A Letter Written by Focused Schools Senior Consultant, Lou Stewart
Months ago, after seeing the Downey Unified School District videos, the Mammoth Unified School District ILTs made plans to visit Downey Schools in March to get an in-depth view of the road ahead (Downey is one year ahead of Mammoth in the process). However, due to the number of snow days (schools closed) that happened this winter, Mammoth decided to prioritize their instructional time and that they couldn't be out of classrooms any more than necessary, so they cancelled the visit.
We communicated with our Downey friends about the cancellation and our disappointment. They responded with "We will come to you!" With the full blessing of Downey superintendent, Dr. John Garcia, ILT members from Downey High School and Griffiths Middle School made the 6-hour drive last Wednesday and joined our Mammoth ILT PD day on Thursday. They presented their story to our Mammoth ILTs (with wonderful videos, pictures, and artifacts), answered questions, then worked with us for the rest of the day. We ended that day breaking bread together at dinner, at a local Italian restaurant, hosted by Mammoth USD.
On Friday, the Downey teams toured the Mammoth schools in the morning, and joined them for minimum day site-specific PD time at each school, where all of each schools' teachers were present.
On Saturday, some of the Downey team members went skiing (The Mountain donated complimentary lift tickets!), and then late in the afternoon they drove back to Downey. We had incredible weather - blue skies, 50 degrees, and the snow is starting to melt away so getting around town was easy.
We had a great time and made some long-lasting connections between our two school districts for future collaboration. In fact, we already have tentatively rescheduled the Mammoth visit to Downey for October and are looking forward to deepening our ties and learning even more from each other.