Santa Fe Christian Middle School was the only middle school to receive this award in California in 2015 and one of only two middle schools in the United States. We caught up with Dr. Todd Deveau, Middle School Principal, and Michelle Glenn, Middle School Dean, to learn more about how SFC’s Middle School achieved this amazing accomplishment.

Why was SFC’s Middle School recognized as a 2015 National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High Performing School by the Department of Education?  SFC’s Middle School received the National Blue Ribbon award based on multiple factors. SFC’s test scores were above the 85th percentile in all areas measured on standardized testing, at all grade levels. Our exceptional electives and Advisory programs set us apart from other middle schools. We have an outstanding Performing and Fine Arts program as well as participation-based sports teams. Plus, our administration and faculty are dedicated to the highest standards of learning for all students and undertake professional development to stay at the forefront of best practices.

Tell us more about the Middle School Electives program.  We believe middle school is a time of discovery and students should have opportunities to explore, grow and try new experiences. One of the ways we do this is through electives. We expanded our elective offerings from eight to 35, and added interesting new courses including Draw Like da Vinci, Improv Theatre and Introduction to Computer Coding. Then we challenged traditional scheduling by arranging the majority of our electives to meet two days per week for the semester, which increased student choices four-fold. Depending on their core classes, students may choose two to eight electives over the course of the year.

What role did SFC’s faculty play in helping SFC receive this award?  The greatest strength of SFC’s Middle School is our talented and dedicated faculty and staff. With an average tenure of almost ten years, we have a balance of both experienced and young educators. Each year SFC teachers travel to national conferences and workshops to stay on top of best practices. Plus, all our teachers participate in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) where they work collaboratively on teaching best practices that increase student engagement.

What are some other academic activities available in Middle School?  Student learning goes way beyond the classroom. Seventh graders participate in the San Diego County Science Fair, California State Science Fair, and an after school SeaPerch Underwater Robotics Program (now an elective during the school day). There is a Mathematics Club that participates in several math competitions each year.

How important are the arts in Middle School?

We like to say the arts are center-stage at SFC. In addition to our art electives, students participate in the ACSI Musicale, band competitions, San Diego Little Italy Chalk Art Festival and Art Splash. The Middle School Talent Show is an annual favorite event on campus, and we launched our first ever Middle School musical last year. We believe experiences in fine, digital and performing arts are designed to foster each student’s God-given talents and gifts.

What about Middle School athletics?

We encourage students to try a variety of sports activities in Middle School. There are 12 different sports for a total of more than 32 “no-cut” teams. Our coaches pour into young athletes to help them be the best they can be. Students interested in participating in Upper School athletics are well prepared for the rigors of competitive CIF sports.

Would you explain the Advisory program?

We believe students need an environment that supports the opportunity to take risks and learn from mistakes. One way we create this environment is through Advisory. In Advisory, small-groups of single gender students meet each day for discussion, fellowship and community-building activities. While all of the teachers purposefully build meaningful relationships with students, Advisory assigns an adult advocate to a small group of students. We also have annual grade-level retreats and recently introduced an off-campus Community Day designed to foster community and build relationships.

How do SFC Middle School students put their faith in action?

We encourage our students to put God’s Word into action. Seventh grade students have the opportunity to take a mission trip to Tucson, Arizona, to serve the underprivileged youth population by processing and sorting donations, assisting with food preparation and helping children with homework.  Eighth grade students can serve in a San Diego Urban Outreach Ministry by sorting food, preparing meals and hitting the streets with food and sundries for the homeless. All Middle School students also must complete off-campus service hours through their Bible courses.

SFC’s Middle School program is unique in that it trains the whole child – academically, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually. We feel privileged to work with amazing administration and faculty as we guide our students each day. We are grateful for the committed SFC community of parents, grandparents, students, staff and coaches who helped to make possible the Middle School’s National Blue Ribbon Award.

It features an after school SeaPerch Underwater Robotics program (now an elective during the school day). There is a Mathematics Club that participates in several math competitions each year including the Mandelbrot Exam and the American Mathematics Competition. The sixth grade class travels to Indian Hills for a three-night, four-day, experience-based science education program.

How important are the arts in Middle School?  We like to say the arts are center-stage at SFC. In addition to our art electives, students participate in the ACSI Musicale, band competitions, San Diego Little Italy Chalk Art Festival and Art Splash. The Middle School Talent Show is an annual favorite event on campus, and we launched our first ever Middle School musical last year. We believe experiences in fine, digital and performing arts are designed to foster each student’s God-given talents and gifts.

What about Middle School athletics?  We encourage students to try a variety of sports activities in Middle School. There are 12 different sports for a total of more than 32 “no-cut” teams. Our coaches pour into young athletes to help them be the best they can be. Students interested in participating in Upper School athletics are well prepared for the rigors of competitive CIF sports.

Would you explain the Advisory program?  We believe students need an environment that supports the opportunity to take risks and learn from mistakes. One way we create this environment is through Advisory. In Advisory, small-groups of single gender students meet each day for discussion, fellowship and community-building activities. While all of the teachers purposefully build meaningful relationships with students, Advisory assigns an adult advocate to a small group of students. We also have annual grade-level retreats and recently introduced an off-campus Community Day designed to foster community and build relationships.

How do SFC Middle School students put their faith in action?  We encourage our students to put God’s Word into action. Seventh grade students have the opportunity to take a mission trip to Tucson, Arizona, to serve the underprivileged youth population by processing and sorting donations, assisting with food preparation and helping children with homework. Eighth grade students can serve in a San Diego Urban Outreach Ministry by sorting food, preparing meals and hitting the streets with food and sundries for the homeless. All Middle School students also must complete off-campus service hours through their Bible courses.

SFC’s Middle School program is unique in that it trains the whole child – academically, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually. We feel privileged to work with amazing administration and faculty as we guide our students each day. We are grateful for the committed SFC community of parents, grandparents, students, staff and coaches who helped to make possible the Middle School’s National Blue Ribbon Award.