Strandwood a National Blue Ribbon School
Oct 30, 2016 10:18PM
● By Jennifer Neys
On September 28, Strandwood Elementary School in Pleasant Hill was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education for 2016, one of 329 honorees from across the country this year and one of 33 from California.
Strandwood’s nomination in 2015 was due in part to its California Distinguished School title as well as landing in the top 15 percent of all schools in the state when ranked on state assessments in English language arts and mathematics. Former principal Liz Kim accepted the nomination and began the lengthy application process prior to her retirement.
When Dr. Cheri Scripter took over as principal last February, the application process was nearing completion, and she acknowledges Liz Kim for her leadership. “This is largely her work. The nomination had already been received when I came here, so what I did was fill out the forms, but it was Liz’s work that got us to this point,” she said. “We had to write essays that describe our school, so I helped out with that process. We formed committees to help with the writing, and I unified them for a common voice and submitted them. It took some time and was a great way for me to get to know the school.”
The Blue Ribbon Award is based on Strandwood’s overall academic excellence. But in addition to academics, the school supplements its students in other areas, such as the school wide FAME (Fine Arts Music Education) program; a credentialed teacher to enhance the science curriculum that supports the Next Generation Science Standards; an art teacher; and reading intervention. The PTA has funded five instructional assistants at 10 hours a week to offer additional support and also sponsors Read and Dream, where students chronicle their reading minutes each month to earn a new book. “It’s those additional resources that parents are willing to pay for. One of the reasons we’re able to reach a high standard of learning is that parents are willing to do a lot of extra work to buy extra resources, and there’s a unique sense of enthusiasm about it. We’re fortunate in our community,” remarked Scripter. The PTA’s most dynamic school event is the production of The Nutcracker each December. This live theater production includes over 450 students and is entirely run by parent volunteers.
Scripter acknowledges Superintendent Dr. Nellie Meyer, the MDUSD school support staff, former principal Liz Kim, Strandwood PTA, the experienced and innovative Strandwood teachers, and the students for helping to make this exciting recognition possible. “My job is to continue to promote what is going really well and continue to help us use technology to enhance learning,” she said. She encourages teachers to go out to other schools to see how they are using technology in the classrooms and bring best practices back to Strandwood to pilot and modify.
Scripter, along with the superintendent, asst. superintendent, and a Strandwood teacher, will attend a recognition ceremony with other honorees on November 7 – 8 in Washington, D.C. In addition, a community ceremony will also be held at the elementary school in December.