East Whittier City School District has appointed nine members to its Independent Citizens Oversight Committee for the District’s $94 million Measure R and Measure Z facilities bond program. Composed of East Whittier parents, school volunteers, business organization members, senior citizen and taxpayer association members and community members, the committee will review and report to the community on bond spending.
The U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 28 named East Whittier City School District’s Leffingwell Elementary School as a 2017 National Blue Ribbon school for narrowing the achievement gap. Leffingwell is among 342 schools across the U.S. and 22 in California to receive the coveted designation.
East Whittier City School District has named Skarlette Torres as the new principal of Evergreen Elementary School, returning her to the school where she spent her first 10 years at EWCSD as a teacher and counselor. Torres is committed to the 5-C’s of 21st Century learning – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and community.
Machae Tessier, a second-grade teacher at East Whittier’s Ocean View Elementary School, was named one of 16 Los Angeles County Teachers of the Year on Sept. 29. Tessier joined the District in 1993 and has worked at Ocean View since 1997. She serves as the school’s California Standards lead teacher for primary grades, as well as its language arts matrix committee chair.
East Whittier Parents, Teachers Connect at Symposium
Follow-up Story: More than 150 parents, principals, and teachers from each of the East Whittier City School District’s 13 schools on Feb. 10 shared perspectives on teaching students during the District’s first-ever parent-teacher symposium. Speakers at the standing-room only event included State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and state Sen. Anthony Mendoza, 32nd District.
Wendy Davio, principal at East Whittier School District’s Hillview Middle School, has announced that she will retire at the end of the 2016-17 school year. During her eight years at Hillview, Davio and a committee of teachers created Helpful Husky Families, a parent volunteer group that helped build a positive, supportive culture which encouraged all students to be high achievers, take pride in their school and their appearance and respect one another. They also developed a code of behavior called PACK: Prepared, Attitude, Capable and Kind.
East Whittier City Elementary Music Expansion Hits All the Right Notes
East Whittier City fifth-graders are singing the praises over the District’s decision to expand visual and performing arts programs to elementary school classrooms. The District is providing more than 900 fifth-graders with weekly piano instruction so students can learn the basics of reading music. The curriculum prepares them for advanced music instruction at the District’s middle schools. A funding priority in the District’s 2016-17 Local Control and Accountability Plan, the music program provides a music teacher to serve East Whittier City’s 10 elementary schools.
Through a mix of personalized one-on-one instruction, web-based curriculum and a visit from a four-footed friend, East Whittier City School District students are provided with a comprehensive Response to Intervention program to address academic or behavioral support needs. Each of East Whittier’s 10 elementary schools have full-time intervention specialists who oversee the schoolwide RTI in English language arts, mathematics, writing and English language development. Laurel Academy, a six-week program for students at Laurel Elementary, provides students with 30-minute study sessions during homeroom. At Hillview Middle School, students are under “Husky Watch,” in which teachers keep a close eye on students in need of additional support. Occasionally, students receive a visit from the school mascot, Bani the Husky, a neighborhood dog who has become a beloved fixture at Hillview.
Following a 30-year career as an educator in the East Whittier City School District, Superintendent Mary Branca has announced that she will retire at the close of the 2016-17 academic year. Branca joined the District as a substitute teacher in 1985, switching careers from banking after being inspired by her time volunteering in her daughters' classrooms. After a year, she was hired as a full-time teacher at the District’s Ocean View Elementary. She went on to become an assistant principal and principal, and then assistant superintendent of personnel in 2008, co-superintendent in 2012 and superintendent in 2014. Branca was instrumental in helping the District overcome challenges during tough economic conditions. In November, voters supported two bond measures that will ensure East Whittier students have access to high-quality learning facilities for years to come. The Board of Education during its Jan. 9 meeting decided to conduct a full search for a new superintendent to begin in 2017-18.
Qualifying East Whittier City School District students are being considered for the District’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, which will immerse them in a series of advanced educational offerings, including workshops in explosive science, creative game development and innovative engineering. East Whittier’s GATE program is designed for third- through eighth-grade students with accelerated abilities who are looking to challenge themselves academically, including through a series of hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workshops.
East Whittier City School District students are giving back to the community this holiday season by donating funds, food, toys, clothing and other items to charities and families in need. Granada Middle School’s Think Pink Club, a student-run philanthropic club, donated socks, books, board games and school supplies to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Children’s Hospital of Orange County and From Maddi’s Closet, a nonprofit public charity for children with cancer. La Colima Elementary's Parent Teacher Association held a Food and Toy Drive in which students donated canned goods, rice, beans, and new, unwrapped toys. Donations will be used to create holiday dinners and gift baskets for 18 families in need.
Loud cheering filled East Whittier Middle School’s Student Activity Center as 85 East Whittier City School District students were recognized for perfect scores on California standardized tests in math, science and English language arts. One student received a trophy for a perfect score on all three tests, six received plaques for perfect scores on two tests and 78 students received certificates for perfect scores on one test. The District credits rising scores to frequent monitoring of student progress.
Follow-up Story: East Whittier City School District voters approved Measures R and Z with more than 72 percent support each. The $94 million bond measures will fund repairs and modernization at 10 elementary and three middle schools, enhancing learning environments, safety and security. Next up for the District is prioritizing a schedule of projects. This will be accomplished as the District finishes paying off a 1997 bond to keep tax burdens at current levels.