Award Year: 2021

Henry E. Huntington Middle School

1700 Huntington Drive
San Marino, CA, 91108-2541

(626) 299-7060

Mr. Daryl Topalian, Principal at time of Nomination

San Marino Unified School District

School Website


Henry E. Huntington Middle School collaborates with parents, students, faculty and staff, and the greater San Marino community to foster an emotionally, intellectually, and ethically safe learning environment that challenges all students to continuously grow a deep and varied set of abilities as measured by research-based best practices, as well as federal, state, and local standards, assessments, and metrics. 

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 2%
  • White: 30%
  • Hispanic: 5%
  • Asian: 63%
First Week of School: Spirit Week Students vs. Teachers

First Week of School: Spirit Week Students vs. Teachers

Survival in the Darwinian sense requires adaptation, and Huntington Middle School (along with every other school) had to pivot from in-class to online teaching. Did we make mistakes? Of course. Did we survive? Yes. But that answer sounds grim. As a school (or teacher), you want to do more than just "survive" a school year. And in fact, we didn't just survive. In some small ways, we even thrived.

Certainly, the past year-plus of distance learning has been challenging, but Huntington Middle School has thrived in part by embracing a growth mindset. In the past, we have promoted this idea-that every student is capable of challenging tasks; no one is limited in their future abilities-but over this past year-plus, we have had to remind ourselves to apply this same growth mindset to ourselves as we looked in the proverbial mirror (or the very-real Zoom screen).

True, some teachers didn't know Meet could be a proper noun and thought Zoom was an onomatopoeia; others had classrooms already tricked-out with technology, so the digital classroom wasn't as challenging. But what has unified our teachers is their embracing a growth mindset, allowing them to try new things and yes, to make mistakes, because ultimately, they knew they could be successful.