State Supt. of Schools Bill Honig called Glendale's John Marshall Elementary School "a perfect example of a multilingual school that works" in a visit to the school Wednesday.
Honig was at the school as part of a tour of about 250 elementary schools in the state that were honored as "distinguished" for the 1985-86 school year.
Four elementary schools in the Glendale Unified School District were selected this year for the California Department of Education honor. Glenoaks, La Crescenta and Mountain Avenue schools also received the award, along with 34 other schools in Los Angeles County.
1st Time for Elementary Schools
This was the first time the 3-year-old award was given to elementary schools. In the last two years, only high schools and junior high schools were eligible.
"Invariably you'll find the same thing in a school that works--strong leadership and strong faculty," Honig said. "They'll adapt to the circumstances. If they're overcrowded, they'll find more room. If they need teachers, they'll find more teachers. They're dedicated to seeing that these kids learn."
Honig cited John Marshall for its creativity and tenacity in adapting to a linguistically diverse student population. "You can see that it works," he said. "Just look at the variety of teaching methods in this school."
More than 70% of the Marshall's 675 students come from families whose native language is not English. Among them are immigrants from more than 80 countries, district spokesman Vic Pallos said.
In his tour of the school, Honig saw students learning everything from basic English to computer skill, and teachers using tangible objects and situations to immerse students who may have only recently arrived in this country in their new language.
"There's obviously a spirit that's working here," Honig said. "The best schools, like this one, offer choices to accommodate children who speak English when they come in and those who don't. This shows it doesn't have to be done just one way."
Marshall, like many schools in Los Angeles County, has a growing student enrollment of poor, minority students and crowded facilities, Principal Nancy Jude said. "We try to work with what we have," she said, standing in a basement storage room converted into a library to free a classroom for more students.
The Glendale Unified School District is seventh highest in California in numbers of "distinguished" campuses. Rosemont Junior High school received the award for the 1984-85 school year.
To be nominated for the honor, a school's student achievement test scores, given annually, must be in the top 5% of schools with a similar student body makeup. Also nominated for the award are schools whose test scores have improved significantly over the past year.