We, as a District, strive for advocacy for equity and excellence in our schools. This is my one priority as your Superintendent. All of our students deserve the very best. We can close achievement gaps only through strong leadership, site administration, and staff, and I am committed in supporting these leaders in promoting high student learning.
The following are some of this year’s happenings:
Ileana Gutierrez, Principal, Hemmerling Elementary School, has stated that her main mission is to motivate, promote, lead and facilitate a shared vision that ensures an equitable education for all children and the involvement of all stakeholders within the school community. She is known as a high-performing and bilingual educational leader that is amazing in every educational component she has been involved in.
Veronica Rodriguez, Principal, Nicolet Middle School, has stated that she strongly believes that moving a school forward requires leadership that nurtures a positive culture amongst the entire community. It was stressed to us that one of her greatest strengths is her ability to take initiative and conduct her responsibilities in a timely manner. She is collaborative in nature, which is evident in her daily interactions with not only her department members, but all staff, students, parents and community members.
Melissa Lee, Dean of Students, Coombs Alternative Education School, emphasizes her passion for equity, inclusion, public service, and her commitment to lifelong learning and expanding her knowledge and skills in the field of Education Leadership. It has been emphasized that she relates well with students, parents, and peers, and always exhibits a friendly, personal, pleasant and professional demeanor. She is committed to education and making a difference in the lives of all students.
Antonio Castro, Dean of Students, Nicolet Middle School, feels that his ability to speak different languages, military experience, travels around the world, teaching experience and his desire to help students succeed in life enhances his ability as an educator and administrator. It has been pointed out that he contributes to the school culture by making students feel valued and involved in decision making.
Veronica Pendleton, Coordinator of Instruction, Educational Services, has provided visionary leadership for school sites, including developing college and career post-secondary paths, maintaining school-wide focus on social-emotional learning, managing processes for monitoring student academic progress and supporting teachers in their professional development. She is known for collaborating with staff in developing a response to intervention to address and monitor the academic and social-emotional needs of at-risk students.
ELEMENTARY MFT AND COUNSELORS
A Mental Family Therapist and Counselor will be assigned to each of our elementary schools. They will keep students and families front and center while performing their assigned tasks. They will work collaboratively with families, staff and the students by building trust and understanding between all parties. Their main goal is to drastically improve behavior and participation in the classroom. They will also focus on student absences, lagging academic progress and other challenging emotional matters.
LAUNCHING OF STOPIT SAFETY APP
I am excited to share with you the news of a valuable tool that will soon be available; for many years we have had access to WeTip, an anonymous telephone reporting system. To improve WeTip, it has been merged with the STOPit platform, an application designed to help students make school officials aware of potential dangers to themselves or others. This improvement will now allow the anonymous reporting to take place via smartphone.
Using the app, our students can anonymously submit a report containing text, photos or video regarding issues such as bullying/cyber bullying, inappropriate student/teacher relationships, violence/threats, weapon possession, drugs/alcohol, substance abuse, intolerance, discrimination and hazing.
This app will help our school officials in maintaining a positive environment for learning at their sites. Why? It empowers students to stand up for themselves and for other students. It deters the above-mentioned incidents.
The District will officially launch STOPit in November, downloading it to student computers/Chromebook, then to phones.
DIGITAL HOME CONNECTION
The goal is to dramatically enhance the ability of our students to access the District network by using our wireless network.
Information Technology Department is working to extend District's WiFi network out to communities around our schools no later than November. External Wireless Access Points acting as boosters will be installed on city light poles to accomplish this task. Currently, this type of installation has been completed at Florida Street Discovery Center providing wireless access to the community east of the school. For students in the communities where we cannot provide this extended service hotspots from the High School Library can be checked out. The goal for this project is to provide our High School Students access to a wireless network at home since we have a Chromebook take-home program at the high school.
This will eventually be extended to all of our students.
This is another component to allow the use of effective technology in education. We are striving to implement the appropriate infrastructures and digital equity strategies for all of our students.
MAINTAINING APPROPRIATE ADULT-STUDENT INTERACTIONS
The Governing Board desires to provide a positive school environment that protects the safety and well-being of District students. The Board expects all adults with whom students may interact at school or during school-related activities, including employees, independent contractors, and volunteers, to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards in their interactions with students both within and outside the educational setting. Such adults shall not engage in unlawful or inappropriate interactions with students and shall avoid boundary-blurring behaviors that undermine trust in the adult-student relationship and lead to the appearance of impropriety. The District will be providing new interaction boundary policy and guidelines to all adults working with our students.
A strong academic program can only be achieved within a learning environment where students feel safe socially and emotionally, not just physically.
AP, SAT & PSAT
As part of a countywide effort to have more students take the AP, SAT and PSAT, the District has provided these exams for a minimal $5 fee. Students typically pay $104 to take the exams. Assisting with the cost will allow more students to participate in these exams to prepare and to attend college. It can help students envision college as part of their future.
It is our hope that the number of students who graduate from the Banning Unified School District that attend college increases.
Again, we anticipate through this endeavor that those students that believe they are not equipped for college and not planning on attending, will take these tests.
The District will be inviting advisory groups such as members from the joint committee to meet. To study and become informed about the District finances and financial issues. The group will have time to understand financial conditions and may even provide suggestions.
Lastly, our District is constantly changing, but we are unconditionally committed to serve all of our students. Thank you to parents, staff and community members for keeping our students front and center. I hope that you have a wonderful experience as we begin this new school year.