The school was one of 13 middle and high schools in Contra Costa County named as a California Distinguished School by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, awarded because of their “strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student-academic achievement.”
It’s a trait that DVMS Principal Patti Bannister is already aware of. “To be a strong school, it takes a village – students, teachers, staff and parents.”
She said that two of the school’s signature practices stood out as helping it receive the award.
“We have a very strong technology component that we integrate into many different curriculums,” Bannister says. “All out teachers have iPads – bought by the parent/faculty club – that help students learn in a way they are familiar with. It really helps make science and other subjects relevant.”
In addition, she said, new technology has enabled students to actually make their own movies and presentations, something that doesn’t happen at every middle school.
She also said that the members of the site visit committee were inspired by the community-wide support for the “Do the Right Thing” initiative. “It is apparent how that program defines the culture at the school,” she said. “People were impressed how all the schools in Clayton have adopted it, and the support they get from the community.”
Parents agree that there is a lot of collaboration between teachers, students, staff and parents. “DVMS has a great staff,” says parent Lynette Woods. “They are always ready to raise the bar and challenge students, and the students really respond.”
She said that as a seventh and eighth grader, her son Connor was enrolled in a partial home-school situation with DVMS, and that the staff went “out of their way” to design a curriculum for him. He is now a junior at Clayton Valley Charter High School. Her youngest, daughter Alexa, is a sixth grader at DVMS.
“It’s easy to see that the teachers really care about the students.”
This is the second time the school has been honored as a Distinguished School, having been named one back in 2007, Bannister said.
Distinguished Schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria, and they must provide an in-depth description of two Signature Practices that their staff members believe have contributed to the success of their students.