Whittier Union brings on 30 new teachers
By Juliette Funes
WHITTIER – Pioneer High School has a new assistant principal of curriculum at the helm, Steve Rodriguez, a former administrator at El Rancho Unified with more than 15 years in education.
The addition of Rodriguez comes on the heels of the Whittier Union High School District hiring 30 new teachers – the largest number of educators the district has hired in a single school year since 2007, ensuring that it meets its commitment to reducing class sizes and adding more sections.
“Because of our commitment to reduce class size, we have hired more teachers than we have for several years and are thrilled to welcome them to the Whittier Union family,” said Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson. “I have no doubt that each member will help us honor our dedication to student success.”
Rodriguez, a native of Pico Rivera who now lives in Whittier, earned his bachelor’s in Social Science, master’s in Education and master’s in Educational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University.
During his 15-year career at El Rancho Unified, Rodriguez taught history and social science at Rivera Middle School for eight years and then transitioned to El Rancho High School as the dean. He later served as assistant principal of business and activities and assistant principal of curriculum.
While at Pioneer, Rodriguez said he aims to improve the student experience and positively impact student learning.
“As the assistant principal of curriculum, my role will be to support our teachers so that they have all the resources they need to ensure student success,” Rodriguez said. “I appreciate being part of a district that stays closely focused on improving student achievement for all of its students.”
Pioneer High School Principal Monica Oviedo said Rodriguez brings a rich educational background to the school, having worked closely with El Rancho teachers to support them in Common Core implementation and helping to improve teaching and learning.
“Steve served El Rancho Unified in various capacities, from being a student, teacher and coach to leading as a dean and assistant principal, demonstrating a tremendous work ethic and genuine humility along the way,” Oviedo said. “I am excited that he has joined our team and know that he is truly thrilled to be a part of our Titan family.”
In addition to Rodriguez, Whittier Union hired 30 other certificated staff, which includes teachers, deans and counselors who are working across the district. The additional staff members are a result of the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a spending plan that calls for reduced class sizes and more counselors, among other programs.
To initiate them into Whittier Union, the 30 new hires – some of whom were on temporary contracts last year and were welcomed back to permanent positions – participated in Teacher Power, an orientation program introducing them to the district’s mission, vision and the cornerstone of its curriculum, the “Whatever It Takes” initiative.
“We have such an amazing group of teachers and staff, who work together in setting high expectations for our students at Whittier Union,” said New Teacher Program Specialist Wendy Brandt, who will guide teachers in their first years. “We’re very blessed to have such a collaborative learning and teaching environment with the focus on student support and success.”