Awarded in 2021
"The California Distinguished Schools (DS) Program was established by the CDE in 1985 and recognizes schools that demonstrate exemplary achievements. The California DS Program recognizes elementary and middle and high schools in alternate years and allows eligible schools to apply for the California DS Award once every two years. Schools recognized as a California DS Awardee hold the DS Title for two years." - California Department of Education
Awarded in 2017
"California Gold Ribbon (GR) Schools Program was utilized for three years in place of the California Distinguished Schools (DS) Program while California transitioned to its new assessment and accountability system, the California School Dashboard (Dashboard). Information regarding the Dashboard is provided on the CDE California Accountability Model and School Dashboard web page. From 2015–17 California recognized schools that demonstrated exemplary achievements with the California GR Schools Program. In 2018, the CDE transitioned from the California GR Schools Program back to the California DS Program." - California Department of Education
Awarded in 2017
"The Title I AAA honored schools met a variety of eligibility criteria including designated federal and state accountability measures based on Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Academic Performance Index (API) requirements. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act required that all states receiving Title I funds establish a program that recognized Title I schools that exceeded AYP for two or more years or significantly closed the achievement gap among numerically significant subgroups." - California Department of Education
Awarded to in 2022
"In 2022, California is recognizing districts and elementary and middle and high schools that have completed an Online Application highlighting a pivotal practice that they implemented during the 2020–21 school year when California required schools to offer distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic." - California Department of Education
California Teacher of Year
Awarded to Virgina Vasquez in 2022
Eleventh through Twelfth Grade; English: Advanced Placement (AP) Language and Composition
In Virginia’s AP English classes, their motto is “Authors are intentional. I am an author. I am intentional.” If you asked a student to describe a typical day in her class, she believes that they’d probably say something like, “Mrs. Vasquez reminds us every day that our words matter, that we are authors and that I have a voice.”
Virginia asserts that making a commitment to know her students ensures that they feel valued and heard, and she celebrates the rich culture, knowledge, and life experiences that each one brings into her classroom. Virginia champions underserved Latino students, encouraging them to enroll in her AP classes by building more inclusive cohorts of students who have never taken AP classes before, and by assuring them that their voices are valued and needed.
As the fourth of six children in a Mexican-American family, Virginia says that some of her first educational moments occurred over the kitchen table, sharing and learning with her family. This early love of learning was further influenced by Occidental College’s Upward Bound program, where she worked as a tutor, resident advisor, and later, a teacher. Virginia explains, “One of the most important lessons I learned in Upward Bound was that you cannot teach without first being a learner yourself.”
Virginia believes that her most significant accomplishments are building roots and creating lasting relationships with students. She has made lifetime connections with her community, attending her students’ quinceañeras, high school and college graduations, and even inviting them to come to her wedding. She is proud that she was their teacher, but even more proud of what they continue to teach her.
Quote for Virginia: “Despite the challenges this last year has posed, come August, I will stand at my door ready to greet students, ready to do it all over again because that’s what we do.”