Michelle Rodriguez PVUSD
Michelle Rodriguez. — Pajaronian file photo

WATSONVILLE—Since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools nationwide, education officials have been struggling to rebound from the significant—and unanticipated—academic and emotional toll at-home learning wrought on young people.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District has since boosted its ranks of socio-emotional counselors and mental health clinicians and doubled down on its efforts to teach literacy to young people, says Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez.

The District has also taken strides to reverse the recession-era cuts to music and art in its schools, with those programs back in most classrooms. 

For those efforts, and for her work since she joined the District seven years ago, Rodriguez received a resolution in October signed by Assemblymembers Robert Rivas and Mark Stone, and by Sen. John Laird. Among other things, the resolution highlighted the fact that she was awarded the 2022 Community Hero Award by the Community Indicators Consortium.

“All of that is recognition of the work that staff and myself and our administrator team have done to try to rebound from the pandemic,” she said. “I know that many are tired of talking about the pandemic, but I think the ripple effects are still there.”

According to Rodriguez, the district increased its mental health clinicians from six to 17, and its socio-emotional counselors have increased by 160%.

Both of these, she said, are vital as students continue to readjust from the isolation of the pandemic.

“Whether it’s adults or children, a lot of people are still trying to rebound from Covid, so my job is remembering where we were prior to Covid and helping us get back on that path,” she said.

Rodriguez also says she recently expanded the District’s Student Advisory Committee from 12 to 44. That group meets regularly to advise administration on such topics as equity, counseling services, scheduling and college and career support. The District will implement some of the group’s suggestions on food services in the upcoming semester, she says.

That, she says, is part of her philosophy of seeking community feedback that includes her online Ask Dr. Rodriguez column and her weekly Friday message to staff.

“We’re making sure we react to what we hear, and listen to feedback of what we hear so we can alter what we do in response to it,” she said.

In the wake of the learning loss associated with the pandemic—which slowed academic progress and made teaching literacy to lower grades all the more challenging—Rodriguez said that test scores are beginning to rebound in second and third grades.

“We show that students are making a Herculean effort to improve,” she said. “Our internal measures show we’re rebounding really well and so I feel that we’re going to get back to where we need to be.”

And part of that, Rodriguez says, is the District’s mission of putting students first, and trying to connect with their passions, interests and talents to make them want to come to school.

“My focus on every action we have taken has tried to be with children in mind,” she said. 

“We want children to love school,” she said. “We want them to see the benefit of school, and that school is for them. And then, how do everything we do lead us toward that effort, toward making school be a place where they feel like they belong.”

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  1. Maybe PVUSD should allocate this woman’s salary of $210,000 to better uses for the children. What pvusd is showing us is they don’t care for our children especially with allowing lgbtq history month in Oct and the flying of progressive flag in June. Thank God our children aren’t in school during June so they don’t have to see it everyday. Unfortunately some schools have it elsewhere all year long.

    • Monique
      I think you exposing our friend for what he is. Unfortunately this forum has deleted every one of my posts which is ok
      Our friend claims his posts never get removed hmmmmm possibly a connection to the manager Tony who is now on the hospital board?
      The whole thing stinks and Steven is proving to the voters tat he should never hold a public office again
      I’ll repost this if it’s deleted five hundred times
      I will repeat I am not a hater of anyone or any group just for the record!

  2. The schools never should have closed. So many parents were against the schools being closed and had protests, emailed PVUSD and spoke at board meetings to no avail. Yet, the board did not even fight to keep the schools open which was in the best interest of the children. So, the tremendous learning loss and emotional damage has been done and they are trying to act like heroes for a problem they created. Despicable! Maybe Rodriguez and the board should have LISTENED to the parents when they were against the schools closing. Those parents ended up being right and the board being wrong. Our poor children!

    • would you rather have had more people die due to Covid 19? go see the memorial to our many local victims of Covid 19 next to the Nob Hill shopping center. some of the victims were school age.
      what is more despicable are the idiots who opposed wearing masks to school and refused to get their children the Covid 19 vaccination.

      • Why does the Pajaronian censor my reply when I listed two books on amazon? Folks, if they censor an innocent reply, then all of their content is not to be trusted. Time to get your news elsewhere!

          • Write them down fast before this is post deleted. They have deleted this post twice. Whatever is censored is WHAT I WANT TO KNOW!!

            “Lies My Gov’t told Me” by Robert Malone, MD

            “Cause Unknown” by Edward Dowd

          • read my comment above. if you are looking for lies, look to Donald Trump. he is the master of lies and deception.

          • Thanks I screenshot it! Much appreciated. Exactly anything they don’t want you to see is for a reason. We the people need to come together and make children safety our priorities. The thing is some think that certain medical care is needed but in reality it’s not. You can’t tell me they changed the legal age to smoke to 21 yet are allowing children to make life decisions they have no idea about. Doesn’t make sense one bit.

        • the Pajaronian does not censor me. maybe you need to watch your language and use FACTUAL information that can be backed up by data and first person observation.

          • I suggest you be open minded, buy the books, and read them. Soon all the deaths will be hard for even you to ignore. Also, you opinion seems to be in the minority here. Maybe the others already know the FACTS.

      • Come on, Steve! The damage done to students remains immeasurable as only time will tell how badly it will affect their long term success. For now, I wonder what ‘internal measures’ the Sup. is speaking of? PV surely did not release statewide assessment data ahead of the recalcitrant state which finally did under pressure of a lawsuit!

        • come on , Ann ! how many more would you sacrifice to Covid 19 just to have your kids in seats vulnerable to a virus without pity? no, the virus has done immeasurable damage to the lives of children and adults. you do NOT keep schools open in face of a pandemic. if you want more info from the superintendent, CALL HER. she responds to phone calls.

  3. She is responsible for the misinformation spread that harmed the children. What happened to following the science? She should be removed.

  4. I was pleased to shake hands with our superintendent recently at the same gym where we are both members. I thanked her for her herculean efforts on behalf of our children.
    As a former counselor at Rolling Hills Middle school, and a retired CA bilingual teacher and counselor for 36 years, i have some advice. it is:
    1. keep our SRO on duty. and we need one for EACH high school in PVUSD.
    2. implement a longer summer school this year. 2 sessions at least .
    3. clearly, reading and math skills MUST be a main focus in the classroom.
    4. mental health counseling is essential for the trauma of being separated from peers and school personnel for so long. not to mention, students lost family, friends and some peers in the pandemic.
    5. make sure that all students who are transitioning from one gender to another get the support they need. we are not Texas or Florida or some right wing state of hate.
    6. keep our school buildings in good repair. some of them are quite old, and need regular attention for leaks, insects or wild animal infestation. this is not good for anyone who is stationed at one of our facilities .
    7. our students must feel SAFE on any one of our campuses. knives and any metal object that can be used as a weapon must be under strict control if it is used for any classroom project or activity. they cannot simply walk out the door.
    8. any student with a body temperature of 100 degrees or more needs to leave school and go home. period.
    9. writing must be used for student exhibitions during the year. we need to emphasize these writing skills across the curriculum. yes, even in physical education.
    10. ask all school board trustees to VISIT all our campuses. I did that as a Santa Cruz city school board of trustees member from 2010-14. it really matters that the trustees know the campuses.
    my best wishes to all PVUSD employees and students for a wonderful 2023.

    by the way, ALL CA credentialed teachers are required to study human sexuality as part of their education. Alfred Kinsey is a much -admired and highly respected authority on human sexual behavior who published a landmark study of same just after WW2. only right wing haters , who are afraid of their own sexuality, hate him.
    Kinsey was a champion for the movement for kids to be who they are , in terms of their feelings and thoughts about their own sexual orientation and identity.
    the right wing feels that it is a purely binary world. Kinsey pioneered the theory that we do not live in a strictly binary world where human sexual behavior is concerned. very upsetting to the insecure, the self hating and the rigid fascists who do not accept science or fact based research.
    they post here regularly. they are ignorant. they use right wing QAnon fantasy for their theology. pity them.

  5. Trujillo’s #9 comment is hilarious, if not simply ironic.

    #9. writing must be used for student exhibitions during the year. we need to emphasize these writing skills across the curriculum. yes, even in physical education.

    Of course his writing skills are lacking. No capital letter in the first word of a sentence in most all of his posts, along with poor punctuation, extra spaces, comma where none is needed etc. Steve practice what you preach. It’s a poor reflection on Cabrillo College when a trustee cannot craft a proper sentence.

    • Well no comments from Scuba Steve. I guess he is doing the backstroke in the Pajaro river? It’s been nice and quiet on this forum lately. I also see that non of my posts are being deleted
      We all know the PVUSD is one of the worst school system in the State which has a terrible record to start with

  6. we need to recognize that pandemics, in the past, were once a century. with global climate change, they will affect us more often. keeping schools open in a pandemic of a fatal virus does nothing but spread the disease.


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