Montgomery School Has ‘Eagles’ Soaring

John J. Montgomery Elementary was among the featured schools at the Innovation in Education Awards Program held recently at the University of San Diego. Montgomery Elementary received the “Achieve Award” for its implementation of the Math Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. The award comes with a $5,000 cash stipend for the school. The Classroom of the Future Foundation and the County Office of Education hosted the awards.

As part of Montgomery’s math program, students are given hands-on materials to practice grade level standards. Students are also allowed access to an iPad, which gives them extra support during their universal access time and allows them to show their work using an interactive whiteboard application. The foundation’s “Achieve Award” demonstrates the tangible program results that drive student learning. It specifically focuses on the “program evidence” that directly correlates to positive student outcomes.

The Classroom of the Future Foundation award is the latest in a series of honors for the school, which is located in southwest Chula Vista. Montgomery was recently named a 2012 California Distinguished School. And the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) gave the school high praise in bestowing its “Excellence in Urban Education” national award. Montgomery once had the lowest state Academic Performance Index score in the District. Principal Francisco Velasco was appointed to the school four years ago, and student achievement steadily increased. Its API was 873 last year. This year, the staff and students set their sights on becoming the first 900 API school on Chula Vista’s west side. The state’s benchmark is 800. (The results won’t be known until September.) The school’s mascot is an Eagle. Clearly, Montgomery’s Eagles are soaring higher than ever.

“It has to do with teamwork,” Velasco said, in explaining the school’s success. “The teachers, the students, the parents, the staff—they all have to work together. But really, the ones who do the most work, the ones that are key to what we do, are the teachers. So we have to find the right people for the job, and allow them the opportunity to do the job well.”

View a brief video about Montgomery’s math model with Teacher Heather Galyen and Curriculum Coach Vanessa Cruz.

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