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NORWALK - There was nobody else around when Alicia Rubio, the new principal of Sanchez Elementary School, first walked into her office on Aug. 2, her first official start date at the school, which is located at 11960 E. 162nd St. (by Hermosillo Park) in Norwalk. The teachers, the staff, and, of course, the students, were all still on vacation. The day custodian was there to let her in.
She said it was the right time to bring her 'stuff' in-plants, personal/family photographs, decorations, her professional books (for later reference). "I cleaned up the cupboards, looked through the papers and folders that were there," she said. "The next 7 days were spent training at the district office, the first two days strictly for the new Norwalk administrators, including me, and the rest of the days all of us training together, new and old administrators alike, including the La Mirada administrators."
When last Wednesday came around, fully a month had passed, and Rubio said a lot of things had in the meantime transpired. The week before, she had dinner with the members of the PTA board. On Tuesday, Sept. 3, she was introduced, along with Norwalk High School principal Ryan Smith, to the City Council. Earlier on Wednesday morning, there was held a get-acquainted breakfast that brought together the PTA board, teachers, and other staff. Moreover, the next day, Sept. 5, was the first day of school and everybody in the office was busy and getting ready to welcome the kindergartners-to-5th graders who are the main reason for the existence of the school in the first place.
Rubio, who has years of teaching experience (she was also a language arts and science specialist) as well as a rich background as assistant principal at Long Beach and San Francisco area schools (she even served as a substitute principal a few times), has her goals for the school year 2013-14 at Sanchez written down: 1) All Sanchez students will develop the skills necessary to successfully transition into the Common Core state standards and in taking the electronic version of the state tests in 2014-15 and beyond; 2) Sanchez's physical environment will demonstrate the care and high expectations we have for all our students; and 3) Sanchez' community of students, parents, staff and community members will work together to create a learning environment that is both caring and that demonstrates the expectation that all students can and will learn at high academic levels.
She said school safety, which immediately connotes the concern and periodic, usually unobtrusive, presence of police on campus, especially towards the twilight hours, is also part of the school program.
After-school programs include basketball and soccer (the soccer field is also used by the city), and private cheerleading practices by two groups (KG-2nd graders, and 3rd graders-5th graders).
She says student enrollment has reached the 400-population mark, but she anticipates more enrollment should materialize in the days ahead.
Rubio was born to 1st and 2nd generation Mexican parents in Los Angeles (at L.A. General Hospital) and from age 2 to 9 grew up in El Paso, Texas. With the family moving to Pico Rivera, she graduated from El Rancho High School. It was after two years in college (CSU-Long Beach) that she said she firmed up her decision to be a teacher. Rubio got her bachelor's in liberal arts in 1992.
She picks up the narrative: "Then I got my master's and administrative credential at San Francisco State. For 10 years I taught kindergarten, first, second and third grades in Long Beach and in San Francisco. I was also a science and language arts specialist during one of those years and taught migrant education Saturday school in Long Beach for two years.
In 2001 I became a vice principal in San Pablo, in Northern California. Although I loved it, that year my husband (Tom Brennan) and I decided to have a baby and move back to Southern California to bring our child up to with our families. I returned to Long Beach and taught first grade for two years. I became the vice principal at the same school (Emerson Elementary School) during my third year and remained at that school for seven more years, I transferred after nine years at the school and was a vice principal for two more years."
"Everyone has been super-nice here, very warm and welcoming," Rubio said. "The city has also been very supportive."
Sanchez Elementary School was named after Arturo A. Sanchez, who was born of poor parents in Los Angeles and made a name for himself as a tennis champion and at the same time was the recipient of a musical scholarship to the Pasadena Music Conservatory. His young family eventually moved in 1952 to Norwalk where they bought the family store, Sanchez and Sons (which still stands today), near their home.
The involvement of the Sanchez family continues to the present day: son Arturo II was the caterer at Wednesday's early morning get-acquaintance breakfast, while grandson Arturo III serves as this year's PTA president.
"I'm really excited and happy to be here and I want parents to feel really proud about where they'll be sending their kids."
Published: Sept. 5, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 21