Return to Headlines

Wilmington School Celebrates New Campus, While Honoring its Namesake and Current Los Angeles Unified Board Member (03-15-19)

Contact: Daryl Strickland (213) 241-6766                                                                                                            Fact Sheet   


Wilmington School Celebrates New Campus, While 
Honoring its Namesake and Current Los Angeles Unified Board Member

WILMINGTON (Mar. 15, 2019) - The Dr. Richard A. Vladovic Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy, one of the nation’s top high schools for graduating students, hosted a ceremony Friday, celebrating its new campus, as well as its namesake.

The Los Angeles Board of Education voted last year to rename the school after Board Member Dr. Richard A. Vladovic, who was instrumental in the academy’s founding and has devoted his life’s work to education. The school’s rapid ascent, among the nation’s top public schools since opening its doors in 2002 reflects, in large part, his penchant for change and innovation.

Recognized for its pioneering programs, the school allows students to receive an associate’s degree while in high school, with about 60 percent choosing that option. The academy was among the nation’s first to adopt this practice, providing a larger number of students to participate in taking advanced classes, rather than a select few.

The academy, over the years, has won accolades, including the unique honor of winning a National Blue Ribbon School award twice. That award reflects the school’s efforts, as many students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, to close the achievement gap.

The academy remains distinguished as the only high school in Los Angeles Unified achieving a perfect graduation rate for five years in a row. It remains on-track for a sixth year. Once consisting of only a few bungalows, the school’s new facilities were unveiled Friday during student-led tours of classrooms, now spread across a pair of modern, sleek buildings.

"The students of this school – these kids are what we are here to celebrate today, along with their teachers, their administrators, and their parents,” said Dr. Vladovic.

He added, “In my time in the U.S. Army, we had a saying: ‘If you are working on it, you are not getting it done.’ These kids, these teachers and these administrators are getting it done. They refuse to let any potential impediment to success get in their way. They are the embodiment of all this District can accomplish if we fully commit ourselves to a model to empower our students to be all they can be."

Others said that naming the school after the Los Angeles Board Member, commonly known as “Dr. V,” reflected a fitting tribute to his career. “This school reflects a legendary educator, whose vision and insight brought it to life,” said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner. “Dr. V has served our community in so many different ways over his storied career, but most often refers to himself as an Educator, which is a reflection of his belief that there is no higher calling than helping students learn.”

Tyler Okeke, who attends the school and is the student representative on the Los Angeles Board of Education, agreed.

“I am beyond proud that along with a new building, the Dr. Richard A. Vladovic Harbor Teachers Preparation Academy has a new name that honors an extraordinary public servant and education leader. May our school stand as a testament to Dr. Vladovic’s relentless dedication to the empowerment and success of its students.”

As an educator for over 50 years, Dr. Vladovic has served the district in numerous roles, including as a secondary teacher, gifted program advisor, principal, local district superintendent and board member/president emeritus. He advocated for students and education programs, as well as opportunities through his partnerships with local businesses, community organizations and elected officials.

Dr. Vladovic is the school’s patriarch, who paved the way for its creation. He collaborated with Los Angeles Harbor College, where the academy’s campus is located.

Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson said the academy depicts the board member’s foresight for academic excellence. “Dr. Vladovic’s vision for student achievement is evident in Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy,” Gipson said.

“High school students are graduating with one or more Associate of Arts degrees as each student matriculates to four-year colleges or universities,” Gipson continued. “The success of this school will be a springboard for others, and what a great legacy for Dr. Vladovic.”

The school’s primary goals are raising graduation rates and college enrollments among those with high potential, but who often face barriers to academic success. In addition, the school draws those interested in pursuing a teaching career.

“Dr. Richard Vladovic's life's work has been driven by his passion for teaching and his belief in the power of education to change lives,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn. “That is why it is so fitting that the teaching academy he helped to found will be renamed in his honor and that generations of aspiring teachers will look to his example."

Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino, whose district overlaps with Board Member Vladovic’s, said the Wilmington academy raised a high bar for other schools to follow.

“Dr. Vladovic set out with the intention of building a neighborhood school in Wilmington to raise graduation rates, set high standards for student achievement and establish a future teacher pipeline,” said Buscaino. “What he has created has become a standard for other schools around the state and the nation to emulate: a school that boasts perfect graduation rates, near universal college acceptance, and students that leave high school with two degrees – a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.”

He added, “I am proud to host this impressive learning facility in my council district and look forward to many more years of achievement from the Dr. Richard A. Vladovic Teacher Preparation Academy.”

The academy symbolizes the board member’s lifetime achievements, said Local District South Superintendent Michael Romero. "Today’s celebration and recognition of Dr. Richard Vladovic, and the service he has provided others in his 50-plus years as an educator and champion for all the students and communities he has served and represented, is to be commended. 

“His advocacy for students, families, and communities, as well as a belief that all children deserve the best education possible, define Dr. Vladovic’s career, as he continually fought for the resources and opportunities that make success not only possible, but also attainable. This fight is evident in his long-history of supporting teachers, school staff, and school leaders as they create a front-line environment of opportunity and success for all students.”

Romero added, “It is both earned and appropriate that this school, whose creation was imagined and driven by Dr. Vladovic, be named in his honor. The success, structure and college culture embodied by this school represent all that Dr. Vladovic has always championed for students and families, and are a fitting legacy to his service."

Academy Principal Jan Murata said: “Our ongoing achievement stems from Dr. Vladovic's efforts to provide opportunities for students to participate in this collaboration with Los Angeles Harbor College.”

She continued, “Dr. Vladovic's enthusiasm, passion, innovativeness and vision for improving educational outcomes for all students have been notable, and we proudly celebrate our new campus as the Dr. Richard A. Vladovic Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy.”