We Are SFUSD

We Are SFUSD

Andrew Va'i

“Ole ala ile pule, ole tautua” which translates “the path to leadership is through service”. Throughout my lifetime of work within the community and education, I have prided myself in helping others. It is that action that I lead with to change the world, having the ability to serve. The changes that we seek to make on a macro level are only possible through the interpersonal.

Andrew (Drew) Va'i

Alumnus

Chelsea Boilard

I remember vividly learning about wealth inequality with Peer Resources. I was a student at Lowell High School, and while I knew that inequality existed, that poverty impacted some communities more than others, and that such inequality caused deep harm, this workshop was the first time I had been given a framework, tools, and language with which to describe it, and consider my own role and privilege in this country’s economic system. This moment—that I remember so clearly more than 20 years later—marked an awakening for me, and Peer Resources deserves some of the credit for my early political development.

Chelsea, Boilard, Alumna

We are SFUSD

Michael Essien

I believe in using the Community School Model and a ‘whole school approach’ to address challenges for both students and teachers. As an educator, my goal is to provide opportunities for youth to exercise student agency. It is through student agency that we disrupt the harmful social reproductive nature of schooling and liberate children.

Michael Essien

Principal, Martin L King Middle School

Yesenia Deras

My aunt and uncle worked at SFUSD for many, many years. My aunt for years had been telling me to work for the district because I’d get to work with kids. I finally got tired of what I was doing and I thought, ‘I’ll try it.’ And I just love it. I try to encourage the students to participate in activities and let them know, ‘Hey, this is memorable. You’re going to talk about this when you’re my age. You’ll remember and laugh.’ I try to encourage students to show school spirit by showing school spirit myself.  Once you tell them, ‘We’re going to do this, we’ll be a part of it,’ they’ll say, ‘Ok, I’ll be there. I’ll participate too.’ ”

Yesenia Deras

Counseling Office Assistant, Balboa High School

Ramon Martinez

I truly love my job. My favorite thing about it is that I give people hope. It’s a good feeling for me to be in an office where we start the process of solving situations that seem unsolvable when they first come up.  I work to earn the trust of every parent. The first thing I tell parents is that I don’t have the authority to sign off on the changes they want but that I will put all of my heart to promote their case to all appropriate staff ,knock on everyone’s door, to protect their child's best interests. Of course nothing is achieved without the wonderful help of the school's administrators and of the other departments throughout the District. Si se puede!

Ramon Martinez

Manager, Office of Family Voice

Roberto Vargas

My parents and my elders have given me the example of serving my community and communities in struggle. I consider it a privilege to serve my community and hope to do it with love, care, and humility. So, the greatest impact I hope to have to have on young people is to get out of their way, to listen, and to be supportive. I believe the youth will make a better world than we’ve left them.

Roberto Vargas

Alumnus, Mission High School

Jeremy Hilinski

One of the things I love about this job is consistency. At Bret Harte, the predictable nature of who the students’ teacher will be, year in and year out, who the principal is going to be, year in and year out, matters to our community.  For me, the biggest piece is the consistency of high-quality staff. Find the right people, support them, make them feel really good about themselves so they stay here year in and year out. That is especially important for kids who have had inconsistency in their lives. When their school is a consistent element, it’s a much better place for them.

Jeremy Hilinski

Principal, Bret Harte Elementary School

Betzabe Herrera, Mission High School student delegate

I decided to be a student delegate on the Board of Education because there is not a large representation of students of color, let alone immigrant students. Coming from that background and as a student at Mission High School, I wanted voices that are not necessarily heard to be heard. Because of that and the community, I’ve grown up in, it made me realize that this is what I want my future to be. It might not be in politics, but I definitely do want to be that voice for people who don’t have the opportunity to speak up.

Betzabe Herrera

Student Delegate, Mission High School

Laura Wentworth

The Stanford-SFUSD partnership helps to build a body of evidence to inform decisions in hopes of improving policy, practices and outcomes for students. When I see administrators reference the research as evidence to justify a decision that will positively impact students, that’s a win.

Laura Wentworth

Director of Research Practice Partnerships for California Education Partners

Wil Dunford, EdD

At Civic Center Secondary, at the root of all we do are the concepts of peace, justice, equity, struggle, and liberation. We say to our students, “I am not successful until you are successful” and that is a pledge from the adults to the students. And the students test that, to see if you’ll give up on them. But when you don’t give up on them, they understand that and then trust has been established. That’s what we do.

Wil Dunford, Ed.D.

Assistant Principal, Civic Center Secondary School

Cheryl DeSanti, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent

I began my SFUSD career as an elementary school secretary and those daily tasks exposed me to the true meaning of diversity, fearlessness and social justice. My role in assisting the Superintendent is truly my dream job. I experience how ideas that guide SFUSD students and their education are created and brought to life. Dr. Matthews gives me daily doses of inspiration and sparks my motivation with his deep commitment, dedication and a smile for all students and staff of SFUSD. It is a challenge that I am humbled by and rewarded for in so many ways.

Cheryl DeSanti

Executive Assistant to the Superintendent

Jett, Student Delegate, Lowell High School

I was close to the previous Board of Education student delegates from Lowell, and they inspired me to “go for it.” As a Student Delegate, I will try and be a role model by being honest and a friend to other students. The Student Advisory Council is an amazing program for its inclusivity and mission to be a platform for student voice and engagement.

Jett

Student Delegate, Lowell High School

George Saunders

Equity is at the center of everything I do, ensuring every child has equal access to instruction in the classroom. I am always building my knowledge and seeking ways I can improve as an educator and building my capacity so I can show my best self when teaching and interacting with my students and colleagues. I teach my students the power of yet. That we are all still learning, and that it may take someone a little longer to learn something but as long as we’re getting better, as long as we’re improving, that's what really matters.

George Saunders

First Grade Teacher, Tenderloin Community Center

Tamitrice Rice Mitchell

I know from my experience as an early education administrator and principal at Drew that it’s possible to change the game for students and their families in neighborhoods like the Bayview. But it takes focus, along with an all-hands-on-deck approach to improving instruction, school climate and more. To prevent the gap from undermining student success, children need a strong and seamless foundation of high-quality learning opportunities from PreK through third grade. That means teachers and school administrators need to talk across grades about how students are learning, what they are learning, what’s working, what’s not, and why.

Tamitrice Rice Mitchell

Assistant Superintendent, Cohort 3

Principal Eric Guthertz

For me, it always goes back to the students. I’ve been here for a long time--18 years--as a teacher, a counselor, instructional coach and then principal for the last 11 years. Every single day when I get up, it’s about the kids. They’re funny, they’re smart, they’re deep, they’re thoughtful, and they see the world in ways that I could never imagine. For me, there’s no question that hanging out with teenagers all day is really the best thing in the world.

Eric Guthertz, Principal at Mission High School

Sydnie in front of pink wall covered with letters

I grew a lot at Galileo. Participating in sports and student government gave me more confidence to take on anything after I graduated.

Sydnie Lee, Alumni of Galileo High School Class of 2010

Kaelynjoy, kindergartner at Malcolm X Academy

I love my friends, I love my school and I even love gymnastics! I get to do homework. I love homework. The thing I love most is everyone at this school!

Kaelynjoy, Kindergartner at Malcolm X Academy

Raoul Wallenberg High School student Mahnoor Wani

I came here four years ago from Pakistan and my teachers have been helping me prepare for college. I want to study pre-med or biology. My plan is to become a neurosurgeon. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health. I started a club called Bring Change to Mind, which is a mental health awareness club. I had my first meeting today.

Mahnoor Wani, 11th grader at Raoul Wallenberg High School

High school student Kyle from Ruth Asawa School of the Arts

My friend Grace and I started a student-led environmental club and it really took off. The first year we had 12 students, this year we have 40. When we started engaging students, the most common misconception I found was that students feel they don’t have power. In the environmental club, we’re finding that if we set our minds to something, if we have a positive goal in mind, we can make a difference.

Kyle, Ruth Asawa SOTA

Landon Dickey

We have an obligation as a school district to ensure that each and every one of our students has access to a high quality educational experience. I believe that to truly live up to the mission of our district, we have to put in place intentional work to support African American students and families, and we have to be unapologetic about doing so.

Landon Dickey

This page was last updated on June 27, 2022