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Teachers & Staff


Ms. Alva Torres

Ms. Torres is our counselor. Ms. Torres holds an MFT in Family Counseling. She works with our students on social skills, diversity, or any other issues that are brought up by students. Ms. Torres generally sees students in a classroom setting, but she also works with students individually.

Mrs. Michelle Pino

Mrs. Pino has worked in education for over 10 years. She has been a P.E. instructor and an instructional aide. She helped start Westside Academy and she has been here from the beginning. She attended "Boys Town" training in the summer of 2016 which focuses on positive behavior interventions.

Mrs. Michelle Gutierrez

We have a second instructional aide who works with our AM class. Mrs. Gutierrez brings a wealth of technological skill and compassion for students with her.

Professional Qualifications of Teachers

District Board Policy (BP4000) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as amended require that teachers in Westside Union School District be highly qualified and dedicated to the education and welfare of students. To be designated highly qualified, a teacher must have the proper credential for the class he/she is teaching and in addition, he/she must meet the subject- matter competency requirements of NCLB as determined by the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing. All Westside teachers meet the ESEA highly qualified teacher requirements. All are authorized to teach English Learners in California.

Professional Development

Westside Union School District offers professional development and training opportunities to teachers, administrators, and para- educators.

The goal of professional development is to provide staff members the support that they need to meet the educational needs of the diverse student population in Westside. To that end, we identified four major areas of instructional focus for the 2014-2015 school year:

  • critical reading and writing in and across all content areas
  • inquiry grounded in evidence from text and other sources
  • rigor and real-world application in all content areas
  • integration of technology by teachers and students through lesson presentations and student products

Professional learning activities at the site and district levels target these areas of focus.

Teachers participate annually in three districtwide grade level (at the elementary level) or department (at the middle school level) meetings during which they are provided the opportunity to share best practices with colleagues from other school sites.

A major emphasis for the past three years has been placed upon providing support for staff members in deepening their understanding of the new State standards in English Language Arts and mathematics and the Next Generation Science Standards and in the implementation of the standards. All K- 6 teachers (general education and special education) and administrators received training in the Westside Writing program. All 6th – 8th grade teachers received training in the NGSS and in the LAWS program. These professional learning opportunities have improved the quality of the district’s instructional program by improving its alignment with the new state standards.

During the spring and fall of 2014 all Kindergarten – 6th grade teachers and their site administrators received Number Talks training from Math Solutions, designed to strengthen students accuracy, efficiency, and flexibility with mental math and computation strategies.

Over the past three years more than 200 teachers and instructional administrators have attended at least one three-day AVID Summer Institute. 65 staff members attended AVID Summer Institute in August 2014; 44 in June, July, or August 2015. There are AVID-trained teachers at each of the district’s twelve sites. AVID’s kindergarten through higher education system brings research-based curriculum and strategies to students each day that develop critical thinking, literacy, and math skills across all content areas.

All middle school and 7 of 9 elementary sites, have received Project Lead the Way (PLTW) training. The remaining elementary sites will have trainers-of-teachers trained by the start of the 2015 – 2016 school year.

Teachers and administrators at six sites continued their professional learning and coaching around direct explicit instruction with the TESS Consulting Group.

Instructional administrators meet monthly to share best practices related to areas of instructional focus and leadership for meaningful change in educational systems.

There are two programs offered to assist new and experienced teachers. The New Teacher Induction Program ( formerly Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program (BTSA)/Induction), a state-mandated program, pairs beginning teachers who are in the process of completing credentialing requirements with an experienced teacher. The Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program is designed to improve the education of students by providing opportunities for additional training for all teachers. Westside teachers utilize these programs with the goal of accomplishing the highest level of success for our students.