Frederiksen Elementary School Welcomes New Principal Claire Mognaga
Students across Dublin return to classes today as the Dublin Unified School District kicks off the remainder of the 2014-15 school calendar. Today also brings a changing of the guard at Frederiksen Elementary School as Claire Mognaga will official serve as its new principal. She will be succeeding Holly Scroggins, who will be the founding principal at Amador Elementary School – near the Positano community in 2015. In 1940, the epic tome “You Can’t Go Home Again” was published based upon the writings of Thomas Wolfe. However, in our discussion with Ms. Mognaga, we discovered that you can indeed come home again.
While born in California, Claire spent most of her formative years in Sparks, NV. After spending one year at the University of Nevada, Reno, she transferred to the University of California, Davis. This was an opportunity to enroll in the UC system and to solidify her professional arc. While initially undeclared, she gravitated towards the discipline of Human Development. Her previous interests in gymnastics and a course in Autism Development cemented her desire to move into the teaching profession. Subsequently, she attained a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from California State University, Hayward. Ms. Mognaga began her teaching career in 1994 in the Newark Unified School District and then came to Dublin in 2001 at Fred.
In 2003, she then had the unique career opportunity to join a burgeoning teaching mentoring program. As it still exists today, Claire became a member of the Tri-Valley Teacher Induction Project (TVTIP). This is a consortium of educations from Pleasanton, Livermore, Castro Valley, Sunol and Dublin that was assembled to further the professional development of classroom teachers. She served as the DUSD Coordinator. The role was to assist certificated staff via in-class observations/evaluations in order to assist teachers in completing their credentials vs. returning to school for another year outside of the classroom. It was the perfect fit. While she didn’t necessary intend to stay in this program beyond its initial requirements, it became a “mission” and Claire contributed to the program for nine years. The classroom teaching “itch” was calling and she moved to Kolb Elementary School in 2012. She later returned to Frederiksen to assist Ms. Scroggins as enrollment was now approaching 800 students.
OneDublin.org recently had the opportunity to sit down with Claire Mognaga to discuss some of her philosophies and her hopes for Frederiksen as we move into 2015. Personally, she is married and is a mother to two sons – enrolled in the 4th and 6th grades, respectively. Their home is also filled with many pets.
OneDublin.org: Based upon your professional career, what best practices/principles would you like to inject into the Frederiksen site?
Claire Mognaga: “I look to sound research-based practices and principles to guide my decisions as both a managerial and an instructional leader: being a visible part of the site, observing and providing feedback to teachers and students, and modeling the behaviors I expect from others. Providing new experiences for teachers to grow in their career, supporting staff to focus on our priority of student learning, and building strong relationships and clear communication are my top three goals.”
OneDublin.org: Across the District and in the last several years, diminished parent/guardian volunteerism has become an issue. What are your thoughts on how to rekindle this effort?
Mognaga: “Parent/guardian involvement is an integral part of the social and academic success of any school. I understand the time limits placed on families with full-time working adults, as I am part of that demographic. I believe that families do what they can and desire to be a part of the school as much as is possible. With that said, increasing the volunteerism at Frederiksen is one of my priorities. Thinking outside of the box in terms of the support our families can offer is a place to start. For example, what opportunities can we give to an interested adult who can only give 30 minutes prior to the start of school? Some possibilities include facilitating a book club with interested students, demonstrating a science experiment, or merely helping with copying and clerical tasks for our teachers. Finding what interests parents and when they can give of their time is the first step.”
OneDublin.org: Frederiksen exists as one of the most diverse school sites in the entire District – relative to demographics and socio-economic strata. What strategies would you like to employ to “level out” the experience for all students?
Mognaga: “This is a tough question to answer as I believe that the diversity we have the opportunity to be a part of here at Frederiksen is what makes us such a strong community. Being able to experience the different cultures and perspectives on a continual basis in our classrooms, on our play areas, and during our PFC and community sponsored events, is of great value. Students are being provided with experiences that enhance their character daily. Just like in the real world, I understand that the backgrounds of all our students are not equal. For this, we do what we can to provide for experiences that may “level out” the playing field so to speak.
“For example, we have a full-time intervention specialist and a full-time counselor at our site to provide academic and social support for as many students as possible. We schedule in time to analyze student assessment data and create needs-based groups for specialized services. We recently began a reading lending library in the entryway of our school. Through teacher donations and a large supply from the local Half-Price Books store in Dublin, students who desire more books at home can take one and leave one as they want. This strategy of providing services that any student at our school can access reenergizes me. With the focus on Common Core assessment, STEM, and purely the necessary preparation of our students for the 21st century, I’d like to look into more technology support for the future.”
OneDublin.org: Common Core is here. And the initial SBAC assessments will occur in the spring of 2015. Kindly share with how the school site is preparing for this radical change in school-wide testing.
Mognaga: “I was lucky enough to lead the SBAC field testing last spring at Frederiksen and therefore, I have a strong understanding of what the tests entail and how to best prepare the students for the upcoming tests this year. At Frederiksen, we have seven COWS (Computers on Wheels) that house over 30 laptops each. Teachers are strategically utilizing these devices with students on a regular basis in order to build stamina, keyboarding, and functionality skills. The types of questions and responses that the Common Core standards inherently propose are built into the daily lessons of our teachers. Providing the means and time for the students to practice in a deep and meaningful way is the key. The observations by the teachers and the computer-based feedback from the student work and dialogue will continue to build the necessary skills for the students and is our most promising strategy for success in the spring.”
OneDublin.org: Anything else that you would like to add?
Mognaga: “I don’t believe it is possible to express how deeply I am honored to take over the leadership at Frederiksen. The staff is cohesive, collaborative, and committed to ensuring the social, emotional, and academic growth of every child. We are going to make a great team and I am certain we will make great strides in the coming years!”
So, it is entirely possible to go home again – and successfully. In this case, a very familiar and capable face is returning to the Frederiksen family. OneDublin.org would like to thank Ms. Mognaga for sharing her thoughts upon her return to Fred and we wish her well in guiding this site in future years.