While a strong academic base is essential, today’s students need to know more than just “the basics.”  Well-rounded students need opportunities to learn about themselves, their peers, and the world that they share.  Now, more than ever, our students need to have strong civics education to learn about our democracy, how it works, and how they can be active participants and leaders in it.  

Similarly, arts learning is transformative for students.  Having taught Drama programs early in his career, Dr. Waddell knows firsthand the power of arts to transform student learning.  Dynamic arts programs support students in understanding and expressing themselves and their world, collaborating with peers, and engaging their innate curiosity and creativity.  These programs also support strong social-emotional learning programs which help our students to better understand themselves and build skills to be engaged and empowered adults.   Gary is a fierce advocate for strong and innovative programs that begin with high quality preschools and continue throughout the school years.

Dr. Gary Waddell has provided leadership in areas that expand the education of the whole child by:

  • Currently serving as the Chair of the statewide Visual and Performing Arts subcommittee
  • Providing leadership to cross-disciplinary teams to design countywide solutions in arts education
  • Convening a cross-disciplinary team that is designing a countywide approach to civics education
  • Leading a team to design a countywide environmental education/sustainability initiative
  • Presenting at a variety of professional conferences on strong, transformative arts learning
  • Leading the growing and evolving work of the San Mateo Outdoor Education program at Jones Gulch that serves 5th and 6th graders in San Mateo County
  • Co-planning the statewide County Superintendents Arts Learning Colloquium at SFMOMA for arts leaders throughout California  

As County Superintendent, Gary is committed to expanding opportunities that enrich, enhance, and expand learning for the whole child as County Superintendent by:

  • Implementing and expanding a countywide environmental education/sustainability initiative to provide environmental learning resources to schools throughout San Mateo County
  • Implementing a San Mateo County arts learning initiative to support dynamic arts education in schools throughout the county and create partnerships with artists and arts-providers to enhance children’s exposure to the arts
  • Working alongside the court system, local government, and the business community to design and launch San Mateo County’s first civics learning initiative – delivering a countywide civics institute for educators and curating civics-education resources for the classroom
  • Expanding partnerships and resources to deliver high quality social-emotional learning to students throughout San Mateo County



educating the whole child:

arts, civics, social-emotional learning, & environmental education