School Board Heads Into New School Year

Meeting August 8, 2017

PHOTO: | Some of the South Pasadena School Board

Kyle Bender was introduced as the new assistant principal at Arroyo Vista Elementary who replaced Lindsay Roach. The very tall Bender comes to us from Glendale Unified where he was a teacher specialist with similar duties as an assistant principal, has over 16 years experience as an elementary school teacher and is also a school board member for St. Bede’s school in La Canada. Bender thanked everyone and introduced his wife, Megan, his daughter, Mia, and sons, Cade and Micah who were in attendance. “I’m grateful for this opportunity. Started my journey in education in El Segundo where I taught for ten years and then moved to Montrose and I’ve been at Glendale Unified for the last eleven years.” He went on to say, “I feel I’m ready to embrace a new role and super excited to come to this district and look forward to this next stage of my journey.”

PHOTO: | Assistant Principal at SPHS, David Speck

We also have a new assistant principal at the high school, David Speck who has taught at the elementary schools and been principal for summer school at the middle school and elementary schools for the past six years. Speck has been named district teacher of the year, Arroyo Vista’s teacher of the year, and has worked extensively on curriculum and technology in the school system. “I’m really excited to take on this new role,” said Speck, “it’s great to remain in the district that I love. Being able to grow from the elementary school, to the middle school, district level and now the high school is going to be a great opportunity, great experience and I look forward to working with the staff at the high school and the students. My last two fourth grade classes I taught at Marengo are now juniors and seniors at the high school. I went to Washington DC with the 8th graders who are incoming freshman, so I’ve just had some great connections with the students so I’m excited to just do the good work of the high school. Thank you, I’m happy to be a Tiger.” School Board Member Michele Kipke noted that “Mr. Speck is also known by students and parents as Mr. Spectacular. I will continue to call you Mr. Spectacular and I encourage you all to do so as well.” School Board member Jon Primuth added, “I just thought your legal name was Spectacular and you just went by a shortened version of it.”

Director of Student Support Services, Dennis Lefevre, spoke on the district’s suicide prevention plan explaining “I’m glad we are taking pro-active steps to keep our young people safe.”He then presented a powerpoint to the board showing suicide statistics in youth and young adults, citing, for example, that it is the third leading cause of death for California youth and young adults aged 15-24. In September 2016, Governor Brown signed into law AB2246 Pupil Suicide Prevention Policies requiring school districts in California to develop and implement a comprehensive suicide prevention plan for students 7-12 by the start of the 2017-2018 school year. Lefevre went on to explain the plan for training, interventions and procedures of prevention being implemented including follow up after a suicide crisis.

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Michele Kipke brought up a recent case where an 8 year old committed suicide and asked “how would we have picked up that little guy?” Referring to bullying that had taken place in that case, Lefevre said that we take bullying very seriously in our district and we look at both the bully and the victim and the issues they may be dealing with. “What I would hope is that a staff person working with that student would recognize those signs and would make sure that student was on somebody’s radar” said Lefevre. Kipke then asked for an update on bullying policies at each school stating that she really hadn’t heard much about our current programs since there was a particular focus on it about four years ago.
Superintendent Yantz said that there are many ongoing programs at each of the school sites that deal with bullying and Elizabeth Eilers brought up the issue of how sometimes the assemblies that are meant to deal with these issues are intense and what a delicate balance it can be which Lefevre agreed with.

PHOTO: Courtesy of South Pasadena School District | Superintendent Geoff Yantz

The Board all expressed excitement for the new school year beginning and both Julie Guilioni and Suzie Abajian spoke about visiting Marengo Elementary to see how the roof and air conditioning installation is coming along with Guilioni marveling at the speed and efficacy in with which it is being completed.