Grantee Corner  |  Oxnard School District



Four male students hold up the solar ovens they constructed
Frank School students demonstrate solar photovoltaic conversion of light to electricity, and solar ovens to Brekke school students

A group of students sit in front of music stands playing flutes.
Haydock School students rehearsing Feliz Navidad in preparation for the Winter Concert.

A female student pours oobleck from a cup onto a paper plate while a male student mixes it with his hands.
Fremont School eighth grade students make Oobleck, a non-Newtonian fluid, in Physical Science class

Three male students stand in a field ready to launch their rocket.
Fremont School students launch water rockets they built

Two students work together to use paperclips to lift the worm
Fremont School students complete lab where they must use the scientific method to identify how to Save Sam – a worm on a boat that needs a life saver – using only paperclips and no hands

Two female students paint pictures of flowers.
Haydock School students use a stained glass glazing technique in art class

Four female students stand on stage giving a presentation
Frank School students demonstrate a simple water purification that creates a chlorine disinfectant from table salt

Headshot of Debra West
Debra West, OSD Project Director

The City of Oxnard has a highly diverse population and economy. Located in the northernmost point of greater Los Angeles, Oxnard’s economy is driven by manufacturing, shipping, defense, and agriculture. Oxnard School District’s Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant funds three magnet schools that enroll more than 3,000 students. Of these students, 80 percent are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 54 percent are English language learners. Within district boundaries, 36 percent of parents have less than a high school education, which is twice the state’s average of 18 percent.

This urban district's three new magnet schools—collectively referred to as the da Vinci Magnet Academies—are designed to capitalize on specific economic cornerstones of the community. Frank School emphasizes marine science, engineering, and robotics. Fremont School houses environmental science and 3D design, and Haydock School focuses on environmental science and visual/performing arts. These science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) themes align with Common Core State Standards. In the 2014-15 school year, the three participating schools will convert from grade 7-8 intermediate schools to grade 6-8 middle schools. 

Oxnard’s commitment to “equal opportunity for all individuals in education” has been furthered by MSAP grant funds that make it possible for each magnet student to be assigned an iPad. The iPads help instructors and staff be constantly immersed in, and challenged by, problem-based, cross-curricular, STEAM-based learning opportunities.

Staff at da Vinci schools are committed to engaging parents in their child’s education. Parents now have a better understanding of how magnet schools can contribute to their children's future academic and career successes, and recognize the importance of being involved in their children's school.

Da Vinci’s strong project leader and highly motivated principals and teachers look to the future. Beyond the overarching goals of improving all students’ academic performance and challenging teachers with rigorous, ongoing professional development, the project will also focus on these goals:
  • Changing the way learning looks.  Ensure students come to school prepared to challenge themselves with higher expectations each and every day.
  • Building partnerships with the community. Provide students with opportunities to develop 21st century learning skills.
  • Reducing the number of exit-flight students. Turn struggling schools into learning environments where students embrace self-improvement through a relevant and challenging education.
The da Vinci Magnet Schools Project aims to provide a level playing field where all students can improve their academic performance. Ultimately, the da Vinci Project will build strong and lasting communities: a community of teachers, a community of parents, a schoolwide community, a community of partnerships, and communities of practice. All will coalesce into one greater community designed to create lifelong learners with high academic and career aspirations.

Debra Lynn West is the MSAP Project Director. She has 20 years of experience in teaching, training, administering, evaluating, and advocating for all things STEAM. She also has extensive experience and expertise with diverse student populations, such as those in Oxnard.

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