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California Schools to Watch is a statewide program implemented by the California League
of Educators, California Department of Education, California Middle Grades Alliance, National Forum, and the California Schools to Watch model schools.
John F. Kennedy Middle School

Redesignated: 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2020, 2023

Designated 2005

El Centro Elementary School District

Santa Clara County

Richard Sanchez, Principal

900 North Sixth Street, El Centro, CA 92243


School Characteristics

Community: Mid-sized city. Enrollment: 588. Grade Levels: 6 periods–Modified Mondays for morning in-service

School Demographics

Free/Reduced Lunch: 88%; English Learners: 48%.

Replicable Practices

  • All teachers provide high quality, student-focused direct instruction using standards-aligned assessment materials.

  • The teachers identify learning issues early and quickly to provide a means for support and remediation.

  • A reading support teacher provides help with lesson planning, data analysis, and professional development.

  • Interventions of 30 minutes are built-in to the daily schedule.

  • A flexible schedule is designed to meet learning needs of students.

  • Connections across the curriculum and to students’ cultural background and interests abound in every classroom.

  • Many enrichment activities are offered after school and on selected Saturdays to connect and motivate students.

  • Physical education classes stress healthy lifestyles and promote exercise; physical education is connected to other disciplines.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and the Second Step (anti-bullying program) are in place during advisory period.

  • Ambassador’s Club gives students voice and leadership skills.

  • After-school enrichment and safety program is in place to ensure a rich and safe environment for students.

  • Strong, coordinated supports are in place for students learning English.

  • The school is a safe haven for students and has transformed the culture of the local neighborhood.

  • Technology is actively used to facilitate learning.

  • Sixth graders are provided with an elective wheel to explore interests.

  • Every teacher is committed to ensuring that each student succeeds.

  • A strong student-centered culture gets students involved and connected, thus reducing discipline issues and lowering the suspension rate.

  • Teacher empowerment is everywhere. Many teacher-leaders take positive decision-making roles.

  • The school has created a data-driven school culture.

  • A culture of continual improvement exists at the school.

  • There are strong community and family connections. School is the center of the community.

  • Many of the current teachers are former students from the school.

  • Teachers coach and support each other; professional development is led by teachers.

  • A Monday morning in-service provides time for department collaboration and data analysis.

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