Pomona Unified’s fledgling Palomares Academy of Health Sciences has joined the elite ranks of schools awarded the prestigious “Distinguished” designation by the National Academy Foundation, a recognition of the strength of the school’s program for preparing students for success in college and careers.
Just seven of National Academy Foundation’s network of 667 schools were added this year to its roster of “Distinguished” campuses for a total of 28 – less than 5 percent. It is the foundation’s highest level of achievement, based on an annual assessment that showed “exceptional fidelity” to its educational model.
Palomares, which opened a scant seven years ago as a grade 7-12 academy, is graduating its second class of seniors this June. Last year, 100 percent of its first senior class was accepted to four-year universities.
“This is a tremendous honor that recognizes not only the forward-thinking approach Pomona Unified takes to provide students with educational opportunity, but one that stands as a proud testament to the dedication, talent and determination of our educators,” said Board of Education President Andrew Wong.
The foundation’s system focuses on preparing underserved populations for college and careers in specific industries – finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology and health sciences. Under the model, students take rigorous, career-focused courses tied to real-world opportunities with business professionals.
Palomares provides an education focus on health sciences for a community that is primarily English learners, socio-economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. The school features project-based learning and a rigorous STEM curriculum. Students attend workshops at Western University of Health Sciences, work at Pomona Valley Hospital and showcase their skills at health fairs.
“Our experiences have borne out the promise that if you provide students with curriculum that is rigorous and focused on their field of interest, and give them the opportunity to succeed, they will shine,” said Palomares Principal Dr. Camille Ramos-Beal. “I am so proud of our team and our students for achieving this milestone.”
Palomares Academy will be recognized at “NAF Next,” NAF’s annual professional development conference in Anaheim in July.
“The success of our program at Palomares validates our approach to transforming Pomona Unified into a model for 21st century learning – a place where students can find their path to the future regardless of any challenges or barriers,” said Pomona Unified Superintendent Richard Martinez.