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Ormondale named a 'Distinguished School'

Ormondale School in Portola Valley has been named a 2014 California Distinguished School -- one of 424 out of about 6,000 elementary schools in the state to receive the honor.

The K-3 school in the two-school Portola Valley School District won that recognition at least four other years, including in 2010, according to Principal Kevin Keegan.

On the job at Ormondale for less than a year, Mr. Keegan said: "You know when you walk onto this campus with the staff, with the parents, with the students that this is a distinguished school. It's nice that the state recognizes this and we could showcase a couple of the signature practices we do really well."

The Distinguished Schools program is sponsored by the state Department of Education, which this year placed the focus of the recognition on schools "that have demonstrated educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap," according to the state agency.

To be eligible, schools must submit an application detailing two programs or "signature practices," and an outside team of educators validates the full implementation of those practices, the state agency said.

Ormondale submitted information on what is known as "data driven differentiation" and a program called "The Whole Child - A Caring Community." In the description of the former practice, the school wrote in its application: "Our overriding goal of data driven differentiation is to support the individual student in meeting and exceeding their learning goals. We use (the practice) to support and accelerate our most vulnerable learners, while encouraging our grade level and advanced students to soar."

In its description of "The Whole Child - A Caring Community," the school wrote in its application: "Ormondale's vision honors the developmental level of all students and fosters joyful lifelong learning. We nurture a sense of respect, responsibility, and compassion by dedicating instructional time to develop the social and emotional needs of our students."

Ormondale is one of three schools in the Almanac's coverage area to receive the recognition this year. The other two are Oak Knoll and Laurel, in the Menlo Park City School District.

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