RIPON — Ripon’s K-8 Colony Oak School is one of four California Distinguished Schools in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties making it the second time the rural Murphy Road campus has been recognized for the presentation of their curriculum and the performance of their students.
Principal Amie Carter said that despite the depressed economy and the shortage of educational funding, the teachers have continued to put the welfare and the education of their children first and foremost with their passion for education.
Colony Oak was among the top California schools in 2006 under the leadership of Principal Mary Lou Kahl. Carter said that she and her teachers are working hard to carry on the former longtime principal’s tradition of excellence.
The other three schools included Coleman F. Brown Elementary in Modesto. The Walnut Elementary Education Center in Turlock and the Aspire Summit Charter Academy in Ceres.
“Juxtaposing this against all the obstacles the teachers face today, they have continued to express their enthusiasm for teaching and especially for their students,” the Carter said.
Colony Oak has 450 students and 15 teachers and is surrounded by almond orchards northeast of the community. Carter said her school is the only one in the district to receive the honor twice and added that she is pretty confident it is the only one in the county.
“The evaluation process was grueling under a team of five educators that used a fine microscope forcing us to take the time to evaluate how we actually do it. Colony Oak has long been regarded as a “family” made up of its children, its parents and its teachers.
There were some 500 hours of endless collaboration between the teachers and the administration in preparing for the judging, Carter said.
In judging schools statewide, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson said the focal point in their evaluation focused on the innovative instruction programs that encouraged students to learn and at the same time close the achievement gaps.
Three other Ripon elementary schools have previously received the distinguished school statewide honor in past years including Ripona, Ripon Elementary and Weston.