The Change Agent

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora

Superintendent of Moreno Valley Unified School District, California.

 

The Objective

Engaging and caring for communities to challenge the status quo.

Show Notes

How can districts engage with their community and encourage their students to succeed, regardless of their situation? Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, Superintendent Moreno Valley USD, explains how his district’s focus on building relationships, increasing unique opportunities, and telling their district story have been critical pieces of their continued progress.

Host Bio: Dr. Chris Balow is the Chief Academic Officer at SchoolMint.  Dr. Balow has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and served for 33 years as an educator in various roles with focuses on literacy, mental health, and the behavioral and emotional growth of students. He has worked the last 6 years in the educational technology field to promote student success on a larger scale.

Episode 23
Title: District Spotlight: Moreno Valley Unified School District
Subtitle: Engaging and caring for communities to challenge the status quo.

VoiceOver: 

ChangeAgents in K-12 motivating transformation in education is presented by SchoolMint. Featuring in-depth conversations with top educational leaders, we are committed to the advancement of education through research exchange, idea sharing, and enlightening discussions. Are you prepared to be a change agent?

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Welcome to the podcast ChangeAgents in K-12 . Our guests for today's episode is Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, who is the superintendent of Moreno Valley unified school district in California. Dr. Kedziora , um , has been in education for roughly 35 years, and he has worked for a number of school districts in a variety of roles. He served as a teacher at both the elementary and secondary levels. He was a vice principal, moved up to principal , uh, worked in special education as a coordinator, also a director of professional development and worked with middle grades, curriculum and instruction. He served also as the chief academic officer of Moreno Valley USD for six years before being appointed superintendent in 2017. Dr . Kedziora, welcome to ChangeAgents in K-12 .

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Oh, thank you. I'm honored to be here and thank you for having me today. I look forward to having a discussion with you.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Awesome. Thank you very much. Well, let's start out. Um, just giving our listeners a little bit of background about your school district.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Thank you. Um , Moreno Valley unified school district serves approximately 33,000 students and about 40 schools, there's 42 different sites, but programs and , uh , support for students. Uh, we serve students from transitional kindergarten, all the way to adult education, and we serve students that come to us in a variety of circumstances. Most of our students are on free and reduced lunch, approximately 90% this year. And , uh, we , uh , serve students that, you know, that are foster youth homeless. We have the highest homeless population in Riverside County as foster youth. And , um , we , uh, serve primarily African-American and Hispanic students. And we have , uh , we do have other students, but that's primarily the students that we serve. And , um, we take that role very seriously and we realized that due to the variety and the circumstances that our students come to us, and it requires us to be very innovative and creative and thoughtful, you know, they may lack in some areas, but they certainly make up for it in other areas.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Awesome. Well, that certainly sounds like a dynamic environment. Uh, Dr . Kedziora I'm intrigued by, you know, your path , uh , professionally. Tell us about that path and then how it really you to , to work in Moreno Valley, given some of those unique challenges.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Well, when I first started teaching, I was in the , I was in the city of Memphis and I was in the Memphis city schools and I taught in an all African-American inner city high school. Now, I didn't know that, like, when you talk about what prepares you for today, that would be preparing you for today. Cause that was 20 something years old. And I had no idea what I was doing, but I worked in a high school where people were resigned to the fact that , um, you know, not much what's going to happen for these kids and , uh, that I should just get used to it. Uh, there were people had been there 30 years and they said to me, this is the way it is. And I just , uh, you know, I just thought I did not get into this to be 30 years later saying this is the way it is. And , uh, you know, it's difficult in an environment sometimes to, you know, be the, be a person . There were other people that were, you know, people that weren't as jaded or whatever. But , um, I realized that I didn't know that then, but I do know this now that you can make a difference wherever you are, however, small or big. And it really doesn't matter that everyone else isn't doing it, it matters what you're doing. And then people say that, you know, you model the example and you have to believe that others will follow. I did not always know that I , I knew my students, you know, and I knew my situation, but I didn't realize that I thought I'm just a teacher. What can I do? But I think that I realized that in the system, everybody can make an impact and it, and it doesn't take everyone to be thinking like you, it just takes everyone to do what they can do the best they can do and be the best version of themselves. And that's what I learned through teaching because I taught emotionally disturbed kids. I taught special education. I taught , uh , you know, just different, you know , uh , programs and I taught English. But when I taught special ed parents would say to me , uh , Mr. Kedziora, your , what are you doing with my child? And I'd say , what do you mean they get well, they like coming to school.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Um , wow, that's a fantastic, wow .

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

You know, they used to say, my child is in special education and they've always not wanting to go to RSP or, you know, get special help. And now they want their friends to come meet you and they want you , you know, what are you doing? And it wasn't anything that I was teaching them. It was more of how was being with them. And I think sometimes that is, you know, it's not about a program or a , you know, I don't know the latest fad. It's more that you get to know them, you build relationships and you talk to them and that they realize that, you know, they matter and they're valued and they don't really have to perform or do anything, but they do perform because they, you know , feel better about themselves.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Well, that is such an inspirational message. Martinrex. Um, I, I have to tell you, I don't know if you recall my background, but I was a school psychologist for well over 30 years and always worked with, with the tough kids, to the ed kids. What have you, and you know, that was my experience. I , I worked in a all inner city school in new Orleans with all African-American kids. And , um, I loved what you said about just small impacts. You may not be able to change everything all at one time, but maybe impact that one kid. And I think our listeners can really take away that, that notion about relationships. Um, that's just , just so critical today. Let's move on. So , uh , we've learned a little bit about Moreno Valley and your background. What makes some Moreno Valley education unique? And what kinds of things are you looking forward to as you strategically plan for the future?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Sure. Well , um , one of the things we we've learned, you know, I've been here 10 years now live here in this city, and I didn't always know this city until I worked here, but I realized that students don't have all the things they need when they come to school. And sometimes that wasn't being addressed in a centralized focus way. And so one of the things that we've done is we opened a community wellness center and it's quite a , uh , a facility it's very unique. A lot of people come to see it within our community. We just received a national school boards, association award for it. And we all Magna award. And we also received a California school boards, association award for it. And it provides , uh, clothing. It provides food that we do get shelter. We also , um, it's much more than that. Uh , it provides , um, we have like Catholic charities there. We have , uh, uh, different clubs and organizations that come and help, but it's, it's a one-stop place where people can go and get either on their fate or get to be on their feet. Uh, it's not necessarily meant for one stop. You know, you just come there and everything's fine. Like we have people that , um, are in-between housing, they got evicted and they're getting new housing. And , uh , I didn't always know this, but you know, getting into new housing and, you know, can be, there can be a time delay. It's not like it happens the next day. And so we are transition type , uh , situation where we help people. Like we have relationships with our local motels and hotels and we house people , uh, during the transition time to make sure that they , they are able to get from one place to the next. And in that time period, we, we have at this wellness center, we have like a washer and a dryer. We have a shower, we have a home setting so that people can wash clothes and they can prepare for interviews. Uh, they can come take a shower if they don't have that. And you know, people always say, if they just do this and they just do that, and we don't realize how much people don't have, what we have and just the convenience of hopping into a shower somewhere, or having the soap or the towels to do it with. And so , uh, that people know about this and it helps, you know, thousands of people each year. And it's made a tremendous impact on our district in that , uh, we have, we have a higher average daily attendance. We have less suspensions. We have less expulsions. We have more connection with our community and it helps us to , um, I don't think people always realize the need. Um , I've heard people say like, sometimes we need to have, we need to have a place where children can get help and families can get help. I said, we have that. So what I do now is I take district people on field trips to our own facilities, because option , they don't know that they exist because of the largeness or there , they get to their job. And this was important , the pandemic, but I took them there and they were just odd by this. But I want you to know that because of the interest , when you involve your own people , uh , they start to develop this in a greater way than you ever thought possible. Like our director of maintenance and operations, he did all the labor for this wellness center himself, no charge, you know , or anything. He built the shower, he built the heat , he hooked up the washer and dryer and all those things take time and they take money. But when someone facilitates that and does that themselves , that helps. So when you ask about some of the next things we're going to do, one of the things we realized is we have a freeway that divides our city. And sometimes people, you know, we think sometimes, you know, they can get to this. They can get to that, but transportation is also an impediment. So our transportation department, when they find out that a family can't get meals, like right now we have grab and go meals for cause of the pandemic, our best drivers, they deliver the meals to homes. Also our best is, are, are now , uh, have wifi connected. And so we parked the best is in apartment complexes, parks, other areas of the city, where we have lots of children that are not, their connectivity is not as good. And so there's up to 65 children can connect with a bus at 300 feet and , uh, they, they do this and it shares the community and helps them realize that, you know, we understand that, you know, like sometimes it's hard to ask for these things, but you know, you realize that it's present. And so another thing that we're doing is we wrote a grant recently and we just submitted it and it's to open a second wellness center on the North side of the city, because we realized that the people who live on the North side can't get to the South side, you know, we think they can get over there, but you know, that's just not true. And , uh , so we're trying to make things more, you know, where it's convenient and also that it's accessible. And then we also look at when families can't get to the one on the South side are our , I have to tell you our transportation department , uh, make sure that they can be picked up and that they can get there and then take him back home. And, you know, they do that , uh, without hesitation, they don't argue, they don't say I can't do this. They're very willing. And , and you know, but working between nutrition, transportation, and our maintenance and operations department, I have to tell you, they are, they are really the people that help make all this happen. Sometimes in a school district, you might think that student services and ed educational services are doing all of this, but in our district, it's those people. But in addition, it's our business services, people who have changed their mind about them, the mission and the vision of our district, and also become more acclimated to what students need and support that mission and vision every day, which I find one of the most important things that a school district, when they stop working in silos and they worked together at a district office to provide those very much needed services and they coordinate those among in between each other.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Sure. Um, wow that is just absolutely fantastic. Um, th this wellness center you described sounds like a model that, that so many other school districts could, could emulate. Um, so just so I'm clear, this is funded through grants and the school district, and you sort of own and operate the wellness center.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

It's funded the grants , uh , it's funded through our foundation. We have the Moreno Valley education foundation. It's also funded through outside donations and large donations. Whenever I get the chance to meet with a vendor, a sponsor or someone that wants to contribute to our community, I direct them and I often ask for the wellness center. They're often like one day I had a , uh , at and T or T-Mobile called me . And they went to help our district. They wanted to give $20,000. And so , um, they said, we want to give it to nutrition services, to help with meals for students who can't pay. But I said, all of our students get free lunch and all of our students get free breakfast. We don't charge. And they said, Oh, and I said, so we have a wellness center. And so I started telling them about that. They go, Oh, absolutely. We want to be part of that. Well, they don't do it once they come back and then I have them go visit and they become really connected to it. And they want it , they want that to be like their signature project that they're helping with because, you know, it's , it has such a, you know, there's so much that, that, that you can do that. You don't even realize that, you know, that happens with it. You know, it just , it takes legs of its own .

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Right. Right. And , um, you know, it reminds me when was working in districts, we had this concept called wraparound services where yeah. Where , yeah, that's the technical term. And, and you you're actually , uh , walking the walk of that. And , and, and this notion that, you know, you have to meet students' basic needs, you know, food insecurity, housing insecurity, all of those things are going to impede the learning process. And , um, I was just so happy to hear that you're , you're seeing impacts like less suspensions, better behavior, improved attendance. And , and it just proves the fact .

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Right. Right, right. Yeah. I mean, you know, once kids know that you care about them, you know, they , they don't care what you never saying. You know, they don't care what, you know, until they know that you care about that. And that, that care, you know , has to extend itself though, to their family too, because they're feeling very marginalized and disenfranchised. And they're often meeting a lot of resistance in different areas of our community. And they see me sometimes, and I'm just , I'm this white man from this, you know, I'm all dressed up and they think, well, how's he going to help me? You know ? And I have to tell you, I go there a lot and meet people and connect with families and listen to them because , uh , I think that helps us all develop empathy and understanding and helps me realize the greater need of our community, because sometimes I'm working on academic endeavors when I realized that, you know, you've got to do Maslow before you do Bloom.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Yeah. And it's true. You're , you're proving that.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Yeah. And a lot of people don't realize that in a school district, like when they compare our district to other districts, they don't have the same kind of situations. And I'm not making excuses because our children, when they perform in contest , they outperform other districts. When they perform on standardized tests, they do not do as well. But I've attribute that a lot to relationships when they find interest in something and someone is helping them, you know, that uniquely there's like our science fair has increased exponentially, exponential ager because we help students prepare for it. We get them the materials, the history day programs, mock trial. Last year, we had the most diverse mock trial team in the, in the County of Riverside. And we came in number two, no , of all the, all the high schools, the 18 high schools. And we had . And the other thing was we had the most diverse team. When you looked , when I want you to the courtroom and saw the other teams there , they were mostly Asian or Anglo. Ours had Hispanic African-American students that I know came from different situations, but because they were met, they've met with an attorney who inspired them. Uh, it changed the course of their life, you know?

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think the takeaway people can learn. Um, well, first of all, I think you're a role model for, for superintendents across the country with, with your ethos and the way you think about the whole child, but the notion of that passion and learning is what really drives, drives, engagement and motivation for kids. And some of those , uh , out of school learning opportunities like working with a lawyer , um, is a great example of that igniting that passion.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Well, I think sometimes in other districts, that's pretty much a standard that happens, you know, like mock trial or something, but beginning this in our district 10 years ago with Mrs. Gee at Valley view high school and Mrs. Johnson, and then the attorneys that we work with, you know, I watched the , uh, Ascension of the students and how they, how they motivated their peers to be before them, or after them and telling them they could do it, but then recruiting African-American students into this was something I purposely did as a superintendent, because I ha I would go and hear students speaking and different things. And I thought they needed to be a mock trial. You know, then I would , I had a parent come see me and he was really upset. And he said, Dr . Kedziora you know, you tell my son to go into mock trial and I want him to play sports. And I want to know, you know, cause I think that they can get, you know, this and this, through sports, but you know, what's mock trial. So anyway, we had this discussion and I just said, I'm going to be real honest with you. There's a lot of African-American young men in sports. There are not a lot of African-American young men in mock trial and in law. And I said, you know, your son has an opportunity here to change something, to be better, or to do something that can change, you know, whatever he wants to do, he can still be athletic, but, you know, and being involved in this will help us academic prowess and it will help him be , be part of something elate. Anyway , uh, they did it, they , they tell me that they kind of looked at me and said this better work out, But their son did so well, and I was so grateful. He got an internship with the Riverside County district attorney's office , um , and , and still works there with, with them because they're, so there were so impressed with his abilities, what a great story. Yeah , it is. And, but, you know, that would have never happened. Had someone not changed the conversation or somebody asked the question or somebody did something different because I can just said, okay, Josiah , you go roll the ball. Like , like , like you do. But , uh , I talked to him and it really, he really didn't know that he had this ability, you know, so

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Fantastic story. Um, tell us a little bit about any special programs you offer in Moreno Valley.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Well , um , we began an international baccalaureate program , uh , because we want our students, one of the things when Dr. Y who was the former and I came here, there wasn't this academic focus, or this, there was more on intervention, not on development, not on, you know, developing academic, you know , growth. Yeah . And so we started this international baccalaureate program. It now is , uh, elementary through high school. And so you can have the whole pathway if you want. And , uh, our students, we , uh, on that , on the last test that was given last year on the , uh, IB test, those are international baccalaureate. Our average was higher in two areas in chemistry and history. And, u h, I was so just proud to say that w hile it's not, you know, developed into its fullness, you know, t o say that, you know, just something that would inspire you to say this is, y ou k now, really taking h old. But the other thing that happened was that our middle school, our middle years program, u h, students, we offer the advanced placement t est for o ur eighth graders. Now, normally that test is reserved for high school students, b ut we started giving it an eighth grade because we realized that in AP Spanish, our students are very proficient, but also advanced. And that AP test proves it. So we pay for all of our students to take the test. We don't, we don't, they don't have to pay the fee. We have that in our budget. And so, u h, we want them to try that because we want them to know that, you know, you're g oing t o take risks, you're g oing t o do things, but you have to start early and build that, y ou k now, build your ability to do these things well at Vista Heights, middle school, last year, a nd the eighth grade, there were 43 students that took that test. And 43 s tudents passed that test with a three or higher. That's not heard of in, in many middle schools that they t ook. They took the AP test at middle school. Right. That's a exciting program that we've developed, u h K -12 u h, throughout our district. And, u h, students are saying that, and then we just, you know, let you know, we, w e create banners with t heir picture on it and they hang outside the school on the f lag p oles and on the straight lights. So when people drive by and the students drive b y, they see it. And then when the, w hat, the next year, when the students pass, we give that student that b anner, they come take it down and they get their banner, you know, but, u m, w e're just touch. W e've tried to inspire because, you know, it's not enough to do what, what, you know, like my parents may have done, you know, y ou go to school, u h, you know, do what I say and don't ask me any questions. We have to show people. And we have to, you know, share something in a concrete and a real demonstrative way that we're proud of them, you know? And, u h, when people say that they see their sister or their brother up there, or their cousin or someone in their family or someone they know, and they think I can do that.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Yeah, yeah absolutely.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

A lot of times they, they thought it was for other kids, not them, you know. And then another thing that we did was we developed a steam pathway and in six of our schools, so we have steam in every school. I want, you know, we realized the importance of that. And so we developed that in six schools, as a pathway, an elementary and middle and a high school, we're building a performing arts center that state of the art, it's going to be a concert hall, not a performing arts center. And our kids love performing arts. And so we passed a bond. And so we built this, you know, it's going to be beautiful. And this is where our students will perform concerts. It has an orchestra pit, and it has all the , uh , you know, the cases that are necessary to have a high quality, you know, resemblance of Carnegie hall in A smaller way.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Holy cow.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

But it's beautiful. And it's not done yet, it'll open in March, but we, we just received an award this year from the California school boards association for our visual and performing arts program because , um, it's, it's TK through 12 and we even have it in adult ed. Uh, we worked with a partner in our district because those parents at adult ed, those people that go to adult ed are our parents, their parents of our students. And so we have, we have a community member that we have doing lessons on art and music appreciation so that when their kids are in these programs and playing these songs or doing these, you know , different things, they do , uh, they have a better understanding and appreciation and value of what's happening and at a deeper level. And so , uh , we're very, very proud of that. And , um, you know, that's that then another area that we've worked on is, you know, we had a bullying incident last year in our district. And so we created, I started meeting with clergy in our district. Um, and so I brought , uh, an eclectic group of clergy together to create a group called Hearts United. And , uh , they meet monthly, but it's also spread to business and community members and they meet monthly on different techniques and ideas on how to reduce bullying and violence in schools. And they go to schools and they're present at schools during lunchtime or after school or before school. And they're there as adults in the community to provide an additional resource or support. And when they see something happening, they help intervene. We've trained them to support students and deescalate conflict and reduce police intervention because we know that, you know , sometimes people call police or something, but we'd read them, call Hearts United. So it's , and then we also do this Hearts United program. We involve the district attorney's office, they became part of it. And so this is a why to be proactive and not reactive, but to reduce police intervention in police oversight because , uh, too often students were getting arrested or getting in trouble with the law. And that would , that would not help them with their, you know, moving forward. They would, you know, it would just change their course of where they were headed, right. And through , and through these different adult interventions , um, we see, you know, that they're responding and that they find a way to resolve issues without having to involve the police.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Fantastic. Um, wow. That , that's, that's really, really awesome. So let me go back to the IB program for a second. So how do students apply and enroll? Are there seat limitations and , um, how do you handle that for that program?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

There are no seat limitations . Um, I've, since I became superintendent, I ha I've done open enrollment, but I don't have it during a certain period. And I also , uh, mail home a transfer form with the options to every parent in their language, because I read something that parents who are have language issues and things, they won't go to something usually and do something they will, if , if it's sent to them, they will respond. And so that's been very successful. The , the, the schools , um, the high school and middle school and the elementary school, you know, our enrollment is , um, you know, has declined as many districts in California. And so we have space and we , uh , advertise and market to outside our district. We do have a lot of, we do have a lot of people coming in now, but we still have space. And our middle school program is probably the largest. The high school is, you know, is, has a big enrollment, but in the IB program , uh, there's plenty of room sure. That we continue to build that program. Uh, our elementary program is just beginning, so it hasn't developed as much yet. We do have a steam school that , uh , that is a magnet school that people want to get into and it stays full. And that was another reason why we wanted to create different options. Like the elementary IB program that's called the primary years program , uh, for parents to have an option. And so , um, but it's, it's there's room and there's lots of space and we encourage people to enroll at any time or become part of that.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Sure. That's so interesting. So you actually , um, put forth efforts to recruit students from other districts with, with marketing and advertising and really telling the Moreno Valley story. It sounds like of, of all the innovative programs you have to offer.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Yeah . Yeah. Well like our art program, we , our students, their art at the Riverside art museum. So when that happens , uh , this is for the pandemic. Uh , we have, we have person there at that, at that museum when that's happening that will share about our programs, because parents that are coming to an art museum to look at their kids' art are interested more so in what their kids are going to, you know , you know, because parents will come there and I'll talk to them I'll be there. And they'll say, I didn't know, this program existed. You know, even though you mail things home, you know, myself, when I get something in the mail, I sometimes throw it away. I don't even look at it. And , um , unfortunately, but , uh, so I think word of mouth and talking to people personally and being an advanced, like that is really powerful. And that's where we find that we have, we find that people are, you know, didn't realize what we had and , uh, then they, they bring their kids there.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Sure, sure. And I've done a lot of research on how parents makes and families make some of these decisions. And, you know, one of them is innovative programs that are special, that are going to really ignite their , their students' passions and the other things around school climate that, you know, and you're addressing things like bullying, et cetera, that, you know, kids and families want to stay, or they want to come when there's this positive climate. And, you know, you talked a lot about relationships, so it's like, you're, you're kind of checking all those boxes.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Well, I think that, you know, it's, you know, people always say, you know, like how important academics are and they are. But I also realized that students come from a variety of backgrounds and who are very mobile. They need to know how much people care about what they need and not what I need so much or what the real estate agent needs or what, you know. And so I go to model homes in our community and I deliver, we have a yearbook every year now of our accomplishments. And that's, you won't find that online because it's not on great schools.org, but it is when you put this in the hands of people, you know, they, they call them , they say, I had no idea. And I said, yeah, that's the unfortunate part, because you know, you, you go to w you go to the internet and you look for things, but everything's not on there, you know?

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Right . Right.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

So, now , uh , you know, it's like the real estate agent said to me , uh, w when they built this new home development, she said, you know, people come here and they, they say what they saw online. And she said, what can you do to help me? You know? And so I bring all these yearbooks there that they're, they're , they're paperback, but they're , they're very nicely done. And she says, this helps so much because people start looking through it and there , they see all those kids in there. Right. And the image is not what they, what they hear or see sometimes, or what they heard about, you know, I live here and I, when I moved here, even when I moved here 27 years ago, people said, don't move there. It's not the best community. Well, I mean, it's a big city, it's one square miles. It has about 300,000 people. And , uh, you know, there's different parts of it. People often don't know that there are, you know, just like any city, different parts, you know?

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Absolutely. Um, yeah, that, that's just fascinating. So let me change gears here a little bit, Martinrex , um, as, as a psychologist, I w I saw something on your website around sequential discipline standards that, that, that you published. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that, but it's just, I , I loved it. And it's really unique , um, for years to publish that , um, because, you know, principals , a recent survey , um, the number one challenge school principals face is student discipline. And so it looks like you have a very systematic approach to that.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

We do. And that's thanks to our , uh , teachers association, our Moreno Valley educators association. They collaborated with our administrators. This is before I came here and they developed the sequential discipline guide so that there was , uh , some order to discipline. And there was some , uh , coherency, co coherent guidelines. They can deviate from it. They ha they have an exception form. They fill out if they don't follow it for whatever reason. And so they turn that in and that's given to a district discipline committee, but it's very , uh, you know , uh , observed, followed, and , uh, you know, it's important to our teachers and our administrators that they , um, you know, use that to support students and families, so they know what's going to happen. So there are clear expectations.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Great. So do you have , um, some type of program you implement or other type of system that, that gives , um, teachers and administrators, the tools to implement that sequential discipline?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Well, they, they , uh, they get training in it, of course , professional development, but we also offer professional development. Each of our schools have implemented positive behavior intervention systems, and they've aligned that with the sequential discipline guide to , uh , demonstrate how that they work together. And then we also have restorative practices where people get trained and that, you know, is also used. And so when you're, when you're , um, doing the sequential discipline guide, like if the administrator decides to make an exception and use other practices to , uh, you know, address the behavior, then they just fill that out. They get, they , they conference with the teacher and they say what they're doing, and then either people sign off on it, but it's an agreement, you know, and, but they , but they do use other methods or mains of correction because , uh , we , we have learned that, you know, these things positive behavior intervention and restorative practices , uh , make a huge difference over time, you know, when they're done with fidelity or when their , as are supposed to be done. And , uh , that when people believe in them and follow them and , and the families know about them.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Yeah. Fantastic. Well, I, you know, you are a former ed teacher , so you really understand these concepts and to have a superintendent with that background is just so awesome in my opinion. So kudos to that. Um, you know, our time is running a little bit short, but I wanted to ask you if , um, you know, if you had a magic wand, what, what are a couple of things you would change in education, just from a global perspective? What do you think? What are those big ideas we need to think?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Well , uh, if I had a magic wand, yes , I wish that I wish that people would not , um, you know, complain so much about their schools. I wish they'd asked what they could do. I remember when John F. Kennedy said, ask not what you can do for, you know, that's what you can do for your country. I think that like our students, when I tell them about our wellness center, I'll go to our different student groups and I'll tell them for community service, they should help, you know, with this project. And they do. And so I think sometimes, you know, parents , um, not all of them, but many of them can be critical of the district. And so can other people , uh, you know, outside the district. And I think that they should help us and they should, they should come to me or anyone and ask , what can I do to help you, instead of pointing the finger saying, you know, like what's so bad or, you know, like, yeah, yeah. But I think, you know, kids notice that like, I mean, they just, they say things like Dr. Kedziora, We're trying, we're trying to do our best. I'm like I agree! And , uh , like I'll have, I'll involve students in our , our district meetings and still talk about different, like achievement tests and things. And they'll talk about our African-American students and these kids that are on there, they're doing really well, but they act like all African-American students are not, you know, so these kids said to me, Dr. Kedziora I'm doing a good job. You are, you're right. And you need to keep doing that. But I think people don't realize that how much we need their support and their , their , their hand they're helping hand to help us. You know, it's not so much about many all the time. I mean, I mean, you could always use more, but , uh, I think it's more about the spirit and the entrepreneurialship and just saying how we can link agendas with each other and build coalitions to make sure our districts are, you know, being all they can be. You know.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

I'm behind you a hundred percent on , on that thesis for sure. Well, we we've run out of time for our interview today. Dr. Kedziora and I want to thank you so much for that. Um, but before I let you go , um, you have to play our little game called this or that, where I say two things, and you tell the listeners which one you prefer, and you can explain the why, if you like, or we can just move on. So let's start dog or cat?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Dog.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

You're a dog person. Okay. Do you , um, like Facebook or Twitter?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Facebook.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Um , when you're walking, do you listen to music or a podcast?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

I don't listen to anything.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Okay. I was hoping, you'd say podcasts. Okay. Do you like big parties or a small gathering?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Big parties.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Big Parties. Okay. Um, yeah, it's interesting. Most , um, superintendents I've interviewed like the small gathering, so you're , you're unique in that way. Definitely. Um, do you like online shopping or you like to go to a store and shop?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Go to a store. I'm losing my mind during this pandemic.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

It's it's crazy. Um, do you prefer a tablet or a computer?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

I don't like either one. I like paper.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Paper. Okay. Fantastic. Fantastic. Um, do you , um, like an amusement park or a day at the beach, what would be more your preference?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Hmm , probably probably a day at the beach. Yeah.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Day at the beach. Fantastic. Um, do you prefer meat or vegetables?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Meat.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Okay. Um, how about coffee or tea?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Probably tea.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Probably Tea. Um , okay. So how about movies? Do you prefer a horror movie or a comedy movie?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Comedy.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Comedy. All right. Do you prefer classic art or more modern art?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Uh, probably , uh, modern art.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Okay. Sounds good. Uh, let's see, what else do I have for you? How about , uh , this last question? Toilet paper over or under?

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Under.

Dr. Chris Balow: 

Under. Okay. I ask everyone that question. It's been fascinating. Everyone gets a giggle out of it. So , um, Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, I want to thank you for providing our listeners a really inspirational conversation here today. I think there are so many things that people can learn from what you and the team at Moreno Valley USD have done and are continuing to work towards. And again, thank you so much for your time.

Dr. Martinrex Kedziora: 

Thank you. And I really appreciate you asking me to do this, and I want to thank everyone for listening because , uh , anything we can do to connect with each other is a really powerful thing. So I'm just appreciative of this opportunity.

VoiceOver: 

Thank you for listening to the ChangeAgents in K-12 podcast, brought to you by SchoolMint. Find us on all major podcast platforms and make sure to subscribe, so you never miss a show. Have a story to share? We want to hear it. Record a three to five minute audio pitch detailing your experience in working to become a change agent and why educators need to hear from you . Send your audio files to podcast@schoolmint.com . Join the conversation and help us advance towards the bright gears ahead. See you next time.

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Season 1

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