School Info » Administration



Dr. Semeen Issa

Welcome to First Avenue! The 2019-2020 school year has a lot in store and promises to be an exciting year. 

We are extremely fortunate to have a staff of the highest caliber, and this year, two of our teachers have been bestowed the honor of teacher of the year. The Arcadia Unified School District selected Mr. Mike Danielson, our amazing music teacher, as the district’s Teacher of the Year. Mr. D then submitted his paperwork to compete in the LA County Teacher of the Year competition. We will find out in September if he is selected to represent Los Angeles County and advance to the State level of competition. He has brought so many creative and innovative opportunities for our students in music, and we are grateful to have him. 

Also receiving a teacher of the year award is Mrs. Karalee Nakatsuka, our remarkably innovative 8th grade history teacher. She was selected by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History as the California History Teacher of the Year. This is an amazing honor and she was also selected to represent the State of California in the competition for the National History Teacher of the Year award. Our 8th grade students are very lucky to have Mrs. Nakatsuka as a collaborative and innovative teacher who works with all teachers to bring history alive.

The program and traditions at First Avenue are indicative of the staff’s focus on middle school adolescent development, which is a time of transition for our youngsters. This means students need an environment that emphasizes positive behavioral, social and emotional development. Our staff makes it possible for every child to experience the many electives offered, including opportunities for every student to excel in the performing arts (music, dance,  and theater), industrial technology, home economics, fine arts, science and engineering, broadcast journalism, civics, leadership and digital discourse. First Avenue is unique in providing our students with such a quality well-rounded education with many choices, while making sure that the academics are top notch. 

With this in mind, and in order for our students to be more present and engaged at school, we will have stricter enforcement of our technology policy. First of all, there will be no headphones allowed outside of a students backpack unless they are going to be used in a classroom for educational or academic purposes. Please make sure that you review the policy with your child. Teachers will expect that electronic devices will be put away unless they are needed for instructional purposes in the classroom. Since the Chromebooks are the mode of instruction and work completion for most classes, the expectation is that students will use those rather than cell phones. 

Another new policy that has been implemented is that if your child has forgotten something (homework, Chromebooks, projects, PE clothes, lunches, etc.), we will not accommodate drop offs by parents to the office. Please encourage your child to remember to take everything they need to school in the morning. 

There’s a lot happening at First Avenue, and we are committed to providing a well-rounded and whole child experience at First Avenue. We are looking forward to a great year!



Mr. Michael De Grazia

I am excited to be engaged in my fourth year at First Avenue.  First Avenue has amazing students, staff, and parents. There are a number of opportunities for students to grow and learn through innovation and teacher collaboration. First Avenue has a strong tradition of embracing the whole child as we have an exemplary music program, performing arts program, sports program, and a number of electives that appeal to students with different interests. 


Annual programs at First Avenue such as Ellis Island Day, Medieval Day, Science Day, and the Spartan Olympics showcase our students’ many talents.  We continue to implement the “Leader in Me Program” to empower students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.  And we are continually making improvements to the school.  There are new signs in the lunch area and new tables and benches have been installed to create more seating for students.


Many students and teachers have also made contributions to the growing sports program that prepares students for high school athletics.  This year, we will also be working with Arcadia High School students to implement Math Circles and competitive mathematics across the three middle schools in order to provide students experience and opportunities that can have a positive influence on their future.


I am looking forward to everyone having a successful year at First Avenue. Thank you for your continued support and please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance.