Discovery Bay Elementary has been recognized as a Service Learning Leader School, an award given by the California State Board of Education to schools that exemplify the spirit of teamwork, community involvement and citizenship. This year only a dozen schools statewide were honored, and only one in Contra Costa County.
For Discovery Bay Elementary School Principal Allan Petersdorf, the prestigious honor reinforces the school’s tenets. “Well I’m very, very proud; pleased as punch,” said Petersdorf. “One of our goals of course is to have the kids be involved in academics and discovery within themselves, but also to take what the school is teaching them and bring it outside. It’s how you build citizens and citizenship.”
Criteria for the award were based on schools implementing at least one service-learning activity per grade (K-12) as a regular part of their curriculum, and making service the focus. At Discovery Bay Elementary, students routinely participate in a variety of community-oriented programs such as recycling, sending candy to the troops and fundraising for community projects and programs.
To be honored and recognized for something the students and faculty do each day, said Petersdorf, is a satisfying pat on the back: “I believe that there are some things that you should routinely do at a school, and community service and campus service are two of those. That’s something we’ve always tried to do and have done through our district-wide character education programs, which reinforce student behavior through positive avenues such as community service.”
Petersdorf will represent the school at an awards ceremony on Feb. 10 in Anaheim, where he will receive a plaque and commendation from the state. The Discovery Bay PTA will pay for the trip. “Given the current school budget situation and the economy in general, it was a very generous thing for them to do,” said Petersdorf.
Glad to do it, said PTA President Bobbi Nugent: “You know, when the state representatives came out to look at the school (for the award) I had an opportunity to talk about how our kids are not only going out into the community, but the community is coming back into our schools, and I think that directly comes back to our principal. Since his arrival here, our test scores have gone up and he’s helped to build a healthier, stronger school community. We are very proud of our school, and of our leader.”