First published in the Oct. 15 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
Photos by Erin Rodick
At the State of the Schools breakfast this week, the Glendale Unified School District welcomed and celebrated the new pledge by the Glendale Educational Foundation to unearth a variety of internship opportunities for students.
“This means once again,” school board President Nayiri Nahabedian said, “GEF has stepped up to support and enhance our programming by making a commitment to connect Glendale Unified students with local business and civic leaders who will provide our students with valuable, work-based opportunities.”
The GEF made the commitment for this school year alongside the usual rounds of fundraising and donations it makes to support GUSD’s operations. To hear Superintendent Vivian Ekchian say it, real-world work opportunities and experience are seen as a key part of educating the whole student and preparing them for life after high school.
“Our students deserve to receive the support that all of us can put together to help them become college-, career- and life-ready,” Ekchian said at the Thursday morning event.
Ekchian came bearing much good news for the annual speech, which was hosted at the Glendale Civic Auditorium.
Enrollment is slightly up this year, even as schools across California continue to experience declines — in no small part because of district’s transitional kindergarten expansion. The superintendent touted the robust dual-language immersion programs, commitments to improving mental health services and ability to provide technological support to students as being a strong incentive for families.
Ekchian said it wouldn’t be possible for the district to be this strong without the help of groups such as GEF and other volunteers and donors.
“We have had the good fortune of many, many others who are serving us and funding us,” she said. “This is a collaborative effort, really a mosaic of our putting students in our community.”
Nearly 5,000 students are enrolled in some level of after-school care — just about double the usual number, Ekchian said. She added that the district learned a lot from contending with the coronavirus pandemic and admitted that it necessarily helped them achieve some goals ahead of time.
“Did we plan the pandemic? No. But would we have been able to close our digital divide in a very short period of time? Absolutely not,” Ekchian said. “There are silver linings, and the fact of the matter that our students now use technology for learning and our educators have become masters in the use of technology in the classroom is really important and needs to be celebrated.”