LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
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June 8, 2009
83-YEAR OLD VETERAN PRINCIPAL TO BE HONORED BY LAUSD SCHOOL BOARD
JONATHAN HOUSKE RETIRING AFTER 58 YEARS OF SERVICE
Los Angeles—Lloyd Jonathan Houske, principal of Cahuenga Elementary School, will be honored at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board meeting, Tuesday, June 9 at 1 p.m. after serving 58 years with the District. Scheduled to retire on June 30, Houske has been principal of Cahuenga Elementary School for the past 20 years. He began as a teacher at 61st Street Elementary School and has been the principal at Hoover Elementary and 66th Street schools.
“I love what I do and I am fortunate because I have gotten to do it for some time…it’s better than playing golf,“ said Houske “I am constantly learning and being competitive. I want my students at my school to do well academically and beat other schools.”
Houske’s competitiveness has lead to Cahuenga’s Academic Performance Index (API) impressive score of 834, which ranks at the same or higher level than many magnets even though it is a Title I school with 80 percent of its children eligible for free or reduced meals. When Proposition 227 was passed in 1998 eliminating bilingual education, Houske’s strong belief in the value of speaking two languages motivated him to design a new bi-literacy program, which would encourage students to become proficient in two languages.
As a result, Cahuenga Elementary School was the first school in the world to have a Korean English Dual Language program. Two thirds of the children at Cahuenga are learning two languages – English and Spanish or English and Korean. The program has been in existence for 14 years and students can continue dual-language studies through high school.
“Some have also called me the poster kid for overcrowded schools and the building program. In my career, I have been at some of the most heavily populated schools,” said Houske.
“The Cahuenga school community became so overcrowded that it bused 1,400 children daily from the school to other locations throughout the District. Parents would line up three days in advance to try to secure a space at the school for their kindergarten child.”
Overcrowding has been relieved by the construction of a three-story addition on the original school. Houske helped to make that possible. When first assigned to Cahuenga, he noticed a house for sale next to the school. With his encouragement, LAUSD purchased the residence, which became the site of the new construction.
Under his leadership, Cahuenga focuses on enrichment instead of remediation because he believes children become what they are labeled. He will not allow the school to be dismissed as an inner city campus for low-income children. In addition to the academic curriculum, the school has an orchestra with more than 100 students; a full-time folk dance teacher allowing every child from second grade through fifth to have a lesson each week; and formed a partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Inner City Art Project, which enables every student to have lessons taught by professional artists.
As he approaches retirement, Houske remembers “all of the wonderful people that he has met” during his decades as an educator. He also has a little advice for everyone. His recommendation: Enjoy each day as he did while working for LAUSD.
●● smf's 2¢: Lloyd Hauske is a treasure of this District. If LAUSD had known what it was doing for the past 14 years his full immersion dual language bi-literacy kindergarten program would be the standard curriculum. It wouldn't have solved all the problems – but we would’ve much more time and resources to devote to the ones that remain!