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Just Communities May Newsletter

Canalino Elementary Creates a New Vision for the Future


What a difference a year makes! In that time, a beleaguered staff came to their first meeting with Ana and Jarrod from Just Communities to begin the process of forming a collective vision, mission, and strategic plan. After seven years deemed a "failing school" and in Program Improvement, leadership changes, and strife over the "answer" to the "problem," teachers were each asked to reflect, write, and then identify a single word that captured their personal passion for educating young children.

We then shared personal stories that convey the meaning behind those words passion words. At the close of that hugely powerful session, one by one teachers held up their visual representation of the word they chose, and it was evident to all that there were far more commonalities among them than there were differences.

Through subsequent meetings with the teaching and non-teaching staff, parents and students themselves, a mission statement was formed, a vision made clear, and a plan began to take shape. And then, another leadership change two weeks before school started. Would the progress be stopped in its tracks?

I was appointed principal by the school board, and, symbolically, the day I walked into the office in my new role, having been a teacher at this school for so many years, I was soon joined by many members of the staff, from various roles, who rolled up their sleeves, and together, we began to put things in place to welcome students in short order.

The implementation of our plan has been smooth, swift, and met with enthusiasm from all stakeholders. The success has been in viewing every decision through the lens of our mission. No one person decides our direction; we decided it together, and pursue it likewise as a team. The essential element of communication, long missing from the leadership of the school, continuously reminds us of where we have been, where we are going, and why.

As a teacher, teacher leader, and now principal, it is my strong belief that leadership involves finding the strengths of each individual on your team and creating a synergy of all the talents towards a united effort for systemic change. We are moving, and staff, students, families, and the community are behind us every step of the way.

Working with Just Communities put us on this path to success on behalf of our students. Jarrod and Ana were able to help us crystallize, through their thorough, reflective, connected process what was always at the heart of the school. It was not only a visioning and planning process, but a healing one as well.

-Jamie Persoon, Principal at Canalino Elementary School

A Successful Spring For Our Language Justice Initiative

Our two Language Justice Initiatives in the Santa Maria Valley and Ventura County have just wrapped up their programs for the spring season. Both regions held an Interpreting for Social Justice Workshop, a One Room Many Voices Workshop, and a community event where program graduates shared their plans for their area.

Congratulations to all our Language Justice Initiative graduates and the staff and volunteers that made all this possible!

"This was a truly eye-opening experience to understand all the pieces that interpreters juggle when working on our communities' behalf. I loved that every single activity built upon the next, drawing from the knowledge and life-experience of our particular group. This brought us together in a very special and personal way, and I'm excited for the future work our red de la justicia lingüística will do together. My sincerest thanks and appreciation goes out to Just Communities' staff for organizing this vital workshop

right in our backyard."

-Amisha DeYoung-Dominguez, Interpreting for Social Justice Workshop Graduate,

Oxnard, March 2014

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