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San Bernardino's Salinas Elementary Named California Distinguished School

San Bernardino's Salinas Elementary Named California Distinguished School
Posted on 12/19/2019
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A spirit of collaboration among teachers, a principal who nurtures relationships with her staff, and students eager to learn are the ingredients that landed Manuel Salinas Creative Arts Elementary School on the coveted list of 2020 California Distinguished Schools.

The California Department of Education selected Salinas, a magnet school with a focus on visual and performing arts, for the award because of its success in closing the achievement gap, a term that refers to academic disparities between different groups of students. Salinas is one of just 19 San Bernardino County elementary schools to earn the honor.

Principal Heather Regalado, who has lead Salinas since 2015, said the award is the result of years of focused work on the part of teachers, who work together to meet the academic and social needs of students.

“This is all possible because of my teachers and staff,” Regalado said. “They’re the ones who keep our students engaged and wanting to come to school so they can be confident and successful.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond applauded the work of the more than 300 Distinguished Schools across California.

“These outstanding schools don’t just educate students; they also provide the young people of California the tools they need to be successful after graduation,” Thurmond said. “Thanks go to all the staff at these schools—teachers, administrators, classified employees—and parents, who are working together to provide high-quality educational experiences for all of their students.”

For Regalado, success comes down to human interaction. When she became Salinas’ principal almost five years ago, Regalado made it her goal to build and nurture genuine relationships with teachers, giving them freedom to think outside the boundaries of the classroom. That resulted in greater innovation and collaboration between teachers. With the introduction of performing arts like theater and band, students became more engaged in academics and attendance improved, both essential to boosting student learning.

Now one of the highest-performing elementary schools in the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Salinas has an average yearly attendance close to 97 percent. More importantly, greater numbers of students from various subgroups, including Hispanic and African American, are achieving academically in English-language arts and math.

“We’ve seen so much academic growth in our students,” Regalado said. “At Salinas Elementary, there’s no boundaries to what our teachers and our students can do.”

Salinas and other California Distinguished Schools will be honored on February 10, 2020, during an awards ceremony at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

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