Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Interview with David Mobley, Principal of Desert Trails ES (Trigger School)

David Mobley, Principal of Desert Trails
David Mobley is the current principal of Desert Trails Elementary School, the famous California Trigger School. I interviewed Mr. Mobley about Desert Trails and the events for the school this last schoolyear.

Mr. Mobley was tapped 18 months ago by the Adelanto School District to take over Desert Trails Elementary School during a turbulent time. He was at the District level with Apple Valley Unified School District, having served as principal for many years. He began Vanguard Preparatory Academy, a magnet school several years ago for all students--even behavior problems--with admission based on application order rather than an elite system. Vanguard received a California 'School to Watch' designation this year.

After the 2010 Parent Empowerment Law passed in California, Parent Revolution (a community organizing team funded by Gates Foundation) began working with Adelanto parents to use the Trigger Law for Desert Trails. Mr. Mobley said when he came on staff, parents and teachers were not on the same page.

I asked him how he evaluated the situation. He said first he wished to be transparent, and bring 'common ground' for teachers and parents, reminding them they are 'shooting for the same goal.' Among the splintered staff, there were rumors that caused anxiety. He was as candid as possible about developing moves from the School Board and District as he was informed. During that time, weekly meetings included ones with Parent Revolution.

Because of past low academic performance, Desert Trails needed to develop a plan for school improvement. There was certain money allocated for academic programs. Mr. Mobley said, "We began to dive into it--to find a comprehensive group, not limiting our choices because of money." He worked with the teachers evaluating forty different programs  Finally, Success for All was chosen for Desert Trails this year, as Mr. Mobley told me, because "Of all national studies, Success For All was shown be first and second in quality." The Success For All organization also had funding to compensate for the money needed.

"The students have shown growth with Success for All," Mr. Mobley told me. The program includes evaluating students every six weeks, and placing them at the reading level appropriate for their growth. The teachers also receive frequent observation and pointers from the Success for All team. I have taught the Success for All system--it is very thorough and rigorous. The results from the California Star testing assessments won't be known until August.

Desert Trails School in the High Desert of California
During this schoolyear, there have been bitter court battles concerning the future of Desert Trails while Mr. Mobley and the staff at Desert Trails worked the Success for All program.

The final decision is that the school will be turned to a charter school, beginning August schoolyear 2013-14. Desert Trails will cease to exist June 24, 2013. Desert Trails teachers will be relocated to other schools in the District and several have been let go.

LaVerne Elementary Preparatory School is the Charter that will take over the facilities at Desert Trails. It is sponsored by La Verne University. This group has excellent State testing performance and options for students that include foreign language, music, and sports. Mr. Mobley said at this time, "about 300 students have applied from Desert Trails to attend the charter next year." That's out of 600 Desert Trail students. Students outside the District can also apply, so Desert Trails will not be a neighborhood school anymore.

Next year for David Mobley? He told me he would like to remain in the Adelanto District and "continue to help the teachers, parents and students."

What is he most proud of this year at Desert Trails?  "The students know they have the ability to learn." This comment goes along with his professional and pleasant demeanor that relates a genuine care for teachers, parents and kids.

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