Rep Lowenthal Honors Tincher Spirit Assembly

Tincher Lowenthal

This summer Tincher Preparatory Academy, a California GEAR UP school,  was re-designatated for the third time as a National Schools To Watch model school. As part of this honor, Tincher went to Washington DC for the annual Schools to Watch conference in June to not only receive their award as a third time designee, but also to present at the conference how to successfully create a college going culture at a pre-K-8 school.
lowenthal DC

Tincher is the only school in Long Beach and the first K-8 School in the state to hold the honor of  three time recipient of National Schools to Watch. Teachers Erin Brady, Anne-Marie Lander, Tim Schugt, Principal Rosemary Sissons, and GEAR-UP Representative Mary Unverferth – presented at the National School’s to Watch Conference in DC in June. Middle School Teacher, Jamie Vallianos-Healy, accepted the award on the school’s behalf in Sacramento in February.  Tincher was first designated as a Schools to Watch in 2008, redesignated in 2011, and again in late 2014.

While in Washington DC, they were invited to share their success with Long Beach Congressman Alan Lowenthal in his office with his staff, and as a result the Congressman visited Tincher today for the spirit assembly and Parade of Colleges where the school celebrates it’s college going culture.

Rep. Lowenthal taught psychology at California State Long Beach for many years and has been a pillar of the education community while serving as city councilman, state assembly, state senate, and now as congressman of the 47th district.


The GEAR UP Leadership Team has been preparing the students, the campus, and the Tincher families for the congressman’s visit on spirit day.  The visit was at 9 am immediately following Dad’s Donut Day with the principal, which had more than a hundred fathers in attendance.

For the college parade, the GEAR UP team ordered college banners to display at each middle school classroom. The students researched specific colleges and decorated classroom doors, which were all used for the parade of colleges and pep rally.  All of this is possible because of the dedicated staff at Tincher who go far and above their normal scope of duties and are committed to doing whatever it takes for all of their students to succeed and achieve their college dreams.

lowenthal student


Tincher Preparatory School promotes a college-going atmosphere in grades K-8 with programs and activities such as  a College vocabulary list that begins in kindergarten and builds at each grade level along with a  week-long college awareness in the fall.  The feeling of college permeates the halls during March Madness Academics and Fun while a school-wide college presentation in conjunction with a literacy, science, and math night allows parents to learn more about the A-G requirements needed  for college admissions.



In addition to being a GEAR UP School since 1999, Tincher K-8 has also hosted a PIQE (Parent Institute of Quality Education) graduation ceremony last spring for parent graduates.   This 9-week program is free to all participants. Parents and caregivers are provided with the tools needed to create a positive educational environment at home and school.  Participants learn how to have an on-going dialogue with their children and their childrens’ educators to ensure academic success.

Tincher Preparatory School is a  California Distinguished School,  A Middle School ” Schools to Watch”, and a California GEAR-Up Lighthouse School.

For additional pictures of the event and Tincher Prep, checkout our Facebook page.

National GEAR UP Week California Roundup



National GEAR UP Week is September 10-14, 2012. Across the nation and in California, school communities will mark this occasion through activities, contests, college fairs and other events in celebration of college access for ALL students.

This year’s celebrations truly serve as an acknowledgement of the wonderful (and hard) work that you do every day to get our students ready to enter and succeed in college and beyond.  Everyone participated, from the U.S. Secretary of Education; to Members of Congress (shout out to Rep. Chaka Fattah and Sen. Patty Murray); to Governors; Mayors; other elected officials; NBA starsthe media; community partners; local businesses; university sports teams; parents; teachers; faculty; staff; and most importantly… our students.

Here in California, schools celebrated across the state including Jackman Middle School’s Dream Wall, Berendos Middle School was ‘expecting more‘, Happy Valley Elementary hosted an ice cream social where families were invited to eat and visit with their student’s teachers and other families where they set up an information table with a college awareness trivia game. Vista Middle School launched College Mondays event during lunch and students participated in college awareness and A through G activities.

Hudson Middle School held weeklong activities that included NGUW writing prompts, College Wear Day, and the ever popular Dream Wall. The Accelerated School held a great college pledge banner that all students signed.

Tincher Middle School held activities every day: Monday/Tuesday: Teachers revisit College Vocabulary and students do their own vocabulary based activity and teachers will have students write a “College Goal” using the Baldrige goal setting tools. Wednesday/Thursday: College door or window decorating contest. -Friday: Announce winner of Door/Window contest and College Spirit Wear Day.

Madrid Middle School in El Monte made a College Chain made from students who completed a slip, “I want to go to college because ______________.”  The slips were stapled together to make the chain that ran throughout the hallways.  On Friday the students and staff will wear college clothes.

California GEAR UP proclamation ceremonies were held at a luncheon hosted by Elk Grove Unified School District and attended by Greg Darnieder, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Education on College Access, community leaders, board members, principals and teachers, students and GEAR UP staff.

GEAR UP is a program of the U.S. Department of Education, developed to provide school-based services to ensure that students and their families have multiple college and career choices after high school. Since 1999, California GEAR UP has effectively served over 300 schools across the state by providing local and efficient community based services.

Have a GEAR UP story or National GEAR UP Week event you want to share? Email with stories and pictures!


Schools to Watch Model Middle Schools Announced

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that four high-performing California schools are newly designated model middle schools in the Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage (STW™−TCS) program. Another 11 high-performing California schools will also retain their model middle grades schools status under the same program.

“I commend the students, their parents, teachers, and administrators, for their efforts in helping make these 15 schools models of excellence,” Torlakson said. “Their success is amazing, especially considering they are swimming against the tide of massive budget cuts, crowded classrooms, and school employee layoffs.”

The four newly designated schools are:

1.     Granite Ridge Intermediate (Clovis Unified School District, Fresno, Fresno County) is the fifth middle grades school in the district to receive the STW™−TCS designation. Clovis Unified is the first district in the state to have all its middle grades schools receive this designation. The school’s achievement gap has narrowed 37 points on the state’s standardized tests under Principal Norm Anderson’s leadership since it opened in 2008. Anderson was also recently named Fresno County’s Administrator of the Year.

2.     High Desert School (Acton-Agua Unified School District, Acton, Los Angeles County) is a small rural school. Administrators have worked very hard to turn their school around and close the achievement gap. Hispanic students’ scores on the state’s standardized tests have climbed 88 points in the past two years, while socioeconomically disadvantaged students have gained 81 points since 2007.

3.     Katherine L. Albiani Middle School (Elk Grove Unified School District, Elk Grove, Sacramento County) is the second middle school in the district to receive the STW™—TCS designation. The achievement gap of students has narrowed by more than 30 points on the state’s standardized tests since 2007.

4.     Olive Peirce Middle School (Ramona City Unified School District, Ramona, San Diego County) is a rural school. Students continue to make gains in all subgroups on the state’s standardized tests. The school has gained 53 points since 2007, while socioeconomically disadvantaged students have gained 71 points.

The redesignated model middle schools are:

1.     Castaic Middle School (Castaic Union School District, Castaic, Los Angeles County);

2.     Culver City Middle School (Culver City Unified School District, Culver City, Los Angeles County);

3.     Clark Intermediate (Clovis Unified School District, Clovis, Fresno County);

4.     Dartmouth Middle School (Union Elementary School District, San Jose, Santa Clara County);

5.     Gaspar de Portola (San Diego Unified School District, San Diego, San Diego County);

6.     McKinleyville Middle School (McKinleyville Union School District, McKinleyville, Humboldt County);

7.     R.H. Dana Middle School (Wiseburn School District, Hawthorne, Los Angeles County);

8.     Silverado Middle School (Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Roseville, Sacramento and Placer counties);

9.     Tincher Preparatory (Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach, Los Angeles County);

10.  Toby Johnson Middle School (Elk Grove Unified School District, Elk Grove, Sacramento County); and

11.  Torch Middle School (Bassett Unified School District, City of Industry, Los Angeles County).

The STW™—TCS program identifies high-performing school models that demonstrate academic excellence, developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, social equity, and organizational support. STW™—TCS model schools host visitors from California and around the world who are looking for replicable practices that will help them improve their middle grades schools and close the achievement gap.

In order to be named a STW™—TCS model middle school, school administrators must conduct a self-study evaluation and complete an extensive narrative application. Each site is then reviewed by a team of middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years.

The 11 redesignated schools named today were reviewed in September 2011 and are among 32 others selected in previous cycles since 2003 as STW™—TCS designees. Castaic, Culver City, and Silverado middle schools have been STW™—TCS schools for nine years. Gaspar de Portola, McKinleyville, R.H. Dana, and Toby Johnson middle schools have been STW™—TCS schools for six years.

All of the schools will be formally recognized at the California Middle Grades Alliance annual luncheon on February 23, 2012, and during the California League of Middle Schools conference February 24-26, 2012. Both events will be in Sacramento. At that time, the schools will have an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments and network with other middle grades educators from around the state.

For more information about the Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage model school program, visit the California Department of Education Web site at If reporters would like to contact the school, they may download the contact information through our California School Directory at

Ed Chief Praises California GEAR UP Success at Tincher

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a round table discussion at California GEAR UP distinguished school Tincher Prep yesterday in Long Beach. The purpose of his visit was to learn best practices of the school and to hear how Tincher has been so successful in creating distributed leadership and a school community working for the same goals.

Principal Bill Vogel said it best: “You give teachers choice in their professional development, you let them lead the direction of the school, and you let the school have discretion in how to best serve their students.” The teachers chose to participate in California GEAR UP three years ago.

“We need funds to keep programs and people” he said. “We need programs like GEAR UP, AVID, and funding for those programs.”

The secretary listened intently as administrators and teachers talked about the programs that make Tincher a success. Mr. Vogel and the staff repeated listed California GEAR UP as a key program in their development. The East Long Beach K-8 school, where more than 50 percent of the students are designated as disadvantaged, has been lauded for its gains in test scores and was named a “School to Watch” by the California Middle Grades Alliance in 2009.

Duncan said the Tincher sets an example for other school districts in the country.

“I’ve studied your school district for a long time, and I think you have so much to be proud of,” he told a crowd gathered in the school library. “I don’t say this lightly, but more so than the vast majority of school districts that I visit, this school district has gotten things right for a long time.”

Also in attendance was Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach., who said federal funding should be streamed directly to school districts instead of being “tied up” in Sacramento.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed No Child Left Behind, and the fact that virtually every school in Los Angeles Unified School District will be classified as failing by 2014 if the law is not urgently reformed.

That has led to a narrowed curriculum that focuses intensely on those subjects, sacrificing the well-rounded education that every child needs, he said.

Middle school music teacher Laura Strand said No Child Left Behind should have a greater focus on art, music and sports programs that are in danger of being cut in the budget crisis.

“I see students being pulled out of these programs when they’re finding success and it breaks my heart,” she said.

“No Child Left Behind is fundamentally broken,” Duncan said. “We want to fix it before we go back to school this fall.”

He said Congress needs to rewrite the law to be more “fair, flexible and focused” this year, so it can be implemented for the next academic calendar.

Tincher Prep has been a California GEAR UP school since the fall of 2008 and is part of a cohort of schools receiving professional development services with the goal of creating a college-going culture throughout the school community. Tincher recently received the California GEAR UP Leadership Team of the Year award at our Southern California Community conference, and as the Secretary of Education has pointed out, continues to be a model school.

To learn more about how Tincher has become a leader in the GEAR UP community, please visit our website and check us out on Twitter and the other articles on our blog.