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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators

My journey from private school to public

By Audrey Thomas, Valley View High School | May | June 2021
Growing up in a Catholic-enriched private school environment for nine years gave me the perspective of an education supplemented with Catholic ideals. Small grouped classes, a limited number of teachers with a strong sense of family and friend camaraderie was the setting of my Catholic school.
My daily routine was going to class with about 25 students, learning from five teachers throughout the week and attending Mass every Friday with the entire school. Textbooks about Catholicism were mandatory for every grade which include religious based projects, assignments and activities.
As you grow older in this system, you are invited to participate in new responsibilities in the church, such as various volunteering opportunities, choir and scripture reading. I have had some very caring teachers throughout my Catholic education, but it was rare to find those teachers who were excited to teach, motivate students and advocate for their best success.
The core curriculum provided by the San Bernardino Diocese made the opportunities for STEM programs and learning opportunities limited in comparison to what I have found in the public school system and within the Girl Scouts program. The Girl Scouts introduced STEM opportunities in such a fun and interesting way that I was motivated to pursue a career in cybersecurity at the early age of 12 years old.
When I was finishing up my eighth grade year, I began looking at my high school options to continue my interest in cybersecurity. It was at this point that I began to reconsider continuing my Catholic education, and made a personal choice to transfer into the public school system at Valley View High School rather than Notre Dame High School, which is a Catholic private high school.
That year contained some discouraging moments, between my parents advocating for my continuation in Catholic education and my interest in the public school system, and the many educational opportunities I was beginning to discover through my research online, especially in relation to my passion for cybersecurity.
When summer arrived, I had to seriously research the pros and cons of my two high school options. The deal breaker against Notre Dame was that they only had one computer class based on the iMovie program. There was no computer science, coding or cybersecurity curriculum offered.
I have found Moreno Valley Unified School District to have made a tremendous effort toward giving their students academic support and programs for the students to strive for success.
This is when my parents and I decided to visit both schools for an open house, where we discovered the abundance of opportunities I wouldn’t have if I continued my private school Catholic education at Notre Dame. I was determined to pursue my own public school journey. Today, I couldn’t feel prouder of my personal decision to be a student at Valley View High School and a female in the Cyber Patriot program.
A lot of public school districts have a negative perception of the quality of education that the students receive because of the disparities that impact minority communities, who typically attend public schools. Nevertheless, I have found Moreno Valley Unified School District to have made a tremendous effort toward giving their students academic support and programs for the students to strive for success.
Being a part of the Valley View High School community for two years and counting, I can definitively say that I have never experienced this amount of support and guidance from teachers and staff. In particular, my counselor Theresa Kelsey, the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, Valley View Principal Ms. Karen Johnson and cybersecurity teacher and Valley View CyberPatriot training academy co-founder Chris Lorenz have been instrumental to guiding my academic journey through the years. The amount of opportunities they are always finding for our school and students are incredible.
Being a part of MVUSD has been a pleasure because it fits right in with my ambitious academic goals of becoming a leading woman engineer.
Audrey Thomas attends Valley View High School in the Moreno Valley Unified School District
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