How quickly the holidays have come upon us! However you celebrate, there is a lot wrapped up in our traditions – food, family, friends, religion, and history. But for me, the holidays are also an opportunity to serve and think of others. That’s what our staff already does on a daily basis, in the service and education of our children. Take, for example, California Teacher of the Year Megan Gross. Megan is a special education teacher at Del Norte High School. Her classroom is a place where students feel welcome and can access the resources needed to thrive academically and socially in general education settings. Under her leadership, her students launched a school-wide campaign, “Socktober,” to collect socks and blankets to benefit homeless families in their school district as well as created Valentines for senior citizens who lived in a nearby assisted-living facility. As educators, we are on the front lines of shaping our young people’s character, but so often, they are the ones teaching us.
At Oak Valley Middle School, Annie Koshenina’s students walk to nearby Stone Ranch Elementary to work with young autistic students around their reading and communication skills. At Rancho Bernardo High, senior Ava Parisi organized a musical concert “Songs for Shelter” to benefit homeless and at-risk youth. Two Westwood 3rd graders organized a successful costume drive so students at the Monarch School could have a Happy Halloween. The list goes on. I am humbled by the kindness and selflessness that our students are displaying throughout our district.
This holiday season, my hope is that you embrace the same spirit of service. We are a large organization that can leave a strong, powerful, and positive impression on our communities when we empower our students and staff to better our neighborhoods. Find a way to bring joy to someone else this holiday season.
November 15th was my final Board meeting as Acting Superintendent. It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as Acting Superintendent for all these months. The Board has now approved an Interim Superintendent: Dr. Tony Apostle comes to us from Washington State. Dr. Apostle retired in 2012 after 37 years as a teacher, coach, principal, and administrator for schools in Washington, including eight years as Superintendent of Puyallup schools. In 2014 he served as Interim Superintendent for Kent School District. I will work closely with him to ensure a smooth transition, and he will remain in place until the Board selects a permanent Superintendent for our District early next year. Thank you to all of you who provided your input online and in person on what qualities our new Superintendent should possess.
Finally I wanted to extend my warm congratulations to the elected Board members, Ms. Kimberley Beatty and Dr. Darshana Patel, who will be officially sworn in at the December 13th Board meeting. On behalf of District staff, we look forward to working with them on continuing and strengthening our mission of college and career readiness for all students. Thank you to all the candidates who ran for school Board. It shows how much you care about our kids and our schools and that you are invested in the future of this District.
May you all find rest, hope, and healing as we close out 2016. I am confident that when we return in 2017, we will feel refreshed and excited to continue on this wonderful journey that we share as part of #TeamPUSD.