HomeRyan Begins New Stint as School Board President

Ryan Begins New Stint as School Board President

Tribune file photo
Shelley Ryan

Showing no signs of easing into the final two years of her second term on the San Marino Unified School District board, Shelley Ryan has assembled a full roster of goals as she begins her second stint as president.
First elected to the board in 2013, Ryan previously served as president in 2018 before receiving the nomination and unanimous support at a special meeting on Friday, Dec. 11.
Ryan said at the meeting that she hopes the panel is able to help maximize student achievement, foster a positive culture of learning and maintain financial stability for the SMUSD while ensuring the health and safety of its students and employees during the next year.
“It’s my goal to work with the entire community to navigate challenges of COVID-19,” Ryan said. “I hope to continue the positive connections we have made with parents through parent education programs and our various PTA connections and other organizations, Constant Contact, newsletters and websites. I will support open communication and dialogue with parents, constituency groups, the district staff and the community at large.”
Though the physical safety of all is paramount, Ryan expanded the declaration to include other aspects of security.
“I will promote safe, healthy and inclusive environments for students, emphasizing social and emotional well-being, kindness, digital citizenship and honesty,” she said. “It is important to develop a climate of care, equity, diversity and inclusion for students and staff.”
Ryan believes that the safe atmosphere will lead to success in the classroom.
“We will continue to develop the whole child to thrive in a globally competitive time and environment,” Ryan explained. “It’s important to provide a dynamic, rigorous, academically healthy learning community. But at the same time, we must address learning loss and close the digital and equity gap. We will provide financial, instructional, curricular and technical resources to ensure that each student is demonstrating sustained and consistent progress at the highest level.”
Though the challenge has increased dramatically due to distance learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic — responsible for the possible “learning loss” to which she referred — Ryan emphasized the need to create an environment that promotes positive learning habits.
“The SMUSD will create a culture of improvement through purposeful innovation and adherence to best educational practices,” Ryan said. “We will implement efficient and consistent professional development for all employees and ensure equitable teaching and learning opportunities. We will maximize the potential of all students by recognizing their individual strengths and talents.”
Ryan will encourage the district to continue to create and support a robust academic and culturally relevant curriculum “to best prepare for post-secondary education and careers.” She also hopes to increase opportunities for parent and family engagement, which she acknowledged are more difficult in the current era of virtual communication.
One of the initial challenges facing the board will be encouraging the community to pass Measure E, the larger of two SMUSD parcel taxes, which raises $4.2 million annually. The parcel tax will go before voters in March.
“Beyond that, we need to produce fiscally responsible long-term strategic plans to enhance facilities, technology and support services,” Ryan said. “It is necessary that we plan for the district’s future educational and facility needs as well as for impacts of this uncertain fiscal climate. We will develop a balanced budget using the state’s budget standards and board policy that includes criteria for a contingency reserve beyond the 3% requirement.”
To accomplish that lofty goal, Ryan reiterated what she saw as the necessity to “enhance communication, access, and collaboration between and among district staff, students, parents, board of education and community.” She also mentioned the need to “attract and retain students and families to the district.”
An administrator in the Alhambra Unified School District, Ryan has more than 35 years of experience in education. She is married to Kelly Ryan, an attorney, who will serve in 2021 as president of San Marino City Club. The couple have three adult children who attended San Marino schools.
Ryan was nominated to serve as board president by outgoing President C. Joseph Chang and the motion was seconded by board newcomer Jane Chon at the special meeting. She cited a list of accomplishments that have taken place during her tenure on the school board, which included the district’s history of high academic achievement; the creation of partnerships with the Huntington Library and Caltech; the success of the robotics and Lego League programs; implementation of the Common Core curriculum; and the development of the district’s mental health and wellness initiatives.
“I believe education is the great driver of social, economic, and political progress,” Ryan concluded. “It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write, and do math. Education must be transformative and bring shared values. Education must also be relevant in answering the big questions of the day.
“Technological solutions, political regulations or financial instruments alone cannot achieve sustainable educational advancement. It requires transforming the way students think and act. It must give students the understanding, skills, and values they need to collaborate and contribute to resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century.”


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