ELYSIAN HEIGHTS — After two months without a principal, Elysian Heights Elementary School welcomed Emilio Garza as its new principal late last year. Garza came to the school that serves Elysian Heights and Echo Park from James A. Foshay Learning Center, a public, LAUSD K-12 school located in the West Adams District.
Garza’s new role as principal comes at the onset of the national Common Core Curriculum. With this educational transformation, comes a leader who is eager to prepare students with the skills needed in the twenty-first century.
“It [Elysian Heights] has highly qualified/passionate teachers, a diverse school population, and a community ready to assist in making Elysian Heights a phenomenal school. This combination of elements will engender a more thoughtful and authentic evolution into the Common Core,” Garza said.
Garza has spent the school year learning about the school’s traditions, students, faculty and community. He’s investigated the possibility of starting a Spanish Dual-Language Program at the school and is preparing for a major fundraiser, Elysian Height’s first annual 5K on Saturday, May 3. The fundraiser inspires a healthier lifestyle and community while raising funds for enrichment activities and modern technology for teachers to enhance their instruction.
Garza believes that his role as an educator is to serve as an advocate for instruction that challenges and engages students through inquiry and project-based learning so that students could apply the knowledge they gained in the classroom to solve twenty-first century challenges.
“Our children will graduate from our school knowledgeable about content, but more importantly, understand how to leverage that content to analyze real world issues confronted by their community. They will have the confidence to research, collaboratively design a solution, execute a plan, and reflect on the work they have completed with the intent of continuing to evolve as learners,” Garza said.
Garza, a graduate of USC who has taught English and social studies, applied his educational philosophy or global leadership at Foshay. During his seven years as assistant principal, Garza converted Foshay into an International Baccalaureate School. He also helped create a global and interdisciplinary team of teachers to use the UN Millennium Project’s web portal to investigate the 15 global challenges faced by humanity. In addition, he worked in partnership with NetGeneration of Youth, SMART Technologies and the Khanya Project to facilitate the development of a three-year sister site agreement with South Africa’s Oude Molen Academy of Science and Technology.
The first annual Elysian Heights Elementary 5K on Saturday, May 3 is free and open to all residents but the school is accepting donations in return for a souvenir t-shirt, medals and race number bib.
For more than 10 years, Cecilia Padilla Brill has worked as a freelance writer. Her extensive experience combined with a versatile writing style has afforded her the opportunity write general news, health, education and feature stories for print and online publications. She also writes for the entertainment and nonprofit industries as a marketing communications consultant. Cecilia is currently working on her first novel. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Texas.