First published in the Aug. 11 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
Brian McDonald, Ed.D.
Special to the Outlook
Aug. 11 is the first day of school in the Pasadena Unified School District and we’re looking forward to a great new school year with our students. Our teachers, administrators and employees are ready to inspire the joy of learning in every child every day.
The students of Pasadena Unified are extraordinary, and we’re looking forward to more amazing academic achievements, more exciting athletic competitions and more extraordinary student performances.
To continue strengthening the academic opportunities and social-emotional wellbeing of our students, this year PUSD has expanded transitional kindergarten to 11 locations, added a new Armenian world language program at Webster Elementary, launched innovative Ethnic Studies courses at high schools and offered opportunities to extend the learning day with before- and after-school programs.
PUSD’s exceptional visual art, music, theater and dance programs are reaching new heights with the student-designed and student-performed production of “Into the Woods,” a groundbreaking collaboration with professional artists that will be presented at the Pasadena Playhouse as part of its Sondheim Celebration this season.
We’re also prepared for the complex challenges that we will certainly face in the coming year as the COVID-19 virus remains with us. The District’s Health Programs team continues to work tirelessly to keep our students safe and healthy with vaccine and testing clinics. Since August 2021, our small team has administered more than 3,100 vaccinations and more than 133,000 PCR tests. They have also distributed more than 138,000 over-the-counter rapid home antigen tests and provided ongoing health guidelines amid changing circumstances.
PUSD’s student-led Think Tank is connecting students across campuses, raising consciousness and creating equity within the district and the region. They understand that we can only make progress through cooperation and communication. They are also demonstrating that, with this generation, anything is possible.
This fall, graduates of PUSD’s Class of 2022 are beginning their studies at some of the best universities in the country, including Berkeley, Harvard, Yale and UCLA, due in no small part to our exceptional programs and educators.
As we look to the new school year with excitement and hope, we know that there will be joys and challenges ahead. Our district is embarking on a strategic planning process that will guide our leaders and serve students in the next decade. The Superintendent’s Enrollment Committee is working on strategies to recruit and retain more students.
We look forward to welcoming current and future students to our great district where I am honored to serve as superintendent.
Brian McDonald, Ed.D., is superintendent of the Pasadena Unified School District.