Lewis H. Britton
Middle School

Santa Clara County School Boards Association and California Department of Education Recognizes Morgan Hill Unified School District with Prestigious Awards

Santa Clara County School Boards Association and California Department of Education Recognizes Morgan Hill Unified School District with Prestigious Awards

The Morgan Hill Unified School District has received recognition for two exemplary programs. Santa Clara County School Boards Association (SCCSBA) has bestowed the Glenn Hoffmann Exemplary Program Award in the targeted student populations category. This accolade recognizes the school district's outstanding commitment to supporting students through the Coordinated Advocacy and Resources for Education (CARE) program. Additionally, the Student Services Department has received recognition for its Model School Attendance Review Board (SARB), an attendance improvement program aimed at high-risk youth.

Following a tour of a Central California School District in 2017, the inception of the CARE program started to take shape. Despite encountering challenges that nearly led to its dissolution amidst programmatic shifts in 2019, the steadfast dedication of Student Services Director Jessie Swift, Supervisor Jaclyn Snyder, and CARE Specialists ensured the transformation of the CARE program. Their relentless efforts not only sustained its existence but also facilitated its evolution into the robust and multifaceted support initiative as it stands today. The CARE program initially focused on assisting high school students experiencing homelessness. However, over time it has expanded its scope to support a broader range of vulnerable student populations, including those qualifying for McKinney-Vento assistance and foster youth.

The program, which began with two counselors and two student support specialists assisting 171 students, has grown significantly. Today, a team of 10 CARE specialists provides holistic support to 852 students across 13 schools in the district. This comprehensive approach addresses educational support, mentorship, family engagement, resource navigation, extracurricular activities, career and college readiness, and relationship-building.

"The CARE team has provided at-risk students with support and resources to help them thrive," said Jessie Swift, Director of Student Services and Enrollment. "The increase in graduation rates among the program participants has risen from just over 71% in 2018 to nearly 81% in 2023. The numbers are impressive and we continue to work hard to ensure 100% of our most at-promise youth graduate."

The CARE program's success lies in its personalized approach, fostering a sense of belonging and resilience among its participants. CARE empowers students to overcome challenges and achieve their full potential.

“We are incredibly proud of our CARE team for the stability they have provided these students and giving them a sense of belonging,” says Superintendent Dr. Carmen García. “These students have overcome significant obstacles and we want to ensure they are prepared for a lifetime of learning.” 

The Model SARB (School Attendance Review Board) award, granted by the California Department of Education (CDE), honors exceptional initiatives and highlights strategies and interventions to reduce truancy and foster a culture of regular attendance.  MHUSD has established an effective School Attendance Review Team and site-level teams for early attendance intervention. These teams foster a culture of positivity surrounding attendance, down to the carefully crafted language in late slips and the welcoming front office space. “We want to affirm that once you arrive at school whether you’ve been absent or tardy, we are excited to have you at school,” says Jaclyn Snyder, Student Services Supervisor.

By creating a challenge during Attendance Month, the team engages the student, staff, teachers and families to promote regular attendance. Fostering healthy competition among schools kicks off the school year on a positive note and creates a vibrant atmosphere to make these attendance initiatives memorable. These activities contribute to the robust culture of attendance and commitment throughout the district. Also impactful is the 90-day truancy contract which offers personalized support to families struggling with absenteeism by providing options such as an agreement to improve attendance or a contract whereby families opt for resources tailored to their particular needs such as counseling, student groups, and more. This proactive approach is more collaborative; the goal is to empower families and strengthen their attendance commitment, contributing to student success.

By acknowledging outstanding contributions to improving student engagement and success, the Model SARB award encourages ongoing dedication to ensuring every child has the opportunity to thrive academically and socially through consistent school attendance.

Morgan Hill Unified School District's receipt of the Glenn Hoffmann Exemplary Program Award and the Model SARB Recognition underscores its dedication to fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students, regardless of their circumstances.