EAST WHITTIER – Hillview Middle School Principal Wendy Davio has announced that she will retire at the end of the 2016-17 academic year after eight years with the East Whittier City School District. She joined the District in 2009 as principal of Murphy Ranch Elementary, and has been principal of Hillview since 2014.
Davio plans to move to Austin, Texas, to be close to her daughters, both of whom were students at Hillview, and her two grandsons.
“Wendy fostered a sense of community at each of her schools, bringing students, parents and teachers together to work toward raising academic achievement,” East Whittier Superintendent Mary Branca said. “She created a culture that supported and encouraged students to believe in themselves and take pride in their school. Wendy has done more than implement the District’s mission – she has embodied it. She will be greatly missed.”
Before coming to East Whittier, Davio was an educator with the Little Lake School District in Santa Fe Springs and was an assistant principal with the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District. Davio has a master’s degree in education from Concordia University and a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Biola University.
In her first year at Hillview, Davio collaborated with school counselors, assistant principals and teachers to identify and focus on students who needed additional support. They implemented “Husky Watch” as part of the District’s Response to Intervention program. The group meets regularly to discuss and assess student progress, and prepares an overall assessment of each student in the program at the end of each semester.
“We’ve seen tremendous results in being able to reach and have an impact on our students, and the assessments have shown great growth in our students,” Davio said.
At about the same time Davio came to Hillview, the District made physical and cosmetic improvements to the facilities at the school. Davio used that activity as a springboard to instill in students a sense of pride and respect in the school, as well as pride in themselves and respect for each other, staff and parents.
“It was a lot of little things,” Davio said. “We heavily promote a trash-free facility. We teach them that this is their campus, a city within a city, and to take pride in it and keep it clean.” Students are reminded to put away food and trash at lunchtime and to respect the school’s custodians.
As part of the school’s implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS), Davio collaborated with a committee of teachers to create a core set of values for the school. Using the Husky mascot as inspiration, they titled their approach the PACK Way, with the letters representing the attributes of Preparedness, Attitude, Capability and Kindness. The school has lesson plans that focus on one attribute each week.
“All of this has changed how our students feel about themselves,” Davio said. “They take greater pride in their school, and show more respect for one another.”
Davio also launched Helpful Husky Families, a parent volunteer organization that collaborates with the student body on events, projects and funding. At some of the larger events, such as the annual Spooktacular, 50 to 100 parent volunteers may be involved.
“We’ve found it to be a very positive partnership for the parents and the students,” Davio said. “We have a good core group that has worked very well.”
“It’s been a great journey,” Davio said. “There’s such a strong sense of community, of family, at East Whittier. I’ll miss the students the most.”
The District is conducting a full search for a new Hillview principal beginning in 2017-18.