By Stephanie Minasian
The first day of school, on Wednesday, marked the beginning of some changes at Dooley Elementary School in the heart of North Long Beach, including a new principal and the implementation of larger class sizes for the magnet school.
Principal Gerardo Gloria was transferred to Dooley after serving 11 years as principal at John Muir Academy. During his time at Muir, he switched the school’s kindergarten through fifth grade model to extend to eighth grade students.
Entering his first year at Dooley, Gloria said he is hoping for a successful and productive school year. He said he is projecting an estimated 1,200 students enrolled, but numbers could change in the next few weeks due to late enrollment.
With the high enrollment numbers, Gloria said the school’s original ratio of 20 students to one teacher has been increased to 30 students per classroom.
“We lost 11 teachers last year,” he said, but added that the school’s transitional kindergarten class (for students whose fifth birthdays are before Dec. 2) will remain at the 20 to 1 ratio.
The K-5 school earned a Magnet status, and became an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, after a two or three year process of working to earn the status, according to Gloria. It is one of four schools in the district that has been given a Magnet title with a Global Studies program, which is funded by the United States Department of Education.
“Our school is very different from the others in the district,” Gloria said. “Being a Magnet school, it’s very rigorous. The way it was explained to me was that its curriculum is higher than AP (advanced placement) classes.”
Each Magnet school in LBUSD is given a theme to add special learning opportunities to the school’s curriculum, according to LBUSD. Dooley’s Magnet theme is Global Studies.
“When our students leave here, and go on to Lindbergh Middle School or Jordan High School, they will have a little edge over other students who take AP classes,” he said.
As an IB school, students are taught in a curriculum that designs programs to encourage students to be inquisitive and knowledgeable people.
“We’re also following all the programs that the district is implementing, on top of our IB programs,” Gloria said. “Every six weeks, our teachers have to reflect on the units that they did, because every grade level has certain units they have to follow.”
The school opened in 2007 and boasts a large campus, with 118,000-square-feet on five acres. It has a spacious courtyard, and provides two playgrounds for the students — with one placed on the top of the school’s parking structure. The school also has a multipurpose room, media center, four basketball courts and 11 tetherball courts.
With a new year on the horizon, Gloria said he expects everything to run smoothly.
“I’m excited,” he said. “So far (on the first day), there haven’t been any major problems.”
For more information about Dooley Elementary, call 428-7274 or visit www.lbschools.net. The school is located at 5075 N. Long Beach Blvd., near Del Amo Boulevard.