Dear Mt. Diablo Unified Friends and Community,
I am writing with strong emotions to let you know that I will be leaving Mt. Diablo Unified School District. After many rewarding years as Administrator, School Linked Services, I will explore a new role — starting next school year, I will head up the Student Services Department in Berkeley Unified.
I can only BEGIN to tell you how much I will miss our students and my colleagues in Mt. Diablo Unified. We have served many children and families together, bringing smiles and wellness into the lives of our children.
The Homeless Outreach Program for Education (Mt. Diablo HOPE), Foster Youth Services, the District Positive Behavior Team (Expulsion Diversion) Youth Employment Services (WIOA), Elementary Mental Health, School Social Workers & Interns, Suicide Prevention, 180 Juvenile Crime & Gang Prevention in partnership with MCC & CPD, School Wellness Centers, MTSS School Coordinated Care Teams, Equity, supporting people living in poverty, support for recent immigrants and refugees, serving young people with special needs, all of these programs and services started with shared vision and depended on strong collaboration.
We put the needs of our students first so that each child could access our amazing teachers and classrooms.
How it started for me in MDUSD:
After moving back to the United States from Tokyo, Japan, I worked in Hunter’s Point, San Francisco, then joined Mt. Diablo Unified as a School Social Worker at Mt. Diablo High School.
At MDHS, funding was tight, but we had “sweat equity,” teachers, parents and students and community members willing to come in on Saturdays to clean, sweep the former book room, and build the Diablo Community Center (DCC) at MDHS. Working together, we established the first School Wellness Center in Mt. Diablo Unified. It was inspiring to be a part of something that was bigger than any one of us.
Kids started coming to school more often, there were more smiles on campus, fewer conflicts, and we were quickly inundated with the number of students who asked for social, emotional, and academic support. Our superintendent, assistant superintendents, legal, fiscal, and personnel departments, my wonderful supervisors, and the MDUSD Board of Education, helped us to create partnerships with businesses and community agencies to support our learners. We connected with parents and foster parents as partners, and began to change the outcomes of the youth we served.
Smiles & Diplomas
As we approach high graduations this school year (2018), we see strength and resiliency in our young people that is truly astonishing. Against all odds, overcoming barriers, walking across that stage wearing a cap and gown. Our work is beyond rewarding.
Belief in others is contagious. At School Linked Services, we say, “If you want to know what someone will be like when they’re 25 years old, take a look at them when they’re 24 1/2.” We have seen SO many young people defy expectations. We learned not to judge or to think that we could predict the future of others. Our students taught us that “behavior is not the kid,” and the past does not define the future.
We learned to talk openly about race, equity, and privilege. We focused on wellness, social, emotional & behavioral health, and used proven-effective approaches; creating “packages of support” for our students with unique educational needs. We learned tremendously from our students with special needs. They taught us to start by listening, to work collaboratively across district office departments, and to break down silos in order to suppot dedicated teachers, principals, and school site staff members.
HOPE HOLIDAY DONATION DRIVE
Our annual HOPE Holiday Drive gave community members a chance to Give Back and “sponsor” individual children for the holidays, fulfilling wishlists for children in foster care and who were homeless. The outpouring of generosity has grown every year.
It has been a privilege to work alongside amazing educational leaders and mentors, classified employees, teachers, dedicated staff members from MDUSD, and our partnership agencies.
Our shared vision for equity and meeting the unique educational needs of vulnerable children has guided our decisions, and our work together.
The MDUSD programs and personnel who serve children who are in foster care and children who are homeless will continue to be reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. MDUSD Student Services can be reached at 925.682.8000;4069.
I bear witness to the increasing social, emotional, digital behavioral health needs of our children, and the opportunities that we have to support them.
When we combine excellent instruction with support for our students facing hardships, life stressors, and internal challenges, we see amazing results.
I am proud of our strong collaboration, and the programs that we developed to serve our students.
Thank you for all you do to support the learning of our children and youth. We learn the most from the children we serve.
It has been an amazing journey. I will miss you. ♥️
James Wogan, MFT, LCSW, PPSC
Administrator, School Linked Services