Dear South Pasadena Community,
It is with great regret that I must submit my resignation from the school board effective October 13, 2021. My last board meeting will be on October 12th. My family and I will be relocating to another city shortly and I will no longer be eligible to serve on the school board. Supporting the families of South Pasadena has been a great honor, however, this pandemic has demonstrated to all of us how important family is and it has become clear to me that I need to devote more time and attention to my own family at this time.
When I ran for school board in 2015, I knew that our district needed someone who understood the educational field inside out and someone who had a commitment to closing the opportunity gap for our underserved students while advocating for a more inclusive culture and curriculum in our district. I believe that over the past 6 years, I have made some important headway in this work through my advocacy for the expansion of the DI programs and my leadership in bringing the 9th grade multicultural literature class to fruition which now has become the 9th grade English Language Arts requirement.
I am thrilled that more of our students can see themselves reflected in the curriculum. I have continually pushed for culturally/linguistically responsive, LGBTQ positive and inclusive pedagogy throughout our district and pressed for the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee to ensure that we continue keeping ourselves accountable to these ideals. My hope is that the board will carry on this work and that our district continually strives to become more welcoming, culturally responsive and equitable for all students.
In addition to the equity initiatives and to providing our students with expanded academic and extracurricular offerings, many significant district goals were accomplished during my tenure on the board including the passing of the bond measure and the parcel tax. I was honored to be elected by my colleagues as the school board president in 2018. Over the past six years, I witnessed the completion of most of our bond projects including the new STEM building and the renovation of the athletic facilities at the high school, the renovation and conversion of the old middle school gymnasium into a black box theater and a flex art/STEM lab, and the starting of the current building projects at all of the elementary schools that will provide more classroom space for the arts. We purchased a new school district office building that meets the needs of our administrative staff and leadership team and sold the old district property to a developer that understands the needs of our community. We accomplished all this while staying fiscally solvent.
When I ran for re-election last year, our district was going through one of the most challenging times in recent memory as we faced the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community and our schools. I considered and weighed the district’s need for an experienced and stable board to get us through the worst of the pandemic as I made the decision to run. This was a difficult decision for me. I was not only a new mother, but I was working full time and we were dealing with a challenging housing situation as CalTrans tenants in the midst of a pandemic. Despite all of this, I still felt that I had a responsibility to our students, teachers and community and I knew running for re-election was the right decision.
During the candidate forum for my re-election I put forward my priorities for the coming term. I stated that I was committed to: “ensuring the safety and social-emotional wellbeing of our students and staff while making sure that our district continued to provide high quality education within the new reality that we are in.” I believe that we have accomplished these goals. Over the past year, I passionately advocated for the safety of our students and staff and for providing social-emotional support for our students to mitigate the effects of the trauma that they experienced as a result of the pandemic. I believe that we are in a much better place now. We know how to do schooling in this new reality. We know how to keep people safe as we provide high quality instruction and social-emotional support for our students.
Our district is in good hands with my colleagues on the board and with Dr. Yantz as our superintendent. We have an incredible leadership team and phenomenal teachers and staff who continue to provide our students with engaging educational experiences regardless of the challenges of the day. We have amazing and resilient students who are able to reflect and act on the world with kindness, compassion and mindfulness.
I began my educational career in South Pasadena High School in the late 90s and I have seen the district and the community go through many changes over the years. Serving on the South Pasadena school board has been among the most meaningful work in my life. My husband Sean and I have truly loved living in South Pasadena for the past decade and connecting with many amazing people. We will miss being part of this close knit community.
Dr. Suzie Abajian