Griffiths, Stauffer middle schools named model campuses in California

 Griffiths Middle School Principal Dr. Rani Bertsch and Stauffer Middle School Principal Alyda Mir pose as they celebrate their schools being selected as 2017–18 Schools to Watch. This program, which is at the state and national level, recognizes high-performing model schools who demonstrate academic excellence, social equity, and responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents. Photo courtesy DUSD

Griffiths Middle School Principal Dr. Rani Bertsch and Stauffer Middle School Principal Alyda Mir pose as they celebrate their schools being selected as 2017–18 Schools to Watch. This program, which is at the state and national level, recognizes high-performing model schools who demonstrate academic excellence, social equity, and responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents. Photo courtesy DUSD

DOWNEY – Griffiths and Stauffer middle schools have been named “schools to watch” in California for demonstrating academic excellence, social equity, and responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents. 

Only 22 schools in California were recognized in the 2017-18 Schools to Watch – Taking Center State program. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced the schools last week. 

Downey Unified is one of only three school districts in California to have more than one middle school within their district recognized as a Schools to Watch high-performing middle school.

"Congratulations to these schools for doing excellent work to help students believe in themselves, set high goals and dream big," Torlakson said. "These schools are outstanding examples of how educational innovations can keep students engaged and learning throughout a transitional time in their lives."

Celebrations have been set for March 9 at 10 a.m. at Griffiths and at 1 p.m. at Stauffer, with students, staff, district leaders, school board members, local officials and dignitaries expected to attend. The celebration will feature an address to the student bodies announcing the schools’ selection as models, along with a presentation of banners.

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The schools will also be honored in Washington, D.C. in June as national schools to watch. 

“We are thrilled to have received this recognition,” said Griffiths Principal Dr. Rani Bertsch. “Our staff and students have worked very hard to demonstrate strong student achievement.”

Dr. Irvin Howard, past president of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, noted, “Both Griffiths and Stauffer middle schools are models of what an outstanding middle school can be. School leaders from across the state will now turn to these two Downey Unified middle schools for guidance on improving their programs to better serve their own students.”

“This ceremony is an affirmation of the fantastic work so many have done within our school, our Board of Education, the district and even our larger community,” added Stauffer Middle School Principal Alyda Mir.

California’s Schools to Watch -- Taking Center Stage program uses a competitive, rigorous review process to identify high performing, high impact middle schools so that all middle schools may have models of real-world success. Griffiths and Stauffer middle schools are two of the 112 model schools that have been identified statewide since 2003.

To earn this designation, schools must complete an extensive application that is reviewed by middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years. 

All of the schools will be recognized in Sacramento at the California Middle Grades Alliance annual luncheon on March 1.