Nestled in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, Longfellow Elementary School has a long-standing tradition of high student achievement, supportive parent involvement, and positive community spirit. Built in 1921, our school is an important part of the Long Beach Unified School District, winner of the Broad Prize for best urban school district in the United States. With a rich history as our foundation, Longfellow students, parents, and staff strive to live up to our school motto, "The Longfellow Lions are the very, very best!"
Our student diversity is one of our greatest assets. Out of a total of 887 students, African-American learners make up 22% of our student body; Asian, 10%; Filipino, 7%; Hispanic, 29%; and white, 29%. Thirty-five percent of our students qualify for a free or reduced lunch. Additionally, 8% of our students are classified as English Language Learners and 84 students qualify for special education services.
Longfellow is a site-based decision-making school. Our leadership team, the Steering Committee, is made up of teachers from each grade level, a member from our support staff, a classified employee, and several parents, including the PTA president. The Steering Committee meets on a monthly basis to develop a consensus about key issues including budget, curriculum, school events, new policies, and any other relevant topic. Additionally, we have an effective School Site Council and English Learner Advisory Committee that each meet regularly to develop our Single Plan for Student Achievement and advise our key budget decisions. In all three committees, we utilize Baldrige strategies to gather input, develop a consensus, and plan next steps. Cross-communication between each committee ensures that common school-wide goals are addressed.
A high level of parent involvement is critical to our school's success. Our active PTA has two missions: develop a strong community and educate students and parents. In building a culture of social connectedness, the PTA runs a yearly Harvest Festival, a free movie night, and two events that bring out hundreds of families to support our book fairs - Moms & Muffins and Dads & Donuts. To support student and parent education, the PTA raises thousands of dollars annually to pay for field trips, art programs, classroom supplies, and presenters to increase parental effectiveness in helping students at home. Additionally, over 200 parents volunteer in classrooms to tutor individual students, prepare instructional materials, and support teacher-delivered lessons. In recent years, the development of the parent-led Longfellow Legacy Foundation has established partnerships with community groups and raised thousands of dollars to support our students, as well. This foundation's goal is to help mitigate the effects of losing over a quarter of a million dollars in federal and state categorical funding.
Our current Academic Performance Index score of 919 is a direct result of our strong academic program. In recent years, after analyzing assessment and observation data, the principal and curriculum leaders have provided strategic professional development for our teachers and staff in the areas of using data to drive instruction; increasing student engagement; providing intervention and support to at-risk and high-achieving students; and improving instruction in reading comprehension. Now, in every classroom, teachers are implementing this knowledge to improve student achievement.
A data-analysis protocol requires teachers to use multiple formative assessments to monitor student progress and identify specific students needing additional instruction in order to attain proficiency with specific skills. Then, school-wide data analysis meetings are used to develop action plans based on this data. As a tool to increase student participation and engagement, Kagan Cooperative Learning structures are utilized to establish processes for interaction within the classroom. Professional development in the use of small-group instruction has pushed teachers to differentiate instruction by providing re-teaching opportunities for students that need extra support. Additionally, this knowledge of differentiation has been applied to advanced learners through extension menus that provide activities requiring higher-level thinking skills. Most recently, the staff has participated in a training on the use of Thinking Maps to support instruction in reading comprehension and writing. Specifically, these graphic organizers are used on a regular basis to support the teaching of essential comprehension skills.
Several instructional programs that are unique to Longfellow support students outside of the classroom, as well. In addition to our intervention programs, learners take part in a choral music program, where students from each grade level work with the instructor to perform in a musical; a PE program, with the recreation leader supporting teachers in developing physically fit students; a new science lab, funded by the LLF, where students take part in weekly hands-on science activities; and a modern computer lab, funded by the PTA, where each class attends on a weekly basis to learn essential technology skills.
Along with an effective academic program, we provide students with the emotional support necessary to develop their personal character. Our counselor oversees a student recognition system based on the six pillars of Character Counts, and establishes friendship groups to support new students and those with behavioral challenges. Additionally, Longfellow students and staff participate in the Safe and Civil Schools initiative, where data-driven decisions are made to establish effective procedures for playground safety, student interactions, and behavioral consequences. Through this initiative, we have established our Guidelines for Success: Longfellow Lions have Perserverance, Responsibility, Integrity, Dignity, and Enthusiasm (PRIDE). Our active Student Council works with teachers and staff to develop opportunities for students to put these Guidelines into practice.
Every month, our entire school comes together for a Flag Ceremony. After raising the flag and singing our national anthem, we review with students what worked effectively in the prior month and set goals for the weeks ahead. This assembly is a great example of how our high expectations, rich traditions, and strong sense of community mesh together to create an amazing learning environment. After all 900 of us sing the Longfellow School Spirit Song, we finish the ceremony with the phrase that we all strive to achieve, our aforemetioned motto: The Longfellow Lions are the very, very best!