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CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS TO WATCH

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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.
Suzanne Middle School

Redesignated: 2020, 2023

Designated 2017

Walnut Valley Unified School District

Los Angeles County

Amy Smith, Principal

525 Suzanne Road, Walnut, CA 91789

(909) 594-1657

School Characteristics

Community: Suburban; Enrollment: 1,289; Grade Levels: 6-8; School Schedule: Rotating seven period day including daily Advi-sory. Early release on Thursday to support staff collaboration.

School Demographics

52% Asian, >1% American Indian, 2% African American, 8% Fil¬lipino, 25% Hispanic, >1% Pacific Islander, 12% White; 16% Free/ Reduced Lunch; 8% English Learners.

Replicable Practices

  • Professional learning for staff is developed by a survey of staff needs. In addition, all staff were trained in communicating clear learning goals to students and including students in the metacognitive process of analyzing goals resulting in a school wide emphasis on literacy and critical thinking.

  • School climate and character education are addressed through a comprehensive program including Suzanne Summits, a day-long team building events for each grade level; Blue and White Tea, focusing on etiquette and social graces; Pillar Breakfast; Pals/Plus Programs of peer counseling and advisement; and “Palamies,” 8th grade students serving as “pals” to 6th grade students.

  • Interventions and enrichments are built into the schedule including advanced classes in ELA and math, as well as support classes such as a two hour block of ELA, special education services, homework support, and EL intervention classes that concentrate on speaking, reading, and writing.

  • An array of academic clubs are offered after school such as robotics, MathCounts, debate club, Science Oympiad and civic bridge which challenge and motivate students in the STEAM areas.

  • In the technology enrichment program students create audio-visual presentations, use math to program robots, create objects on 3D printers, learn to write code, and create animation presentations.

  • Staff work collaboratively to create pacing guides, common assessments, benchmark exams, common rubrics, and performance-based assessments which are analyzed in PLCs during release time and common prep periods.

  • Staff works to develop alliances with families through parent advisory groups, multiple on-line resources for parents, focused parent nights, and a YouTube channel hosted by the art teacher to extend art lessons and creative ideas to students and families at home.

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