School of Education 27th Annual Jack London Award for Educational Innovation to honor three Sonoma County public school programs at May 13th award ceremony

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on May 5, 2014 1:07 PM

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For almost 30 years Sonoma State School of Education has recognized innovative programs in Sonoma County public schools with The Jack London Award for Educational Innovation.

The Jack London Award is designed to recognize, encourage and spread good ideas about innovative educational programs. Innovation required creativity and risk taking, two qualities that author Jack London himself embodied in his life and work.

This year the committee conducted site visits and is naming three recipients of the Jack London Award--two in the Early/Elementary category and one in the Secondary.

2014 Jack London Award Recipients

Secondary Category

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Project Make students at Comstock Middle School

Comstock Middle School of Santa Rosa is being acknowledged for their "Project Make" program, which gives students the opportunity to delve into hands-on, technical education that promotes problem-solving and real-world applications.

In January of last year, Comstock Middle School converted one of three existing elective sections devoted to Art into a Project Make elective. Teachers John Lundblad and Dawn Thomas spearheaded the class, providing a rich "making" environment, including access to diverse tools and materials from which students can develop and apply academic, aesthetic, technical and interpersonal skills by creating and building meaningful products appropriate to the middle school level. The program gained momentum from a summer Project Make camp offered at the school.

Early/Elementary Category

Santa Rosa Charter School [LaDonna Moore and Catherine McCracken, Directors] is receiving the Jack London Award for the Adlerian Positive Discipline Program which extends to their whole school community--from staff, to students to families. At the school, students learn self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and problem solving skills through non-punitive and non-permissive techniques.

According to this approach, all ages learn more effective communication and encourage one another, developing skills that will help them in the present and as they grow and move on to high school and beyond. Monthly training for parents, and professional development for teachers in the Adlerian approach has created a safe and nurturing environment for students from preschool through 8th grade for many years.

Finally, Park Side School in Sebastopol is receiving a Jack London Award for their International Baccalaureate World School program, which has the goal of helping students grow to be compassionate, knowledgeable and caring lifelong learners. [Jude Kreissman, IB Program Coordinator]

Park Side teachers have developed curriculum in accordance with International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) guidelines, with Units of Inquiry that encompass learning, action and reflection. Developed in collaboration, these units address the California Standards while providing a global perspective for students and following a pedagogical model based on inquiry. Park Side is the only IB PYP school in Sonoma County.

Award Criteria

Schools self-nominate their programs, and the committee narrows down the field to just four finalist programs based on their written applications. Programs are judged on their innovative approach, ability to engage teachers and their school community collaboratively, and the impact of the program on students.

For many years one award was presented each year, but in 2011 the Jack London Award Advisory committee decided to expand the award to honor exemplary programs in two categories: Early/Elementary and Secondary level programs.

Award Ceremony

The Jack London Award recipients will be honored at the Annual Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 13 at the Sonoma State Cooperage from 5-7 p.m. Admission is free to the public; all ages are welcome. Parking pass required.