Those problems seem distant, though, as Piscal drops in unannounced on a series of classrooms. At the kindergarten, children reach their arms high over their heads when asked who wants to show how well he or she can read. At the newly opened permanent campuses for the middle school and high school, students lead discussions about why kids join gangs. In each room, students appear focused and engaged. "This is like an oasis," says Rev. Timm Cyrus, pastor of the Angeles Mesa Presbyterian Church and a longtime supporter of Piscal's efforts at View Park Prep. "It's a quiet, comfortable, tucked-away place amid a sprawling, concrete, asphalt jungle."
A BIG DREAM
The impulse that led to the founding of View Park Prep occurred not far geographically from where Piscal now spends his days but a literal world away in most other ways. In the early 1990s, after graduating from Wake Forest University, Piscal was teaching English at one of L.A.'s most prestigious prep schools, Harvard-Westlake. He was well liked and spent his first few years soaking up all he could about effective teaching techniques and how a good school is run.