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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-35
April 29, 2015
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Winner of the
2015 Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning Award

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated the Collaborative Mentoring Program at Kastner Intermediate School in Fresno as the recipient of the 2015 Grazer Outstanding Achievement in Learning (GOAL).

"I commend Kastner Intermediate School for implementing this innovative, inspiring partnership that benefits both special education students and general education students," Torlakson said. "This program reminds us of how important it is important to value the abilities of all our students and provide them with the support that allows them to achieve optimal success."

The announcement was made at today’s meeting of the California Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE) held in Sacramento.

"It is an honor and pleasure to announce this year’s GOAL winner," said Commissioner and Chair of the GOAL award committee Nancy Portillo. "Their creative and inspirational peer mentoring model is truly an inclusive program that provides opportunities for students to learn and grow together."

The GOAL award was created in the 2005-06 school year and was funded by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer's family to recognize exemplary practices in special education and to celebrate programs that serve California youth with disabilities along with the professionals who provide them.

The mission for the Collaborative Mentoring Program is to create a setting in which general education students and special education students would be "integrated and collaborating side-by-side inside and outside of the classroom for a common goal. The goal is that students with disabilities will finally be in a ‘true’ inclusion setting and the mentors will find greater understanding and empathy for anyone with special needs," according to the application submitted by Kastner, which is in the Clovis Unified School District.

The $5,000 GOAL award will be presented to program representatives at a luncheon as part of the June 18 advisory commission meeting.

The ACSE is an advisory body required by federal and state statutes that provides recommendations and advice to the State Board of Education, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Legislature, and Governor in new or continuing areas of research, program development, and evaluation in California special education.

For more information, please visit Advisory Commission on Special Education (ACSE) on the CDE Web site.

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

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