Superintendent ~ Poway Unified School District


Tina McDowell, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent

(858) 521-2700

Interim Superintendent's Message
Dr. Tony Apostle,  Superintendent 
Superintendent's Message

Dear TeamPUSD:
The following article is a testimony to the lifelong impact that positive, honest, candid and constructive communications between educators and parents can have on a student`s self-esteem and hope for a better future. Today, these words reflect my core beliefs like no other expressions of my confidence in our public education system.
The importance of a strong partnership between parents and educators is timeless. I am reminded of my own third grade parent–teacher conference with my late mother and my third grade teacher, Mrs. Larsen, in Tacoma, Washington. I still unpleasantly recall receiving nine N`s (needs improvement) on my report card which triggered a required parent–teacher conference. I shuddered at the thought of attending my own parent–teacher conference as a translator because our primary language at home was Greek and my mother could not fluently write, comprehend or speak English.
The much anticipated conference day arrived. Nervously and with halting hesitation, introductions were made; and we sat down in the empty and quiet classroom. Mrs. Larsen politely and immediately addressed the purpose of the meeting and quickly began to share her criticisms regarding my lack of academic progress in several subject areas. She went on and on as I translated in Greek my numerous academic weaknesses to my mother and, at the same time, I battled tears and was sobbing out loud. My mother tried very hard to hold back her emotions - unable to speak in English and ask questions about what was on her mind; more importantly, wanting to defend her son from the negative criticisms.
Halfway through the conference my mother interrupted Mrs. Larsen in mid-sentence and said in her best, but nearly unintelligible English, “Tony, good boy?” She then repeated it a second time, “Tony, good boy?” There was momentary and uncomfortable silence that seemed to last far too long for me! Mrs. Larsen broke the silence and replied, “Tony is one of my favorite students- very polite and well behaved- qualities that a mother should be very proud of.” One can imagine hearing my sigh of relief and see my ear-to-ear grin as I repeated in Greek what Mrs. Larsen had said – her first positive comment about me in the entire conference. My mother warmly held my hand tight and smiled for the first time that day.
Days later, Mrs. Larsen asked me to stay after school. She began by telling that I did well at the parent conference and that she appreciated my translation of her assessment of my academic progress. She told me that she would spend extra time with me since my mother could not read English and my father worked late driving a truck. She went on to say that together, we would set a goal of zero ”N`s” at the next grading period. I replied that I did not think it was possible. She bent down looked me straight in the eyes, and confidently told me something that I have not forgotten. She said, “Inch by inch, life's a cinch; yard by yard, life is hard.”
This message is another reminder that parents and educators today, both classified and certificated, serve a very important and crucial role in guiding student success. Working as #TeamPUSD together and making students our highest priority, we can make a profound difference in the lives of children- every day. It lasts a lifetime… I should know, as a once struggling student who became an educator myself.
May you find rest and rejuvenation during the winter break, and we will see you in the New Year to continue our work!



Mel Robertson, Ed.D.
(858) 521-2700 FAX (858) 485-1075

Tina McDowell
Executive Assistant II to the Superintendent
(858) 521-2700    FAX (858) 485-1075

Christine Paik
Director of Communications
(858) 521-2707  FAX (858) 485-1075

Hannah Clements
Administrative Assistant II to the Director of Communications
(858) 521-2705  FAX (858) 485-1075

Darl Danford
Legal Support Specialist
(858) 521-2706  FAX (858) 485-1075

Amanda Marshall
Executive Assistant I to the Superintendent
(858) 521-2700   FAX (858) 485-1075

The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is an equal opportunity employer/program and is committed to an active Nondiscrimination Program. PUSD prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on actual or perceived ancestry, age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or association with a person or a group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. For more information, please contact the Title IX/Equity Compliance Officer, Associate Superintendent of Personnel Support Services, Poway Unified School District, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128-3406, 858-521-2800, extension 2761. View Annual Notification of Parents’/Students’ Rights | Annual Notification of Employees’ Rights

POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT | 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 | (858) 521-2800