Maria Ott leaves legacy at Rowland Unified

Maria Ott’s 41-year career as an educator has
taken her from the classroom to the chief administrator’s office. And
it is the former that she says has shaped her.

“Work at the classroom level is the most important work that
we do,” she said. “The experience of the classroom has always stayed
with me.”

Ott, 64, announced plans last week to retire as superintendent
of the 16,000-student Rowland Unified School District, which operates
20 elementary and secondary schools in the cities of Rowland Heights,
Walnut, La Puente, Industry and West Covina.

She has accepted a position as executive in residence at USC,
where she will teach a graduate level course and work with the school of
education on projects, Ott said

Read more in Peter Fullam’s story OTT.

Concerts in Park kick off in Rowland, Hacienda Heights


Residents in Hacienda Heights and Rowland
Heights kicked off a summer concert series last night with The Answer to
summertime blues. The classic rock band opened the Puente Hills
Concerts in the Park at Schabarum Regional Park.

Families and friends get together every Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. for the popular shows. The concerts continue through July 31.

Coming up are The Diamonds performing rock `n’ roll on June26
and the Cypress Orchestra on July3. That will be followed by Hacienda
Heights’ own all-female band Mariachi Divas on July 10.

The popular programs are supported by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department.

Rowland Unified superintendent announces retirement in Rowland Heights

Rowland Unified
School District Superintendent Dr.
Maria Ott announced her
retirement on Thursday. Ott has served as Superintendent for the past
seven years and has been an educator for more than 41 years. Ott will
stay until the opening of the new school year in late

“My experiences as Superintendent of Rowland Unified have truly
enriched my life, and it has
been an honor to serve. I am retiring knowing that the District has
made outstanding progress on every level. The Board of Education has
been supportive of me as I make this transition in my life, and I value
each one of them. They always place the needs of
students first, and I admire their vision for the District and their
focus on excellence,” said Ott.  

            The USC School of Education has invited Ott to become an
Executive in Residence. Beginning in October, she will teach and work on USC School of Education projects focused on educational leadership.

Prior to joining Rowland Unified in 2005, Ott served five years as the
Senior Deputy Superintendent
in the Los Angeles Unified School District, second in authority to
Superintendent Roy Romer, former three-term Governor of Colorado. Ott
also served as Superintendent of Little Lake City School District,
serving the cities of Santa Fe Springs,
Norwalk and southeastern Downey.
She has earned numerous awards and is highly-regarded throughout the
State’s educational community. She looks forward to continuing
to publish on the work on Cultural Proficiency and academic
achievements being made in Rowland Unified.

Rowland Unified
School District is proud to serve 16,000 students at 20 elementary and secondary schools in the communities of Rowland Heights, Walnut,
La Puente, City of Industry,
and West Covina.

Convicted Mt. SAC fire chief back in court

Mt. San Antonio College’s former fire chief,
who was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from students and the
school last year, said in court Friday that he was simply trying to
help fund the school’s cash-strapped Fire Technology Program.

Jerry Dewayne Austin’s testimony came during his restitution and sentencing hearing at Pomona Superior Court on Friday.

Austin, of Norco, was the director of Mt. SAC’s fire program
from 2003 until last year, when he was arrested on charges that he
created a fraudulent bank account to store up to $1 million stolen from
his students and the college.

Authorities and school officials said Austin overcharged
students for equipment and uniforms and deposited that money, along with
charitable funds, in a fraudulent bank account from 2005 to 2010.

In December, Austin pleaded no contest to 16 felony charges –
two felony counts of identity theft, two felony counts of forgery and 12
felony counts of grand theft.

Read more in Juliette Funes story AUSTIN.

Families signing up for Youth Science Center classes in Hacienda Heights


Madison and Harrison Thayer are enjoying their summer vacation; but the Diamond Bar kids are anxious to start school on June 18.

They seemed happy about going to summer science classes at the Youth
Science Center in Hacienda Heights. That’s why they drove to Wedgeworth
Elementary on Thursday to sign up for some courses.

“I don’t want them to waste their summer playing videogames, so we
enroll them in a couple science classes every summer,” explained their
mom, Shannon. “Besides, they really seem to enjoy the classes because
they have such great hands-on experiences.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story SCIENCE.

Hacienda La Puente Unified appoints new principals

The board of the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District has named three new principals.

At Fairgrove Academy in La Puente, Sherri Franson was named principal. She is moving over from Sparks Middle School.

Greg O’Brien will be the new principal of Sparks Middle School, taking Franson’s spot.
Alma Noche was named the principal of Sparks Elementary School in La Puente. Noche is taking over for O’Brien.

Summer academics camp begins at Carolyn Rosas Park in Rowland Heights

Academics returns to
with the Summer Academic Tactics day camp in conjunction with Educamp.

Credentialed instructors will teach math, reading and writing from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday. There will
be supervised activities until 6 p.m. Fridays will feature field trips.

“We plan on having three classes. One for first and second grades, one for third and fourth and the last for fifth and
sixth grades,” park director Susan Brown added. “The fifth and sixth graders will focus on pre-algebra and algebra.”

Classes will not exceed 25 students and begin on June 11. They run through Aug. 3. A regular summer day camp will also
be offered Aug. 6 to 17.

The academics courses will be offered for students entering the first to sixth grades this fall. The cost is $70 a week.
A $25 one-time registration fee will cover supples and a T-shirt.

For more information, call 626-854-5557 or 626-333-1369.

Nogales High graduates 449 seniors


High School took Noble Pride in their graduation ceremony on June 7.  With 449 graduates,
celebrated 12 students who received full International Baccalaureate
(IB) Diplomas.

These students will attend UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara,
UC Irvine,
San Diego State University, New York University and
State University.

Nogales also
had not one, but two students who were selected to receive the
prestigious GATES Millennium Scholarship – where Stephanie Lam and
Elizabeth Flores will receive a full scholarship through
graduate school to the college of their choice. Lam will attend
New York University,
Flores, UC Berkeley. 

Jorge Hernandez was the National
Hispanic Scholar, received a Perfect SAT math Score,  and was the
Regents Scholar (full scholarship) to UC Berkeley.

There were 17 students who received certificates for the following pathways:
Arts & Communication, Business, Health & Medical Services.  

 There were also seven students who were California Scholarship Federation Sealbearers.