Thurston Named One of Just 12 Model Middle Schools in California

State schools chief Tom Torlakson congratulates winning designates in the Schools to Watch–Taking Center Stage program.

Story submitted by the Laguna Beach Unified School District:

Today, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 12 high-performing California middle schools were newly designated as model middle grade schools in the Schools to Watch−Taking Center Stage program. The California Department of Education, in conjunction with the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform, and in partnership with the California Middle Grades Alliance, sponsors the California Schools to Watch–Taking Center Stage program.

Laguna Beach Unified School District’s Thurston Middle School was designated as one of the only 12 newly designated model middle schools in California, and one of 2 in Orange County.

"My congratulations and admiration go out to these schools for continually striving to improve student performance," Torlakson said. "Their success is the result of effective and innovative practices that motivate their students to learn and excel."

Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage middle grade schools are high-performing model schools that demonstrate academic excellence, developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, social equity, and organizational support. In order to be named a STW‒TCS model middle school, school teams must conduct a self-study evaluation and complete an extensive application process. Each site is then visited and reviewed by a team of middle grades experts.  To retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years. One of the tenets of the program involves model schools agreeing to host visitors from California and around the world who are looking for replicable practices that will help improve their middle grades schools and close the achievement gap among students.

Thurston Principal Jenny Salberg stated, “Our staff works hard to support each and every student both academically and socially—and it shows. I am so honored to work at such an incredible place!”


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