Ed.D. in Educational Administration, 2005
School of Education
March 1, 2011
“I am so proud to be a public educator.”
I’m so proud to be a public educator. After serving the country as a pilot in the US Air Force, I was so lucky to continue serving the country as a middle and high school math and science teacher, before moving to elementary schools. I currently work in the Chicago Public Schools and the Oakland (CA) Unified School District and have recently accepted a full-time appointment in the Chicago Public Schools for next year. I love and believe in the power of urban education.
I defended my dissertation, School Size, Student Achievement, and the Equity of Achievement in California, in 2005, three years after starting the joint UCI/UCLA Joint Ed.D. program. The experiences and knowledge were inspiring. I used this inspiration in my role as principal of R. H. Dana Elementary School in the Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD). We had a great team at R. H. Dana, with over 60% of all students English language learners and Latino, and over 75% socioeconomically disadvantaged. With a laser-like focus and high expectations for children, we really turned things around: after four years of a cumulative 22 point API-gain, our students gained 166 API points in our first four years together. We were the first school in the decades-long history of CUSD to win the State of California’s Title I Academic Achievement Award, and we earned the first California Distinguished School Award in the school’s 42-year history. After the percentage of students meeting Adequate Yearly Progress in English and math more than tripled in four years, we were excited to be selected as a National Blue Ribbon School. We credit these achievements to the daily practice of key principles: focusing on student engagement; maximizing instructional time; re-allocating resources; and developing systematic student support programs based on Response to Intervention (RTI).
After serving as a principal, I was honored to work in the best school district in California, the Garden Grove Unified School District, under the leadership of the best superintendent in the state, Dr. Laura Schwalm. What an experience! Garden Grove Unified School District was the 2004 winner of the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education, and I was honored to serve as Director of Instruction.
I’ve been lucky enough to coauthor three books: Pyramid Response to Intervention: RTI, Professional Learning Communities, and How to Respond When Students Don’t Learn, followed by The Four C’s of RTI: Rethinking and Simplifying Response to Intervention, and Pyramid of Behavior Interventions: 7 Keys to a Positive Learning Environment, all published by Solution Tree. Our article “The Why Behind RTI” was the feature article in the October 2010 issue of Educational Leadership.
While the challenges facing public education are great, I’ve never been more optimistic. There are potentially powerful processes and practices occurring in our schools. Bringing models of excellence to scale and sustaining our efforts with diminishing resources will be a continuous challenge.