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January 30, 2008 > Tyrrell Elementary shines for Hayward schools

Tyrrell Elementary shines for Hayward schools

By Shari Wargo
Photos By Shari Wargo

Tyrrell Elementary School students in grades four through six were surprised on Friday, Jan. 25, by a visit from State Senator Ellen Corbett. Four different classes at the Hayward school had the excitement of meeting Corbett and having their visitor share some words with them after observing their studies.

"It's very clear that the students have a great connection with the teachers here and I saw some great things in the classroom. It's so wonderful to walk into a classroom and ask 'Do you like math?' and they all go, 'Yay! We love math!' Clearly there's something special going on here between the teachers and students," said Corbett of her visits in the classrooms at Tyrrell Elementary.

In 2004, Tyrrell was considered one of the lowest schools in Hayward for academic performance. These results were based on the Academic Performance Index (API) which measures how well students are achieving or understanding the content at their level based on the California Standards Test (CST) composed of math and English. But this year, Tyrrell is being recognized as the fourth highest school in Hayward's School District on the API. This means that in four years, the school has advanced 86 points on the API.

Edwin Manson, Tyrrell Principle, said the school decided to make changes to improve their students' achievements. Sixth grade students were reading at a second grade level and now are reading at a fifth grade level, and that is just the beginning. Manson continued to note that the growing success of the school has been in large part a result of the teachers' belief in the students.

"I think the teachers have been committed and they have a vision. Teachers choose to be here, I'm at a school where people are passionate about being at the school. The teachers believe the students can succeed." Manson said Tyrrell gets students that the state would call "far below basic," and that one teacher had 20 of these students who by the end of the year were either at the proficient or advanced level for their age. "I believe that's belief system, it's not just good pedagogy, it's believing that our kids in this inner city neighborhood are smart and their capable but they just need support."

Many others were pleased with the accomplishments of the students of Tyrell. "I have been a part of this community almost all my life and it's been really exciting to see Tyrrell grow academically. In the classrooms how they're all organized and how the teachers are there with the students, it's a good example of what can happen in our schools," said Vice President of the Hayward School Board Paul Frumkin, who visited Tyrrell classrooms with Corbett on Friday.

Corbett said she visited Tyrrell to "congratulate them and encourage them because of their good work." She also said that staying in touch with her district is very important to her and so since she had time away from the Capitol on Friday, she wanted to touch base with the students in the area and see what they're doing. "It's really important to me. The schools are a very important priority of the State's business so I wanted to come in and just see first hand how well the schools are doing and see how some of the programs are progressing and let people know that their state legislator cares about them even though we have tough budget times that I make education a priority."

Tyrell Elementary School has accomplished a lot this year, and hopes to progress further. The school is a part of a Hayward School Bond, which both Corbett and California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer support, which will be on ballots June 3. The bond is to help update Hayward school facilities and create an improved and enriching environment for students to learn in. "I'm very concerned about making sure we have the very best resources for our students, and particularly after just spending time in the classroom with all these wonderful smiling, brilliant, faces. You can't help but want to do everything you can to want to increase the resources for these students," said Corbett. There is only one school in the Hayward School District that is younger than 50 years old and so the rest need modernization. Corbett added that many of the schools don't even have library facilities. Neighboring districts pass bonds for their schools every three to five years, while Hayward has not passed a bond for nearly 45 years.

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