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Fillmore recommended for state's Gold Ribbon Award

Fillmore recommended for state's Gold Ribbon Award

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A Lompoc school is on the verge of receiving one of the state’s highest education honors.

Fillmore Elementary School has been recommended to receive a Gold Ribbon Award from the California Department of Education in recognition of the school’s implementation of 21st century learning techniques as part of its transition to Common Core State Standards.

The recommendation follows a site visit March 3 from representatives of the Department of Education and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

At the end of that visit, the representatives informed Fillmore Principal Michael Flushman that his school would be endorsed to receive the honor.

The Department of Education will officially confirm all Gold Ribbon Award winners in April and recognize them at a ceremony in May.

“I’m just crossing my fingers that they say yes and they don’t change their mind,” Flushman said Wednesday. “I want to wait until we get the official word, but it would be nice to put one of those big signs up at our school.”

Gold ribbons are awarded annually to schools that “demonstrate exemplary achievement in implementing state standards in priority areas,” according to the Department of Education.

Flushman said being recommended for the honor is a “validating experience” for him and his staff, as well as the students and parents who have made so many changes at the school over the past two years since he took over as principal.

He related his position to that of a parent whose personal bias might often lead him to think his child is the best at a particular sport or task.

“That’s kind of how I am with my staff here,” he said. “I think we’re doing fantastic things, but I don’t know if it’s just my ‘lens.’

"So to hear some people from the outside come in and say, ‘Yes, you are doing these things and kids are collaborating in authentic ways and incorporating computers into their lessons seamlessly,’ that was really validating for me to hear.”

The school has made a concerted effort to prepare students for real-world workplaces. Step one in that effort was to acquire the necessary tools.

Currently, the school has one Chromebook laptop for every fourth- through sixth-grade student and two computer devices for every student in kindergarten through third grade, according to Flushman.

The school has also explored alternate learning environments. Those have included using medicine balls, couches and rugs in place of traditional desks and chairs.

Flushman said the changes are still a work in progress and that data is still being compiled to see what, if any, difference they are making.

“What we do know is that what we were doing in the past wasn’t effective,” he said. “We’ve got to get kids excited and enthusiastic about coming to school and engage them in learning.”

Trevor McDonald, superintendent of Lompoc Unified School District, said he was proud to have Fillmore potentially represent the district with “this fine award.”

“We know there has been a great amount of work and that the work is focused on what is best for kids,” McDonald said. “For that, we are the most proud.

"We continue to put the needs of students first, and Fillmore is a shining example of that on a daily basis.”

Flushman said he thinks winning the Gold Ribbon Award could have effects beyond the walls of Fillmore.

“It’d be a badge of pride, I think, for this community.”

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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Willis Jacobson covers news and other issues, primarily those that affect the Lompoc Valley and Vandenberg Air Force Base, for Lee Central Coast News. He is a graduate of The University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.

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