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William Mendenhall Middle School Named 2021 California Distinguished School

April 1, 2021 - Livermore, CA - The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) is proud to announce that William Mendenhall Middle School (WMMS) has been named a California Distinguished School for 2021, a title that will be held for the next two years. WMMS is one of only nine Alameda County middle schools to receive this honor. 

“We are excited to receive this award as it is a true reflection of all the hard work and dedication that has been put forth by the entire staff” said WMMS Principal, Tammy Rankin. “The Mendenhall community including staff, students, and families make this a special place. Those who visit our campus are able to see an environment in which the staff is committed to providing a quality education for our students.”

Distinguished Schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful, data-driven school efforts ranging from professional development to positive behavior intervention. Sponsored by the California Department of Education (CDE) and presented by California Casualty, the Distinguished Schools Program recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance. 

WMMS offers a multitude of programs that support student growth and academics, including the staff’s comprehensive approach to teaching math. “We have made math a priority for all students, those who are struggling, and those who are thriving,” said Rankin. “We take math seriously here at WMMS, and we also want it to be fun and engaging.

At Mendenhall, a voluntary zero period math intervention program pre-teaches content that will be delivered later in the day in the student’s regular math class. This academic preview allows students to become introduced to new content, ask questions, seek feedback and get one-to-one help as needed. It has been well received and incredibly helpful in improving students’ math achievement.

Mendenhall also offers two after-school programs dedicated to providing student support in mathematics. Math Homework Club continued throughout the pandemic, allowing students extra help daily after school. MathCounts challenges students to master mathematical concepts in a cooperative learning setting. Dedicated teachers as well as community volunteer coaches team up to engage students in math.

Rankin is proud of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program that reinforces character traits and core values of Mendenhall students. The PBIS program covers a variety of facets from Social Emotional Learning support, team spirit building and character development. Students learn the "Mustang Musts" (Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful) in every area of the school. There is a "Lunch Bunch" crew where students can come and feel connected and supported. A 5-Star reward program was implemented that focuses on being connected and supported by others throughout the school community, and encourages involvement and integrity. Within the school, students and staff members are placed on one of four teams - Earth, Fire, Water or Air. Friendly competition among teams is encouraged on spirit days, allowing the campus to feel more inviting, and less "big" by creating a sense of community among the student-teacher population.

Vice Principal Tom Fletcher said, "To use an athletic analogy, a coach is only as good as his players. This award is a tribute to the teamwork here at Mendenhall. We have a dedicated group of teachers, amazing students and supportive parents. Earning Distinguished Schools is a reflection of all of their hard work."

California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond commends Mendenhall along with other winners of this prestigious award. “These schools are great examples of California’s commitment to provide outstanding public education for all students, and their data-driven efforts have helped ensure that their students leave with the tools and skills they need to be successful after graduation,” Thurmond said. “Our thanks go to the entire communities surrounding these schools, including the teachers, administrators, and classified employees as well as the students and their families who, through teamwork, all accomplished this impressive achievement together.”

Photos Courtesy of LVJUSD and the California Department of Education (CDE)

Photo 1: Mendenhall Mustang in front of school