Clear Teaching Credential. Through dynamic mentoring, a belief in life-long learning and respect for excellence in the teaching profession, the program echoes the Westside Union ESD Board of Trustees’ over-arching belief that district teachers and staff are the most valuable asset.


Creating Conscientious Cyber Citizens

James Williamson, Board President; Sandra Lyon, Superintendent; Michael Swize, Assistant Superintendent; William Carr II, Director; Eduardo Rivera, Bhavini Patel and Ursula Fabiano, Educational Technology Teachers

Palm Springs USD’s Cyber Champion program is designed with student’s digital safety in mind. Palm Springs USD developed an innovative “gamified” learning experience to empower their students with skills to think critically, behave safely and participate responsibly online, and allow them to connect and collaborate in meaningful ways.


Programs are eligible for a California Special Education Commission GOAL Award

Moor Friends Club

Joanne Russell-Chavez, Board President; Denise Jaramillo, Superintendent; Duane Russell, Principal; Wendy Osawa, Melissa Martinez and Jamie Peralta, Special Education Teachers; Patricia Mahony, Director

Moor Friends Club in the Alhambra USD provides opportunities for positive social interactions that benefit both students with moderate developmental disabilities and their general education classmates. Moor Friends holds weekly meetings during lunch. Students work together on different activities and projects involving team-building and socialization skills. The club provides an environment where students can engage in recreational activities and feel comfortable working together in an inclusive and accepting environment.


Category Sponsor: Climatec, $1,000 award eligible

2020 Learning Initiative

Chris Pflanzer, Board President; Hasmik Danielian, Superintendent; Patricio Vargas, Assistant Superintendent; Tim Scholefield, Chief Technology Officer; Ernesto Centeno, Coordinator; Jim Speth and Kelly Baker and Lauren Goodner, Technology Teachers on Special Assignments

Norwalk-La Mirada USD is transforming all classrooms into collaborative 21st-century learning communities through the 2020 Learning Initiative. With the support of the board, the 2020 Learning Initiative provides equity and access for students, while supporting teachers to transform instruction.

Yellow Bus Technology Tours

Soo Yoo, Superintendent; Mary Sieu, Board President; Colin Sprigg, Director; Irene Orozco and David Franklin, District Program Specialists; Pam Julian, Secretary; Lissette Reyes, Support Technician

Teachers from ABC USD’s 29 schools meet at the district office and board the “yellow bus.” The bus provides guided tours of select schools within the district that have volunteered to showcase their classroom teachers’ technology integration efforts. The principal provides the visitors an overview of the school’s unique technology initiatives, a campus map and a classroom-by-classroom tour synopsis.