It has been wonderful working with MHUSD principals, teachers, parents and students
By Ramon Zavala
The past four years serving the Morgan Hill Unified School District as assistant superintendent of educational services have been the pinnacle of my 37-year career in public education. As I enter my retirement, I look back fondly at this time and want to thank the community for its support.
I was so impressed with the amazing work and performance from talented students, teachers, support providers, administrators, and parent volunteers. I appreciated working with so many school and community leaders to go the extra mile to provide equitable access to educational opportunities for children receiving free and reduce-price meals, foster youth, English learners, and migrant education and special education students.
Education was a perfect fit for me. I believe in citizenry. I believe in preparing our students to be active citizens. I believe in building the entire child. I believe in global citizenry. I believe in the world of work. I am the product of immigrants and migrant parents. Since third grade, I worked alongside my father and brother. Often, on my way to work at MHUSD, I saw farmworkers harvesting and I remember myself working in the fields. I am also a product of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Since then, I ‘m convinced that public education is the great equalizer. The Civil Rights era swept me into college. Initially, it was difficult to be a first-generation college student, but I was determined to succeed.
My educational background and work experience converged here in MHUSD. California was at the start of an educational reform focused on the whole child. The new pedagogy would consist of Common Core State Standards, instructional frameworks, formative and summative assessments, and instructional material. I worked on initiatives to enrich our students’ educational experience through multilingualism, college/career readiness, multi-tier systems of support, parent engagement, enhancing the visual and performing arts, promoting Jo Boaler’s mathematical mindset, and expanding our partnership with Tech Interactive.
Our leader, Superintendent Steve Betando, always encouraged me to support our school sites and our target student groups. Assistant Superintendent of Business Kirsten Perez gave me direction and support with budgets and contracts to get our programs running. Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Fawn Myers provided my department with amazing personnel to get the work done.
My second team is the ESD directors. Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Glenn Webb focused on the adoption of the four instructional textbook programs. Director of Supplemental Programs Heather Nursement took on many initiatives to enrich students’ educational experience and provide programs for our target students. And Director of Special Education Michael Vogal did an incredible job serving our special education students, parents, and staff. In spite of limited funds and scarcity of educators in the profession, he has managed to fill positions and collaborate with various agencies to meet the needs of special needs students.
It has been wonderful working with MHUSD principals. On a monthly basis, I held at least three meetings a month with them. I especially enjoyed visiting school sites to see the children learn and play, to see the families on special events, to witness incredible teachers performing their magic, and spending individual time with principals reflecting on challenging and optimistic issues and on pedagogy.
I want to give a shout out to my secretary, Tricia Campbell, for supporting me throughout my four years. To all the board of trustees who served during my tenure, thank you for your generosity and support. To the general community, I will miss you. When I do visit, I hope to cross paths with as many of you as possible.
Dr. Ramon Zavala will retire at the end of June from the Morgan Hill Unified School District.