By Barbara Wood
Special to the Almanac
Woodside Elementary School District Superintendent Beth Polito and second-grade teacher Brian Myrtetus will be in Washington, D.C., this week to accept a National Blue Ribbon School award for their school.
While it is not the first such award for Woodside, the last time it received the Blue Ribbon honor was 1993, Ms. Polito said.
Woodside is one of 27 schools in California and 257 public and 50 private schools in the country to be named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education this year. Other Midpeninsula schools honored this year include North Star Academy in Redwood City and Oak Avenue Elementary School in Los Altos.
To be eligible for the award, schools must be in at least the top 15 percent in the state on state assessments of reading and mathematics, with results for students from disadvantaged backgrounds similar to the results for all students.
Woodside School students far exceed those requirements. According to their application for the Blue Ribbon award, the state Academic Performance Index for the school was 942 (out of a possible 1000) in 2007, 956 in 2008, 933 in 2009, 937 in 2010 and 968 in 2011.
Socio-economically disadvantaged students, English learners and students with disabilities made major gains (129 points, 192 and 190 points respectively) in performance on the STAR exam between 2010 and 2011, the application says.
Woodside School is also proud of its place in the community, according to the application. "The vision of Woodside School is Woodside children are the town's greatest treasure," it says. "Educating and nurturing them is our contribution to the future."
The school's stated mission is, in part, to provide "a nurturing yet challenging school environment consistent with Woodside's cohesive, small town character. In collaboration with parents, we will instill in our students a love of learning, respect and compassion for others, and a global, multicultural awareness."
At the time of the application for the award, in 2011, Woodside had 446 students, with an ethnic breakdown of 72 percent white, 11 percent Hispanic or Latino, 6 percent American Indian or Alaska native, 2 percent black, 3 percent Asian and 1 percent Pacific islander. It had 29 students, or 7 percent, who were English language learners with four languages -- Spanish, Russian, Tongan and Urdu -- represented; while 40 students, or 9 percent, were eligible for reduced price meals and 58 students, or 13 percent, received special education services.
The school spent $18,647 per child and had a ratio of students to classroom teachers of 12 to 1, the application says.
Local winners of the National Blue Ribbon School award in the recent past include Corte Madera School, in Portola Valley and La Entrada Middle School in Menlo Park in 2008; Encinal Elementary School in Atherton in 2007; and Las Lomitas Elementary School in Atherton in 2003.
According to the Department of Education website, "National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models for other schools throughout the nation, and school personnel are often sought out as mentors."