The 2015-2016 school year at Woodlake High officially began Tuesday, Aug. 18, for the 678 students currently enrolled. In the current school year there are new teachers and staff who in this digital age will seek to prepare students with the key skills they will need for their college and professional futures.
Principal: Rick Rodriguez
Now in his second year as principal, Rodriguez is focused on generating excitement about learning. Each faculty member, during a series of training sessions, was asked: “What can you do to motivate your students?”
The consensus answers touched on four areas: passion for the subject matter, create a safe environment for students to speak openly, provide positive feedback, and facilitate groups for students to teach each other.
“In other words, how can we get students to speak more and write more about the learning experience?” Rodriguez asked.
Principal Rodriguez said he knows his teachers have the attention of students through all new media and technology and now the challenge becomes: How can we better engage these students in their individualized learning and career paths?
College and Career Coordinator: Carmita Pena
Formerly the head counselor, Carmita Pena steps up to assume the new administrative role to help Woodlake High School meet California’s new Career Readiness Standards. Among Pena’s new duties will be to oversee the Agriculture Academy and the Natural Resources Pathway.
In the Agriculture Academy, students will develop skills in work-based learning and can become certified in farm and ranch vocational areas like welding and shop mechanics.
The Natural Resources Pathway focuses on plant and animal science careers and provides a head start in finding and creating new jobs in California’s ag-economy sector.
Pena is a WHS alum and has an educational background in Psychology (B.A.), Counselor Education (M.A.), and a credential in Administrative Services.
“I’m excited to try something new and challenging and look forward to helping students plan for the future,” Pena said.
Counselor: Elizabeth Moya
Filling the vacancy in counseling created by Pena’s promotion is Elizabeth Moya. Moya is from Dinuba and said her familiarity with that community and its similar demographics will serve her well at Woodlake.
Moya recently completed an M.A. at Fresno Pacific and has a Pupil Personal Services (PPS) credential. She will work with the English learners, advise the younger students as to their requirements, and be the advisor of the MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) club on the Woodlake campus. MECha promotes cultural and historical pride among the Chicano/Chicana student population, promotes higher education, and encourages political involvement.
WUSD Athletic Director: José Palomo
José Palomo, who has taught the last 17 years in Woodlake schools, was hired as District Athletic Director. It was only recently that the school board approved the expansion of the position of athletic director to district-wide, making the job a full-time position.
Palomo’s responsibilities will include working with students, parents, and coaches from all the District’s schools and feeder schools (Three Rivers and Seville) to create a streamlined set of standards. The district hopes to close the gap of its entire school community to develop better athletes and implement an inclusive plan for Woodlake sports.
“All our students from the district and its feeder schools will eventually be on the same page with the district’s goals and philosophies,” he explained. “It’s going to take a huge effort from all the stakeholders, but I look forward to working with students and coaches to reach our goals.”
Palomo, a 1991 WHS alum, says his new role as district AD is about bridging the gap.
“I want the students and coaches to have more practice time at the high school and know all the players and coaches in the program,” he said.
* * *
Information for this article was compiled by Molly Dunn.
Next week: Meet the new teachers at WHS.