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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.
San Benancio Middle School

Designated 2018

Washington Union School District

Monterey County

Joe Carnazzo, Principal

43 San Benancio Road, Salinas, CA 93908

(831) 484-1171

School Characteristics

Community: Suburban; Enrollment: 299; Grade Levels: 6-8; School Schedule: Sixth grade is self-contained, 7th and 8th are departmentalized with 6 instructional periods and one 35-minute activity period per day. Sixteen early release collaboration days for planning and data analysis.

School Demographics

Free/reduced lunch: 3%; English learners: 1%

Replicable Practices

  • San Benancio language arts staff offer a novel-based language arts curriculum in 7th grade, and a school developed, Common Core-based, language arts program in 8th grade.

  • Separate literature and grammar/composition classes offering two full hours of language arts instruction allow for differentiation of instruction.

  • Instruction in the “Go Math” curriculum is supplemented with an online program called IXL for students with additional needs for intervention.

  • Professional learning communities meet every other week as well as on 16 early-release staff collaboration days to participate in data analysis, professional development, and vertical and horizontal planning.

  • During the daily activity period at the end of the day students are offered both English and math support as well as a variety of electives such as technology, introduction to foreign language, art, calligraphy, digital citizenship, choir, and sports.

  • Through a multi-disciplinary approach, students explore and reflect on their own cultural background with a culminating activity during “Diversity Day” in which parents and community join the students for lunch and demonstrations of their projects.

  • School culture is enhanced through the “Character Counts” program, a student-led Anti-Bullying Crew, frequent guest speakers, and the “Kindness Corner” that allows students a platform to recognize their peers who they see doing something kind on campus.

  • In addition to providing many varied and highly popular opportunities for parent involvement such as site council, Parent Advisory Committee, Washington Union Educational Foundation, technology committee, San Benancio has developed a highly successful art docent program facilitated by their art teacher and run by parent volunteers which offers rigorous art instruction to all students.

  • San Benancio has developed a “Technology Team” composed of students who are trained in troubleshooting problems with the school’s (as well as other schools in the districts) Chromebooks. The students can fix most of the issues.

  • As a recipient of a Scale Up California grant, San Benancio has begun implementation of “California’s Multi-Tiered-Systems of Support’ and have created a leadership team which will facilitate two professional development days to discuss implementation at the school.

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