It is unfortunate that the article focused only on the concerns of two school board members from the previous regime associated with Dr. Gloria Hernandez-Goff. Their opinions do not reflect the views of the majority of the school board, teachers and staff, and it is a disservice to our community to suggest otherwise. Although I am one teacher, I have been an educator for 22 years — 16 in Ravenswood — and I believe I speak for all of the teachers and staff in saying that the district has never had such positive energy.
With the removal of Hernandez-Goff, the school district has utterly been transformed. The district office used to be a place that was avoided at all costs; in fact, one would say it was working in a completely different world from our schools. Fast-forward to today: The district office is full of life, full of happy employees excited to be at work and full of energy for our students. Each day I walk into school and see my colleagues smiling, talking and ready to work together. I now regularly see people from the district office, including interim Superintendent Gina Sudaria, at our site, and teachers, including myself, are often at the district office. Just the other day at 6 p.m. I was leaving the district office and while I walked down the hall I heard laughs, lots of talking and people in almost every room working together. Everyone greeted me (even the ones I didn't know) — and just like that the district office and schools joined the same world.
We are now a place that encourages trust, transparency and inclusion. And leading this dramatic transformation in culture and increase in staff morale is Gina Sudaria. With over 20 years of experience, she knows this district on every level. She has brought transformational and distributed leadership to every position she has held. She has introduced brand new STEM, art and multimedia programs, created literacy initiatives, launched facilities upgrades and brought about transformational professional development. Every student in our district now gets to go to the Makerspace weekly, which provides them with opportunities to explore and learn STEAM subjects through hands-on experiences. They are coding, designing, creating and learning essential skills for the 21st century. We have art and music specialists who are providing these every day, in addition to connecting us with local art institutions that provide field trips to help students synthesize what they are learning in class. Each site was also given two reading specialists/coaches to provide reading intervention and teacher support/coaching. In addition, there are also several classes now being offered after school for any teacher to take. These classes will improve our craft and also provide units to help our new teachers fulfill their license requirements. But most importantly, Gina Sudaria has shown that she values every child, staff member and parent.
Sudaria is an experienced, ethical, and inspiring leader. She values what we teachers do; she trusts us to be the experienced professionals that we are and absolutely supports us in our work. She regularly spends time at each school seeing kids, staff members and parents.
This is my 22nd year teaching, and I have worked under five different superintendents. Out of those five, Gina Sudaria is the only one who has ever taken the time to talk to teachers and truly listen. She has done more in six months than any other superintendent did in their entire term. Our experience is precisely the opposite of what Trustee Ana Pulido alleged in the article, that we are somehow coming to dismantle progress and set the district further back. Quite to the contrary, with Gina Sudaria at the helm, we are dedicated to accelerating progress and building a thriving education community. Indeed, we have already signed an agreement (ending two-plus years of negotiations) with both our unions that includes much-needed raises for both teachers and classified staff. And in order to make this happen, Sudaria and the rest of the district administration did not receive salary increases.
It is important to clarify another reference made in the article regarding the district's upcoming search for a new superintendent. Although this is standard, we are lucky to already have the best candidate in the position, one who has the expertise and vision to lead this district. Gina Sudaria has the trust and respect of every teacher and employee at the Ravenswood City School District and has built relationships with generations of our families face-to-face and day after day. Several teachers, including myself, only decided to stay and continue in Ravenswood because she became our superintendent and finally gave us hope that we could move the district in the direction we all want it to go.
Voters spoke clearly last fall, recognizing that their previous choice to lead this district, despite some policy victories, could simply not overcome the toxic environment the leadership itself created. We deeply appreciate the work done by the board members to create a vibrant district for students, but it is not about any board member's or superintendent's legacy. The work we have before us is what we owe our children. There are inequities in our community. The schools are the front line in combating those disparities. In Gina Sudaria, we have the leader we have hoped for, and we unequivocally support her.
We are #oneravenswood.