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Samantha Melton

The Gilroy Unified School District is pleased to announce that Samantha Melton, a senior at the Dr. TJ Owens Early College Academy, has been named a 2019 National Merit Scholar winner.  She is the first-ever National Merit Scholarship finalist at GECA.  The National Merit Scholarship Program honors individual students across the country who demonstrate exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

About 1.6 million juniors in the United States entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). From the pool of students who entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program, only about 16,000, or 1%, were named semifinalists.

Semifinalists are designated on a state representational basis, in proportion to each state's percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors.

To advance in the competition and be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Samantha became a finalist by fulfilling several requirements that included submitting a detailed scholarship application and presenting a record of very high academic performance.

Winners of the 7,500 National Merit Scholarships awarded are being chosen from a group of 15,000 distinguished finalists.  Less than 0.5% of the high school juniors who take the qualifying examinations are named National Merit Scholarship winners

In addition to the designation, Samantha has also qualified for a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship to help with school expenses.    She will attend Princeton University in the fall of 2019.  Samantha was recognized by the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education at the May 9, 2019 Board meeting.  


Learn More about the National Merit Scholarship program

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GECA Griffin
GUSD Communications

KPIX reporter Len Ramirez asks students about their experiences at GECA.

It's been a newsworthy spring at Gilroy Unified School District's Dr. TJ Owens Early College Academy (GECA). In early March, the school was named a 2019 California Distinguished School by California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond. In April, the Griffins were named the No. 3 high school in California by US News and World Report. Bay Area media outlets have taken notice of the news.

Check out GECA in local headlines: 

"Here’s what makes Gilroy’s upstart high school the Bay Area’s top ranked," from the Mercury News, May 13:

"One of the reasons the school earned a rating of 99.76 percent out of 100 percent in the U.S. News report is its perfect AP participation rate. That means a student can graduate from the high school with an AA degree and 60 transferable college units. Like Rosha, about 74 percent of the class of 2019 is expected to attain an AA degree at the same time as they earn their high school diploma."

"High School in Gilroy Recognized as Among Nation's Best," from KPIX, May 3:

 

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GUSD Communications

The Gilroy Unified School District is pleased to welcome five new administrators to our leadership team.  The official announcement was made at the May 9, 2019 GUSD Board Meeting where each appointment was accepted by the Board.  The onboarding process for each of them has already begun and will continue throughout the summer.  Dr. Deborah A. Flores, Ph.D., Superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District remarked, “I am so excited for the latest additions to our administrative team.  Each of the new principals brings strong credentials and high praise to our District.  I am looking forward to seeing how they integrate into their new school sites and the opportunities they’ll present to our staff and students.”

Luigi Aprea Elementary School welcomes Principal Michael Kelly.  Michael comes to the District from Belleville, Illinois, with a rich diversity of experience, including a B.A. in Music Education from the State University of New York, advanced degrees in Education from George Mason University, professional experience as a musician in the U.S. Marine Corp, and experience in public education as a Special Education teacher, School Improvement Instructional Coach and as an administrator at his current site in Illinois. His educational philosophy can be summarized in three simple words: honor, courage, and commitment.  While simple, Michael states that these three words have molded his way of living, thinking and approaching education.  Michael, along with his wife Helena, a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and 4-year old son Copland, will be relocating to the area shortly and are eager to join the Bulldog family.

Ascencion Solorsano Middle School welcomes Principal Hilda Keller.  Hilda Keller is a native of San Jose, and lifetime educator with over 23 years of experience in public education.  She has served 20 years in the Evergreen School District.  Hilda holds degrees from both National Hispanic University and San Jose State University.  Hilda’s career experience spans from early childhood education to middle school, serving at various levels as a teacher, instructional coach, project specialist and four years as a middle school assistant principal.   She comes to Gilroy Unified School District having served as the Assistant Principal of George V. LeyVa Middle School.  Hilda has extensive experience in Restorative Practices and describes her educational philosophy as one that fosters “closing the achievement gap, positive school climate, and equity.”  Hilda’s passion is to serve all students while leveraging her bilingualism and biculturalism.  Hilda lives in Morgan Hill with her husband and her college-age daughter and son as they work on degrees in Environmental Engineering and Business, respectively.

Gilroy High School welcomes Principal Martin Enriquez. Martin Enriquez is originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico, and currently works as an assistant principal at North Monterey County High School.  Martin earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from New Mexico State University, and began his career as a Math teacher there.  Martin has over 17 years of educational administration experience and has extensive experience in Career Technical Education, college and career guidance and counseling, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support programs and a variety of other experiences that help promote healthy and supportive high school learning environments.  Martin’s strengths include his professional, mature and friendly demeanor that is an asset in the development of relationships among all staff, and all communities, including Spanish-speaking communities who need native language support.  Martin will be relocating to the area with his wife Yvonne who is a regional manager for Kindred Home Care, and his three college-age sons: Martin Jr., Dre and Stevan, whose college endeavors include advanced studies in the medical field, International Business, and general studies, respectively.

Eliot Elementary welcomes Principal Maricela Rivera. Maricela is celebrating her 20th year in public education as she returns to Gilroy Unified after a year at Echo Valley Elementary in Salinas where she is currently an Assistant Principal.  Maricela is well-known in the district, having taught at multiple sites, including Solorsano Middle School and Glen View Elementary.  Maricela acted as GUSD’s Academic Coach for SEAL during its initial roll-out, supporting both Eliot Elementary School and Glen View Elementary School, as well as the District Office.  Maricela holds degrees from Santa Clara University, CSU Monterey Bay and National University.  Maricela’s strong experience in curriculum development, professional development, and connection to diverse communities as a bilingual and bicultural professional will be a wonderful asset for Eliot Elementary School.  Maricela enjoys her other role as a parent in our district, with a son at South Valley Middle School and adult children in college.

South Valley Middle School welcomes Principal Guillermo Ramos.  Guillermo comes to Gilroy Unified School District with over 22 years in public education having begun his teaching and administrative career in Watsonville.  He is the only college-graduate among 16 siblings and understands the importance of hard work and dedication to long-term goals. Guillermo earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from San Jose State University, and began his teaching career as an elementary school teacher for migrant students, and in Watsonville’s bilingual education program.  He is currently in his 16th year as an administrator, and is completing his 11th year as a principal at John J. Montgomery Elementary in San Jose, a K-6 school in the Evergreen School District.  Guillermo’s career highlights include significant academic gains for all levels of students fueled by a keen sense for establishing effective, collaborative teams.  Most recently, Guillermo was recognized for the Santa Clara County Office of Education Principal Arts Leadership Award for his dedication to arts education for all students.  Guillermo currently lives in Gilroy with his wife and two daughters, both of whom attend Gilroy schools.

Best Wishes to Our Outgoing Administrators

The Gilroy Unified School District wishes our five departing administrators best of luck on their next adventures.  

Gilroy High School Principal, Dr. Marco Sanchez, has taken a position as the Assistant Commissioner of the Central Coast Section (CCS) of the California Interscholastic Federation, serving over 74,000 high school student-athletes from San Francisco to King City.  Dr. Sanchez was the principal at Gilroy High School for ten years. 

Ascencion Solorsano Middle School Principal, Maria Walker, is looking forward to retirement.  She has been with Gilroy Unified School District, first as a teacher and then as an administrator for 30 years.  She’s looking most forward to traveling with her husband, Leonard, and spending time with her new granddaughter, Harlee and other grandchildren. 

South Valley Middle School Principal, Patricia Mondragon, has made the decision to pursue other opportunities and challenges in her profession.  She has served in Gilroy Unified for 12 years, and at South Valley Middle School for the last seven, first as a Teacher on Special Assignment and Dual Immersion teacher, then as the Assistant Principal, and finally as the Principal for the last three years.  

Eliot Elementary School Principal, Patricia Pelino, has taken a position as the Director of Special Education for the Redwood City School District, the District she served for twelve years prior to coming to Gilroy Unified School District.  Recently, Patricia was recognized by the Board of Education as the Management Celebrant for the Gilroy Unified School District Employee Recognition Program.  She was the principal at Eliot for six years. 

Luigi Aprea Elementary School Principal, Tami Espinosa, has decided to return to the classroom as a fourth grade teacher at Rucker Elementary.  Her children attend school there, as did Tami and her brother, Sidney.  Tami attended Gilroy Unified Schools: Rucker Elementary, South Valley Middle and Gilroy High School before college.  She was the principal at Luigi Aprea for three years. 

Gilroy Unified School District wishes all of these administrators well and supports their career advancement and personal growth opportunities.  Superintendent Deborah A. Flores shared, “While it is never easy to lose an administrator, let alone five stellar administrators, from our District, I am so happy for each of them.  They are all pursuing their passion, whether it be career or personal.  I am looking forward to hearing from each of them as they continue on their journeys.”

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District Announcement
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The City of Gilroy is experiencing a city-wide power outage. All school sites in Gilroy Unified, except for Christopher High School, were affected. Power has been restored to most GUSD sites and schools continue to operate. The District Office is in close communication with the City of Gilroy and PG & E and will update families accordingly.

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Gilroy, CA – The Gilroy Unified School District is pleased to announce that the Dr. TJ Owens Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA) has been named the third-ranked high school in California, and 42nd in the nation by US News and World Report.  The rankings were released on April 30. 

GECA was established in 2007 with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in cooperation with Gilroy Unified School District, as an “early college high school,” where students can take community college classes. Named after the late Dr. T.J. Owens, a civil rights champion and former president of the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education, the school’s mission is to show its students that college can be a reality for them.

GECA is a small school with 298 students, more than one-third of whom are designated as economically disadvantaged, with the mission to send students who are typically underrepresented on four-year college campuses to post-secondary studies. A student can graduate from GECA with their Associate Degree and 60 transferable college units as well as their high school diploma. Current estimates show that about 74% of the class of 2019 is expected to attain an Associate’s degree at the same time as they earn their high school diploma.

The 2019 Best High Schools rankings take a holistic approach to evaluating schools, looking at six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rates. Specifically, college readiness measures participation and performance on AP and IB exams.

The methodology assigns weights to the six factors and then produces an overall score on which the ranking is based.  The previous methodology involved a four-step process in which the final step used college readiness as the sole basis to determine a school's numerical rank.

GECA was ranked 23 in California and 172 nationally by the same publication in 2018. For more information, read the US News and World Report article.

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