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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #11-88
November 15, 2011
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates
Beaumont School Principal Selected for National Honor

SACRAMENTO—Sundance Elementary School Principal Lauren Kinney today in Washington, D.C., received the prestigious Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership from the U.S. Department of Education during the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Awards Ceremony.

The Beaumont principal is the only California educator among the 10 principals to receive the award for their outstanding leadership in fostering successful teaching and learning at their schools.

"Mrs. Kinney is an extraordinary leader who makes school a joyful place for students to learn and a center of the community for parents," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. "She is an exemplary example for others to emulate."

"I am so proud of everyone," said Kinney in statement released by Sundance Elementary School. "We all worked hard together to earn this award—faculty, staff, students, and parents. You are all AWESOME!"

Sundance Elementary in the Beaumont Unified School District (Riverside County) is one of 20 California public and private schools named in September as a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Kinney has been principal since the school opened in 2003. Like other Blue Ribbon Schools, Sundance Elementary is a high-performing school with subgroups of disadvantaged students who have improved their academic performance to high levels. Sixty percent of them are eligible for subsidized meals, more than half are minorities, and more than one-fifth are English learners. The school's Academic Performance Index has increased for eight years in a row and currently stands at 871, which is above the state target of 800. The school also met all significant subgroup goals that qualified it for a sixth consecutive Title I Academic Achievement Award.

"We are truly proud of Mrs. Kinney's award," said Dr. Barry L. Kayrell, Superintendent of Schools for the Beaumont Unified School District. "She exemplifies outstanding leadership traits on a daily basis, and has positively impacted the lives of thousands of students throughout her career. Mrs. Kinney is a tremendous ambassador for public education, not only in the Beaumont Unified School District, but for the state and nation as a whole."

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Kinney worked hard to bridge the gap among students whose families are divided by income levels and cultures. She attributes her success to taking a personal approach with staff, students, and their families. This has resulted in unifying the school, lifting whole school student scores and subgroups more than 10 percent in both mathematics and reading.

The Terrel H. Bell Award selection panel said it admired Kinney for a number of reasons, including her personal warmth; academic inspiration; she knows the names of all the 700-plus students by drawing on her interactions with them during daily classroom visits; she attends all professional development opportunities with her staff; and she structures meetings to engage staff in deeper levels of student learning theory, instructional strategies, and best practices. The panel added Kinney is a "cheerleader" for student achievement and meets weekly with teams to track student achievement and manage ongoing improvement through a multiyear action plan.

Kinney also provides students with continuous recognition by awarding students "Sundance Sun" tokens for good behavior and achievement. She frequently calls parents to let them know how well their children are doing and to follow up on missed work. The school also partners with the school district to offer parenting classes to local families.

The Award is named in memory of former U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell. Principals nominated for the Award are school leaders committed to fostering successful teaching and learning at their schools. For more information on the Award and the National Blue Ribbon Awards Program, please visit the U.S. Department of Education's Web site at Blue Ribbon Schools Program [] External link opens in new window or tab..

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, July 27, 2017
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  • Blue Ribbon Schools Program
    A federal No Child Left Behind program that celebrates many of America's most successful schools. Its goal is to promote and support the improvement of education in America.
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