By Susan Motander
Last Wednesday the Monrovia Unified School Board along with the superintendent of schools, Dr. Katherine Thorossian, and the teacher of the year, Jennifer Maljian, made a thorough presentation on the state of the schools in Monrovia. And, they are good and getting better.
Ed Gililland, the president of the Board spoke to the overall goal of the district, its vision in essence. These were boiled down to four points:
- To challenge students.
- To help students become resourceful and responsible citizens.
- To increase student success.
- To provide graduates with the skills they need to enrich their lives and the lives of others.
“Monrovia Unified supports its students as they journey along their paths to the future,” Gililland said. “We strive to provide a world-class education at all levels of instruction and ensure our young Monrovians are eminently prepared for life after graduation.”
He also thanked the partners that support the schools from the community, some of which are the City of Monrovia, the Monrovia Schools Foundation, Monrovia Reads, A Noise Within, Pasadena Symphony, Huntington Library, etc.
Gilliland also addressed the issue of chronic absenteeism. He said this was an issue on which the district, and specifically the teachers, is working hard. Unfortunately, Monrovia schools have an absentee rate of 12.3% while the county average is only 10.8%. Absence, especially in the early first years of school, means poorer reading skills. Students who are not proficient in reading by third grade are four times more likely to drop out, he said.
Selene Lockerbie, one of the new board members, discussed Monrovia teachers and the programs and grants the district has obtained to assist teachers in continuing their education. She ran through a list of those grants and how they help teachers improve their teaching skills.
She also discussed Canyon Early Learning Center (CELC). For long time Monrovia residents, this was the location of Huntington Elementary, next to the district office. This preschool program has direct links to school success later, with less class repetition and increased high school graduation. She also briefly outlined the Village Extended School Program that involves 537 students both before and after school at Monroe, Plymouth, Wild Rose elementary schools, and Clifton and Santa Fe middle schools. This program supports the learning that occurs during the school day and offers homework assistance and other educational enrichment activities. The Monrovia Reads Van appears weekly issuing library cards and allowing students to check out books.
Ending the State of the Schools Address, Monrovia Unified premiered a District showcase video, which gave an in-depth look to student academic success and culture across the District.
“Our team of educators serves as mentors, passing to the next generation a wealth of knowledge from which our students will craft their future with opportunities and obstacles we can only imagine,” Thorossian said. “I am grateful to the extraordinary members of the MUSD team who not only contributed to the evening’s program, but work tirelessly every day on behalf of the children of Monrovia. It is their expertise and commitment that fuel our programs and inspire our students.”