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Current Year Opportunities
During the 2019-20 school year, the world was significantly impacted by the global pandemic known as Coronavirus (COVID-19. On March 16, 2020, GCC and most United States schools closed to limit the spread of COVID-19. This forced closure caused many schools to ask how the Pandemic would affect students socially, emotionally, and academically. The research on childhood trauma offers valuable insights to schools because, as a public health crisis, COVID19 represents a distressing incident. Efforts to understand COVID-19’s impact remain complicated by continued uncertainty regarding the Pandemic’s severity and duration, with the crisis resembling an acute traumatic event initially and perhaps evolving into a chronic traumatic situation (especially for families who encounter financial insecurity and/or homelessness due to unemployment). For the 2021-22 school year, the GCC and our schools continued to refine our implementation of quality learning and social-emotional support for our students and staff. As we move into this school year, the journey of excellence in supporting our students, staff, and families during these unprecedented times remains a top priority. During this time, GCC has and will continue to leverage multiple state and federal funds and resources. Throughout GCC’s history, we have always strived to have student needs at the forefront of every fiscal decision.
Learning Loss & Recovery
School systems across the United States will require the exploration of research-based supports for student academic recovery from learning lost due to COVID-19 pandemicrelated extended school closures. Research suggests schools must go beyond typical remediation or enrichment opportunities to recapture the learning. During the 2021-22 school year, GCC implemented the following components derived from best practices and research such as;
- Determining and addressing the immediate needs of students and families.
- Implementing strategies and practices to address school-wide academic goals that support students' continued growth.
- Accelerate Learning.
- Provide social-emotional support for students and staff.
Rancho Del Paso School Campus Integration & Collaboration
Planning and development started during the 2021-22 school year for the collaboration and matriculation of Higher Learning Academy and Futures High School. This collaboration allows for the maximization of facilities and program offerings. During the 2022-2023 school year, GCC and site staff implemented a reconfiguration that brought both campuses under one administrative structure. This change will allow students and families to have instructional and programmatic alignment between both School programs and create more effective use of resources, facilities, and staff.
Teacher & Staff Shortages
California has been experiencing a shortage of teachers, especially in special education, bilingual education, science, technology, engineering, and math, for some years. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem. GCC has been working on aggressive tactics to recruit and retain teachers, including offering a competitive salary and other incentives and building our para-educator workforce to enter the teaching field.
As with the rest of the country, California’s most prominent barrier to overcoming this education crisis is high teacher turnover rates. Teacher turnover is indeed driving the demand for new teachers. Approximately onethird of the teaching workforce in California is nearing retirement. With this in mind, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning estimates that the state will need an additional 100,000 teachers over the coming decade. The GCC Human Resources department is being proactive in our recruitment efforts.
University of Massachusetts Global (UMASS) Partnership
GCC formed a partnership with UMASS (formerly Brandman University) to offer opportunities for growth and professional development for current GCC employees. This partnership has three main areas of focus;
- Assisting current employees who don’t hold a teaching credential to earn one,
- Assisting current teachers in pursuit of a special education credential, and
- Assisting teachers interested in pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Strategic Plan
The GCC is committed to fully embracing our rich, diverse community expressed through race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, immigration status, language background, language proficiency, and family structure. We recognize that it will take a commitment to open hearts and minds. We are prepared to continue the work, and we are continuing to implement the Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Strategic Plan for Equity provides guidance and a clear path for the work of the GCC, Superintendent, Board, staff, stakeholders, and the community. We acknowledge that this work is not done in isolation and requires the active engagement of parents, families, community, and school staff. We recognize that family engagement works best when it focuses on student learning, is built on foundations of trust and healthy relationships, and families and teachers see each other as equal partners. The goals and strategies of the strategic plan are envisioned through the lens of parents/caregivers as equal partners. We understand that the strategic plan and our work with; administrators, school site staff, and outside experts assist us in moving toward our goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Parent Engagement & Outreach
The GCC and our schools recognize parents as critical stakeholders and partners in the education and support of our students. For the GCC, meaningful parent engagement is when schools see parents as equal partners in promoting student achievement and recognize parents’ talents and skills as resources to encourage children’s educational development. When parents are involved, students experience improved outcomes and success. Recognizing the unique nature of the COVID-19 Pandemic and distance learning, the GCC Community Engagement and Development department will work to support parents in a virtual world through events and programs and coordinating parent engagement efforts with local social services and non-profits.
Capacity Building (Building Our People)
Investing in our staff has always been part of the core of the GCC. Throughout our 20 year existence, we have offered several opportunities and book studies for all staff. For the 2021-22 school year, Superintendent Dr. Cindy Petersen led her 26th and 27th cohort of “Crucial Conversations.” As we prioritize building our people, we will continue to create professional growth opportunities. In the 2022-23 school year, we plan to host a “GCC Con” offering workshops and activities taught by staff members with interest or expertise in the area. GCC will continue to go deeper in our work with author and consultant Lyle Kirtman to build leaders across the organization.
Capacity Building (Growth Leadership)GCC has always made it a priority to grow leadership from within the organization. As we move into the 2022-23 school year, we have expanded to two new executive directors of educational program roles that will fulfill critical needs for multiple GCC schools and programs. Each of these directors is currently leaders within the GCC; therefore, it will be necessary to continually grow leadership at each of our school sites as we backfill these roles.
From the beginning, GCC has always had a vision of providing wraparound and whole child support to our students. Through grant funding from California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP) we will be able to start the planning to support our schools’ efforts to partner with community agencies and local government and align community resources to improve student outcomes. These partnerships will provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement. Community school strategies can be a practical approach to mitigate the academic and social challenges that affect local communities, improve school responsiveness to student and family needs, and organize school and community resources to address barriers to learning. Community schools often include four evidence-informed programmatic features, which are aligned and integrated into high-quality, rigorous teaching and learning practices and environments:
- Integrated support services;
- Family and community engagement;
- Collaborative leadership and practices for educators and administrators; and
- Extended learning time and opportunities.