These educational programs from OC have earned Golden Bell Awards

The California School Boards Association recently presented Golden Bell Awards to 11 educational programs from Orange County that drive student engagement, improve school cultures and close opportunity gaps.

Golden Bell logo

Now in its 41st year, the CSBA’s Golden Bell Award is considered one of the state’s premiere educational honors, recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices.

In 2020, 116 entries in 19 categories were evaluated by experts from school districts and county offices throughout California before the winners were announced during a virtual award ceremony last month. You can watch the event above.

And here are the local winning entries by category, with descriptions from this year’s program.


Accountability / Assessment

Capistrano Unified School District

Professional Learning Communities

What does it take to become a world-class data-driven school district, dedicated to the continuous improvement of student outcomes? The research in the educational field is clear, a Professional Learning Community (PLC). Over the past five years, the Capistrano USD has committed its focus to becoming a high-performing PLC. The district’s robust implementation plan includes a detailed framework and roadmap for all schools to continuously improve outcomes for ALL students in each of the California Dashboard indicators.

Orange Unified School District


The iLead program develops a collaborative culture focused on achievement. Working with a coach and program participants, educators identify a goal and delineate necessary resources. They reflect on ongoing assessment data to implement data-driven instructional practices using their iLead resources. This program’s focus on autonomy, collaboration and accountability has strengthened the use of formative assessments, changed instructional practices and increased student achievement.


Alternative Education

Fullerton Joint Union High School District, La Sierra High School

10th-Grade Opportunity Program

Tenth-Grade Opportunity targets students who demonstrated poor academics and behavior in ninth grade. The program addresses gaps in basic skills through intensive reading and math intervention instruction. Students’ social-emotional issues are also addressed using a variety of supports including full-staff training on trauma-informed instruction, weekly restorative circles and access to group and individual counseling. Finally, an after-school program addresses students’ inappropriate behavior.


Career Technical Education

Anaheim Union High School District (Sponsor Winner)

Anaheim Innovative Mentoring Experience (AIME)

The goals of the Anaheim Union HSD’s Anaheim Innovative Mentoring Experience (AIME) program are to prepare our students to be college, career and life ready by offering academically challenging college and career pathways that equip them with the 21st-century skills to succeed in an increasingly competitive and diverse global community. AIME provided 8,000-plus total mentoring experiences in four tiers, which included speakers, trips, a mentoring series and internships.


Closing the Opportunity Gap through LCAP Implementation

Saddleback Valley Unified School District, La Paz Intermediate School

First 20 Days — Supporting Student Success

La Paz Intermediate’s First 20 days — Supporting Student Success program strategically and systematically teaches and monitors social-emotional and academic literacy skills across all content areas. By establishing foundational learning skills in a matter of weeks, not months or years, all students achieve academic success, with significant subgroups experiencing exponential growth. In addition, students transfer these skills and reach their full potential as contributing and compassionate global citizens.


English Learners / Multiliteracy

Westminster School District, Willmore Elementary School

Willmore Language Academy

Willmore Language Academy was started in response to the Westminster SD Board’s vision of closing the achievement gap by increasing language acquisition for English learners, and providing all students with 21st-century learning skills. Willmore’s Spanish Dual Language Immersion program includes children as young as 3, building on the research that the best time to learn a second language is under the age of 5. When students begin TK the language of computer coding is added, forming a true multi-language academy.


Equity and Access

Garden Grove Unified School District

College and Career Mentoring Program

The College and Career Mentoring Program provides alumni-led mentoring to the most at-risk sixth-grade students in the district. The intent of the program is to strengthen students’ personal skills specifically around motivation and grit leading to greater academic achievement and college/career readiness. The curriculum and focus is intentionally aligned to the district’s Strategic Plan Goals and is grounded in research around motivation, self-efficacy, mindset and self-regulation.


Expanded Learning and Engagement

Magnolia School District

MSD Summer STEM Academy

The Magnolia ESD Summer STEM Academy provides third-graders with four weeks of high-quality academic instruction and hands-on learning in engaging STEM curriculum. Students learn about science concepts and how they impact everyday life through high-interest units of study. The lessons also integrate a range of technology skills. District data and observation have shown that this unique summer program has had a great impact on third-grade students, including higher levels of academic achievement and high levels of motivation and enthusiasm for learning.


School Culture and Safety

Cypress School District, Clara J. King Elementary School

Social-Emotional Learning

At Clara King Elementary School, all students learn strategies that promote emotion regulation, peaceful conflict resolution, empathy and responsible decision-making. The curriculum used to support social-emotional learning at King provides age-appropriate lessons for students in transitional kindergarten through sixth grade.

Lowell Joint School District, Rancho-Starbuck Intermediate School

R.E.A.C.H. Success for all students

R.E.A.C.H. — Responsibility, Effort, Attitude, Character and Honor — is a motivational and reward program at Rancho-Starbuck that encourages students to REACH their potential and be the best they can be academically and in their character. The REACH program creates a climate that places an importance on student achievement and rewards and celebrates excellence. With the goal of motivating all students, it is clear that REACHing for success is a way of life at Rancho-Starbuck.

Ocean View School District, Hope View Elementary School

A Community of Caring

Hope View is committed to being a “Community of Caring” where all students are encouraged to “Hope for the Future and Make a Difference Today!” Students endeavor to incorporate key principles of character into their daily lives and to show empathy for self and others. The integration of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, social-emotional learning and a guide dog on campus has transformed the school culture into a safe, welcoming environment with rich educational experiences, an inspiration for learning and an involved community of learners.