Kaylee Hurtado, Kearston Hamblin and Kayla Maynes take their pledge to honor the Bear Cave's standards at Bruin Point Elementary.
In each of the past three years, the students and faculty at Bruin Point Elementary have been honored by the Utah State Office of Education as a high performing Title One School. The small elementary has also garnered state awards for their success helping struggling children "close the gap," by significantly improving standard test scores.
In 2012, Bruin's accomplishments drew the attention of national educators as the Sunnyside school was selected as a National Title One Distinguished School.
"We are so very excited for our faculty, our kids and their parents. The amount of work undertaken here could not be done without a massive amount of help," said second year Bruin Point Principal Leslie Jewkes. "We do a lot of planning with the kids, helping them define their goals and we give them the tools they need. But they do the work. This is their award."
According to Jewkes, each state can only nominate two schools for this national recognition. It is judged based on a school's performance over a two year academic period. During that time, the Office of Education compiles and compares the school's Criterion Reference Tests (CRTs) along with Utah Comprehensive Accountability.
According to the National Title I Distinguished School Program, schools are selected by their individual states based on a combination of academic achievement and the creative and innovative programs which contribute to their success.
Bruin Point joins other national schools being honored for making a difference in the country's Title I schools. "These schools demonstrate a wide array of strengths including team approaches to teaching and learning, focused professional development opportunities for staff, individualized programs for student success and strong partnerships between the school, parents and the community," said the Title One website.
While the Title One program does have national ties, it is the local commitment to education that has Bruin Point students thriving.
To demonstrate this, the school conducted their Bear Cave initiation program in the week following the news of their award. Students at Bruin Point who have excellent attendance, great grades and happen to meet their quarterly goals are inducted into the Bear Cave. They are given a metal and honored before their parents and peers.
Jewkes reported that school's incentive programs along with parental involvement, a strong staff and a bevy of paraprofessionals insure that Bruin Point functions at a very high level. Each student is planned with, motivated and then taught how to follow through with their goals.
In the district's letter nominating Bruin Point, Carbon officials noted the school's use of interventions to immediately assist struggling students.
"This remote rural school is the focal point and pride of a struggling coal mining community in Sunnyside, Utah. Although over 70 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged, they placed in the 99th percentile on the 2012 Utah Comprehensive Accountability System measuring achievement and growth. Scores on state language arts, math and science testing in 2007 and 2008 placed Bruin Point Elementary well below state averages at 67 percent Language Arts, 56 percent Math and 42 percent Science," reported the district. "The staff at the school developed a plan with resources from Title I, Special Education, School Land Trust, grants, Carbon School District and the local community to create a path to success for every student in the school."
The path created helped Bruin Point students to exceed beyond the expectations of many.
"The combined efforts of students, staff, parents and community members at Bruin Point Elementary have resulted in a dramatic increase in proficiency in 2012 to 93 percent Language Arts, 88 percent Math and 89 percent Science," concluded the district via their nomination letter to the National Title One Office. "More importantly, the students of Bruin Point Elementary see themselves as successful and active learners. The entire community celebrates and supports these students who are thriving in a climate of high expectations and success."