Mill School and Technology Academy (MSTA) is a beautiful school, nestled up against the hills. The small, friendly, community atmosphere is immediately apparent: trees, flowers, a tile mural and painted murals surround the school. A K-5 school, MSTA serves approximately 455 students that are known as The Mustangs. About 95% of the students at MSTA are of Hispanic/Latino ethnic origin, 4% White (Non-Hispanic), an 1% Multiple origins. MSTA is a school-wide Title I school, with approximately 68% of the students qualifying for the Free/Reduced Lunch Program. In addition, 18% of the current students are identified as English Language Learners (ELLs), 7.3% of the students identified as Reclassified Fluent-English-Proficient (RFEP), and 4% of students are Students with Disabilities. Every Tuesday, students and staff wear college shirts emphasizing MSTA’s philosophy for every student, “I’m Going to College". The courtyard proudly waves the banner flags of universities from around the country.
At Mill School and Technology Academy, the staff, parents, and community work as a team to create an educationally rich environment that celebrates diversity, promotes character development, and nurtures a passion for life-long learning. Academic standards and high expectations form the foundation for quality instruction that continues to increase student achievement. The expectation is that all of our students will become educated, responsible, productive members of a democratic society.
MSTA has a total of 16 general education classes: three kindergarten, three 1st grade, three 2nd grade, three 3rd grades, two 4th grades, and two 5th grade classes. All classroom teachers are fully credentialed and are certified to teach English Language Learners. Additional support staff includes a 100% Special Education Resource Specialist, a Speech Team (three days a week), a Psychologist (one day per week), a library clerk, a full time secretary, an office clerk (three and a half hours per day), a technology clerk, a community liaison (twenty hours per week) and a health clerk (five hours per day). To help us transition to the California State Standards, additional support for teachers is available and provided by an Instructional Coach and teacher leaders in the area of Technology, Curriculum, Assessment and Intervention, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and English Language Development. As needed, additional student support is available and provided to students by a part-time support teacher.
The MSTA staff is committed to providing a high quality instructional program and works diligently to provide equal access for all students. Opportunities for students to achieve excellence are provided through a balanced comprehensive program aligned to the California State Standards that includes daily instruction, intervention, and enrichment. All students have access to standards aligned instructional materials and there is a process in place for teachers to order materials when needed. This year teachers are being immersed in on site Reader's and Writer’s Workshop training and coaching as the next step toward developing a comprehensive Balanced Literacy program. In addition, MSTA teachers attend district led math trainings to support the implementation of the Eureka Math program. Teachers administer benchmark and common formative assessments aligned to the California Assessment of Student Progress and Performance (CAASPP) to monitor student progress toward mastering standards. Summer time and release time throughout the academic school year is utilized by grade levels to create long range plans, to backwards plan, and prepare high quality lessons and opportunities for learning.
Central to the mission of Mill School and Technology Academy is the effective integration of technology across the curriculum. Technology is used throughout the school day to effectively engage students. All classrooms are equipped with a SmartBoard, LCD projector, document camera, Instructional HDTV Monitor, Apple TV and a surround sound system. Teachers use their laptop, internet resources, and iPad applications to design their lessons, which are mirrored using the iPad and HDTV with Apple TV. Information and new learning is accessed and displayed in a variety of ways by both teacher and students. The Apple TVs allow teachers to be able to immediately display student work as a model for classroom discussion, including 3-D items as well. Tools like, Socrative Student Response System or Go Formative allow students to key in their answer with immediate feedback in graph form, giving teachers on-the-spot assessment of student learning. Our 1-1 iPad Learning Program is in its 8th year of implementation with all students Kindergarten - 5th grade students participating in the program. We are very proud to note that MSTA's 1-1 program is recognized as an Apple Distinguished Program and serves as a model visitation site for school districts wishing to observe in a successful technology integration program.
MSTA strives to function as a Professional Learning Community (PLC) and the framework of a PLC drives the collaborative work of the staff. Teachers meet weekly to develop their instructional plans to meet the needs of our diverse learners. The primary focus of our PLC work is the implementation of the new California State Standards and refining our technology integration practices. School-wide technology integration is focused around the research of Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model, which encourages educators to move beyond simply using technology as a substitute for traditional methodologies and instead using technology to transform the learning experiences for students to enhance academic achievement. Teachers learn together how to best implement the use of technology while utilizing best instructional practices. In addition, our work as a PLC has developed into a systematic approach to Response to Intervention (RtI). All students are given Universal Assessments that provide specific data as to their learning needs. With the support of our Intervention and Assessment Lead Teacher, students are placed in appropriate interventions/enrichment classes for thirty minutes four times per week. Formative data is reviewed on a bi-weekly basis during Data Reflections Sessions, which include the principal and grade level teams, at regular intervals to check in on student progress.
We believe that reading is essential to the success of our students. To support our implementation of Reader's Workshop and provide our students with a greater array of reading experiences, MSTA uses two web-based programs called RAZkids and Reading Counts, the later is sponsored by MSTA's Parent Teacher Corporation (PTC), to encourage students to read appropriately leveled texts for comprehension. Students earn points as they successfully read and complete a quiz. MSTA students are motivated to achieve their personal reading goals. Students are also encouraged to read during the summer by participating in the public library summer reading program. Eighty-two students completed the summer reading program in 2015.
The PTC also funds the Mind Institute’s ST Math supplemental program for all grades K-5. This computer program helps students to think at a higher level mathematically and develop conceptual understandings of mathematical procedures. This supplemental program provides teachers with another data point to track the progress of our learners. The program allows for individualized instruction as needs arise in specific mathematical concepts.
MSTA provides a variety of school programs to enhance a positive learning environment and sense of school community. This is the third year of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) implementation, led by the PBIS Leadership Team which is made up of both teaching and classified staff. The goal of PBIS is to create a positive environment where behavior is explicitly taught, retaught and recognized. At MSTA it is called “The Mustang Way”. Mustang tickets provide the principal, teachers and support staff a tangible way for recognizing positive behavior choices. Weekly and monthly raffles and a menu of choices for redeeming tickets help keep positive behavior at the forefront. MSTA is proud to be recognized by the California PBIS Coalition as a Bronze Level School for it's successful implementation of PBIS!
The Perfect Attendance award celebrates students for being present at school every day. Monthly and Trimester awards acknowledge students for good citizenship and academic success. In addition, MSTA prides itself for offering a variety of enrichment programs such as Mad Science, guitar, piano, drama and art after school programs that are wonderful opportunities for enrichment. Reach for the Stars, a separate program, offers free after school care during which time students have a snack and play time before they do homework and participate in enrichment activities such as music, choir, art, dance, and sports.
We strongly believe that the Visual and Performing Arts are an important component of a child's education. With the support of the PTC, each classroom attends an art program called Art Masters. Each year, every child learns about three different artists and has the opportunity to try their hand using the artist's style. In addition to Art Masters, all students grade K-5 are provided with bi-weekly instruction in art and physical educational, while 3rd-5th grade receive bi-weekly instruction in music. At MSTA we are proud to provide10-15 weeks of violin instruction for our kindergarten students. MSTA hosts two school-wide musical performances for its families, one in December and another in May.
Parents are actively involved in our Parent Teacher Corporation (PTC), Dad’s Club and English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC). The PTC hosts several family activities that are enthusiastically supported throughout the year, building a strong family community at MSTA. Parents are continually finding new ways to support MSTA and its families. The Dad’s Club promotes reading in a variety of ways, hosts campus clean-up days, works on district approved campus projects and provides volunteers for district wide activities. We are very thankful that the ELAC group and others are well attended and continue to grow. A Parent Community Liaison works 4 hours a day to assist with communication and publicity for our parent activities.
MSTA's Student Council plans monthly school spirit activities. The Student Council also provides opportunities for volunteerism and charity work to support needy families within our community. Students host a Canned Food and Toy Drive during the holiday season and raise funds to support American Heart Associations Jump Rope for Heart event every February.
Mill School and Technology Academy is a home away from home for 455 students. Our parents trust us with the responsibility to educate each child to achieve grade level standards. Our educational program encourages the development of good citizenship, personal responsibility, self-respect and the respect of others. We will continue to build a strong academic program, to raise student achievement, and to actively involve our school community in the ongoing process of improvement.