LOS ANGELES (Feb. 26, 2015) - On Feb. 27, 2015, Dr. Julian Nava will be honored as the namesake of his second school in the Los Angeles Unified School District in the South Los Angeles community: The Nava College Preparatory Academy. The new pilot school is located on the Jefferson High School campus. The former Los Angeles School Board President, California State University, Northridge professor, U.S. Navy veteran, and U.S. Ambassador to Mexico under the Carter Administration will be celebrated by School Board Member Bennett Kayser, District officials, and more than 400 students, parents, and teachers of the Nava network of schools at the ribbon-cutting and naming ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday. The new pilot school is located at 1319 E. 41st St., Los Angeles 90011.
“We are excited about the ribbon cutting and naming ceremony of the new Julian Nava College Preparatory Academy School,” Los Angeles Board Member Bennett Kayser said. “Dr. Julian Nava is a pioneer in education and helped us believe that change is possible. On behalf of the children and families of LAUSD, I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Nava for his leadership, advocacy, storytelling, and risk taking to improve our schools.”
Originally, a team of teachers participated in the L.A. Unified’s Public School Choice process in 2010. They submitted their proposal to open a state-of-the-art middle school in the South Los Angeles community. With the successful launch of the middle school, Dr. Julian Nava Learning Academy, in September 2011, the local community began to notice the tremendous job the students, teachers, and administrators were doing. Eventually, a group of dedicated and concerned parents of the original sixth-grade class began to organize and discuss their desire for the culture and expectations of the middle school to continue into high school. Rather than seeking other high schools outside of the neighborhood, including magnets, charters, and comprehensive high schools, the parents wanted their children to stay in their community and attend a school with the same expectations as the middle school.
In September 2013, a team of parents contacted the local superintendent’s office to express their concerns, and shortly began to partner with their teachers to start the proposal-writing process all over again. After their first meeting with District Instructional Area Superintendent Tommy Chang, it was evident that this team of parents and teachers meant business. "It was super powerful to walk into a room of parents — there were like 50 of them — and they all said the same thing: 'We want a great high school for our kids,'" Chang said.
For parent Maria Melendrez, the opening of Nava College Preparatory Academy at Jefferson High School has special meaning because of her involvement in the process of opening the middle school in 2011 and now the high school in the 2014-2015 school year. Melendrez has been a longtime community member and has three daughters in school. Melendrez says, “I remember when we were first discussing about wanting to keep our kids at a school like Nava Middle School. At first the parents would joke around about opening a high school, but then we started to get serious about it. Pretty soon we realized that we weren’t joking, and with the opening of the high school, our dream has finally become a reality.”
About Nava College Preparatory Academy: Nava College Prep is one of the 48 pilot schools, which is granted permission to operate the school leveraging autonomies in five areas (curriculum, calendar, budget, staffing, and school governance) in the District. The school, students, and employees of the Nava schools have been recognized for their excellent work by L.A. Unified, the school board, and city council on numerous occasions, most recently for their work in developing a fully integrated special education program.