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Gage Excelled Despite Problems

October 30, 1988

In answer to the article published on Gage Junior High School and me ("Junior High Principal Is Transferred After Faculty Complains," Times, Sept. 4), I would like to submit the following letter.

During the 5 years I was principal, the instructional program accomplished new heights; I invited community participation and I was instrumental in planning for campus expansion and a new building program.

Although 125 teachers left during this period, the quality of instruction improved. The retention of dedicated new staff enhanced the quality of education. Gage provided for adult, family literacy classes on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I arranged for basic skill, computer, ESL and amnesty classes because of my belief that the children can be helped more when the parents are prepared.

Since Gage's student population of 3,178 and 247 staff is the nation's third largest on a 10.8-acre campus with 65 classrooms, the physical impact had to be addressed. Thus, I started 5 years ago to bring new construction and rehabilitation, and to acquire an additional block.

With the thrust of renewed instructional programs in the three Rs, improving oral English, acquiring critical thinking skills and increasing test awareness in a school that is 98% Latino, the students' self-image improved. Not only did Gage students win the Los Angeles Unified School District's Pentathlon Region B, but they also won in individual competitions in areas from science, industrial arts and spelling to athletic events. Although our test scores were not dramatically propelled, the school did improve yearly.

What is evident is that I was completely committed and involved, from maintaining the best student and staff attendance record in the region and district, to having the cleanest yard. The administration and organization was exemplary. What was required was the energies of all segments of the staff to participate positively. Obviously, that important element was missing.

SOLEDAD S. GARCIA

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