Carver, Valentine, Huntington Star in Niche School Rankings

Carver and Valentine elementary schools displayed a winning one-two punch among public elementary schools in Los Angeles County this year, according to a research website’s rankings, while Huntington Middle School also displayed the most clout at the junior high level.
The city’s two elementary schools took Nos. 1 and 2 in Niche.com’s annual evaluations this year, each receiving an overall grade of A+. In the three sub-categories, both schools received an A+ in academics and teachers and an A-minus in diversity. Huntington, meanwhile, earned first place among the county’s middle schools.
Carver Principal Michael Lin said in a statement that the school is “blessed with a smart and diligent staff, a very supportive community of families and outstanding students who have access to rigorous academics, engaging enrichment programs and … character education.”
Lin noted that 18% of Carver’s students are classified as English learners and 10% have disabilities, yet the school routinely sees more than 90% of its students score above standards for English language arts and math in state-mandated examinations. The school, he added, benefits from a generous PTA and enrichment fund to help bring art, music and STEM programming to students.
“The school’s library attracts local dignitaries and authors from around the country to guest-read to students in the school’s signature Reading Tower,” Lin said. “Many of the parents are highly successful professionals and philanthropists who share the school’s mission and vision. In a community that pays it forward, there is no shortage of excellent volunteers and retired educators who provide support to the classrooms and programs.
“Carver’s staff and teachers, many of whom live in the San Marino community, are dedicated in their calling as educators,” he added. “A strong culture of caring and generosity is what defines Carver. With a collaborative environment that fosters lifelong learning for students and staff, Carver continues to strive toward its mission to inspire students to reach their highest potential and empower them to achieve their goals.”
Neighborhood research aggregator Niche develops its school rankings on the basis of academic performance evaluations from the state combined with parental assessments and reviews made directly to the website.
Colleen Shields, principal at Valentine, lauded the team effort of staff, parents and district leadership, and added that in her view the school’s achievement goes beyond academic success. Her school posts 95% proficiency in reading and 93% proficiency in math, and Shields added that statewide assessments nowadays better emphasize critical thinking to reflect education levels.
“I know that we score extremely well in academics and that is an extremely important part of our mission, but since we’re educating our future leaders here, it’s also the work that we do to develop social and emotional skills,” Shields said. “It’s important for our students at a very young age to have the creative thoughts to help us solve problems in our schools, our community, even in our country and across the world. We want our students to feel like what they’re learning, they can apply to that.”
Alana Fauré, the HMS principal, said in an email she was pleased that her school was once again recognized as “one of the best places for kids to come to middle school.” Niche noted that 88% of the school’s students are proficient in reading and 81% are proficient in math.
“Beyond rankings, I am so proud of the quality of the teachers we have and the compassion they have for their students,” she said. “Huntington is a special place where students feel like they belong and where they have authentic connections to caring adults. Our parent community is so incredibly supportive, and I know there is a direct correlation between the quality of our school and the relationships we nurture with our parents and community.”

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