New teachers, programs greet La Jolla students

By Aug. 28, all of La Jolla’s public schools were back in session. In addition to the hundreds of new students (whether freshmen, kindergarteners or transfers), some La Jolla schools welcomed new faculty. Here is the rundown on what’s changed this year.

La Jolla High School

La Jolla High School has eight new faculty joining the Vikings staff. Among them: two new math teachers; one new teacher in special education, science, history, English and Industrial Arts; and one new counselor.

Earlier this calendar year, LJHS was granted a full six-year Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation. “After all our hard work last year, we certainly deserve to pat ourselves on the back,” said Principal Charles Podhorsky. “In order to continue moving in a positive direction, we will use our WASC findings to celebrate our accomplishments, as well as provide direction for our future growth.

“With continued commitment and refinement of the work we do, I know that La Jolla High can become a model school for all schools. I believe with all my heart that La Jolla is destined to be the top high school in the country. We have a wonderful group of teachers and staff with passion for students.”

Muirlands Middle School

Muirlands Middle School hired seven new teachers, many of whom are experienced secondary teachers within San Diego Unified School District.

Principal Harlan Klein said students will start school on a newly cleaned and recently improved campus. “Over the summer, the campus was power-washed and all classrooms deep-cleaned. In addition, some landscape projects and locker maintenance were completed,” he said. “Students will also enjoy the new tables and umbrellas in the quad area that were installed at the end of last year.”

Bird Rock Elementary

Bird Rock reports no major changes, but notes that this is the second year in which the State of California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will be implemented.

In a letter to Bird Rock families, Principal Amanda Hale wrote, “NGSS requires students to ‘think like a scientist,’ build models, and explain investigations. Students will engage in the study of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM) through projects and a connected learning approach. The BRE Foundation has funded a resource teacher, Mr. Ashworth, to support teachers to strengthen their understanding of NGSS and the instructional shifts that align with this approach to learning.”

Torrey Pines Elementary

Although it is also business-as-usual with no major changes at Torrey Pines Elementary School, Principal Sarah Ott said there were certain areas about which the school is “extremely excited,” chiefly its technology and Spanish programs and the Back-to-school Community Block Party.

“We are pleased to highlight our unique collaboration with our nearby top-ranked academic institution, UC San Diego.

“Dr. Nadir Weibel, TPES parent and professor in UCSD’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, has spearheaded our technology program, which brings talented UCSD students to teach technology (coding, 3D printing, robotics) to eager TPES students. These college students will also consult with teachers to incorporate technology into the curriculum,” said Ott.

Further, the Spanish program has been expanded and is available to all students.

As for the Block Party, 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24 on the TPES campus, Ott said, “It’s our largest family event of the year, and it was started three years ago as an effort to focus on school community involvement.” Last year, she said, families from other local schools attended.

La Jolla Elementary School

Administrative staff did not respond to La Jolla Light’s request for information for this report.