Santa Ana’s REACH Academy featured in inaugural list of Model Community Day Schools

REACH Academy graduation ceremony
(Photo courtesy of REACH Academy)

REACH Academy in the Santa Ana Unified School District has been named one of California’s eight Model Community Day Schools for 2024. 

This is the first year of the MCDS Recognition Program, which represents a partnership between the California Department of Education and the California Continuation Education Association Plus, or CCEA Plus. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the eight inaugural recipients on Monday. 

“By providing students with myriad educational options, mental health resources and other support services, these schools have addressed students’ needs, elevated their strengths and assets, and set them on a trajectory for success,” Thurmond said. “This comprehensive support has prepared them with the necessary skills to move toward successfully completing high school, transitioning to higher education — academic and/or vocational — and entering the workforce.”

Not to be confused with the state’s Community Schools Partnership Program, community day schools are campuses for students who have been expelled from school or who have had problems with attendance or behavior. 

Schools vying for Model Community Day School status engaged in a detailed self-evaluation,  covering everything from their management and operational structures to how well they educated the whole child by addressing academic, social-emotional and mental health needs.

Here’s what the state had to say about REACH Academy:

Staff spend a great deal of time connecting to students and earning their trust at REACH Academy. Staff members are trained extensively in restorative practices and have instructional coaching support for curriculum writing and incorporating restorative practice and juvenile justice into their day-to-day lessons. In addition, REACH Academy has created an orientation course for all new students called HEART, which represents Hope, Engage, Achieve, Restore, and Transition. Lessons seamlessly integrate technology, reading, writing, reflection, sharing, restorative circles, cross-curriculum teaching, and career exploration. Monitoring academic progress over time and administering surveys to gather student perceptions of the learning environment and school culture are integral components. The Coordination of Services Team convenes regularly to analyze data, identify tier interventions, and address the nuanced needs of students. 

During the three years that schools are designated, the state will identify them as resources for districts that are planning to establish new community day schools — and for other campuses looking at ways to expand and deepen their educational practices. 

Each honored school will hold its designation for three years and receive recognition at the upcoming CCEA Plus 2024 State Conference in Los Angeles. During the second and third years, these schools must provide the CDE with an annual confirmation that they continue to meet the model school criteria.

More information is available on the Model Community Day School Recognition Program website

And here’s the complete list of 2024 Model Community Day Schools by county: 

Fresno County 

Pathway Community Day School, Central Unified School District
Sanger Community Day School, Sanger Unified School District 

Los Angeles County 

Dorothy V. Johnson High School, Los Angeles Unified School District
Montebello Community Day School, Montebello Unified School District 

Mendocino County 

Lighthouse Community Day School, Fort Bragg Unified School District 

Orange County 

REACH Academy, Santa Ana Unified School District 

San Bernardino County 

Hesperia Community Day School, Hesperia Unified School District 

Tulare County 

Lindsay Community Day, Lindsay Unified School District