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The Best School District in California

Title – The Best School District in California
By – Patricia Kelly

After a lifetime of teaching at-risk students without money, pencils, help, and support I decided to leave secondary education. I was convinced that the system was in serious trouble and that a reversal of trends would take at least 20 years. I felt I could no longer wait.

I accepted a job in educational publishing which was challenging and rewarding and allowed me to visit every school district in my state. Almost every school I visited reinforced my original reason for leaving education.

While the job was interesting, I soon tired of the extensive travel and missed the activity and excitement of the classroom. I especially felt this after visiting a classroom and meeting students again.

What a dilemma!

However, I was determined to find a district that was doing it “right” and vowed to just contend with being unemployed until that time. I quit my publishing job, turned in my company car, and felt very afraid!

One day, strictly by accident, I found a reading specialist position advertised on the Internet which sounded interesting. I interviewed with the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District soon after and was offered a position, excellent pay, benefits, and a chance to write and develop my own program!

For once, students who were usually herded into huge classes for “remediation” were given individual and small group attention and help with their mainstream classes. Some made such rapid progress, they were out of the program after one quarter with a 3.0 GPA. Others needed more time and attention, and were able to receive it, even though they were now high school freshmen! Sadly, a few moved away before they could be helped.

At the end of my first year, I am proud of the program, my students, and the work we have accomplished this year; but I am even more proud of the site and district leadership for taking this expensive risk. Perhaps one of you reading my story will be able to do the same thing at your site!

E-Mail Patricia Kelly

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