PUSD gaining statewide recognition

Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) students have been the recipients of an ever-increasing number of scholarships, awards, grants and accolades over the past several years, a testament to the performance gains achieved across the entire District.
As a result, PUSD is receiving growing statewide and national recognition. The District’s implementation of Linked Learning and Career-Themed Pathways is driving much of this positive attention.
Why is this? PUSD’s effort and achievement in preparing our students for success with college and careers has become a model that school districts across the country are striving to replicate. Of greater importance is that PUSD has made extraordinary commitments to ensuring these options are available to all students.
Evidence of this intense interest in our educational programs is on display almost weekly as the District continues to be asked to host numerous site visits from individuals and organizations outside of the Porterville area. Along with tours of our schools, visitors to PUSD regularly request the opportunity to observe and explore many partnerships the District has established with our business community and higher education. While there have been too many to note individually, a very recent visit and two on the horizon exemplify the kind of attention and recognition directed toward the District. The visitors include:
— California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. Yesterday, PUSD hosted a visit by Mr. Torlakson. He visited Harmony Magnet Academy because it is a prime example of why the District received a grant to support the implementation of Linked Learning in high school serving districts in Tulare and Kings Counties. This is our second visit by a State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Supt. Jack O’Connell visited PUSD several years ago when we were in the early stages of implementing Linked Learning. I know of no other rural school district that has been visited by multiple California State Superintendents.
— Dr. Joseph Castro, president of California State University, Fresno. On Sept. 11, both Harmony Magnet Academy and Granite Hills High School will be hosting a visit by Dr. Castro. His visit to these campuses is primarily because Fresno State University has established a cohort of students who, as part of their educational program, will take education courses at our high school sites. These same Fresno State students will learn from us how and why Linked Learning works in the classroom.
— Congressional staff members and staff from the U.S. Department of Education. The visit on Sept. 25 is being coordinated by the Alliance for Excellent Education based out of Washington D.C. With this visit, the District will host a delegation from Washington D.C. consisting of Congressional staff members and staff from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, members of the California Legislative leadership are expected to join the visit. These visitors (expected to be about 50 individuals) will have the opportunity to view our programs and see how federal policy might be adjusted to better support the type of instruction taking place in PUSD. According to the organization’s website, the Alliance works to synthesize and distribute research and information about promising practices that enlighten the national debate about education policies and options. In their letter inviting Congressional members to visit PUSD, Mr. Bob Wise, former governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance, wrote: “I hope you are available to participate and learn about one of the nation’s most promising efforts to prepare today’s students for the 21st century economy.”
Again, while these are just a few recent examples of the recognition we have received over the years, they underscore what has become a powerful and compelling narrative about the positive instruction taking place in our community.
Unfortunately, during this same period that we have worked so hard to improve opportunities for our students, there have been a few disgruntled community members who have personal agendas and wish to discredit the teachers, support staff, administration and Governing Board of the District. With the backdrop of success on clear display within the community and far beyond, these attempts ring hollow and only serve to take attention away from our students. It is important for our community to hear about and acknowledge the great teaching that is offered to thousands of students every day by the hundreds of dedicated teachers here in Porterville. While there is still much to do, we must keep our focus on the many things we are doing right and address areas of need as they emerge.
John Snavely is superintendent of the Porterville Unified School District.