Sunday, December 19, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Logan Elementary First Graders Get Bicycles

San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System employees donate two-wheelers for each student in first grade at Logan Elementary School. Watch video»

IN THE NEWS: Lincoln High Dance, Music and Multimedia on Morning News

Check out the moves at Lincoln High School as Fox 5 Morning News visits Lincoln High School. Watch video from KSWB-TV»

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Schools In Bear of a Mood for Holidays

Kumeyaay Elementary students celebrat their bear drive.
Kumeyaay students celebrate their
bear drive with teacher Robyn Bernstein.
Students at Kumeyaay and Benchley-Weinberger elementary schools helped San Diego law enforcement agencies collect hundreds of stuffed bears this holiday season.

Kumeyaay teacher Robyn Bernstein recently received accolades from the San Diego Police Department for collecting 478 new stuffed toys for the annual Teddy Bear Drive benefitting Rady Children’s Hospital. Robyn, a finalist for this year’s County Teacher of the Year award, has been organizing a stuffed toy collection for 11 years for young patients at the hospital.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Activities Mark Pt. Loma High's 85th Year

Pt. Loma Pointer with artist.Pt. Loma High marked its 85th year with celebrations recently on campus and in the community. Principal Bobbie Samilson said the week started with a "Gala Dash" run lead by the cross-country team and the surf team's "Board Room," with activities leading up to a gala inviting alumni, parents and current students.

"I was gratified to work with the incredible volunteers among my staff, the parents of students, and all of the participating alumni," said Samilson. "Many Gala attendees commented on the amazing ASB students who worked to set up and host the Gala, as well as the student journalism editors/reporters who brought highlights from the new online student newspaper, the"

Gala attendees also had a chance to see designs for the new state-of-the-art Music Center and Film Production Center; groundbreaking on the project is scheduled early next year.

Another highlight of the weeklong events was the unveiling of a sculpture of the school's mascot, the Pointer. It was created by artist Richard Arnold (see photo).

For more information, contact Principal Samilson at (619) 223-3121.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Montgomery Principal Honored for "Safe Passage"

Principal Jonathan Ton
Jonathan Ton, principal of Montgomery Middle School in Linda Vista, has been recognized by the City of San Diego’s Human Relations Commission for his work with the Safe Passage program through Montgomery’s Family Success Center.

The Safe Passage Program helps Montgomery receives support from local law enforcement agencies, city council in their efforts to provide safe passage for students as they travel to and from school. The Family Success Center has become a popular gathering place in the community.

Ton was nominated by Commissioner Joyce Abrams. The recognition ceremony and reception took place Dec. 8 at the Balboa Park Club in Balboa Park. Through his diligent work with Safe Passage and as an advocate for youth, Ton has demonstrated his commitment and dedication which reflect the mission of the Commission.

For more information regarding the Safe Passage Program, contact Aimee Urbina, resource teacher, at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Barnard Students, Principal Visit New Sister School in China

Barnard delegation to China.An historic event took place on Oct. 26 when Barnard Mandarin Chinese K-5 Magnet School forged an official sister school partnership with one of the most famous and reputable schools in China.

Barnard is now a sister school to Chongqing Renmin Primary School, a school has 65 years of rich history.
Barnard principal Edward Park, along with students Eddie Kapelczak and Victor Otero were warmly greeted by students, teachers, and administrative staff of Chongqing Renmin.

Principal Catherine Yang of Chongqing Renmin expressed, in fluent English, her enthusiasm to Principal Park to have students collaborate across the two nations to promote friendship and understanding of one another's culture.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Historic day for district, Mira Mesa High Sapphire Sound Band and Color Guard

Mira Mesa High Band

The Mira Mesa High School Sapphire Sound Band and Color Guard took the Silver Medal at the recent Southern California Field Championships.

The group had an amazing performance with percussion taking second overall, color guard third overall, and receiving “High Music” for the day. This is the first time any San Diego Unified school has received a medal at this state championship, which was held Dec. 4. What an amazing way to finish the season.

Congratulations to Mira Mesa High School for this great accomplishment! For more information, contact John Dally, Band Director.

Celebrating the win

Monday, December 13, 2010

Faces for the Future at Hoover

Hoover students receive their lab coats

Juniors and seniors in Healthcare Essentials at Hoover High School are beginning their four, 4-week clinical rotations at Rady Children’s Hospital and Community Health Clinics this week.

Students selected three of 19 departments within the hospital and one of 8 community clinics for their rotations. Students have been focusing on professional skills, infection control, learning about body systems, and medical terminology.
The 45 students, mostly juniors, participated in their Lab Coat Ceremony on Nov. 30 in preparation for their rotations.

For more information, please contact Luz Knuteson, CCTE Teacher.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Five Schools' Teams Advance to JROTC Academic Challenge

Teams from Madison, Kearny, Morse, Crawford and San Diego high schools will compete in the JROTC Academic Challenge, which will test their knowledge of high school math, science and language arts as well as JROTC leadership curriculum.

These five high schools were among more than 1,300 high school Army JROTC programs through the nation that participated in the College Options Foundation, Level 1 JROTC Leadership and Academic bowl in November.

The competition is designed to challenge and prepare high school students for college entrance exams using a fast-paced internet-based program. The five teams will compete to qualify for the next level of competition to be held in Washington, D.C., in June.

Last year, the team from the San Diego High School Educational Complex represented the district in the Washington DC competitions. See the competition's web site for more information.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hoover Information Technology Academy Students Visit Qualcomm

AOIT At Qualcomm
Sophomores from the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) at Hoover HS participated in a Job Shadow day with Qualcomm mentors. The 26 students were matched with mentors and toured the main buildings, the IT department and the new Qualcomm museum.

The students spent a working lunch with their mentors interviewing them about their career paths. Students found that many mentors did not have a straight, well-planned path to their current positions. The students found the non-traditional and sometimes jagged paths both interesting and encouraging.

For more information, please contact Angie Kania, AOIT director/teacher .

IN THE NEWS: Patrick Henry girls carry on in memory of soccer coach

The girls added “FOR HOWIE” to their temporary tattoos to honor their beloved coach, who died last weekend after a two-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 49. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

New School-Based Clinic Aims to Save Lives and Boost Student Success

A new one-of-a kind school-based medical clinic opens this week at San Diego Unified’s Central Elementary School that officials hope will have major impact locally and nationally.

A ceremony to officially dedicate the clinic took place at 10 a.m., Friday, Dec. 10.
The mission of Central Elementary Health and Wellness Center in City Heights is to provide health care to the school’s 860 students and their siblings, from infancy until 15 years of age. An estimated 1 in 4 children attending Central in the high-poverty community currently do not have health care.

“The clinic is a dream come true for the school and community,” said Central Principal Cindy Marten, who sees first-hand how medical problems can interfere with learning.

Medical research shows that school-based health clinics work, improving both the physical and academic well-being of students. According to the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, clinics contribute to higher student attendance and achievement, with a 50 percent decrease in absenteeism and measurable impact on higher grades.

Central’s clinic will be run by licensed medical professionals through a partnership with San Diego Unified and two existing clinics: La Maestra and San Diego Family Care. Together the community clinics treat the majority of student families in the area, making them trusted medical practitioners in the mid-city neighborhood.

What makes this clinic unique is that it was built on campus attached to the school nurse’s office with the help of a $50,000 grant from Price Family Charitable Fund. Central’s nurse will work in partnership with the clinic staff, and it is the clinic’s medical staff members who will run health care services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the 11 months that Central operates.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Join the Discussion on Prop. S Projects

Site Master Planning, Design Task Force Meetings Great Way to Participate in Facility Planning

Mann_Crawford_SMPAs SDUSD continues revitalizing its schools under Prop. S, the opportunity is greater than ever for neighbors, parents, staff and students to provide input on upcoming projects at their schools. Site Master Plan and Design Task Force meetings provide a forum to share ideas and participate in developing long-range school site plans as well as offer direction on specific planned projects. Meetings are run by the project managers and architects directly responsible for designing and implementing these projects. Facilities improvements are important to your school’s academic success, and input from all parties is vital to the success of the planning process. View the schedule of upcoming projects at your school at To see if your school will be hosting a Site Master Plan or Design Task Force meeting soon, visit the Prop. S calendar at or call 619-725-7252.

New Madison Auto Facility Dedicated

Ribbon cutting
In The News
Board of Education Vice President John Evans joined students, staff, community members and parents to cut the ribbon on the James Madison High School Automotive Engineering and Technology facility, one of the 22 new or remodeled College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE) facilities funded under the Proposition S and Proposition 1D bond programs.The 10,000 square foot facility has eight auto bays that serve as laboratories, classroom space for more than 70 students, energy efficient features and sustainable products, and was designed according to industry standard. Classes in the new facility will begin after the first of the year. The ribbon cutting was held on Dec. 8.
For more information on Prop S and 1D facilities, please contact Cynthia Reed-Porter, Communications Supervisor. For more information on the automotive program, please contact Greg Quirin, CCTE Program Specialist, at (858) 503-1736.

Updated Budget Page Now Online

San Diego Unified's budget news page has been updated and expanded. It is now available online at

"The public can find out about our current and past years' budgets, as well as the latest news on projections for the 2011-12 school year," said Bernie Rhinerson, chief district relations officer. "It's important that we provide open access to information so our parents and voters can stay in touch on this issue."

So far, San Diego Unified is projecting more than $100 million in funding reductions from the State of California for the 2011-12 school year. A budget timeline explains the process up to the required submission to the county Office of Education on July 1.

There is also information on the budget development project, documents and news coverage. Comments on the budget are also welcome.

IN THE NEWS: School health clinic opens in City Heights

The first full-time in-school health clinic in San Diego County will officially open its doors to the community Friday morning. Creation of the brightly-colored health center, situated in what used to be a faculty meeting room, is a partnership among the school, La Maestra Community Health Centers, San Diego Family Care and the Price Charities. Both clinics will contribute $215,000 in the coming year and the Price Family is slated to donate $500,000 to the project over the next two years. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Student’s efforts growing in school’s new garden

Every school should have a garden. That’s the opening line in a two-minute video by Tim Daly, a seventh-grader at Pacific Beach Middle School. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.»

IN THE NEWS: Scrooge, the Musical at SCPA Featured on Morning News

With students in final rehearsals on Tuesday, the Morning News visit tells viewers all about the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. Watch video from Fox 5 San Diego»

Salad is the Star at Horton

What better way to teach about nutrition than to show hungry kids video of food?

That’s what Rudy Dominguez has done. Dominguez is Horton Elementary’s wellness coordinator and he’s produced a new video all about the district Kid’s Choice Cafe salad bars, salad bar etiquette and healthy portion size.

His video, starring salad, will air on the school’s intra-campus televisions. The audience includes staff, students and parents. View the salad video.

For more information contact Gary Petill, director, food services.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

IN THE NEWS: New School Board Members Sworn In, Officers Chosen

>Coverage of the swearing in ceremony of new Board members Scott Barnett and Kevin Beiser, plus selection of officers.

District Schools Share $1 Million Grant

Ten elementary schools have won a $1 million grant to support their efforts to develop student social and emotional development. Their early intervention programs help more than 1,300 district students gain academic achievement.

The grant will be shared over its three-year term by winning schools: Alcott, Balboa, Birney, Chesterton, Chollas-Mead, Florence, Fulton, Jefferson, Jerabek and Miller.

The district received the grant award this week as part of the Early Mental Health Initiative (EMHI) grant program from the Department of Mental Health. The award notice stated, “We are confident that your efforts will help children increase their chances of school success. Enhancement of the social-emotional development of children is crucial to the learning process.”

The best news of all is that the programs are working! Data has shown statistically significant changes in overall school adjustment – and therefore achievement levels and behavior -- of participating students in kindergarten through third grade.

The Early Mental Health grant has become increasingly more competitive throughout the state, but San Diego Unified has had 100 percent application success rate with the support of district administration including the Counseling and Guidance Department.

The district’s program has grown to be the largest in California. The grant will support the district’s Elementary Counseling program, which has been so successful it has been cited by the state Legislature as model program. In the California in Assembly Bill 1650, this early intervention program highlights the key role of school counselors.

The funds are used to hire specially trained guidance assistants to aid credentialed school counselors, and cover everything from training and supplies to data collection costs.

For more information, please contact Clara Cho-Hayashigawa, EMHI Project Coordinator, at (619) 725.7321, or

Monday, December 6, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Morning Show Visits Barnard

Morning news visits Pt. Loma school and a first-grade Mandarin Chinese partial immersion class. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Congrats to Madison on First Championship; Kudos to Lincoln and Mira Mesa

Warhawk with Kim-Phelps and Nash.
Area Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps, left, and Principal Richard Nash pose with the Madison Warhawk mascott.
In The News
Congratulations to Madison High School for its first football league championship, when they beat Valley Center, rated one of the best teams in California, for the Division IV crown on Monday at Qualcomm Stadium.

An congratulations to Lincoln and Mira Mesa who, while they fell short in their games, made their schools and the San Diego Unified School District proud for their excellent efforts.

The county high school varsity football championships Monday at Qualcomm Stadium had a distinctively San Diego Unified look to them. For the first time in recent years, schools from our district were playing in three of the four division championships.

Lincoln, Madison and Mira Mesa teams played in their divisions’ Big Game on Monday, when there was a full day of high school football at Qualcomm Stadium. Pt. Loma lost in the semi-finals to Cathedral Catholic, otherwise they would have faced off against Lincoln for the Division III title; Pt. Loma has made the semi-finals four of the last five years.

Bruce Ward, our Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics, said that having District schools playing in three of the four title games is a rare occurrence. He doesn't remember it happening, and Bruce is a Kearny High grad and former San Diego Charger who's been around for some time.

No matter what your school affiliation, we hope you’ll salute the San Diego Unified schools. Varsity sports are a big part of the high school experience and we’re all proud of the students, coaches and programs at our schools. So even if you’re fan of the Patriots, Tigers or Comets, say a cheer for your fellow SDUSD campus.

And congratulations to all our participants in fall varsity sports, ranging from tennis and cross country, to water polo, field hockey and volleyball.

What Can Be Done With 10,400 Boxes of Bendaroos?

BendaroosAllstar Products Group has donated more than $200,000 worth of its Bendaroos product to San Diego Unified, part of the company's Bendaroos Building Creative Classrooms Initiative.

Packs of the colorful flexible building sticks will be distributed to elementary schools for art projects where students will bend, twist and shape 2- and 3-D creations.

The donation is a result of work by San Diego Unified's Community Relations Department, which last year brought in nearly $6 million in contributions to the district in cash, goods and volunteers.

"It's so important for children today to have opportunities for hands-on, open-ended play and learning," said Karen Harris, a Kindergarten teacher at Walker Elementary.  "We're excited to dig into the boxes of Bendaroos and the creative lesson plans."

Company officials said the goal of the program is to stretch a child's imagination and support local schools.

"Bendaroos® Building Creative Classrooms is about supporting teachers and fostering kids' imagination through tactile, creative play," said Anne Flynn, Vice President of Marketing for Allstar Products Group.

"We really appreciate the contribution by Allstar Products to our district," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "To many people, a box Bendaroos might be a small thing, but to our teachers and students, these can be the key to learning."

For more information, contact Kathy Gartland, Community Relations Department, (619) 725-5592.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crawford and Ibarra Break Barriers Together

Crawford students and principalBig kids helping little kids and their families break the language barrier, that’s the breakthrough new program partnership at Crawford Educational Complex and Ibarra Elementary.

The partnership centers on Crawford’s longstanding efforts to welcome newcomers to the United States with its great resource, the New Arrival Center. Here students and their families learn the ropes of their adopted country and the English language challenges in high school.

“We’re so proud to be of service, and we have great resources because we’re so amazingly diverse,” said Principal William Laine of Crawford, where more than 17 languages other than English are spoken in the home.

At nearby Ibarra Elementary School, Principal Susie Sovereign wanted to offer more resources to the student families new to America. She turned to the expertise at Crawford’s New Arrival Center to help her students and families with the same resource needs.

Her idea was to draw on Crawford High students as translators during Ibarra’s recent parent-teacher conferences. The partnership proved a big success: Crawford students felt proud to fulfill an important function, and Ibarra’s students and parents were happy to get a helping hand from youths who had successfully met the challenges of their new homeland.

“Thanks to the Crawford Cluster working together we were able to talk to our parents in their language and discuss students' strengths and areas that need to improve,” said Alicia Flores, New Arrival Center teacher.

Said Flores, “Both schools serve an immigrant population, and if we can begin to make strong connections, we can do a better job of bringing our parents and community into the fold.”

For more information on the New Arrival Center, please contact Flores, (619) 583-2501 ext. 4108,

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Big productions for holidays at SCPA

SCPA LogoGreat events are underway at SCPA, the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Come share some holiday spirit with SCPA by attending our Mainstage Production of Scrooge, The Musical starring our very own teacher and a former SCPA teacher of the year, Bill Doyle as Scrooge. 92 students are working on this production including 50 actors, 26 musicians, and 16 crew members.

Mark Stevens directs this Christmas spectacular which runs December 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 at 7p.m. with a matinee on Saturday, December 11 at 2 p.m. in the SCPA Grand Theatre. All shows are open to the public.

Opening simultaneously is the Fall Visual Arts Exhibition, Dec. 9-17 in the Little Theater. The exhibition is open one hour earlier than the Scrooge showtimes and during intermission. The Friends of SCPA, the school's foundation, will host a special holiday treat complete with cookies, hot cocoa, and carolers on December 11 prior to the 2 and 7 p.m. performances.

Tickets to Scrooge are $4 and can be purchased by calling the school's box office at (619) 475-8556 or at The school is located at 2425 Dusk Dr. (92139). It is a public arts magnet school for artistically talented students in grades 6-12.

Don't be a Scrooge, come out and spend some holiday cheer with our SCPA community.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Board Honors Retiring Members

Board Salute
The Board of Education recognized retiring members John De Beck and Katherine Nakamura for their service to the San Diego Unified School District.
The two members terms will end Dec. 5.

De Beck has been a Board member since 1990, five terms, and connected with the San Diego Unified School District for more than 50 years as a staff member, including a teacher and counselor. He represents Subdistrict C, which includes Kearny, La Jolla, Mission Bay and Pt. Loma high schools, as well as the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.

Founder of the "Catch a Rising Star" program, De Beck was president of the Board in 1994 and vice-president in 1993, 2003 and 2008.

Nakamura joined the board in 2002 and served two terms. Her insights have come from being a parent of current students in San Diego Unified. She represents Sub-District B, which includes Henry, Hoover, Scripps Ranch and Serra high schools and the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.

She was Board president in 2008 and vice-president in 2003 and 2004. Her efforts were concentrated on technology and music and arts education.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Event Brightened Needy Students' Day

Mission Bay High School Dixie Jazz Band at House of BluesThanks to House of Blues and Feeding America for partnering with San Diego Unified School District Food Services and Office for Children and Youth in Transition for the annual House of Giving Thanksgiving Day event.

Thanksgiving lunch at the House of Blues was served to the most needy children and their families from Kimbrough, Rodriguez, Sherman, Perkins and Washington elementary schools.

Each attending family received a bag of food donated by Feed America and a turkey donated by the Rose Foundation. The families enjoyed live music by local community musicians, including the Mission Bay High School Dixie Jazz Band (in photo).

In addition, Feeding America provided food bags for distribution. Zamarano, Lee, Nye, Emerson/Bandini, Hamilton, Ocean Beach elementary schools, Roosevelt Middle, San Diego High, Marcy and the San Diego Adolescent Pregnancy Project (SANDAPP) received food bags that were delivered the day after Thanksgiving. The focus was on providing students who would not have access to sufficient food during the Thanksgiving break with nutrition resources.

For more information contact Pam Hosmer, program manager, Children and Youth In Transition, at (619) 725-7652, or Gary Petill, director, Food Services, at (858) 627-7301.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Sun Begins to Shine On Boat Entries

Students work on solar boats
Students from San Diego Sci-Tech High School get started on their 2010-11 solar-powered boat.
Students from Scripps Ranch and San Diego Sci-Tech high schools began their seven-month journey to design, build, test, tune and operate a 16 foot, 24 volt, 320-watt solar-powered boat for the Solar Cup, the nation’s largest solar boat competition.

The San Diego regional competition is sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The Engineering and Green Tech students were provided with wood and materials to begin construction on a canoe-style hull. All boats must conform to the same specifications.

Students will need to spend time studying and using Ohm’s Law and its variations, W = V x I (Watts = Voltage x Current). In full sunlight, the solar panels attached to the student boats produce 36 volts of direct current voltage (V) and have a current output of 9 amps (I). Using the formula, the solar panel will produce 324 watts of power as long as the panel is in direct sunlight [36 x 9 – 324 watts of power].
Students will attempt to maximize all variables with their solar panel placement and design to win the races. Students from Scripps Ranch High hope to take home a solar cup title for a second year in a row, while Sci-Tech  students from the San Diego High Educational Complex are looking for their first win.

The students' boats will compete in a series of races over a three-day period in May 2011.

For more information, please contact Greg Quirin, CCTE Program Specialist at (858) 503-1736.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Students get the dirt on ocean-friendly garden

In an effort to raise awareness of the importance of an ocean-friendly environment, students of Pacific Beach Middle School (PBMS) celebrated the introduction of their Waves of Green student garden Nov. 12 by getting their hands dirty. Read more from the Beach and Bay Press.

Madison Community, Families Come Together to Support Schools

Fun times at family dayMadison High School was the setting for the first-ever Madison Community of Schools Cluster Family Fun Day and Rummage Sale on Saturday, Nov. 13.

The free event brought together all the schools in the Madison High cluster: Field, Hawthorne, Holmes, Lafayette, Lindbergh/Schweitzer, Sequoia and Whitman elementary schools; iMiddle and CPMA middle schools; and Madison High School. The event helped raise money for scholarships, clubs, and other school needs.

Hundreds of bargain hunters, families, community members and employees took advantage of the great deals, enjoyed student entertainment and feasted on food donated by local vendors.

“The Madison cluster is exemplifying what community involvement can be in community-based school reform,” said Dr. John Lee Evans, Board of Education Vice-President, who represents the Madison cluster.  “It starts with communities having pride in their neighborhoods and their schools.  This activity was definitely community driven.”

Special thanks to the members of the Madison Community of Schools Cluster Council who organized the event, to the schools and PTA’s who participated and to Madison High for hosting.

For more information, contact Greg Williams, Madison High School.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prop S Update: Board Approves Schedule, Adds Projects

Based on increased bond revenues, the Board of Education recently approved schedule changes for the Proposition S program that accelerated 39 construction projects, 37 design projects and all high school projects, which will begin construction by 2015.

In addition, the board approved seven new Prop. S/College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE) facilities at six high schools.

A new CCTE Academy of Business and Technology facility was approved for Clairemont High, while Henry High will be home to a new CCTE production studio and a new performing arts center.

SCPA, along with Hoover, Mira Mesa and San Diego high schools, will have existing facilities remodeled into state-of-the-art CCTE training centers for programs such as screen printing, computerized graphic design, broadcast journalism and biomedical sciences.

The complete schedule of Prop. S projects or to see what projects are scheduled at your school is available online.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Kearny Science-Connections-Technology Students on White House Mission

Graph - Click for fullsize
Before the “desert” completely takes over the city, the students at Science-Connections-Technology Kearny High Educational Complex are fighting back.

The students at SCT are armed only with computers and a mission to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. And yet they have made some impressive progress by using a sophisticated computer mapping program called GIS (Geographical Information Systems) in Corri-Anne Burgess’ ROP class.

Burgess’ students learned quickly what a powerful tool computers can be. They applied the GIS mapping program to show the high rate of fast-food outlets in the pockets of San Diego with high poverty rates – what demographers call food deserts. They then overlaid that map with mapping that showed low rate of car ownership in those same areas. The result is they created an easy-to-track clash of bad circumstance – low mobility trapping low-income residents into a lifestyle of unhealthy food. San Diego’s urban areas are full of food deserts, and SCT students have tracked them.

They were inspired to use their new-found knowledge by First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made combating the epidemic of childhood obesity one of the top priorities of the White House. Mrs. Obama has launched the Let’s Move Campaign to eradicate childhood obesity, a subject she spoke about on her recent visit to San Diego. The SCT students plan is to take their food desert mapping discoveries to policy makers, legislators and health care officials to help spur them to action about bringing some relief to the food deserts in our city.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

IN THE NEWS: Chef is passionate about childhood nutrition

A local chef believes that the process by which food travels from farm to fork plays an important role in the solution to childhood obesity. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Monday, November 29, 2010

San Diego Unified Receives $1 Million Tech Grant

A million dollars in federal stimulus funds is on its way to San Diego Unified to help improve educational technology and college-career readiness.

The award is from the Enhancing Education Through Technology competitive grant program and is limited to uses that "improve high school graduation rates and promote student readiness for college and careers," according to the California Department of Education.

"This is wonderful help that will promote the top priorities of this district, raising our graduation rate and cutting the achievement gap," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. “Our ability to gather data on our students helps our teachers and staff members better keep up with today’s kids. In addition, our students’ ability to be career- and college-ready is what high school is all about.”

Darryl Lagace, San Diego Unified’s Chief Information and Technology Officer, said the grant funds will be focused on technology in grade 6-7 math.

“By targeting improvement in 6th and 7th grade math, we can better prepare our students for successful completion of Algebra in grade 8 which is the gateway to become college or career ready,” he said, “and is a strong predictor of passing the California High School Exit Exam in grade 10 and of high school graduation.”

California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, said the funding was based on the number of students in grades 7-12 at eligible school districts.

“These grants will help schools use data effectively to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap,” said O’Connell. “With the state budget crisis continuing, our cash-strapped schools desperately need these funds as soon as possible so they can use education data and technology to better prepare students for college or careers.”

Funding was provided through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in February 2009. Because of legislative program changes and the delay in the passage of the state budget, EETT funds will be used by schools to acquire and maintain the use of data to improve high school graduation rates and promote student readiness for college and careers.

The California Department of Education had just 45 days to complete an application process that normally takes months. Department staff cut the application process from a number of months to 11 days because prior applicants that did not receive funding in 2009 were allowed to use the same application for funding in this cycle. Therefore, a streamlined application process was implemented to meet the strict time line.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Superintendent Discusses Test Scores

Although San Diego Unified is among the top large districts in California, "we can always do better," says Kowba. Watch video»

Jones Elementary Robotics Team Off to Impressive Start

Jones DolphinbotsJones Elementary School has a formed a LEGO Robotics team called the Dolphinbots. The team participates in FIRST LEGO League, a worldwide organization whose mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded by Dean Kamen, who has a vision to transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.

The Dolphinbots team started meeting last May and learned to build and program LEGO robots using the LEGO Mindstorms kits. At the beginning of September, FIRST released its worldwide challenge with the theme of ‘Body Forward’, in which students learn about real life challenges facing bioengineers today. The Dolphinbots decided to research ways to help those who suffer with Lupus.

They built and programmed their LEGO robot to complete multiple missions on a thematic playing surface. The Dolphinbots had about eight weeks to prepare to compete in a tournament in Escondido, where they qualified to compete at Dolphinbots.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

IN THE NEWS: Strength, empathy listed as teacher’s qualities

A couple of things Jennifer Merlo’s students have taught her in her 14 years of teaching are about strength and compassion. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Washington, D.C. Conference Welcomes Montgomery Middle School Students, Teachers

Montgomery students at the CapitalFour Montgomery Middle School students and their teachers recently represented Montgomery Middle School at the Project Lead the Way National Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., with the expenses generously funded by Hewlett-Packard.

Mariel Hoac, Eddie Montesa, Alan Ngo and Raynie Trujillo, all winners of the school’s essay contest, joined their teacher, Justin Goodrich, and district representative, Bill Berggren, to Washington, where the students showcased their projects to prominent members of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) community from around the country.

The students also participated in an exciting VEX Robotics “Clean Sweep” competition. They were surprised to find that VEX generously allowed the students to bring the $1,000 competition kit back to the classroom with them. The students also had an opportunity to take in the historic sites, including Smithsonian museums, monuments, as well as a tour of the Capital.

For more information on the trip, contact Justin Goodman, math/engineering teacher, at (858) 496-8330.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday is America Recycles Day

Did you know that recycling 300 tons of paper each month from our schools and offices saves the District nearly $90,000 in avoided disposal costs? Not to mention over 61,000 trees saved by recycling this paper.

Your recycling efforts make a huge difference for our District and our community. Celebrate your efforts and pledge to do even more on November 15th, America Recycles Day. This national event is designed to educate, motivate and inspire individuals to recycle more while encouraging their friends and families to do the same. Every year, Americans pledge to increase their recycling habits at school, at work, and at home.

Recycling can be easy – and fun –for students, staff, and families and is one of the simplest ways to green up our schools and help the environment. You can make a real change in your school or office by pledging to recycle paper, cardboard, beverage containers and more. November 15th is America Recycles Day, but you can recycle every day! Click here to make an on-line pledge to recycle at your school or workplace!

For more information about America Recycles Day, go to For information and resources for recycling at your school, please contact Janet Whited, recycling specialist, energy/utility management recycling program, at (858) 637-6268.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Project Ujima Julian Tour Reveals San Diego History

The Project Ujina Group
The mountain community of Julian revealed its rich African-American heritage to more than 50 Project Ujima family members during a recent tour lead by Prof. Chuck Ambers, curator of Old Town's Casa del Rey Moro African Museum.
Julian visit
The visit was part of Project Ujima, San Diego Unified's dynamic program devoted entirely to engaging African-American families in reaching that all-important goal: student academic success. Ambers met the visitors dressed as Fred Coleman, the African-American pioneer who discovered gold in 1869 in what's now known as Coleman Creek.

In character as Fred Coleman, Prof. Ambers guided families on a tour of the community, showing them the Black roots of key landmarks. The tour included visits to the Pioneer Museum, Pioneer Cemetery and The Julian Hotel.

The Julian Hotel was originally named Hotel Robinson and was built, own and operated by Black pioneers Albert and Margaret Robinson.
Project Ujima parent, Phillip Liburd, who was accompanied by his son Marcus, described the day as an “uplifting experience” and he was glad he could share the day with his son and other families. Liburd added that field trip “participants of all ethnic backgrounds were intrigued and inspired by what they were learning.”

Project Ujima is a program of the Parent Outreach and Engagement Department of the San Diego Unified School District and is located at the Harold J. Ballard Parent Center. Project Ujima was established in July 2009, and is designed to strengthen existing resources within African-American families in San Diego Unified School District Title I schools. Project Ujima provides positive and empowering workshops, resources and networks that support African-American families seeking to improve the academic, social, and behavioral environment within the family and community.

All services are free and open to parents and families of all ethnicities, with particular attention to African-American families.

The arts and culture components of Project Ujima are made possible through a grant from the Target Foundation. The grant enables Project Ujima to augment its workshop offerings to parents and families with educational excursions and experiences that celebrate arts and culture and the immense contributions of African-Americans.

For more information on the Harold J. Ballard Parent Center Project Ujima, contact Elneda Shannon, program manager, at (619) 293-4431.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grandson of School Namesake Visits Crawford Campus

Laine, Sutlilff
Crawford CHAMPS Principal William Laine, left, and Dr. Michael Sutliff, grandson of school namesake Will C. Crawford.
The grandson of a San Diego Unified legend recently visited the school named after his grandfather.
Dr. Michael Sutliff, a professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, visited the Crawford Educational Complex on Nov. 9. It was Sutliff's first time at the high school named for his grandfather, Will C. Crawford, San Diego Unified's superintendent from 1934-54.

Although Crawford passed away before Dr. Sutliff was born, Dr. Sutliff’s mother was Crawford's daughter and shared many stories about her father’s passion for education with him. Following a long family tradition, Dr. Sutliff became an educator himself.

Sutliff said he was very impressed with the personalization that Crawford's small schools offer our extremely diverse population. He was given a tour of all four schools at the complex and said that his grandfather would be proud of the educational experience that our students are receiving on this campus.

Crawford High staff counts itself very fortunate to have had such a distinguished guest visit the complex. For more information, please contact William Laine, principal, Community Health and Medical Practices (CHAMPs) at the Crawford Educational Complex at (619) 583-2501 ext. 2460.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Excellent Test Scores, Community Involvement, Scholarship Winners

Here are some recent achievements by Scripps Ranch High students.
  • Nitish Padmanaban earned the highest composite score of 36 on the ACT college admissions and placement exam. On average, less than one-tenth of one percent of all test takers earns the top score. The ACT consists of tests in English mathematics, reading and science with each test scores on a scale of 1-36, and a stunt’s composite score is the average of all four test scores.
  • Senior Kristin Cleavinger and sophomore Kimberly Marron have been selected to serve on the 2010-11 La Jolla Playhouse Student Board of Trustees. They completed an application and interview process for these extremely competitive positions, which help the artistic director plan for playhouse events.
  • Senior Jong Hoon Chang has been selected as one of the winners of the Outstanding Student Scholarship Award from the Korean American Educational Research Center. He received this award because he demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and service in the community.
For more information on this or any other topic about Scripps Ranch High School, contact Principal Kurt Madden at (858) 621-9020, ext. 1103.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

IN THE NEWS: School board backs plan to help African-American students

Shirley Weber believes San Diego Unified’s African-American students have waited long enough for the district to help them reach their academic potential. The San Diego State University professor and executive director of the local Association of African American Educators stood in front of school board members Tuesday as they unanimously approved a blueprint aimed at eliminating the achievement gap between black students and their white and Asian counterparts. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Hoover's Angelo Chol went from "worst player" to No. 75 on ESPNU 100

Angelo Chol always stands out on the basketball court.

At 6-foot-9 and ranked No. 75 in the ESPNU 100, the Hoover (San Diego, Calif.) power forward is regarded as one of the top big men in the Class of 2011. The lengthy lefty blocks shots with ease and runs the floor like a guard, and he posted 23 triple-doubles in his first three varsity seasons. Read more from ESPN Rise»

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MAGIC Solar Greenhouse Brings Together Today's and Tomorrow's Women in Construction

up go walls
Teachers, school officials, local contractors and a host of school partners will join students -- past and present -- to dedicate the new MAGIC Solar Greenhouse at the Stanley E. Foster Construction Tech Academy at the Kearny Educational Complex.

A just-completed project that started during this summer's Girls in Construction camp, the effort sponsored by the local chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction involved return students in the three-year summer program. Along with new, 2010 campers, seven students returned from 2009 and two from 2008 (now San Diego State University students) to help organize and supervise the job to create a solar greenhouse at the Linda Vista campus.
The MAGIC (Mentoring a Girl In Construction) camp began in 2008 with a goal of bringing NAWIC members and other volunteer trades instructors together to share their expertise and nurture building careers.

Principal Laura Bellofatto welcomed back founding principal Glenn Hillegas along with instructors Kathy Thompson, Jack Chapel, Jessica Frichtel, Tim Bingham and Todd Meyers.

The project received support from Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies-San Diego City College, 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Clark CARES Foundation, Hensel Phelps Construction Company-Southern California District, Dynaelectric Company, Bergelectric, National Electrical, Contractors Association, Pacific Coast Steel, Stronghold Engineering, TP Acoustics, Inc. and University Mechanical.

All the students -- high school and university -- utilized their technical skills and learned a bit about teamwork, leadership and achieving a goal while leaving a permanent legacy at the school.

For more information on the MAGIC Solar Green House, visit the school’s website or contact Laura Bellofatto at (858) 496-8370 Ext. 2300.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

IN THE NEWS: “Junior” kindergarten provides transition grade

One of the two kindergarten classrooms at Marvin Elementary looks a lot like the kindergarten of 15 years ago — a sand table sits in the corner, student drawings are strung along one wall and two dozen four- and five-year-olds shuffle around to different themed stations. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

IN THE NEWS: Board President, Superintendent Discuss Budget Challenges

Radio interview covers options that the district faces for 2011-12 school year. Listen to interview from KPBS-FM»

Monday, November 8, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Stolen Flags Replaced at Mira Mesa School

Students at Sandburg Elementary School in Mira Mesa were greeted with a surprise Thursday morning, two months after an unusual theft on campus.The excited students jumped and pointed when they arrived in the school's courtyard for lunch. More from KGTV-10.

Friday, November 5, 2010

HD Live From the Met

This year, San Diego Unified continues its partnership with the New York City's Metropolitan Opera HD Live in Schools. This amazing educational experience presents live Met opera productions in high definition video in theaters around the country. Our students will be attending shows at the Edwards Cinemas in Mira Mesa. In addition to funding the telecasts of the live shows, The Met also trains teachers; Dawn Andrews, a San Diego Unified choral resource teacher, participated in the program and has taught her San Diego colleagues what they need to know to make their students' experience special. This year’s shows are: "Don Pasquale" on Nov. 13; "Fanciulla of the West," Jan. 8; "Comte Ory," April 9; and "Il Trovatore," April 30. Tickets are available for 50 students at each performance. This opportunity from The Metropolitan Opera introduces students to the magic of opera and prepares them to attend live operas in San Diego produced by the San Diego Opera.

For more information, please contact Dawn Andrews at (858) 539-5352.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

IN THE NEWS: New Multimedia, Culinary Facilities Highlighted on Morning News

Students at the San Diego High Educational Complex starred along with their new facilities on the Fox 5 Morning News on Nov. 4. Segments were broadcast live from the new multimedia and culinary arts facilities. The multimedia facility is used by the schools of Communications and Arts, while the culinary arts is part of the School of Business.Watch video

IN THE NEWS: Band Director Runs for Uniform Funds

Scripps Ranch High Band Director Rusty Shedd has entered the Jan. 15 Avalon 50-mile race on Catalina Island to help raise money for new band duds. Watch story from KSWB-TV»

Hoover Drama Students Take Center Stage

Hoover students
Hoover drama students at Horton Plaza: Friar Laurence (Luz Torres) tries to comfort Juliet (Melanie Haag) after Romeo has been exiled.
Hoover High drama students helped bring classic Shakespeare to downtown recently when 13 drama students performed a staged reading of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Horton Plaza shopping mall downtown.

The play was part of “10 Plays in 10 Hours,” a full day of outdoor performances hosted by the San Diego Shakespeare Society in honor of its 10th anniversary. The Hoover theater students had one week to prepare a one-hour abridged version of the Shakespeare play, which they performed with scripts in hand.

About half of the performance groups participating in the event were theater companies, the other half were schools. Hoover was the only San Diego Unified campus to participate in the Sept. 25 event.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Election Results

Unofficial results on San Diego Unified races from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

 Race/Candidate    Vote    Percentage  

School Board District B  
 Kevin Besier    96685    57.52%  
 Steve Rosen    71409    42.48%  

School Board District C  
 Scott Barnett    83275    50.70%  
 John De Beck    80982    49.30%  

Prop. J Temporary Emergency Parcel Tax
 Yes    94215    49.85%  
 No    94783    50.15%  

For more information, go to the County Registrar of Voters website.

Old Globe Opening Second Show at Lincoln Performing Arts Center

Repeating its success of last season, the Old Globe Theatre opens “Welcome to Arroyo” next week as the second year of the theater’s Southeastern San Diego Residency Project kicks off.

The play, which runs at Lincoln Nov. 4-7, gives students and the community the opportunity to see first-rate theater without going to Balboa Park. In addition, the Globe will be holding workshops on campus for students and hip-hop artists all week. They’ll also have a reading of “Emancipated” on Nov. 7 in the school’s Black Box Theater.

In addition to two free student matinees and two weekend public performances of Welcome to Arroyo's at Lincoln High School Center for the Arts, specially trained Old Globe Teaching Artists will work in the classroom to explore the art and story of the play and its social history. Prior to seeing the performance, Lincoln High School students will explore elements of playwrighting, hip-hop poetry, monologues and scenes using activities and information found in The Old Globe's Study Guide which is provided to all teachers.

Playwright Kristoffer Diaz, director Jaime CastaƱeda and members of the cast and creative team will also visit the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts to discuss the play and its creation.

We salute this very creative partnership between one of our civic jewels, the Old Globe, and Lincoln High School. For more information and tickets, go to the Old Globe website

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Whooping Cough Update

Whooping cough (pertussis) has been widespread in California during 2010. If you have a child 10 years and older who has not yet received the Tdap pertussis booster shot, please contact your doctor or health department. Getting a booster shot will protect your child against the ongoing threat of pertussis. In addition, a new California law requires that all students entering grades 7-12 in the 2011-12 school year must be immunized with the TDAP booster shot. Getting the booster shot as soon as possible will protect your child now and meet the school requirement that begins in 2011-12.

Adults are also advised to get the booster shot to protect themselves, their families and their students. For more information and to find locations where you can get pertussis (and influenza) vaccines, visit

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Students make campaign documentary

Point Loma, Mira Mesa and San Diego Met high schools' students documentary examines race to replace Council Member Donna Frye and Prop. 19.

Red Ribbon Week is Only a Reminder of Work We Should Do Every Day

Most of our schools have just completed participation in Red Ribbon Week, the annual national drug awareness program. This week has been a good reminder that teaching anti-tobacco and drug awareness is something that we all should do every day. Principals received a packet of information from our Counseling and Guidance Department for distribution to teachers and school staff. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you review the information.

For parents and guardians, we hope that you will take time out -- more than just during Red Ribbon Week -- to have an open and honest dialogue with your child about the dangers of tobacco and other drug use. In an effort to make sure our students are safe from drug use, it is imperative that we remain actively involved in their lives. Families are strongly encouraged to maintain contact with educators, know who their children's friends are, closely monitor unsupervised time (after-school and weekends), and keep children involved in constructive extracurricular activities. These positive factors foster resiliency and assist in maintaining a safe and drug free environment.

Our district Counseling and Guidance Department staff are always available to answer questions from parents/guardians, students and district staff. For more information, please contact LaToshe DeJohnette at (858) 503-3175.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

IN THE NEWS: Healthy times at Marvin Elementary

Marvin Elementary School students will spend next week learning how to make better food, exercise and lifestyle choices as part of the school’s first Healthy Choices Week. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Friday, October 29, 2010

SD Met Students Lunch at La Maestra Community Health Center

La Maestra
SD Met internship coordinator Jill Badger with senior Dulce Salome and her mentor, Alejandrina Areizaga.

The La Maestra Community Health Center recently hosted 18 San Diego Met High students for a book signing and luncheon. All attending students are in science-based internships.

Zara Marselian, founder of La Maestra Community Health Centers introduced the audience to her book The Soul Speaks, based on her staff's immigrant experiences before employment at the clinic.
San Diego Met High students have completed health-science oriented internships at La Maestra, a community clinic serving the immigrant and refugee population in the inner city neighborhood of City Heights for more than five years.

2009 Met graduate Stefany Brizuela continues to work there as a paid employee while attending San Diego State University.
The Oct. 22 buffet luncheon had a global theme with Thai spring rolls, beef tamales, Lumpia, Spanakopita filled with spinach or cream cheese, turkey rolls ups and French pastries.

San Diego MET, is a middle college high (college preparatory) school located on Mesa Community College campus. Serving approximately 200 students, our goal is to graduate all with a high school diploma, courses that meet a-g requirements for admission to the UC and CSU system and up to 50 college-transferable credits.

Superintendent Mentors Academy of Business and Technology Student

Superintendent Kowba Mentors StudentThe Academy of Business and Technology (AOBT) at Clairemont High School got its mentoring program off to a great start this year with the participation of prominent volunteers such as Supt. Kowba, a special agent for the FBI, attorneys and entrepreneurs.

While the Academy's 11th graders have had this privilege for the past two years, this was the first year for the 10th graders. The Academy mentor program provides the opportunity for caring professionals -- who listen and act as role models, to make a visible difference in the lives of students -- to share their interests and hard-won wisdom in areas such as self-esteem, goal setting, academic and career direction.

For more information, please contact teacher Alan Walter, Academy of Business and Technology, Clairemont High School, at

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rubber Duckies Help PB Schools

Duckies support PB schools
At the Duck Race: Sandra Grader (left), Susan Winchester, Laura Daly, Kristi and Tiffany Burke.
A recent "rubber ducky derby" not only gave participants a quacking good time, it also raised $1,500 for Pacific Beach secondary schools.
Part of the 12th annual Pacific BeachFest on Oct. 9, the derby was sponsored by the Friends of Pacific Beach Secondary Schools, an organization that supports Mission Bay High and Pacific Beach Middle schools.
In addition to the BeachFest, the Taste of Pacific Beach, silent auctions and family nights are activities organized by the Friends. Funds are available to teachers, counselors and school administrators to be used in various ways to support academic and social success of our students.
Over the years these funds have provided Pacific Beach Middle School with a marquee and murals. The staff and students greatly appreciate the additional resources, especially during these economically challenging times.
For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

IN THE NEWS: Kumeyaay Elementary Teacher Profiled

Robyn Bernstein decided she wanted to be a teacher when she was in the fifth grade. Before that, there were some options. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Patrick Henry High Flutes with Sir James Galway

Henry High School flutists honed their skills in a master class held by world-renowned classical flutist Sir James Galway on Saturday, Oct. 9. Sir James, a living legend in the music community, is known as “The PLHS Flutes with Sir James Galwayman with the golden flute.” He worked with the students on technique, embouchure and musical style throughout the four-hour class. Pictured are PHHS flutists Haylea Hesketh, Kayla Sivak-Reid, Sir James Galway, Heather Morris, Tanya Camper and Julie Bennett. The event, co-sponsored by the SDSU School of Music and Dance and the San Diego Symphony, was attended by hundreds of flute players from around San Diego County.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vision of Children Foundation Donation Helps Special Education Students

A recent donation of 39 handheld video magnifiers is already helping students in the district's Program for Students with Visual Impairments. The $40,000 in equipment given by the Vision of Children Foundation helps students read small text, handwriting and distance viewing. This state-of-the-art technology is just the latest donation to our district by the Vision of Children Foundation; past donations include flat-panel monitors. Our students and staff thank the Vision of Children Foundation for their generous contribution. For more information on the Program for Students with Visual Impairments, contact Stephen Sanders at (858) 490-8411 or

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Donors help Mira Mesa family build new life after fire

The effort was spearheaded by Ericson Elementary School teacher Rhoda Stephens-Yoder, who ran to the burning house after she heard it belonged to a student at the school. As she watched the flames pour from the home, the fourth-grade teacher said all she could think of was that the family was going to be left with only the clothes on their backs. So before the fire was even out, she got everyone’s sizes and dashed to an Old Navy store. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

IN THE NEWS: Field hockey game ignites girls’ sense of community

Patrick Henry, Mira Mesa high school teams annually Play 4 the Cure during breast cancer awareness month. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Board President’s Scholarship Helps Staff Become Teachers

Application information for this year’s Board President’s Scholarship is now online. The scholarship is presented annually by the President of the Board of Education, California Coast Credit Union and Mission Federal Credit Union to four monthly classified employees interested in becoming teachers. Both California Coast Credit Union and Mission Federal Credit Union donate $2,000 each annually to fund these scholarships. Read more.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Don't Forget to Vote on Tuesday

Vote on Nov. 2nd!Tuesday, Nov. 2 is an important election day for San Diego Unified as well as the State of California. The Nov. 2nd ballot includes two School Board member seats and Prop J, the Emergency Temporary Parcel Tax, for voter consideration. For more information, visit our website.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Invitation to “Educational Directions” with Diane Ravitch

Diane RavitchSan Diego Unified employees and guests are invited to attend “Educational Directions” – Thoughts about Education with Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System. This very special program will be held at the Madison High School Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, Nov. 3, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend the event, however seating is limited. RSVP online by Nov. 1 or for more information, please call (619) 725-5578.

Diane Ravitch, acclaimed research professor of education at New York University and historian of education, was recently named one of the Atlantic magazine’s Brave Thinkers of 2010. She is the author of numerous publications, most notably The Death and Life of the Great American School System, which reached #12 on the New York Times’ Poli-Books Best Seller List for August 2010. Read more about Diane Ravitch.

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Achievement Gap on Exit Exam a Thing of the Past

On Oct. 14, Supt. Kowba joined County Supt. of Schools Randy Ward, and other local educators, including Lewis Middle School Principal Brad Callahan and Henry High freshman Diontre Range, at the ninth annual news conference of the Superintendents’ Achievement Gap Task Force. Supt. Kowba, who is the Task Force Chair, explained the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) math data, which showed a pass-rate of 99.9% for white and Asian students, and 99.2 % for African American and Hispanics. For more information, visit

Friday, October 22, 2010

Horton Gets Sole Power

Horton community meetingHorton Elementary kids have sole. They’re on their toes. And heels, too, as the majority of Horton students are now happily walking to school as part of the national Walk to School initiative.

The effort has proven hugely successful with students plus a low-cost way to engage parents into the school’s efforts. This kind of "collective sole power" promotes both health and connectiveness to the school.

More than 75 parents turned out just to talk about walking to school at an Oct. 6 meeting led by San Diego Police Department Capt. Tony McElroy. School nurse Rosemary Jaworkski explained the health benefits both immediate and long-term, about how the seemingly simple act of walking a few blocks can develop lifelong good habits. Principal Robin McCulloch talked to parents about the importance of their involvement, from walking to homework, and how it has a direct impact on student academic success.

To reinforce the good intentions of all the concerned grownups, Horton is offering little rewards to students who get to class each morning via sole-power. They each have a punch card that, once filled, can be redeemed for prizes like “It’s Cool to Walk to School” bracelets and pedometers so they can start calculating the miles they’re logging. So many kids are hitting the streets in the Southeast San Diego neighborhood that motorists and neighbors are taking greater care, to keep the youngsters safe. And students earn rewards for rewarding behavior, and are starting the school year off with a can-do mindset.

Says Principal McCulloch, "Horton Kids are loving it!"

For more district news, subscribe to the Superintendent's Friday Notes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Town Halls Wrap Up Tonight

Town Hall Meeting LogoThe final San Diego Unified community forum to discuss goals for student achievement, the budget crisis and the Proposition J Parcel Tax measure is scheduled tonight at
Clairemont High School, 4150 Ute. Dr. (92117). Area 4, Clairemont and Madison High schools area, Marian Kim-Phelps, Area Superintendent, will host.
The town hall meetings give parents, guardians and community residents an opportunity to meet senior district staff and their local Area Superintendent.
Although there will be time for attendees to ask questions on any topic, district staff will be making brief presentations on: the Community-Based School Reform Model; the recently released state test scores; and the fifth year of severe budget cuts, with $141 million projected reduction in state funding for 2011-12.The meetings are free and open to the public.
For more information, call San Diego Unified's District Relations Office at (619) 725-5575.

IN THE NEWS: Morse "Star Student" highlighted on Morning News

The Channel 6 morning show has honored a Morse High School senior as its Star Student of the Month. Reporter Reuben Galvan was on hand Oct. 20 for the presentation. Watch more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Innovation Middle School Highlighted on Morning News

Innovation Middle School in Clairemont was visited by Fox 5 Morning News, with segments on school technology, an egg drop, rocket launches and student projects. Watch video»

IN THE NEWS: Stand Down at San Diego High Spotlighted

CBS's "60 Minutes" takes a look at the event at San Diego High, part of San Diego Unified's commitment to the community.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Town Halls Wrap Up at Serra and Clairemont

Town Hall Meeting LogoThe final San Diego Unified community forums to discuss goals for student achievement, the budget crisis and the Proposition J Parcel Tax measure are scheduled this week. The remaining meeting schedule:
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m., Serra High School, 5156 Santo Rd. (92124). Area 8, Patrick Henry and Serra high schools area, David Lorden, Area Superintendent.
  • Thursday, Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m., Clairemont High School, 4150 Ute. Dr. (92117). Area 4, Clairemont and Madison High schools area, Marian Kim-Phelps, Area Superintendent.

The town hall meetings give parents, guardians and community residents an opportunity to meet senior district staff and their local Area Superintendent and run through Oct. 21.

Although there will be time for attendees to ask questions on any topic, district staff will be making brief presentations on: the Community-Based School Reform Model; the recently released state test scores; and the fifth year of severe budget cuts, with $141 million projected reduction in state funding for 2011-12.

The meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, call San Diego Unified's District Relations Office at (619) 725-5575.