“Our people are the best thing about Gilroy Unified,” supe Flores says

Published in the July 11 – July 24, 2018 issue of Gilroy Life

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Rod Kelley Elementary School Library

The Gilroy Unified School District ended the 2017-2018 with awards for schools and staff recognizing their innovative programs and instruction. They include Rod Kelley Elementary School, Dr. TJ Owens Early College Academy, South Valley Middle School, and Gilroy High School,

Rod Kelley was recognized as a California Distinguished School by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and by Innovate Public Schools as a top Bay Area public school for underserved students.

Nearly two-thirds of the students at Rod Kelley are low-income and Latino, and they have effectively closed the achievement gap in English and math for these students. Six out of 10 of low-income Latino students are on grade level in math, compared to two out of 10 low-income Latino students across the Bay Area. Similarly, five out of 10 of them are on grade level in English, compared to three out of 10 low-income Latino students across the Bay Area.

Principal Maritza Salcido said her school has accomplished these results by focusing on proficiency and improvement, and refusing to leave any student behind.

During Salcido’s first year as school leader, she put more intervention resources toward the school’s lowest achieving students, and told staff to do the same. She led with the philosophy that “some students need a little bit more, and some students need less” depending on their starting point. But all students, at all levels, should be supported and celebrated.

Dr. TJ Owens Early College Academy received a Gold ranking as the 23rd ranked high school in California (172 nationally) by US News and World Report. Gilroy High School received a Silver ranking as the 480th ranked high school in California (2,451 nationally) by the same publication. The magazine evaluated more than 20,500 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college.

South Valley Middle School seventh-grade math teacher, Rachael Cornaggia, was named the Gilroy Unified School District Teacher of the Year by the Santa Clara Office of Education, which recognizes a teacher from each of the 31 school districts in Santa Clara County on an annual basis.

Glen View Elementary School Principal Christine Vasquez-Pereira was recently named a Superstar First-Year Administrator by the Association of California School Administrators.

Gilroy High School’s Athletic Director Jami Reynolds received the Norm MacKenzie “Rookie of the Year” award from the California State Athletic Directors Association.  Reynolds was nominated by GHS Principal Dr. Marco Sanchez.

“Jami is one of the best Athletic Directors in the Central Coast Section, if not the State, and deserves this recognition and more,” he said.

“We are proud of our school sites, staff members, students and families who make Gilroy Unified School District the best it can be,” Superintendent Debbie Flores said. “It is true that our people are the best thing about Gilroy Unified and these awards are evidence of this.”