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 www.americarecyclesday.org. 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 www.sdiz.org.

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.