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SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION




Pride Education

SCV Community Pride • Education

Santa Clarita Schools Rank with California’s Best

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Career Technical Education students from the William S. Hart Union High School District.


SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


STE(A)M powers today’s economy through career technical education

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Students show visitors to Arroyo Seco Junior High’s Makerspace the science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics projects they have completed in STE(A)M classes at the school. By Dr. Mariane Doyle


he fuel behind the Maker Movement and the creative economy may well be STE(A)M. Over the past several years, great focus on careers and education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math or STEM has generated support and interest by industry and government. Schools throughout the country began building engineering programs and districts nationwide are grappling with the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which have an emphasis on STEM careers. However, the call to innovate has been a pronounced one from local industry to international business to the White House. Henry Mintzber identified a void left by the singular emphasis on STEM in the Globe and Mail, “the excessive focus on analysis, targets and number crunching, and the absence of introspection and imagination has resulted in a crisis in management which is partly to blame for our current financial crisis” (2009). Without art and design, even international economies are left without a necessary element for success. STE(A)M reintroduces the Arts in a different light – one focused as much on application as it is on culture and theory. With an eye on design, engineers can solve 21st century challenges presented by the rapid iterations of technological advancement. Multimedia Design artists not only are capable of expertly using software to create, but also find ways to help businesses position themselves among their competitors and meet the needs of consumers. Product designers must use the arts to innovate not only what they want to produce, but also how to do so efficiently and with the packaging necessary for successful and economical delivery to the client. On February 1st, the William S. Hart Union High School District unveiled its first Makerspace at Arroyo Seco Junior High. This classroom incorporates technology of many kinds and puts art at the center of the creative process. Students use computers, robotics materials, wood, and plastic to materi-

alise their ideas. The Makerspace is one of many lessons in the Creative Economy; individuals are valued for their unique contributions and can find success in this economy by investigating, problem-solving, and creating unique solutions or products. “Making” and creativity are central to the success of our country’s economic recovery. According to the 2014 Otis Report on the Creative Economy in California written using 2013 data, $294 billion in revenues, spending, and economic activity in our State can be attributed to the creative economy with nearly one in ten jobs being in these industries. Further, nearly one in ten jobs in California are connected to industries like entertainment, publishing, engineering, and design -that’s nearly one in ten jobs in the State! From engineering to advanced manufacturing, career opportunities that are driven by the creative industries are varied and plentiful. Some other career fields include architecture, digital media, video production, industrial design, multimedia arts, and computer science. The Hart District offers courses and pathways in each of these fields and many more. In collaboration with College of the Canyons, a grant supporting five pathways was obtained last year. These include Advanced Technologies (manufacturing), Construction Technology/Management, Computer Networking, Legal Studies, and Administration of Justice. The majority of the pathways lead to creative careers where individuals contribute their own ideas to make solutions for complex problems or tasks, meeting the definition of the Creative Economy as described in John Howkins book, The Creative Economy (2001). Hart District students have the opportunity to investigate careers as makers and innovators through career pathways offered during the day at Saugus High and Arroyo Seco Junior High. Canyon High School is building a Makerspace this year as well, and students throughout the district can take advantage of these programs after school through the Career and College Readiness Program offerings (former-

ly ROP or Regional Occupational Program). To learn more about these courses and the pathways available at each high school, go to The courses available through the after school Career and College Readiness program are open to all students enrolled in the Hart District regardless of home school site. Students do provide their own transportation to these classes. In addition to making, creating, and building, some of the current career pathways offered at the William S. Hart High School District include Business, Pharmacy Assisting, Fire Technology, Photography, Sports Medicine, Culinary Arts, Medical Assisting, Automotive Technology, Dental Assisting, Computer Science, and Education. In collaboration with College of the Canyons, we are offering our first dual enrollment course in Career Technical Education at Valencia High School in Paralegal Studies. This class allows students to earn college and high school credits simultaneously! Please see the Career and College Readiness (CCR) Specialist at your school site to enroll.

Last year, the Hart District unveiled its Hybrid Online Career Technical Education courses through the Career and College Readiness program after school. Students meet with their teachers for the first three weeks of the semester and then just every other week thereafter with the rest of the course delivered online! This exciting new program provides additional access to our pathways for students who have challenging

schedules or who want to try pathways not offered at their home school site. Again, see your CCR specialist or www.PathwayToMyFuture. org for more information. Laura Fleming, an educator and author of Worlds of Making (2015), described the maker movement as being “about moving from consumption to creation and turning knowledge into action.” The Hart District is leading by providing students with opportuni-

ties to innovate, learn about STE(A)M, and explore career pathways leading to success. By building a pipeline into the high demand, high wage, and high skill local career pathways, the Hart District aspires to meet the needs of both career and college readiness for students and workforce preparation for local businesses and industry. The Hart District Career and College Readiness Department is here to serve your students!

Katharine Lotze/Signal.

Students in the culinary arts program at Arroyo Seco Junior High serve lunch to attendees of the Makerspace open house.

Katharine Lotze/Signal.

The Arroyo Seco Junior High School band plays as guests of the Makerspace open house arrive in the multipurpose room.


SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


School of Rock is rocking Santa Clarita! By Alicia Doyle


he School of Rock in Santa Clarita is literally a place where students learn to rock their worlds through a performance-based approach to music instruction. Launched in November, the School of Rock offers the best combination of instructors, instruments and captivating programs to get students strumming, drumming, playing or singing their way to rock star status. “For a child, the benefits of learning music are endless,” said Andrew Klein, owner of the business franchise located at 24515 Kansas St. “Through its performance-based approach to music instruction, School of Rock students are more inspired to learn, more motivated to excel and more confident as a result.” The Santa Clarita School of Rock is among more than 170 of its kind all over the world. “This is not just a place to take music lessons,” Klein said. “If a kid loves playing music and furthering himself with his instrument, we want this to be his hangout. We have a student lounge and we want kids to hang out in there – it’s that kind of environment.”

The School of Rock – which teaches guitar, bass, vocals, keyboards and drums – combines weekly private music instruction and group band rehearsals to prepare students to take the stage in front of live audiences in an authentic concert setting. “Our performance program puts our students frontand-center on a real stage for real performances,” Klein said. “We teach and perform music that our students love to play and our audiences love to hear.” For instance, School of Rock students across the globe have played thousands of concerts at venues including CBGB’s, The Trocadero, The Knitting Factory, The Whiskey, The Roxy, The Experience Music Project, The Big Easy and BB King’s Blues Club in Times Square. “Our immersive method inspires our students to be their best,” Klein said. “We get them playing music as quickly as possible because we know that is what they want to do. As a result our students become more interested in the theory of music.” Music instructors at the Santa Clarita location are experts in the field. They include music director Christian Nesmith, the eldest son of Michael Ne-

smith, who was a member of the pop rock band The Monkees. Christian has toured and played with a variety of artists such as Air Supply, Debbie Peterson of the Bangles, Doug Pinnick of King’s X Poundhound, Led ZepAgain as Jimmy Page, and Circe Link. “Our instructors live to play and play to live,” Klein said. “They are experienced professional musicians that can instruct students on the finer points of their instrument, while at the same time educating them on everything that goes into putting on a great live show.” Music in a team-based environment is today’s gateway to education, confidence, fun, friendship, and so much more, Klein further emphasized. “At School of Rock Santa Clarita, we believe as much in the power of the band as we do in the thrill of a killer solo act,” he said. “We bring our kids and the community of Santa Clarita together to create excellent performers who learn from cool, real life experiences in the world of music.” For more information visit or call 661-268-6029.

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

School of Rock staff, from front to back, Andrew Klein, Rob Sobol, Lauren Dair Owens, Jessica Nesmith, Robert Anderson, and Christian Nesmith in the lobby of the school in Newhall.

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

School of Rock students practice playing The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” with instructor Christian Nesmith at the music school in Newhall.


SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


College of the Canyons preparing for the future By Ruben J. Porras


reparing for the future is the primary goal of many local students and adults looking to enhance their education to put them in a better position in the workforce. With two campuses and a wide variety of programs, College of the Canyons is able to help locals achieve their goals by keeping up with local demand and growing to accommodate new generations of students. Established in 1969 with just a few hundred students, the college has experienced a large amount of growth over the course of the past 47 years. So much growth in fact that the college, which operates within the Santa Clarita Community College District, had to build an additional campus and plans for even more growth are currently in progress. The fast pace of growth has created demands for new academic, occupational and athletic programs, training partnerships with businesses and new modernized facilities. “Our student enrollment continues to grow— in the past ten years, enrollment has increased to about 20,000 students and is expected to reach 30,000 students within the next decade,” said

Vice President of Public Information, Eric Harnish. “Accommodating that growth will require facilities improvements at both campuses.” According to Harnish, the college is in the process of designing a 24,250-square-foot science lab facility at the Canyon Country Campus that will include eight labs, a classroom and three faculty offices. In addition to designing that facility, the college is also drafting an educational and facilities master plan that will outline the growth of academic and career tech offerings and the facilities required to accommodate them. Currently College of the Canyons offers associate of arts and associate of science degrees in 58 academic programs and 39 credential and certificate programs. The list of available programs the college offers includes audio and radio production, biotechnology, child development, dance, film and video production, fire control technology, industrial manufacturing, music, nursing, paralegal studies, television production, theatre arts and video game animation. In-demand skills in the workforce are considered in an effort to pro-

mote an easy transition for students from college to work. Technology is a key focus of the college in preparing students to find work. A networking/telecommunications associate’s degree program is available as is a media and communications associates degree program. These programs and a variety of certificate programs focus on the use of popular applications including Microsoft Office Professional 2010 which includes Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint and Adobe CS6 which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and Indesign. To support students enrolled in technology-based programs, the college offers computers for use that are networked to Hewlett-Packard laser printers and technology such as 6-in-1 memory card readers compatible with most cameras, a Paragon braille printer, photocopiers, headphone check-out, free wireless Internet access, and designated areas for laptop use complete with charging station. Computer labs are available for any enrolled College of the Canyons student. Information about the college’s offerings and future growth plans can be found at

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Students look at College of the Canyons’ plans for the Canyon Country campus in Canyons Hall.

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Biology 205 students listen to Professor Rosales during a lecture before their lab begins at College of the Canyons.


is where you lieve



• Top 5 completion rate in the state • Top transfer rate in Los Angeles County among California Community Colleges • Campuses in Valencia, Canyon Country and Online • Traditional, short term, night, weekend and fast track classes offered

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SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


Santa Clarita’s bestkept artistic secret The Master’s College has grown to offer nearly 100 different music majors, a Disney-level professional studio and 50 concerts annually

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Orchestra rehearsal at The Master’s College. By Alicia Doyle


he Department of Music at The Master’s College continues to inspire students toward excellence in every way as the Christian liberal arts campus prepares to celebrate its 90th birthday in 2017. “Excellence in music is our passion, because glorifying God with our best offering is what drives us,” said Dr. Paul T. Plew, Music Department Chair. “We believe that music fulfills what nothing else can satisfy,” Plew said. “It fosters creativity, confidence and community responsibility, while promoting diligence and multicultural understanding.” Music equips the mind and the spirit and produces skills that transfer to all areas of life, he continued. “Our department, which is large enough to provide a variety of performance opportunities but small enough to grant individual attention to each student, seeks to develop musicians who have the desire to excel for the glory of God,” Plew said. The Master’s College, accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, offers extensive opportunities for students to pursue their interests including live performances year-round. The vocal and instrumental ensembles, for instance, perform various on- and off-campus concerts each semester, including two largescale productions each year at Christmas and during Passion Week. “Our vocal ensembles have traveled worldwide, performing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and St. Anne’s Cathedral in Jerusalem,” Plew said. “Our instrumental ensembles have traveled nationwide, performing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and Disneyland.”

The Department of Music features a state-of-the-art recording facility that is integrated into the recital hall. This all-digital room is anchored by a 32-fader ICON D-Control work surface and features an industry standard Avid Pro Tools HDX2 system with a variety of plugins and outboard processing. “The studio is used for classes as well as department ensemble projects, giving audio technology students the opportunity to put their knowledge to the test in a real-world studio recording context,” Plew said. Opportunities in the theater arts include acting, stage managing, lighting, sound, scenery, design, costuming and makeup. “Theater productions at The Master’s College strive to glorify God and impact our community through their excellent presentations and to encourage the enjoyment of human creativity as a reflection of the Creator,” said Plew, noting TMC Theatre is scheduled to present the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” during the first two weekends in April. The Master’s College also offers a summer camp, “Songs of Summer,” which has drawn more than 40 students ages 8 to 18 for the past several years. “We focus on the performance side of singing, giving students the tools they need to grow in confidence on stage in their singing technique and portraying the emotions and texts of their songs,” explained Sarah Dixon, camp director and an Adjunct Instructor of Voice at The Master’s College. “We meet for one week in the summer and have classes focusing on voice technique and exercises, music theory, acting improvisation and ensemble performance. The students all participate in a final concert featuring their prepared solos as well as a few choral numbers.” California students who pursue a bachelor’s degree

in music from The Master’s College are provided with a professional degree, featuring courses designed for those with a strong music background who anticipate a vocation in music. It prepares candidates in comprehensive musicianship and performance skills for graduate school and a variety of music careers. The Bachelor of Arts in Music degrees are designed for students with a musical background who desire to achieve a solid education in music along with a significant amount of study in other areas. Music scholarships are awarded to music majors who demonstrate superior music ability and who are committed to the college’s ministry focus of its music programs. These scholarships are obtained by performing a live audition as well as taking a theory placement exam. “Students seek us out because of the music program,” said Plew, noting students come from all over the United States as well as foreign countries. “Some of the places our graduates are currently working include various opera companies, as faculty at various colleges and universities, as film score composers and music producers and as music pastors or church musicians, to name a few.” “Most of our students were involved in choirs or bands in their schools, or took piano or other instruments in private instruction when they were young,” Plew said. “They’re looking for a school where they can continue their education and learn. The students in our department have many opportunities to experience and hone their musical gifts.” For information about the music program visit www. For information about the summer camp, visit www.masters. edu/songsofsummer.

Tom Cruze/The Signal

The Master’s College choir, led by Dr. Paul Plew, during rehearsal.

Experience Fine Arts at The Master’s College fo r a co mp let e l i s t of c onc ert s & ev ent s

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Dept. of Music Spring Concert Featuring various ensembles & soloists May 5, 2016 | 7:00 pm

TMC Theatre Arts Production

October 21-22 & 28-29, 2016 8:00 pm nightly & 2:00 pm Sat. matinees

Come ChristmasSing Concerts December 1-3, 2016 7:30 pm nightly & 2:00 pm Sat. matinee MacArthur Center


SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


William S. Hart Union

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SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


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SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


Legacy Christian Academy’s STEM programming makes the grade

Courtesy photo

Olivia Stevens and Sophia Falabella were just a few of Legacy’s competitors at the regional Science Olympiad, held at Occidental College. The Academy has earned gold multiple years in a row.


egacy’s expansive science lab is wellstocked with professional-grade equipment and advanced curriculum directives, but the most important elements to the success of the Academy’s STEM program lie not in what, but in who, calls the space “home” – three dedicated Science teachers, volunteer Robotics coaches and a record-breaking 425 students eager and prepared to learn. Legacy’s differentiated curriculum puts remarkable emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), as is evidenced by the resources dedicated to STEM at the Academy. “In primary science education, it is usually done by someone who doesn’t love science and/or is ill-equipped to

teach it beyond having students read from a textbook. I am impressed that Legacy devotes such a significant chunk of time and resources to its science program during and after school,” says Erik Chou, Legacy’s second-to-sixth-grade science teacher, who graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s in Integrative Biology and holds a Master’s of Divinity from The Master’s Seminary. With Science taught as a distinctive course to every grade level, the kinderthrough-eighth Academy has no shortage of willing participants in their STEM programming. Says Principal Dr. Matt Northrop, “Each year, we host two excellent annual events our Family Science Night and a STEM Expo. We also have several gold-med-

al-winning Science Olympiad teams and a championship robotics team, too.” Legacy’s academically-accelerated STEM curriculum is not just state of the art; it’s Christ-centered. “My goal is to convey a Biblical passion and purpose for learning science in an environment that is exciting, rigorous, connecting to the real world and driven by curiosity. If I can excite my students about science and connect it to their lives, it becomes meaningful and they will invest in it. I want to train and enlighten my students to not only be confident in school, but also become good, Godly citizens in a world that runs on science,” says Kate Zegan, Legacy’s middle school science teacher. Zegan graduated from The Mas-

ter’s College and holds two credentials - one in Biological Science and another in Earth Science. She taught at a public high school for five years and is now in her third year at Legacy. Every Legacy Lion participates regularly in labs, performing experiments and observing vital scientific principles. “Our students learn through handson investigations. Instead of just coming to know through textbooks, they personally observe and experience the different scientific concepts. This leads to a better, deeper understanding,” says kinderthrough-first-grade Science Teacher Abby Del Rosario. “Legacy students are eager to witness chicken eggs hatch and observe the chicks as they grow; to interact with mealworms

and darkling beetles, caterpillars and butterflies, sow bugs, pill bugs, brine shrimp, milkweed bugs, silkworms and waxworms; and to ‘get their hands dirty’ doing STEM!” Because Legacy students begin learning scientific principles in differentiated instruction as early as Kindergarten, by the time they are in LCA’s Middle School, they’re well prepared for Advanced Placement high school courses and beyond. “Coming from a public high school background, I teach many of my high school lessons to my middle school students,” explains Zegan. “The curriculum I teach is at a high school level and many of the assessments are at the 10th-grade level. I have also added units that are not in the text-

book that I feel will help students as they move forward to AP/Honors classes in high school, like DNA, enzymes, biotechnology, stoichiometry, stem cell research and more.” “LCA accelerates its academic expectations in the core skills of reading, writing and mathematics,” explains Legacy Co-founder and Superintendent Tim Borruel. “A primary focus of academic enrichment is the acquisition of advanced technological and science skills. STEM learning is promoted through MIND math, the computer lab, and FOSS science labs. Characteristics like these are what helped our Academy earn the prestigious National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award in 2015.”

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Jack Millett experiments with chemical reactions at Legacy’s annual Family Science night.

Alexander Patrus, Chase Hwang, Zach Johnson, Irie Cooper, Cole Raschke and Selena Dahabreh - members of Legacy’s RoboLion team - won the Southern California FIRST Tech Challenge Qualifying Tournament in Perris, California, in January. The tournament hosted 23 high school teams from So Cal; Legacy was one of the only participating middle schools at the competition. Legacy is the only middle school - public or private - in Santa Clarita and Agua Dulce to have a competitive First Tech Challenge robotics team.

SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION



SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


A classical Christian education By Daphne O’Neal


rinity Classical Academy was founded in 2001 with just 28 students and three faculty members. Now in its 15th year, the Academy boasts “500 students and 120 faculty and is one of the fastest-growing classical Christian schools in the country,” according to founder and Managing Director Wally Caddow. Classical Christian education is based on centuries-old precepts intended to develop discerning, informed citizens who can reason well and express themselves effectively, both orally and in writing. “It’s really kind of an integration of faith and learning,” Caddow offers. “[Students] get a thorough understanding of their own faith but also the Christian influence on history, literature and really all the disciplines.” Studies at the Academy are organized into three levels, according to a structure termed the Trivium. In “the grammar stage, [pupils in Grades K through 6] learn fundamental rules and a core knowledge of each subject,” states Caddow. “The logic stage (grades 7 and 8) is where students really start to ask why, so they need to be schooled in formal logic. The third (grades 9 through 12) is the rhetoric, or poetic stage, where students synthesize the grammar and logic.” Latin studies are crucial to the program and begin in third grade. “In addition to just being a great cognitive developmental

model..., [Latin] also helps them with English grammar,” states Caddow. What’s more, “We start the Great Books in seventh grade, and by the time our students leave us, they’ve read about 80 of the Great Books.” Such a rigorous academic approach might sound taxing or oppressive, but there is plenty of opportunity for self-expression. “Our arts program has really grown over the years. We have a couple of bell choirs -- handbells and also chimes. In fact, one of our seniors is pursuing a music degree with an emphasis on handbells. Our orchestra has filled out [and even includes] some 4th and 5th graders,” says Caddow. Trinity third graders can participate in theatre clinics, while grades 9 through 12 can take advantage of advanced classes, as well as performing opportunities. Moreover, “Our sports programs continue to excel at a very high level,” notes Caddow. In fact, both the varsity men’s and women’s high school basketball teams have earned high state rankings and are headed to the 2016 playoffs. Trinity also offers football, cross-country, volleyball, wrestling, among other sports. Still, it’s the academic program that sets a school apart, and Trinity has recently received a notable distinction. Via its Dual Credit Program, students can earn high school and college credits simultaneously for 11 of Trinity’s existing Honors and AP Classes. The college credits may transfer to over

Dan Watson/The Signal

The Crimson Bells practice at Trinity Classical Academy. 650 colleges and universities around the country. Students who take advantage of this program may be able to accelerate their baccalaureate studies, at significant tuition cost savings. For any parent, preparation for college is paramount in the choice of a K-12 institution. Though the Academy has so far produced only five graduating classes, Trinity seniors have been accepted to such prestigious institutions as Stanford, UC Berkeley and West Point. A full-time college director, along with an assistant, offer juniors and seniors abundant personal attention

as they approach the application process. Personal attention is the experiential norm throughout, as Trinity boasts a class size of 40 to 50 and a 20:1 student-teacher ratio. Indeed, Trinity has developed such a reputation, it has no trouble recruiting teachers. “Every year, we have stacks and stacks of applications. We attract people from all over the world.” The faculty includes both Ph.D’s and active college professors who are, in the words of parent Carthel Towns, Sr., “‘vested’ in our children’s success, both academically and spiritually.”

You might think the cost of a classical education taught by a roster of international scholars would be extremely high. But, says Caddow, “Our tuition right now is about $12,000,” around a third of the expense of Los Angeles area schools, comparable relative to test scores and college acceptance. “We always wanted to have an elite school, but we never wanted to be elitist,” states Caddow. “We want to make this opportunity available for everyone.” Consequently, about half of the students receive needsbased tuition assistance. Trinity has even devel-

oped a special education school — Imago Dei — that fully integrates special-needs children into the Trinity experience. In the words of parent Sandra Oshiro, Imago Dei inspires in Academy students “compassion and understanding … for ALL people.” “The whole point is to graduate a student who can think well, read well, write well, speak well, know what they believe and why they believe it and communicate in such a way that someone will want to listen.” So far, Trinity Classical Academy seems to be meeting — if not exceeding — this lofty goal.


SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


Hiring a tutor led to a business opportunity By T. A. DeFeo


hen Steve Grill’s now eight-year-old son needed help, he turned to a tutor. But, little did he realize that decision would result in a new business opportunity for him, not just help for his son. “I really liked the idea of one-on-one learning,” Grill said of the tutoring experience. So, in December 2014, the Los Angeles native formally launched his franchise of Tutor Doctor. His business has been an immediate success, serving more than 100 students in its first year alone. “I learned two things,” Grill said of the experience. “One is that there is a need out there. And, secondly you have to really listen to the kids. You learn a lot from the kids.” That need starts because many tutoring companies treat students like a commodity. Together, Grill and Director of Education Dawn Oliver take a different approach, and the path to success begins long before a tutor ever starts working with a student. Grill and Oliver personally interview all potential tutor candidates to ensure they are both qualified and that they espouse the mission of Tutor Doctor. They are looking for the “gold standard of customer care,” as Grill puts it. Once hired, tutors must then attend an all-day orientation session before they are ever sent out to start instructing students. “A lot of tutors work as bro-

kers,” Oliver said. “Whereas we hire everyone as a company employee. They’re held accountable for the progress of their students. “I strongly believe that everyone who tutors has to be invested in their students,” Oliver added. That’s why Tutor Doctor is focused on one-on-one, inhome tutoring. The process begins with an in-home assessment of students, which helps Oliver and her team of tutors understand a student’s strengths and areas for improvement. That initial meeting is also about establishing a baseline against which Oliver and the tutor can monitor progress. With that information, Oliver can build a program path tailored to each student’s needs. From there, Grill hopes to make what he calls a “magical match” between tutor and student — one that allows the student to thrive. “I think we’re very successful in putting someone in the house who is a good fit,” Grill said. The process has been a success, parents say. “I have been using tutor doctor for the past year to sharpen my daughter’s math and writing skills,” parent Christin Jorgensen said. “My experience using tutor doctor has been exceptionally great! The director of the program, the staff, and the tutor are all very professional. My daughter’s tutor shows up on time and enthusiastic to teach. “One aspect I really like about tutor doctor is that they reevaluate the student to determine the areas that

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Aaliyah Clark, 8, works on her math homework with Michelle Harbich of the Tutor Doctor at Clark’s home. need attention, which changes as the year progresses and keeps them working on relevant topics,” Jorgensen added. “Tutor Doctor also refers me to online activities that she can use on a daily basis to help sharpen her skills between tutor visits.” Just as important as helping students succeed in school, Grill, Oliver and their team of tutors are focused on ensuring students have the life skills that will help them succeed later in life. That includes organizational and time management skills. “They understand their education is so critical and

vital to their achieving their goals,” Grill said. It’s also about helping build up students’ self-confidence. Tutor Doctor caters to students in first through 12th grades and those who attend public or private schools or who are home-schooled. The company also helps students in college and adults who are continuing their education journey, whether pursuing a GED or looking to return to school for a higher degree. All tutors have at least a Bachelor’s Degree, and many are pursuing graduate degrees. Tutors, with the permission of parents, can reach

out to a student’s teacher as part of the instructing process. “One of the great things about this company is that tutors can take as few or as many students as they want. Since I am a mom of multiple special-needs children, I have a lot of demands on my time, but I still need to work,” tutor Michelle Harbich said. “I currently only have four students that I spread out over six hours per week. These students are scheduled around my family’s hectic therapy and school activity schedules. “The students I have tutored have been long-term

assignments,” Harbich added. “As such, I have ample time to figure out their diverse learning styles and habits. This helps Dawn and me to come up with programs tailored specifically to them, which in turn helps them to have the best chances for academic success.” While Tutor Doctor doesn’t have a physical location, it is very much a part of the Santa Clarita community. That includes a membership in the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call (661) 219-0770 or visit


SCV Community Pride • EDUCATION


Santa Clarita Christian School preparing tomorrow’s leaders By Ruben J. Porras


ccording to its official website, Santa Clarita Christian School is committed to developing young people to be extraordinary 21st century influencers for Christ to our community and world. To make this commitment a reality, the school offers a rounded education consisting of a variety of academic and athletic programs. Santa Clarita Christian School is officially registered as a private school in the state of California, is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and is a member of The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). In 1982 when the school was founded to serve grades K-12, 110 students and 12 faculty members were in place. Today, 45 faculty members serve 500 students. Since being founded the fully accredited school has graduated over 600 students. The motto of Santa Clarita Christian School is “Teaching Minds, Training Hearts for God” and this is something that is taken very seriously and adhered to according to school administrators. When asked what he’d like the public to know about the school, administrator Kirk Huckabone explained, “We would like to convey citizenship, character development and high academics.” “We are a very family centered school that

emphasizes Christian discipleship and service. In our secondary program developing student leaders is a big focus.” Preparing students to become leaders starts early at Santa Clarita Christian School. Students start preparing for college in kindergarten and then follow a comprehensive, systematic path throughout their education that is designed for collegiate success. Students graduating from the school have gone on to top-notch universities including UC Berkeley, Cornell, USC and Brown among others. An average of 97 percent of students that graduate from the school continue their education to college. Santa Clarita Christian School graduation requirements exceed those of any other school in the Santa Clarita Valley. Requirements for graduation include four years of English, four years of social studies, three years of lab science, three years of math, four years of Bible education, two years of a foreign language and a year of fine arts. Overall, the school’s student body consistently scores near the 80th national percentile ranking on yearly achievement tests. School administration attributes that success to not being limited by state guidelines as their curriculum is designed to prepare students for successful testing while also providing them with critical thinking skills for successful learning.

Dan Watson/The Signal

Santa Clarita Christian School Administrator Kirk Huckabone. Families interested in enrolling students at Santa Clarita Christian School can start by attending “Getting to Know Us Tours” on the second Tuesday of every month beginning every November. During these tours parents will learn about the school’s tuition and fees schedule, tuition assistance programs and options, and about its award-winning athletic programs (the school holds league titles in almost all sports and has also won six CIF championships) that begin in kindergarten. More information can be found at

Dan Watson/The Signal

Santa Clarita Christian School Administrator Kirk Huckabone visits a 1st grade classroom at SCCS.

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