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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 Lorenzo Valley Middle School

Redesignated: 2016, 2019

Designated 2013

San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District

Santa Cruz County

Shanna Urbancic, Principal

7179 Hacienda Way, Felton, CA 95018

(831) 335-4452

School Characteristics

Community: Rural Fringe; Enrollment: 480; Grade Levels: 6-8; School Schedule: Six periods, block schedule: Late start collaboration days six periods, 45 min. Mondays six periods, 53 min. Tues/Thurs odd numbered periods, Wed/Fri even numbered periods, 110 min.

School Demographics

80% White; 12% Hispanic; 4% Two or More Races; 2% Asian; 1% African American; 1% Filipino; 0% American Indian/Alaska Native; 0% Pacific Islander; 24% Free/Reduced Lunch; 2% English Learners

Replicable Practices

  • Teachers give opportunities to re-write, re-test, re-learn both in the classroom and in school-based interventions.

  • Half of the staff have received AVID training and have trained their colleagues in Cornell Notes, philosophical chairs, critical reading, and Socratic seminars, which are widely employed throughout the school.

  • The school has successfully implemented a Bring Your Own Device program which allows teachers and students to access and interact with content, assessment, and learning in an online setting throughout the school day.

  • Regular Kid-Talk sessions at staff and department meetings allow teachers and staff to discuss concerns, ask questions, and share information regarding struggling students.

  • The school offers multiple interventions including: academic support classes, EL support classes, AVID, drop-in and mandatory after school tutorials, and before school and lunchtime academic support.

  • Staff benefit from weekly one-hour collaboration time and three one-hour meetings each month in department, staff, and representative council teams allowing for collaboration and development of common assessment and curriculum maps.

  • Students are grouped into smaller learning communities in team-teaching classes and sixth-grade core classes.

  • Language arts and social studies teachers collaborate to provide interdisciplinary and parallel teaching strategies between the disciplines.

  • The schedule offers team-taught sections of both language arts and math in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. Each section is staffed with a special education teacher allowing resource students to be completely mainstreamed.

  • Prior to the start of school, administration creates “super rosters” for every period of every class on campus. These rosters frontload teachers with relevant information regarding their students’ social-emotional and academic needs.

  • Near the beginning of the school year staff identify students who appear to have no on-campus relationships and “adopt” them to form a relationship and provide students with an advocate and mentor.

  • Students mentor elementary students, and take advanced courses at the other campus school sites on the grounds

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