Golden Bell Award

VVUHSD wins Golden Bell
Posted on 12/12/2019

SAN DIEGO – The Victor Valley Union High School District was selected as one of 57 recipients of the prestigious Golden Bell Award in recognition of University Preparatory School’s Senior Transition Program. 


The Senior Transition Program offers training to University Prep seniors to prepare them for college and career, including help with financial aid applications and financial literacy instruction.


University Prep Principal Valerie Hatcher said the program started in the 2010-2011 school year, after she attended a conference and saw what another district was doing to prepare their students for life after high school.


“We’re trying to put as much in their backpack as we possibly can,” Hatcher said. “We want them to have everything they need to be successful.”


Hatcher accepted the award along with VVUHSD Superintendent Dr. Ron Williams, and they were cheered on by a contingent of VVUHSD staff and board members at an awards ceremony in San Diego last week. Teachers Joe Zimmerman and Summer Zimmerman, a husband-and-wife team who are among the key staff members running the program, were in attendance.


“We have almost 100 percent of our seniors who have already filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid),” Summer Zimmerman said, adding that a major benefit of the program is “college research. Seeing all the different colleges that are out there for them to apply to.”


Joe Zimmerman said the most gratifying thing about the program is “just seeing seeing the list of schools that the kids get into, and seeing the financial awards that they get. … It’s immediate.”   


This is VVUHSD’s first Golden Bell, an award presented by the California School Boards Association to promote excellence in public education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices. 


The Golden Bell Awards celebrated their 40th year in 2019. A judging panel composed of experts from school districts and county offices of education across the state reviewed written entries and made initial recommendations. On-site validators then reviewed the recommendations and assessed the programs in action. This year’s Golden Bell winners demonstrated that they are addressing student needs through areas such as equity and access, school climate and safety, technology and wellness.


“This is a tremendous honor for our district and community,” Williams said. “It’s a credit to the outstanding work Ms. Hatcher and her staff are doing to serve our students.”


  • Victor Valley Adult School