ECOLAB helps Rowland teachers and students

Luis Dominguz ,11, and Henry Lee, 9, build a robot at Villacorta Elementary School in La Puente

Luis Dominguz ,11, and Henry Lee, 9, build a robot at Villacorta Elementary School in La Puente

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Ecolab presented $37,000 in grants to Rowland Unified teachers on Thursday at its plant in Industry. The grants represent an 8 percent increase over the money donated last year to area educators.

“We believe in giving back to the community,” said Logistics Manager Lynda Bobka. “We want to invest in our students, who may actually work with us in the future.”

The company official felt “lucky” to be associated with the Visions for Learning Grants program since it began in 1997. The grants have grown steadily over the years.

“The money has paid for everything from a kindergarten playground to instruments for a mariachi band,” Bobka noted. “We get great satisfaction from helping our local teachers fund special projects.”

Individual grants range up to $3,000. This year, 23 projects were funded by Ecolab.

Science took the top spots, with both Villacorta Elementary in La Puente and Shelyn Elementary in Rowland Heights receiving nearly $3,000 each for robotic kits.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story ECOLAB.

Mt SAC art exhibit explores ‘Way of Flesh II’

The Mt. San Antonio College Art Gallery begins a new season with “The Way of Flesh II,” which runs Sept. 18 through Oct. 16. This exhibit is free and open to the public.

“The Way of Flesh II” displays the legacy of figurative art through the eyes of three generations of contemporary artists. This exhibition offers inventive approaches to rendering the figure in the classical tradition.

“The Way of Flesh II” picks up 20 years after the original “The Way of Flesh” exhibit at the Mt. SAC gallery in 1994. A special opening reception will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 in the Art Gallery, building 1B.

Participating artists are Sigmund AbelesSharon AllicottiJuliette AristidesSteven AssaelRon Brown, Dawn Butler, Thomas Butler,Wes ChristensenDomenic CretaraDirk HagnerF. Scott Hess, Jared Linge, Pamela Diaz MartinezDaina MattisJohn Nava, Odd Nerdrum, Ryan SchroederRobert SchultzLuis E. SerranoBetty SheltonRichard Shelton, Cynthia Sitton, Thomas StubbsRuth WeisbergJerome Witkin, and Peter Zokosky. 

An artists’ panel for the exhibit will be held 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 28. 

Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Tuesday nights, 5 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call the Art Gallery at (909) 274-4328. 

Walnut Valley marks Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

Students place 9/11 flags in front of Walnut High School on Thursday.

Students place 9/11 flags in front of Walnut High School on Thursday.

This week, Walnut Valley schools marked the 13thanniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. 

Chaparral Middle School band, orchestra, and choir performed patriotic songs to honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2011. “We want to make sure that we never forget what happened 13 years ago on this day,” said Principal Ron Thibodeaux.

The 8th grade band, directed by Leslie Schroerlucke, performed the National Anthem and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The 8th grade Orchestra played God Bless America and Honor and Glory.

Honor and Glory was written as a dedication to all of the First Responders, fire fighters and police officers,“ conductor Greg Rochford said.

Social studies teacher Nancy Miles read the Presidential Proclamation for Patriot Day. She challenged the Chaparral students to perform service for others in the coming weeks.

“It’s as simple as writing a thank you note to a First Responder, donating to a charity, or holding the door open for someone. How will you mark this day? What will you do for service?” she said.

The program concluded with the choir performance of Blowing in the Wind and Let it Be. “These songs reflect on war and peace,” said director Richard Langham.

At Walnut High School, a score of students placed nearly 3,000 American flags on the front lawn of the campus during lunch and after school on September 10.  The event was organized by the Teen Republicans Club who had support of the Young Democrats Club, Key Club, Sophomore Class Cabinet, and numerous volunteers.

“This year, students created a memorial display with a 9-11 inside a pentagon,” said advisor and social studies teacher Brett Landis.

Sheriff’s deputies give school supplies to La Puente kids

By Brian Day, Staff Writer

Sheriff’s deputies, in partnership with the La Puente and the National Latino Peace Officers Association, is in the process of distributing 100 backpacks full of school supplies to needy students.

The giveaway began last week at Workman Elementary in Hacienda La Puente Unified and Hurley Elementary in Rowland Unified. It will continue next week at Sparks Elementary School and Del Valley School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. and La Puente Police Chief Pete Cacheiro said.

The backpacks and supplies were donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, and were arranged by Explorers from the sheriff’s Industry Station. Sheriff’s officials worked with the schools to identify the students most in need of the supplies.

In addition to putting smiles on children’s faces, the event exemplifies the “Community Oriented Policing” strategy employed in La Puente, fostering trust between young people and law enforcement.

La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz accompanied deputies as they distributed the backpacks at the first two schools.

“In our community, we do have students who need these services,” she said.

Students also got a chance to chat with deputies and sit in their patrol cars.

“How wonderful it is they take the time to build those relationships. They’re very present in the community,” Munoz said. “ They’re going above and beyond and making a big impact in our community by being involved.”

Cacheiro and Munoz both credited community-oriented policing with significant drops in La Puente’s crime rate this year, which is among the lowest in the county.

“The effort that they’ve made in community-oriented policing is something that’s shown a vast improvement,” Munoz said.

Rowland Unified names Julie Mitchell superintendent

Rowland Unified applauds new superintendent Julie Mitchell. Photo by Watchara Phomicinda

Rowland Unified applauds new superintendent Julie Mitchell. Photo by Watchara Phomicinda

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

After a year of infighting and turmoil, the Rowland Unified School District named a new superintendent on Tuesday. Julie Mitchell, the chief personnel officer for the Tustin Unified School District, will serve as Rowland’s top administrator.

“Dr. Mitchell stood out among the highly qualified field of candidates for her passion and proven track record in making student-focused decisions that support academic success,” said RUSD school board President Heidi Gallegos. “She has in-depth expertise in instructional strategies and models using technology, innovative professional development programs and breadth in curriculum.”

The search for a new superintendent began last April, when Superintendent Ruben Frutos decided to step down. His tenure was marked by hundreds of teachers demanding that Frutos resign.

In February, the Association of Rowland Educators asked the board to search for a new superintendent.

The board hired Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates to provide input on the qualities desired in a new superintendent. The firm held focus groups, community meetings and an online survey to canvas the community.

Families said they wanted someone who understood the learning process and the importance of new technology. But they also wanted a leader who was approachable and friendly.

More than 50 educators applied for the superintendent’s position. Board members whittled the field down this summer, conducting final interviews over the past couple weeks.

“I am excited and honored to have been chosen as the new superintendent and look forward to working corroboratively with the school board, staff, parents and community,” Mitchell said.

She brings 26 years of experience in public schools. Mitchell worked her way up from instructional aide to assistant superintendent in school districts including Anaheim Union, Capistrano and Irvine. Along the way, she taught middle and high school students, before becoming an assistant principal, then principal.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SUPER

Rowland High staff, students happy after renovations

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Even the blackboards at Rowland High School are “smart.” And it’s more than just the name of the fancy digital whiteboards found in the new science and business wings at the Rowland Unified school.

While the noise of construction has finally abated at the local high school, teachers and students said all the bother was worth the new facilities that opened this school year.

Students and staff have settled into their new digs over the past couple weeks. And the reviews have been positive.

Students gathered in the computer labs located in the renovated E wing. Teachers had taught last year in portable classrooms lined up outside the Raider gym.

Most of the portables are now gone, letting the Rowland instructors return to their usual classrooms. Which have become unusual with the all the technology crammed into them during the massive remodeling project.

“We gutted the whole wing and rebuilt it with new utilities and modern technology,” said Principal Mitch Brunyer.

Business teacher Caroline Manookian was learning how to use her smart board. The new digital projectors help instructors reach the tech-savvy students. The Raiders study everything from personal finance to advanced accounting in the business department.

“It’s really nice to have them all facing me now, before they sat around tables,” Manookian said. “The new furniture is much more efficient with plenty of room for their books. Plus, there’s lot of storage.”

Students found 160 new Mac computers bought for the remodeled classrooms.

“The computers will also be used for the online testing now required by the state this year,” said Brunyer.

On the other side of the building, the Rainbow Preschool was open for business.

“We’ve waited more than 30 years for this remodeling,” said preschool director Patricia Hakim earlier. “But it was worth the wait!”

For more, read Rich Irwin’s story RAIDERS.

Rowland Unified names new superintendent

Dr. Julie Mitchell has been named the new superintendent of Rowland Unified.

Dr. Julie Mitchell has been named the new superintendent of Rowland Unified.

By Rowland Unified School District

The Rowland Unified School District Board of Education announced at tonight’s meeting that Julie Mitchell, Ed.D., Chief Personnel Officer from Tustin Unified School District, has been appointed as the new Superintendent of Schools for Rowland Unified.

After an extensive five-month search process, the Board chose Mitchell for her broad and established instructional leadership roles across all grade levels, strength in collaboration and focus on increasing student learning and achievement. Her start date is October 1, 2014.

“The Board looks forward to welcoming Mitchell to our organization and to the families that we serve,” said Rowland USD Board President Heidi L. Gallegos. “Dr. Mitchell stood out among the highly qualified field of candidates for her passion and proven track record in making student-focused decisions that support academic success.”

“She has in-depth expertise in instructional strategies and models using technology, innovative professional development programs, and breadth in curriculum,” Gallegos said. “Her strength as a communicator and a collaborative leader focused on building positive relationships will continue Rowland’s successes. We want to thank our entire community who played an active role during this very public process, and we believe that Mitchell will be a visionary leader and a great match for our staff, students and community.”

Mitchell has 26 years of experience in public education. She has served as an instructional aide, middle and high school teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent of human resources in school districts including Anaheim Union, Capistrano and Irvine.

For the past seven years as the chief personnel officer – a top-level district administrator in Tustin Unified – Mitchell was involved in the development of programs focused on curriculum, student learning and achievement, personnel leadership, professional learning communities, technology, college preparedness and signature instructional practices, such as Reader’s Workshop, Writer’s Workshop and Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI).

She also assisted with the passage of two bond measures: a $95 million school facilities modernization bond and a $135 million new technology bond for K-12 students and 21stcentury classrooms throughout the school district.

Mitchell has a strong personnel background with extensive experience in employee relations and contract negotiations and the creation and implementation of comprehensive professional development and leadership programs for teachers, classified support staff and management.

She also established a partnership to implement the Cotsen Foundation Program transforming capable educators into gifted teachers at schools throughout Tustin USD.

Her leadership has been recognized at the local, regional and state levels as the 2011 Orange County Personnel/Human Resources Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Region 17, and as the 2012 State Negotiator of the Year by ACSA.

Mitchell has a bachelor’s degree in social science from San Diego University, a master’s degree in education from the University of La Verne and received her doctorate in administration/management from Pepperdine University. Mitchell is married with three children.

“I am excited and honored to have been chosen as the new superintendent and look forward to working collaboratively with the school board, staff, parents and community,” Mitchell said. “I’m committed to providing all students with an exceptional educational experience which will assist them with becoming productive members of an ever-changing global society.”

The Rowland USD Board was committed to a rigorous superintendent search process and with providing the community clear and comprehensive information and input that began last April.

The firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates was hired and conducted focus groups, community meetings and an online survey to provide extensive input on the desired qualities of the next superintendent.

Consistent themes shared included a person who held a deep understanding of the teaching/learning process and the importance of educational technology, a leader who was approachable/accessible, a leader who could articulate a clear and consistent message, who believed in public education, who was collaborative and someone who could build trust. More than 50 applicants applied for the position.

During the superintendent search process, the Board appointed John A. Roach, Ed.D, as Interim Superintendent in June.  Roach will continue to serve until the end of September and will work with Mitchell for a smooth leadership transition.

The Rowland Unified School District is proud to serve 15,000 students in the communities of Rowland Heights, Walnut, La Puente, City of Industry and West Covina at our award-winning schools.

Sunset Elementary honored as California Distinguished School

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

The sun has risen on a new California Distinguished School at Sunset Elementary School in La Puente. Family and friends celebrated the accomplishment with an ice cream social, while Hacienda La Puente Unified officials honored the school earlier.

“We wanted to celebrate everyone’s hard work to achieve this honor,” said Principal Leslie Miller.

Sunset Elementary was also recognized as a National Title I Academic Achieving School. It was the only school in Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in 2014 to receive these awards.

“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”

Torlakson named 424 public elementary schools California Distinguished Schools. The schools were chosen for their strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.

For the complete list, visit the 2014 Distinguished Elementary Schools Web page.

The California Department of Education notes an achievement gap among students. Closing this gap is a top priority, making schools work for all students, regardless of their background, condition or circumstances,

The Distinguished Schools Program focuses on students’ right to an equal education. It recognizes those schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SUNSET.

Mt. Calvary Lutheran school takes ALS challenge in Diamond Bar

Ice bucket challenge #2
Last week, the whole school at Mt. Calvary Lutheran in Diamond Bar, from preschool through 8th grade, got the chance to watch their pastor, Pastor John Scharlemann, and two church members, Sebe Garton and George Grinham, participate in the ice bucket challenge.
They did this to support a teacher whose sister passed away from ALS a few years ago.  This was a fun way to kick off the 31st school year.

Oswalt Academy raises $2,400 in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

 

Oswalt Principal Kevin Despard takes the Ice Bucket Challenge in Walnut.

Oswalt Principal Kevin Despard takes the Ice Bucket Challenge in Walnut.

IMG_9809 (1)

Oswalt Academy Principal Kevin Despard and students K-8 took part in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge today, raising more than $2,400 in Walnut.

Each Rowland Unified student brought a minimum of $5, their own cup to be filled with ice and water by the Oswalt PTSA volunteers, a signed permission slip and a change of clothes.

Despard accepted the challenge from fellow school colleague, Shelyn Principal Sarah Opatkiewicz. Who’s next? Despard says Killian Elementary.

Oswalt Academy students take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Oswalt Academy students take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge