In a meeting room packed with educators, business leaders, public officials, and parents, the Los Alamitos Unified School District Superintendent meticulously painted a picture of how the district has adapted to provide the same qualities of educational opportunity to every student in the system.
In a one-hour “State of the District” address filled with supporting videos and live audience examples, Superintendent Andrew Pulver, Ed.D., demonstrated in layers why and how the unified system has adapted to provide unique, but equal educational opportunities for today’s highly individualized students.
“When we think about this,” said Pulver, “every single child (in the system) belongs to all of us.”
“What we want is, at least in terms of the preparation, and the qualities and characteristics and the opportunity we want for our own kids, we should want for all,” the superintendent said.
Moreover, he suggested the responsibility to make this happen goes beyond the walls of district schools into the community itself.
“It takes all of us in this room, all of our schools, all of our families, and our students to be forward-focused to ensure that every single school works for every student, not just some of them,”
Pulver said such an approach made it possible in 2022 for Los Alamitos High School to graduate 100% of its senior class.
Graduation, said Pulver, is not the endgame for students. “Their journey does not end here. They’ve moved on but this is where we pass the baton.”
In addition, Pulver said today’s educational ecosystem continues to pay homage to a community that 43 years ago, came together to merge three different school systems into the Los Alamitos Unified School District to “shape the educational journey for our students.”
With nearly 9,000 students and more than 1000 employees, Pulver said “all of our schools have different experiences, but we are driven by one mission, and we’re so blessed to be a part of it.”
Pulver said each student is on their own individual educational journey. To illustrate the point more vividly, the superintendent displayed a map of the United States and invited everyone in the room to map a journey from Los Alamitos to New York City.
“We’re going to go on a journey,” said Pulver. “Try to think about what this journey is and the journey is going to be different for all of us. And it’s going to be different for all our students. And that’s an area that we really want to continue to talk about,” he said.
Pulver said each student is on their own individual educational journey.
Everyone in the room was asked to pick three stops on the way to NYC and list why. Pulver called on several people to get up and explain their three stops and why they were chosen. They were wildly different but nevertheless, they all ended at the same destination.
Thus the point.
“The dreams that our students and our families have constantly changed so we (Los Al Unified) cannot be static. We can’t be the same district we were 15 years ago; 10 years ago. We have to be more focused on the students we have now and what their dreams will be as they move forward with their educational journey,” said Pulver.
It really started with a big old vision of igniting unlimited possibilities for our students, he said.
“It is written on the walls of our district office and our boardroom and it is still one of the things we continue to do,” he added.
“We’re constantly trying to adapt and evolve to make sure that we’re serving the needs of every single one of our students and our families,” he said.
“Their goals may change along this path,” said Pulver, and so we want to make sure that we’re providing that foundation, we’re providing the skill sets to make them think unlimited that they believe anything is possible.”
Every student “will have highs and lows and twists and turns along this journey,” the superintendent said, “so our job is really to make sure that we are preparing them to open all doors and giving access to every individual,” said Pulver.
“Our board is so committed to creating simple goals that really focus on what we are really all about,” he added.
“Our first goal,” the superintendent surmised, “is passionately pursuing academic excellence for all students and that we provide unparalleled preparation for college and career success, no matter what that next journey,” he said.
Another priority, said Pulver, is to provide a “thriving and safe culture that ensures caring, inclusive, equitable and a student-centered environment.”
Pulver introduced Carrie Logue, the Executive Director of the Los Alamitos Educational Foundation (LAEF), the nonprofit partner of the district that is “an amazing partner” who consistently “finds ways to enhance the vision and mission that we have for all of our students.”
LAEF, and its partners, are the annual sponsors for the “State of the District” breakfast. Logue reiterated the critical role played by the community in the overall viability of the unified school system.
“It is important that we focus on what we do as community members, really putting our children and the next generation first,” she said.
As a nonprofit partner of Los Al Unified, “we enhance educational excellence and we’re well known for many support areas, including our after-school and summer enrichment classes.
Logue said LAEF now takes advantage of a grant model, making funds available to support areas within the system for various stated purposes. Since 2015, she said, LAEF has provided approximately $450,000 in grants throughout the system to support STEAM education.
LAEF has amazing partners and supporters throughout the community, she said. One Rossmoor couple, Gurjit and Mohinder Sethi, who donated $50,000 to help the district and
LAEF complete the construction of “The Oasis” outside the “Loft” Well Space at LAHS, were introduced as an example of a generous community.