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Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Trudy Gross has served students in the Fremont Union High School District by implementing a strong SEL program in response to the ongoing youth mental health crisis.
Gross thinks creatively to serve all students
July 11, 2022
Name: Trudy Gross
Award: Student Services Administrator of the Year Title: Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Fremont Union HSD ACSA highlights: Member since 2000; De Anza Chapter president (2010-18); Region 8 rep. to Student Services and Special Ed. Council (2019-22).
When teachers discovered that Fremont High School students were struggling with math once they reached community college, Trudy Gross knew more could be done to ensure their post-secondary success.
She worked with the college to provide a bridge class for students so they could develop their mathematics skills while earning high school and college credit. This is just one example of her ability to think creatively and develop connections to deal with complex problems facing public education.
Her contributions to serving students in the Fremont Union High School District include implementing a strong SEL program and suicide prevention education in response to the ongoing youth mental health crisis. Gross is committed to developing asset-based, academically rich Special Education programs, and has provided a quality education for all students during the pandemic through her implementation and oversight of the Independent Study Program.
When a school community experiences a crisis, Gross is a district first responder who mobilizes and coordinates supports for sites. That assistance helped students and staff at Homestead High School, which endured two student deaths in the past two years.
“Trudy was by my side the entire time offering assistance, guidance and support as she helped us create action plans to help our students and staff mourn,” said Principal Greg Giglio. “Trudy is my ‘go-to’ source as I know she will be there for me. She is an empathetic listener, provides constructive feedback and ideas, and assists me in any way that she can.”
What’s your favorite book or quote on leadership? “Dare to Lead” and any media I can consume by Brené Brown: “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? When I became the coordinator of Special Services, I oversaw a multi-million dollar budget. My supervisor and mentor shared that budgeting is a feeling. With the bottom line in mind, I have learned to weigh decisions with heart.
What’s your best strategy for work/life balance? My motto is work hard, play hard.
What are some life hacks that you would recommend for a new administrator? Floss your teeth during your daily commute.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I am a lifelong Girl Scout. In 2017, when my goddaughter started kindergarten, her mom (a colleague and friend) and I started a troop. Having spent my career with high-school-aged students, I revel in the joy of discovery, advocacy and empowerment that my girls grow into and exude every time we are together.
What made you want to become a school administrator? My first role outside of the classroom was as a program specialist for our Special Education Local Plan Area. I supported students and their families through collaboration with teachers, instructional staff and site/district administrators. My experiences in classrooms and providing professional development continued to fulfill my passion for teaching while providing me opportunities to expand my leadership.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to get where you are? The first time I applied for an administrative role outside of special education, I learned that individuals did not generalize my skills across roles and environments. I then focused on continuing to expand my work in all areas of the school and district. In addition, through ACSA Region 8 and Women’s Leadership Network events, I increased my ability to talk about and provide specific examples of my work.
What are you most proud of accomplishing? I am most proud of being an educator. My parents met at Eastern Illinois University (think Tony Romo and Jimmy G) where my dad was teaching accounting and my mom was supervising student teachers in the lab school. While there, she met my godmother who taught for more than 40 years before retiring. I am fortunate to continue to have her influence, support and love in my life. I feel one of my greatest accomplishments is making all the teachers who have been part of my life proud.
What new strategies are you using to ensure student success in the post-“return to school” period?
In the Fremont Union High School District we are strengthening our focus on student and staff wellness. We are fortunate to have student and staff advocacy as well as community partners to make connections of social-emotional learning with classroom and campus climate.
2022 Student Services Administrator of the Year Trudy Gross.
2022 Student Services Administrator of the Year Trudy Gross.
2022 Student Services Administrator of the Year Trudy Gross.