Rowland Unified
Accepted into National Network of Innovative School Districts
Rowland Unified School District was accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of forward-thinking K-12 school districts (124 Districts in 34 states) organized by Digital Promise, a nonprofit organization with the mission to accelerate innovation in education and improve the opportunity for all to learn through technology and research. The Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools was launched at the White House under President Barack Obama within the United States Department of Education in 2011.

Examples of Rowland USD’s innovation can be seen below with the integration of educational technology and bringing educational equity through digital access, (VIDEO LINK), and specific programs such as Kinder Care and Connect, Music for All and College Connect (VIDEO LINK).

“We are very honored to be recognized for our work and to join this prestigious partnership,” said Dr. Julie Mitchell, Rowland Unified School District Superintendent of Schools. “We pride ourselves on providing Innovative Learning for All and a large part of our innovation has been in completely transforming teaching and learning to meet the needs of our students. Innovation is a mindset, an attitude, and part of the fabric of Rowland Unified. Through working collaboratively, thinking outside of the box, gathering input and ideas from students, staff, and parents, we are able to create, invent and provide learning experiences that help all students to flourish and meet their full potential,” said Mitchell.
As a direct result of the vision of laying the educational technology infrastructure years in advance, Rowland Unified was able to pivot quickly and move from a traditional brick and mortar organization to an all virtual learning setting in a single weekend when the pandemic hit. Online learning brought light to the insufficient internet access for families and the District quickly purchased and provided 3,335 hot spots to students, as well as specialized technology to meet the needs of the District’s homeless population who didn’t have access to WIFI.
The foundation of school success begins in Kindergarten, and in the midst of the pandemic, there was concern for our youngest learners. The District reinvented the kinder learning experience while maintaining high standards of care, compassion, connection and content with Kinder Care and Connect. Using the vehicle of reading and bi-weekly mail deliveries, 900 kindergarten students and families from across the district were connected with lessons focused on books of the month that built home libraries. Knowing that learning remotely may be lonely, every kindergartener received their own learning partner, a stuffed elephant lovingly known as Mabel. Students interacted with authors and illustrators with online sessions and students thrived by writing their own stories that were turned into books that were also mailed home.
Continuing its focus on access, equity and excellence, Rowland Unified launched its Music for All program in 2016, which continues to grow and flourish, and continued even during remote learning. Understanding that music education supports academic success and a creative outlet for many students, every student starting in first grade, receives music education taught by a credentialed music teacher once per week throughout elementary school. Additional weekly lessons are also provided after school at no cost to the family. As students enter middle and high school, they are able to continue their music interests in individualized classes for choir, band, guitar, mariachi, orchestra or jazz band. Students have performed in the Macy’s Day Parade and London's New Year’s Day Parade and most recently, students have been invited to play in 2022 at Carnegie Hall.
The District’s College Connect program addresses access to a four year university to our students at promise, to provide every support needed through the college exploration, application, scholarship and acceptance process. This student population requires specialized and individualized assistance to bring their dreams into reality. The first year it was established, all 24 participants were offered admission into one of their top choice schools. The following year 73 students were accepted. The program continues to grow and students have been awarded prestigious scholarships such as the Gates Millennium, Horatio Alger, Coca Cola and Edison STEM scholarships.
RUSD District Teacher of the Year Honored by Los Angeles County Office of Education
Rowland Unified School District Teacher of the Year Ashley McGrath (pictured in center above) with Jellick Elementary Instructional Coach Tracy Do and Shelyn Elementary Principal Sarah Opatkiewicz.
The Los Angeles County Office of Education Teachers of the Year Program is the largest local competition in the state and nation and is part of the oldest and most prestigious contest in the U.S. for public-school teachers. On September 24, 2021 Rowland Unified School District's Teacher of the Year Ashley McGrath (who taught last year at Rowland Elementary and is now at Shelyn Elementary) was honored at the awards ceremony.

"I am so blessed and honored to represent our amazing RUSD team," said McGrath. "I am grateful to represent the love and joy our colleagues bring to elementary, secondary, and adult ed! I hope I make my colleagues proud!"

McGrath was integral with launching the Kindergarten Community of Practice across RUSD and was largely responsible for the design and implementation of the Kindergarten Care and Connect remote learning program that was put into practice districtwide last year. She is excited to now teach 4th grade at Shelyn Elementary and continues to collaborate with all of our schools.

"Ashley is a truly exceptional educator. Though she has extensive literacy and numeracy knowledge and practice that she uses daily to help her students grow, it is her ability to connect deeply and profoundly with every single student that makes her shine," said Rowland Elementary Principal John Martinez. "She has a deep passion and commitment to bring joy into the classroom for her students. When you see her teach and interact with children, it does not take long to see how joy manifests in the learning space and how it transforms learning."
Help Us Build RUSD's Future - Openings for Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee
Two Openings for District Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee

The District is looking for two community members to join our team on the RUSD Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee. We are looking for members that represent the community in two specific areas: a member of a Tax Payers' Organization and a Business Community Member. The committee reviews the District's expenditures of bond proceeds raised by the $118 million 2006 Measure R Bond and te $158.8 Million 2021 Measure R Bond for schools across the District.

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO OCTOBER 31, 2021! For more information to apply click here or call the RUSD Administrative Services Department at (626)854-8309.
October 7, 2021 Issue RUSD News Editor gward@rowlandschools.org
Proud to Serve Our Communities of Rowland Heights, La Puente, Walnut & West Covina
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