Staff members gathered outside the venue at 7:30 a.m. for a continental breakfast and wonderful entertainment provided by the Diamond Bar High School Funk Band under the direction of Steve Acciani.
Inside the church, the 8:00 a.m. program began with rally-style music provided by the Walnut High School Pep Band under the direction of Dr. Buddy Clements and Corey Wicks, opening flag ceremony by Diamond Bar Girl Scouts and national anthem sung by Walnut High senior soprano Gabriella Robison.
Once again, Dr. Kathy Granger, assistant superintendent of human resources and Robert Chang, director of human resources, hosted program that included t-shirt give-a-ways and over 50 raffle prizes.
“Good Morning Walnut Valley!” Granger exclaimed, opening of the high-spirited event featuring recognitions of long-service employees, 2012-13 Teachers of the Year and Cornerstone Award recipients.WVUSD Employees of the Year Samantha Horton, the 2012 Classified Employee of the Year and Maggie Strand, the 2012-13 District Teacher of the Year, took a few moments to address their peers.
“Classified employees are a large part of what holds Walnut Valley together,” said Horton who has worked in the Transportation Department for the past 25 years.
“As a bus driver trainer, I am only as good as the drivers I work with. I’m lucky enough to work with the most conscientious, safest and caring group of drivers out there. I couldn’t have done it without you guys!” she said.
Chaparral Middle School science teacher Maggie Strand shared that she recites the “Top 10 Things I am Grateful for” out loud each morning. She includes her students on the personalized list.“I am struck by how much I feel that (gratitude) in my heart,” as I say the word ‘student’ each day,” she said.
“This is the feeling that ignites us as teachers. Not the latest test scores or test trends, but the internal desire to motivate, inspire and reach every student who enters our classroom,” Strand added. She encouraged the Walnut Valley educators as they plan their year, to remember to include things that truly excite them, so that they can maintain an attitude of excitement and gratitude.
Superintendent Dr. Bob Taylor delivered a keynote message themed “Leading Change” to nearly 1,000 staff members in attendance.
Dr. Taylor acknowledged the tradition and rich heritage in Walnut Valley. During the past several weeks, he has been listening and learning from current and former staff, administrators and community members. He said he was surprised to learn the District’s first Superintendent, Cyrus Morris, also drove a school bus. And he noted the countless special stories he’s heard about Superintendent Dr. Ron Hockwalt’s compassion and love of people.
The WVUSD Superintendent also met with former Walnut High Principal Dr. Ken Gunn to help learn the deep history of Walnut Valley. And last month, Dr. Taylor took the three-hour community bus tour with former Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Ray McMullen. It was also a special day marking the retired administrator’s 60th anniversary date of employment with the District.
The new District chief recently met with the Employees of the Year who expressed that they are “both humble and thankful for their colleagues. They are wonderful representatives of our Walnut Valley staff,” he said.
Numerous parents have also shared their pride toward our schools and community with the new Superintendent.
“And they are so thankful to all of you,” Dr. Taylor said.
“I think it’s important to know that we hold onto that past and tradition. And that it’s such an important time to be in education,” he added.
“We are going to experience monumental changes in education across our country.
And here in Walnut Valley, where we have historically experienced such high student achievement, we will continue to lead the change that will come through the state and the country,” he said.
Dr. Taylor outlined three areas of focus for Walnut Valley: building relationships across the organization, fiscal stability and continued focus on student achievement.
In closing, Dr. Taylor highlighted an example of student success with a brief video of Walnut High senior Adanna Duru, a Season 3 contestant on NBC’s hit series The Voice. Then in a surprise performance, the talented singer/songwriter took the stage for the program’s finale.
Staff members jumped to their feet clapping along as the 16 year-old sang and danced through the aisles performing “Valerie” featured on the Glee TV series.
“When I met Adanna last week, I told her that I knew she’s been on The Voice and at the House of Blues,” Superintendent Dr. Taylor said after the performance.
“But now you get to sing for Walnut Valley – this is your big break!” he quipped.
Adanna has just completed a music video and is currently recording an album that will be released on iTunes this spring.“Thank you so much all for all that you do. I really look forward to getting out to all our schools and meeting you. I appreciate all of the work from our classified, certificated and administrators – you’re all doing a great job and thank you for being so welcoming,” Dr. Taylor said.
--Courtesy of the Walnut Valley Unified School District