The South Whittier Community Education Foundation will hold a pancake breakfast to raise funds for arts in District schools from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 25 at the District Office, 11200 Telechron Ave. Meals will cost $5. The event will feature student performances, music and raffles. This year, the foundation’s focus is arts, with all proceeds from events going directly to schools. Through the foundation’s efforts, the District this year started folklorico and modern dance classes at its seven schools.
South Whittier’s Monte Vista Elementary School is the District’s first elementary school to incorporate the learning strategies of one of the country’s foremost college-readiness programs – Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). This is the second year Monte Vista, a fourth- through sixth-grade elementary school, has incorporated AVID strategies such as notetaking and organizational skills into its curriculum.
South Whittier’s McKibben Elementary School has developed and refined a pair of achievement programs that engage students with hands-on projects and individually targeted lesson plans to prepare them for tackling educational challenges on their road to high school, college and beyond. McKibben bolsters student success through its High Achievers enrichment program for fourth- through sixth-grade students and offers intervention and support services for K-6 students and English learners through its Target for Success program.
The South Whittier School District Board of Education on May 16 selected Dr. Gary Gonzales, a 30-year educator and longtime administrator at the Alhambra Unified School District, to helm the District as its next executive leader. He makes history as South Whittier’s first Latino superintendent. The selection follows an extensive search by consultant Leadership Associates, an online survey garnering input from District stakeholders, several discussions by the Board of Education on the characteristics, skills and qualities desired in a superintendent, and interviews with highly qualified candidates. Gonzales will assume his new role July 1. Gonzales will succeed Superintendent Gail Baxter, who will retire in June after 27 years as an educator and administrator in the District.
South Whittier School District is opening enrollment for full-day and transitional kindergarten (TK) programs at its five elementary schools starting Wednesday, Feb. 15, providing opportunities for the District’s youngest learners to get a social and academic jumpstart as they explore new concepts and acclimate to an educational environment. The TK program is a bridge between the preschool environment and the more structured setting of kindergarten and includes an age-appropriate curriculum. Full-day kindergarten provides a full day of enriching instruction that includes art, reading, math and social studies. For enrollment information, call (562) 944-6231, ext. 2004, or visit www.swhittier.net.
Follow-up Story: South Whittier School District this week hosted five students from the Beijing School of Music Experience at Graves Middle School as part of its first-ever Student Exchange Winter Camp Educational. The weeklong exchange program kicked off Jan. 23 at GMS, where Chinese students met their American counterparts. The students learned about the American educational system, practiced English skills, made new friends and ate Mexican cuisine from a South Whittier restaurant. The program concluded Jan. 27 with an event in which GMS students and the Chinese exchange students shared their experiences.
South Whittier Partners with Whittier Union to Engage Parents
South Whittier School District parents are invited to take free campus tours of California and Pioneer high schools as part of its parent engagement program. Tours of Cal High will take place from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 30 and Pioneer’s tour will take place Friday, Feb. 24. Each Whittier Union school will provide parents with an overview of school programs and opportunities available to incoming students. For more information, call 562-944-6231, ext. 2065.
The South Whittier School District is seeking applicants for its Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, which will review expenditures from construction activity associated with Measure QS, a $29 million bond approved by District voters in November. The committee will be responsible for ensuring bond revenues are used only as voters intended and for informing the public of bond expenditures. The committee must have at least seven members. Members will be appointed by the Board of Trustees to serve an initial two-year term. Applications, which are available in the District Office, must be submitted by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.
After dedicating nearly 27 years of her education career to the South Whittier School District, Superintendent Gail Baxter has announced she will retire in June 2017. Baxter, a longtime teacher and administrator in the District, announced the decision to the Board of Trustees in a Jan. 17 closed session meeting. She praised the team of teachers and staff for instituting a culture of high-quality education for students, lauded the increase of learning opportunities afforded to parents, and thanked the Whittier community for passing a $29 million bond to repair campus infrastructure and upgrade classroom technology.
South Whittier School District has launched a parent ambassador program to engage parents and drive active participation in their children’s education and school programs. Seven word-of-mouth ambassadors – one per school in the District – connect with existing and prospective families and promote the programs available at their schools. The grassroots marketing effort began in November.
South Whittier Schools to Provide Free Counseling Services
In partnership with Spiritt Family Services, South Whittier School District will begin providing families with free counseling services on a weekly basis for eight weeks starting Wednesday, Jan. 18. Spiritt delivers family-focused education, case management, support and counseling services. Its Windows Family Communication program focuses on building trusting relationships between parents and children through skill-building and activities that strengthen communication within the entire family. Services will be offered from 8:45 to 11:15 a.m. every Wednesday through March 8 at the South Whittier School District Office Professional Development Center, 11200 Telechron Ave., Whittier. For more information or to enroll, call Daisy Rios at 562-903-7000.