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VVUHSD Family Engagement Program wins statewide honor

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VICTORVILLE — The Victor Valley Union High School District’s Family Engagement Program has been recognized as one of the best programs of its kind in the state, winning a 2022 Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.

CSBA announced this week that VVUHSD is among the winners of the Golden Bell, an honor bestowed upon only a handful of schools and districts in the state each year. VVUHSD won the award in the Family/Student/Community Engagement category and will be recognized at the CSBA annual conference in San Diego on Dec. 1.

“A parent is the child’s first teacher, and parent partnerships are vital to the success of a school district,” VVUHSD Superintendent Carl J. Coles said. “Although we continue to do the important work of parent and family engagement regardless of accolades, it’s nice to see our outstanding team recognized for building strong relationships within our community.”

Starting in 2016, VVUHSD launched a program that was the first of its kind in the High Desert, hiring Family Engagement Liaisons at seven VVUHSD campuses. These employees offer parent workshops, multi-week parent academies, home visits for families in need, opportunities to meet and interact with principals, a technology program providing computer literacy training as well as free computers, and various other outreach activities and events. 

In the years since the program’s inception, VVUHSD schools have seen a positive impact on school climate in culture as well as an uptick in graduation rates coupled with a declining dropout rate. The district-wide graduation rate grew by more than 11 percentage points in four years, and over that same timespan the district’s dropout rate fell nearly six percentage points.

“I look forward to where the program is going in the future,” said VVUHSD Director of Student Services Michael Williford, who oversees the program. “We are already talking about adding a parent resource fair, a student summit and some other new events. We have a bunch of great leaders on this team and great individuals who care about families.”

This is VVUHSD’s fourth Golden Bell Award. University Prep was recognized for its Senior Transition Program in 2019; the district was honored as part of the Mountain Desert Economic Partnership in 2020; and Cobalt Institute of Math & Science won the award for its STEM academy in 2021.   

(From left to right, Victor Valley Union High School District Director of Student Services Michael Williford, District Counselor Diana Chapero, and Victor Valley High School Family Engagement Liaison Veronica Ginorio talk to a group of parents during a recent family engagement event at VVHS. The VVUHSD Family Engagement Program has been recognized as one of the best programs of its kind in the state, winning a 2022 Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.)

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