San Jacinto SPEAKS brings new ideas to help SJUSD graduates find work in the community

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The San Jacinto Unified School District Board, superintendent, teachers and students joined with many community partners on Zoom Thursday, Oct. 1, for the first San Jacinto SPEAKS forum.

The San Jacinto SPEAKS online forum sought ideas from community partners of what the needs are for future employees as they return from college, trade school and the military.

“We want to know what they are looking for and how we can better support our valley employers, where our strengths are and where we can improve and the skills and qualities they are looking for,” Gale Hill, executive assistant to SJUSD superintendent David Pyle and the board of trustees, said. “We started off with students that spoke about the affects COVID-19 has had on them personally as far as not being able to return to in-person learning and the challenges it has presented. Overall, they want to be back in the classroom. They miss the relationships and personal interaction with staff and students.”

Following their commentary, representatives from the district’s parent advisory groups were heard.

Representatives from the San Jacinto African American Advisory Council said it is critical for children to be included and part of everything, with an extra focus on Black male students.

Special Ed Parent Advisory said reading is a major concern for their students and want their children more included in the general education community and are grateful for their director.

Latino Parent Advisory said older students are mentoring younger students, and they were grateful to have the professional development group to provide diversity.

Foster Youth and Homeless Parent Advisory said they did not have a meeting but distributed backpacks to their students.

The Native American Parent Advisory president and vice president discussed the goals and did an exchange activity seeking more participation.

In the question and answer session, Pyle asked the participants what SJUSD should consider as part of the graduate profile. The entire group broke into chat rooms to discuss the question.

The chat rooms produced a series of ideas for the graduate profile, including communication skills, social responsibility and ethics. They said the differences between schools provide the students with options, such as community college, trade schools, etc., beside four-year universities. They approved of resources as Mt. San Jacinto College in the community for students to attend two years and transfer to four-year universities.

Groups said that life skills need to be taught at the high school level and that students should have college career readiness and all options available to them. They said that the students learn the life skills adaptable to different cultures and the importance of soft skills, communication and celebrate the positive things they have going for them.

They said the graduates should be articulate and well spoken, communicate thoughts in a respectful manner, have resilience and build confidence.

They also said the students should develop good relationships, eye contact and be a role model for enhancing interpersonal skills. Those skills should include managing finances, writing a resume, writing a check, displaying leadership, peer mentors, have desire, motivation, professionalism and knowing how to market their skills. Graduating students should focus on the positive and look for parent involvement when possible.

The next San Jacinto SPEAKS forum will be held Jan. 21, 2021.

“We were pleased to have so many community partners discussing together and look forward to incorporating some of their ideas,” Hill said.

The SPEAK meetings were initially set up for SJUSD principals, parent advisory representatives, with some school board members, cabinet and community members and students, but others are encouraged to attend any or all of the SJUSD parent advisory meetings to support or give input and feedback. For more information, call 951-929-7700.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.