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Meet Jana Davenport, Granada Hills Charter's New Principal for Grades K-8th

They did it, folks! The amazing team of educators pushing for Granada Hills Charter School's expansion into the K-8th Program, did it! They worked hard, they were diligent, YOU came to support and signed the petition, and the LAUSD School Board simply could not say no.

As a parent, I have been extremely back and forth about where to send my oldest to kindergarten. I worry that whatever decision I make, will affect my child's entire life. A little dramatic, I know, but I'm also not willing to risk his future. Not, wanting to put all my eggs in one basket, also wondering whether I should be applying for magnet schools, I've been conflicted.

I had the chance to interview Jana Davenport, the school's new Principal, who put all of my fears to rest.

Jana Davenport has been a professional educator for 28 years. She was a classroom teacher for 18 years before becoming the Magnet Coordinator and then Principal at Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet in Northridge, CA. Under her leadership, Balboa Magnet set the bar with both record high attendance levels and achievement scores that consistently exceeded district and statewide averages by far. Her experience in leading a successful school community is grounded in her ability to support outstanding teachers and unite a community around a shared vision for preparing children for the challenges of the 21st century. She has a proven track record of creating an environment of trust and mutual respect between all stakeholders. She and her husband have three daughters who all attended public schools including Granada Hills Charter High School.

Today, I would love to share my interview with Jana Davenport, and help put your own concerns to rest.

Coming from a gifted magnet school, what are your hopes for Granada Hills Charter?

Will you employ some of the practices of the magnet school? How are the two schools different/alike? What are some of the major pros and cons to each?

As a school leader, my hope remains the same wherever I am: to build a community that supports the highest levels of student achievement. This was my focus at my previous school; this will be my focus at the Granada Hills Charter Grades K-8 Program. All schools should share the common pursuit of identifying, implementing, and refining the best practices that meet the diverse needs of its learners…but every school is different. A few of the unique characteristics of the GHC Grades K-8 Program include instruction in world languages and the California Computer Science Standards starting in the primary grades, and we’ll embed the Common Core State Standards into inquiry-based learning as we align ourselves to the educational model of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years and Middle Years Programs.

What is the toughest message for you to get across to parents about their children’s education?

I like to encourage parents to keep the end in mind when it comes to education. Let’s consider what kind of young person we hope will emerge at the end of a K-12 education. We need to go beyond the image of our student draped in a graduation gown with diploma in hand and ask, “Who is that person?” Are they heading into the next phase of life with more than just a body of knowledge? Are they capable and confident, able to express themselves clearly, work with others and overcome obstacles? Do they show kindness and compassion to others? As a school community, keeping the end in mind will provide a compass for all of us to navigate together through these critical years of education.

What is your personal vision for the school and the kids?

My vision for the school is a community coming together in mutual trust and respect between all stakeholders to support the success of each of our students. I want our kids to love coming to school, to take pride in their hard work and effort, and to be known off-campus as kind and caring people who are making a difference in their community.

What are your 1, 2, and 3-year goals for the school? Challenges?

The goal for Year 1 will be getting to know 400-500 new students and their families! It will be a challenge but I know that the teachers and I will have our sights set on building those positive relationships that will serve as the firm foundation for our program. Years 2-3 will be about adding new students and moving into our new facilities. We’ll need the support of all our families to help this go smoothly. Of course, in each of our early years, we will focus on student achievement and taking the steps to become certified as an International Baccalaureate World School. Teachers and support staff will receive ongoing professional development and collaborate together to embed the Common Core Standards into a globally-minded, inquiry-based educational model.

School safety plan? Bullies? Active shooters?

These kids are potentially going to be together for 14 years, what is the plan for those who are bullied from day one? (I know this is a tough one)

The safety of our students is our highest priority and our school will be committed to maintaining a safe, secure campus which is essential to providing a successful learning environment for everyone. The GHC Grades K-8 Program will develop and maintain a school safety plan that addresses school emergencies as well as outlines our strategies to encourage and support positive behaviors. Our teachers and staff will model the scholarly behaviors we expect of our students and will be well-trained to provide support for students who need guidance. One of the benefits of the expansion into a K-8 program is the opportunity to start early with our students so that negative behaviors like bullying can be prevented before they even start. And any time a student needs support, we can continue to provide those crucial wrap-around services all the way through 12th grade.

You have raised your family here in Granada Hills, what are your thoughts on schools in the area? Why Granada Hills High School?

I am a fan of high-quality education. Period. It doesn’t matter if it’s a private school, public district school, public charter school, home school, or any other type of school…if it’s providing students with a strong educational foundation that prepares them for college and careers in the 21st century, then I’m a fan. My husband and I chose Granada Hills Charter High School for own children because we were confident that its wide range of academic programs, comprehensive offerings of student activities, and ability to support all kinds of learners would give our daughters the skills they needed for whatever they wanted to pursue. Our oldest daughter recently graduated from college and started her career with a large tech company in the Silicon Valley. The job she has didn’t exist when she entered school as a Kindergartener. Many of the jobs that will be available for our current elementary and middle school-aged students do not exist at this moment or will be so different from traditional careers that we can’t envision the type of work they might be asked to do. Her education at Granada Hills Charter High School was the foundation for her ability to learn new tasks, work on a team with people from five different countries, and adapt to the rapidly changing needs of our society.


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