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Oct. 19 Professional Development Day

Dr. Felipe Mercado, an administrator at Madera Unified School District, confronted many of the challenges that boys from broken homes tend to face. But school kept him grounded, and even when things were rough, he would often be comforted by the campus security woman who would tussle his hair or the custodian who would give him advice.

“If it weren't for people like you, I would have never been able to be here,” he told our classified employees, the men and women who keep our students safe when they cross the streets and play in the yard and eat in the cafeterias. “I remember this more than academics. The custodian would tell me 'This is where I messed up in life.' You guys gave me the wisdom I needed to thrive every single day.”

With these words, Dr. Mercado summed up the Whole Child Initiative and multi-tiered systems of support, which, at their core, maintain that every adult at the 12 schools of the Alisal Union School District, its three family resource centers and its administration can and should play a role in the education and care of all our students. It's a message that was delivered not just by Dr. Mercado and Dr. Kenneth Magdaleno, founder and president of the Center for Leadership, Equity and Research in Fresno.

Felipe Mercado

“I'm challenging you right now to step up,” Dr. Magdaleno said. “Our kids need to be told that they can be successful, they need to be shown they can be successful. I can't help my kids with math but I can find someone to do that. I can show that I care. Our kids need us there. And when kids say 'I don't want you there,' that's when you need to be there.”

Whole Child and Multi Tiered Systems of Support were the central theme of the professional development for classified employees that that took place Friday, Oct. 19, at Jesse G. Sánchez Elementary. The morning began with a addresses by Superintendent Héctor Rico, Trustee Guadalupe Gilpas, and Solange Keiko Inoue, president of the California School Employees Association.

Teachers, for their part, spent the day furthering their technology skills to further incorporate it in their classrooms. The day began with a keynote address by Quoc Tran, assistant superintendent of education, who reminded the teachers the power of transporting students through time with sounds and images that make it come alive.
Quoc Tran delivering keynote speech

Later, teachers spread through Monte Bella elementary to choose from more than 50 sessions ranging from beginners topics, such as “intro to Google classroom” and advance such as creating Seesaw activities.

Seesaw activity

Classified employees, for their part, assembled by occupation after hearing from Dr. Magdaleno and Dr. Mercado to receive professional development based on their particular needs: all food servers received training at the Food Services Department, family resource specialists gathered at the Alisal Family Resource Center, and librarian received professional development by Michelle Ramirez of the Monterey County Office of Education.

Classified employees walkthrough

Olga Abasta, a school librarian at Monte Bella Elementary, said Dr. Mercado's presentation made her reflect on the relationship she has with the students.

“I think I need to improve, be better,” she said.

For more pictures of the day —or add your own!— click here