As I sit down to write my first Building Futures message as interim superintendent, let me first say that I am humbled and honored by the tremendous show of support from district employees, the community and the board of education as I begin this new role.
While I have spent 23 years of my adult life working for the district, I know that education is fundamentally about relationships, so I thought I should share a little more about myself, beyond the few sound bites or quotes you may have seen on television or read in the newspaper. Outside of being an educator, I am a husband and a father to seven amazing children ranging in ages from 20 years old to 16-month-old twins, including a teenager with cerebral palsy. Guided by our faith, my wife Tiffany and I have always felt a need to support children in our community, and have spent a number of years as foster parents, resulting in the adoption of four of our seven children.
Beyond my family, my love and passion is in education. I have been a Fresno Unified teacher, vice principal, principal, and human resources administrator, and before returning to the district two years ago, I served as superintendent in Chawanakee Unified in Madera County. I teach at Fresno State one night per week in the Counseling Program and I am currently finishing my doctoral degree at the University of Southern California. As a lifelong learner, I believe that education is the key to success and I want our students to have every opportunity to succeed. I know firsthand how hard our students and staff work every day and I am grateful for their tremendous efforts.
To that end, my focus and that of the district remains the same: To ensure that our students upon graduating Fresno Unified have the greatest number of postsecondary choices from the widest array of options.
As we head into the end of the 2016/17 school year we only have a few months left to impact student learning outcomes. Although this is the first year in which we saw improvement on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) state tests in all of our student groups, we are still far from our expressed goal that, "All students will excel in reading, writing and math." It is crucially important that our community know our District Goals have not changed and we are still moving forward arm-in-arm to support all our students every day.
While we have made progress, we still have significant work ahead of us as a team, to get to our goal where ALL students will meet or exceed in these metrics. Currently, we sit at one-third of students meeting or exceeding standards in English language arts, and just over one-fifth in math. This reality represents a continued call to action.
Again, we've made significant strides and improvements and I am grateful for the community support we have received in that effort. While I am all about celebrating small wins and improvements, we also have to ground ourselves in the reality that our students still need our support, along with parents, guardians, and our community at large, to close the achievement gap. I'm confident with community support we can do nearly anything we set our minds to!