Carver Elementary Honored as National Blue Ribbon School for 2020


Ariel Jiang, Staff Member

On September 24, 2020, Doctor Mike Lin, the Principal of Carver Elementary School, declared that Carver is one of the 367 schools in the nation recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2020. 

The award is significant. It is a program that recognizes all schools —— public and private elementary, middle, and high schools —— based on their overall academic progress. “This is the highest national distinction for a school. The award represents our students’ hard work and all the contributions from our teachers, parents, and the community. So certainly, it is extremely significant. From a San Marino Unified School District standpoint, it is a major award that would distinguish our schools from the schools in other districts. Certainly a collaborative effort from district administration to school teachers, support staff of parents, the school’s foundation, PTA, as well as all the donors that contributed to making this possible,” Dr. Lin said. 

It is not easy for a school to meet the requirements and receive the award being recognized as a Blue Ribbon School, especially after the first approval. With 92% of students scoring at proficient or above in the proficient and exceeding ranges, Carver had a tough time making exceptional student performance gains. “In mathematics, there is a curve that hits the asymptote. You cannot really pass the asymptote, but you could reach it at infinity. But there is the law of diminishing returns, where how can you increase something that is already at a very high achieving level. It is a reflection of those incremental gains,” Doctor Lin continued.

“Carver has more special needs students than our sister school Valentine. We have twice the number of English Learners than Valentine, and we serve all students. Even though we have 15% —— this year is 12% —— of English Learners, we still have 92% of our students scoring proficient and above in Language Arts. That is phenomenal. You know, how is it that we have the English Learners at 12% but yet 92% of our students score above proficiency? In addition to that, we have 10% of our students who have disabilities, and yet 92% score proficient and above. That speaks to me the amount of dedication that our teachers, staff, and parents put in to make sure that the students are doing well. Parents Play a really vital role. We are so fortunate to be in San Marino and to have San Marino students. Many of our parents would pay from their own pocket to get tutors. It is also the work of the parents and their contributions. Our Teachers really appreciate that. The State of California has also allocated specialized funding. The title three funding from the federal government at the state level to help English learners get that extra support in English Language Development. It is —— I cannot take credit for it —— really the whole Village, including the state of California and the federal government,” Dr. Lin said. 

As the good works from the students, parents, and staff that had been recognized, so was the responsibility. “The recognition reinforces all the good work that we have been doing. The responsibility is we will continue in our office to do the best for our students. People are going to expect that this is how we will continue to perform. I do not see Carver as reaching its apex. Even though this is the most coveted national award, there is still much room for us to grow. We will always inherit new students from pre-schools, and it is not like we have the same group of students. We reduce our excellent students through middle school every year in the promotion. We want to make that difference in our students’ lives and make sure that Huntington Middle School only gets the best from Carver School. There is always that cycle every year. We Acculturate and educate our students, prepare them well for middle school. This work never ends. This is the responsibility of the Carver School,” Dr. Lin said. 


“Carver being one of the 367 blue ribbon schools recognized this year, how does it make you feel as a principal?”

“I feel very proud, extremely honored to be the principal and the person who is receiving the award on behalf of our students and our teachers and staff and our parents. Extremely honored,” Dr. Lin said.


“Will the national Blue Ribbon status expire?”

“It is an award for that particular year. For us, this is our second time winning this award, and so for us, it is the 2020 award. It is not like Miss Universe or Miss America where you hold the title for an amount of time. It is not like that, it is just an award to recognize the hard work and the achievements of our students. It is an image captured in one snapshot of time, which is 2020,” Dr. Lin said.


“Will there be any additional learning opportunities for being a Blue Ribbon School?”

“There is always learning opportunities because we never stop growing, The world is constantly changing, we have to prepare our students well for the middle school and beyond. It is not just “oh middle school” and that is the goal. That is the main goal, but we want to have kids who have good character, not just academics. Character is essential. How we behave. We are really strong with the six pillars of character. At Carver School, we implemented the six pillars of character. Character education is integral to how we educate students. I would say, character education and how we behave would be more important than knowledge. Because character defines the person. But knowledge, there is Google, a lot of it can now be researched. The Computer is so much better at memorizing and getting information. But character and how we treat other people, that to me is so much more important because we are educating the heart in addition to the mind. Having kids who understand compassion, have empathy, have the way to connect with other people, understanding other cultures, that is so essential to us. It ties well into academics. A healthy heart, metaphorically, would lead to greater appreciation for learning,” Dr. Lin said. 


“What are the benefits and responsibilities of being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education?”

“The U.S. Department of Education states that the National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning,” Dr. Lin said.


Though it is the second time for Carver to be recognized as a Blue Ribbon School, Doctor Lin believes that there is still always room for the school to improve.