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San Bruno schools win awards: Belle Air, Allen, John Muir and Portola all receive honors
March 17, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

David Hutt

Schools in the San Bruno Park Elementary School District were overwhelmed with awards with the announcement of four schools receiving honors during the same week.

About two weeks ago, the Belle Air Elementary School and Notre Dame de Namur University partnership has earned the distinction of “exemplary program” in teacher education and preparation from the California Council on Teacher Education. The district also received news Allen, John Muir and Portola elementary schools have earned Honor Roll designation from California Businesses for Excellence in Education. Allen received the award specifically for being a higher poverty school that is increasing academic performance and closing the achievement gap, while the others were honored for being high performing schools.

“It was a good week,” said Superintendent David Hutt. “All of them are a level of recognition on our successes on the part of student achievement. It’s reflective of the quality of partnership that exists because of the commitment of the professional staff with families and students.”

Belle Air and Notre Dame began working together at the end of the 2011 academic year when the school was not meeting the achievement benchmarks. Under the federal No Child Left Behind rules, it was classified as in program improvement and, when a school goes into its fifth year of program improvement, it must make some big changes. Hutt contacted Robert Ferrera, director of the multisubject program at Notre Dame and suggested they work together. Notre Dame students now spend two semesters at Belle Air, matching them with each Belle Air classroom “master” teacher. Because of the partnership, each of the school’s classrooms has both a teacher and student teacher creating a lower teacher to student ratio. Last year, Belle Air saw a 50-point jump in state testing scores.

“This award is very much the result of a team effort involving NDNU, Belle Air School and the San Bruno district office,” said Joanne Rossi, dean of the School of Education and Leadership in a statement. “Together they have managed to achieve in one year gains that normally would have taken as many as three. Robert Ferrera, the student teachers and the faculty and staff of Belle Air have broken new ground in university-school partnerships.”

She added that all of involved in the partnership have learned a great deal about best practices for low-performing schools and the information they’ve have collected will help other educators in their efforts to improve the performance in low-achieving schools.

“This potentially could help thousands of kids in myriad classrooms for years to come,” she said.

There will be an awards ceremony March 28 for the partnership between Belle Air and Notre Dame.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: belle, school, teacher, schools, notre, partnership,

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