Several years ago when I accepted the job of principal at Yuba Feather Elementary School, a K-8 school in Northern California, I was told by a colleague that I was crazy to take the job. She told me that the atmosphere was hopelessly negative, that the staff was demoralized, and that students’ pride and interest in school were dismally low.
Having been given this advice and background information, I guess I was a little crazy, for I took the job. Despite the poor condition of the school, I sensed a powerful reservoir of potential. I saw a butterfly inside a tightly closed cocoon and believed a metamorphosis could happen. The metamorphosis of Yuba Feather School is something of a miracle? Today it is a school recognized through Northern California for its academic excellence, positive climate, and innovative atmosphere. The school has an award-winning writing program, a successful mastery learning “levels” math program, intense peer collaboration, a peer observation program, a highly successful literature-based reading program, a staff trained in teaching critical thinking, and an adult learning and problem solving environment for the teachers. Teachers from our school are sought out to make presentations locally and for other districts through Northern California. Two video films which focus on the Yuba Feather Writing Project have been distributed nationally and won first place in the 1986 National Education Film Festival. In 1986 the school was chosen as a California Distinguished School as a result of our students’ improved performance on the California Assessment Program test and our outstanding pride in their school.