LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and CED Superintendent Tony Thurmond visit campus

During the hectic first week back in the classroom, California Department of Education Superintendent Tony Thurmond finished his tour of LAUSD schools with his visit at Van Nuys High School on April 27. Thurmond was joined by LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and District 6 board member Kelly Gonez.

Before entering the campus Thurmond expressed to Mirror Staff his interest in introducing a state-wide high school internship program “It will help California Students coming out of the pandemic by allowing them to continue to learn about career pathways while earning some money. They will be able to support themselves and their family as well as improve the economy.”

The trio was shown around campus by Principal Yolanda Gardea and other school admin. The first stop on their tour was biology teacher Peggy Shim’s advisory class. Here Shim expressed how glad she was to see students back in the classroom. “Its really hard to make that emotional connection over zoom when we’re just looking at screens,” says Shim.

During a visit to math teacher Amira Saunder’s class, Thurmond gaged student interest on the implementation of mandatory ethnic studies classes through assembly bill AB-101. The students had a positive response to this idea.

“I’d like to learn about people’s cultures so that people don’t feel like they need to justify their races,” said a student.

The final stop was Joseph Agruso’s auto shop class. The class was a model for what a covid-classroom should look like with PPE surrounding each desk and appropriate air filtration systems in place.

“When you can do this at what is the largest district in the state and the second largest in the country, I think that sends a powerful message for what is possible for in-person instruction and support to our students,” Thurmond said.

While only a few hundred students returned to school Beutner felt hopeful and encouraged by the display at VNHS.

“As children hear from their neighbor, families hear from their neighbor down the hall that we’re doing it the right way, I think we’ll see a gradual increase in in-person attendance,” Beutner said. “This will continue through the summer and by the time August rolls around, we’ll have a full day with everybody back at school.”