A project that was first conceived nearly a decade ago, the swimming pool being added to Glendale High School’s campus is just about ready to launch. Pending approval from health inspectors, the pool is expected to be filled with water soon, after which the necessary sanitizing chemicals will be mixed and added to prepare it for use. The Glendale Unified School District anticipates that GHS’ swimming and water polo teams will be able to use it for workouts this spring. “We’re getting close to wrapping it up,” said Hagop Kassabian, the GUSD administrator for planning, development and facilities. “All in all, I think we’re looking pretty good to have water in the pool by late February or early March.”
The Glendale Unified School District has committed to continuing distance teaching through at least March 12, with the current surge in coronavirus cases essentially pulling the plug on any potential plans to add more in-person programming at the start of 2021. Superintendent Vivian Ekchian and the district’s board of education emphatically made that pledge at last week’s meeting, the last of 2020. As for wider in-person instruction, officials also acknowledged the very real possibility that they could move the goalposts further away as they approach March, depending on how Los Angeles County fares through the pandemic. “We will continue to engage in distance learning,” Ekchian said. “We are not interested in bringing more personnel back to our campuses — teachers, counselors, nurses, itinerant personnel, teacher specialists — during a surge. We will have to hope for the best. March 12 is the end of the third quarter; it seems to be the best next step in terms of our making safe decisions for all employees, students and the community. We are not making decisions beyond that, because much can change between now and then.”
For its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Glendale Unified School District was tabbed as the Organization of the Year by the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce in the group’s annual recognition awards last week. One of the district’s board members, Jennifer Freemon, also was named Educator of the Year by the chamber. Overall, the organization handed out 10 awards in a virtual ceremony last week. In its program, the chamber highlighted what it described as a nimble response by the GUSD when the pandemic struck in March, prompting school closures and stay-at-home orders from the county. The district distributed laptops for students to use in distance learning and prepared to-go breakfasts and lunches every day for all children in the city who needed them.
Mountain Avenue Elementary in La Crescenta has been recognized as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, the Glendale Unified School District announced. The National Blue Ribbon is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. The designation affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.
The student body at the Glendale Unified School District can officially turn to high school senior Kayla Rodriguez when it wants questions or concerns directed to the Board of Education. Rodriguez, Associated Student Body president at Glendale High School, was officially sworn in as the student representative on the school board last week. As she took the oath while maintaining a social distance from the board and wearing a face mask, she admitted to being caught up with nerves at that moment.
So far, so good for the learning pods that serve many of the Glendale Unified School District’s elementary students. District officials reported to the GUSD Board of Education this week that no evidence indicates any transmission of COVID-19 among students or staff members involved in the learning pods. Four weeks into the school year, the news came as a relief to officials of the district, which is among the local pioneers of the system.
At this week’s board meeting, Roosevelt Middle School teacher Jozet Petrosian was honored as the Glendale Unified School District Teacher of the Year for 2020, and will represent the district in the countywide competition. Conferencing into the GUSD Board of Education meeting via Zoom, as a sign of the times, Petrosian said she was honored to join her other peers in the district who previously earned the title. “I’m very lucky to wake up every morning and go to do what I love to do,” she said Tuesday. “Not many people look forward to going to work. To me, teaching is not a job: it’s part of my life. There’s not a moment that goes by that I’m not thinking about how and what I’m going to be doing next time I’m with my kids.” Petrosian teaches 7th grade life sciences at RMS and has been with the school since 1997. “Mrs. Petrosian inspires her students every day by building a culture of belonging and making her students feel important,” Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said. “When you visit Mrs. Petrosian’s class, it is immediately evident that she has a wonderful rapport with her students. Her upbeat and positive demeanor brings a sense of joy to every lesson.”
Following what can probably be categorized as the most volatile six months in its history, the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education discussed its list of priorities for the 2020-21 school year at its meeting Tuesday evening. And, not surprisingly, making sure that distance learning works for all GUSD students amid the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the discourse. Following tradition, the board first analyzed the set of guidelines that were adopted a year ago and include maximizing student achievement, creating a culture of learning, increasing engagement and maintaining district solvency and financial responsibility. Then Superintendent Vivian Ekchian pushed the discussion — which will continue in future meetings — toward major focus areas for the current academic year. “This is the time to speak up,” Ekchian quipped, introducing the free-form conversation that followed.
The educational community at the Glendale Unified School District’s three middle schools received quite the welcome-back boost when more than 3,000 Samsung Chromebooks — one for each student and teacher — were delivered recently to kick off the 2020-21 school year. The schools were selected earlier this year to join Verizon Innovative Learning Schools, an educational initiative sponsored by Verizon that targets under-resourced middle schools across the country. As part of the program, Roosevelt, Toll and Wilson Middle Schools have been provided with a comprehensive education package that includes a Chromebook for every student and teacher, a data plan for up to four years on each device, access to curricula that provides a personalized learning experience for students and professional development for teachers. A full-time technology coach in each school, partially funded through Verizon Innovative Learning, partners with teachers to provide ongoing support to integrate the technology in classroom instruction. The program is also made possible by Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization originated by the U.S. Congress in 2008 to improve technology in education.