Back to School 2020 | Welcome Letter from Superintendent Yantz

A letter to students, parents, and the community addressing the new school year

PHOTO: South Pasadena Unified School District | News | SPUSD Superintendent, Dr. Geoff Yantz

Dear SPUSD Community,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year – a school year that certainly will be unique as we open our virtual doors this week. The runway leading up to the start of this school year has been eventful and challenging at times for everyone, but our team of SPUSD educators is moving forward and is encouraged by a fresh beginning full of new opportunities for students.

The start of school is a chance for us to reflect on the District’s core values. This year is no exception. In fact, I would like to highlight an SPUSD motto that you may encounter on a regular basis because it appears on the front page of our website: Every Student – Every Opportunity – Every Challenge.

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We’re happy to report that we have reached Every Student within SPUSD by distributing Chromebooks before the start of the year. With a new one-to-one system in place, our students will be equipped to begin distance learning with a strong start on day one. SPUSD teachers, counselors, and aides will be interacting with every student, every day in a variety of ways including through live interaction, synchronous and asynchronous instruction, and support.

Every Opportunity for continuous learning within SPUSD will be given to our students as we continue to focus on improving ways for students to become active participants in the global community. This year, coursework related to the core subjects plus the arts, engineering, biomedical and computer science, and business/finance may look different than it has in years past, but teachers’ conscientious development of projects related to these subjects – especially in an online environment – continues to prepare students for college and career pathways of the future.

Every Challenge that emerges will be thoughtfully discussed and reviewed by a team of educators, administrators, board members, parents, and students when appropriate. Areas of concern such as instruction, health and safety, social-emotional wellness, family and community engagement, and operations issues will continue to be assiduously addressed throughout the year. Continuously monitoring changing circumstances and direction from governmental agencies will guide our path forward including a potential return to physical classrooms in the future. Our decisions will be based on data and science while keeping the safety of students and employees as our first priority.

Though not physically open at the start of the school year, many of our facility projects will be completed by the time we are able to return to school. Both the SPMS old gymnasium and the SPHS athletics facilities will be finalized in the next few months, creating a higher quality, safer environment and a more welcoming and enjoyable space for parents and the community.

Let’s also take a moment to welcome our new faculty and staff members and offer to assist as everyone comes back to our various programs. Many of our team members work diligently throughout the summer. We appreciate everyone’s contributions including all of the hard work and determination put forth by our teachers who have been participating in professional development sessions focused on improving distance learning for our students. Our District continues to thrive because of the unwavering commitment from our amazing SPUSD employees, and we are eager to move forward on our path toward a successful school year.

Please also consider supporting our SPEF, PTA, SPMS/SPHS Booster Clubs, and other school/classroom volunteer opportunities. Connecting with these organizations along with your students’ teachers, principals, counselors, and support personnel is critical at this time to ensure that the tradition of a high-quality, public school education within South Pasadena continues now and in the future.

I’m looking forward to a successful year ahead.

Thank you,

Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.