News Briefs | FYI
December 6, 2021
Two CA principals receive national award
Two California principals have received the 2021 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership as part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools program.
Christy Flores, principal of Maude B. Davis Elementary School in Costa Mesa, and Sonia Anna Flores, principal of Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy in Gilroy, were among the eight awardees who were recognized Nov. 4 during the National Blue Ribbon Schools awards ceremony in National Harbor, Md.
The Terrel H. Bell Award recognizes outstanding school leaders and the vital role they play in guiding students and schools to excellence, frequently under challenging circumstances.
Principal Christy Flores was inspired by her grandfather who was the principal of the only middle school in a small town. She remembers the strong connection he had with the community and how important “building trust, developing relationships, and demonstrating a genuine care and concern for each individual person” was to him. Not surprisingly, Principal Flores’ vision as a leader is grounded in the model demonstrated by her grandfather — to sustain a strong, positive school culture built on trust, relationships, and community to support students.
Principal Sonia Flores has a clear vision to support students in achieving their maximum potential by attaining the skills, both personal and academic, to be successful beyond college and career. Students at GECA, a school of choice located on the campus of Gavilan Community College, have the opportunity to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree or two years of college credit. Principal Flores believes it is critical to engage and address the needs of all stakeholders by maintaining consistent two-way communication. By acting with integrity, Principal Flores has established trusting relationships with all stakeholders.
Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process. The U.S. Department of Education, together with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Association for Middle Level Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, bestow the Bell Award on a handful of principals each year.
The winners of the 2021 Terrel H. Bell Award included two principals from California, Christy Flores (third from left) and Sonia Flores (second from right), who accepted the awards during a ceremony Nov. 2.
2021 Terrel H. Bell Award winner Christy Flores, center, principal of Maude B. Davis Elementary School in Costa Mesa.
2021 Terrel H. Bell Award winner Sonia Anna Flores, principal of Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy in Gilroy.
Governor signs landmark early childhood legislation
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond joined Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders at a press conference Oct. 5 at Sunset Elementary School in Fresno for the signing of legislation marking historic and unprecedented investment in early childhood education that will expand opportunities for every child across the state.
Of the bills signed that day was Assembly Bill 1363, sponsored by Thurmond and authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), will develop procedures for state preschool contractors to identify and report data on dual-language learners. Starting with the 2022–23 school year, California will offer free, high-quality, inclusive pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-old pupils as part of the $123.9 billion pre-K and K–12 education package from the governor. Full implementation is scheduled for 2025–26.
“We know from research and from experience that the early years are critical to support a child’s learning and development,” said Thurmond. “Universal pre-K is a first of its kind effort and California’s opportunity to ensure every child —regardless of background, race, ZIP code, immigration status or income level — gets the fair start they need and deserve on their path to success. I’m proud to have sponsored the Universal Transitional Kindergarten legislation and to partner with the governor and the Legislature on implementing this major step forward.”
The governor’s plan includes $10 million to expand dual-language immersion programs; $300 million to increase the number of state preschool or transitional kindergarten programs and provide additional pre-K teacher training; and $490 million to support the building and renovation of state preschool, transitional kindergarten and kindergarten facilities. The plan will phase in 200,000 new childcare slots by 2025–26, dramatically expanding access for families.
“Everyone knows we’ve been saying this for decades: When our children have access to early education, they are more likely to graduate, go on to post-secondary education, and they won’t drop out of school, yet this has been a goal that has eluded us,” said Thurmond. “It is ironic that we meet this goal while facing the toughest challenge of our lifetime — the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pandemic has taught us that we must accelerate our efforts at closing learning gaps. I am grateful to the governor and to the members of the Legislature who brought these great resources forward.”
ACSA seeks student articles for Leadership magazine
Calling all California students! ACSA wants to hear about your experiences in K-12 education. This is your chance to be heard by the state’s school administrators on topics like the return to campus, mental health, school climate and more. Submit your article to ACSA’s Leadership magazine by Jan. 31 for a chance to have your work published. Find submission details including suggested themes at
Tell ACSA how you feel about WEP-GPO
The Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset are two federal laws that are unfairly reducing retirement benefits for educators and their spouses. Congress is set to take up legislation to overturn these rules, so the ACSA Retirement Committee is asking for help in protecting the retirement incomes of former, current and future educators. Take action by submitting a testimonial sharing how you have been impacted by the WEP/GPO. Fill out the online form at
Know a stellar negotiator? Nominate them for an award
ACSA is accepting nominations for the 2022 Negotiator of the Year, which will be presented during the Negotiators Symposium in San Diego Jan. 19-21, 2022. This recognition is awarded by the ACSA Human Resources Council to the person serving as chief negotiator for a school district or county office as a full-time employee of that district. For more information on selection criteria and to fill out the nomination form, visit Nominations are due by Dec. 31, 2021.
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