Welcome to the second in an ongoing monthly series of articles that I am sharing with members of the community of Hesperia.  My name is Mark A. McKinney, and I am proud to be the Superintendent of the Hesperia Unified School District.

In any organization it is essential to have established values that represent their beliefs and characterize the "day to day" activities.  The Core Values for Hesperia Unified can be summarized as follows:

1)    Quality Educational Programs
2)    Fiscal Responsibility
3)    Quality Employees
4)    Safe Learning Environments
5)    Promotion of Strong Partnerships Throughout the Community
6)    Principled Relationships with All Employee Groups

As a school district, Hesperia Unified's major responsibility or Core Value is to provide a quality education.  As I have shared in the past, it is my personal goal that HUSD graduates have both a high school diploma and an articulated plan for "after high school."  That plan may include two or more years of college, or a vocational education program.  Whatever "the plan" may be, it provides direction for our young people to move on to the next stage of their lives and begin actively contributing to society.

Following are just a few examples of the assistance we offer to guide and prepare our students for their lives after high school:
•    High School Career Centers – assistance with college/career choices, scholarships
•    AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) – beginning at the elementary level, a program that encourages students with average grades to pursue a college degree and teaches them the skills to achieve that goal
•    VVC satellite program on our Hesperia High School campus – offering high school students an opportunity to earn college and high school units at the same time, while staying at HHS.
•    ROP (Regional Occupational Programs) – a wide variety of vocational education offerings (dental assistant, cosmetology, etc.) that teach students the necessary skills to obtain work to support themselves and their families.
•    K-16 Bridge Program - a partnership with the community colleges and school districts to ensure a smooth transition from local high schools to college.

For more information about these and other secondary offerings, please contact your child's school.

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Recent educational news has been filled with information about the state test scores.  I am excited about HUSD's overall Academic Performance Index (API) results.  As you are probably aware, API is the state's way to measure student performance in the core academic areas. For several years, the API target for all of our schools has been to reach 800 by the year 2010. We are well on our way to achieving that goal, as evidenced by our schools that have reached and even exceeded 800; several that are on the cusp of reaching this goal; and the score of 728 for the District as a whole. I am so proud of our schools and the work they do to enhance student performance.  

Special congratulations to Cypress Academy and Hesperia Jr. High for the noteworthy improvements in their API scores this year.  Cypress jumped 58 points to 819, and Hesperia Jr. increased by 54 to reach 720 on their API.  This level of advancement is significant for any school, but is especially impressive at a secondary site. Again, congratulations to all of our schools for their achievement on the API.

Such accomplishments do not happen by accident, and in this time of budgetary constraints is yet another example of the many ways in which our employees are learning to do more with less, and making lemonade out of lemons.

This article spotlights just one of our Core Values.   I invite you to visit the Governing Board link on our website (www.hesperia.org) to view all of HUSD's Core Values and Goals.  

Thank you for allowing me to share these glimpses into the workings of Hesperia Unified.  I hope you continue to stay informed about the things that are going on in our district, and will work with us to provide the best environment -even among these challenging fiscal times- for our most valuable investment, the children of Hesperia.  

Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, or concerns as they relate to our district by emailing me at mark.mckinney@hesperia.org.