gmhTODAY 03 gmhToday July Aug 2015 - Page 14

One example is Live Oak High School, which was named an Asset Champion in 2015 for its Caring High School Climate in which students brought to life the school’s motto: United at the roots, we are all different branches of the same tree. As a Live Oak graduating student put it, “If there’s one word that I can describe Live Oak with, it would be ‘accepting.’” When it comes to academics, Neal said teachers are cultivating a new mindset among their students. “We are teaching students to be responsible for their own learning and the works they produce. We advise students, ‘Do your best; don’t just do the minimum’. We want to build competent, confident students, and we’re encouraging parents to support the process at home by asking their students, ‘Is this your best work?’” at Eliot Elementary School. Patricia Pelino, the school’s principal, said that through Los Dichos, Spanish-speaking parents can become involved in their children’s education and instill a sense of positive cultural identity in their children. Volunteers are trained by a bilingual Project Cornerstone staffer in the principles of positive youth development. Afterward, they visit classrooms to read books aloud and lead discussions and activities about topics including tolerance, family pride, peaceful conflict resolution and other core values. To further cultivate this mindset, Brownell Middle School Principal Greg Camacho-Light said the old days of parent-teacher conferences have given way to student-led conferences. “Students reflect on one or two assignments per subject area and address the objective, standards, grading criteria, successes, and areas in need of improvement for each assignment. They are expected to use these reflections as evidence to demonstrate academic growth and to set goals for the upcoming school year.” This is not to say that schools don’t appreciate parental support. On the contrary, educators are acutely aware of the benefits that a nurturing family and home environment convey to their students. Programs such as the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) help parents connect with the schools and learning experiences of their students and get up to speed on everything from understanding Common Core to cyber safety and substance abuse awareness. Another example of this partnership is the Los Dichos Program 14 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN During the 2014-15 school year, South County schools and students went above and beyond to win acclaim on many fronts. Here are just a few highlights. Graduating seniors include National Merit Scholars representing multiple high schools in Morgan Hill and Gilroy. They have been accepted into top colleges and universities including Dartmouth, Stanford, UC Berkeley and UCLA as well as the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. Local public schools were a beacon of achievement, earning recognition from the State of California in its Gold Ribbon Awards Program (replacing the California Distinguished Schools Program). Among the winners were Brownell Middle School, Christopher High School, Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA), Ann Sobrato High School, Britton Middle School, Martin Murphy Middle School, and Live Oak High School. In addition to being chosen as a Gold Ribbon School, Christopher High was also selected as having an Exemplary Program in Arts Education. Brownell received additional recognition as a Title I Academic Achieving School.  When it comes to Math, South County schools enjoy a creative partnership with the American Institute of Mathematics for extra- curricular math enrichment programs, competitions and clubs open to 4th through 12th Graders. For example, in this year’s MATHCOUNTS chapter competition, 8th Graders Brian Ho (Martin Murphy School) won first place and Michael Pham (Britton School) placed sixth. Pham went on to compete at the state level. Science also had a great run this year. In the annual Future City competition for Northern California, Jeremy Esch, Chance Bowman and Austin Gonzales of Martin Murphy School took fourth place. The challenge, called “Tomorrow’s Transit,” was to design an eco-friendly way to move people in and around our city. The team conducted research, built a model, wrote a supporting essay, and presented their work to a panel of professional engineers. JULY / AUGUST 2015 MIDDLE Awards and Accolades