To support the students

Starting Monday, April 1, Dr. John Garcia takes over as the new Downey Unified School District Superintendent. Garcia went to Carpenter Elementary School, South (now Sussman) Middle School, and is a 1985 graduate of Downey High School.

Hanna Suarez, Editor-in-Chief

With the early retirement of ten-year superintendent Dr. Wendy L. Doty in March of 2013, Dr. John Garcia was welcomed into the Downey Unified School District office on April 1.

Dr. Garcia worked his way up from the start of his educational career as a fifth grade teacher to a principal and now to superintendent of the school district he attended as a grade school student.  As a Downey High graduate from the class of 1985 and later graduate of CSU Long Beach, Garcia originally wanted to work with computers and later began to  pursue work in law enforcement—earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice—but these former options were discarded once he “accidentally” became involved with  teaching.

“After getting into teaching, I realized that I loved working with kids,” Dr. Garcia said, “I really enjoyed being in education and working with young people.”

The new superintendent began his schooling at Cerritos College and continued his studies until he attended Clairmont Graduate University and received a Ph.D. in Education. He is familiar with the setbacks and distractions that young students face and has used his experience to advise his students and help them set themselves up for academic success.

Dr. Garcia is keeping himself busy by trying to acquaint himself with the schools in the district and familiarizing himself with the classrooms, students and teachers. He recently paid a visit to campus and spoke with  administrators and several teachers.

“I think he’s going to bring it back to students first,” Principal Tom Houts said. “One of things I really push is student involvement…and I really hope that he sees the value in that and keeps the community and student involvement.”

Dr. Garcia admits that it is important for students to experience learning outside of the classroom.

“The district has been supportive of having our graduates be well rounded students,” Dr. Garcia said, “and that means giving them plenty of opportunity in the arts—plenty  of opportunity in extracurricular things, whether it be athletics or our CTE [Career Technical Education] pathways.”

During his campus visit, Garcia was able to pay a visit to Greg Born’s Tech Core room O-1. Born teaches his students to map out their future, and skills for a career, while also helping them prepare for college.

“Everything that I do is hands on,” Born said, “so I’m hoping he will promote all the hands on activities that I have here…I  try to give them some skills that would lead  to a career, either directly from my class or skills would lead them to a higher level class.”

Dr. Garcia is excited for the students in regards to some of the upcoming career oriented classes, like the Automotive Technology program, which will be available at the beginning of next school year.

“I think that it’s going to give our students a powerful opportunity for those who are interested in the automotive industry,” Garcia said. “It’s excellent training and anything in the automotive industry is a great career.”

In working to ultimately support the students and staff at Downey, and the other schools in the district, Dr. Garcia is giving back to the community which he gives credit to providing him so much while growing up.

“I feel very lucky to have been able to come home to the community I grew up in,” Garcia said, “because when I was growing up this community gave me a lot of support. I feel very fortunate  to be able to come back and give back to the community that gave me so much.”