Schools official visits Valley
O'Connell helps teachers kick off year
San Gabriel Valley Tribune (8/22/2007)
Photo Gallery: Back-to-school celebration
INDUSTRY - Jack O'Connell urged
administrators and teachers Tuesday to step up their efforts to ensure students are getting the best education. Rowland Unified School District
The state superintendent of public instruction's talk with the staff was part of an annual district Employee Back-to-School Kick-off Celebration, which drew about 2,100 K-12 teachers, classified and maintenance staff.
O'Connell's visit to the
San Gabriel Valley also included a visit to . Pomona Unified School District
"This new, hyper-competitive economy requires students to have better critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills," he said in a speech at the
. Industry Hills Expo Center
O'Connell noted some achievements at the school district, including
's improved scores on the Academic Performance Index. He also mentioned the awards the schools received, such as the National Blue Ribbon and Giano Intermediate School honors. Distinguished Schools
"This district is a triple crown winner," he said.
But the state superintendent said that challenge of closing the achievement gap remains, and teachers need to work diligently toward teaching every child.
student body is now nearly 50 percent Latino students and 31 percent white, O'Connell said. Half of the state's students come from low-income households and more than 40 percent of students speak another language when they are home, he added. California
Rowland Superintendent Maria Ott also highlighted district achievements and paid tribute to the staff for their hard work and said she expects another successful school year.
Rowland staff said they were excited for the new year and gratified to have a kick-off celebration before they head back to the classroom. Julie Sosa, a fourth-grade teacher at
, was looking forward to seeing her new students. Yorbita Elementary School
"With the new year we have new students and a fresh start," Sosa said.
Despite the positive atmosphere, Sosa said O'Connell's remarks about the achievement gap were sobering.
"The challenge is making sure all the kids are at grade-level," she said.(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2108