Three Burbank schools get top honors

Nine principals from throughout Burbank, Glendale and La Cañada Unified school districts shared in the glory Monday when their campuses were honored with a California Distinguished School award.

Providencia, Stevenson and Disney elementary schools in Burbank, La Cañada and Palm Crest elementary schools in La Cañada, and Franklin, Edison, Jefferson and Valley View elementary schools in Glendale Unified were among the 484 California public elementary schools named 2010 California Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education.

“These schools have persevered despite state budget cutbacks that have cut deeply into the budgets of local school districts,” State Supt. Jack O’Connell said in a statement.

Schools apply for the distinction, which is granted to campuses that demonstrate growth on the state and federal accountability exams, narrowing of academic achievement gaps and successful interviews with state education officials.

Schools also had to describe two instructional practices that generated academic achievement in all students. At Franklin, Principal Stephen Williams described methods that engage students in the lesson plans by having them use icons and thinking maps to identify key elements.

“It helps organize their thoughts and helps them get deeper understanding of their learning,” he said. “In combination with the thinking maps, teachers use those so when students are reading, they can identify and organize the main idea to the details that go with it.”

Stevenson Elementary School in Burbank, which won the honor in 2006, is known for its parent volunteers, but gained attention for its programs that challenge students at, above or below grade level. The school also submitted its strong writing component, where school leaders emphasize writing as a way to reach and exceed proficiency, for review.

“We really believe if students can write what they know, they show us a deeper understanding of the content,” Principal Debbie Ginnetti said. “It really focuses them on problem solving and critical thinking.”

The award alternates yearly between elementary and secondary schools.

La Cañada Unified, also considered a high performing school district like Glendale and Burbank, is no stranger to the awards, school board President Jeanne Broberg said

“I could have predicted this,” she said. “They are very, very fine schools. I know how much preparation goes into compiling the application.”

— Megan O’Neil contributed to this report.

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