Stan Carrizosa took the reins of Burbank Unified School District July 1, leaving Visalia Unified School District, where he was superintendent since 2001. With school opening Monday, Carrizosa took stock of Burbank Unified, where it’s been, where it’s going, and how he intends to move it forward.
MAX ZIMBERT: Last year, the district crossed an important threshold on state instructional and accountability exams by surpassing the state goal on the Academic Performance Index. How significant are test scores, and what’s success look like?
STAN CARRIZOSA: We have had a really nice surge in today’s measurements for student achievement. They tell us about our teaching, our learning, and they tell us about our school community.
For me, as we improve those API scores, how many more students are actually becoming proficient? This idea of “quality of living for a lifetime” is what I relate to proficiency. I think we want to be a district where we have the highest percentage possible of kids proficient. We’ve got high academic achievement and we’ve got a variety of experiences that keep kids connected to school.
What I’ve learned in 18 years as a superintendent is, until children feel connected to school and feel significant and feel like they belong, we’re not apt to get their highest academic achievement.
Q: Is that realistic when the state has no budget yet, or could cut from yours?
A: The children and parents who are coming through the system in any given year … expect to have the best experience they can in your public schools. When you take this challenge on, you kind of have to believe in the ideal. If we as your public school educators don’t believe in the ideal, who will? We’re the ones charged with that task professionally.
Q: What do you do when everybody has a different way of getting there?
A: Some leaders push and other leaders pull others along, and I tend to use strategies to pull people along. When you’re pulling, you don’t run over anybody.
I think about systems a lot. The mark of a really excellent leader is that behind them, there’s an organization that continued on really successfully without them. It’s about the commitment to the purpose of the organization. And for us, the purpose of the organization is school, it’s education, it’s improving lives for children.
Q: Is that something from your coaching days?
A: That carried over into my years as a teacher and coach. I played football and enjoyed that very much as an athlete and a student. I learned early on, the old saying, defense wins championships.
I always saw sports as a way to bring diverse kids together and share common bonds and break down the walls between them. Sports were a vehicle and … relationships were really big.