Superintendent Max McGee announced Tuesday night the more than 20 faculty, parents, community members, alumni and administrators named to a committee charged with helping the Palo Alto Unified School District close its achievement gap.
McGee said there were more than 50 applicants for the Minority Achievement and Talent Development Advisory Committee. Its members include former school board member Barbara Klausner, who is the executive director of after-school tutoring nonprofit DreamCatchers; 2014 school board candidate Gina Dalma, co-chair of Parent Advocates for Student Success (PASS) Kim Bomar and one current Gunn High School student. McGee said three more students will be added, but it's challenging schedule-wise as the group will meet weekly in the evenings.
The committee will have its first meeting on Dec. 2 and has been given the task of diving deep into district data on minority student achievement; gathering input by talking directly to current students and recent graduates, their families, faculty and staff; and looking to other districts and experts in the field for best practices to bring to Palo Alto.
Their work is two-pronged, as the name of the committee suggests: looking at how the district can work to systematically address the achievement gap, and how schools can better support talent development for minority or socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
"Helping minority children excel in education has been a passion of mine since before I had children, largely because of the importance of education in my life and in my family's history," Bomar said in a district press release. "Education opens doors that otherwise can stay closed for generations. I'm really delighted to be able to contribute to the important work of the Advisory Committee and to help ensure minority students flourish as learners in this district."
The following have been named to the committee:
Faculty and staff
Jeff Gielow, Jordan Middle School guidance counselor
Maria Powell, Gunn High School biology and chemistry teacher
Arcia Dorosti, Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) and former Barron Park English language specialist
Sandra Cernobori, Palo Alto High School college advisor
Julie Griffin, Juana Briones Elementary School librarian
Adriana Flores Ragade
Sharon Johnson, Aspire East Palo Alto Charter School principal
Teceta Tormala, Palo Alto University professor
Shannon Yang, Gunn High School sophomore
Katy Bimpson, Hoover Elementary School principal
Pier Angeli La Place, Terman Middle School principal
Kim Diorio, Palo Alto High School principal
Judy Argumedo, Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA)
The committee is expected to identify key issues, potential policy changes and actionable, evidence-based recommendations in a final report, to be presented to the board in the spring of 2015. Each recommendation will include specific metrics for evaluating the extent to which each strategy was successful, suggest timelines for implementation, name an individual or role (current or future) to lead each strategy and estimate the cost of rolling out each recommendation, according to the district.
The committee will also host regular public meetings to hear from community members on the topic and get feedback about their work.
"Partnering together we can strengthen our already strong district in supporting all students as they reach for their dreams and realize yet untapped potential," McGee said in the press release. "This will be some of the most important work we do this year as we work collaboratively to identify important challenging areas, research successful practices in other districts, and craft a report that will guide us in the future."