Developing Socially Conscious and Engaged Young Citizens

Suzie Abajian

As the president of the school board, I would like to welcome all of our new and returning students, faculty, staff and administrators to the 2019-2020 school year! The beginning of the school year offers us the opportunity to reflect on our past accomplishments as we move forward with our district’s mission, vision and core values in mind.

I love living in South Pasadena because it is a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community. These values are reflected in our district’s mission statement: “A commitment to recognizing and valuing the diversity, backgrounds and abilities of all students and providing them the encouragement to reach their full potential.”

During the past school year, our district met significant goals, including the completion of the new STEM building at the high school. Our students were given access to challenging academic courses and diverse extracurricular programs in the arts, engineering, biomedical science, computer science, business and digital citizenship.

We provided our students with internship opportunities within our city to enable them to explore different career pathways. Additionally, we were able to expand our two Dual Language Immersion programs (Spanish and Mandarin) at the elementary level, offer our first Multicultural Literature course at the high school and engage our students throughout the district with culturally/linguistically responsive, LGBTQ positive and inclusive curricula.

Our students were given the opportunity to study about diverse historical, linguistic and cultural experiences and see themselves reflected in the curriculum — all things that educational research has shown to increase student achievement and narrow the opportunity gap.

This year, our district will undertake a number of bond-funded, new construction projects, including the renovation and conversion of the old middle school gymnasium into a black box theater and a flex art/STEM lab and the upgrading of the athletic facilities at the high school. We will continue to offer our students strong academic programs and curricula that not only prepare them for college and careers but also affirm their identities and give them the tools to be engaged, socially conscious and active citizens within the larger global community.

Suzie Abajian is president of the South Pasadena Unified School District school board.

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Dr. Suzie Abajian began her career in education in 1999, as a Mathematics teacher at SPHS after graduating from Occidental College with a B.A. in Mathematics and a M.A. in Mathematics Education. Following her career as a K-12 teacher, Dr. Abajian received her Ph.D. in Education form UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Over the past fifteen years she has served as a field supervisor for the Teacher Education Program at UCLA, an educational researcher at UCLA, a Mathematics professor at Loyola Marymount University and an Education professor at Occidental College. She is currently a district administrator for the Orange County Department of Education. As Dr. Abajian has made South Pasadena her home, she has served the community through her volunteer work on executive boards of local non-profits, including Women Involved in South Pasadena Political Action (WISPPA) and Vecinos de South Pasadena. In 2018, she was named Congressional Woman of the Year for the City of South Pasadena by Congresswoman Judy Chu.