New School Year Begins for Monrovia Students
By Susan Motander
We have all seen the kids trudging back to school, some with happy, shining faces and others at a snail’s pace. But they are not the only ones returning to the classroom. Teachers are also getting back to the classroom.
Last week Monrovia Unified School District held a welcome breakfast for its new employees. The principals from each school used the opportunity to outline the accomplishments of their respective schools and the plans for the upcoming year as well as to introduce the new teachers at each site and to thank their community partners.
The Performing Arts Department, which is spread district-wide, outlined the program it has for a comprehensive elementary arts program at each grade level. In addition there is now a Theater Arts Academy at the high school as well as an expansion of the dance program. The department has also established relationships with The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens and the Pasadena Symphony. The new teachers in the department are Samantha Wei in art and Siranoush Soukiassian with music.
At Monroe Elementary the focus is on the dual language immersion to Spanish program. Its community partners are Fellowship Monrovia and Monrovia BMW. Monroe is welcoming Diana Zavala, teaching fourth grade to the young Lions.
The Mariners at Mayflower are involved in “Code to the Future” and its computer immersion program. Katherine Martinez is joining the staff to teach fourth grade. Hall Leavens, Anthony Nagatsuka, and Betty Thomas are the community partners.
Bradoaks focuses on its science program. It is also a Cotsen Foundation Art of Teaching school as well as being a leader in the Renaissance program. While not having new teachers, Bradoaks will continue is partnership with Anthony Nagatsuka.
Wild Rose is working to integrate arts into and throughout the school day. Kawasar Kobaissi will join the staff as the resource specialist. The Bears’ community partners are Arcadia Community Church and Linda Larson.
Plymouth Dragons have a Mandarin dual immersion program and one in computer science. Carol Sieh has joined the staff teaching Kindergarten in the dual language program and Desiree Harbaugh will be the library aid. Diane Balsamo, Steve Baker, Fellowship Monrovia, and Hope Unlimited Church are its community partners.
Santa Fe Middle School is following through on elementary programs with “Code to the Future” and advanced coding. The school also has a theater and stage craft program as well as orchestra, band, and choir programs. Allyson Jimenez will be the new face teaching math. Like the other schools, Santa Fe has community partners Karen Mastrogiovanni, Mary Ann Lutz, and Fellowship Monrovia.
Clifton Middle School is also following through on earlier programs, in their case it is the Spanish dual immersion program. The school also has its own Cub Academy as well as emphasizing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) only partly because of the grant it received of $100,000 for retrofitting its lab. Sheri Bignell and Daniel Barrios will be joining the faculty in special education with Brendan McQusid teaching PE. The school’s partners are Becky Shevlin, Jennifer Stone, and Fellowship Monrovia.
Canyon Oaks High School and Mountain Park Alternative School share a principal who boasted of its “The Ultimate Writing Machine” program to get the students writing. Both schools also focus on career paths for all students while maintaining a college-going culture. Field trips, guest speakers, and small classes combine to reach these goals. Bruce Staller, John Watson and Katie Gunderson are the community partners.
Monrovia High School has several foci: a Math and Science Academy, a Humanities Academy, early college classes, an Arts Conservatory, Digital Media Academy, as well as a sports medicine pathway. There is something for every student. The new teachers there include Elliot Gertner (computer science), David Krausse (science), Kevin Mercado (sports medicine), Danyelle Rucker (special education) Maite Santos (special education), Trevor Tinker (math), and Holly Willaume (French). The high school’s community partners include Fellowship Monrovia, and Pastors Karen Mastrogiovanni and Cecilia Santana.
All of this adds up to one thing, living up to the motto of the school district: “world class schools for world class students.”