Vonda Viland led the Morongo Unified School District’s alternative program for at-risk students for seven years, working with students who had been disenfranchised from the traditional school system. Approximately 90% of her student body lived below the poverty level with many struggling to deal with issues no child should have to face,
including abuse, neglect, parenthood, depression, anxiety, and
addiction. She and her staff developed an individualized program where they worked to educate the child, not just teach the curriculum. Living in such a remote area with extremely limited resources, she and her staff worked hard to meet the educational, emotional, and physical needs of their students. Vonda’s book, Lessons from the Bad Kids (Available on Amazon), presentations, and workshops center around the Sundance award-winning documentary film THE BAD KIDS, which features her educational approach and offers viewers a practical model for how public education can address and combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of American schoolchildren. As a secondary English teacher for 16 years, Vonda received the Commitment to Excellence Award from the California
Middle School Foundation and Partnership and was recognized as teacher of the year for the California League of Middle Schools Region 10. After earning her Master’s Degree in School Administration from Cal State, she worked as a site administrator at the elementary, secondary, and continuation levels. During her tenure in the district, Vonda served as several sites’ WASC coordinator and English Department Chairperson, an interdisciplinary team leader, a district English mentor, a peer coach, a BTSA provider, an AVID teacher, a GATE coordinator, and as the district’s grant writer. She wrote and led one successful Distinguished School application and three successful Model School applications. Vonda has presented numerous staff development programs, including California Middle School Symposium trainings on portfolio development and integrated instruction and district trainings on rubric development and utilization. Since her retirement from the site, she contracts with districts to train and mentor site administrators and consults to assist program improvement at continuation schools.