July 27, 2022
Dear Sunnyside Employees —
Have you ever thought of yourself as a leader, a change-maker, or someone who can grow and develop things and people? I confidently believe that every single one of us has the potential to lead no matter what title appears after your name, and that the best indication of successful leadership is being able to mobilize people to direct their energy to action that will make things better.
I am so excited to kick off the 2022-23 school year, a year filled with endless possibilities and new beginnings as we welcome both new and returning teachers and support staff. In addition, although not new to SUSD, a total of 17 Principals and Assistant Principals will begin the year committed to ensuring that schools are safe spaces for teaching and learning. The energy I feel across the district is both electric and contagious!
This summer, district leaders gathered for the Annual Leadership Summit to retreat, reconnect and get grounded in our goals for the year. Our theme was inspired by the hit summer movie “Top Gun: Maverick”, and as you guessed it, aviator sunglasses were fully present. The timing of our retreat was critical to my transition to Superintendent and the transition of all the new leaders across the district. Over the course of the summit I observed a few things worthy of sharing with you today:
- We have committed leaders who understand the importance of prioritizing the success of ALL students
- We continue to strive for a culture of accountability
- We share an understanding that leadership is about purpose, not position
Never in my wildest dreams did I think of becoming Superintendent. In fact, a college education seemed far-fetched for a kid that came from humble beginnings and a working class family, but people believed in me—and that allowed me to believe in myself.
For this reason, I challenge everyone in this organization to think deeply about how you show up for the kids we serve. For many, work and school is and should be a safe haven, a place where you go to learn, grow and flourish. Create those spaces for our students and each other, and be the person that helps others believe in themselves as much as you believe in them.
Let’s provide our students with the best educational experiences possible and do what it takes to help them achieve what is beyond their wildest dreams because the next doctor, police chief or superintendent might be the young person you believed in.
It is an honor to serve alongside each and every one of you, and I wish you all an outstanding 2022-23 school year!
Ready to Serve,
Jose Gastelum, Superintendent