By DR. MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ, PVUSD Superintendent
As we launch into the 2017-18 school year on Aug. 16, PVUSD leadership has a singular and coherent focus on student success. Achieving this mission will involve cultivating collaborative cultures, focusing direction, securing accountability, deepening learning, and ensuring all students are college and career ready upon graduation.
Below we highlight significant investments we are making to ensure our students have a world-class education.
Advancing Academic Achievement
Our top priority is to expand opportunities and access to high quality learning environments. This summer, thousands of students have engaged for the first time in:
• Hands-on science learning with the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History
• Coding training with Education Training Research (ETR)
• Performing arts experiences with West Theatre and Tandy Beal Dance Company
• Expanded credit recovery completion by 867 secondary students
• Newly established Freshmen Bridge Program at Watsonville High to support students’ transition to high school
For the upcoming school year, many innovative programs will be introduced to our schools:
• Edward James Olmo’s award-winning Latino Film Institute Youth Cinema Project at Starlight Elementary and Cesar Chavez Middle schools
• El Sistema of Santa Cruz is providing music instruction at Radcliff Elementary.
• Paso a Paso: Creciendo Juntos (Step by Step: Growing Together) to support early literacy for preschool through third grade as well as for all children and families in our community
• College and Career Centers are being supported at all three comprehensive high schools; Aptos High School will be included for the first time this year
• VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) program expansion to include music offerings at all middle schools
Investing in Human Resources
Since February, PVUSD has been engaged in recruitment efforts to ensure students are taught by high quality staff. In addition we are:
• Continuing to on-board new staff through a new teacher orientation
• Launching a Human Resources site visitation with all new teachers to support a seamless transition into their teaching profession
• Working diligently to reduce teacher vacancies to only approximately 20, many that will be filled before school starts
• Offering “Voice and Choice” Professional Development days to support building of teacher capacity; teachers will be able to select their topic for professional learning days.
• Implementing four benefits committee approved additional medical plans for employees.
Environments with Maintenance and Facilities
We are dedicated to continually improving the learning environment for students. This year, our students will be welcomed into many modernized and renovated facilities. The District completed 50 modernization projects at 23 schools this summer. Some highlights include:
• Aptos High School: lighted walkway and updated 21st Century Library
• Mar Vista: new portables and replacement of fire alarm system
• HA Hyde: new portables and communication center building
• Mintie White: updated façade
• Rolling Hills: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) laboratory
We believe our learning environments extend beyond the classroom, therefore we have:
• Placed hot spots for Wi-Fi access on long-ride buses to facilitate digital literacy and student learning with Chromebooks
• Began a pilot program to find green fuel alternatives for buses
• Installed GPS on all buses
• Implemented Z-pass system on buses to increase efficacy and safety of student loading and unloading
Serving the Whole Child
PVUSD values a holistic approach based on meaningful relationships to achieve student success. To accomplish this goal, the following initiatives are moving forward:
• Lead counselor position to facilitate mobilization of resources to support wrap around services
• New Socio-Emotional Counselors at alternative secondary sites to support our most fragile students
• Professional development for teachers and staff on mindfulness
• Positive behavior training at all sites to support innovative disciplinary practices
• Nutrition enhancement through salad bars at all high schools
• California Thursdays for fresh meal choices at all high schools
• Harvest of the Month program expanded to K-12
• New pre-school assessment clinic and full time administrator at Special Education site Duncan Holbert
We will ensure student success through providing high quality learning environments, expanding parent and community partnerships, and maintaining quality staff. We invite the community to visit our schools to see the exciting work that we are doing and the innovative programs we are implementing. We will continue to place students’ learning at the center of all decisions.
Dr. Michelle Rodriguez is the superintendent of Pajaro Valley Unified School District. Her opinions are her own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.