Sequoia Elementary Recommended For Distinguished School Award

February 27, 2014 10:00 am · 31 comments


The California Board of Education has officially nominated Sequoia Elementary School in Pleasant Hill as a Distinguished School.

This is the first time Sequoia Elementary has been recommended for the Distinguished School program, which began in 1986.

Dr. David Franklin, Sequoia Elementary principal, stated that the nomination team was impressed with every aspect of the school, and thanked the wonderful teachers, parents, and students. Mt. Diablo Unified School District Superintendent Nellie Meyer joined Dr. Franklin and validated the instructional and curricular alignment to district and state initiatives to the nomination team.

In order to be invited to apply for Distinguished School honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including designated federal and state accountability measures based on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Academic Performance Index (API) requirements.

Sequoia was chosen as a distinguished school based on not only its high API score (946), but a new Resource Intervention program spearheaded by Dr. Franklin and Resource teacher funded by the school’s parents association.

Sequoia Elementary is a Kindergarten through 5th grade school for 650 students with a waiting list of several hundred.

Sequoia provides a learning environment where educational excellence can be achieved through the mastery of academic standards in a 21st century setting, while instilling in each child a sense of responsibility, confidence, pride in accomplishment, and respect for self and community.

Kids Didn't Go to Sequoia February 27, 2014 at 10:42 AM

It’s a good school and deserves the honor. Recently, they were honored by the City of PH’s Green Award for their composting work. They are way ahead of the other schools in terms of environmental and science education.

I don’t know why the district doesn’t use the Sequoia formula at other elementary schools. People have to apply to get in there from throughout the district and it serves a population that is diverse. Their scores are always high.

They are probably more strict when it comes to discipline than other PH schools, but that could be part of their success.

district mama February 27, 2014 at 11:16 AM

I have always wondered why the district does not follow the lead of the schools finding success.
My daughters 4th grade teacher said because the other teachers in the district do not like being told what to do in their classes. She was including herself.
MDUSD listen up… here is an education model we can use to have the success we once did.
Congratulations to Sequoia and thank you for proving it can be done.
Our children are worth the work it takes to implement this program around the district.

Happy parent February 27, 2014 at 11:43 AM

My kids did very well there academically. They had good teachers and responsible parents (thank you) who gave them an early and strong set of life skills to shape them into the successful adults they are today. I will also add I did not care for the principal at the time. It became a better school as a result of her moving on, and for a number of reasons today’s teachers and students are fortunate she’s gone.

Dorothy February 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Happy to know there is such a school at the elementary level. Which there were more of them.

Too often, and I speak from some experience, the public school kids get to Jr High and cannot read well let alone with comprehension. They have only some understanding of basic math but after adding and subtracting, they sort of lose it.

Too many, by the time they are in HS, are barely able to make it to graduation.

I am not talking about what is just going on in schools now, I’m going back to the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when public schools were starting their downward trends.

ConcordDad February 27, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Congratulations to Sequoia! Remember when they were on the list of schools that MDUSD was considering for closure? I agree with the posters above, more schools should consider the programs that are working at Sequoia.

Shuley February 27, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Agree with all those above. The other schools in the district, Monte Gardens and Sequoia Middle all regularly top the districts API rankings. These schools follow the Diablo Basics curriculum and require heavy parent involvement, which any parent or teacher will tell you is key to a student’s success. Not only does the district seem to ignore this success by not expanding the program, all of these schools were on the list of schools targeted for closing a few years ago when the district had to close schools.

#2 You don’t necessarily have to “apply” to get in to these schools, you just have to submit to the list. Now, it is a lottery system, used to be a waiting list. But there are no specific “qualifications” any student must have to get in. And people will say that these schools “recruit the good kids” from other schools, but that is untrue. It is just a fact that the parents that are active and involved and take the time to navigate the process of getting their kids into these schools tend to have more successful kids because of their involvement in their education.

Bullpuckey February 27, 2014 at 12:29 PM

My son was a student at Sequoia and while there it was discovered he had a mild learning disability and his teacher recommended he repeat a grade. That recommendation was denied by the school and we had to pull him out and go elsewhere.

I heard later (though I have not been able to confirm) that applications for Distinguished School awards are marked down when children repeat grades.

In any event, they were unsympathetic and unhelpful to our situation. Its easy to score high if you push out all the kids with problems or who need a little extra help.

et-al February 27, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Had to satisfy all the radical left’s state and federal funding requirements. Pay attention parents.

Kids Didn't Go to Sequoia February 27, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Sequoia deserves the praise, but there are a lot of other elementary schools that have been distinguished schools also.

I think District Mama is right. My kids had great success at another PH Elementary school that is awesome, but I also heard that the teachers don’t like to be told what to do.

One thing that PH residents should be aware of is that while Sequoia Middle School is top notch and has a lottery to get in PH Middle is turning into a repository from all over the district without the discipline impetus.

I heard that the school is almost 50% bused in and that it’s creating two different schools on one campus. I don’t know if that is just rumor or true, but I know it was at least 30% a couple of years ago. Without the academics and discipline I worry how this will affect the school.

PH FAN February 27, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Way to go Sequoia!

Mustafah Fahaha February 27, 2014 at 1:09 PM

@ et-al

yeah I’d much rather my kids be taught the Republican education agenda. the earth is flat, 6000 years old and dinosaur fossils are a big prank being played on us by God to test our faith.


funny man February 27, 2014 at 1:17 PM

do they teach them important live skills like how to count back change? i mean they will most likely be working fast food the rest of theer lifes. and omg how many times i’ve confused some teeny bopper at the register by giving them a whole bill amount over the total?!@#
bill is 16.55, give them 21.05 …. get confused look.. WTF i want a fiver and 4 bits back YOU IDJIT!

MD Parent February 27, 2014 at 1:38 PM

District mama,

The secret to Sequoia’s success is that it is a magnet school, not a neighborhood school. In other words, students aren’t assigned to Sequoia based on their address. Their parents had to take a look at Sequoia’s program, decide that they wanted their child to attend Sequoia instead of their neighborhood school, and put their child’s name into the lottery. The parents who do that are the type that volunteer in the classroom, make sure their kids do their homework, and participate in the school fundraisers. Their kids would do well no matter what school they went to. That’s why the district can’t replicate Sequoia’s success elsewhere. It’s based on the type of families that send their kids there more than the programs in place at Sequoia. Take a look at Walnut Acres Elementary. It’s a top-scoring MDUSD school. What’s the secret to it success? It draws from a high-income area. The parents are college-educated high-achievers who participate in their children’s education. The school program itself is the basically the same as it is in the low-scoring schools.

While I understand why parents choose to send their kids to Sequoia instead of their neighborhood school, I see the negative impact schools like Sequoia have on neighborhood schools. The parents who send their kids to Sequoia are the ones who would have been leading the neighborhood PTA volunteering in the classroom, going on field trips. Their kids are the ones who do well on the STAR tests and raise the school’s API scores. Their kids are the “rabbits” in the classroom who inspire the other kids to do well. Without those families, neighborhood schools decline, which leads more families to decide to pull their kids out. It becomes a downward spiral.

et-al February 27, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Mustafah Fahaha –
Who mentioned republicans? That was you – knee-jerk. You should fear the radical left.

PH FAN February 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM

@ MD parent – you hit the nail on the head. Thanks for the explanation.

and another thing February 27, 2014 at 2:04 PM

The students and their parents have to sign contracts to attend Sequoia and if the child breaks the contract by not doing their homework or disruptive behavior etc. they will get kicked out and have to go back to their neighborhood school.

Mark February 27, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Well deserved !

Anon. February 27, 2014 at 2:52 PM

At # 18- that is totally not true.

RANDOM TASK February 27, 2014 at 3:34 PM

@18 and if so then that child is breaking a contract and rule ….when is responsibility a for your actions in this state going to be realized….prob never since the dems want you to rely on them for your actions and such as it is. Yes it is elementary and that is where they learn these things not when they are in highs school trying to go to college and or wear what everyone else is wearing. The school is obviously looking for students and parents that are looking to achieve a better education and ethics as well as the responsibility to do so. You dems have instituted a no child left behind in schools to make themselves feel better which just pushes em forward with no real learning or character building …just get em out of the system so they can go into another WELFARE…….please when a school pushes for better education the dems always try to pull em down to their level. Kudos to this school for pushing for better learning and not bowing to the dems joke of a school system.

RANDOM TASK February 27, 2014 at 3:55 PM

@15 wait what …….did you just say that because the parents who want to be involved with their childes education is so limited that it needs to be dispersed among the school system. IS THIS FOR REAL …..or are you just playing a part in a blog that is known for truths and out of the box commentary. Please if you are saying that the number of parents who are actually interested in their childes education is a low number because they are rich and educated is laughable …funny no ……dem related maybe…. and yet this is soooo far out there I am in disbelief. Fact is as you stated the number of parents using the school system for a daycare and simply rely on the dem run schools to educate and mold their children why they do other things is a higher percentage than you would think but not that high ……if half the people reading this blog are or would take an interest and work for their kids ..with their kids well as school and teachers to make sure their child is educated to the fullest we would not have to have this on the blog in the first place ……..please take the biased rich card and throw it away…. your child gets more education from the parents than they realize rethink your decision to blame others who are trying to get the most out of the teachers and schools ….it is not based on rich or educated it is wanting more for your child period ………the notion of a depleted school system because the few parents who actually care are being snatched up is so far out there I still am in disbelief I just read that.

anonanonagain February 27, 2014 at 4:09 PM

We love our school!! We are so proud of our Principal Dr. Franklin, our supportive and wonderful parents and teachers. What a shining achievement for our school! It shows in our children in the way they are learning and their enthusiasm for being there!! Thank you Sequoia!!!

typical concord resident February 27, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Kids and parents these days are so STUPID it makes me SICK!!!! what happened to PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY…. oh right the liberals turned it into a hate crime…. WAKE UP SHEEPLE

Anon #2 February 27, 2014 at 5:47 PM

Frankly I am disgusted by so much negativity for such a great achievement. This is a great school that OBVIOUSLY is doing something right. Well done Sequoia!

Sooth Sayer February 27, 2014 at 7:45 PM

It’s a bogus achievement. Sequoia selects the top kids and when they make a mistake they throw kids out. When they test above average they declare that they are distinguished.

A truly distinguished school is one that takes the tough kids and turns them around. Sequoia doesn’t do this.

SequoiaMom February 27, 2014 at 8:29 PM

I totally agree with number 24!! Sequoia Elementary, Monte Gardens Elementary, and Sequoia middle school are all California distinguished schools and they deserve to be. Our principal, teachers, students and parents are awesome and work very hard everyday to do their best. So proud to be apart of this!!

Shuley February 27, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Actually, #18 is correct. My child went to Monte Gardens, which is the other school in this district that uses the Diablo Basics program, and they do make the child (and the parents) sign behavior contracts upon enrollment. And sometimes parents/kids are reminded of this contract when they break rules. I don’t know of any kids, however, that were thrown out while my kid was there. Maybe one or two but I never heard about it.

@ MD Parent. The question is, what came first? The alternative curriculum is originally what drove parents to choose that school. Sure, the school being heavily populated with involved parents is the result, but that is no reason to punish these parents for trying to get their kids the best education necessary. We need to figure out how to get as many parents involved as possible at all schools. Our #1 need, withour a doubt, is smaller class sizes. PERIOD. 32 is too damn big. It needs to drop 25%!

SequoiaMom February 27, 2014 at 8:37 PM

My child attends Sequoia elementary and is not at the top of the class and is in the RTI class that our principal and SPA has supported and not once has this school turned their back on my child. They have supported and encouraged us 100%. I am grateful for our school!!

SequoiaParent February 27, 2014 at 10:36 PM

#15, are you for real?

My oldest started out at a different school, and it took us a couple of years before we were able to move to Sequoia. Our former home school did not foster volunteerism, and in fact, we were told that the district and union frowned upon parents doing anything at the school. That kind of “can’t do” attitude has nothing to do with parents who want to help out.

Once we moved to Sequoia, we happily signed the contract, and have been very active through both our children’s education, both at the Elementary and Middle Schools. We love the teachers at both and love that these schools happily embrace, foster and encourage volunteerism. This comes from the core values of the school and not just the parents who leave for a situation that more aligns with their values.

How people can’t be happy for Sequoia and rather, need to point out Sequoia as the problem in their own neighborhood school is just nuts. If you don’t like what’s going on at your school, change it. If you can’t, or don’t want to change it, move to a situation that is more in line with your values. Don’t just sit there and whine that your school should get the award, or should have more volunteers. Go volunteer. Go apply for the award. Make things happen over complaining about someone elses success.

Michelle February 28, 2014 at 6:09 AM

Sequoiaparent: I couldn’t say it better!!

Where are the parents? March 1, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Congrats to Sequoia ! Parent involvement is a strong indicator of how well students will perform.

To the “MD Parent” who criticized families for wanting their kids to attend Sequoia or Monte Gardens, it is the apathy of the non-active families in the neighborhood which make schools like Sequoia and Monte Gardens super attractive.

I am a frequent volunteer parent (boosters, PTA/PFC). Back in the day, there are usually less than 10-15 parents in a school of 500+ students who regularly volunteered at our elementary school. Where are the other 485 families?

Don’t blame the parents who actually step up to the challenge of being very involved in their school. The attention should be on the overwhelming number of apathetic / non-involved families who set the tone at the school – those parents are the ones directly responsible for any negative impact on the school and make the school look less attractive.

Mitch March 1, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Parental involvement and the educational level of your parents is a strong indicator, but keep in mind intellect is like looks. You inherit it from your parents. You can push yourself to your potential, but you can only do so much with what you were or weren’t blessed with.

You can try really hard, but if you’re lacking the intellect……

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