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Educate, Elevate, and Empower at EMCSD

Summer Break is over and El Monte City School District (EMCSD) has changed their approach to start the year by prioritizing relationships and community building in their schools. This approach is called the First 10 Days of School Plan (F10) and comes into place after conversations with teachers, administration, students, and families about the emotional and social impact students have experienced since returning from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We introduced our F10 Plan to reconnect our school communities with the goal of helping our students build strong foundational relationships and belonging,” stated Dr. Maribel Garcia, EMCSD Superintendent. The effects of the pandemic have had an impact on student learning and their social-emotional well-being. Therefore, EMCSD has decided to take formative actions to help students better acclimate to school after summer break.

The first ten days at all EMCSD schools started with skill-building lessons ranging from understanding emotions to managing relationships and social conflict. Icebreakers and bonding exercises were introduced so students could be comfortable around their new peers and teachers. Lessons on the dangers of vaping and digital citizenship were also discussed with students.

The F10 Plan involved EMCSD partnering with El Monte Parks & Recreation to provide students with a social-emotional learning day with themed field activities. Students participated in bubble crafting, balance beam obstacle courses, and calming artwork.

All schools also held individual F10 plans. Cortada School started the year with family breakfasts. Every day, students and families from one grade level spent the morning having breakfast with school staff. “We want all parents to know we want the best for their child, and it takes a team effort. This meeting had a tremendous impact on parents because it created overall awareness. Awareness of our staff who work closely with their children and also awareness of grade level expectations” explained Cortada Principal Carl Caston.

EMCSD wants to be proactive with programs that equip students with skills that provide meaningful action to help one another. Last week, EMCSD middle schools started training on the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, a research-based online reporting system that empowers students to recognize the signs of internal struggle in themselves and their peers. EMCSD was selected by the Sandy Hook Promise to gain access to this program districtwide. Students will be trained to recognize warning signs, especially within social media, of individuals who may be in crisis and encourage them to tell a trusted adult directly or via the anonymous reporting system. The district joins 5,000 schools nationwide that have launched the program.
These efforts encapsulate EMCSD’s theme for the year: Educate, Elevate, Empower. “In education, the intertwined threads of ‘educate, elevate, and empower’ form a profound tapestry of growth and change,” shared Dr. Garcia. “We are inspired to continue to create classrooms, offices, and gathering spaces that foster not only academic excellence but also the unshakable foundations of self-assurance, resilience, and the courage to dream beyond boundaries - all in a loving and nurturing environment.”