Capistrano Unified School District was selected as one of 52 recipients of California’s leading educational honor, the Golden Bell Award. The Golden Bell Awards, celebrating their 43rd year, are presented by the California School Boards Association to promote excellence in public education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices. The awards reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs.
CUSD was honored in the English Learner/Biliteracy category for its language immersion program. Created in 1992, the program is designed to develop high levels of language proficiency in students in two languages and to develop an appreciation for and understanding of diverse cultures. Programs are offered in both Spanish and Mandarin, and CUSD is the only district in Orange County to offer the program in kindergarten through 12th grade.
The California School Boards Association sponsors the Golden Bell Awards and celebrated the honorees on Dec. 1 at a reception at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. The awards ceremony was part of CSBA’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show, the premier continuing education event for California school board members and the largest education leadership conference in the state. Superintendent Kirsten Vital Brulte, Trustee Judy Bullockus and several administrators from the language immersion schools were in attendance to celebrate the achievement.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive this Golden Bell Award in recognition of our innovative language immersion program,” Vital Brulte said. “With the unwavering support of our board, this program was designed to develop high levels of biliteracy and cultural appreciation. This approach to education has incredible benefits for cognitive and social development. This Golden Bell Award is accepted on behalf of all of the teachers, administrators, students and parents who contributed to making this program such a success over the last 20 years.”
A judging panel composed of experts from school districts and county offices of education across the state reviewed written entries and made initial recommendations. On-site validators then reviewed the recommendations and assessed the programs in action. This year’s Golden Bell winners demonstrated that they are addressing student needs through areas such as equity and access, school climate and safety, technology, and wellness.
“As we wrestle with the aftermath of the pandemic and address longstanding issues related to student success, it’s important to highlight school districts and county offices of education that demonstrate promising practices for closing opportunity and achievement gaps and supporting student wellness,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “This year’s Golden Bell winners have developed remarkable programs that can serve as an example for schools across the state as they work to accelerate learning recovery and foster healthy school environments for all California students.”