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The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

The student news site of Amador Valley High School

AmadorValleyToday

Two schools in Pleasanton district distinguished by California Department of Education

Pleasanton+Middle+School+and+Thomas+S.+Hart+Middle+School+become+a+2024+California+Distinguished+School.
Edwin He
Pleasanton Middle School and Thomas S. Hart Middle School become a 2024 California Distinguished School.

The California Department of Education named Pleasanton Middle School and Thomas S. Hart Middle School a 2024 California Distinguished School. Only 293 schools across the state win this prestigious award out of thousands of public high schools and middle schools.

The California Department of Education considers various factors when granting the award. Two important criteria are both excellence and growth in academic achievement and positive school climate, which PUSD middle schools demonstrate. 

“There’s a lot of factors that go into ultimately achieving this status [like] sustaining high levels of overall student achievement. Whether it’s [English learner] groups or socioeconomic disadvantaged groups, analyzing data from the past three to five years, [it demonstrated that there was] growth in multiple student groups,” said Pleasanton Middle School Principal Marco Lopez

A huge part of the schools’ success is the hard work of the faculty. They are always ready to meet the needs of the students. 

“We have an incredible staff, and we collaborate as grade level teams, as well as department teams. Also, we use the Response to Intervention [model]. What that means is that there’s multi-tiered levels of support. We have good teachers every day helping kids,” said Thomas S. Hart Middle School Principal Caroline Fields

Like high schools in the district, both middle schools have Access period twice a week for around half an hour. During Access, students can sign up for specific classes to get extra help. 

“Students can sign up for an enrichment or a study zone. That gives a little extra time to [students] if they are struggling. We want to empower our students to get ready for high school and start to really think about themselves,” said Fields

Maintaining a positive school climate is important to both middle schools. The schools reward students for their good behavior and have a wellness committee on campus to set goals for improvement. 

“We have a [Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports] site team here that meets quite consistently. We have a system where students [can] receive PRIDE slips. They come and collect [a prize] in the attendance office. Basically, kids know that when they are comporting themselves in a productive manner, there’s rewards for that,” said Lopez

PUSD middle schools also look to build connections between students, which is especially important post pandemic. Kids felt disconnected after coming back from remote learning. 

“Starting the first day of school, we have all students wear name tags. Additionally, we have a bunch of school activities. We try to have fun every day. We have some school-wide events [like] a swing dance competition in the fall. Our P.E. department is running Mile March Madness. Kids are choosing to run the mile every day for the month of March,” said Fields

Pleasanton and Thomas S. Hart middle school maintain an environment at school where students feel safe. They are also constantly seeing what they can do better, looking at data and conducting surveys. Staff have a growth mindset. 

“This place needs to be a safe environment for all students, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. We want it to be where people feel that they’re accepted in all areas, from academics to social. We are not fully there yet. But that’s what we are always trending towards, achieving that goal and ultimately that type of status,” said Lopez

Parents also play an essential role in the success of the school. They are always participating and willing to help the school and its community.

“We have great parental support. The parents here at PMS are extremely involved and willing to assist as needed in any capacity. That is basically our life blood. We all have the same vision,” said Lopez.

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