Columns, Education

Year-End Messages

By May S. Ruiz

The end of the year is once more upon us. As we look back to the year that was, it is only fitting to think about events that made it memorable and be thankful for all the blessings we received.

For me, it has been a time of rediscovering my own abilities and talents outside of homemaking. After 18 years being a full-time wife and stay-at-home mom, I returned to my life-long interest – writing. Since I had devoted a great deal of attention and time on my daughter’s education, it was only proper that it was a topic I delved on.

During a holiday party at the elementary school my daughter had gone to, its headmaster remarked to me that kids choose the high school and university they want to attend. But it is parents who pick out where their children will spend their early years of learning. What a true statement! And because parents are wholly accountable for choosing the institution that will lay the foundation for their children’s future, it becomes ever more important for us to be mindful of that responsibility.

In the past twelve months, I have spoken to district superintendents, heads of school, and administrators. It is immensely reassuring that the men and women I met have made their students’ welfare and well-being their life’s work. They are constantly finding ways to make children’s learning experience challenging yet nurturing, and as engaging as it is fulfilling. They are taking seriously their charge of turning out young people who are not only ready for middle and high school, college, and beyond, but also as morally principled citizens of the world.

It has been my distinct privilege to have met and known these amazing individuals who head school districts and learning institutions. In their very capable hands, America’s future looks very promising indeed!

Thank you, educators all, for giving me the opportunity to get to know you. I look forward to writing about where you will be taking your students in the years to come.

Messages From Heads of Schools

“During the holiday season our efforts and thoughts turn to giving. The season affords all of us a great opportunity to reflect on our blessings and realize the true meaning of the season. The staff and students of Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD) are very busy at this time of year with schoolwork, performances, and events. But even with all this, our students and staff continue to find time to think of others and reach out to those less fortunate.

“On behalf of AUSD, I would like to extend our wish that the joy, peace, and contentment of the season be yours. We wish you good health, the pleasure of spending special time with family and friends, and a New Year filled with love, hope and optimism.”

Dr. Gary Gonzales

Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services – Alhambra Unified School District

“As we enter the new year it is important to reflect on the many blessings that surround us in Arcadia. I am particularly thankful to get up each morning and come to work with such dedicated and caring people, and in a community with exceptionally caring parents. I came to Arcadia in 2005 looking for a job and what I found was the Arcadia family and a home. It is truly a blessing to walk alongside all of you in our efforts to be a world-class school district for every student we serve. Thank you all.”

David Vannasdall

Superintendent – Arcadia Unified School District

“We find ourselves at the end of 2015 – an extraordinary year that provided cherished memories for the entire Azusa Unified family. While we anticipate an even better 2016, I would like to celebrate the dedication and achievements of our students, parents, teachers, and staff that make our district such a special place.

“More of our graduates are moving on to institutes of higher education, and attaining prestigious careers in a variety of fields. Through our Engineering and Medical Pathways, spanning our elementary, middle and high schools, we are providing critical learning opportunities and hands-on experiences that prepare our children for life beyond our doors.

“The work we do would not be possible without the collaborative spirit and positive working relationships we share. Thank you to all our partners and our community for supporting our mission to bolster student success. I wish you a peaceful and safe holiday season filled with the company of great friends and family.”

Dr. Linda Kaminski

Superintendent – Azusa Unified School District

“The holidays are often regarded as a time of gift giving and reflection. There is nothing more rewarding than watching the eyes of our students light up in the classroom when they are truly engaged in learning. The wonder and curiosity instilled in the minds of our students by our teachers is life changing.

“It is through our collective encouragement and our belief that every child can succeed that makes the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) and the communities we serve vibrant and strong.

“I wish to thank our parents, extended family members, and partners for your support and for your many contributions in enriching the educational opportunities of our students. Through your support at home, engagement in school, and abundant donations of time and charitable support, PUSD students are better off. Thank you for your care and spirit of service to our students.

“On behalf of PUSD, my best wishes to you and your families during the holidays.

Thank you for making PUSD a district of First Choice.

“Students, see you back at school on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016.”

Dr. Brian McDonald

Superintendent – Pasadena Unified School District

“In the spirit of this holiday season, I want to extend my appreciation to our staff and families for all that they do to ensure that our students are being offered one of the best gifts – that of a quality education. As we enjoy the holidays, it is my heartfelt wish that each one of us receives and returns the blessings and sense of hope that make these days truly special.

“Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season and in the coming year from all of us in the Temple City Unified School District.”

Dr. Kathryn E. Perini

Superintendent – Temple City Unified School District

“The holiday season, in part, is about the re-awakening within ourselves of the qualities and aspirations that move us forward from merely ‘coping and existing to striving and achieving.’

“True education awakens and renews those timeless qualities, embraced in Christmas and other holiday traditions, and brings freshness and vitality to individual student journeys. As 2016 dawns on this renewal, may it bring peace, prosperity and progress to families everywhere.”

Robert W. Nafie, Ph.D.

Headmaster – Clairbourn School

“Christmas is a very special time for schools of the Holy Child as we give thanks for all our blessings, especially the perfect gift of love found in a baby lying in a manger. May this holy season be filled with rich graces, and may the new year bring joy and peace in abundance.”

Kate Morin

Head of School – Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child

“During this special time of year, we at Saint Mark’s School are thankful for the sounds of the season: the angelic singing voices of the students during the Christmas program, the soft hum of excitement from the classrooms as students wrap their handmade gifts for their parents, the loud bursts of laughter during the faculty and staff luncheon, and the exchange of ‘Happy Holidays!’ between friends and families around campus. From all of us at Saint Mark’s School, best wishes for a joyous and festive season!”

Jennifer Tolbert

Head of School – Saint Mark’s School

“As the year draws to a close, we are more aware than ever of the need to educate our children to engage in their communities and the world, to be open and think creatively about solutions to complex problems, and to act where they see need. Our students constantly remind us how beautiful our world is and how great our future can be. This holiday season, all of us at Westridge wish that you are inspired by the hopes and dreams of the youngsters in our midst, and that we can all work together to find peace, joy, and understanding.”

Elizabeth J. McGregor

Head of School – Westridge School for Girls

“As Mt. Sierra College celebrates a new beginning at its modern new facility in the Monrovia Technology Campus, we thank all of our strong supporters in the community who have worked to ensure the college has a successful new year. Visit us at our new location at 800 Royal Oaks Drive, Monrovia.”

Bill Kakish J.D., Ph.D.

President and General Counsel – Mt. Sierra College

January 5, 2016

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