The Pasadena High School auditorium was full and overflowing with employees on Monday, August 7, as the District welcomed back its employees for the 2023-2024 school year.
By News Desk
The District’s annual Welcome Back program opened with the Pasadena High School drumline and cheerleaders chanting P-U-S-D on stage as they danced to the beat of the drums, followed by professional development sessions later in the morning and afternoon. The mood was festive as beach balls were batted in the air and the crowd gave the students big rounds of applause for their routines.
Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Blanco’s Address
Dr. Blanco spoke to the audience and introduced her “wing team,” made up of department and division leaders, recently rechristened as the Superintendent’s Leadership Team (SLT). They will begin meeting weekly at school sites when students return to the campuses. She spoke of the recent adoption of the district’s five-year Strategic Plan and its main elements, and new Vision and Mission statements also recently adopted by the Board of Education upon which her 100-day plan is based. Her goal is to make district operations more efficient and responsive to the needs of the employees. She spoke of focusing on data and serving the neediest students. She stressed respect for teachers and staff at the sites. She also stated that the design of leadership teams, committees, etc., would purposefully include as many teachers and parents as administrators.
Keynote Address by Dr. Alicia Montgomery
Alicia Montgomery, Ed.D., the keynote speaker for the morning program, highlighted the definitions of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion adopted by the PUSD Board of Education in 2021 and the corresponding lens for decision-making. She spoke of laws in the 18th and 19th century that limited education for Black students, including the destruction of over 600 schools for Black students in the south. She stated that the system was designed to work the way it is working, so we have to be purposeful in dismantling it. She reminisced how hard it was to be a teacher or a principal, how much work it is, and how not many people want to do it as a result. She said she was in awe of all we are doing in PUSD and hoped for a great school year.
Board President Michelle Bailey
Board President Michelle Bailey thanked all the employees for coming back and sharing their talents. She introduced her colleagues on the board and the District’s labor union leaders, thanked the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF) for sponsoring the morning’s breakfast, and introduced Dr. Patrick Conyers, PEF’s Executive Director, who reminded everyone that today the annual PEF Teacher Grant applications start for the year.
PUSD Annual Awards
Interim Superintendent Blanco initiated the presentation of awards, as follows:
- The Helen and Will Webster Foundation, which has supported the district with many grants and program support over the years.
- Principal of the Year, Dr. Charlene Tucker, Principal of Field Elementary.
- Classified Employee of the Year, Muir Head Custodian Rogelio Macias.
- Community Service Award, the PUSD Student Think Tank.
- Teacher of the Year, Kindergarten Teacher Merion Yamada at Hamilton Elementary.
- A special award to Drs. Jacqueline and David Jacobs for their work for equity and social justice over the years, including the annual Martin Luther King essay competition.
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