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El Monte Union Teacher Prep Academy Wins 2017 Golden Bell Award

MVHS teacher prep student Another MVHS teacher prep student
Image left, more than 100 juniors and seniors from Mountain View High School’s Teacher Preparation Academy spend two to three mornings a week providing one-on-one instruction, guidance and support to Mountain View School District’s La Primaria Elementary students, honing their teaching skills and building relationships. The teaching program has earned a 2017 Golden Bell Award. Image right, as part of their on-site training, Mountain View High School’s Teacher Preparation Academy (TPA) students work at Mountain View School District’s La Primaria Elementary and Madrid Middle schools. TPA students tutor transitional kindergarten through eighth-grade students in arithmetic, phonics and sentence composition. The teaching program won a 2017 Golden Bell Award.

Since its inception in 2000, El Monte Union’s Teacher Preparation Academy (TPA) – a novel teaching program at Mountain View High School (MVHS) – has provided aspiring educators a pathway toward pursuing a teaching profession while boosting college-going rates, academic achievement and school attendance.

Every week, 100 MVHS juniors and seniors in the TPA program make the trek to nearby Mountain View School District elementary and middle schools to tutor transitional kindergarten through eighth-grade students in arithmetic, phonics and sentence composition, providing one-on-one instruction while honing their teaching skills.

For its demonstrated success, the program has been honored with a prestigious 2017 Golden Bell Award, a recognition bestowed by the California School Boards Association (CSBA) to California school districts that promote excellence and increase student achievement through outstanding educational programs and practices. Mountain View High will receive the award during a recognition ceremony at CSBA’s Education Conference, taking place Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 in San Diego.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of addressing California’s teacher shortage with this innovative program, which provides students with a rich college prep and career technical education curriculum, as well as valuable hands-on learning and paid work experience,” MVHS Principal Jose Marquez said. “This program and the success of our students would not be possible without the flexibility and the hard work of our teachers and community partners.”

Students in TPA – a three-year California Partnership Academy that is structured as a school-within-a-school – acquire deep subject expertise, receive classroom and on-site training, participate in common teacher prep periods, visit colleges and participate in the Fiesta of Books, a community celebration of literacy during which students dress up as beloved children’s book characters.

As part of their on-site training, TPA students work at Mountain View School District’s 12 schools two to three mornings a week for one to two years, completing more than 100 hours of student-teacher instruction through in-school and after-school activities.

“Last year, I had two students who thought that because I wasn’t much older than them, they didn’t have to listen to me,” said MVHS senior Hadasa Silva, who is in her third year of the teaching program. “I overcame that by gaining their trust and then their respect as a superior. But the most important thing was showing them that I am a person who cares about their education.”

On an eight-week rotating basis, 24 TPA students are hired by Think Together, an after-school enrichment program, to serve as tutors and provide homework help. TPA tutors can earn $800 every eight weeks: $200 from Think Together and a $600 scholarship upon college acceptance.

“Teachers are always going to be needed, so it is important for us to encourage students to pursue careers in education,” said MVHS English teacher Amy Minick, who co-directs the TPA program with Mary Boutte. “The program has evolved over the years to be an academy of students who are dedicated and actively engaged in pursuing a career that has the potential to change a student’s life forever.”

The program has grown in popularity, with 30 percent more students applying to TPA than can be admitted. Data also shows that 68 percent of TPA students complete the courses required for college entrance, known as A-G requirements, compared to the schoolwide average. One hundred percent of students are also intent on attending college, with 32 percent planning to major in education.

“For 17 years, the Teacher Prep Academy and the organizations we partner with have given our students an avenue toward pursuing a noble profession and contributed directly to our increase in student achievement, graduation rates and readiness for post-secondary education and careers,” Superintendent Dr. Edward Zuniga said. “This Golden Bell Award speaks volumes of the caliber programs we have at El Monte Union and reflects the hard work our teachers put into inspiring our students every day.”