STUDENT CENTERED LEADERSHIP
I describe myself as a student-centered advocate with a vision dedicated to implementing programs and activities designed to advance student achievement. I am a proponent of achieving positive customer service with the realization that meeting student needs is the number one priority.
At the heart of any vision of education is student achievement. But at the core of most educator's mission lies the desire to educate the whole child.
Central to that mission, for me, is providing high quality, culturally and linguistically responsive instruction, providing prompt access to efficient and effective support systems that address students academic, social, and emotional needs, and creating a culture where failure is not an option. As the superintendent, I would expect a leadership mandate from the Board that a priority for our organization is to define our belief system and move forward based on that definition.
In my current role, utilizing the Professional Learning Community framework, my team and I administered a system-wide belief survey. We found that only about 70% of the instructional team and about 50% of classified employees considered it their (or the school's) responsibility to do more than provide students with the opportunity to learn. Failure was an option for students who chose it. Having experienced success in my 17 years as a principal, earning 4 California Distinguished School Awards and a National Blue Ribbon, I started the dialogue about who we are and who we want to become. Now two and one half years into my tenure, we have reinvented ourselves and aligned our beliefs to more effectively address the students we serve.
In comparison to my experiences in suburban communities, the population I currently serve is marked by high concentrations of poverty, racial and ethnic diversity, large concentrations of immigrant populations and linguistic diversity, and high student mobility.
In addition to those challenges, a preponderance of charter schools and other choice options have resulted in a special education population almost twice that of the State average. Building constructive relationships and support networks among our students with emotional or behavioral disabilities and their families has been among our primary LCAP goals.
To begin effectively addressing these needs and many others, I set up collaborative networks both internal and external to our districts. For example, common formative assessments have been created so that teachers know precisely what students' levels of proficiency are at any given point. Teachers meet weekly in course-alike collaborative teams to analyze formative assessment data. Students not proficient are provided timely and targeted academic interventions using a highly structured Response to Intervention (RTI) framework.
To build interpersonal connectedness with school staff and peer support, I entered into a partnership with LACOE to implement Positive Behavior Support and Intervention (PBIS). We are part of the first PBIS transformational zone in Los Angeles, in partnership with our feeder districts. Partnerships with Centinela Youth Services and Loyola Marymount University's Center for Urban Resilience have helped us to incorporate restorative justice and restorative practices as alternatives to suspension and expulsion into our Discipline Matrix. We also provide our students and their families relationship building workshops, conflict resolution meetings, and victim-offender reconciliation conferences. Among our LCAP goals, reducing the number of suspensions, expulsions, and missed school days is a high priority, particularly related to issues of racial and ethnic disproportionality.
A PBIS team at each site demonstrate for colleagues preventative and remedial strategies to teach social skills, work with the RTI team to develop and implement systematic behavioral interventions, interpret and communicate behavior data, develop and implement a school-wide recognition plan, and monitor the program to ensure that the essential principles of PBIS are being implemented with fidelity.
In addition to PBIS teams, each site has an RTI team to coordinate effective communication between support providers, classroom teachers, parents, and other key parties. The structures now in place were developed and maintained autonomously by site, reporting to a District-level coordinator responsible for both RTI and PBIS.
Supported in the LCAP, our system of interventions will be evaluated for effectiveness regularly, and no less than annually. I created the new position of Director of Accountability to monitor all of our LCAP metrics and ensure that effective interventions are strengthened and ineffective interventions are eliminated.
Regardless of the type or level of school, I have concluded from myriad experiences that if students feel connected to one or more adults, they are more likely to succeed. Through a variety of interpersonal connectedness initiatives and coalitions with education, industry, and community partners, including the Linked Learning Alliance, my approach to student support services has been shaped by the success, failure, and experiences of my students that I have observed first hand.