Poway Unified School District

Superintendent ~ Poway Unified School District

John P. Collins, Ed.D. 

(858) 521-2700 FAX (858) 485-1075

Tina McDowell
Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
(858) 521-2700    FAX (858) 485-1075

Rich Newman, Ed.D.
Director of Innovation, Office of Innovation
(858) 521-2737

Jessica Wakefield
Director of Communications
(858) 521-2707  FAX (858) 485-1075

Wendy Anderson
Executive Assistant to the Board
(858) 521-2700   FAX (858) 485-1075

October 30, 2014

Dear PUSD Families,

It’s the time of year when our 12th grade students are busy completing their college, technical school, and military applications, writing personal essays, and requesting letters of recommendations.

Everyone involved in the process – the student, family members, teachers, counselors, administrators and coaches – are working to put the student’s “best face forward” and capture what it is that makes a particular student qualified to attend a particular school, program, or branch of the military.

For many years, a student’s skill set was determined primarily through test scores – SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement (AP), Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Test (ASVAB), Weisen Test of Mechanical Aptitude (WTMA) and the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), among others. But these days an increasing number of admissions officers, recruiters, and employment counselors are looking for more than test scores. They are looking for what one researcher calls “the attitude behind the aptitude.”

A recent report from the Center on International Education Benchmarking included interviews with college and career recruiters, asking what they look for in applicants:
Beyond a certain threshold, we are not interested in how well the applicants did in the courses they took. We are more interested in certain other qualities that are far more important to us, like ethics, drive, grit, general savvy, ability to figure out what they need to learn to cope with a problem and to learn it quickly, the kind of empathy that makes it possible to help others grow and avoid unnecessary conflicts, finding creative ways to get out of a tough situation, leadership qualities, capacity for independent thought and action, ability to get along with a wide range of people…

I am interested not so much in what the candidate did as in why they did it, how they saw the dilemmas and opportunities they faced and how they resolved them, what they took into account, what interested them, where they looked for help, how their understanding of how the world works was modified and informed by their experience, whether they did what was expedient or thought long and hard about what was right, and did that…

When presented with a candidate for a job, I will look at their resume, but I will forgive significant omissions in formal qualifications if I can get the sort of people I am looking for… I always ask to see something they have written, something that will provide some insight into their ability to think clearly, to organize their ideas, to draw on a wide range of knowledge to come to conclusions that go beyond the received wisdom of the field, to be insightful.

As part of their daily classroom instruction, PUSD teachers work diligently with K-12 students to develop college and career-ready aptitudes and attitude. Outside of the classroom, coaches, advisors, parent and community volunteers and mentors infuse aptitude and attitude instruction into a wide range of programs and activities ranging from Athletics, ASB, AVID, Future Doctors of America, Academic League, Robotics, DECA, Science Olympiad, Soldiers and Veterans Club to Fight Against Hunger, Peer Counseling, Best Buddies, Key Club, Boots on the Ground: Supporting Our Military, Cyber Security, and Women in Computer Science (WICS).

As our Seniors look to shape their futures beyond Poway Unified, I am proud of the work that we, as a community, have done to prepare them for success.

John P. Collins, Ed.D.




The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is an equal opportunity employer/program and is committed to an active Nondiscrimination Program. PUSD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, ethnic group identification, ancestry, religion, gender, gender identification, mental or physical disability. All course offerings, student clubs, and extracurricular activities are open to all students. For more information, please contact Tracy Hogarth, Associate Superintendent, Personnel Support Services, Poway Unified School District, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128-3406. View Annual Notification of Parents’/Students’ Rights | Annual Notification of Employees’ Rights

POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT | 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 | (858) 521-2800