Photos of the four Wiseburn schools

Wiseburn USD and TK-8 schools win state awards for innovative practices

May 1, 2022

Each of the four Wiseburn TK-8 schools and the District won a 2022 California Pivotal Practice Award for practices implemented during the 2020-21 school year. 727 schools and 121 school districts in the state received the recognition, including Anza, Cabrillo, and 138th St. Elementary Schools, Dana Middle School, and the Wiseburn Unified School District.

The newly created state award celebrates schools and school districts that implemented an innovative practice during the 2020–21 school year, when California required schools to offer distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m incredibly proud of these schools and districts for their creativity, dedication, and innovation in the face of adversity,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “These schools led incredible efforts to engage students, distribute technology, provide meals, and support the social and emotional well-being of students during an incredibly difficult time for schools and families.”

Award-Winning Practices at Wiseburn

Wiseburn and the district’s four schools submitted several practices for consideration by the Pivotal Practice Award Program. Find each unit’s summary of their pivotal practices below:

Wiseburn Unified School District: “Wiseburn Unified School District implemented a pivotal practice called the Counseling and Access to Resources in Education (CARE) Program. This program was developed and implemented as an educational support, specifically related to the social and emotional needs of students, families, and teachers. The CARE Project met the needs of diverse learners through the development and implementation of tier 1 (universal), tier 2 (selective), and tier 3 (indicated) supports and interventions for teachers, students, and families. The program provided a comprehensive approach to address the nuanced level and type of educational support that the WUSD community needed. Teachers were provided with specialized professional development opportunities and digital and live resources and supports. Students were provided with virtual socializing opportunities to promote positive peer interactions, monthly activities to promote inclusion and diversity, and direct individual and group counseling services. Parents/caregivers had access to live and recorded workshops, digital skill-building resources, and individual and family counseling sessions. Students and stakeholders received and/or had access to resources, support, and interventions that related directly to the challenges they faced due to distance learning.”

Anza Elementary: “When it was announced that campuses were closing, the Anza team clearly understood that school must continue. Teachers quickly shifted and reinvented everything they knew about teaching in a matter of hours. They learned how to navigate Zoom and other software programs. Due to the nature of the circumstance, it was vital to determine what gaps in achievement students had and what essential learning needed to take place. Distance learning reminded us of the importance of collaboration, data driven instruction, and the importance of students’ emotional well-being. We made sure to create time for collaboration, implemented benchmark assessments with time to respond to the data, and we made sure that students and families had the resources to have both their academic and social emotional needs met.”

138th St. School: “There is not an easy way to describe the effects of the pandemic on an elementary school — other than challenging. Closing the achievement gap and enhancing our educational supports was critical to maintain the academic success of our students. Early on at 138th Street School, we were mindful to do three things: maintain the use of STAR Assessment as a universal screener, create opportunities for students to receive support and participate in activities that helped with their social emotional well-being and cultivate trust in our leadership teams to guide the staff through this very difficult time. Our team at 138th Street School continued on the pathway to Engage, Elevate, Empower all members of our school community.”

Cabrillo Elementary: “When planning for the start of the 2020-2021 school year, ensuring adequate and ongoing Teacher Collaboration Time (TCT) embedded into the school day was one of the top priorities and our core pivotal practice because of the clear effect that this time would have on student engagement. Teachers needed time to learn and collaborate regularly as they navigated the new and ever-changing challenges of distance learning. In order to best achieve high student engagement in a distance learning environment, it was crucial for teachers to feel prepared, supported, valued as professionals, and engaged in the process of teaching and learning. A schedule that included time for teacher team collaboration would best enable teachers to take advantage of professional resources and develop a strong support network of other teachers, staff, and administrators. By providing this time for collaborative work, TCT also contributed to creating a strong, positive school climate. By giving teachers the time to learn, create, and analyze together, the quality of instruction remained high, students remained engaged, and attendance rates remained extremely high.”

Dana Middle School: “Reformatting and restructuring our Pod advisory period directly supported the social emotional well-being of students during distance learning. Distributed leadership and small learning communities were essential in implementing this practice. Dana has a number of leadership teams on campus that are facilitated by administration and made up of teachers and counselors. One such team is the Guiding Coalition team, which has a teacher lead from every department and focuses on best instructional practices for all students. The Guiding Coalition team was instrumental in providing feedback regarding Pod class and necessary changes needed during distance learning. The Guiding Coalition advocated for more social-emotional supports for students and opportunities to connect with students even through Zoom. Teachers wanted creative ways to engage students and keep them connected to school, their classmates, and teachers. Changes were needed in Pod for this to happen and included the help of other departments and teacher leads on-site. The PE department, counseling team, and Pod Squad (teachers in charge of organizing lessons for Pod) would all work together to build lessons that promoted the social emotional well-being of students.”

The Creation of the California Pivotal Practice Award

In a period when pandemic disruptions made it hard to collect data for statewide assessments, the California Department of Education worked with education association partners to create the California Pivotal Practice Award to honor the efforts of schools and districts who designed and implemented unique opportunities and strategies to support students in this most challenging time.

Schools and school districts were honored for demonstrated efforts to support students in four target areas:

  • Student Engagement
  • Distribution of Technology
  • Nutrition Services
  • Social Emotional Well-Being of Students

California Pivotal Practice Award winners completed an online application highlighting an innovative practice in one of the four target areas that was implemented during the 2020–21 school year, and were notified of their award status on April 26, 2022.