California Distinguished School

Staff Snapshot:

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Northgate High School
425 Castle Rock Road
Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Tel: 925.938.0900
Fax: 925.945.6429

24-Hr Attendance Recorder:
Attendance Office:
938-0900 ext3505

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Getting to Know Library Instructional Media Assistant Rula Kassicieh

Tell us about your formative years in education.

    My very first foray into teaching happened when I was a graduate student at the University of Tulsa where I worked as a teaching assistant to offset tuition fees. I taught Physical Geology and Sedimentology labs to undergraduate students, who, at the time, where only a couple of years younger than me. I switched gears after receiving my degree and worked as an environmental scientist with a petroleum company, overseeing soil and groundwater remediation projects. Family came next and I opted to stay home and raise my two boys (both Northgate graduates - Go Broncos!). During my stay-at-home time I worked as a contract research analyst for a San Francisco based company writing open source investigation reports on MENA-based (Middle East and North Africa) subcontractors of various Fortune 500 companies as a compliance requirement with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

When did you come to Northgate and why?

    I came to Northgate in March of 2013 when a library full-time position opened up at the school. Prior to that, I held the same position at Foothill Middle School (FMS) but in a part-time capacity. Although I loved FMS and the enthusiasm of the students and parent volunteers, I felt my background and skills would better serve the older (high school) student population. An added perk of moving from one feeder school to the next is that I already knew most of the students at Northgate at the time, so it was such an easy and natural transition for me.

In your role as library instructional media assistant, what are your responsibilities?

    I manage the school's instructional material program including the acquisition and maintenance of student textbooks, workbooks, teacher resources, and online access codes to ensure sufficiency and compliance with the William's Act. I also facilitate student learning by providing instruction and training on the use and critical evaluation of our subscription databases, library catalog, and print resources, as well as make sure that our collection is diverse and supports the curriculum. Additionally, I have the privilege to train and supervise a group of amazing and very enthusiastic student teacher assistants (we currently have 20 TAs across all 7 periods) in the daily operations of a library, including circulation and patron assistance.

What is unique about Northgate? What changes have you noticed since you arrived?

    The school spirit at Northgate is wonderful and encompasses the entire community: students, teachers, staff and admin. I am so proud to be associated with such a dynamic, creative and supportive group of people. I have seen lots of changes and positive growth in my four years at Northgate, in general, but also specifically where the library is concerned. With the support of Mr. McAlister, we now have access to three of Gale Cengage's subscription databases to help our students conduct meaningful and substantive research, find peer reviewed academic journal articles and streamline the citation process. A new multimedia lab was installed in the library last year and serves as a space for instruction, research and general computer use by students. Speaking of added technology, the library has a Chrome cart with 37 Chromebooks available for classes as well as for student daily check-outs.

As you think about Northgate's future, what are you most excited about?

    I see Northgate as the premier standard for high school excellence in the coming few years. The school's vision, direction and expectations are grounded in a holistic approach with emphasis on student and staff development and provide opportunities for continued growth and enhancements. The program I am most excited about, however, is the transformation and remodel plan of the current library space into a central hub that promotes an engaged learning environment, collaborative work, as well as individual areas for quiet study or reading time. The library at Northgate is a bustling hub of activity throughout the day, so building on that energy and spirit and taking it to the next level will only amplify its value and offerings to all our students.

What's life like outside of work for you?

    I am an avid reader, so if I do have some free time, you are likely to find me in a bookstore, library or at Peet's with a mocha (peppermint when in season) and a Young Adult novel. I also love traveling and my dream is to be a 'global reader,' where I travel to each and every country and read a book relevant to that country in its original setting (I can dream, right?). Unfortunately, these days my free time is quite limited as I am also a full time student at DVC pursuing an associate degree in Library Technology.

Past Issues:

Getting to Know...
Principal Michael McAlister Part 1      Part 2      Part 3
Vice Principal Jonathan Fey
Vice Principal Ben Campopiano
Athletic Director Dr. Earle Paynton

Staff Snapshot is a new eNews series which allows the Northgate community to become acquainted with our esteemed professional staff in greater depth. The series provides insights into the lives and experiences of these leaders and their vision for Northgate.