Model Continuation High Schools Recognized in 2023
Thirty-seven schools have been awarded Model Continuation High School (MCHS) status for 2023. Review teams conducted a Site Validation Visit to each of the schools and prepared a report based on their findings. These reports included a Program Summary, which explains specifically how the awardees meet the criteria for recognition as a MCHS. A summary for each of the thirty-seven awardees is included below. Read the announcement from the California Department of Education for our 2023 Model Schools here.
Abraxas High School
Abraxas High School in Poway, CA meets the criteria for recognition as a Model Continuation High School (MCHS) for its all-around excellence as an alternative education site. Abraxas can best be described as a student-centered, student-first learning community wherein thoughtful adults have intentionally designed and redesigned all aspects of the student experience based on the needs of its population. Unlike traditional schools with top-down approaches to learning and systems, Abraxas High School is a highly collaborative school community where all stakeholders, administrators, teachers, staff, parents, district officials, community partners, and most importantly students have agency and voice in decision making around school practices.
As with all alternative school sites, students arrive at Abraxas with a plethora of unmet needs, challenges, and strengths. The school is highly responsive to students and families as they arrive, and a team of competent administrators, counselors, and staff members help them orient and acclimate to the culture. Both students and parents spoke highly of the intake process and how the school essentially provided them with concierge service, connecting students to necessary resources and services that weren’t available at their home sites.
A team of highly nurturing and supportive counselors meet with students on a regular basis from the beginning to end of their time at Abraxas, providing academic and social-emotional support. Students are also supported by their homeroom teachers, who provide critical instructional support, as well as college and career planning services. All hands are on deck at Abraxas, and all students know and have access to their Principal and Assistant Principal. In fact, all students and adults at Abraxas are on a first name basis, a cultural element introduced to dismantle obsolete and unnecessary power structures within a school environment. Students have the utmost respect for adults on campus and vice versa. A summary statement on Abraxas would be incomplete without mentioning the Abraxas Garden Kitchen, an award-winning small farm, aquaponics, and culinary program created by the innovative CTE department at the school. The program, which affords students the opportunity to find creative purpose in growing, harvesting, and preparing produce, is exemplary in scale and scope. Students often volunteer time after school, and during holidays and breaks to keep the space clean and thriving.
Finally, the staff at Abraxas have shared that they feel supported by administrators and leaders to the fullest degree. They have the freedom and creative latitude to develop their professional practice in order to provide the best possible experience for their students and families.
Alessandro High School
Upon arrival, the AHS school campus is tranquil and welcoming. The campus was clean and orderly, and the banner displays about the PBIS motto and School Wide Learning Outcomes were visible. The classrooms and facilities were bright and decorated nicely, which is so impressionable to students and visitors alike.
The stakeholders have created a safe school climate by building positive rapport and relationships with the students. In addition, they have accelerated the curriculum to the 9-week quarter system. Through the use of assessment data and research, they are also able to assess incoming students immediately with their math and writing. AHS has also been able to open a Wellness Center where emotional and mental health services are provided through group and one on one therapy.
Parents repeatedly echoed the sentiment that the teachers and staff genuinely care for their students. They love the school, what it has done for their kids, and how their attitude about school has gone from negative to positive.
The students had nothing but positive things to share about their AHS experience. Some comments were that they felt a sense of community support at this school. Teachers are caring and willing to go above and beyond to help their students. They think the teachers make a difference. The teachers all say they look forward to coming to work every day. They are also very thankful to have such an awesome classified staff supporting them and handling everything.
Alta Vista High School
Our visitation team recommends Alta Vista High School to be recognized as a Model Continuation High School. Alta has developed a program that is focused on competency-based learning with embedded career exploration. Additionally, The Big Picture Learning model will allow all students to participate in career internships before they graduate from high school providing employable skills for their future careers. The program provides students with a nurturing environment that allows the students to find success in their goals. The staff is truly invested in student success and works to meet each students’ individual needs so that they can reach their full potential.
Amistad High School
Amistad High School delivers high quality instruction in a modern, well-funded facility. The school has benefited from an impressive level of district support. The superintendent stated, “We do not look at Amistad as an alternative high school. We look at it as one of our high schools.” The facilities include a gym and an automotive CTE program that would be the envy of any high school.
The staff – administration, certificated, and classified – are proud of Amistad, and show their care for the students’ wellbeing. Students spoke of the support they receive from all three groups of adults. The leadership of the school encourages the adults to problem solve and do what they can for students, as evidenced by the custodians starting a club to support the students, a language arts teacher running the wellness room, and the development of the “25 Club” which celebrates students who earn 25 credits each quarter.
While the principal is new this year, there is already a high degree of trust among the staff and students for administration. Both staff and students report feeling highly supported by the administrators. In turn, the administrators report having a strong positive relationship with the district office. The former principal now oversees secondary curriculum for the district and is a strong advocate for the alternative school.
Amistad strives to support students’ academic and social-emotional needs. The quarter system integrates credit recovery, with students being able to earn 100 credits in a year by passing their regularly scheduled classes. The counselors and services with outside agencies, as well as an on-site wellness center, support the students’ emotional wellbeing.
Amistad has many components that qualify it as a model continuation school. The small class sizes, high level of support for academic and emotional wellness, the integration of credit recovery via the quarter system, outstanding facilities, community support, caring and skilled staff, and a strong leadership team all help to create a school with an outstanding environment and high level of care for students.
Black Rock High School
There are many characteristics to describe why Black Rock High School is exemplary; the first descriptor that comes to mind is “family”. BRHS has a family environment that starts with the administrator and involves all certificated and classified staff, as well as, students and their families. The school environment is very personalized, allowing for all staff to be involved in decision making and meeting the needs of the students. The staff members at Black Rock do not just collaborate during staff meetings/staff development days, but meet almost every afternoon and discuss students in an open dialog. These conversations allow the staff to then make connections with students which build strong, supportive relationships. Once the students understand they are part of a family, they then produce work which in turn produces graduates which in turn produces productive citizens. Another characteristic that makes Black Rock a model school is how students and parents felt about “their” school. Students feel that teachers take the time to get to know them as a person and listen to them and their concerns. The smaller environment and the way to track their credit earning has made students feel they have ownership of their learning and really care about graduating. Parents stated that Black Rock gave their students a new way to learn and made school a place where they wanted to attend and actually wanted to be there on a daily basis. When a student was asked to describe their school, they said: Perfect. The team was impressed with the Black Rock “family” and recommend them for model school.
Boynton High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- All educational partners (students, staff, families, and community) have a shared passion for Boynton and its impact on students. Everyone speaks highly of the school and comments that Boynton is a “special place.”
- Classified and certificated staff feel supported by administration which empowers them to pour genuine energy into their service to the school and community.
- Community partnerships with local service agencies and community colleges are embedded in the culture of the school. These organizations feel connected to Boynton and see value in the collaboration with the school.
- When students were asked what they liked best about Boynton, the most common response was: “Teachers.” This was reciprocated by teachers with their clear focus on the needs and individual responsiveness to their students.
- Continue to evaluate the need for grading equity and consistency throughout the school site.
- Assessment of transportation needs to determine if centralized, district bussing would alleviate barriers for students.
Boynton High School is an exemplary high school that meets the needs of its students and community. Though Boynton is a Model Continuation High School, staff and administration have a formula that is right for all kids. Their clear focus on individualized support of students should be the standard at any school. Students feel respected and heard by all staff. Many students have felt success for the first time in their academic career, after feeling like “no one cared” at their previous school. Students are now energized and motivated to achieve. Administration has a strong passion and vision to ensure student success through the building of relationships. The energy and “vibe” of the school is felt immediately when entering the campus. The greetings, smiles, and focus on customer service is evident. When asked to give one word that describes Boynton, students responded with: home, family, welcoming, refreshing, reliable, involved, respectful, passionate, and unique. Boynton should be proud to be recognized as a CCEA/CDE Model Continuation High School.
Buena Vista Continuation High School (San Bernardino County)
Buena Vista High School was established in 1969 to meet the diverse needs of students in the Chino Valley Unified School District. The school creates a caring and nurturing environment for their students who feel valued and supported. Buena Vista High School offers quality comprehensive and flexible programs that are designed to develop personal, academic and job-related skills. With support from the district, the school is able to create a sense of community where students can be successful.
Students are provided with flexible schedules where they can take advantage of A-G courses, ROP classes, or after school credit recovery programs. Administration and the staff have an open-door policy where they are in constant communication with parents and students. With mechanisms like biweekly walkarounds, progress reports, and meetings, stakeholders are informed of student progress.
Relationships are central to Buena Vista. The staff focuses on building a rapport and connecting with students. The students appreciate the school’s effort to offer not just academic support but emotional support as well. The school provides its students with a MTSS-B counselor, a School Psychologist, and a “Zen-Den.” The Zen-Den is a wellness room where students can go if they need extra support for personal issues.
BVHS’s mission is to help students recover and progress. They work with students to help them see beyond high school. Offering opportunities for students to work with organizations like San Bernardino Community College, San Joaquin Valley College, and Cal Poly Pomona. Students can also work with programs such as The Soroptimist Club, Chances4Change, Generation Go, and U.S. Armed Services.
For all of these reasons and more the Visiting Team can heartily recommend that Buena Vista High School be recognized by the California State Department of Education as a Model Continuation High School.
Buena Vista High School (Los Angeles County)
Notable exemplary elements and considerations/recommendations:
The administration, certified, and classified staff of Buena Vista HS have created an environment that not only meets the academic needs of their students, but also the emotional, social, and community needs. They really are focused on the “whole child”. It is important to Buena Vista HS that they hear their students’ voices, that their stories are told, appreciated, and understood. The way that students expressed their thoughts and feelings can be summarized by a few quotes:
- “Teachers focus on one student at a time.”
- “They really care about you as an individual.”
- “I have never before liked school, but here, at Buena Vista HS, I have learned that education is important for life.”
- Another student said that for the first time in their life they were, “excited to come to school.”
- “Buena Vista is an amazing school. Not what I expected when I first was going to come here. Within two days, I knew that this was the place for me.”
Some of the most poignant thoughts shared:
- “I get along better with my teachers than I do with my own family.”
- “I’d rather be here at school, than be at home. There is always something good happening here.”
- “Buena Vista invested in me, so I invest in it.”
This is an amazing place for students. This is a place where they are truly heard, where the adults on campus want to know their individual story, and they use that information to create the best possible environment for each student. Buena Vista HS is truly deserving of recognition as a Model Continuation High School.
Citrus Continuation High School (San Bernardino County)
On many levels, Citrus High School exemplifies the goals of the model continuation school program. The facility reflects a significant investment in resources by the district, with a sprawling campus complete with a gymnasium, athletic fields, CTE Construction workshops, and modern technology. The governance of the school is the result of well-considered approach that links the district’s two continuation schools in order to allow professional growth, collaboration, and equitable access to curriculum. Citrus has a schedule that is based on the needs of the students, with multiple options for students to earn credits and have the potential to be A-G eligible upon graduation or return to the traditional high school campus. The staff is caring and student-centered, with adequate staffing ratios to provide small class sizes and sufficient classified personnel to provide support for the diverse needs of the students.
Citrus High School (Tulare County)
Notable exemplary elements:
- Beautiful campus
- Students are valued and treated as adults
- Staff greet each student as they arrive every morning with a fist bump and a “good morning!”
- Academic Incentives and award ceremonies to celebrate student achievement
- Two Substitutes on Special Assignment (SOSA’s) are district funded and staffed at the site for push-in/pull-out real time interventions.
- Perception of the school in the community is changing from a negative reputation to one of exemplary support and life changing for students who are referred there.
- Community partnerships: SCICON, work experience, tutoring at local elementary
- Bi-Weekly progress monitoring through individual student Credit/Graduation Tracker Sheets
- Greenhouse Management CTE courses
The “magic” of Citrus can be felt and seen in nearly every facet of campus. Citrus High School and staff should be proud of its exemplary program, which not only meets every quality indicator in the Model Continuation High School recognition application, but also sets itself apart from other continuation high schools. The staff not only value each student, but they are also committed to building relationships with each student as they “meet them where they are” and help them to grow into the adults they were destined to become. Many continuation programs are limited in options for students—but not Citrus High. At Citrus, students have programmatic options that lead to high levels of engagement and success because student voice is valued. Citrus High is to be commended on their resourcefulness and their ability to provide alternative experiences, flexible schedules, opportunities and learning that facilitate credit attainment for the students in the district who need it the most. Student supports are timely and relevant and prescriptive for each student need. The school itself is absolutely beautiful and well maintained, thus leading to higher levels of school pride and a change in public perception about continuation high schools. Citrus should be very proud of the unique community engagement and partnership opportunities that they are able to offer students. Peer tutoring at the local elementary school and serving as camp counselors not only boosts student confidence and worth, but also truly works to connect the school to the community itself. Citrus High School should be proud to be recognized as a CCEA/CDE Model Continuation High School.
- Equity — Citrus High offers a robust Greenhouse CTE program BUT they do not have a facility to support the ongoing learning and application of program objectives. It is a good program where students can learn about agriculture—an industry that makes up the predominant economic base for the area. The program would be GREAT if they had access to a functioning Greenhouse, one where they do not lose plants, materials and supplies to the changes in weather and seasons. Citrus administration report that they have requested CTE facility upgrades from the district several times, but have not received an approval for funding for the needed construction.
- Access — Citrus High encourages students to engage in their community through partnerships like peer tutoring at the elementary school(s) in the district and CTE internships. Unfortunately, students have to either secure their own personal transportation or walk to their assigned location–through rain, fog, or 100-degree weather. It was reported that traditional high schools in Porterville Unified have access to district purchased vans for student transportation needs related to CTE, internships, etc. but Citrus does not have access to such vans.
Coronado High (Continuation)
Coronado High School meets all the criteria to be considered an excellent example of a Model Continuation School. It is a continuation school for the 21st century guided by a standards-based curriculum and ROP courses that ensure all students have access to multiple pathways to achieve success. In addition students are offered a variety of extra-curricular programs and activities that assist them in developing positive self-esteem, a sense of inclusion and efficacy. Some of those programs are the student leadership class, Building Success Through Service program that allows them the opportunity to serve the community, and the San Gabriel Valley Continuation School sports league.
All classes are taught by highly qualified educators with the focus being direct instruction and student engagement. There was evidence that teachers have high expectations and are committed to assisting students in accessing success via relevant real-world experiences, problem solving, collaboration and project-based assignments.
There is an established referral process in place which includes all stakeholders; district, principal, parent and student. The structure of the school is student focused and it revolves around student needs and concerns. It is very evident that students feel welcomed and supported by all staff members; administration, classified support staff, and teachers. There is evidence of strong positive administration leadership that creates a positive climate and includes a collaborative decision-making process. It is evident that The staff works closely to provide a safe environment for all students. The visiting team was also impressed with the facilities and how well it is maintained. The staff and students take pride in their campus and work as a team to keep it clean.
The staff at Coronado is compassionate and extremely supportive and when students were asked to give one word to describe their school a student stated: Relaxed. That is why Coronado High School is a model school. So that students can learn in a safe and relaxed environment.
DeWolf High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- The campus was clean, with a very welcoming environment.
- District support of the school’s “position” or place within the district was expressed and witnessed. Resources were provided and equity for students, staff and site.
- Students expressed the battle against the stigma attached to the phrase “those kids” and “that school” but stated that it was the best school that they had ever attended. And that the teachers just understood them and gave them a chance to become successful.
DeWolf High School should be proud of its exemplary program, which not only meets every quality indicator in the Model Continuation High School recognition application, but has developed a range of truly notable elements. DeWolf has rebranded itself to become a school of choice, where students that want to attend can accelerate, or recover their academic credit progress is regarded as a high quality, relevant and supportive school where staff support the needs of students.
DeWolf is a unique campus because of the people that work there and the engaging experiences that are provided to their students. DeWolf High School has seven clubs, Intramural Sports, School wide project-based learning, dual enrollment courses through Fresno City College offers opportunities to earn Industry Certification, Apprenticeships and paid internships aligned to student career interests.
DeWolf’s Career Technical Education program is a model program that is second to none. The program offers students the opportunity to gain Industry Certifications that allow students upon graduations to obtain work in the industries. The Welding, Construction, and trades that are taught at DeWolf, were evidence that this program exceeded the site visitor team’s validation expectations.
Considerations and Recommendations:
- One of the concerns of the visiting team was the lack of District provided transportation to the students of DeWolf High School. With an attendance rate of only 84%, it was mentioned by multiple students that because of the multi-bus transfers on public transportation it took up to 1 ½ hours each way to get to school. Students said that they regularly skipped because of this burden. It was reported that the district did provide bus fares for the students that took the bus.
Discovery High School
Discovery High School is a model for Continuation High Schools in California. Upon entering the campus the feeling of respect is pervasive as the grounds are immaculate and expansive. Students used words such as: supportive, helpful, clean, calm, and caring when they spoke about the school. Parents referred to the school as “life-saving.” These remarks illustrate the belief the school has in educating and supporting the whole child. Students and families know that all the staff care for them and are there to support them in their journey. The staff works as a team to empower students toward the goal of not only graduation but a place in the community after high school as well. This is evidenced by the extensive District support of the remarkable CTE facilities which beautifully align with an outside, professional experience. Discovery High School provides an excellent alternative option to prepare students as lifelong learners that are college and career ready.
Donald C. Jamison Continuation High School
Lemoore in Kings County. The school’s enrollment is about 85 students. Jamison is deeply connected to the community and the school offers unique opportunities to students daily and in special settings.
Jamison is a complete school that not only offers opportunities to the students, but also intervention and support to assist in normal teen challenges as well as recovering their education relating to learning loss and special needs due to the recent pandemic.
The first thing that stands out at Jamison is the number of “outside the norm” classes and community connections available to students. Daily academic courses include Drama, Ag Science, Horticulture, Independent Living, and Criminal Law. The Leadership class also runs a fully functional printing lab that makes t-shirts for both on campus use and the community needs like Red Ribbon shirts for other schools.
Academically, Jamison’s program provides students with additional opportunities to earn credit. The use of the online program Edgeunity helps all students take advantage of the courses available in person each day on campus while making up credit through online classes. Two weekly intervention classes were added to help students as the school deals with the post pandemic climate. On Mondays, students attend a Social/Emotional Intervention class and on Friday’s all students attend an additional Academic Intervention class to help with their classes. These opportunities are in addition to Home Room and Tutorial classes already included in the master schedule.
Another highlight of Donald C. Jamison Continuation High School is their connection to the community. Retired teachers come back part time to help at the school and the students have opportunities to serve their community by volunteering at a Senior center, connecting to a local Native American Reservation and previously noted student printing business.
Jamison is a very unique school due to the amount of opportunities available to its students. The school is a model for other continuation schools looking for a two-way connection to the community and the variety of classes/programs available to students on a daily basis.
Fairvalley High School
Notable Exemplary Elements:
- District support of the programming of the school, all of the district office came to support the visit.
- The support of the community rallying around students.
- The passion and enthusiasm of every individual on the campus; students and staff alike. Students shared how connected they feel and know that the teachers are truly in their corner to push them towards success.
- The home to school connection was exemplary. Parents are well informed and have opportunities to connect with the school at a variety of levels.
- The high expectations that are set for the students, while honoring and respecting students as individuals. The teachers provide structure and support for the students in every area of their lives.
- The school has seen a high level of administrative turnover. It is recommended that for continuity the current principal be given the opportunity to stay for several years. There are several veteran teachers that are retiring and a strong administrator is going to be an important part of maintaining the culture of the school.
- Expand dual enrollment opportunities. There is a good start, but this is something that both parents and teachers brought up as a need.
Fairvalley High School easily checks the boxes of a Model Continuation High School. The welcoming and cohesive teaching staff, the facility, and the administration have a solidarity that was impressive. Teachers have made the school their life’s work and dedicate time outside of the school day to make the learning experience the best that it can be for the students. The community and parent relationships are outstanding and the support is evident. The staff should be commended for developing a place where students feel valued, successful, and loved.
Fernando R. Ledesma High School
Fernando R. Ledesma High School provides an excellent alternative educational program for students in the San Gabriel Valley. The school places a priority on its students and have teachers and staff who believe in them and understand their needs. The school maintains an open-door policy for students and parents and is continuously enrolling students throughout the school year. They have a very supportive district that ensures that all students will be successful.
The school prides itself on having a caring and nurturing experienced staff committed to “at-promise” youth. This dedication has resulted in little staff turnover, with staff having an average of twenty years working with and serving the student population.
The school provide a variety of scheduling options to meet the needs of the students. Students may attend half day, full day programs, or independent study. College and career readiness are a priority. Ledesma High School focuses on preparing their students for continuing their education at the college level. Students are provided with a rigorous curriculum which strives for professionalism and higher education. Students can also take dual enrollment college course, vocational education classes, CTE pathway courses, and online credit recovery classes.
Students cannot focus on academics if they are struggling with personal or health issues. A Wellness Center has been established on campus to provide mental health services and daily access to MFC therapists. The school has also partnered with local agencies to provide outside counseling and support beyond the scope of the work of the school counselors.
Students are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities. FRLHS have a variety of afterschool individual and team sports. Students can participate in student government and the district student advisory council. Community partnerships provide students with community service opportunities. The City of Hope Senior Honor Cord Partnership gives students the opportunity to participate in campus blood drives, assist patients receiving treatment and learn the importance of giving back to the community. The partnership with Kaiser Permanente gives students the ability to apply for an internship program where they are trained at local medical offices with potential job opportunities.
The crown jewel of the school is the soon to be open multipurpose facility. The structure will include a gym/multipurpose room where students will be able to play basketball and attend school assemblies. There will be a state-of-the-art weight room. Outside, there will be fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and bird houses to attract birds. This facility will be able to be used by the other schools in the district and by the community.
Gilbert High School
The synergy of the entire staff at Gilbert HS left the Visiting Committee deeply impressed. They have the single most motivated and dedicated group of teachers, classified and support staff the Visiting Committee Chair has seen in 15 years of Model School visits.
Every adult on campus expressed their deep concern for their students and talked about how they work to build strong relationships with not only their students, but with each other.
Gilbert HS has successfully transitioned from a place where those who did not make it in the District’s traditional settings, both staff and students, were sent without hope to a place where everyone is celebrated for what they bring to the table. In the most recent opening for a teaching position at Gilbert HS, there were 30 interviews solely from other District staff wanting to transfer.
Gilbert HS has a special class of substitutes that they refer to as “Guest Teachers”. These are primarily retired Gilbert HS teachers, and a few others who decline substituting opportunities in the District at all other sites, and focus their efforts solely on Gilbert HS.
In a time when all educational sites are dealing with increased anxiety and mental wellness issues, Gilbert HS has developed an atmosphere where students truly feel at home and valued. One student stated that, “Here at Gilbert, I feel like I matter. At my old school I felt like a statistic, that teachers were there to get a paycheck. Here, everyone matters. The teachers take time to talk to the one.” Another said that, “This is a place for second chances.” One staff member was quoted as saying, “Belief in the mission of those who work here drives everyone here!”
Gilbert HS offers several on campus clubs and offers students many opportunities to support their community. Students are also actively involved in the Community Corner. This community outreach opportunity allows students to give back in terms of food and other resources to their community. It also is a place where students who have specific needs, such as formal clothing to attend the opera as part of a field trip or dresses for Prom, can come to have these needs fulfilled.
Gilbert HS is the only school that the Visiting Committee is aware of that actually has their very own Poet Laureate. The staff at Gilbert HS is constantly and consistently seeking ways to engage, involve, bolster, and strengthen students in a variety of ways.
This Visiting Committee enthusiastically recommends that Gilbert HS be recognized as a Model Continuation High School!
Glen View High School
Glen View High School (GVHS) meets the criteria for consideration as a Model Continuation High School. GVHS serves the rural community of Beaumont, California, and is under the governance of the Beaumont Unified School District. GVHS provides a transformative sanctuary and highly responsive educational experience while providing an exceptional inclusive educational environment creating a school culture described by all as a last-chance opportunity for many students. Upon entering the campus within the local community, a servant leadership style is observable by the site visitation team.
Relationship building is a crucial area of concern with all stakeholders and understanding the needs of the whole child is a significant focus for this professional learning community. GVHS has exemplary community partnerships that support the site creating a transformative educational experience and empowering students to prepare themselves for the challenges of becoming young adults and responsible community members.
The school’s climate and culture create an environment where students can be themselves and meet their educational goals. The staff is small and joyfully collaborates to share the responsibility of school management; each assumes a leadership role when needed, and integrated into all of their plans is what is best for their students.
The entire school community follows the Beaumont Unified School district instructional focus statement providing quality education to all students by building solid and caring relationships with students. Teachers are instrumental in delivering rigorous learning activities with cultural relevance in the curriculum, opening the growth mindset pathways and motivating students to choose a college or career future destination.
When the visiting team asked stakeholders to give one word to describe the school, words like “welcoming,” “safe,” “life-changing,” “opportunities,” “peaceful,” “no drama,” “confident,” “motivating,” “calm,” “helpful,” “sanctuary,” “respectful,” “enjoyable,” “clean,” “resources,” “passionate,” “dedication,” and “caring relationships” were spoken and observed throughout the site visitation. Primarily described, as a “close-knit community” was the most common word phrase heard during stakeholder interviews. All staff members are committed to ensuring that every one of their students stays on track academically and earns the credits needed to complete a high school diploma.
There is overwhelming evidence of a shared leadership model at this school campus. The school district support focuses on relationships and a diverse mix of social/emotional support while maximizing community involvement. Students and parents validated the exemplary learning support and the positive communications that keep parents informed of student progress. In addition, students highlighted the rigorous alternative learning activities as the critical component of maximizing their learning engagement, improving school attendance, and improving individual learning outcomes. The focus group interviews and examination of available evidence support the recommendation that Glen View High School should be a Model Continuation High School for the 2022-2023 program year.
Hillside High School
Hillside High School, without reservation deserves recognition as a Model Continuation High School. It is evident that there is a united belief among certificated staff, classified staff and district personnel that caring for the students means caring for the student’s academic sense of self, academic self-efficacy and overall mental health.
Staff articulate an understanding of the need to be flexible with the families and with the staff. This does not come at the expense of instructional rigor. Students maintain “A-G” coursework and are progress monitored by senior level and school counseling staff. The students enter Hillside feeling as though this school may be their only opportunity to graduate from high school, but leave with a sense of restoration. The students believe that they can be successful upon graduating. The families believe that the students feel better about themselves as students upon graduating which is a sentiment that is echoed among district and site level staff.
Jereann Bowman High School
Bowman High School creates a trusting, caring environment in which diversity is honored and respected. All stakeholders are fully committed to students’ college and career readiness. Students are empowered to meet challenges to develop social awareness, civic responsibility, and personal growth.
Curriculum is designed to prepare all students for success in college, as well as vocational and technical education. 86% of graduates continue to post-secondary educational options. There is a focus on critical thinking, collaboration, and effective communication. Special admission to College of the Canyons is offered to assist students in meeting A-G requirements. Vocational, technical, and work experience education is provided on campus and through the local district. CTE courses include web design, video production, child development, culinary arts, STEM lab, and NGSS physics makerspace. A full-time work experience teacher/coordinator supervises the work experience program. To accommodate working students who cannot attend day classes, there is a night program where they can work on their graduation requirements.
Students take an active role in keeping the campus clean. Graffiti is nowhere found. The campus is immaculately maintained by the custodial and grounds keeping staff. There are shade structures to help students remain comfortable during hot and sunny days. Parents and students have a good rapport with teachers and staff, allowing for an informal casual, and trustworthy environment. Students state that the highlight of the school is the caring staff who treat the students as individuals not just as a number. They feel that they are totally supported in their education.
John J. Cairns Continuation High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- Advisory period has been in place for approximately seven years and has complete buy-in by staff and students. When students were asked what the school would be like without the advisory period, they were clearly uncomfortable considering that possibility.
- Amalia Lopez has garnered great respect and admiration from all stakeholders associated with JJ Cairns. Her background with curriculum development is clearly evident in the school’s academic rigor and focus.
- Site administration takes part in weekly coaching with all staff to ensure fidelity to the established learning targets and equity for all students in every class every day.
- The proficiency model allows students and parents to track progress.
- This model also allows flexibility for students to work at their individual pace and for staff to support instruction at individual learning levels and styles.
- The proficiency model is also used at the traditional high school which allows JJ Cairns students to understand the Empower platform and system for progress monitoring before transferring to JJ Cairns.
- JJ Cairns is part of an alternative educational umbrella of the district that allows for fluidity among different alternative education needs (community day school, adult school, 9th grade program and independent study).
- The district level of support for alternative education is very high as evidenced through facilities and support of the principal’s vision.
Visiting Committee statement:
When visiting the campus of John J. Cairns Continuation High School, visitors are guaranteed to be met with smiles. This school of choice under the umbrella of alternative education in Lindsay Unified School District is a welcoming, safe and supportive environment for the whole child. Teachers are referred to as Learning Facilitators and students are referred to as Learners. This lexicon sets a tone of academic intentionality and respect for both instructors and students. Led by a principal with impassioned energy that is contagious to all stakeholders, JJ Cairns is a model for all alternative education programs. Her leadership and energy has led to improvements in every aspect of the school from facilities to staffing to curriculum to community outreach. Parents and guardians play an active role and are included in the Learners’ educational experience. Use of the Empower platform allows Learners and their families to constantly monitor progress of the completion of learning targets in route to credit completion. Although there is the defined structure of curriculum and a strong leader, there is clearly a spirit of collaboration, creativity and shared vision. Learning Facilitators are empowered to deliver standards in a way tailored to best meet the needs of their student population. When asked to describe JJ Cairns, students, parents, staff, and community members used words such as: phenomenal, safe, hopeful, amazing, leaders, home, community and belonging. Clearly JJ Cairns sets a high standard for alternative education and deserves Model Continuation High School status.
- Sports; continued upgrade in facilities, including a cafeteria and multi-purpose room; elective offerings.
- Consideration of granting partial credits
- Lock blocks for the doors
Kurt T Shery High School
Notable Exemplary Elements (Included as Category “F”):
Shery High School offers a positive atmosphere to its students. Students feel welcome and respected from each staff member. They are encouraged to speak their mind and they are not afraid to ask for help. Shery High has created a wholesome community not only for their students and staff, but also for the parents and community. The staff encourages students to be involved in outside programs so they can become well rounded students and upstanding members of society. One student quote that stood out during our visit is, “I feel like an equal here. The teachers aren’t above me. They never look down upon us. We’re learning together.” All teachers show great interest in each student’s academic progress and personal growth. Shery High provides many opportunities to earn credits and gain real world experience. They show great flexibility and respect to their students. Shery High shows immense pride in their students. They are always trying new ways to engage and interact with the students. Shery High School has cultivated a safe place for students to be themselves and be excited to learn, pursue education, or a career after graduation.
Consideration and Recommendation:
- Consideration of more field trips and community-based activities
- Community based resources and connections
Shery High School is a small, but mighty, campus filled with staff who genuinely care and work tirelessly for the success of all of their students. They reach each student and have a connection to them that many students raved about. They have an amazing leader who has built a community of trust not only in the staff, but also in the students themselves. They have an amazing intervention program which meets each students needs and is accessible to not only students, but staff and parents as well. Students have quick access to their progress through a QR code and feel comfortable using it when needed. They celebrate each student using restorative practices and have a strong token economy for students to earn incentives and quarterly celebrations where students can celebrate their success with parents or guardians.
Mt. San Jacinto High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- Math Leads
- Teacher inspired weekly Wednesday Elective class options
- On site HVAC & Entrepreneurship CTE Community College
- Knitting blankets & providing them to those in need within the community
- English activity, Third Eye Writing Project, which plans to have student writings published within the local community publication
- During the school day ESports, athletics & other extracurricular opportunities provided to ALL students
Considerations / Recommendations:
- It was wonderful to see students engaged and teachers are encouraged to make consistent use of all resources available within the classroom to actively monitor student engagement, along with facilitation of student share out discussions.
- Sustain all student-centered practices, along with practices that build relational capacity throughout the two sites.
- When strategizing the implementation of a new intervention/effort, it is recommended that the deciding staff members reflect on the feedback of this visit. Students value the efforts of all staff, certificated and classified. In their eyes, all staff assist in making MSJ a safe, loving and nurturing environment.
- Continue to seek out professional development opportunities, in particular with other Model Continuation High Schools.
Mt. San Jacinto High School (MSJ), both sites, should be proud of their efforts to support their students and families. The climate and atmosphere of MSJ, per the feedback our visiting committee received from all stakeholders (students, parents, community members, district administration, site administration, certificated & classified staff members) is described as: Caring, Compassionate, Impactful, Inspirational, Patient, Delightful, Loving, Personable, Relational, Passionate, Heartfelt, Joyful, Best, Excellent, Friendly, Safe, Life Changing & Motivational. Per our interviews, staff at MSJ provide their students with options, a sanctuary & and a community. MSJ staff have built a culture of positivity by supporting the goals of their stakeholders. They’ve done so, again per our interviews, by working together (STAMILY) & validating their students. A student stated, “They care about you…they don’t see you as a lost cause.” Parents & community members have stated that the staff at MSJ “don’t spend a dime, but they offer their time.” Parents described MSJ as two sites that offer, “lots of help for their student’s physical & mental well-being, which has built hope for families.”
The staff at MSJ support all students and per an MSJ staff member, “we work with what they have control of.” The staff’s directed philosophical approach ensures that students are presented with opportunities, rather than invited to take advantage of opportunities. The staff’s willingness to “think outside the box”, be creative and try new data driven efforts is a reflection of their leader, Mr. Seiple. The MSJ principal has empowered his staff by providing them with the autonomy & permission to “crash & burn” with trying new student-centered interventions & efforts. Due to the exemplary work taking place at MSJ, it is our visiting committee’s recommendation that MSJ be awarded the recognition of CDE Model Continuation High School.
North Park High School
North Park has created a tight knit community with their staff, students, and parents. Not only for their school but also for their community. The preschool is available to North Park students who are parents as well as community members and in doing so North Park graduate students can continue to use the preschool services if they are enrolled in college courses. This is a testament of how much North Park continues to care for their students even after graduation. Counseling and intervention are key factors in the success of North Park students. “Communication” is a word shared between students and staff. One student mentioned that in North Park “They take into consideration that we have other issues and let us work around that”. North Park students know that if they need help or access to resources, administration can guide them in the right direction.
North Parks automotive program is something that many continuation high schools would be excited about having on their campus. Having multiple opportunities for students to not only learn academically but also giving them a hands-on learning opportunity is an element which makes North Park stand out from other continuation high schools.
Consideration and Recommendation:
- Consideration of providing students an anonymous means of sharing feedback or concerns.
- Brainstorm ideas for students to participate in on campus sports or through the community.
- Consideration of additional campus counselor or counseling opportunities. With growing attendance, the weight of students needs are also growing and can be limited or strained with a single counselor.
Upon walking onto North Park’s campus, you can immediately see the beauty that it is and the warm welcome at the gate is a great first impression. Each staff member is enthusiastic about all the exciting things happening at North Park and show a commitment to not only the students, but the community as well. From the automotive department, to the infant development center, and all of the amazing counseling opportunities for students, this campus shows that they are what is best for their students.
Being led by an administrative staff that is innovative and persistent to always give North Park’s students the best experience possible, the community of staff and stakeholders wrap around each student and show them possibilities in which they may not have seen in the past. The stigma of going to continuation is lifted when there are so many great things happening and they are a model continuation school through and through. It is only the beginning of what this campus will be able to accomplish with all of the support from district, community members, parents, and students.
Orangewood High School
Orangewood High School is the only continuation high school serving the students of the Redlands Unified School District and with an average of 260 students; they take every student’s success seriously. One way that helps students succeed is that the master schedule is arranged so that students are enrolled in five periods per day. Classes are either 43 or 70 minutes in length, 43 minutes being equal to 1 class period, and 70 minutes being equal to two. Each school year is divided into 12 three-week blocks and each block is one OHS grading period. Students receive a letter grade and credit(s) in each class every three weeks. The visiting team was impressed with the commitment from administration and staff that it takes to have twelve grading periods. Orangewood’s new principal has made a difference in the school culture and it was made clear during interviews with all groups that they are embracing the changes. Many of the students interviewed stated that the staff is kind and they feel how they want to make a difference. The teachers also stated that having so many options for students to earn credits is what makes Orangewood so special. The team observed that all staff are committed to providing a learning environment that is nurturing and encouraging, yet rigorous, as detailed in the OHS Mission Statement, Philosophy and Beliefs. Teachers provide scaffolding and support in the classroom to ensure that all students have access to the curriculum. Some of the methods are direct instruction, UDL, collaborative grouping, AVID strategies, project based learning, and supplemental instructional technologies. Due to the focus on individualized instruction and self-paced learning, and to gauge student mastery, teachers use student created and teacher created rubrics to help guide the assessment process. Orangewood is constantly growing, changing, and evolving to become what the students need to succeed. They have an amazing staff who put students’ needs above their own. Parents stated that the school changed their students’ life and that is why Orangewood is a model school.
Ortega High School
“You get them here, we’ll get them through,” is Ortega High School’s (OHS) mantra. As a veteran visiting team, we were immediately impressed with the program offered to OHS students. The principal was visibly energized discussing current programs and changes to his campus. Within an hour we were hearing the district mirror his energy and describe this power house and the school he proudly serves as an individual that “has given the students district wide, a voice.”
Dr. Greg Cleave is the principal who came on board 7 years ago. At that time the school housed 6 special education students and had a total population under 213 students. Since then, with his dynamic leadership and strong district support, he has developed a team of staff who prioritize building relationships, maintaining academic rigor and believing that all students can succeed. Dr. Cleave’s passion for student success begins prior to the student transferring into OHS. During the intake process, he takes the time to get to know the student’s story, their credit standing and creates their plan for graduation, which he shares with the student and their family. He and his staff have also created a positive partnership with the comprehensive sites. Combating the negative stigma of alternative education. Data drives the decision making by administration which helps staff and students.
OHS has strong community partners. Students are referred to these resources through the counselor, social workers and the College and Career Tech, Ms. Angela. She works vigorously preparing students to achieve their post high school goals. Ms. Angela organizes FAFSA & scholarship workshops, a Career Expo at the end of the year with local community colleges and local businesses, as well as monitor work permits. She is a hub of information for this campus and makes herself available to all students daily.
OHS teachers are flexible, caring, and student centered. A common term among the staff is “family”. Classified staff nurture, celebrate, and set boundaries for every student including those habitually truant or absent, no student is brushed aside or ignored. Communication is consistent among all staff. Teachers feel that their voices are heard, and they are supported by site and district administration.
Parents expressed gratitude for the shift they saw in their children upon arriving to OHS. They felt like active participants in their child’s educational experience. They recognized the school’s proactive approach in the monitoring of their students’ progress. Parents felt well informed via email, text messages and phone calls.
OHS students are the life of the school. They feel valued, believed in and prepared. OHS staff support students for graduation and contribute towards a safe environment. Students feel OHS teachers give more attention, are more engaged, care more and help when asked. They build personal relationships and make themselves available. Students describe their school as “chill, good, peaceful, vibes, the perfect school, the best, memorable, helpful and caring.” This school’s proactive attitude is woven through the school’s culture and can be seen via their high graduation rates, scheduling and intervention practices as well as attendance. Ortega High School is recommended for a model school and was a true privilege to visit.
Palomar High School
Palomar High School (PHS) is located in the city of Chula Vista, CA and is the only continuation high school in the Sweetwater Union High School District of 12 comprehensive high schools. PHS has 2 administrators, 2 counselors, 17 staff and 23 teachers. The principal, Mrs. Miriam Duggan joined the staff four years ago. She brought years of experience at the district level as well as administration at the comprehensive high school level. Mrs. Duggan and her administrative team leads a cohesive staff that work together to provide staff and students a save and nurturing environment to learn and grow. The administrative team follows a shared leadership model where all decisions that are made that directly impact students, staff, and school culture, are based on data and a shared consensus. The leadership team oversees multiple committees that are made up of representatives from the school staff, counselors, teachers, students, and community. As the leaders of the school, when the teams come to a consensus about a school matter, the rest of the staff is confident all lenses were used to assure that the student’s best interests are taken into consideration.
It was evident when first walking on this campus that the entire Palomar Staff truly care about each and every student. As mentioned in the school’s Mission Statement, “The staff of Palomar high school believe that with support, encouragement, and opportunity every student can succeed. All Palomar graduates should be curious, responsible, lifelong learners who leave with the tools needed to participate in the workplace, and society.” Through discussions with students and observations PHS goes over and beyond to help prepare students for life after they graduate.
PHS is run on a two-session system with 10 classes offered where students can work around their work and family obligations. There are currently 256 students enrolled at PHS. Students are transferred to PHS every two weeks. After meeting with the assistant principal, Mr. Chairez, for an intake meeting, students will attend a 5-period day orientation program for 2 weeks before starting regular classes. The Orientation model and curriculum PHS follows gives students the hope they need to believe in themselves. It was the experience of going through this program that students mentioned they knew they were in the right place.
Special Education students are referred through their psychologist and are screened by Palomar’s psychologist to ensure that the instructional program is appropriate, IEPs are up to date, and to monitor the number of special education students to not exceed appropriate staffing ratios.
PHS receives support from the Sweetwater Union High School District in many areas. The superintendent referred to Palomar as the gem in the community where magic happens in every classroom and is the perfect place for students who need the smaller setting. The board member mentioned that connections between staff and students is evident. The district works with the comprehensive sites to help get students transferred to Palomar in a timely manner so that they can recover their credits and graduate on time. They also are dedicated to the needs of the students and have funded a full-time AP, nurse, part-time psychologist and are looking into more CTE offerings and tutoring. They are focused on building internships programs around student interest and passions. In response to the socio-emotional needs they helped put in a basketball court for PE classes and supplied intervention support and SEL resources. The district also is dedicated to helping teachers grow in their craft through experiential learning, coaching and professional development opportunities.
Teachers feel that their administrators are approachable and have their full support. They mentioned that the Admin team listens to the needs of students, staff and teachers. A mix of student center and teacher-directed classrooms is how most teachers feel that their classrooms are. PLC meetings happen every Friday between every department, where they discuss big ideas and themes and review lessons and assessment data to ensure equitable access for all ELL, SPED and economically disadvantaged students schoolwide. They have monthly staff meetings where they can discuss students and the support that they might need. There are five PLC department chairs, and they each run it. Teachers also felt they had support from the district and that their voice was heard.
PHS has high expectations for student learning. Students are offered general education courses, including A-G approved courses, online learning through APEX, as well as CTE pathways (Culinary and IT Essentials). PHS students earn 1 credit for showing mastery in a course by completing 60 hours of coursework/projects/assessments. Students then go and see their assigned counselor to be scheduled into their next class. Students receive tutorial help from teachers during the school day and from attending subject area-Saturday Academies.
PHS houses many resources available for students and their families. The Parent Center offers in-person workshops to parents that focus on parenting, socio-emotional lessons, and PBL. The Library is open for students to check out books and resource materials. The Open-Door Family Resource Center assists families with connection to services such as SNAP benefits, job placement, emergency shelter vouchers, low cost health care and other social services in the community. Palomar has 2 onsite counselors that help with the master schedule, student schedules, grad plans, and mental health and counseling concerns. PHS has a long-term contract with the Center for Mindful Relationships for on-campus personal counseling and therapy sessions. These are scheduled through one of the counselors. Palomar high school also has an Interventions Coordinator that works with students on attendance issues and will do home visits and meet with students and families to help students get back on track.
PHS supports their students in preparation for post-graduation. The other on-site counselor will coordinate opportunities for students to meet with the local community colleges, internships, and trade schools to assist in preparing students for life after they graduate. The school offers transportation for students to internship opportunities. Southwestern College visits the campus each week to support students who are interested in college.
PHS has two CTE pathways: IT Essentials and Culinary. They have a third pathway called Palomar Leadership Pathway for college bound students. Palomar works close with Southwestern College for the Leadership Pathway. In the CTE pathway students are able to earn high school credit and college credit plus certification.
The parents that we met were very pleased and appreciated all that PHS has done for their child. Parents mentioned that they saw their child grow and change almost immediately due to the support and relationships that the school provides. Students begin to see their worth and attend school regularly. Parents at PHS feel informed and connected to the school.
During the two-week orientation, students learned about mutual respect and seeking to reach their potential. PHS students also found that during the orientation, it was when they felt a connection to PHS, and now most of the students want to stay at PHS and not return to their comp site. All students that we talk to have made a connection to someone on campus and have future goals for after PHS. One student said that he felt that he found many father figures here on campus. They reported that support from all staff, flexible scheduling, and the on-campus services like The Center for Mindful Relationships are factors as to why they enjoy being at PHS. When asked to describe Palomar in one word, they replied with “comfortable, chilling, helpful, easy, diverse, organized, interesting, unique, and I have never had a boring day here.”
Phoenix Continuation High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- Project Based Learning is a unique and creative pedagogy
- 100% graduate FAFSA application completion
- Staff advocacy for community resources
- Student re-engagement efforts
- Immediacy of communication
- Proactiveness of communication
- Relational capacity built
- Student personalized academic plans
Considerations / Recommendations:
- Create on site CTE course opportunities
- Build upon community relationships to increase resources & career-oriented opportunities
- Sustain all student-centered practices, staffing and efforts that build relational capacity
- Increase parent involvement with all school wide efforts
- Continue to seek out professional development opportunities, in particular with other Model Continuation High Schools
Phoenix High School should be proud of their efforts to support their students and families. Not only does the Phoenix High School staff work to ensure that they are the center of all resources for their students, but they value the practice of visiting the night time residency of their students.
The climate and atmosphere of Phoenix High School, per the feedback our visiting committee received from all stakeholders (students, parents, community members, district administration, site administration, certificated & classified staff members) is described as: Enjoyable, Useful, Super Helpful, Safe, Educated, Chill, Beneficial, Comfortable, Supportive, Encouraging, Calming, Interesting, Communicative, Proactive, Efficient, Kind, Inspiring, Loving & Accessible.
Per our interviews, staff at Phoenix High School provide their students with alternative options to reach academic goals, they create hope, they create a home like atmosphere & and a positive sense of community. Phoenix H.S. staff have built an empowering and collaborative culture of positivity by supporting the goals of their stakeholders and placing an emphasis on building relational capacity with their families. They’ve done so, again per our interviews, by providing personable guidance, opportunities for redemption and being student centered. A student stated, “I was down, but they give you chance to come back.” Parents & community members have stated that the staff at Phoenix H.S. “is the best & most caring staff.”
The staff’s directed philosophical approach ensures that students are presented with opportunities, rather than invited to take advantage of opportunities. The staff’s willingness to “advocate” on behalf of their students is evident by their seeking out local community resources. The staff’s emphasis on building relational capacity with not just their students, but their student’s families, allows them to connect with their students on a deeper relational level.
The staff’s passion is a reflection of their leader, Dr. Lemus. The Phoenix H.S. principal has been described by her staff as a “force of nature”. Student’s perceive Dr. Lemus as “always visible and available”. Per Dr. Lemus, the staff motto, which was observed and validated during this visit, is “we’re here for you & we’re going to get you through it.” Due to the exemplary work taking place at Phoenix High School, it is our visiting committee’s recommendation that Phoenix H.S. be awarded the recognition of CDE Model Continuation High School.
Prospect High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- Staff and Administrations use of limited resources is incredible. Everyone is invested and willing to volunteer time and money to support Prospect students.
- The student panel shared that Prospect has given them a second chance to graduate. Students felt safe and motivated to do their best.
- Many decisions are made using student voice. The Principal takes time to meet with each and every student to ask what they should keep, start and stop for the next school year.
- Students are met with every two weeks to discuss progress and goal setting to ensure they stay on track.
- The campus has regular celebrations to praise students for credit recovery, attendance, grades, academic progress, and promoting overall pride and positivity.
- Each teacher volunteers to teach multiple preps to provide more engagement and opportunity for students.
Prospect High School should be proud of the school programming and environment they have created for students. They meet every quality indicator in the Model Continuation High School recognition application, and through the visit proved to exceed what was presented in the application. Students and staff choose to be here and flourish in the small community environment. The energy on the campus and in the classroom was one of support, pride and respect. The principal’s vision to create additional opportunities through elective options has proven to connect students to their learning. Students have very opportunity to feel success through their credit acquisition or through the student recognition assemblies, giving some students their first taste of school achievement. It is with great pleasure the visiting committee recommends Prospect High school to be recognized as a model continuation high school.
- Materials and supplies: Prospect High School has a shoestring budget for the highest at-risk students in the community. Students are bringing in their own supplies for the culinary class. It is recommended that some funding be identified for these elective classes, student recognition, support staff, etc.
- Additional community involvement, perhaps a partnership with rotary, non-profit or religious organization for some additional collaboration and support.
Robertson High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- Master teachers are placed with beginning teachers to provide in-class support.
- ROP program to plan post-graduation future.
- Intervention teacher and resource officer who both do more than “police”.
- Model PLC that puts student-focused learning first.
- Strong leadership that provides all stakeholders the opportunity to participate in decision-making.
- Mutual respect and a nurturing environment.
Robertson High School is a vibrant learning community with a caring, dedicated staff. Everywhere one looks one can see engaging lessons and active learning taking place. Students are challenged in the classroom while being provided with the necessary support to be successful with rigorous, grade-level curriculum. The staff helps students navigate classroom activities as well as the difficult task of becoming an adult. In order to assist students in these processes Robertson has embedded SEL supports and Restorative Justice strategies into their daily operations and the results were apparent. Students spoke highly of the caring environment and the respect they received from staff, parents provided stories of how the school has reinvented their students, and community members explained how the many contributions the school has made positively impacted the surrounding area. Robertson’s strong leadership and openness to involve all stakeholders in decision making were clearly evident. Students and staff all spoke of how they felt that their voices were heard and that they felt safe and supported at Robertson. There is no doubt that Robertson is a fine institution of learning and rightly deserves the honor of being a CCEA Model Continuation School.
- Attendance (who doesn’t have this problem?).
- Involving all students in school-wide processes. Larger continuation schools often have this issue.
Santana High School
Santana High School is dedicated to achieving excellence. The school provides struggling students a second opportunity to graduate and obtain their high school diplomas. Opportunities for credit recovery or acceleration is provided through individualized and personalized instructional methodologies. Academic and personal growth is fostered through a variety of online courses, interventions, counseling support, and class scheduling options. Students can concurrently enroll in adult school and community college courses taught on the Santana campus.
A unique academic program at Santana is their use of Virtual Reality in their math classes. In these classes, students use Oculus headsets to immerse students in tactile, real world problem-solving that builds connections to relevant problems while developing core proficiencies. A high point of the Santana High School program is a focus on student support services. The entire staff works to provide ongoing support to encourage and advance student academic, career and personal/social development. The staff strives to provide an effective, challenging, and meaningful educational experience. Santana High School offers a safe haven for students to be able to thrive.
Sierra Continuation High School
Notable exemplary elements:
- Perception of school in community and among staff and students. School has lost its previous negative reputation, and is seen by staff, parents, students, and community members as supportive, relevant and helpful. (standout words in interviews)
- District support of school’s “position” or place within the district. Resources provided and equity for students, staff and site.
- Process by which students are recruited. School of choice only.
- The battle against the stigma attached to the phrase “those kids” and subsequent work with an Equity Coach on your campus.
- EMT / Fire CTE program, STEPP Program.
- CREED: Reward and expectation program.
- Teaching and caring for the whole student. Rejection of the “damaged goods” model.
- Strong leadership and teachers.
- Creation of unique student tracker for progress. Creation of site-specific data to advocate for resources from district.
- Students can take classes at their home school and traditional HS students can take a course at Sierra.
Sierra High School deserves recognition as one of the finest schools in this state. It was evident from the moment we walked on campus that this institution had created a continuum of care were the goal is to support the whole student. Sierra has taken on the task of helping students find their meaning and purpose while removing the stigma that is normally associated with continuation education. Students, parents, and community members alike espoused upon the impact the school has on all stakeholders. The wrap-around services provided by Sierra and their partners leave no student or family without care. Sierra has made itself an integral part of the local community, partnering with local organizations. Furthermore, Sierra students are proud members of many non-profits and are making a positive impact, many of them returning to the school in some capacity to return the favor. What Sierra does extremely well is that they make every single person feel welcomed, wanted, and even needed. All voices are shared and heard inside and outside the classroom. The high expectations coupled with high support was evident throughout the program. The expertise that the teachers used in their subject area just added to the over quality of this program. The lessons were engaging and culturally relevant. Students were directly involved in their learning and setup for success. It is hard to put into words the work that is being done at Sierra but the students summed it up best by saying Sierra is “Inviting, Inspiring, Exceptional, Exquisite, and Unique.” Sierra should be very proud of their school and there is no doubt that they are a CCEA Model Continuation School.
Considerations / Recommendations:
- Sports. Students reported really wanting this, and I can personally report that this is a strong tool for motivation at my school.
- Grading and variable credit clunkiness. Something all schools in the 21st century are navigating.
Tierra Del Sol Continuation High School
- Culture of High Expectations: The school has a culture of high expectations; they are not a “credit factory.” Teachers provide weekly and real-time feedback. Students falling behind are required to attend after school Study Hall. No social promotion. Staff help students to “cross the finish line.”
- Curriculum and Instruction: TDS certificated staff make curriculum and instruction meaningful and relevant. They build on student strengths and employ multiple strategies to structure academic achievement. The following instructional and engagement strategies were observed: learning goals and objects, activities for the day, cross-curricular lesson design, checking for understanding, structured collaboration, purposeful grouping, proactive strategies, policies and operating procedures (i.e. absent work folders, student binders, math utensil organizers, student work boxes, etc.), and multiple use of technology.
- Service Agency and Community Based Organizations: The school is supported by a comprehensive network of service agency resources and support. Staff and students acknowledge that services are highly responsive. Social emotional counselors provide training to increase student skills sets (e.g. prevention, anti-bullying, etc.).
- Advocacy: The TDS community is student centered and all stakeholders are student advocates. The community knows their students’–needs and interests–and takes next steps to resource and empower students. The students and parents say that the staff treat them with respect. The school community is assertive and consistent in advocating for students.
- Extended Learning Opportunities: The location of TDS is strategic in that the school is located near the Regional Occupational Center which provides extended learning opportunities while exposing students to potential career options. TDS also provides CTEC, work experience and Quest 4 Success options to further expose students to life after high school.
- Collect more data from parents, graduates, students and staff so as to create next steps for existing programs (academic and behavioral) and post-graduation support/enrichment.
- Implement a schoolwide monitoring system in which all staff can give feedback on student progress towards graduation.
Twin Oaks High School
It is with great pleasure that our visiting committee recommends Twin Oaks High School for recognition as a Model Continuation High School. Twin Oaks provides a learning environment with high expectations, love, and support for their students. They work diligently to remove barrier to learning for their students, even going as far as providing bussing for their students. The staff at the school value their students and families
and it showed through every person we encountered throughout the visit. The district should also be commended for the level of support offered to ensure that Twin Oaks students have every opportunity to overcome barriers to success and meet their educational goals.
Vail High School
The Visiting Team members were all able to see the staff in action multiple times during our visit. Students are being educated in an environment that cares for them. Where they feel safe and included. No drama, and plenty of respect. All students feel accepted for who they are and where they are at in their personal progress.
During our meeting with the district officials a member of the school board concluded her remarks with the comment that Vail HS has been a life changer and a life saver for many students. Her final words were that our students are not ashamed of going to Vail HS. That she sees in them a sense of pride.
The Visiting Team also saw this sense of pride. Students were open and excited about their school. They know that they have something special at Vail HS and they are delighted to be at Vail HS. Parents also shared their pride and respect for the high school. They expressed their gratitude for the school and one parent said, “it made the difference in my child’s life. This school gave my child a future.”
The Visiting Team was grateful for the opportunity to spend time at Vail HS and to witness great things being done for kids. We strongly recommend Vail HS to be recognized as a Model Continuation High School.
Val Verde High School
Upon arrival, the Val Verde High School (VVHS) campus was clean and orderly, and the banner displays about the PBIS motto and School Wide Learning Outcomes were visible throughout the school campus. The classrooms and 21st-century technology-infused facilities were welcoming, quiet, student-centered, bright, and nicely decorated, showing signs of a professional learning community at work. It took only a few moments to notice the high-quality graphic art displayed throughout the school and the show stopping video production trophy case outside the Video Production classroom. VVHS is an engaging and thriving community opportunity school for the Val Verde Unified School District.
The governing authority, site admin, and leadership team have created a safe school climate. The VVHS school culture was built by positive life-changing relationships with the students. Val Verde has been able to open a Wellness Center where emotional and mental health services are provided by full-time mental health and restorative practice professionals.
One hundred percent of the students interviewed had taken one of the many CTE program classes as an elective. The school operates a visual graphics arts printing, generating revenues above 1 Million dollars a year. While the logistics classroom sends and receives shipments all over the nation. The ROP Pharmacy tech classroom teaches students how to work at the local Walgreens and CVS pharmacies.
Parents repeatedly echoed the sentiment that the teachers and staff genuinely care for their students. They love the school, what it has done for their kids, and how their attitude about school has gone from negative to positive.
The students had nothing but positive things to share about their VVHS experience. Some comments were that they felt a sense of community support at this school. Teachers are caring and willing to go above and beyond to help their students. They think the teachers and the small school size make a difference. The teachers are long-term educators with a passion for teaching and nurturing the impact to change student lives. They all say they look forward to coming to work every day. They are also very thankful to have such an amazing classified staff supporting them. The observations and interviews provided overwhelming evidence of a shared leadership model at work.
Val Verde High School (VVHS) meets the criteria for consideration as a Model Continuation High School for 2022-2023. The school is an invaluable educational resource to the City of Val Verde and surrounding communities. The school provides exceptional opportunities that meet the varying needs of its student population, and the school staff shares the responsibility of decision-making to meet the specific needs of every student to ensure their academic success.
Val Verde is an exemplary model of what a Commercial Technical Education (CTE) should look and feel like. VVHS school has state-of-the-art CTE facilities. VVHS has a strong working relationship with the local community, business organizations, and parents. The Val Verde Unified School District provides superior support for financial resources to maintain the CTE programs and professional development opportunities for the VVHS staff and faculty. The school now offers multiple CTE pathway opportunities, which include award-winning Film/Video Production, ROP Pharmacy Tech, Logistics, Graphics Production, Welding, and Woodwork pathways. The curriculum is project-based with highly engaging learning activities. Most students are taking advantage of the Moreno Valley College dual enrollment for English 1A and 1B. Full-time licensed personnel provides additional on-site support services and resources for social/emotional support for their students. VVHS has exemplary programs, human resources, and site leadership in place to meet the current and future needs of the community and its student population in the forthcoming years.
Valley High School
Notable Exemplary Elements:
- District support of the programming of the school, including adding an additional teacher for RTP.
- The support of the community rallying around Valley Students. The partnerships with Escondido Police Department, Rotary clubs, Social Services, and opportunities for community service are exceptional.
- The passion and enthusiasm of every individual on the campus; students and staff alike. Students shared how connected they feel and know that the teachers are truly in their corner to push them towards success.
- The RTP and Connections classes that involve all teachers and provide additional support.
- ASSETS program provides a safe place for students to be after school.
- “Learning for All Whatever it Takes” motto is not just words but action oriented. The staff and students truly do whatever it takes to ensure success.
Valley High School should be proud of the culture, climate, and programing they offer students. Not only does the school meet all five of the quality indicators to be identified as a model school, they have developed opportunities for students that go above and beyond, doing whatever it takes to support student success for the present and the future. Walking onto the campus, you can tell that Valley is an incredible place, students are greeted by a beautiful facility and friendly staff that are clearly dedicated to the community. The connections with local organizations provides students with support for any need they may have, truly serving the whole child. Students are accepted for who they are and feel noticed. Some shared that this was the first time a teacher took the time to know their name. The staff has worked hard to provide after school opportunities for students to have a safe place to get work done, or socialize. This school exceeded all expectations and words cannot capture the energy embodied by all who contribute to the school.