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CITY OF INDUSTRY - Hacienda La Puente Unified has named Cedarlane Academy Special Education Specialist Perla Granados-Ordaz the 2023 District Teacher of the Year, recognizing her success in creating transformative and innovative learning experiences and providing a positive impact on students, families and the Thunderbird community. Granados-Ordaz specializes in the instruction of sixth through eighth-grade students.
District administrators, Principal Kim Lee and colleagues surprised Granados-Ordaz in her classroom with flowers, kudos and praise to announce the news on April 21, celebrating her customized lesson plans and numerous accomplishments, including coaching the school's top-ranked robotics and speech and debate teams.
Granados-Ordaz will move on to participate in the 42nd annual Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year competition, hosted by the Los Angeles County Office of Education to focus public attention on teaching excellence and honor exemplary dedication, compelling classroom practices and professional commitment.
"I felt so many emotions when the District shared the news with me," Granados-Ordaz said. "I was surprised, overwhelmed with joy, honored and everything in between. Nothing like this has ever happened to me and I feel so grateful. I show up each day for my students with the goal of teaching them the skills they need to be ready for high school. When they're ready to promote, I know I have done everything I can to ensure they succeed in the future."
Growing up with a younger sibling who had attention deficit hyperactive disorder, she learned the importance of educating a family about special education and school programs available to support student needs. In elementary school, she began volunteering in special education classrooms and said that she quickly found that teaching was her passion.
Upon completing high school, she worked as an instructional aide and pursued her studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. While working as a substitute teacher, she obtained a master's degree in Special Education and a Mild/Moderate Education Specialist Credential. She has been a proud Cedarlane Academy educator for the past seven years.
"When I think about transformative and innovative learning, I always think about Mrs. Granados," Lee said. "She encourages her students to think outside of the box by implementing the core skills of our global partnership with New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, enabling her students to thrive in a challenging environment.”
During her study skills course, Granados-Ordaz prepares students for success by collaborating with her students' educators to better understand areas of opportunity and teach new skills. She also incorporates executive and functional skills into their routines, including organizing backpacks and supplies and enforcing deadlines to teach discipline.
Additionally, she has helped the school's robotics and speech and debate programs grow as they continually receive top honors in numerous competitions. Some of these accomplishments include leading the elementary and middle school robotics teams to the 2023 Regionals and winning the 2023 Large School Middle School District Championships for Speech and Debate. Granados-Ordaz is currently gearing up to support her seven advancing speech and debate students on their journey to the 2023 National Championships this June.
“Thank you to our exceptional educator Mrs. Granados for your commitment to providing our students valuable learning opportunities in education and life,” Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez said. “On behalf of the entire Board of Education, we commend all our educators on another successful year dedicated to creating hands-on project-based education and real-life practices that inspire our students to dream big.”
HLPUSD_DISTRICTTEACHEROFTHEYEAR1: Sixth-through-eighth-grade special education specialist Perla Granados-Ordaz is celebrated during the 42nd Annual Los Angeles County Office of Education Teachers of the Year Program banquet on Sept. 22.
Four Hacienda La Puente Unified schools were named 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 19, recognizing public and private elementary, middle and high schools' academic excellence and success in closing achievement and opportunity gaps.
Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez and Board of Education President Christine H. Salazar rejoiced with the community at Glen A. Wilson High School during a video announcement viewing party and FaceTimed administrators at Los Molinos and Wedgeworth elementary schools and Mesa Robles School to congratulate them on their accomplishment as their school's names also flashed across the screen.
The Hacienda La Puente Unified schools were four of only 33 schools in California and 353 schools nationally to be recognized as 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools.
"On behalf of the entire Board of Education, I want to congratulate all four school communities on this well-deserved recognition and extend my gratitude to not only the administrators, educators and students, but also to our incredible parents and community members who help ensure the success of our District communities," Salazar said. "I am overfilled with emotion today and honored to stand before you all in honor of this remarkable achievement. I am a proud product of HLPUSD and a Wilson High School alumna. This recognition represents all the hard work and dedication happening here and across all our schools for years and years to come. Congratulations to all our winners; what a special day to rejoice in your accomplishments."
Each school chosen for this prestigious award offers students a range of innovative and unique academic programs and extracurriculars to engage students’ minds and prepare them for life after graduation.
This is the second time both Wedgeworth and Los Molinos elementary schools have received this prestigious honor.
Wedgeworth is well-known for its Mandarin Dual Language Immersion program that enhances students’ knowledge of other world regions, cultures and global issues, shaping them into the next generation of global citizens. Los Molinos Elementary School provides students with various innovative and enriching learning opportunities including Coding Campus, Lego League, keyboarding, a leadership club and a community garden.
Mesa Robles School boasts several top-performing clubs, including the Science Olympiad and robotics programs, that encourage students from kindergarten through eighth grade to develop an interest in science, technology, engineering and math.
Glen A. Wilson High School was recently recognized as being in the top four percent of high schools in the nation, according to the 2023-24 Best High School rankings by U.S. News and World Report. The school offers students six unique career technical education pathways and more than 50 engaging clubs.
“I’m incredibly proud to see not only Wilson but our local elementary and middle schools receiving this award,” senior Hannah Esguerra said. “It’s cool to be a part of something bigger and I have so much pride knowing that I am a Wildcat and member of the HLPUSD family now and forever.”
All Hacienda La Puente Unified School District schools focus on the development of the whole child, providing New Pedagogies for Deep Learning framework, strong community and family engagement, rigorous curriculum, and a wide variety of college and career pathways to help prepare students for future success.
“Every day, I am honored to be the Superintendent of this remarkable District, but today is an exceptional day for us all as we celebrate four of our schools on receiving this distinguished award,” Jiménez said. “Thank you to our entire District community for creating safe and welcoming learning environments where our students master challenging and engaging content.”
HLPUSD_BLUERIBBON1: Wedgeworth Elementary School students and staff celebrate being named a National Blue Ribbon School during a nationwide video announcement released on Sept. 19.
HLPUSD_BLUERIBBON2: Glen A. Wilson administrators, educators, students and families celebrate community during a National Blue Ribbon School viewing party hosted by the District.
HLPUSD_BLUERIBBON3: (From left to right: Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez, Glen A. Wilson High School Principal Dr. Danielle Kenfield and Board President Christine H. Salazar congratulate other award-winning schools via Facetime during a viewing party on Sept. 19.
CITY OF INDUSTRY – La Puente High School students have an opportunity to immerse themselves in dance and nurture their creative talents through the school’s popular and dynamic dance program, which has expanded and transformed into a three-year career technical education (CTE) pathway – one of three exciting new visual and performing arts (VAPA) programs making their debut in the 2023-24 school year.
La Puente High has also rolled out a three-year Graphic Design CTE pathway, which will teach students how to create their own products and learn what it takes to become a professional entrepreneur. The new CTE pathways are joined by the Youth Cinema Project, which comes to La Puente High after its successful implementation at select Hacienda La Puente Unified elementary and middle schools.
The dance pathway is open to any student, regardless of experience, with the first year dedicated to learning the fundamentals of dance. In the second year, students will learn about dance history, with a focus on teaching students to choreograph their own dance routines. The third year is the Capstone course, where students will both learn and teach dance, working with elementary and middle school students, as well as outside professionals.
The pathway aims to prepare students to enter the workforce, either as teachers, fitness instructors or stage choreographers. For Sparks Middle School students, the pathway begins early, with La Puente High Dance and Cheer Program Director Michelle Riggs now teaching dance to students in grades 7-8.
“The dance program at La Puente is truly a unique and rewarding experience,” LPHS senior Alyssa Sanchez said. “You not only get to perform, but engage with your school and District community. I would encourage any incoming freshman considering dance to not let anyone diminish your shine and go for it – you won’t regret it.”
The graphic design pathway is for students with a flair for creativity, entrepreneurship, drawing, communication and more, focusing on creating visual content, adding it to apparel and introducing the students to small business ownership. Students will then reach out to local businesses to offer their services. La Puente graphic designers recently created beautiful school-themed shirts for Bixby Elementary School’s color run, as well as shirts for La Puente football players and other clubs on campus.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I first started high school, but graphic design has been an out-of-this-world experience and I’ve learned so much,” La Puente sophomore Calico Lopez said. “The teacher not only shows us various ways to bring things to life but also encourages us how to successfully operate a business.”
The Youth Cinema Project comes to La Puente High after pilot programs in elementary and middle schools across the District inspired students to explore the basics of filmmaking and tell their stories. The program, administered by the Los Angeles Latino International Film Institute, focuses on all forms of film production, including script writing, directing, lighting, sound mixing, acting and editing.
Industry professionals will visit with students twice a week to help with their storytelling and lesson plans. Students will have the opportunity to showcase their films during the Film Institute’s annual summer film festival in June.
“I think it’s really cool that the District offers this program to students of all ages,” La Puente senior Angel Millan said. “When I grow up, I’d love to work at an animation studio so the Youth Cinema Project is an amazing experience for me.”
The dance, graphic design and cinema programs are still open for any student wishing to enroll. Applications are currently being accepted for all classes. For more information, visit the La Puente High Future Warrior website.
“Thank you to our Board of Education for helping us reach new levels of achievement by bringing new innovative CTE pathways and expanding our programs across the District,” Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez said. “At Hacienda La Puente Unified, we are dedicated to inspiring deep learning and helping to prepare our students for exciting careers across a multitude of emerging professions.”
HLPUSD_CTE2: La Puente High School announces its dance captains for the 2023-24 season with a team celebration during the first day of school on Aug. 9.
HLPUSD_CTE3: Junior Dolant’a Foley, a Digital Graphics student ambassador, showcases the new CTE classroom and equipment during a District interview on Aug. 25.
Dear Hacienda La Puente Unified Community,
This month, we welcomed our students back to campuses for the 2023-24 school year. Our schools were filled with joy as teachers and staff held detailed onboarding presentations and fun-filled collaborative activities, acquainting students with their classrooms, teachers and curriculum.
The first day of school on Aug. 9 was a celebration across the District. Our students walked through balloon arches and down red carpets, leading them to band performances, hand-painted banners across campuses and dancing school mascots. Please visit our District YouTube channel to watch a video recapping our festivities.
In August, we also welcomed families to campuses for our annual Back-to-School Nights, providing parents with principal introductions, teacher presentations, classroom tours and expectations for the new school year. The events will continue throughout September and will conclude with Workman High School’s Back-to-School night on Thursday, Sept. 21.
We continued our District collaboration with a Site Based Leadership meeting on Aug. 28, where HLPUSD administrators and school leadership teams shared and analyzed data from each school site and collectively created an action plan to ensure deep learning every day.
HLPUSD is committed to creating an environment where every student feels welcome and our families feel heard. This year, we are committed to continuing to find creative ways to embrace our differences and highlight the voices within our community. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share feedback with us during our virtual community meetings and completed the input survey regarding the possible school reconfiguration beginning in the 2024-25 school year.
Lastly, I want to remind our District community that September is Suicide Prevention Month. Please keep a lookout for various mental health documents, virtual meetings and other informational messages designed to support our students and families sent via our parent/teacher notification system – ParentSquare.
The school year is already off to a fantastic start. I look forward to seeing our students and staff continue to engage, experience and connect throughout the school year!
As always, we are #proudtobeHLPUSD.
Sincerely, Dr. Alfonso Jiménez
CITY OF INDUSTRY – The energy was electric as Hacienda La Puente Unified students were ushered onto campus with friendly cheers from teachers and staff, motivational speeches, musical performances and lively welcome rallies to celebrate the first day of school on Aug. 9.
Across the District, each high school campus varied its celebrations to match their school spirit. William Workman High School rolled out the red carpet to give students a star-studded welcome to campus, bedecked with balloons and hand-painted welcome banners. Los Altos High School celebrated with a full day of activities, including an assembly about resilience led by inspirational speaker Dee Hankins, a dance party and team-building exercises.
Glen A. Wilson High School’s band and leadership students greeted their peers with a lively performance that led students to their designated class sections in the gym, where juniors and seniors taught incoming freshmen the traditional Wildcat song and chant and competed in various battle of the class games. Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets and leadership students from La Puente High School greeted new and returning students with a tunnel walk while the school’s band led spirited musical numbers to energize students as they arrived.
“The collaboration, school-themed decorations and family-oriented welcome festivities were a great testament to who we are as a District community,” Board President Christine H. Salazar said. “On behalf of the entire Board of Education, thank you to everyone who had a part in our first day of school celebrations. We look forward to continuing to develop, sustain and promote programs of excellence and create strong partnerships with our parents and community to ensure student success.”
The District’s elementary and middle schools welcomed families onto campus to take photos with mascots and decorated backdrops, help students find their classes and meet their new principals and teachers.
“I am so excited to start this new school, see all my friends and meet my new teacher,” third-grader Etta Houston said. “I love school and math so much and I am ready to learn new things.”
Hacienda La Puente Unified is expanding its programs and Career Technical Education pathways (CTE) across the District this school year. All four comprehensive high schools will incorporate the speech and debate program into their curriculum and all fifth-grade classes will participate in the dance program, Conga Kids. The Youth Cinema Project program and Graphic Production Technologies CTE pathway will now be available to La Puente High School students. Glen A. Wilson High School is also introducing its highly successful medical program, Biotechnology, as a new CTE pathway.
Hacienda La Puente Unified will also provide additional support to the community’s youngest students by expanding its universal transitional kindergarten eligibility for students turning five years old between Sept. 2, 2023 and April 2, 2024.
Check out the District’s YouTube channel for a video recapping the first day of school festivities.
“Thank you to our Board of Education for supporting our new and returning programs and to our outstanding and hard-working staff for creating individualized and fun-filled welcome back festivities for our students,” Superintendent Dr. Alfonso Jiménez said. “In support of this year’s theme, ‘Engage, Experience, Connect: Deep Learning Every Day,’ we are expanding our supportive and global innovative learning environments rich in visual and performing arts, advanced technology and a challenging course of study to meet the unique needs of every student. We are ready for a great year!”
HLPUSD_FIRSTDAYOFSCHOOL1: Fairgrove Academy students walk down the red carpet to greet teachers, staff and the Falcon mascot before the start of the first day of school on Aug. 9.
HLPUSD_FIRSTDAYOFSCHOOL2: Sparks Middle School’s new principal Dr. David Nieto (center) and staff prepare to welcome students and families to the first day of school on Aug. 9.
HLPUSD_FIRSTDAYOFSCHOOL3: Cheerleaders at Glen A. Wilson High School get ready to pump up new and returning Wildcats during a welcome rally on the first day of school on Aug. 9.