Two Sunnyvale School District schools received Hoffmann Awards in April from the Santa Clara County School Boards Association: Fairwood Explorer and Cumberland Elementary.
Fairwood was recognized for its parent participation program and Cumberland for its project-based learning.
The Hoffmann Awards honor Glenn W. Hoffmann, who served as the superintendent of Santa Clara County schools from 1967 to 1984, and believed that leadership was a key factor in educational reform.
A committee of school administrators and board members score entries from Santa Clara County school programs. Awards are given to only those programs, which receive the highest scores. Eleven programs from eight districts were submitted this year.
Cumberland Elementary’s Project Based Learning sees teachers design standards-based curriculum across subjects for students in grades K -5. The project aims to teach the curriculum in fun, meaningful ways that also allow students to see the product of their effort.
Student projects include designing an advertisement to entice people to visit a planet of their own creation, researching charities and raising funds for a charity of the student’s choosing, and brainstorming ideas for water conservation.
“Project-based learning is so important because it really engages students in learning rigorous content in a way that ignites excitement and deep learning,” said Cumberland principal Edy Mourtos. “It also creates opportunities for students to practice key life skills such as collaborating, problem solving, creating and thinking critically.”
The Fairwood Explorer’s parent participation program began in 2009 when parents from five Sunnyvale families worked with the Sunnyvale School District to create an education program that focuses on intellectual, social and emotional development with an emphasis on collaboration between teachers and parents.
Parent-driven activities have ranged from twice-yearly stargazing evenings, an expanded art and music program and multicultural awareness events. In the past year, the school’s parent community has participated in more than 20 enrichment classes that taught coding, gourmet cooking and half a dozen languages. Teachers rely on parents to be present in the classroom, participating two hours in class weekly.
“Fairwood Explorer is honored to be recognized for our unique program of choice by the Hoffmann Award selection committee,” said Fairwood principal Jeffery Bryant. “We pride ourselves on forging meaningful relationships with our students’ families, as these connections create a positive community of learners that benefit from the diverse experiences and backgrounds that are represented on our campus.”
Previous Hoffmann Award winners in the Sunnyvale School District include Columbia Middle School’s FLEX program in 2014 and Cherry Chase’s Stretchers Art program in 1997.