Pittsburg Pride Posts

  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Heidi Leber, Principal, Hillview

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 10/30/2019

    Heidi Leber Why Pittsburg? 

    I was born and raised in Pittsburg and am extremely proud of our community. Prior to becoming a Principal at Hillview, I was an English and AVID teacher at Pittsburg High School and a Vice-Principal at Hillview. Not only have I worked in Pittsburg for the past 24 years, but I am also a product of Pittsburg Unified. I attended Highlands Elementary, Central Jr. High School, and graduated from Pittsburg High. I raised my daughter in Pittsburg and am proud that she is also a Pittsburg High graduate.


    How is Pittsburg Different from Other Communities? 

    Pittsburg Unified has been a great foundation for many of my friends and family members, giving opportunities to create life-changing experiences that help shape this community in which we live and work. I love how diverse our students and families are about their cultures, and how willing they are to be accepting of others who come from different backgrounds.


    Heidi Leber with Vice-Principals What is Most Rewarding about Your Time at PUSD?

    Because I have been a part of PUSD for so long, I have the honor of seeing the successes of former students come back from college, from career opportunities, as parents of current PUSD students. I truly believe that the best thing we can do for our students is to give them choices. In order to inspire our students, we need to connect learning in the classroom to real-world, future goals and dreams.


    Why Do You Have Pittsburg Pride?

    I love being able to work in a community in which I grew up and see how much our Pittsburg community continues to give and inspire those around us. Once a pirate, always a pirate!


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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Ana Perez, Parent and Family Liaison at MLK

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 10/25/2019


    Why Do You Have Pittsburg Pride?

    In years past, I always enjoyed coming to Pittsburg on vacation to visit my brother and his family. After relocating here, the Pittsburg community took my heart… the green hills, the events, and the diversity. I started having a sense of belonging, a sense of pride.


    Ana Perez Why Pittsburg? How is Pittsburg Different from Other Communities?


    I was born and raised in Meoqui Chihuahua, Mexico. I attended the local public schools there and obtained a B.A. in Education from The Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua. I was a teacher in Mexico and taught Spanish and History for 10 years. In 1996, I immigrated to the United States from Chihuahua, where I had lived for 33 years. After moving to Pittsburg, I started volunteering in the schools my children attended (Highlands, Hillview, and Pittsburg High). My heart was always full of joy, looking at how principals and teachers dedicated their time and effort to all scholars.




    What Do You Love Most About Your Job?


    Ana Perez at podium When I had my 4th child in preschool, I started volunteering more in the preschool classroom, and my teaching spirit made me get a job there. While working in the preschool program for three years, I saw many parents struggling, like me, to communicate with their teachers in English. I decided it was time for me to go to Pittsburg Adult Education Center (PAEC) to learn more English and help the families. I started translating for them in schools, at ELAC meetings, and other school events. I attended Los Medanos College and took child development classes to obtain my California Teaching Credential as a preschool teacher. But, instead of teaching preschool, I took a job in 2005 with Pittsburg Unified School District as a teacher’s aide at Foothill Elementary. A few years later, I became a parent coordinator at Foothill.


    The parent coordinator position evolved into my current role, Parent and Family Liaison. With the name change and new duties came more involvement and more opportunities for me to help families to learn, to get involved, and to advocate for their children. This is my 14th year working for Pittsburg Unified District, and every day it still feels like the 1st day. I spent 7 years at Foothill Elementary and have been in my current position at Martin Luther King Jr. JHS for 7 years.

    My passion was always teaching; however, once I became a Parent Coordinator/Parent and Family Liaison, something clicked, I knew this is what I was called to do. Working with families, the school staff, and the scholars…and helping them to become successful in life, makes me feel more complete. I love to help and serve my families. Now, I can say Pittsburg is my home and I have Pittsburg Pride.


    Ana Perez How Do You Try to Inspire Parents?


    Parents inspire me to bring out the best in me!


    What is Most Rewarding about Your Time at PUSD?


    Working and getting to know the families is always the reward. When I see their children growing and doing well, I feel so accomplished. I especially feel proud when I greet parents at stores in the community…and they still remember how much I care for them and their families.

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Rose Henderson, Parent and Family Liaison at Heights

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 10/3/2019

    Rose Henderson next to Attendance Matters Bulletin Board Why Do You Have Pittsburg Pride?

    I have Pittsburg Pride because of the teamwork, can-do attitude of my co-workers, and the deep respect I have for all of the administrators. I have worked for more than 22 years at PUSD and have deep roots in this community.

    Why Pittsburg? How is Pittsburg Different from Other Communities?

    I have lived in Pittsburg for about 30 years. All five of my children attended Heights Elementary and Pittsburg schools. My granddaughter currently attends Rancho Medanos Junior High School. I really enjoy the positive attributes of living in a small town; we know each other and look out for one another.

    What Do You Love Most About Your Job?

    I love my job because of my connection to the Heights community. I am fortunate to live and work in the same neighborhood.

    How Do You Try to Inspire?

    I try to be of service to our Heights families in any way that I can. I am happy to be supportive of our families and scholars by tapping into different community resources. By bringing resources to my Heights families, I try to make sure all our scholars have what they need to be successful in school.

    What is Most Rewarding About Your Time with PUSD?

    I have been taught so much about what it takes to educate and provide emotional support to our scholars. I am grateful for the experiences I have had and the many life-long friendships.

    Rose Henderson sitting in school garden Anything You Want to Add?

    It is a privilege to work on this campus and in this building. We have murals and a beautifully maintained garden that I visit often. Thank you for recognizing my part in Team PUSD.

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Phil Lucido, Vice Principal, Hillview

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 9/20/2019

    Phil Lucido, Vice Principal in front of Hillivew JHS

    Why Do You Have Pittsburg Pride?

    I have had the honor of working with Pittsburg Unified School District for the past 22 years. I have seen our school district and community grow together through exceptional support for our students and families. I take pride in being an educator and administrator for Pittsburg Unified. I believe making lasting relationships with students, parents, and colleagues makes a better community for learning. I have Pittsburg Pride because I have grown as an educator and feel I am a part of our young scholars' developmental years that will support their future growth as life-long learners.

    Why Pittsburg? How is Pittsburg Different from Other Communities?

    Pittsburg is a community that wants the best for their children. I chose this community because my parents and grandparents were raised here and Pittsburg has so much pride and tradition. Pittsburg is different from other communities because families embrace each other when they know you care for them and their families.

    Phil with Martha Campos and Heidi Leber What Do You Love Most About Your Job?

    I love my job at Hillview because I feel the students, staff, and families have embraced my leadership and we have built trust and community that makes me have a sense of belonging. I am so thankful to get the opportunity to work with many of my former students' children and reconnect with the strong family ties to Pittsburg.

    How Do You Try to Inspire Scholars?

    I inspire students to come with a positive attitude every day, despite the challenges that many of our scholars face. I also try to inspire our scholars by leading by example. This means coming to school with a positive attitude and showing every scholar that you believe in them and are willing to go the extra mile for students that really need you.

    Phil with Summer Math Teacher What is Most Rewarding About Your Time at Hillview?

    The most rewarding time at Hillview is creating lasting relationships with students, staff, and parents that build trust and respect for each other. The last five years at Hillview, I have supported students by being on our Community of Service Team (COST) and applied Restorative Justice practices to assist scholars in resolving conflict. I have also been involved with Professional Development for our staff around Understanding by Design and Site Safety.

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Antonio Baldazo, PHS Grad

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 2/2/2019

    Anthony Baldazo in cap and gown


    When did you graduate? How did your time at PHS help prepare you for your career?

    I graduated from PHS in 2014. I played football and wrestled at PHS. The balance of school and sports taught me how to manage my time. Along with managing my time, I learned that having the skills and brains is only half the work. In order to succeed, you can't be lazy and complacent. You must complete all the work you are assigned and build relationships with your superiors.

    Anthony Baldazo in football uniform

    What has your career path been like? Where is your new job?

    I went through Cal Poly and had internships in Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, and finally Construction Management. For myself, third time was the charm. I found that Construction Management was the career that I loved the most. After interviewing with many companies, I found a job with Clark Construction in Washington DC.

    Were you inspired by any of your teachers or experiences at PUSD?

    While at PHS, I took an Architectural Design that led to me deciding on Cal Poly and Architectural Engineering. I was really helped by Natalie Moreno who was my biology teacher. She assisted me with my college essays and gave me general advice on schools.

    Why do you have Pittsburg Pride?

    I've lived in Pittsburg my entire life. I've played sports since all the way from Pittsburg JFL to senior year high school. I've seen the dedication that people have to this town. In turn, I also have tried to show my dedication to the town. I have worked for the local book store and farmer's market in order to contribute to the community. I love this town and while it saddens me to leave, I am trying to represent this town as well as possible.

    Why is Pittsburg different/special from other communities?

    Being from Pittsburg, we all live with a chip on our shoulder. As the phrase goes, we're Pittsburg Tough. This toughness is what bonds us all together. We are unafraid of a challenge and never back down. Pittsburg isn't only a community, its a family.

    Anything you want to add?

    If I could give any advice to those at PHS, I would tell them to see the world outside of Pittsburg so you can truly appreciate all that this city gives us. My time in Australia was the best time of my life but it also showed me that Pittsburg, CA was such a great place to grow up.

    anthony baldazo sitting on outdoor steps

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Raj Naicker, Assistant Principal, Pittsburg High School

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 1/11/2019

    Raj Naicker

    Go Pirates – Pittsburg is truly an amazing community. Our strength is our diversity. I always have a sense of pride when I tell people I am Assistant Principal at Pittsburg High School. I was born and grew up in the Fiji Islands in Lautoka city- the second largest city in the Fiji Islands. I graduated High School from Natabua High School in Lautoka and obtained my Bachelors of Science Degree from The University of the South Pacific in Suva Fiji Islands. I immigrated to the USA in 2007 from New Zealand where I lived for 6 years. I started working for Pittsburg Unified school district in August 2007.  I was always passionate about teaching as I love being with kids and helping them to become successful in life. Since Pittsburg is my home now, I made a commitment to help and serve the people of Pittsburg and the students of Pittsburg High School.  I want to make a difference in the life of students at Pittsburg High School. My greatest joy is seeing students from Pittsburg High School doing well in their life.

    Raj and Jennifer in hallway

    I started with teaching Physics and Forensic Science at Pittsburg High School in 2007. The road to teaching at Pittsburg High School actually began in 1995 in the Fiji Island. I taught Math/Physics/Chemistry in various schools in the Fiji Islands for 8 years, Tangaroa College in Otara Auckland New Zealand for 3 years before moving to Pittsburg, California in 2007. This is my 11th year at Pittsburg High School. It is not easy to move from one country to another. Moving to a new country is always a challenge but this did not deter me from moving and facing the reality of life and learning about other cultures. I always remained optimistic. I had very good family support when I moved to the United States, therefore, settling here was really easy. Driving and getting a teaching job was not easy. It took me some time to get used to a steering wheel on the left-hand side of the car and driving on the right-hand side of the road. To get into teaching, I had to do my foreign transcript evaluation and so many different types of testing before I could apply for the teaching credential. The evaluation process and getting my single subject preliminary teaching credential took me a good 6 months. While teaching at Pittsburg High School, I went back to college -  completed my Master's Degree and my Administrative Teaching Credential from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.

    Raj in counseling office with Ms. Synitha and College Advisor

    This is my 11th year at Pittsburg High School – 7 years as a teacher and the last 4 years as an Assistant Principal. After being in the education profession for 23 years, I am totally blessed to be at Pittsburg High School and found fulfillment in a career for which I have true passion. As a teacher I know I provided a stimulating learning environment for the students at Pittsburg High School. I am honored to be Assistant Principal at Pittsburg High School and am so proud to serve our students, parents, and staff within the Pittsburg community for the past 11 years. I always want students to feel safe, valued and genuinely cared for at Pittsburg High School.

    Mr. Naicker and Librarian in library

    I would like to highly commend and acknowledge the Leadership teachers at Pittsburg High School for increasing and spreading the Pittsburg Pride in school. I genuinely believe school spirit is important because it sets the tone for various aspects of the school and its students. When the student body is involved in events on and off campus, it demonstrates a passion for Pirate Pride that is immeasurable and contagious.  I believe that school spirit translates into higher expectations of one’s self and surroundings, pushing for positive changes in school and home.

    Mr, Naicker with Campus Resource Assistants

    I encourage students and teachers to show their love for Pittsburg High School every single day because it truly is wonderful to be a Pirate. I would like to thank everyone at Pittsburg Unified School District for their unwavering commitment and support for all the students in this District. My life is my message and it is our choices that show what we truly are. I am hoping I will and can inspire the students at Pittsburg High School to pursue their dreams. Life is a journey – never stop learning.

    Mr. Naicker with Campus Resource Assistant

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Kenny Winkler, Vice Principal, Willow Cove

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 12/14/2018

    Ms. Borquez, student, and Mr. Winkler

    Principal Borquez and Mr. Winkler I grew up in California, but the only Pittsburgh I knew of was in Pennsylvania, and I’d lived in the Bay Area for about six years before I ever set foot in California’s Pittsburg. At the time, Hillview Junior High School was one of the partner schools for the St. Mary’s College credentialing program, and I had to visit it. I had no desire to return. I didn’t want to teach middle school and didn’t want to drive way out to Pittsburg. Turns out Hillview was the only partner school that I could make work for my schedule. I figured I could get through a semester, and then I’d be on my way. Then, they offered to hire me as an intern at Hillview, which allowed me to finish my credential AND get paid. I had a little baby at home and plenty of student debt, so it was an easy choice. I could make it through a year, finish my credential, and then I’d be off to teach AP Senior English in a district closer to home.

    Six years later, I was still teaching at Hillview. And for the past eight years, I’ve been an administrator at the elementary level, mostly at Willow Cove Elementary School. That’s over 14 years in Pittsburg. How did that happen?

    I’m not really sure, or I can’t really put it in words. Somewhere along the way, I realized I didn’t need to work closer to home because Pittsburg had become like a second home to me. I realized I didn’t need to teach a particular subject or work at a particular level because Pittsburg is full of good, hard-working people and families that I want to serve. People who look different, talk different, come from different places and backgrounds, but who are here now working together and learning together.

    I have spent the bulk of my adult life working in Pittsburg, and while it is not what I was looking for, it is what I was supposed to find. I’m proud to work with such dedicated teachers, staff, and administrators, many of whom grew up in Pittsburg themselves. I’m proud of the relationships I have with PUSD employees and families. And I’m proud of so many students that I’ve seen go through the schools where I have worked. I’m proud to be a part of this community and grateful that my life didn’t go according to plan.

    Mr. Winkler, Mrs. Chen, and 2 students dressed as characters for wax museum day

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Connie Spinnato, Assistant Principal, Pittsburg High School

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 12/6/2018

    Connie Spinnato

    Although I did not grow up in Pittsburg or graduate from PHS, it is home for me. I was born and raised in Hayward and graduated from Mt. Eden High School. Upon graduation, I attended San Jose State and Saint Mary’s College. I then started my teaching career at Mt. Eden High School, as a physical education teacher and basketball coach, and became an assistant principal. I started working at Pittsburg High School in 2010, and I plan to stay until they kick me out…or I retire.

    Connie Spinnato and Veronica McLennan

    I love Pittsburg High School and the community of Pittsburg. It is rich in pride and tradition, and it is very diverse, embracing the cultural backgrounds of all students. I feel very connected to Pittsburg High School and the community. I love coming to work each day, and I still love and respect what I do and the students I serve. PUSD is a great fit for me…and it was a fit from the first day as well as a great adventure.

    Connie Spinnato with CRAs and Jennifer Clark

    What I love most about my job is the daily interactions with the students. I love the human connections and the relationships that we build with our students. I always came into education with the belief I wanted to make a difference in my students’ lives - to make them aware they are important and to make them feel like somebody. All the education in the world will never take the place of the relationships we build with our students. My wish is to leave a legacy of relationships. We have the best students you could ever ask for and they appreciate everything we do for them. My wish is that they all will reach their true potential and lead productive, fulfilling lives…and always feel that someone cared and guided them along the paths of life.

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Joanne Ireland, Vice Principal, Parkside Elementary

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 11/29/2018

    Joanne Ireland and Ms. Nesta

    My Pittsburg Pride all started with a house. I found a cute little stand-alone house I could buy all on my own in a quiet little neighborhood here in Pittsburg. Little did I know that my little home and move to Pittsburg would lead me to become so involved in our schools and our community! I have been a parent and community member here in Pittsburg. I have also had the opportunity to serve the children, teachers, and families of Pittsburg working as a teacher, an instructional coach, and now as an administrator at Parkside Elementary School.

    Ms. Ireland, Mr. Varner, and Dr. Catalde Pittsburg is an amazing community where family is important. It is amazing how so many of our families can trace their history in Pittsburg back through generations. It is even more amazing how so many of our students and families find ways to give back and invest in making our present community a fabulous place to be. I have met some amazing people working with the community of Pittsburg both in and out of the schools. I have made friends here who became family.

    My favorite part of any given day is working with students, teachers, and families. I am a firm believer in the power of yet. You may not have mastered this idea or that concept…yet. There is nothing more amazing than when the concept or idea is mastered and the student can say, “Look how I can…!” That moment of discovery is powerful. Making sure that a student has everything that they need in order to have that moment is priceless.


    Parkside staff group pic at the CAB

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  • Pittsburg Pride Post: Staci Belleci, Vice Principal, Highlands Elementary

    Posted by Nicole Mora on 11/21/2018

    Staci Belleci with student


    Ms. Belleci Why Pittsburg? This has been my home for almost my entire life; I was raised in Pittsburg, attended Highlands Elementary, Hillview Junior High and Pittsburg High School as a child. After graduating from college and obtaining my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, I came back to teach in Pittsburg because of the spirit and pride within our families and community. I wanted to give back to the place that gave me so many opportunities to build character, skills, and relationships that allowed me to thrive in life outside of Pittsburg. When I came back and began teaching here straight out of college, I knew that this would remain my professional home. Our students and families deserve people who understand them, and who know their value. Our students have so many gifts to offer, and it is my personal mission to help teachers, staff, and families uncover and reveal those gifts.

    What makes Pittsburg different than other communities is the people! Many of our families have generations of family still residing here. It’s wonderful to inspire and encourage the children of parents I grew up with. Our families are passionate about this town and the many traditions that continue.

    What I love most about my job are the students! It sounds so cliché to say, but it is what honestly drives me each and every day. Many of our students are so resilient and have great stories to tell. They look forward to a consistent face every day, knowing that they have someone who cares about them and supports their academic and socio-emotional learning. For this, I wake up every day with a purpose. For this, I give my whole heart to Pittsburg.

    Highlands Team: Ms. Carmen, Principal Blackburn and Ms. Belleci

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