Award Year: 2013

Torrey Pines Elementary School

8350 Cliffridge Avenue
La Jolla, CA, 92037-2106

(858) 453-2323

Sarah Ott, Principal at time of Nomination

Mr. Jim Solo, Current Principal

San Diego Unified

School Website


Our mission is to provide an environment conducive to student learning where each child feels successful, achieves academically, and thinks critically.

Student Demographics
  • White: 60%
  • Hispanic: 11%
  • Asian: 17%
  • Two or more races: 12%
  • ELL: 13%
  • Economically Disadvantaged: %

The broad strokes of the past ten years at Torrey Pines Elementary School have marked a shift from the instructional models and objectives of bygone industrial eras to a school built in the image of a dynamic society that demands agility and creativity in ever-increasing quantities. The visions and expectations the we co-construct site-wide are translated into the instructional norms and structures that ultimately define and drive our constant evolution via unique professional structures we call grade-level “collaboratives”. A substantial investment in the professionalism of teachers, the collaboratives infuse intense, job embedded professional development into the regular work of our principal classroom decision makers. The momentum and discovery of these sessions fuels both the continuous growth of our teachers as expert practitioners and the consistently significant gains expected and achieved in each of our classrooms.

Along with the professional development built into our school-week, curriculum figures prominently in the transformation of our school from yesterday’s worksheet, recall, discrete-skill- dominated classrooms to the thinking-community we must nurture today. The growth we achieve reflects a careful curricular design process that involves simultaneously deliberating both standards and essential thinking dispositions for each content area. Creating instructional objectives requires that we consider and reconsider the standards alongside the critical questions What does it mean to think like a scientist?...a mathematician? artist? Our constant study informs and guides us as we generate and refine the learning outcomes that serve as guideposts and endpoints along the coherent instructional paths we engineer for our students. The result is a thinking-based curriculum that exceeds the standards, honors the essence of each content area, and engages students in meaningful cognitive endeavors throughout each day.