Of over 1000 eligible high schools and middle schools across California, Bonita Vista High School was one of 275 schools awarded the Gold Ribbon Award by the California Department of Education. The award recognizes distinguished schools across the state that have both advanced test scores as well as successful academic programs available to students. BVH showcased the Tutor, Educate, and Motivate program, also known as T.E.A.M tutoring, as the central program in applying for the award.
“These terrific schools are leading the way in embracing our new rigorous academic standards and showing others how to help students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.
T.E.A.M began on campus as a program where students were sent when they began failing their math and english classes, however since then it has grown exponentially. The program now covers a wide variety of courses and no longer acts as a way to reprimand students. According to Principal Bettina Batista, the program was chosen as a central aspect of the school due to its success in raising the grades of hundreds of students over the years.
“We were awarded for being an influential program in student lives and impacting so many youths at our school. A board from the California Department of Education came to our school and asked us a lot of questions about our program and I knew they were impressed,” President of T.E.A.M. tutoring sophomore Ambre Decilap said.
Despite being the model program, the award was not solely based on the T.E.A.M. The application submitted consisted of both a narrative on the program as well as the general demographics and test scores of the school. While there is no physical award for the Gold Ribbon, it distinguishes BVH from the majority of Californian schools.
“Receiving the award is no doubt a recognition of excellence. This is the second time our principal has received this award and you can only be awarded every five years, so that shows you the success of our school in the past few years,” Interventions coordinator and T.E.A.M. tutoring advisor Steven Wiggs said.
One of the stages in the process for winning the award was submitting a detailed narrative about a particular school program. CIS coordinator Michele Godoy and librarian Mary Anderson were tasked with writing and submitting the narrative on T.E.A.M. that would eventually determine the schools qualification to a day visit.
“Ms. Anderson and I sat in an office for a week straight writing the narrative, which revolved around the need for the program, the implementation process, the data and how we see the program continuing to grow,“ Godoy said.
The next stage was a visit from a group of administrators who came to observe and talk to the tutors of the T.E.A.M. program. The visit lasted a day and a private meeting was held in the library.
“They asked a lot of questions about what we do, how were trained and even how the program impacts ourselves. The teachers were very nice and interested in what we had to say. We sat in the library in a large circle of 20 tutors and three teachers. It was a very interesting experience,” Decilap said.
The interviews with the tutors took place before spring break. Once this was completed, the final stage was for the administrators to submit their review of the program at the school to the California Department of Education.
“We received the highest recommendation from the administrators and received notice a few weeks later that we had officially received the award. To my understanding the governor of California is going to call the principal at any moment to congratulate her,” Wiggs said.
The program continues to reach out to a broader range of students as it expands and Wiggs is hopeful for the future. Batista also cites that through recognition as a prominent school, other schools can create programs similar to T.E.A.M.
In addition to being identified as a high achieving school, what is most satisfying is knowing that other schools across the state of California can see the success we’ve had with our program and replicate it at their own sites,” Batista said.