Hermiston School District Superintendent Fred Maiocco has a dream that all students in the district will be prepared for life after high school.
In a series of community input meetings, Maiocco described how the district is working to get students into college, technical schools and more to make sure they have a plan for life after they leave the public school setting. He said programs, even at the elementary school level, are being implemented to get students more college and career ready.
In order to accomplish that, Maiocco said the district has identified specific underlying goals the schools are pursuing, which include creating a college-going culture, getting teachers and students ready for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for next year and increasing the opportunities for science, engineering, arts and mathematics and career technical training.
Maiocco said through teacher trainings, school clubs and applied curriculum, students are advancing at a rapid rate, as evidenced from the districts recent report card ratings.
We had above average ratings at almost all our schools across the district, he said.
He said officials have also been working hard the last couple of years to provide new technology, such as iPads, Promethean Boards and more to each of the district classrooms, starting at the elementary level.
To give students more worldly exposure, Maiocco said he also has plans for expanding the world language offerings within the district as currently, Spanish is the only language that is offered.
We want our students to have access to all of these things to ensure that they have a sustainable future,?he said. We have gotten a lot of feedback from the community that not all students are suited for a four-year university education. That is Ok with us. We just want to make sure that they have options and a plan for when they graduate.
Throughout the meetings, community members also had the opportunity to ask Maiocco and School Board member Karen Sherman questions on what the future of Hermiston School District will look like. One person asked about the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and how officials were going to decide on the materials to ready students for the rigorous requirements.
Maiocco said the plan is to hold a series of Common Core meetings in the spring where students, parents and other community members will be able to look through the potential materials that the district schools could be utilizing. Their input would then be weighed when it came time to selecting specific materials for each grade level, he said.
That option will definitely be available to members of the community, he said.
One other person asked if the district was prepared for any tragedy similar to the shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, to which Maiocco stated teachers and other staff have been trained for those types of situations.
Maiocco said one of three community meetings scheduled that was particularly successful was with the Hermiston Hispanic Advisory Committee. He said more than 30 individuals attended, as opposed to the few they saw in their other meetings.
Committee member Eddie de la Cruz said he saw the meeting with Maiocco and Sherman as a very positive step for the Hispanic community.
I am really impressed with how the school district is responding to (the hispanic communitys) needs, he said. They really care about what the needs are.
One advisory member asked about the possibility of the district offering more after-school opportunities for students. Cruz said Maiocco said officials are working to provide as many opportunities for students as they can.
I see this as a great opportunity, de la Cruz said. I was very pleased for the superintendent showing up to the meeting.