Students blossoming at Park 

Three years ago, San Mateo Park Elementary School transformed itself into a math and science magnet school. Now, the school is watching all its hard work add up to student achievements.

"Living in the Silicon Valley, it was important for us to prepare students who were scientifically and mathematically powerful," said Park Principal Lucretia-del J. Broussard.

As a result of the transformation, math and science scores for San Mateo Park fifth-graders rose 46 percent and 32 percent, respectively, on 2006 California standards tests.

Broussard explained that test scores were expected torise after establishing the magnet program since students with interests in math and science would migrate toward the school. But Broussard said the highest increase the school has seen is in students who have been at Park since their kindergarten year.

Kelly Kenny, co-president of the San Mateo Park Foundation, said her son was at the school two years before the magnet program began. Now in the fifth grade, he’s a member of the schools Mathematical Olympiad team. Kenny also has a daughter who loves math, bucking the stereotype that males are better-suited in that subject.

"The more the kids are exposed to these fields, the less those stereotypes hold true," she said.

In addition to raising test scores, the school earned national recognition when its teams of "mathletes" took top honors in both the Mathematical Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools and the California Math Bee.

One fifth-grade team won their division at the national bee’s early rounds; two others placed second and third in their respective groups.

With the top finishes, the teams earned invitations to the International Math Bee competition in Birmingham, Ala., in May. Barton said the school is currently working to raise $10,000 to send their eight-student team and its chaperones to the competition.

San Mateo Park, which has been recognized as a Magnet School of Excellence by the Magnet Schools of America for the second straight year, also school built a garden ecosystem to teach students about natural systems. Third-grade classes maintain the garden as part of their plant sciences unit while second-grade students study the insects it attracts.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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