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'Thanks to You, the Long Beach Way Prevails'

We’ve had many visitors lately. Every few days more educators arrive from Fresno or Denver or Boston or Reno or San Diego – even from the Philippines and Russia – to learn how the Long Beach Unified School District continues to do what is right for kids. Despite the state budget meltdown, despite Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger’s suspension of Prop. 98 funding guarantees to schools, despite the rising cost of educating students, we continue to see improved academic achievement and more state and national recognition for your accomplishments. When visitors ask how we do it, I say it’s simple. We have the best employees. We have the best teachers, administrators and support staff working with the most supportive parents, volunteers and community. This month we celebrate California Day of the Teacher and Classified Employee Week. Both groups of employees have earned my deep respect and gratitude for all you’ve done to preserve The Long Beach Way, especially during these difficult budget times. The Long Beach Way is difficult to describe. A good friend, Sean McPhetridge, coined that phrase. He worked here for six months as an intern during his recent doctoral studies with Harvard’s Urban Superintendents Program. Before he left, he delivered this touching message at one of our Board of Education meetings: "Long Beach Unified School District is different than most school districts because of the way you all work together and with one another in the name of the children served by the district. I have met faculty and students of the best universities in the field of education who have come to visit Long Beach to try to figure out and document how you accomplish what to many seems impossible—the closing of the achievement gap in an urban school system. In no other district where I have worked or observed have I felt such a sense of family and such a sense of genuine caring as I have witnessed here. You have heart. You have courage. And you have wisdom. For that I will be forever grateful, and because of it I take with me lessons that I will never forget, lessons of The Long Beach Way." As Sean observed, The Long Beach Way is alive and well, and your results continue to speak for themselves. Consider the honors you’ve earned over the past few weeks. These awards would not be possible without the superb teamwork of teachers, classified employees and our entire school district team: • Three California Distinguished School Awards (Hill, Hughes and Wilson) • Ten 2005 No Child Left Behind Title I Achieving School Awards (Emerson, Fremont, Gompers, Hill, Hoover, Hudson, Hughes, Kettering, MacArthur and Mann) • Statewide winner of the California Prospector Award from the California Council for Excellence. (Hill and Emerson won this honor for effective use of Malcolm Baldrige continuous improvement strategies.) • National MetLife Ambassador in Education Award (Newcomb teacher Fay Tracy) • National winner of the Disney Teaching Award (Millikan art teacher Roberta Patterson) • Outstanding School Psychologist for our Los Angeles County region (Marcie Roussos) • Statewide winner of the Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Teacher of American History Award (Bancroft teacher Ryan Baker). Bancroft history department chair Gabby Mercado also was the only teacher to represent the western United States on the national committee that created test questions for the new NAEP history exam. • Statewide winner of the Health Education Teacher of the Year Award (Ann Rector, teacher on special assignment in the Health/Physical Education Office) • Statewide winners of the California Speech and Debate Championship. (In the elimination rounds, Jordan was the only public high school and defeated the best private school teams in the state.) The list goes on and on. These inspiring accomplishments remind me how blessed I am to work with all of you. Thank you for all that you do for our students and schools. You are The Long Beach Way.