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Sunnyvale School District receives state recognition: Social-Emotional Learning Initiative awarded CSBA Golden Bell

Sunnyvale School District (SSD) is pleased to announce our selection as one of 57 recipients of California’s leading educational honor, the Golden Bell Award. The Golden Bell Awards, celebrating their 40th year, are presented by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) to promote excellence in public education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices.

SSD was recognized for its Social-Emotional Learning Initiative, which works to close opportunity and achievement gaps within the student population while supporting families. The program objective is to position students for increased academic growth and success by helping them build social competence and emotional resilience.

SSD has adopted SEL as a district-wide initiative, planning and allocating resources for student and teacher learning, partnering with community mental health experts, and building on its ten years of program growth to-date. SSD staff deliver social-emotional instruction in every classroom and work to model healthy SEL behaviors for every student. Through community outreach, the district has engaged and educated parents (with 20 sessions for families in the past year alone), and has begun sharing the importance of SEL within the broader community of neighborhood supporters.

“My goal is to support incorporating SEL practices in all subject areas so that it’s seamlessly embedded into everyday instruction,” said Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Special Education Dr. Tasha Dean. “I am passionate and committed to expand and enhance how we incorporate SEL in Sunnyvale as I know that this work not only helps students, but educators achieve success in and outside the classroom.”

“Research shows when youth develop key skills of self-awareness, self-regulation, building relationships, social responsibility and responsible decision making, they are more engaged in school and their own learning,” said SSD board member Nancy Newkirk. “Integrating social emotional supports into curriculum, classroom environment and school culture every day provides a platform for academic growth in all students.”

A judging panel composed of experts from school districts and county offices of education across the state review written entries and make initial recommendations. On-site validators then review the recommendations and assess the programs in action. This year’s Golden Bell winners demonstrated they are addressing student needs through areas such as equity and access, school climate and safety, technology and wellness.

“Now more than ever is a time to acknowledge and celebrate innovative and impactful programs that make a difference in the lives of our young people,” said CSBA CEO and Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “This year’s Golden Bell winners truly serve as beacons of success as we work to more fully and equitably serve all of California’s public school students.”

To learn more about the Golden Bell awards and all the winners, visit the program’s website at

deputy superintendent and assistant superintendent jointly hold Golden Bell Award

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