The Girls Empowerment Leaders Club (GEL) at Milpitas High School is an organization that serves to uplift other girls to become confident leaders. With over 20 members, the officer cabinet strives to spark leadership skills, prepare girls for future careers, and help girls feel at home in the MHS community.
To grow leadership skills, members participate in activities to communicate effectively and learn about successful women’s journeys. Members are also inspired by influential female leaders in all industries in the Empowering Quote Series.
The club also recognizes the importance of career preparation, and members are able to prepare for their future through GEL’s Informational Series that features various career pathways and high school tips. Members are also able to learn from leading experts in a variety of fields, such as politics and medicine.
Most importantly, the club ensures that each and every member’s voice is heard. The club collaborated with an art club for a penpalling activity to help girls bond and connect with others in the diverse MHS community. In addition, GEL’s Member of the Semester program recognizes stellar members who actively participate in bondings and meetings, fostering a culture of empowerment and inclusivity.
Finally, the club plans on celebrating the achievements of women who have shaped the world we live in today. Last year, the club created a video at the MUSD Board of Education about Women’s Rights. This year, the club is planning to host informational meetings and fun bondings to increase awareness around women’s achievements.
Through all these activities, GEL is dedicated to empowering girls and ensuring that they have the resources to reach their dreams.
By Fiona Chan, Girls Empowerment Leaders Club President
MUSD Executive Director of Inclusive Services for All Learners Mary Jude Doerpinghaus was among a distinguished panel for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 8’s Spring Leadership Forum: Leading with Equity on March 7.
Other panelists were: Vern Caruz, Elementary Principal at Stipe Elementary, Oak Grove SD; Roxane Fuentes, Ed.D, Superintendent, Berryessa USD; and Jamal Splane, Ph.D, Director, School Culture & Climate/C&I at Los Gatos-Saratoga UHSD.
The panel focused on:
“While my background has centered around special education, my career has always focused on empowering staff and families to partner as ‘one team’ that focuses on assets and belief in the potential of each and every child each and every day,” Doerpinghaus shared.
Director Splane noted: "This event brought administrators together in fellowship, solidarity, and with a focus on addressing the educational and opportunity gaps that have increased recently for our students of color and from marginalized communities. Our students continue to benefit from these types of events."
The panel shared various personal definitions but all centered around how equity in education means that each child receives what they need to develop their full academic, social and emotional potential.
“As leaders we have to remove barriers to disrupt inequitable practices, look at our own biases and privilege and to create school environments that are conducive to equally high outcomes for all of our learners, especially those that are marginalized,” Doerpinghaus added. “Being an equity champion requires us to be self-aware and to lead through courageous conversations with an open mind and heart.”
Berryessa USD Superintendent Fuentes agreed: “Equity in education aims to create a level playing field for all children by supporting those who need it most. It requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success.”
Doerpinghaus shared with audience members that educators need to know their students and their personal stories, and understand what assets they bring to us daily. “Once we discover these, we can cultivate and build upon their unique gifts, talents and interests to develop areas of challenge and to create an environment that better supports them and their needs,” she explained.
Supt. Fuentes again echoed those sentiments: “We need to create spaces for our school and district leaders to understand and dialogue about the unique challenges and barriers faced by individual students or by populations of students so that they can best support their teams in providing additional supports and resources to help students overcome those barriers.”
Building equitable, inclusive and respectful communities is not a "one shot deal or something that happens overnight,” Doerpinghaus concluded. “We need to weave this work into our daily lives and it takes time to cultivate a community that holistically values the diversity and unique gifts and lived experiences of our people.”
“Much has been documented--and rightly so--about the post-pandemic need to ensure students and teachers are receiving adequate support to function effectively in schools,” Splane added. “Support for school leaders should also be a part of this conversation. ACSA Region 8 understands this and continues to be on the forefront of these efforts.”
The diverse panel included perspectives on cultural inclusion, recognizing our collective histories, valuing the wisdom of our ancestors and indigenous peoples, and ensuring that our students see themselves in what they learn.
The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) annually recognizes education leaders throughout the state, starting with regional winners. Region 8, which is Santa Clara County, has announced its awardees, and four of them are MUSD leaders: Giuliana Brahim (Adult Education Administrator of the Year), Mary Jude Doerpinghaus (Student Services Administrator of the Year) and Kelly Ng (Classified Administrator of the Year) and Cheryl Jordan (Superintendent of the Year).
“Each of these exceptional leaders are an integral part of our MUSD team,” said Supt. Jordan, who has devoted her decades-long educational career to the staff, students and families of Milpitas. “They set the bar for leadership in their respective departments and are more than deserving of this amazing honor.”
These four award recipients are now eligible for state-wide recognition among 19 geographic regions that comprise ACSA, the driving force for an equitable, world-class education system, and the development and support of inspired educational leaders who meet the diverse needs of all California students.
Supt. Jordan, who began as a teacher intern in 1989 at Calaveras Hills HS and Thomas Russell MS before becoming a site leader and, ultimately, the district chief, has long established a climate of equity and inclusion. She has served on and chaired various state, region, county and community board of directors, including the Santa Clara County Superintendents’ Association, Milpitas Rotary Club, the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education, and ACSA Region 8.
Principal Brahim leads Milpitas Adult Education, and is in charge of instructional programs at the main campus in the heart of Milpitas on Calaveras Boulevard as well as at the Santa Clara county jails.
“It is inspiring work that I get to be part of everyday from our English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for our immigrant students to providing high school equivalency tutoring for our inmate students,” said Brahim, who joined MUSD in 2002 and ACSA in 2011. “ACSA is an organization that allows administrators to network, share best practices, and grow as education leaders.”
Executive Director of Inclusive Services for All Learners, Mary Jude Doerpinghaus joined MUSD in September 2020 bringing nearly two decades of experience and knowledge as an administrator for Special Education, previously serving as Director of Education in Pleasanton.
Business Services Manager Kelly Ng, who heads up the Purchasing/Contracts/Bond division, also ensured safety throughout the pandemic by organizing the purchase and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as the MUSD Covid testing system and vaccination clinics.
Together, each of these award-winning administrators has provided remarkable leadership, support and dedication to the entire MUSD community.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.