Weekly roundup: Santa Ana safety officer goes above and beyond, OC Children’s Book Festival, and more

Vincent Gonzales is usually the first staff member to greet students when they arrive at Santa Ana High School — and the last person many will see at the end of the day.

As Fox 11 Los Angeles reports, no job is too big or too small for the longtime school safety officer, who consistently goes above and beyond.

“He approaches you and he’s like, hey, this is me, here’s what I can do for you,” says one student.

Gonzales, who has patrolled Santa Ana High, the home of the Saints, on foot and bike for 20 years, was recently profiled by “Good Day L.A.” as part of its School Standouts series. You can check out the segment above or on the Fox 11 website.

As the story notes, even on a campus of more than 3,000 students, Gonzales seems to know everyone, and he takes the time to have genuine, personal interactions.

“From biking to walking to talking, Vince is everywhere on campus, and there’s nothing he won’t do for his kids and his community,” reporter Megan Colarossi says.

Sometimes that means providing breakfast or lunch. Other times students might need paper or computer time.

“I always tell students that if I have it, you got it,” he says.

To quote Santa Ana High’s motto, “Once a Saint, always a Saint.”

Here are some other stories we’ve been tracking from a very busy week:

  • Laker great Kobe Bryant and reality television star Elena Gant will be among the authors featured at the 16th annual Orange County Children’s Book Festival at this Sunday, Oct. 6 from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. The festival will bring 90 published authors, 12 studio illustrators and 60 literacy-centered exhibitors to Orange Coast College.
  • More than 70 years after Mendez v. Westminster, the Westminster School District has paid tribute to the groundbreaking civil rights case and the local family that fought to ensure educational equality for future generations. Sylvia Mendez, who was 8 when she and her brothers were denied enrollment at 17th Street School in 1943, was the guest of honor as new signage was unveiled.
  • Experts say children should be exposed to a minimum of 15,000 words a day in their first four years for optimal brain development. But how do parents track that rate? Well, a program launching in five cities is issuing “word pedometers.”
  • At age 87, a teacher at Woodbridge High School in Irvine says it’s time to retire. Alan Dugard stepped down as coach of the Woodbridge High softball team in 2014 after 24 seasons, but he continued to teach world literature and English full-time. His last day was Oct. 1.


  • A state program is helping child care providers better serve kids who have experienced abuse, violence, family separation or other trauma. The Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children also provides child care vouchers for foster families.
  • Los Angeles Unified, which put an end to suspensions attributed to “willful defiance” in 2013, can be viewed as a case study for how similar policies enacted at the state level might play out, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.
  • Following widely publicized reports of local high school students embracing Nazi symbols and salutes, school leaders in Orange County say they are stepping up efforts to promote tolerance, KPCC Southern California Public Radio reports.
  • A new poll indicates Californians strongly back a recently passed state law that tightened restrictions on medical vaccination exemptions for students. Roughly 8 in 10 voters surveyed were supportive of the changes.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates or following us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.