Stockton native and veteran educator Anthony Solina has been tapped to lead Aspire Public Schools’ 16 Central Valley schools, including its 10 Stockton schools, as the organization’s new Central Valley executive director.
Solina will be responsible for the overall performance of all schools in the Central Valley region. Aspire is the largest public charter school organization in California, with over 30 schools in the Central Valley, the Bay Area and the Los Angeles regions.
"Aspire is 'College for Certain,'" Solina said, referencing the K-12 school system's motto. "That doesn't mean we're taking college ready kids to start, but it's about creating a belief in the students early that they can go and then by high school it becomes real."
Solina has been with Aspire for 20 years, first starting as an elementary school teacher in 2002. He was a founding teacher at two Aspire schools in Stockton: Aspire River Oaks Charter School and Aspire Langston Hughes Academy. He then segued into administration and became the founding principal of Aspire Port City Academy in 2007.
Solina said his primary goal will be the same one he has had since he first stepped foot in a classroom — to make sure every student is college and career ready by graduation.
Solina said at Aspire, students can begin taking college classes when they're in high school as part of its early college high school program. The program gives students the opportunity to earn a minimum of 30 units or graduate with an associate's degree.
Aspire is also looking to bring a career pathways program to its Stockton schools, Solina said.
"In Modesto, we have a health careers academy that's partnered with Modesto Junior College and the students are on a health careers pathway," Solina said. "They can take courses in radiology, nursing, anatomy, physiology ... so we're piloting that in Modesto and that's been a great experience so far, but we're thinking about in Stockton, potentially partnering with [San Joaquin] Delta College and University of the Pacific on an engineering pathway."
According to Solina, Aspire also is considering is a teacher career pathway. He said it is his hope that this pathway would not only help students find fulfilling careers, but also address the on-going staffing and teacher shortages in San Joaquin County.
"We're just finding it a huge problem in the pipeline," Solina said.
A survey recently conducted by EdSource found that the Stockton Unified School District is among the districts with the most significant staffing and teacher shortages in California.
While there is not an exact launch date for the teacher career pathway program yet, Solina said there are plans to pilot the program next summer. Meanwhile, he is looking to provide more opportunities for students to gain hands-on work experience.
"The more we can get connections with local businesses and get students into places of work to learn both the work skills and the life skills, as well as the academic needs for those careers, is where we're hoping to head to first," he said.
Record reporter Hannah Workman covers news in Stockton and San Joaquin County. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @byhannahworkman. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Stockton native named executive director of Aspire school's Central Valley Region