My name is Louise Valenciana-Ruiz. I am a cancer survivor and an
Elementary School Principal in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School
District in California. HLPUSD is an urban school district with
approximately 22,000 students in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles
My school site is Workman Elementary in the city of La Puente. Our
overall enrollment is approximately 625 students. As a Title I Schoolwide
Project school we enjoy our 85%+ students on free and reduced lunch and
approximately 90% of our students are Spanish surnamed. Our other
populations include approximately 3% Asian, 3% African-American, and 3%
For the 2002-03 school year, our school site will include two new
Special Day Classes (SDC). One class will be SDC Preschool with eight
students and one SDC K-3 class with 7 students that are severely disabled.
I am excited about the gift of new experiences. I have never worked with
SDC students, parents or staff in my 25 years as an educator.
Cancer survivor, you may ask...well, I was diagnosed with Fibroblastic
Osteogenic Sarcoma in January 1999. I began chemotherapy in March 1999.
My tumor (15cm) was removed in August 1999. Gratefully my surgeon was able
to perform limb-salvage surgery on my left leg. I lost my fibula and
perineal nerve. I have foot drop, which is just like a ballerina foot, so
I must wear an orthotic up to my knee to support my leg and to facilitate
walking. I also use a cane. I completed chemotherapy treatments in January
2000. I have been on Interferon treatments since February 2000. I just
celebrated 36 months of remission. I'm alive!
1. Children at the Preschool through Grade 5 have many of their challenges
with learning disabilities met at school as long as their parents have the
knowledge to investigate what services their children can qualify for.
Parents of these children that are limited English proficient have many
more obstacles to overcome. Many school districts do not have School
Psychologists to assess their verbal, physical or academic needs. Many
children are not identified until well into the Kindergarten school year if
fortunate to live in an urban school district.
2. Gender equity? In many cases there have been improvements.
Unfortunately there isn't enough staff development training in this area.
Yes, it is a compliance item in school compliance reviews in the state of
California, but many teachers naturally do not show equity in questioning
and/or types of activities provided in instructional programs. I
frequently observe teachers that call on boys to respond to questions more
often than girls. Many girls have learned to accept this and seldom raise
their hands in class. Thus, they are ignored or learn they don't have to
3. Resources? Well, my own school district and our program specialists
provide me and my teaching staff with needed information. Our school
district has a support group for the parents of physically handicapped
students. We also use Websites to investigate topics such as autism,
Elementary School Principal,
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, CA
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