September 21, 2022

A semester later, West Covina Unified Superintendent Emy Flores is still dreaming – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

When Emy Flores was hired in December to become the new superintendent of the West Covina Unified School District, she told this newspaper that it was a dream destination for her because of its great programs, facilities, the community and the financial stability of the district.

Being a Latina in a neighborhood with a student population of 8,069 with 75.86% Latino students, Flores believed she could have a significant impact in the neighborhood because “students can have a role model who looks like them, I think is important.”

Flores, who attended Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights, began her work with WCUSD in February, which means she has a full semester under her belt. His tone has not changed.

  • Cheerleaders pose for a photo as West Covina High School students were welcomed back to school with a two-day on-campus event that included games, crafts and music on 19 August 2022 in West Covina, CA. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • West Covina High School students were welcomed to...

    West Covina High School students were welcomed back to school with a two-day on-campus event that included games, crafts and music, on August 19, 2022 in West Covina, California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • West Covina High School students were welcomed to...

    West Covina High School students were welcomed back to school with a two-day on-campus event that included games, crafts and music, on August 19, 2022 in West Covina, California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • West Covina High School students were welcomed to...

    West Covina High School students were welcomed back to school with a two-day on-campus event that included games, crafts and music, on August 19, 2022 in West Covina, California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Charles Park, center, is the new manager of West Covina...

    Charles Park, center, is the new principal of West Covina High School, where students were welcomed back to school with a two-day campus event that included games, crafts and music, on August 19, 2022 in West Covina, California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Charles Park is the new principal of West Covina High...

    Charles Park is the new principal of West Covina High School, where students were welcomed back to school with a two-day on-campus event that included games, crafts and music, August 19, 2022 in West Covina, California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • West Covina High School students were welcomed to...

    West Covina High School students were welcomed back to school with a two-day on-campus event that included games, crafts and music, on August 19, 2022 in West Covina, California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Members of the football team and other students from West...

    Members of the football team and other students from West Covina High School were welcomed back to school with a two-day campus event that included games, crafts and music, the August 19, 2022 in West Covina, California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

  • Emy Flores on December 3 has been chosen as the new...

    On December 3, Emy Flores was chosen as the new superintendent of the West Covina Unified School District. (Photo courtesy of West Covina Unified School District)

  • West Covina Unified Superintendent Emy Flores says of her students,...

    West Covina Unified Superintendent Emy Flores says of her students, “They are wonderful. Their smiles warm my heart. In this photo, smiling students from West Covina High School were welcomed back to school with a two-day on-campus event that included games, crafts and music, August 19, 2022 in West Covina , in California. The district started on Thursday August 18th. (Photo by John McCoy, Contributing Photographer)

“So those are the reasons I was considering coming to West Covina and in the six months I’ve been here I’ve learned that all of those things are true,” Flores said Thursday, August 18, the first day of school in the district.

Lively, Flores talked about the great facilities. She mentioned the new tennis courts at Edgewood High, renovations to the football stadium (Thyberg Field) at West Covina High, the new gym and music building at Hollencrest Middle School and the new track at West Covina High – to name a few.

“Our facilities are simply outstanding,” said Flores. “They are beautiful.”

More than anything, Flores loves the community as a whole and what it means for the district.

“The thing that stands out the most, and I think it’s the most important, is that when I talk with parents, when I talk with students, teachers, staff and the community, West Covina is a place where people really care about the kids,” said Flores, who was superintendent of the Evergreen School District in San Jose before taking the job.

“As I have met, for example, community groups like the Historical Society, Kiwanis and Rotary, etc., there are so many people here who want to do something to help our students.

Still, there is a lot of work to be done. As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on education, and distance learning took place the previous school year, Flores loves the programs that have been implemented to get students back on track. .

One concerns reading progress in lower grades that may have been slowed by remote learning, which many believe has resulted in learning loss.

Flores said a coach has been added to each school to work with teachers to identify students who are falling behind and implement an individualized program for them.

“We had a lot of training in reading strategies, a huge focus on reading and writing in elementary school,” Flores said. “Our schools also have reading teachers who work directly with the teachers, beyond the coaches. So there is a coach, there are reading teachers who work directly with the school teachers to work with the children.

“Sometimes it’s a push-in model where they come in and work with the kids inside the classroom and sometimes it’s a pull-in model where identified students work six to 10 weeks in certain areas. “

She said adding this staff is indeed expensive, “But it’s worth it.”

There are many more. Flores spoke about how educators need to evolve and find the best way to meet the needs of students. In the case of West Covina Unified, this would add more arts programs that would engage students in different ways.

“Not all kids are academics, not all kids will seek to become athletes,” Flores said. “And I think we need to provide a diverse menu of opportunities, so something that our community will see is an increase in opportunities in the arts.

“We want to be the destination neighborhood (for the arts) for any child from the moment they enter our campuses, whether it’s TK through high school.”

Another recently added program that just had a summer camp was the District Wide Debate.

“I believe that one of the most powerful tools that we could give to children is a communication tool, to be able to articulate thoughts, opinions in an educated way, to be able to have a dialogue to disagree and I believe that the speaking and debating are going to provide that to our students,” said Flores.

It’s available now for students from fifth grade – although only Mt. SAC Early Academy at the high school level now has it with the other high schools on tap to get it next school year.

The student psyche is also a concern – again, because of the pandemic – and Flores thinks spending more money on this is vital.

“Our kids, they’ve been through a lot – and so have our staff to some extent,” she said. “So for students, we are actually increasing the number of counsellors, social workers, just services in our school district.

“Next week at the board meeting, we have I believe it’s an investment of about $1.5 million that we’re bringing into the board to add more counselors and more services for our students.”

If it seems that Flores is now completely in tune with the neighborhood and its needs, it’s because she seems to have taken her dream destination job to heart.

“I’m the kind of superintendent who enjoys being in the classroom,” Flores said. “I love visiting schools, I love walking around classrooms, I love talking to kids because I really think it’s important for me to connect with my kids, my parents, my community and my staff.

“The other reason is that I need to know the needs. How can I support my staff so they can provide exceptional education and exceptional experiences for our children? »