Mendenhall Middle School is one of six Tri-Valley middle schools with the distinction of being named a 2021 California Distinguished School, a statewide title awarded to public schools for exceptional student performance and narrowing achievement gaps.
It is also the only Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District campus recognized this year by the California Department of Education (CDOE), which announced the winners last month. Honorees hold the title for two years, with middle and high schools recognized during alternate years from elementary schools.
Performance and progress indicators on the California School Dashboard, including test scores and suspension rates, are used to identify and award eligible sites. Professional development and positive behavior intervention are also factored in the CDOE's "data-driven" selection process each year.
"We are excited to receive this award as it is a true reflection of all the hard work and dedication that has been put forth by the entire staff" principal Tammy Rankin said in a statement. "The Mendenhall community including staff, students and families make this a special place."
"Those who visit our campus are able to see an environment in which the staff is committed to providing a quality education for our students," Rankin added.
Staff has "made math a priority for all students, those who are struggling, and those who are thriving," according to Rankin, and "want it to be fun and engaging."
A voluntary zero period math intervention program giving students a sneak preview of their regular math class lessons later that day "has been well received and incredibly helpful in improving students' math achievement," allowing them to ask questions and receive feedback and one-on-one help with new materials.
Two other after-school programs have also been useful. The Math Homework Club gives students extra help every day after school, while MathCounts takes place in a "cooperative learning setting" where teachers and volunteer coaches team up to help students tackle mathematical problems.
The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which "reinforces character traits and core values of Mendenhall students" called the "Mustang Musts" -- "Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful" -- is a particular source of pride for Rankin.
A Lunch Bunch crew and 5-Star reward program that both promote support and connection throughout the school, as well as creating a sense of healthy, friendly competition among teams on spirit days are all part of sustaining "a sense of community among the student-teacher population."
Vice principal Tom Fletcher said "a coach is only as good as his players" and called the award "a tribute to the teamwork here at Mendenhall."
"We have a dedicated group of teachers, amazing students and supportive parents. Earning Distinguished Schools is a reflection of all of their hard work," Fletcher said.
Other Tri-Valley middle schools recognized as California Distinguished Schools this year include Pleasanton Middle and Harvest Park in Pleasanton, Fallon in Dublin, and Iron Horse (San Ramon) and Stone Valley (Alamo) in the San Ramon Valley.