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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-43
May 27, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Visits Eisenhower Elementary School Open for Safe, In-Person Instruction Using Model Practices

GARDEN GROVE—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond arrived at Eisenhower Elementary School to an enthusiastic welcome from student leaders and cheerleaders from nearby Santiago High School. Thurmond walked the campus today to witness classroom model practices for safe in-person instruction as well as targeted learning interventions to address disruptions in learning and student and family engagement strategies that have led to a successful return to campus.

State Superintendent Thurmond joined Board of Education President Lan Nguyen, Vice President Walter Muneton, and Trustee Teri Rocco as well as Superintendent Gabriela Mafi, district and school staff, representatives from the teachers association and local Classified School Employees Association (CSEA), and PTA members for the school visit to Eisenhower Elementary in Garden Grove Unified School District, a high-poverty, primarily immigrant community among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The school now operates with 100 percent of students on campus for full-day, in-person instruction five days per week.

“Eisenhower Elementary provides an extraordinary example of what can happen when school staff wholeheartedly puts student and family needs at the center of their work,” Thurmond said. “As all California schools design their own plans for learning recovery and acceleration in preparation for this summer and fall, I encourage them to explore strategies like those modeled here at Eisenhower. The caring team on this campus are focused on the physical, academic, and social-emotional well-being of students. They do this by engaging students through exploratory outdoor education, incorporating targeted early literacy intervention, and going the extra mile to work with families to provide tools and resources to best support students at home.”

Thurmond explored an outdoor butterfly garden with fifth graders for teacher Lesly Spangler’s outdoor education lesson that uses the garden as a safe space to support students’ academic and social-emotional needs by helping students reconnect with each other while engaging in learning science standards. Thurmond also took part in teacher Jennifer Zarkades’ sixth grade narrative writing assignment and observed the targeted literacy interventions to accelerate learning with a small group of second grade students.

“Across the district, schools like Eisenhower are using data to develop targeted interventions that will be offered at all campuses during the summer and throughout the coming school year to mitigate the learning gaps that occurred due to COVID-19,” said Board of Education Vice President Muneton, who represents Trustee Area 3. “We are thrilled to showcase our instructional practices to Superintendent Thurmond and to highlight our staff, who care for all students as if they were their own children.”

This visit is part of a series of on-campus visits that the State Superintendent is taking to showcase students engaged in safe, in-person learning supported by a multi-layered, whole-child approach that includes implementing safety measures and addressing learning gaps while attending to student mental health and well-being and the needs of families.

Note to editors and reporters: For photos and footage of the State Superintendent’s visit to Eisenhower Elementary, contact Abby Broyles, Public Information Officer at Garden Grove Unified School District, at

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 8, 2022
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