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ETUSD Superintendent Rodney Wallace [photo by Patric Hedlund]
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At February 6 meeting of the ETUSD Board of Trustees, Rosalie Jimenez spoke with the board about state test results for El Tejon Middle School and her plans to see academic improvements. El Tejon Teachers' Association President Chuck Mullen agrees there has been need for the changes taking place now. Click on image to see full size, with caption. [photo by Patric Hedlund]
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New ETUSD Superintendent Rodney Wallace visits El Tejon School during lunch hour and sits next to Kayla Perry at the 'healthy table' as Perry contemplates her serving of broccoli.
Part One in a series
By Patric Hedlund
Rodney Wallace is a relaxed man with a quiet sense of humor and a clear set of priorities. The new El Tejon Unified School District superintendent likes to be with students and he likes joking about his profession with members of the ETUSD staff.
“My wife says I grew up with a ‘Leave It to Beaver’ life,” he smiles, telling about his childhood in Wasco, where he began kindergarten and graduated from high school.
His dad was the auto shop teacher and counselor at Wasco High School.
“We could go everywhere on our bicycles,” in the summers as kids, “and no one ever worried as long as we showed up at home for lunch and dinner,” he recalls.
Wallace gives the impression that he knows what matters. He lost his older brother to a brain tumor, he says, as he tells about the value of family and his appreciation for the closeness of small town life. Then he turns to the challenges of ETUSD.
“For our students, we need to be ‘all in’ here, and I feel that way about
my own kids,” he said in an interview last week.
Wallace says he is determined to grow enrollment in the district, and to do that by showing that there is a new culture of excellence in the schools.
The night before, at the monthly meeting of the board of trustees February 6, ETUSD’s three principals stood in turn to summarize the core subject proficiency levels of students at Frazier Park School, El Tejon School and Frazier Mountain High School, according to the state’s standardized testing.
Each principal outlined action plans in their school’s new Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) to raise the proficiency levels in core subjects.
“We want every student we’ve lost back here,” Wallace said afterward, “I want to meet with all those parents. We have to address our weaknesses and we want to win the community’s support. We’re not going to be able to solve all our problems, but the ones we can, we will. We will look at programs and make school interesting to students. We want to bring [those students] back and to be the best district we can be.”
There is no hesitation about his mission. “This is what I believe in: I believe in our students. We need to put the vision out there. We need the community’s help, big time,” Wallace said. “The one question we need to ask when we are making decisions is: ‘How does it affect our students?’”
Superintendent Rodney Wallace with El Tejon School students at lunch
El Tejon School Principal Jimenez and right, El Tejon Teachers Association President Chuck Mullen agree on the challenge.
No one who is paying attention can think it will be a snap, but a strong team has been assembled to turn the area’s largest school district around to rebuild confidence. On February 6, El Tejon School Principal Rosalie Jimenez delivered stark facts to ETUSD Trustees about Math and English proficiency scores at the middle school, telling how the actions listed in the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) will raise academic performance.
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This is part of the February 14, 2014 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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