Former superintendent Dr. General Davie, Jr. returns to San Juan Unified as acting superintendent

During a special meeting held tonight, the San Juan Unified School District’s Board of Education appointed Dr. General Davie, Jr. as the District’s acting Superintendent. His appointment is effective immediately.
Davie is a familiar face in San Juan Unified, and the Sacramento region, as the former superintendent of the District from 1998 through 2005. Since leaving San Juan, Davie has remained active in the education community serving as the interim superintendent in a number of school districts, consulting on education issues and maintaining an active role in the San Juan Education Foundation which raises funds to support San Juan Unified schools.
“We are pleased General Davie has agreed to help provide leadership as we prepare for the start of a new school year,” said Board of Education President Dr. Larry Masuoka. “General’s familiarity with the District and community will help ensure a smooth start to the year and a continued focus on our community-developed strategic plan.”
“San Juan Unified has always been my home and I am pleased to be able to continue being of service to the students, families and staff of the District,” said Davie. “We have world-class teachers and staff who have spent their summers studying, learning and growing and are ready to hit the ground running this August when students return.”
Current Superintendent Glynn Thompson has been on paid administrative leave since May 15 when the Board of Education launched an independent investigation into complaints filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. That investigation remains ongoing and Superintendent Thompson remains on leave.
“Our action today is solely about providing stability and leadership to our schools as we prepare for the 2013-14 school year. We eagerly await the outcome of the pending independent investigation and being able to take the appropriate actions to move forward permanently,” said Dr. Masuoka.
Davie’s contract calls for him to receive $850 a day in compensation up to a maximum of 46 days. He will not be provided any health and welfare benefits, paid vacation or sick days.

Community leader spreads message of strong character to students

Tony Asaro isn’t a teacher by trade, but in San Juan Unified, he’s as recognizable on campus as school staff.

Entering his 14th year overseeing community relations for the Sacramento River Cats minor league baseball club, Asaro spends the bulk of his time working to improve the lives of children and families throughout the region.

That work began in San Juan Unified schools, from which Asaro, his wife and four children all graduated and where he began his career.

Today, he’s an enthusiastic and constant figure in schools, preaching the importance of strong character, attendance and academic success to scores of students.

“San Juan schools are fortunate to have such a committed community leader in Tony,” said Superintendent Glynn Thompson. “Tony’s dedication to our students, unwavering energy and positive attitude are an inspiration.”

from Asaro in his own words:

…on how Asaro blends passion for baseball with teaching and inspiring students:

“To be able to take what my passion is, which is baseball, and use that as the teaching element, that’s so powerful. … I believe that we teach our children through the games we play. And I love the game of baseball because if you’re the greatest player that ever played the game, you’re a .300 hitter, you fail seven out of 10 times. There’s no game that we teach our children or play that you fail that often and yet, you’re the best. It’s through those failures that you learn.

“That (relates) to the whole ‘attendance, attitude and academics’ (message): You’ve got be there every day for your teammates and bring what you have to bring. You have to have a positive attitude no matter how many times you get knocked down, no matter how many times you fail, you’ve got to get up one more time than that. Those are the kind of things we talk to kids about.”

… on how his visits to schools motivate him:

“I’ve been very, very fortunate. That’s the inspiration. When I go to a school at 8:30 in the morning, and I put on an assembly, and that starts my day, I’m sure I’ve jazzed them up, I’ve gotten them excited, but I am so pumped. So that when I do one at noon and 2, and then go and give a speaking engagement that night to a Rotary club, that excitement just builds and builds and builds.”

… on how one San Juan Unified leader – his sixth grade teacher – shaped who he is today:

“I was very shy. I could not speak in front of people; I could not make a presentation. (My teacher) brought that out. He said ‘You’re going to be our emcee at our talent show.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that.’ He said, ‘I see you doing impressions of Ed Sullivan and John Wayne for your friends. You can do this.’ He then entered me in a Rotary speaking contest and helped me with that as a sixth grader. It’s one of the two trophies I own in life. … It changed who I was.”

… his thoughts on the meaning of leadership:

“I was asked as a junior in high school to be the captain of the baseball team. I was not the best player on the team. I was able to help motivate the team to be good, but I knew I was not the best player. And there was a reason they asked me to do that.

“And I think that leadership can be someone who stands up and motivates – inspires – but I also think leadership is (being a) role model that people want to follow. I believe that we all have a reputation – those are other people’s ideas of who we are. I believe that the character of who we are makes a difference. And what I urge young people to do, what I urge everyone to do, is to look to the character within themselves. That’s how you become a leader. You are a role model no matter where you are in whatever you do, whether you’re the CEO or the person cleaning the place up, you can show leadership.

“I can’t tell you how many schools I’ve been into, where the multipurpose room looks immaculate. These schools were built in the 1940s, 50s, 60s. That person who’s controlling that, who’s the person of influence there, can’t teach English, can’t teach science or math. But he can make those kids feel good about where they’re at, make that staff feel good about where they’re at. And that’s what they’re contributing.

“The scale is not north to south, the scale goes east to west. We’re all leaders. Step up and be the best you can be at whatever you do.”

SJUSD names Glynn Thompson new superintendent

As of May 1, the San Juan Unified School District’s (SJUSD) Board of Education named Glynn Thompson the District’s ninth superintendent.

GLYNN THOMPSON was named the ninth superintendent of the San Juan Unified School District, effective May 1. / Photo courtesy, San Juan Unified School District

GLYNN THOMPSON was named the ninth superintendent of the San Juan Unified School District, effective May 1. / Photo courtesy, San Juan Unified School District

A resident of Sacramento, Thompson joined SJUSD in July 2009 as the district’s first chief academic officer and has been serving as interim superintendent of schools since June 2011. He reportedly has more than 30 years of education experience as a teacher, principal and district leader.

Thompson said he accepted the superintendent position as he had made a commitment to the District through the work being done through its community-based strategic plan.

“The district is doing some amazing work and we’re getting results, but I felt strongly that we needed stability and leadership,” he explained. “So when the board asked me to accept the position, the only answer I could think of was a definite yes.”

Planning strategically

As he begins his term, Thompson feels the district has a number of strengths and has a rich tradition of success.

“We have the most California distinguished schools in the county, (and) we have many teachers that have been recognized by the state for their work in teaching,” he detailed. “The district has a very positive relationship with their labor groups (and) we have a very strong board of education.”

Thompson said he is proud of the District’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, which he said has already seen a number of accomplishments, including a successful visual and performing arts program, a dual language immersion school, and a public Montessori school.

“We’re talking about what does it mean to be a 21st century learner and leader in preparing our students to be effective citizens,” he added.

Moving forward, Thompson said the strategic plan will be used as a “road map” to plan where the future of the District is headed.

“We’re really facing some serious fiscal issues, and in San Juan we budget the plan instead of planning a budget,” he explained. “We have a very clear direction of where we’re headed and I think that kind of focus is really important to a district that is this large.”

Over the past few years, SJUSD has needed to cut between $30-50 million from its annual budget. Thompson said that if the November initiative does not pass, the district is looking at another possible $35 million in cuts.

“I’m very hopeful that the community will rally around this November initiative,” he said. “As it stands, the fiscal funding in California is broken and we need to do something together to address this serious issue.”

Community involvement

Thompson hopes to involve the community through new communication venues, such as the virtual Brown Bag Lunch Chat he had hosted on Friday, May 6 for parents, staff and community members. Based on the success of the event, Thompson said the district will probably host something similar again, plus they are looking at more ways for parents and community members to offer their input.

“School districts have traditionally been very good at disseminating information, but we sometimes haven’t done as much as we should in listening,” Thompson said. “And not only listening to feedback, but then doing something with it. So that’s one of the commitments of this administration: we will do everything we can to illicit input from the larger San Juan community. There are some extraordinary people in our district and so we want to listen.”

Future goals

Thompson said there are a number of issues the district is facing that he plans to work on. For instance, he will continue to look at all groups of student attending SJUSD schools to ensure they are college-ready if they choose to go that route.

“We want all students succeeding at high levels,” he said.

He plans to continue to look at the District’s drop-out rate.

“While we’ve made extraordinary progress over the past three years, we want to be the leaders in the state,” he said.

Additionally, Thompson is very proud of the focus on literacy the district has had.

“We want to be the lighthouse district in the state, where people look at us and say that they can learn from the good work that’s happening in San Juan,” he added.

Thompson said it all comes down to the bottom line, which is giving students the skills they need to be successful in college and career.

“We need to constantly be updating our strategies as teachers and leaders for preparing them for their next steps,” he added. “That’s something that we’re doing right now and it’s our ongoing commitment.”