A Filipino American educator will serve as the president of Anaheim, California’s Elementary School District Board of Education for the coming year.
Jose Paolo Magcalas, an ethnic studies and United States history teacher at Loara High School, was elected to lead the school district’s board during its annual organizational meeting on Wednesday, December 11. He previously served as the board’s clerk for the past year.
His term will last until November 2020, during which a “top priority is to bring ethnic studies to all classes throughout [the] district,” Magcalas told the Asian Journal in an email.
“Ethnic studies is so important for the community. It is the community. It is our histories. Histories that are oftentimes not told in textbooks. It’s about making real change in our communities,” he added. “Discussing problems we face in relation to history. It’s about civic participation and engagement. It’s about empowerment. Education, especially social studies education, is not about memorizing dates and facts.”
In his ethnic studies class, Magcalas encourages students to research issues in the community and find ways to address and engage with them. His hands-on teaching method garnered him the recognition as one of the top 25 teachers in Orange County according to O.C. Parenting Magazine in 2016.
A resident of Anaheim for three decades, his personal involvement in local groups caught the attention of several residents who encouraged him to run for a vacant seat on the school district’s board. Magcalas was elected to the board in November 2016 to represent Trustee Area 3, which covers five schools in the southwest region of the city. He is one of five members serving a four-year term, and will seek re-election in 2020.
As a board trustee, the Fil-Am educator has pushed for a resolution to offer dual language immersion — giving students the opportunity to learn two languages — during the current school year as well as putting copies of “Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong” by the late historian Dawn Bohulano Mabalon and writer Gayle Romasanta in all 23 elementary schools in the district.
The Anaheim Elementary School District serves over 17,300 students at 23 schools. During the 2018-19 school year, 1.4% of students in the district identified as Filipino, according to data from the California Department of Education.
With his position, Magcalas hopes to engage the local Filipino American community to be a part in shaping elementary education in the district.
“They can go to our board meetings which meet twice a month and provide public comments,” he said. “I’m an open book and would love to hear from everyone and anyone from the Filipino American community.”
In addition to his classes at Loara High School, Magcalas teaches part time in the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Chapman University and is turning his dissertation into a book. He received his bachelor of arts degree from California State University, Long Beach, master of arts degree in education from Pepperdine University and his Ph.D. in education from Chapman University. (AJPress)