Patterson Joint Unified School District (PJUSD) has been selected as a 2022 California Pivotal Practice (CAPP) Award Program Winner. In an announcement sent out by the California Department of Education (CDE), PJUSD is among 727 schools and 121 school districts to receive such an honor. The district is also the only school/district in Stanislaus County to earn CAPP recognition.


Due to the pandemic, CDE is utilizing the Pivotal Practice Award for its Distinguished Schools (DS) Program. It celebrates schools and districts that implemented an innovative practice during the 2020-21 school year, when California required schools to offer distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pivotal Practices were evaluated in four target areas: Student Engagement, Distribution of Technology, Nutrition Services, and Social Emotional Well-Being of Students.

PJUSD emphasized its use and distribution of technology as a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic. When schools were required to offer distance learning, PJUSD was in a unique position to serve its students due to its strategic efforts and successful implementation of its one to web (1:Web) initiative, which was launched in 2015. The district’s 1:Web initiative ensures that every student has access to the technology devices required to succeed in 21st Century Classrooms.

Over the course of the past several years, the district has worked to nullify the disadvantages that the majority (75%) of its families are faced with by targeting access to technology in its strategic plan and recognizing early on that technology is no longer a luxury but a necessity in today’s society. While many other districts struggled with access, PJUSD was well-poised to serve its students in a distance learning environment. At the time of the closure, every 6-12th grade student already had home devices. Additionally, TK-5th grade classrooms were equipped with Chromebooks ready to deploy home soon after the closure.

With such rapid deployment of technology, which included devices and hotspots to families most in need, the district was able to shift its attention and resources to an even larger target area: reducing the digital divide. Equipped with years of planning and knowledge of network access of its families, PJUSD was able to leverage its CARES Act funds to expedite its plans to implement long term connectivity solutions for its students and families.

In September 2020 the district began installing Long Term Evolution (LTE) towers at each of its school sites. These towers expand the district’s broadband network to residential areas near its schools to provide free, secure, and reliable internet access to students and families. Despite having no previous roadmap or system model, PJUSD is the first district in California to successfully implement a solution to an issue that has prevented many students from having equitable educational opportunities for more than 20 years. These efforts were recognized on the national level and were profiled in The Wall Street Journal, prompting large districts, such as LAUS to visit Patterson to learn about the program.

Pivotal Practices Award

In an award announcement letter, on behalf of State Superintendent, Tony Thurmond, the CDE thanks the district and its other recipients for their outstanding efforts on behalf of students during exceptionally challenging times. Award recipients will receive a certificate and a California Pivotal Practice Award Program flag in the coming weeks to be displayed at the district. Upon receipt of the awarded items, PJUSD will present the recognition to its school board of trustees.

PJUSD Superintendent, Dr. Phil Alfano, believes that strategic planning and allocation of district resources played a key role in pivoting to distance learning, but professional development and a dedicated staff was ultimately what gave Patterson schools an edge during distance learning.

“Our teachers and instructional paraprofessionals have been receiving intensive training on the use of digital technology in the classroom for more than a decade,” Alfano noted. “It was truly inspiring to see our staff jump into action when the pandemic hit. Everyone worked collaboratively as a team and supported one another during this time.”

Alfano added that “while he hopes schools never have to shut down again”, teachers, administrators, and classified staff found innovative ways to engage with students and parents. “We quickly deployed WebEx technology and were even able to continue counseling services, hold parent meetings, and even hold after school programs and physical fitness activities online. Our staff was very creative and empathetic. I know that our Patterson families truly appreciate their dedication.”

To find out more about the California Pivotal Practices Award, our technology and LTE programs, or other district events, initiatives, and programs please visit or call Johnny Padilla at (209) 895-7738. Follow us on facebook at

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