School Boards in Action: 5 Questions with Taylor Sims, Pittsburg USD

Taylor Sims, board president, Pittsburg Unified School District in Contra Costa County

With the school year well underway, what are some promising practices taking place in your district?

This school year we have re-established a committee that is committed to the recruitment and retention of a diverse staff. Since we have such a diverse community, we want to make sure there is a teacher on every campus. Within this committee we are also focusing on how we can create a welcoming and nurturing environment for scholars and staff.

What are your district’s plans for learning recovery and academic acceleration this summer?

Our district understands COVID has affected so much for our scholars, families and staff. Our scholars experienced a learning loss that most districts will spend years addressing. We are trying our very best with offering summer school sessions for all of our scholars. Our elementary early-back program is an intervention program designed to give our students an additional opportunity for targeted support in reading foundations and review of essential math concepts, and has shown promising results of catching these young scholars up to grade-level proficiency. For our PK-TK, we focus on developmentally appropriate thematic instruction. For K-3, we focus on reading foundations and math. For fourth grade, we focus on reading comprehension through science and i-Ready Math.

What are some ways the district is sharing positive news and/or support with families and the community?

Our district does a good job at contacting parents via ParentSquare, email, texts and phone calls. We also have a district Facebook page that shares all of the amazing work the district, sites, staff and scholars do on a regular basis.

What is one thing you’d most like to accomplish during your time as a trustee and why?

The one thing I wish most to accomplish while I am on the board is for our scholars and staff to feel supported and nurtured during their time here. I want to guarantee scholars get the resources and opportunities they need to feel successful once they leave PUSD, beyond receiving a diploma. I want to make sure we create opportunities for our staff to elevate their careers within our district. I want to make sure all of our sites are inclusive, welcoming and nurturing for our staff and they get the services they need: mental health, affinity groups, a therapist, etc. to make sure they feel seen, heard, valued and served on our campuses.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I coach a club volleyball team. I absolutely love seeing how the girls come in playing and seeing them progress throughout the season. I love helping them build team comradery and friendships that last beyond the season.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.