In September of 2009, Nidia Castro became one of the youngest principals in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She is a middle school principal in an immigrant community in Panorama City at a five-year-old school, Vista Middle School, which was one of the first new construction project in LAUSD in over thirty years. It is three blocks away from Galpin Ford and the Budweiser Plant on Roscoe Blvd.
Over ninety percent of the students or their parents immigrated from Mexico or Central America. It has been estimated that approximately 60% of the students end up graduating from high school in the neighborhood. As an immigrant with a lot of struggles, Principal Nidia Castro understand many of her students. She wants to reach them academically with the strength of her staff and through the arts. In one video produced in a film class, students talk about their struggles: http://www.vimeo.com/6281934
In another video, students are seen engaging in their academic environment - http://www.vimeo.com/6283824 Nidia Castro is a fan of academia and the arts. In the Fall of 2009, students along with a teacher wrote and illustrated a children's book about her struggles entitled "Nidia." With the help of donations, the 12x12" hard cover book was printed by the school for students to read in class and to make available to checkout at their school and public libraries - http://www.blurb.com/books/1071375
In the Fall of 2009, students also presented their 30 minute film to the two-thousand three hundred students. The film can be viewed at - http://www.vimeo.com/8397694. The film begins with a dramatic performance by a substitute teacher actress, Rochelle Russo, then connects the principal's difficult experiences with her students. After some expository storytelling, the film moves into a narrative that discourages bullying and an appreciation for an education at a newly built school for the community. The film is surprisingly compelling and impressive for a middle school production.