Thursday, December 29, 2011

New 2012 Laws Affect Families, Kids

Car seats, scholarship eligibility among changes that begin January 1, 2012. Read more from the  California Department of Education»

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SD High Students Cheer On "Walk for the Cure"

 San Diego High students
Participants in the recent Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day for the Cure were cheered on by students and teachers from the San Diego High School of Business Academy of Finance students.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cabrillo Students, San Diego Police Collect Teddy Bears

Cabrillo teddy bears
Students at Cabrillo Elementary show off their teddy bears.
Cabrillo Elementary partnered with the San Diego Police Department to collect nearly 100 Teddy Bears for the kids staying at Rady Children’s Hospital. Principal Nestor Suarez and the officers and representatives of the Associated Student Body encouraged each classroom to participate in this charitable drive.

Cabrillo Elementary has a student population of around 200, so with nearly 100 bears collected, it represents participation from roughly half of our students! The winning class, Ms. Dieli’s First Grade, collected 27 new stuffed animals with tags attached, which is more than one per student! Congratulations to Ms. Dieli’s class, the Cabrillo students and ASB for a job well done!

For more information on Cabrillo Elementary, visit us at

Friday, December 16, 2011

Season's Greetings from Supt. Kowba

Bill Kowba As we prepare to close our schools and offices for the holiday break, I want to share my heartfelt appreciation to our team, all of the men and women who spend each day working to improve the lives of our students. Often, we become so busy with our daily routine, caught up in a myriad of issues, that we underplay the significance of our own work. It is both remarkable as well as inspiring to me how you focus on our core academic mission despite the incredible churn that characterizes our K-12 public education environment. It is a testimony to your unwavering dedication to the children that results in steady influx of academic growth. The San Diego Unified administrators, teachers, and credentialed and classified support staff in partnership with parents, businesses, and community members are making a positive, value-added impact on the next generations of citizens of America’s Finest City.

I thank the entire staff across our campuses, central offices and administrative sites for your dedication and pursuit of excellence in advancing public education. I thank our board members for their commitment to collaboration among all stakeholders and for their vision to have a quality school in every neighborhood. I thank parents and families for the privilege of being a part of your child’s life. By working together, we will ensure that all San Diego students are prepared to succeed in college and career.

As we ready ourselves to face more budget challenges in the new year, please take a moment during the break to catch your breath, re-energize, and enjoy special moments with family and friends.

I wish you all a safe and peaceful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year!

Superintendent Bill Kowba

P.S. –  Remember traditional schools and central offices reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. Year-round schools resume classes on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012.

Winter Break Schedule for Schools, Offices

All schools and district offices will be closed from Dec. 19 through Jan. 2, 2012, as schools take their winter break.

Schools will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 3, for those on traditional schedules, while schools on year-round schedules will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

All district offices will be closed to the public from Dec. 19 through Jan. 2, 2012. Staff may be working during these two weeks, as schedules differ depending on the work group; many other office employees will be taking a combination of unpaid furlough, vacation time and holidays during the two weeks.

If you see an emergency at a school or district office, call School Police at (619) 291-7678.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Marvin Elementary Students Talk Weather

Weather visit by morning news shows off science students at Marvin Elementary School.

Watch video from KUSI-TV»

GIS Connects Kearny SCT and Montgomery Students

Checking coordinates
 A Kearny student, left, helps Montgomery students locate their GPS coordinates.
Students became teachers recently as GIS 3-4 students in the School of Science, connections and Technology at Kearny High visited eighth graders at nearby Montgomery Middle School.

Basic concepts of geographic information systems (GIS) data collection, spatial analysis and the use of GPS were in the curriculum, part of the celebration of National Geography Awareness Week from Nov. 14-17 and International GIS Day on Nov. 16.

Students at the Kearny schools regularly work with students at Montgomery, who are future Kearny Komets. Many of Kearny's advanced programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics begin with classes for the students in grades 6-8 at Montgomery, which is a member of the Kearny cluster.

Contact Corri Burgess, GIS teacher, at, for more information. To learn more about GIS day, check

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Serra High School Student2Student Club Mentors Vista Grande Students

 Serra and Vista Grande students
Serra and Vista Grande students talk about transitions.
Vista Grande Elementary School Student Council members wanted to ease the transition of students entering their school. With a mobile military student population of 35-40 percent, they were concerned about how difficult it sometimes is to be “the new kid.” Serra High School students came to their aid, traveling to Vista Grande recently to share some of the strategies used by Serra’s extraordinary Student2Student (S2S) Club.

The S2S Club helps students face the daunting experience of changing schools. Club members offer incoming students a forum to quickly feel welcomed, comfortable, included, and accepted into their new school community. Student tours, welcome packets, and social gatherings during the school year help to diminish the stress and uncertainty of the first days and weeks at a new school. At Serra, friendships often start with S2S.

Serra students shared tools and experiences and demonstrated icebreaker and team-building games that helped Vista Grande students develop their own plans for a Student Ambassador Club at their elementary school level. They answered questions and shared ideas, leaving the student council members with a clear plan for their new club.

S2S, and JS2S (Junior Student2Student) are powerful high school and middle school programs designed by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC). Serra students and staff received extensive training from MCEC to customize an individualized program for implementation at their school site.

For more information about Serra’s S2S Club, contact Jason Demendonca, Club Advisor, at 858-496-8342 x163 or Marie Byrd, Parent Support Liaison and S2S Activities Coordinator, at 858-496-8342 x231.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sustainable Technologies Facility construction progressing

Sustainable Technologies Facility Scripps Ranch High School's Sustainable Technologies facility is nearing the half-way mark. At 40 percent complete, the nearly $6.4 million facility is a College, Career & Technical Education (CCTE) project funded by California Proposition 1D and local Proposition S bond funds.

It will house an innovative program that CCTE and Scripps Ranch High School are developing to focus on renewable technologies. The unique CCTE programwill encompass four emerging, high-growth industry sectors including building trades and construction, engineering and design,transportation, and power and utilities. Instruction will focus on areas such as green construction, renewable energy and utilities, alternative fuels, clean transportation, and innovative engineering and design.

For additional information, visit, or (College Career & Technical Education program info). You may also call (858) 637-3604

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Taft Middle School Students "Mix It Up" at Lunch

Taft Middle School Students Changing habits can be tough for anyone, but students at Taft Middle School chose to break out of their comfort zones and “Mix It Up” at lunch to bring attention to the epidemic of bullying.

Students participated in a nationwide “Mix It Up at Lunch Day” activity Nov. 18 where they were asked to sit in a different place and with different individuals than they typically do at lunchtime. This national campaign, launched by the organization Teaching Tolerance a decade ago, encourages students to identify, question, and cross social boundaries.

Taft Middle School’s lunch court was rearranged and specially decorated for the event. Every student was randomly grouped using colorful wristbands with letters to identify which group they would sit with at lunch. Students got their lunch and joined their assigned table, each having a student leader/facilitator, and were encouraged to engage in conversations with those at their table to discover what they had in common with one another. The event concluded with music and group dances like the Macarena, Cupid Shuffle, and Y.M.C.A.

“This is one of the many ways Taft Middle School is trying to address the epidemic of bullying,” said Principal Mike George. “It was truly an amazing sight to see our students “Mix It Up.”
For several days leading up to the lunchtime event, students were involved in lessons during their first period classes that fostered thinking about concepts such as differences/similarities, isolation, prejudice and “isms,” among other topics. According to Teaching Tolerance, studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.

The event was sponsored by the PBIS committee and ASB.

For additional information, contact Vice Principal Lynn Ryan at 858-496-8245 or

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Serra High Invites Parents to Experience Their Child's School Day

Brandon and his mom, Kay
Student Brandon shows his mom, Kay, around school.
What would it be like for adults to go back in time to their high school days?

At Serra High, parents can experience it every year during "Come to School With Your Student Day." It allowed parents and guardians to "shadow" their child at school, spending time in their classrooms, observing during actual instruction time and even having lunch in the cafeteria.

Parents and guardians say they gain a better understanding of what their student is doing at school and in the classrooms.Others said it was helpful to “shadow” their student for the day and be reminded of what it’s like to be in high school again!

In addition to getting a taste of campus life, workshops on Naviance, the district's college and career planning tool, and A-G high school graduation requirements provided parents and guardians with information and resources to support their student’s academic success. The Nov. 10 event was the third-annual "Come to School With Your Student Day."

"Serra High believes that events like this are an excellent way to encourage parents to be more actively engaged in their student’s education," said Principal Mike Jimenez. "Allowing parents to observe classrooms during actual instruction time,for example, provides valuable insight into such things as specific teaching methods and styles. Walking the campus with the students during the day allows parents to experience the true climate and culture of our school."

Serra recognizes the value of parental involvement at school and continues to strive to help all students achieve academic success. For more information, contact Marie Byrd, parent support liaison, at 858-496-8342 x231

Friday, December 9, 2011

Study Finds Prop. S Labor Agreement Good for Taxpayers, Local Jobs

An independent study commissioned by the San Diego Unified School District has shown that the $2.1 billion construction bond's Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA) has produced the benefits promised without impact on cost or quality of the construction.

The study, completed by consultant Rea & Parker Research, found:

-- Local hire goals are on track;

-- There was no change in project cost between PSA and non-PSA projects;

-- The number of bidders is lower (an average of six per project), but with no impact on cost or quality;

-- PSA projects are on average completing faster than non-PSA projects.

"The results prove that the school board made the right decision in approving this agreement," said Richard Barrera, Board President. "It's good for our students and teachers and good for our local economy by providing jobs for local workers."

The report finds that overall construction costs have not been affected by the agreement. School Board Member Scott Barnett, who represents Subdistrict C, said he is convinced that the agreement has had a positive impact.

"I admit I was highly skeptical of the PSA," said Barnett, a former head of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association who joined the school board after approval of the agreement. "That's why I pushed for an independent review of the Prop. S projects by a trusted source."

At Barnett's suggestion SDUSD retained Rea & Parker Research, who completed many studies for the San Diego Taxpayers Association.

"The facts are clear, the PSA is good for taxpayers," said Barnett.

On November 4, 2008, nearly 69 percent of San Diego voters passed the $2.1 billion general-obligation bond measure, Proposition S to repair, renovate and revitalize our neighborhood schools.

The Project Stabilization Agreement is designed to ensure a sufficient supply of skilled craft workers and to eliminate work disruptions on Prop. S projects. It also includes sections that promote the hiring of skilled craftspeople living within the San Diego Unified boundaries and encourages individuals living within district boundaries, including students, to become apprentices.

The following are highlights from the Rea & Parker Research Report.

-- There has been no increase in the cost of the winning bids for school construction projects under the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Project Stabilization Agreement (PSA) than were the winning bids for non-PSA projects under Proposition S that was approved in November, 2008.

-- The number of general contractor bidders and participating subcontractors per project has declined for PSA projects; however, this decline is not reflected in any increase in cost to SDUSD.

-- Profit margins for contractors have declined under the PSA, but these contractors appear to be absorbing these increased costs rather than increasing their bids—thereby imposing no additional cost upon SDUSD taxpayers.

-- Project completion time is faster under the PSA than for Proposition S projects that pre-dated the PSA. Faster completion allows for the District to experience less overhead per project and for the more efficient replacement school improvements to be in operation more quickly.

-- Quality of construction, as indicated by contractor and construction manager interviews and by survey responses, is unchanged between projects constructed under the PSA and those that were contracted prior to the PSA.

-- Workers from targeted zip codes (economically disadvantaged portions of the District) have increased during the past six months and are presently close to achieving the very ambitious target of 35 percent that was set in the PSA.

-- The achievement of the high level of workers from targeted zip codes is due predominantly to union referrals that are focused upon obtaining workers from these zip codes. This increase in targeted area workers is not re-flected among non-union core workers or existing workers for union signatory contractors.

-- There has been an increase in reporting violations and deficiencies pertaining to labor compliance since the PSA was adopted; however, there is no discernible or perceived impact on construction quality or duration of construction caused by these deficiencies. Furthermore, it can be interpreted that this increase is due to increased attention to worker payroll and benefits under the PSA than before, which is beneficial to the payment of prevailing wages to the working population.

-- The Los Angeles Unified School District PSA required approximately 5 years to achieve operational efficiency. SDUSD’s PSA has been in effect for only 2 years and, by the measures included in this report, is significantly ahead of the LAUSD schedule.

District Bus Fleet to Reduce Carbon Footprint With Biodiesel

bus San Diego Unified School District Trustees voted to use biodiesel or an alternative fuel to be used in the tanks of school buses and the diesel fleet by the end of the 2014-15 school year at their Dec. 6 meeting. The resolution was introduced by Trustee Kevin Beiser.

Mandating that the fleet of more than 500 buses "come clean" will help reduce pollution in the San Diego region, helping the kids that ride the bus possibly avoid diseases such as asthma and cancer. According to the Board resolution on the topic, biodiesel is the only alternative fuel that complies with the federal Clean Air Act.

"It's our duty as trustees of the next generation to do everything we can to make their environment safe," said Kevin Beiser, Board of Education member. "This step will not only make the environment better, we will be doing our part toward energy independence by using a renewable resource."

San Diego Unified has already taken an interim step. In 2009, the district finished modifications to its fleet to create "clean diesel" buses, installing equipment that reduced particulates. Federal stimulus funds and help from the US Environmental Protection Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency and the local Air Pollution Control District made that
conversion possible. Students from district automotive technology programs also helped with the conversion.

"As this equipment ages, we have to look at alternatives," said Beiser. "This resolution gives the Superintendent clear direction that this Board is dedicated to reducing pollution."

Biodiesel mixes standard diesel fuel with fuel distilled from renewable resources such as soybeans or waste vegetable oil. The alternative fuel conversion can produce lower emissions including reductions in carbon monoxide, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The use of biodiesel will not void any warranties that the district has on current vehicles, and create local jobs supporting the local bio-diesel industry in San Diego.

"Aside from the environmental and health benefits, the use of biodiesel fuel will be cost neutral, which is equally important during these difficult economic times," said Beiser.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Madison High unveils new TV studio

Ribbon cutting at studio.
When Madison High School launched its broadcast journalism program last year, it didn’t have much of the required equipment to produce programing. Now, the school has a 3,250-square-foot facility that would make many television stations envious. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

CHAMPs Teacher Cited As Having 'Life-Changing Academic Influence'

Winn Jonathan Winn, calculus teacher at Crawford High's School of Community Health and Medical Practices (CHAMPs), was recently honored by the Carlston Family Foundation as an Outstanding Teacher of America.

Honorees are nominated by former students for having a profound, life-changing academic influence on their lives. 

"Mr. Winn was my most exceptional teacher," said one student. "He never discriminated against any student, yet, there were so many of us who were ill prepared and did not have even basic math skills. However, everyone was welcome to take his class.

"He would take extra time to re-teach physics or geometry if we did not have the foundation. He helped us do things we never thought were possible. He was determined we would learn Calculus. He pushed us because he believed in us. Because of his inspiration took and passed the AP Calculus exam and also took and passed the AP History and Psychology Exams. He made me believe in myself." 

Winn was one of five California teachers to receive this honor given to educators who, by their own example, demonstrate the value of knowledge through their commitment to their students' academic successes.

Winn was named San Diego Unified's 2011 High School Teacher of the Year in May.

Read more on the Carlston Family Foundation website.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'Nation's Report Card' Test Scores Again Show Growth

San Diego Unified School District students in grades 4 and 8 continued to show learning growth in improved national test scores in English and mathematics, placing the district ahead of California schools as a whole and in the top ranks of comparable large urban districts.

District administrators will use the results to focus efforts in key areas, such as the achievement gap between ethnic and economic groups. Although narrowed with some ethnic groups, the achievement gap persists.

The test also shows what has been working with students. Proficiency growth is 35 percent or higher in many areas since 2003. Fourth-grade students ranked better in mathematics than 16 of the other 20 districts.

The National Assessment of Education Progress, known as "The Nation's Report Card," began the Trial Urban District Assessment in 2002 with six districts; San Diego Unified joined in 2003. There are now 21 districts involved in the testing, which is designed to gauge student achievement on a national scale. The tests have been taken every-other-year since 2003.

"We're gratified by the serious learning by our students and hard work by our teachers over the last eight years," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "These years have been extremely challenging for our district and students, with budget cutbacks and leadership turnover. It shows we have a dedicated workforce that stays focused on what's really important: student achievement."

The achievement gap continues to be a focus of teachers and administrators. African-American students lost ground in several areas.

"There were gains in the number of students identified as proficient on these tough tests almost across the board for all ethnic and economic groups," said Dr. Nellie Meyer, Deputy Superintendent for Academics. "However, these tests show us that our concentration on African-American students with the achievement task force is the right place to focus our limited resources."

A full report will be made to the board of Education at an upcoming meeting. More information is online at; the San Diego Unified report is online at

IN THE NEWS: Jazz group from SCPA performs on Morning News

Students in the Jazz Avenue group from SCPA, the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts appeared on Sunday's "Good Morning San Diego" on KUSI-TV. They performed two songs and teacher Tamara Page was interviewed.

Three local schools win Walk, Ride, and Roll to School Challenge

Three schools in San Diego have won the countywide Walk, Ride, and Roll to School Campaign Challenge for having the most students walking and biking to school throughout October. The grand prize winner, Chollas-Mead Elementary, will receive $1,000 in classroom supplies. The second place winner, Knox Middle School, will receive $750 in supplies. The third place winner, Horton Elementary, wins $500 in supplies.

Throughout the region, 22 schools representing nearly 15,000 students participated in the Challenge, sponsored by SANDAG as part of its SchoolPool program. Read more from SANDAG»

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prop. S Update: New Morse High Child Development Center Milestone Met

Morse High CDCMorse High School’s new Child Development Center is more than 50 percent complete. The $2.8 million project is funded by Proposition S and a $1.8 million Career Technical Education/Prop 1D grant that was received last year.

Features of the new facility will include an ROP classroom, child development center laboratory, observation room, infant room, instructor’s office, restrooms, kitchen, and laundry room. Read more.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Need Volunteers?

The United Way of San Diego County and the U-T Volunteer for Education Campaign have teamed up to recruit volunteers to help our schools.  Volunteers will serve as readers, tutors and mentors for students. Schools that want to request volunteers can simply fill out a Request for Volunteers Form and e-mail the completed form to For more information, visit and click on the “Volunteer” banner or call 858-492-2000 and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Help Us to Reach 2,000 Facebook English Fans and Join Us on Twitter


Here's a reminder that you can get news about San Diego Unified schools, programs and events almost every day through the district's Facebook (in English and Spanish) and Twitter pages.

Our English Facebook page had 1,950 as of this week's Friday Notes, so if you have not "liked" the page yet and use Facebook, help us reach 2,000 fans.

The site en EspaƱol carries the same content, translated for those whose primary language is Spanish. For anyone wanting instant information, join the 3,751 followers on Twitter. Facebook and Twitter followers will also receive timely updates in the event of a district-wide crisis, such as the recent blackout.

IN THE NEWS: Interview with co-Teacher of the Year, Jonathan Winn

How does a brand new teacher quit after his first two years because he was so miserable, to come back to create the most popular class on campus? Read more from What's So Special»

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Whitman Fourth Graders Skype Author Sharon Creech

 Writer Sharon Creech,
on screen, talks
to students at
Whitman Elementary
via internet teleconference.
What inspires a writer?

Whitman Elementary School fourth grader Elias Palacio found out that, for Sharon Creech, it's things that have happened in her own life. Creech, author of popular novels The Wanderer, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Ruby Holler, Replay, and Heartbeat, recently met with Elias and other students in Denise Maggard's class via Skype, the internet-video service.

The fourth graders are currently writing narrative texts, and after reading Ms. Creech’s books, they became familiar with her writing style. In addition to the interactive 30-minute question-and-answer session about her books and writing, the students were elated to meet the person who wrote some of their favorite books.

The Nov. 18 interview reinforced what Ms. Maggard tries to teach her students: write what you know about your own life. After being immersed in narrative texts, the fourth graders have begun to craft their own fiction stories based on their own lives.

For additional information, contact Denise Maggard at or 858-273-2700.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Children in Transition Joins with Community for Thanksgiving

Feeding America San Diego, House of Blues® San Diego and San Diego Unified School District hosted meals for hundreds of local children and their families on Thanksgiving Day. The meal included live entertainment by gospel choir Eddie Baltrip & Fulfillment, singer/songwriter Alex Woodard and a special performance by the Mission Bay High School band. More than 600 low-income and homeless San Diego Unified School District children and their families attended the event.

While the holidays are a perfect time to provide a holiday meal for those in need, the issue of food security is impacting families year-round. According to a March 2011 study by Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), nearly one in every five San Diegans are now struggling to put food on their family tables.

“It is so important to us that children and their families can celebrate the holiday without worrying about how they are going to get food on the table,” said Jennifer Gilmore, executive director of Feeding America San Diego. “We are so grateful to the House of Blues for letting us host this event again and are thrilled to be able to provide meals to local families in need this Thanksgiving.”

The dinner is being sponsored by The Rose Foundation of Rancho Santa Fe as well as individual donors and supported by KyXy 96.5. Feeding America will also supply food boxes for the school children and through the Mobile Pantry program the week prior to Thanksgiving to ensure that they and their families have enough food to eat during the holiday break.

“This has been a tradition among House of Blues since we opened in 2005. Members of our staff volunteers every year to participate in this heartwarming event” said Shervia Sana, Brand Marketing Manager at House of Blues San Diego. “It’s part of our culture –.the tradition began in 1992, when the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Mass opened its door on Thanksgiving Day, feeding the homeless before opening to the public. Our commitment to serving the community will always be a priority and we are extremely thankful for the opportunity to give back.”

For more information about Feeding America San Diego, local food distributions or to make a donation, please call (858) 452-FOOD (3663) or visit

At least 25 percent of people experiencing homelessness each day are children. SDUSD serves nearly 5,000 students experiencing homelessness each year, grades preschool to high school. The Office of Children and Youth in Transition offers services that include resources to assist students and families in navigating the educational system so they continue to receive a quality education during this transitional time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Students Design Hospital Emergency Departments

UC High student The assignment for Biomedical Innovations students at University City High School was to design an effective and efficient emergency room and then present their plans to members of the medical community for grading.

Teams of three to four students conducted needs assessments for an emergency department and then addressed:
  1. The physical layout;
  2. Innovation in equipment, devise or organization; and,
  3. Staffing and connections with other departments.
Students researched issues of congested hallways, patient and family wait times, long wait times for diagnostics such as labs and x-rays, tedious movement of equipment room to room and other emergency department complaints. They also studied the care, diagnosis and treatments of two patients to develop their final presentations.

Some of the innovations the students created were:
  • Patient and Family Tracking systems
  • Specific Rooms for Psych Patients to decrease congestion in the Emergency department
  • Integration of Smart Phones with Apps to pre-register for the Emergency department
  • Gardens for Waiting Rooms
  • Use of iPads for transfer of Patient Results
The students presented their plans to local emergency department directors, a vice-president of nursing, an emergency room nurse, a physician and a Ph.D. data analyst. The students will be touring a local emergency room this month to see how a real hospital puts things into action.

For more information, please contact Ellis Vandiver, CCTE Biomedical Sciences Instructor, at

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

World Aids Day is Dec. 1

Students around the district will be participating in World Aids Day events on Dec. 1. For example, at Lincoln High School, one of the school's partners, the San Ysidro Heath Center, will be working with students to educate each other on the disease and handing out pencils and ribbons.

Padres Host Student Body Presidents

La Jolla High Student Leaders
Student leaders from La Jolla High, above, and Patrick Henry High, below, were guests of the Padres.
Patrick Henry
ASB presidents and other student body officials were guests of the San Diego Padres for a game just before the season ended.

Presidents from Clairemont, Crawford, Patrick Henry, La Jolla, Mission Bay, Morse and Point Loma high schools received tickets to enjoy time together as the home team won its last game of the season. It was an evening of laughter and memorable times.

Race Human Relations and Advocacy is thankful with this new partnership with the Padres that allows the students to have a group experience out in the community.

Thank you to Alex Montoya, Manager of Latino Affairs and Christina Papasedero, Coordinator, Community Relations and Padres Foundation, and the San Diego Padres for this opportunity.

For more information on the Race, Human Relations and Advocacy program and ASB government, contact Rodolfo Parra at (858) 490-868.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

de Portola Again a "Middle School to Watch"

Our students
dePortola Kids
de Portola band
at Jefferson Memorial
de Portola Middle School in Tierrasanta has been re-designated a model middle school by the California Department of Education's Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage (STW™−TCS) program.

The school's academic excellence, responsiveness to students needs were lauded by Tom Torlakson, state Superintendent of Schools, in an announcement from Sacramento. Across California, 11 schools were returned to the "watch" list, while four schools were added to the honor roll. There are more than 1,300 middle schools in California and 95 in San Diego county. dePortola is being joined by Olive Peirce Middle School in Ramona as the only honored schools in San Diego county.

"I commend the students, their parents, teachers, and administrators, for their efforts in helping make these 15 schools models of excellence," Torlakson said. "Their success is amazing, especially considering they are swimming against the tide of massive budget cuts, crowded classrooms, and school employee layoffs."

A "school to watch" for several years, dePortola and all schools in the program are recognized for theirsuccess in four areas: implementing best practices focused onacademic achievement;responding to the developmental needs ofyoung adolescents; offering a fair and equitable education for allstudents; and instituting organizational processes and proceduresthat foster and sustain academic growth.
"dePortola is one of the outstanding schools in our district," said San Diego Superintendent Bill Kowba. "Every day, students, teachers and staff are ready to learn and grow. Principal Elizabeth Gillingham and her team deserve the congratulations they are receiving."

The Schools to Watch™-Taking Center Stage program identifies high-performing school models that demonstrate academicexcellence, developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests ofyoung adolescents, social equity, and organizational support. Model schools host visitors from California and around the world whoare looking for replicable practices that will help them improve theirmiddle grades schools and close the achievement gap.
For more information about the Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stagemodel school program, visit the California Department of Education Website at California Schools to Watch--Taking Center Stage - Middle Grades.

Memorial Preparatory gets $10,000 NFL PLAY 60 Grant from Chargers

apple Students at Memorial Preparatory for Scholars and Athletes did not let an unprecedented San Diego power outage in September stop their plans to hold Back to Football Friday. They instead rallied to show off their Chargers pride a week later, earning a chance to win a NFL PLAY 60 grant.

Their resilience paid off as Memorial Preparatory was selected to receive a $10,000 grant from the Chargers and the NFL for demonstrating their passion for the Bolts.

Tight end Randy McMichael, kicker Nick Novak, safety and long snapper Mike Windtwere on hand to present the school with the grant and talk to students about health and fitness today. Following a Q&A session, McMichael, Novak, Stuckey and Windt held a NFL Physical Education Class for students.

The NFL PLAY 60 Super School sweepstakes selected one school in each of the 32 NFL markets and two non-NFL markets. Winning schools are receiving a $10,000 NFL PLAY 60 grant for health and wellness programming or equipment and a visit from NFL players.

Memorial Preparatory hosted a lunchtime pep rally for their Back to Football Friday event where students competed in a hot dog eating contest, a door decorating contest and tug-o-war matches. The funds from the grant will be used toward an exercise science lab where the school’s goal is to increase cardiovascular machines and purchase Polar Heart Monitors, buy computers and build a body analysis section.

To celebrate the start of the 2011 NFL season,fans were encouraged to demonstrate their passion for their favorite NFL teams by planning a unique Back to Football Friday event for their school, all to support youth health and wellness. Schools that entered the Back to Football Friday contest submitted photos of their event and answered brief essay questions.

Monday, November 28, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Late night call opens the door to a new career in classroom

Britney Sandoval was literally called to teach. A graduate of UC San Diego, she was working in retail and trying to figure out what to do next. She got a phone call late on a Thursday night asking if she could show up the next morning to fill in for a teacher who’d just quit during lunch. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Equipment Saves Students "Trip to the Hospital"

Dr. Marcia Veltre, audiologist, and Lisa Campbell, deaf/hard of hearing preschool teacher, with her morning class.
Whitman Elementary School started the new school year with a new sound booth for hearing tests. The new booth is equipped with a GSI audiometer, a tympanometer for obtaining middle ear information, visual reinforcement display screens, and is large enough to allow a two-person team to test very young children.

Before getting its own sound booth, Whitman students would have to go to Rady Children’s Hospital or Lafayette Elementary School for testing.

The auditory/oral communication program at Whitman serves nearly 70 deaf/hard of hearing preschool through 6th grade students.

For more information, contact Principal Pam Thompson at

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kimbrough Elementary Receives Target Library Makeover

The Kimbrough Elementary community, along with Target Corp., The Heart of America Foundation, The Mission Continues, United Through Reading and hundreds of volunteers, recently unveiled the school's renovated library.

Superintendent Bill Kowba was joined by California Sen. Juan Vargas, San Diego County Superintendent Dr. Randy Ward, Area Superintendent Gil Gutierrez, and Kimbrough Principal Flavia Soria, along with Kimbrough students and volunteers, in dedicating the renovations on Nov. 10.

This project is part of the 2011 Target School Library Makeover program and Target’s partnership with The Mission Continues and United Through Reading. Kimbrough Elementary joins Miller Elementary as the second school in the San Diego Unified School District to receive a Target School Library makeover. Miller’s remodeled library was unveiled in 2010.
The renovated space features 2,000 new books, eco-friendly design elements, new furniture, carpet and shelves and technology upgrades such as computers and iPads.
As part of the library makeover, Target will also launch a Target Meals for Minds food pantry, which will allow families to choose from a variety of staple foods and fresh produce to take home.
As part of the celebration, children’s author Laura Numeroff will read to students from her new book, “If You Give a Dog a Donut.” After the event, each student will receive eight books to take home, including Laura Numeroff’s new book.
Through programs such as Target School Library Makeovers, Target is on track to give $1 billion for education, with a focus on reading, by the end of 2015.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Campaign Urges Kids To Give Their Ears A Break

Researchers say hearing loss among children is on the rise, and the pervasive use of earbuds may be part of the problem. A campaign encouraging kids to give their ears a break is making a stop in San Diego this week. Learn more from KPBS»

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dia de los muertos is theme for culinary program

mask Culinary arts students atGarfield High School used 75 lbs. of sugar to create traditional Latin American sugarsculptures to commemorate dia de los muertos on Nov. 1.

Sugar, meringue powder andwater were carefully mixed and shaped by each student and left to dry over aperiod of 5 days. While their sculptureswere drying, students gathered photos of an important person, famous or intheir own lives, who has died.

A memorialand oral presentation were presented to the class.

For more information, pleasecontact Arlyn Hackett, CCTE Culinary Arts Instructor, at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Wishes from the Superintendent

Bill Kowba, SuperitendentDear San Diego Unified Community,

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it is time to reflect upon all of the bounties we enjoy locally and across this great country. It is also our first break of the year, after three months of hard work by our students, teachers and staff.

The 2011-12 school year has so far been outstanding in many ways. One of our teachers, Mark Alcorn, of Lee Elementary School, was named one of the County Teachers of the Year for 2011. Principal Cindy Marten of Central Elementary was just named Principal of the Year by the local YMCA.

Our students continue to excel, as our district-wide English-language arts scores are now tops among California's largest districts. Our high school juniors and seniors are receiving scholarship awards that they'll use at a college or university. We hope to set a record for daily attendance and for graduation in 2012.

The community continues to give us great support in monetary contributions and by volunteering. NASCAR great Jimmie Johnson's foundation donated nearly $100,000, Target and partners completed a library makeover at Kimbrough Elementary, and thousands of volunteers help kids every day at our schools. New facilities continue to open, a result of our voters' support of Prop. S in 2010. Our school communities have been organized into clusters that are contributing every day to excellence in education.

Overall, our district should be enjoying one of the best periods in its history, despite the continuing crisis in funding that threatens our collective good work. However, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday where we give thanks for all we've been given. For 2011, our district has much to be thankful for. I urge all of you to look for the good in our district and say thanks for it not only on Thursday, but for the rest of the school year.

Bill Kowba signature
Bill Kowba

IN THE NEWS: Want to Improve Content Literacy? Try Teaching Teams

School of Digital Media and Design at Kearny High and Pt. Loma High featured as the National Council of Teachers of English look at best practices. Download article (PDF)»

Thursday, November 17, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Science teacher inspires class

The kids in Gay Young’s science class at Kumeyaay Elementary School in Tierrasanta don’t leave her lessons behind them in the classroom. They have so much fun that they keep it going on the playground.

One of those lessons was on moon craters and the meteors that may create them. Young’s students were dropping balls into containers of flour to mimic the craters and measure them based on the different sizes or weights of the balls, or the height and speed at which the balls hit the flour. They were also handling moon rocks from NASA. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Pilot Program Looks at Environmentally Friendly Lunch Trays

Vista Grande students and their project.
Molded plastic foam lunch trays have long been on the menu at school cafeterias, but after urging by students at Vista Grande Elementary school -- not to mention Board of Education Trustee Kevin Beiser -- San Diego Unified's Food Services Department is testing more environmentally friendly trays for the next few months at Vista Grande and Ocean Beach elementary schools.

The Vista Grande students got the project rolling during the last school year, when students in Micheline Wagner's fourth grade participated in Project Citizen, a national program that involves students in community problem-solving.

Their efforts caught the eyes of their Tierrasanta neighborhood's representative on the district's Board of Trustees, Kevin Beiser, and the school's area superintendent, Dr. David Lorden. Beiser carried a resolution to the Board of Education that was approved, mandating a switch from plastic foam trays to something more environmentally friendly by 2015.

"I was thrilled to work with environmentally conscious students and other community groups to ban toxic plastic foam lunch trays from our schools," said Beiser. "The era of San Diego Unified Schools dumping over 15 million plastic foam lunch trays into our landfill every year is coming to an end."

The test trays may look familiar to the average consumer as they're made by the same company, Huhtamaki U.S., and with much the same process, as the Chinet brand products on sale at the local supermarket.

"We really want to test the performance of these trays, really see how the kids like them," said Janet Whited, recycling specialist with PPO.

The molded fiber lunch trays are being tested at two schools, Vista Grande and Ocean Beach elementary schools. Staff will be looking at how they hold up to the variety of foods served in elementary schools. Sometimes the entrees or side dishes are hot, sometimes cold; some have a sauce that might soak in, others don't. The students' opinions will also be recorded.

Recycling was also a factor. Some tray types are ready for composting, but there isn't a composting facility in San Diego large enough to take the thousands of trays used by San Diego students every day. The solution came in the molded fiberboard trays and the district's waste-disposal company, EDCO, which will pick up the recyclable trays for free.

In the spring, San Diego Unified's food services department traditionally puts commodities for the next school year out for bid. It's expected the fiberboard trays will be included as bid items, along with the plastic foam trays.

"We hope we can get the price down with competitive bidding," said Whited. "They're currently about twice the price of the plastic foam trays."
For more information on the program, contact Whited at at (858) 637-6268 or

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sandburg Elementary Highlighted as Physical Fitness Model

Supt. Kowba speaks
Above, Supt. Bill Kowba discusses the report as retired Maj. Gen. James W. Comstock, left, and retired Admiral Leon A. “Bud” Edney look on.

Below, Adm. Edney, left, meets one of the Marines from MCAS Miramar that work with students at Sandberg Elementary School in Mira Mesa.
Congratulating Marines
In anticipation of Veterans Day, members of the national security nonprofit MISSION: READINESS released a report Nov. 8 highlighting the fact that childhood obesity and a general lack of physical fitness among children and young adults in California pose a very real threat to national security.

Weight problems have become the leading medical reason why young adults are unable to serve in the military, with one in four young adults in both California and nationwide too overweight to join. Overall, weight problems, poor educational achievement, involvement in serious crime and other problems keep an estimated 75 percent of young Americans from being able to enlist.

Sandburg Elementary School in Mira Mesa was selected for the announcement due to its innovative physical fitness program that brings Marines from MCAS Miramar to work with the fourth and fifth grade students.

In releasing the report, Unfit to Fight: A Report on California, San Diego Unified School District Superintendent and retired Rear Admiral Bill Kowba joined retired Admiral Leon A. “Bud” Edney, and retired Army Major General James W. Comstock,  in calling on schools and communities to do more to encourage moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at school.

Among the major findings in the new report:
  • Physical fitness tests show that one third of ninth-grade students in California lack basic aerobic capacity, almost one quarter of students lack basic upper-body strength and more than one third are overweight.
  • One third of California 12-year-olds do not participate in daily physical education classes and that increases to 85 percent by age 17.
“Providing students with daily PE and other opportunities for exercise at school can help protect them from becoming obese, improve their health and even improve – not hinder – their academic achievement,” Superintendent Kowba said. “That is good news for all our children and youth, whether or not they later choose to serve in the military.”

“It takes years, not months, to build a strong, healthy body. Good fitness begins in childhood and must continue through the teenage years,” said Admiral Edney. “Even in the midst of today’s obesity crisis, most students do not participate in adequate levels of physical activity.”

“As former military leaders, we know how critical physical activity is for developing able-bodied citizens who are able to serve their country if they so choose,” Major General Comstock said. “We all need to work together in these efforts to prevent our current child obesity crisis from becoming a national security crisis.”

Mission: Readiness is grateful for the support of The California Endowment, which provided funding for the research and publication of this report. For more information on The California Endowment’s public health initiatives, please visit:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sessions Elementary School Project Progressing

Sessions Elementary Construction on the new parking lot (pictured) and student pick-up and drop-off zone at Sessions Elementary School is more than 50 percent complete, with full completion expected in January.

The safety improvement project will help improve traffic and parking, and ensure safer conditions at the school. Work includes widening and relocating the existing driveway into the parking area, adding fencing and landscaping, installing dedicated left turn lanes on Beryl Street, and adjusting traffic signals.

For detailed project information, visit our school facilities projects page at or call 619-546-3378.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Schools Closed Friday, Nov. 11 for Veterans Day

Veterans Day, in the United States, national holiday (November 11) honoring veterans of the armed forces and those killed in the country’s wars.
The observance originated in 1919 on the first anniversary of the 1918 armistice that ended World War I and was known as Armistice Day. It was commemorated in 1921 with the burial of an unknown soldier from World War I at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Other countries that had lost soldiers in the conflict, such as Italy and Portugal, conducted similar ceremonies that year.

The previous year, unknown soldiers had been interred at Westminster Abbey in London, Eng., and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. Read more from Encyclopedia Britanica»

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

$100 Walmart Gift Cards For Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary Teachers

Walmart at Lindbergh-Schweitzer
 Derrick Walz, left, and Jennifer Taylor of Walmart, with Principal Deanne Rohde.
Walmart representatives Derrick Walz and Jennifer Taylor presented Lindbergh Schweitzer Principal Deanne Rohde with ten $100 Walmart gift cards on November 7.

Each grade-level team (K–6), teachers of students with orthopedic impairments, SAI teachers, and the SEEC team will receive one gift card to spend on instructional supplies.
Walmart’s campaign “You Make a Difference, We’d Like to Help” supports teachers and thanks them for their “commitment to educating the students of today and building leaders of tomorrow.”
"Lindbergh Schweitzer students will greatly benefit from this most generous gift," said Rohde. "Thank you, Walmart!"
For more information, please contact Julie Harris at or at (858) 496-8400.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

IN THE NEWS: School English-Language Learner Committees Highlighted

Morning news interview is all about how parents can get involved in their school. Watch video from KBNT-TV (in Spanish)»

Monday, November 7, 2011

UC High Takes Pepsi Challenge Too

Two students from the University City High School Music Department, Kimia Nouri (Band) and Jaz Cranford (Colorguard), are currently entered in a contest called the Pepsi Refresh Project. They have a chance of winning a $10,000 grant to buy much needed band, colorguard and concert equipment for the music program if they receive the most votes for the month of November. On Friday, we reported that Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School has also submitted a proposal.

Here's how you can help them win! Vote for their idea ONCE A DAY, EVERY DAY, throughout the entire month of November. Here's how to vote:

1. TEXT your vote in! Send a text to PEPSI (73774) with the number 109456 in the body of the message. It's that easy! Standard messaging rates apply.


2. Vote online at Click on "Vote for This Idea" and then log in with your Facebook account if you have one -or- Sign in With Pepsi. If you Sign in With Pepsi, you'll need to register for a free, no-spam account. Make sure you vote for "Help UCHS Band and Colorguard in Need of New Equipment and Supplies."

Remember to vote ONCE A DAY, EVERY DAY in November. We need every vote! 30 seconds of your time can make a world of difference to the UCHS student musicians!

Thank you for your support!

Quick Tips:
Add Pepsi (73774) to your cell phone Contacts and save the text message to resend, 109456.
Bookmark in your browser as a reminder to vote, and vote once a day, every day in November.
Post the links and text information so others can see them.
Please pass this along to friends and family.
For more information about the UCHS Music Department, visit their website:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Food is on the Menu and the Curriculum at One San Diego High School

The Hungry Tiger restaurant is part of Morse High School in Southeast San Diego. And it’s moving into a new kitchen that’s filled with professional equipment. Watch report from KPBS»

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jimmie Johnson Foundation, Lowe's Program Gives Nearly $100,000 to District Schools

Johnson autographs
a donated engine
during a recent
reception with
SDUSD students.

Clairemont High, Pt. Loma High and SciTech at San Diego High are recipients of nearly $100,000 in total grants from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe's Toolbox for Education Champions Grants programs.

Clairemont received $30,680.41 to replace half-century old woodshop equipment. Pt. Loma's $25,342 will purchase a fuel-injected engine trainer and other equipment for their automotive technology lag. SciTech at San Diego High will use the $43,936 to further its Green Technology and Engineering Program. High Tech High Pt. Loma Village Schools, a San Diego Unified Charter School, also received $47,040 to acquire updated innovative classroom technology.

Johnson is an El Cajon native and five-time NASCAR champion. His foundation has made several donations to San Diego Unified programs since it was founded in 2006. The Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe's Toolbox for Education Champions Grants have given more than $300,000 to San Diego Unified schools.

"This is a very generous donation to some really outstanding programs," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "These types of donations are so important as equipment and technology change faster than we can update equipment. Of course, the entire San Diego Unified School District continues to be a big fan of Jimmie Johnson."

In a statement, Johnson, who co-founded the program with his wife, Chandra, said giving back to the community is extremely important.

“K-12 public education continues to be the primary focus of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation,” Johnson said in a statement. “It is amazing to read through the applications and see the unbelievable needs of these schools. We are honored to play a small part.”

For more information on this year's grants, contact Greg Quirin in the College, Career and Technical Education program at (858) 509-1736.

Friday, November 4, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Staff Sing To Preserve Arts For San Diego Students

“We decided to come up with this idea of 'Glee,' since it’s hot right now," VAPA Director Karen Childress-Evans said. "We would see who wanted to sing and I thought we’d get 30 people, maybe 20, if I was lucky. And we ended up with more than 60 people. And I thought, OK, this is good! Now can they sing?”

Help E.B. Scripps Elementary Get a $10,000 Grant; Vote Online

Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary is a finalist in the Pepsi Refresh Project, proposing the $10,000 grant go to fund the school's first Family Science Night. Parent Seema Moorjani is hoping everyone in San Diego will go to the contest's website,, and vote for EB Scripps. You will have to register or login using your Facebook account.

Good luck to EB Scripps Elementary!

For more information, contact Gregory Collamer, principal, Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary, at
(858) 693-8593.

Science Scholarships go to La Jolla High Students

By Katie Allen
Reporter, Hi-Tide, La Jolla High School

Four La Jolla High School students have won $1,000 scholarships from the Green Skills Competition, where participants were asked their ideas on how make the military more green, the only scholarships awarded to San Diego County students.

The winners, sophomores Joshua Marsters, Maya Laksham and Ulysse Carion, and senior Shauna Jellison, were asked to describe a way that they could reduce their impact on the environment in their daily lives. Students were given a choice of artwork or a video.

The La Jolla High students involved became aware of the competition through their physics instructors and the school Science Team and won the only cash prizes -- the $1,000 scholarships -- that were awarded to San Diego School county students. Both girls (Jellison and Laksham) were given the prizes for their artwork, while the boys (Carion and Marsters) were rewarded for their work in video production.

The students will be awarded their scholarships this Saturday, Nov. 5, at the at the Fame Gala taking place at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Halloween Costume Contest at Pershing Middle School

Watch video from Fox 5 San Diego»

IN THE NEWS: Crawford High worked its magic on him

After his first two years of teaching, Jonathan Winn was sure he’d chosen the wrong profession. He didn’t feel supported, and he had no control or management over his students. So, he spent some time in Thailand to simplify his life, moved back to San Diego and cashed out his retirement, and tried to figure out what to do next. To make enough money to pay bills, he did a bit of substitute teaching, which led him to Crawford High Educational Complex. That’s when things changed. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Watch video on Jonathan Winn

Project Ujima Welcomes SDUSD African American Families for the Third Year

Harris family at event
Project Ujima opened its third year with 60 parents and 45 children at the Tubman Chavez Center in Southeastern San Diego on Thursday, October 13, 2011. Participant reactions during the first few minutes ranged from “first-timer curiosity” to “old-timer” jubilation — all woven together with welcomes, hugs, high fives, and ear-splitting smiles. As program instructors, childcare staff, translators, community members and Center staff bustled about making sure everyone registered, received course materials and settled in for the family style dinner, it was clear that program participants felt they were “returning home” or receiving a warm “first-timers” welcome into the Project Ujima family.

Project Ujima has something for the entire family. The typical program goes like this. After sharing dinner together, parents and children go their separate ways. Children go to supervised childcare that includes educational activities; youth go to the computer lab or designated homework stations to do schoolwork; and parents and community members settle in with

Project Ujima instructors to discuss the evening’s topic. The program ends with closing activities that usually result in parents obtaining educational materials for themselves or their children.
No matter the subject under discussion, seasoned Project Ujima parents walk through the door of the Tubman Chavez Center ready for an interactive learning experience that reaffirms their value as their children’s first teachers and equips them with additional resources to help promote the academic achievement of their children.

 Take the Harris family, for example. Michelle and Corwin came to opening night at Project Ujima prepared to reunite with members of the Project Ujima family and ready to help new participants settle in. In between getting caught up with friends and chatting with instructors, community members and new attendees, Michelle slipped off to the classroom to stake out two seats in the front row. Having participated with her family in Project Ujima’s fieldtrip to USC, Michelle knew the importance of sitting in the “T Zone” — the instructor’s immediate line of vision in the front of the classroom—and she and Corwin not only reminded their children to sit in the “T Zone” in their classes but also modeled this behavior in Project Ujima classes.

The Harris family also modeled being prepared to learn by coming to class armed with a knapsack filled with course materials designed to “let the learning begin.” Mom and Dad were clearly ready for what Michelle gleefully described as “the first day of school for parents.” The knapsack contained, among other things, a Project Ujima binder of course materials and readings from the previous year, pens and pencils, and a stack of credits that had earned them cash for summer learning activities with their children.

But what was opening night like for newcomers? One first-time attendee wasn’t convinced that taking parenting classes was her “cup of tea.” The participant just knew that if Project Ujima really was an opportunity to connect with other grandparents and great-grandparents who found themselves raising school-age children again long after their grown children had moved out of the house, she was “willing to give these parenting classes a try.” While she was somewhat curious about what the instructors could teach her about how to be a more effective parent, she was more interested in spending time with other grandparents and parents who knew what she was going through because “they found themselves in the same place. “ Within minutes, the participant was overheard telling her table-mates that she felt “rejuvenated … [and] welcome here … like family.”

The opening exercise for the October 13th class, advertised as “Project Ujima 101,” revolved around a practice known in the African American community as “Who’s in the House?” or “Who Are Your People?”—a series of questions that enables participants to determine the level of disclosure they want to have with other participants as they get acquainted with each other. Following the opening exercise, participants were introduced to the guiding principles of the program, information on how they could receive computers and internet access for their homes, and information on upcoming classes, as well as information on educational and social resources for parents.

A highlight of the evening was the disclosure by presenter Rachel Evans of the San Diego Futures Foundation that her own mother, an educator in the San Diego Unified School District, was a participant in the class. Rachel’s description of her mother’s role in helping her succeed academically served as a springboard for Rachel to commend all of the Project Ujima parents for “continuing to educate [themselves] about the educational system and ways to promote education in [their] families.” Rachel shared examples of how things her mom stressed to her as a child growing up still informed her adult decision-making and her commitment to giving back to the community through her work with the San Diego Futures Foundation.

Project Ujima is free and open to any parent in the San Diego Unified School District. The next class will be held on Nov. 10, 2011 from 5:30pm (dinner) to 7:30 p.m. at the Tubman Chavez Center, 415 North Euclid Avenue. The topic for the class is “An African American Perspective on Preparing for Parent-Teacher Conferences.”

For more information, visit the program's website.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Partnership Helps Save Money, Environment

By partnering with the local vendors Hunter, Rainbird and Hydroscape Irrigation and Spears a Glue and PVC Piping Manufacturer, San Diego Unified's Landscape Department is able to take advantage of current trade standards and learn of new water wise products in an effort to realize savings and mitigate storm water runoff.

Proper PVC pipe gluing techniques and hydraulic functioning of valves were just a couple of the subjects presented. The hosted irrigation training included other trades, like plumbers and steamfitters, who dusted off old skills and gained new ones.

Professional development through partnerships expands our ability to more efficiently provide a safe environment in which students learn and play and also expands our limited resources.  The landscape department recognizes the need to provide continuous opportunities for knowledge and skills that will provide quality service to our sites and be good custodians of public funds.

More training opportunities will be presented in the future and will include all disciplines of the trade.  For information contact Jonel Smith, landscape services supervisor for Scripps Mesa Zone at (858) 627-7222 or

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Clairemont High Students Intern at District Bus Yard

Transportation Services Department has partnered with Clairemont High School for the fifth consecutive school year to provide students with a job-study option and a window into the potential career path of the automotive repair industry.

A total of 20 students have participated in the intern program since its inception in the 2007-2008 school year. Technological advances in the automobile industry mandate auto technicians be highly knowledgeable and technically skilled in order to repair today’s automobiles.

The student curriculum created by the Fleet Maintenance staff at Transportation promotes student learning and achievement through student shadowing of District automotive repair technicians, parts suppliers and tire specialists. Students gain knowledge through hands-on training in engine diagnostics, diesel mechanics, upholstery, glass repair, tire repair and state inspections.

For additional information contact Gene Robinson, director of transportation and distribution services, at (858) 496-8710 or

Monday, October 31, 2011

District's Musicians, Singers, Performers Show Off to Raise Funds

Those who teach the arts, those who support those who teach the arts, and those who learn from those who teach the arts will take the stage at Taft Middle School this Saturday to help raise funds for San Diego Unified's arts programs. The SDUSD Glee Club Sing Out is scheduled for 7 p.m this Saturday, Nov. 5 at Taft Middle School auditorium, 9191 Gramercy Dr. Tickets are just $10 and are available at the door or by calling (858) 539-5349. Lloyd Pest Control is the evening's title sponsor. "Between the students, teachers and staff, there's a lot of talent in this district," said Karen Childress-Evans, director of the district's Visual and Performing Arts Department. "We're going to have a lot of fun on Saturday night and we hope to sell out the house to support arts programs." The evening's bill includes performances by the Marshall Middle School Chorus, Pacific Coast Harmony Barber Shop, SDUSD Tap Dancers and the SDUSD Glee Club Singers. Host will be Cathryn Beeks of KPRI-FM. "We're certainly not going to solve any financial crisis with this show," said Childress-Evans, "but we want San Diego to come out and see what excellence we have in our district." A silent auction wil also be held to benefit district arts programs. Those wanting to donate to the silent auction should call (858) 539-5349.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kearny CTA, Crawford IDEA Cash In at CANstruction

Teams from two high schools have come out winners in the annual local CANstruction program, an annual competition to not only collect cans of food but create art. The "SpongeBob Squarepants Goes to CAN Diego" exhibit by Kearny Construction Tech Academy students received Best Use of Labels and People's Choice Awards from the judges, who are local architects and engineers. Crawford IDEA students received an Honorable Mention for their gear exhibit. More than 3,000 pounds of food, with a retail price of more than $4,000, was used in the Kearny exhibit. The cans were donated to Kearny for the exhibit and now that the competition is complete will be passed on to local food banks. San Diego's top Architects and Engineers compete annually in a design-build competition to create giant works of sculptural art, made entirely out of canned foods. These structures are up to 8 feet tall and 10 feet wide. No interior structural support is allowed. These are solid structures made entirely out of canned food. The Architects and Engineers are judged and the winners announced at the Gala. Once the structures are taken down, all of the food is donated to local San Diego food banks. For more information on the programs, contact the College Career and Technical Education program at (858) 503-1841.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Home/Hospital Teacher Named Inspirational Teacher of the Month

Congratulations to San Diego Unified teacher Caren Waller for being named NBC San Diego iInspirational Teacher of the Month for October. She was nominated by the staff of Rady Children's Hospital for her dedication to teaching students whose current classroom is a hospital room. Watch the NBC San Diego video.

One Good Deed Deserves Another

Kearny DMD On Sunday, Sept. 18, Kearny School of Digital Media and Design ninth graders joined students from throughout the county at SurfAid International's monthly Surf 'n' Serve event at Eli Howard Surf School in Cardiff.

Students participated in a Coastal Cleanup and in return received a free, two-hour surf lesson from professional surf instructors. Surfboards and wetsuits were provided by Billabong.

Students received a surprise visit from Dr. Dave Jenkins, founder of SurfAid Interational. Kearny DMD students are partnering with SurfAid this school year as they develop their global citizenship skills and learn about how they can support victims of natural disasters throughout the world. 

For more information, contact Meghann Hughes, educational specialist, at

Friday, October 28, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Thurgood Marshall 'Teacher of the Year' Profiled

Getting the right answer is fine, but Jean Chalupsky is much more interested in getting her students to really think deeply about how they’ve come to whatever answer they give, whether it’s right or wrong. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Chinese Dancers Perform at Barnard Elementary

Kung fu demonstration
Was it ancient China or the auditorium at Barnard Chinese Magnet School? That’s what students, parents, staff and visitors were asking during a performance by a visiting troupe from the Zhejiang University of Media and Communications.

The elaborate show, excerpts from the traditional Chinese opera “Eastern Rhyme of Passion,” was the Zhejiang perfomers’ first stop on their US tour. It included elaborate, traditional costumes, kung fu and music with traditional Chinese instruments, including the koto, sheng and two-stringed Chinese fiddle or erhu.

“It was an amazing event for all of us at Barnard,” said Eddie Park, Barnard principal. “The performance was something rarely seen in the US, plus our students were able to learn from the actors.”

All of the performers are teachers at the university and were able to share their specialties with the Barnard students. For example, students participated in demonstrations of kung fu and were able to see how many of the unique instruments are played.

Barnard students learn
from Chinese musician.
Following the long flight from China, the players from Zhejian University, which is in the city of Hangzhou near Shanghai in China’s southeastern section, performed at Barnard. Later that evening, they performed at Pt. Loma High, which also offers Chinese Mandarin language classes.

“We want to thank our partners in education, the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University and managing director Dr. Lily Cheng, for arraigning the group to be able to perform for our community,” said Park. “Thank you and Xie Xie!”

For more information on the Barnard Mandarin Chinese program, contact Park at (619) 224-3306.

Point Loma High Remodeling Project Passes Halfway Mark

Point Loma High The Prop. S-funded Motion Picture Industries facility project at Point Loma High is more than 50 percent complete. The $3 million project includes remodeling a 4,800-square-foot portion of the school’s 900 building into a new facility for the Motion Picture Industries program.

This College, Career and Technical Education program prepares students for careers in the motion picture industry, and will serve more than 300 students. Features of the remodeled facility include screening and editing rooms, an audio suite and studio, and audio-video hub.

This is one of three active Prop. S-funded projects at Point Loma High School. For additional project information, visit or for Prop. S information, email, visit or call (619) 725-7252.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Thurgood Marshall 'Teacher of the Year' Profiled

'When in search of an answer, it’s the journey that’s important'

Getting the right answer is fine, but Jean Chalupsky is much more interested in getting her students to really think deeply about how they’ve come to whatever answer they give, whether it’s right or wrong. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

IN THE NEWS: Montgomery Middle School Teaches Healthy Eating

It was Food Day at Montgomery Middle School recently when a bicyclist who's circling the nation with a message of better nutrition stopped by. Thanks to the Network for a Healthy California and San Diego Unified School District's Food Services for making it happen.