Franklin Elementary School (Daniel Archuleta
Franklin Elementary School (Daniel Archuleta
Franklin Elementary School (Daniel Archuleta

CITYWIDE — Four Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District elementary campuses have received the prestigious “Distinguished School” designation from the California Department of Education.

Franklin Elementary School, Point Dume Marina Science School, Roosevelt Elementary School, and Webster Elementary School were named as three of the 424 public elementary schools to receive the honor for 2014 in an announcement by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on April 30.

“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” Torlakson said in a written statement. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”

In a written statement, SMMUSD Superintendent Sandy Lyon praised the local schools for making the list and the principals of the schools expressed gratitude for the recognition.

“We are so proud of all of our schools,” said Lyon. “This recognition honors the hard work and dedication of our staff, students, and families.”

With the 2014 announcement, Franklin and Webster are both two-time winners.

“This is Franklin Elementary School’s second California Distinguished School designation, our first award was in 2008,” said Franklin Principal Tara Brown. “Everyone is absolutely ecstatic. I don’t think the designation changes the school, but gives validation to our amazing staff, students, parents and community for all of the hard work and effort that is made on a daily basis toward all students achieving academic excellence while narrowing the achievement gap.”

Webster Principal Dr. Susan Samarge-Powell said the award honored the school.

“The students, staff and parent community all contribute to the successes found at Webster,” she said. “It is a wonderful environment in which to learn.”

Roosevelt Principal Natalie Burton and Point Dume Principal Rebecca Johnson credited the collaboration between staff, parents and students for their success.

“I am so proud that our students have flourished with such enthusiasm through our signature practices in math and English language arts,” said Burton. “This exciting recognition is an honor for our entire Roosevelt community.”

“I want to thank the students, staff, and parents,” said Johnson. “It is due to their continued dedication and extraordinary effort that this acknowledgment of PDMSS was made possible.”

Schools apply for the award on an annual basis. According to the California Department of Education, schools are judged against a set of eligibility criteria and if they are deemed eligible they continue with the application process. Schools must submit a written application including a description of two signature practices and a verification of those practices in action. Schools that earn the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices and become mentors for others that seek to replicate their work.

Past winning practices are viewable online at and this year’s winners will be posted online soon.

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