OAKLAND -- Montclair Elementary School is celebrating its honor as a California Distinguished School.
The state awards schools that exemplify best practices in delivering quality education to students and focus on closing the achievement gap for minority students. Though there is no limit to the number of awards that are given each year, less than 5 percent of California schools receive the award.
"It (the award) proves what hands-on parent involvement with a stellar administration can do. You can't go wrong," said Anne Campbell Washington, school board representative for District 4. "I am proud to be representing Montclair school and the greater Montclair community, and to recognize our rock star Principal Nancy Bloom."
Montclair Elementary received its first California Distinguished School award in 2010. In addition to Montclair Elementary, two other schools in the Oakland Unified School District received California Distinguished School honors -- Achieve Academy and Think College Now.
Maggie Rogers, parent of a Montclair Elementary alum as well as a fourth grader, was one of the authors of the school's application for the state award in 2010 and 2014.
"I'm excited and relieved," Rogers said. "It's a really nice recognition for our school and our teachers. They've worked so hard. I'm happy to help with anything that gets them recognition for their work."
When Bloom arrived eight years ago, the school had 346 kids, 46 percent of whom were from outside the Montclair area.
Today, the school has 564 students, 47 percent of whom do not come from the Montclair district boundaries. About 25 percent of the school's population falls into the target groups, Bloom said.
Bloom said she sets the expectations high and then has a support system in place to make sure that all students reach the desired goals.
Bloom's approach to student achievement runs counter to current methodology, where small-group specialists tutor students individually or in small groups.
"You can't keep doing things the same way and expect a different result," Bloom said.
Instead, at Montclair Elementary, a small-group specialist goes into a classroom for 50-minute periods twice a week to teach the class a lesson prepared by the classroom teacher. During this time, the classroom teacher will work with small groups that need extra help.
Bloom uses the same model to tailor the curriculum for the accelerated students, while always watching the data for both groups to make sure that the system is working.
"You keep tweaking the model until you get it right," Bloom said. It's a continual process.
"The next group of kids that come in will need something different. That's what I enjoy the most about my job."