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November 30, 2010 > Hayward Unified School District Board report

Hayward Unified School District Board report

Puente Project highlighted during Student Recognition; outgoing Board members honored

By Robin Michel

At the November 17 Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) Board meeting, the Board recognized the Puente Project at Tennyson High School. Counselors Senda Rios and Jeannette Hernandez were accompanied by two ninth grade students, each of them wearing the Puente tee-shirts and sharing information about the program and the recently attended Annual Puente Conference, held at the University of California, Davis.

Goals of the Puente Project are "to increase the number of educationally underserved students: who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees, and return to the community as mentors and leaders."

This national award-winning program first started in 1981 at Chabot Community College and has now expanded to 33 high schools and 59 community colleges throughout the state of California. Puente provides college preparation English courses, intensive academic counseling, mentoring, and parent involvement. The English courses create "familia" in the classroom and provide a curriculum that integrates Mexican-American/Latino literature. Students are given community-based writing assignments and develop writing portfolios. Community involvement is a strong component-Puente students are encouraged to develop leadership skills and give back to their community.

As 9th grade student Joanna said about her experience in the program and attending the conference, "I feel that I can do as much as anyone...I can stand and be helpful to the world."

The Board thanked Counselor Senda Rios, who is planning to retire in June, for her devotion to the Puente Project and her students. She has been with the HUSD program for fifteen years.

In addition to Tennyson High, both Hayward and Mount Eden High Schools have the Puente program.

Hayward principals were also at the board meeting to hear the presentation by Executive Director of Academic Affairs Letty Salinas and answer any questions the Trustees might have regarding the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) for their schools. In order to make specific timelines, three plans were approved earlier at the October 27 meeting, with the rest at this meeting.

The SPSA is a document required by law to address the district's Program Improvement status. The School Site Councils (SSC)are responsible for the development, implementation, monitoring and revision of the plan, although one Harder Elementary parent and SSC member made public comments that an emergency meeting had been called that gave members little time to study what it was they were being asked to vote on. (Ms. Salinas later said that each SSC meeting is required to have agendas, sign in sheets, and minutes for staff to review, adding "we do get the flavor [even if]...we can't be at each meeting.")

During discussion of the SPSAs, Trustee Jesus Armas expressed concern over the lack of urgency on raising achievement and President Paul Frumkin said that teachers were concerned about their time out of the classroom for professional development. Superintendent Janis Duran said that when she visits schools she does see a sense of urgency, and spoke of how reforms had to be made in incremental steps in order to leap forward. Ms. Salinas addressed the concern about teachers being pulled away from the classroom by describing how the District is offering professional development in the summer and "embedding" teachers, or using long-term substitutes through the school year.

The HUSD Board of Education also recognized outgoing Board President Paul Frumkin III and Board Clerk Sheila Sims by presenting each with a Certificate of Commendation. President Frumkin has service on the Board since July 2001, and Trustee Sims has served since December 2008. Vice-President Maribel Heredia read the Commendation for President Frumkin, and personally thanked him for mentoring her on the Board. She described moving to Hayward from Los Angeles, and being in a voting booth with her five month son on her hip. "I always remember, because he had a "third" beside his name," and she decided to vote for him because of that third. "I would never have dreamt that someday I would be sitting next to him on this Board," she said emotionally. "He has helped me develop my ideas and I have become a better board member [because of him]."

President Frumkin read the Certificate of Commendation for Clerk Sims, thanking her for her dedication to students, which was echoed by others, who commented on her caring heart.

The Board of Education also approved several student study trips and announced the appointment of Paula Banchero as Principal for Brenkwitz High School.

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