San Marcos Middle School Honored

San Marcos Middle School Honored as a School to Watch
schools to watch award

San Marcos Middle School (SMMS) was recently selected as part of the "Schools to Watch" program, a statewide and nationwide honor recognizing highly performing, student-centered middle school programs. Out of almost 1,500 middle and junior high schools in California, 112 have the distinction of being a School to Watch, and SMMS was one of four schools selected in San Diego County.
"Congratulations to these schools for doing excellent work to help students believe in themselves, set high goals, and dream big," Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said. "These schools are outstanding examples of how educational innovations can keep students engaged and learning throughout a transitional time in their lives."
These high-performing model schools demonstrate academic excellence, social equity, and responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents. For example, San Marcos Middle School has implemented a curriculum challenging students to think critically, which resulted in high performance in student writing. They have also placed a great emphasis on making their students feel connected to campus. From engaged faculty and staff to academic and social programs, students are encouraged and embraced to feel like an active participant in their education.
Juan Cruz, Heber School District Superintendent, was part of the team who came to visit SMMS and evaluate their application for this special designation. "From the moment, we walked onto campus it was clear that San Marcos Middle School was a nurturing, student-centered environment. Seeing that students were genuinely happy and interacting with adults, and adults were sharing of themselves with the students, let us know that your staff is keenly aware of the role relationships play in the success of our younger generations," he said.
As part of the Schools to Watch program, SMMS will act as a model for other middle schools throughout the state of California and the nation. SMMS will also be expected to be open to sharing their replicable programs and expertise on middle school education, and to host educators from throughout the state at their school.
San Marcos Unified's Superintendent, Melissa Hunt, could not have been more pleased upon hearing the news of this recognition. She stated, "I am thrilled to see San Marcos Middle School recognized as a model for other schools. The teachers are hardworking and committed to making kids feel included, accepted, and hopeful about their present and future."
The Schools to Watch program is sponsored by the California Department of Education, California League of Middle Schools, and the California Middle Grades Alliance. To earn this designation, schools must complete an extensive application that is reviewed by middle grades experts.