FAIRFIELD — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson came to the local Public Safety Academy on Monday and apparently liked what he saw.
He bade a few hundred students good morning as they stood for the 7:45 a.m. outdoor morning assembly in military style – all dressed in school uniforms, no slouching, no daydreaming. The Public Safety Academy is part of the Fairfield-Suisun School District.
“Sir, good morning, sir,” the students responded to Torlakson in merged voice.
“I am very pleased at the strength you show together and your discipline and your focus,” Torlakson told them. “Dream big, set goals and work step-by-step to get to your goals.”
Torlakson has been head of the state’s public schools system since his election in November 2010. He previously served on the Antioch City Council, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, the state Assembly and the state Senate.
Among those who turned out for Torlakson’s tour was district Superintendent Kris Corey, state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, Fairfield City Manager Sean Quinn, Fairfield Police Chief Walt Tibbet, Solano County Superintendent of Schools Jay Speck, Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association President Laurel Salerno-White and Fairfield-Suisun school board members.
The school district began the Public Safety Academy in 2012. The academy trains students for careers in such fields as police, fire, courts and social work.
Torlakson said he came to the academy to see if this type of approach might be attempted elsewhere in the state.
“You always like to take great ideas and multiply them,” Torlakson said.
Fairfield-Suisun School Board President David Isom said he was pleased to get the word out on the Public Safety Academy.
“This is an incredible display of partnership between the city and school district,” he said as Torlakson toured classrooms. “Incredible.”
Tibbet said the school had exceeded expectations.
“We’re finding this model has value and people are trying to replicate it,” he said.
Then Torlakson went to David Weir K-8 Preparatory Academy. The message sign out front read, “No Excuses University – Welcome Superintendent Torlakson!”
Torlakson saw a class of second-graders who have adopted a University of California, Berkeley theme. They greeted Torlakson with the school’s Golden Bear cheer.
Then the children made it clear that college is already on their minds. They showed a video presentation on a visit to their school by Harry Le Grande, vice chancellor of student affairs for the University of California, Berkeley.
Among the advice they got from Le Grande: Get good grades, do homework, graduate from high school and listen to parents and teachers.
“I’m fortunate that three of my kids went to Cal Berkeley,” Torlakson told the children. “The fourth went to the University of California, Santa Cruz . . . . You can do it.”
Torlakson’s schedule also called for a visit at Crystal Middle School.
Corey said she got to know Torlakson during an educational trip to Spain a couple of years ago and invited him during subsequent meetings to visit the district. Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, helped arrange the visit, she said.
“It’s very exciting to have Fairfield-Suisun on the map, so to speak,” Corey said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.