Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teachers of the Year Named for 2011

Alcorn, Chalupsky and Winn to be Honored at May 3 Celebration

Lee Elementary teacher Mark Alcorn, Marshall Middle's Jean Chalupsky and Jonathan Winn of Crawford High's School of Community Health and Medical Practices (CHAMPS) have been named San Diego Unified School District's Teachers of the Year for 2011.

The trio will be saluted at the Day of the Teacher celebration, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, at Mission Bay High School. More than 130 Teachers of the Year from individual schools, Future Educator Scholars and the latest class of the district's Board Certified Teachers will be honored.

A Teacher of the Year is selected for each school level. Alcorn is a fifthgrade teacher at Lee Elementary School in South Bay, Chalupsky teaches eighth grade English Seminar at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Scripps Ranch, and Winn is a calculus teacher at Crawford CHAMPS High School in City Heights.

"This is a trio of extremely talented teachers," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "They represent everything that is right about being dedicated to students and shaping the next generation of Americans."

A college job as a teacher’s aide allowed Mark Alcorn to apply his computer problem-solving skills to teaching elementary students; he decided teaching was more rewarding so it was good-bye computer sciences, hello elementary school kids. A local product, he graduated from Patrick Henry High School. He has been teaching at Lee Elementary since 2003 and in San Diego Unified for more than 20 years.

A need for a more interesting college job led Jean Chalupsky to teaching, a career that now spans more than 20 years. She's taught at Jerabek Elementary and is currently an eighth grade English seminar teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School. Her love of literature and fascination with the writers' historical context continues to challenge her students.

Jonathan Winn has only been a teacher for six years, joining Crawford CHAMPS as a math teacher four years ago. Winn has developed a high voltage classroom atmosphere that inspires high school students to get excited about math and how it shapes everyday life. He's a calculus evangelist, expanding the reach of the program to include an ever-larger number of students.

Alcorn, Chalupsky and Winn will go on to the San Diego County competition along with the district’s three Runners-up for Teacher of the Year, Gay Young from Kumeyaay Elementary, Britney Sandoval from Lewis Middle School, and David Evers from San Diego High School of International Studies.

IN THE NEWS: How Do You Say 'Here' in a Virtual Classroom?

Sixteen-year-old Abdi Buul might log in to his chemistry class while sitting at his aunt's pizzeria off University Avenue. Or he might stop in to see a teacher in Old Town to ask about geometry. Read more from Voice of San Diego»

Whitman Elementary Teacher Named Hero by Local Radio Station

Whitman Elementary Teacher Angelina Reed has been honored with this month’s Teachers Are Heroes Award sponsored by FM 94.9 and Azusa Pacific University. Reed was chosen out of more than 26,000 teachers from 725 schools around San Diego County.

Reed has taught at Whitman since 2004 and is a Special Education teacher, working with with both moderate students and students with disabilities. She works to provide her students with a rigorous academic education both in special education and in the general education settings. Motivated by the idea that students with disabilities deserve the same opportunities as all students, Reed encourages teachers to focus on their strengths and not their disabilities.

Since 2001, FM 94.9 and Azusa Pacific University have presented this award to the most deserving teachers and educators. Award recipients also receive prizes for themselves and their classroom, as well as an opportunity to attend a celebration at Legoland California with their entire class.

For more information, contact Whitman Elementary Principal Pamela Thompson at

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Academic Achievements Honored at 14 Title I Schools

Significant Academic Gains Noted by State Dept. of Education

Title I Academic Achievement AwardsAcademic achievements at 14 Title I schools in the San Diego Unified School District have been noted by the US Dept. of Education.

The schools are: Angier, Barnard, Boone, Chesterton, Florence, Jones, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Sequoia, Vista Grande and Wegeforth elementary schools; Kearny High Digital Media and Design, and the San Diego High School of International Studies high schools; and King/Chavez Primary Academy Charter School.

"This is a well deserved recognition of the excellent work being done by the students, teachers, principals and staff at these schools under very difficult conditions," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "Students in Title I schools have great challenges and we congratulate them on the improvements documented to receive this award."

Presented each year, the Title I Academic Achievement Awards go to schools who receive federal funds under the Title I Program, which helps students living below or near the poverty level. The extra funding is used by schools in a variety of ways.
To win this award, the school shows that students are making significant progress toward proficiency on California's academic content standards, meeting state targets for two consecutive years.

Each principal will be treated to a state-funded reception and banquet at the Disneyland Hotel in May.

For more information about the California Title I Academic Achievement Award reception and banquet, please visit the California Dept. of Education.

Safe Space Kits Go Out to All Middle, High Schools

Thanks to a generous donation from the Verizon Foundation, all district K-8, middle and high schools will receive a free copy of the Safe Space Kit, part of a nationwide campaign to build inclusive, safe learning spaces for all students. Safe Space supports the work of the district’s Safe Schools Task Force, a group of district and community leaders working together to develop and implement a stronger anti-bullying policy for our schools. Read more.

Spring Fun Café Brings Free Lunch to Year-Round Students

April brings multiple opportunities for San Diego Unified School District children on Spring Break to have free lunches and snacks and participate in family BBQs as Spring Fun Café begins a three-week run on Monday, April 11.

Lunch will be free to kids age 18 and younger at eight City of Sna Diego Recreation Centers, a community centers and at eight schools. Some of the locations will also have breakfast and snacks available.

The Spring Fun Café family barbecues are being held on the following dates:
  • April 13: Memorial Park, 2902 Marcy Ave. (next to Logan Elementary).
  • April 20: Cherokee Point Elementary, 3735 38th St. (92105).
Please check our website for further details.
This program is a collaboration between: the San Diego Unified School District Food Services Department and Office of Youth in Transition and the schools involved; City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department; Jackie Robinson YMCA, Feeding America San Diego. and several schools make these programs possible.

The program is funded by the Seamless Summer Lunch Program from the US Department of Agriculture.

Check out the Food Services website or contact Joanne Tucker at or (858) 627-7316.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Follow Prop. S on Facebook and Twitter

Prop. SLearn more about Proposition S and the projects being completed under the bond program by following us on Facebook (search: Proposition S) and Twitter (username: PropositionS). The new sites were launched today! Prop. S, the $2.1 billion bond measure passed in 2008 by San Diego voters, is providing resources to repair, renovate and revitalize our neighborhood schools. Besides the district-wide technology upgrades, new classroom buildings are complete at Pt. Loma and Hoover high schools; stadiums are being upgraded at high schools around the district; new marquees were installed at various elementary schools; and multiple College, Career and Technical Education facilities opened at San Diego High, Clairemont and Madison high schools. Find out more about these and other activities at your schools by following Prop. S. If you aren’t already following San Diego Unified on Facebook and Twitter, you can find them at: and (username: sdschools). For even more information on Prop. S, visit our web site at or call 619-725-7252.

IN THE NEWS: University City High senior an athlete for all seasons

Alex Caniglia, courtesy San Diego Union-Tribune
Alex Caniglia, University City High senior has managed to excel as a three-sport athlete while securing a scholarship to UCLA in a fourth, rowing. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Dailard Elementary Principle Gets “Slimed”

Dailard Elementary held an assembly honoring students and faculty for their participation in the annual Jog-A-Thon fundraiser. The highlight of the assembly was Principal Jonathan McDade and 3rd grade teacher Meredith Gies getting “slimed” in front of the whole student body, faculty and staff.

Students and faculty were recognized for their hard work raising a whopping $38,960 for the school. The Jog-A-Thon is put on every year by Dailard’s Parent Teacher Foundation. At the beginning of each year the foundation decides how to spend funds raised from various events. This year, the money raised will go towards funding computer labs, physical education programs, art programs and classroom grants among other projects.

The tasty slime was a mix of pudding, Jell-O and water concocted by the school’s Dads Assisting Dailard Students (D.A.D.S.) group.

For more information, contact Principal Jonathan McDade at (619) 286-1550 or

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stakeholder Input Sought on New Title I Funding Distribution Plan

In December, the Board of Education voted to increase the Title I school funding threshold from 40% to 75%. (The threshold is based on the number of students at a school who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.) The change would take place over a five-year period, starting in 2012-13. The Board members are looking for input from employees, parents, students, community members and other stakeholders on developing the implementation plan as well as identifying priorities for Title I funds. Please take a moment to share your input by taking a short survey in English or Spanish. For a printed copy of the survey, call (619) 725-5609.

Kearny DMD Students Tape "One Book" Interview for KPBS

The Linda Vista neighborhood is inside the Kearny High attendance area and is also the topic for this year's "One Book, One San Diego" program. KPBS, the local public radio and television station, has enlisted juniors from the School of Digital Media and Design at the Kearny High Educational Complex to help tell other stories of Linda Vista, where this year's book is set.

The students have met with author lê thi diem thúy, whose The Gangster We Are All Looking For is this year's selection. The novel follows a Vietnamese family as it arrives in the U.S. and Linda Vista through the eyes of the six-year-old daughter.

The students are interviewing residents who have similar experiences to the characters in The Gangster We Are All Looking For.

The videos are scheduled to be presented at a special showing at the downtown's Central Library at 6 p.m. April 13. The One Book, One San Diego program is a collaboration between the San Diego Public Library and KPBS.

Contact Rick Corlett, CCTE Teacher, at (858) 496-8370, ext 4709 or, for more information.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Patrick Henry Seniors Predict Their Future

See how 18 students from Patrick Henry High School see their future. Read more from the New York Times»

Lincoln Law Club Become Jury Members for Teen Court

Students in the Lincoln High School Law Club are serving as jury members monthly for Teen Court.

The Lincoln High School Law Club consists of primarily juniors and seniors and many are enrolled in the Legal and Law Enforcement Careers class on campus.

The students go through training so they are prepared properly for being jury members. Cases are real and the first time offender and parent(s)/guardian(s) appear before the judge and jury.

Students hear cases ranging from theft, drug use, drug possession, fighting, curfew violation, vandalism, etc. The defendant and parents are given a chance to speak before the judge and jury and answer questions.

The cases are held in the San Diego City Council Chamber, where the council members hold their public meetings. The judge and jury sit in the same seats as the council members.

The jury members then meet in a conference room and decide on the consequences for the offender. The judge reviews the consequences and then reads to the defendant the consequences for his/her actions. A defendant who does not follow through on the required consequences within the time frame given appears in Juvenile Court.

Teen Court is designed for first time offenders and is a diversion program with SAY San Diego and the juvenile court system. The first time offender has admitted to guilt and now appears before a judge and peers to accept consequences.

For more information, please contact Ray Beattie, CCTE teacher, at

Saturday, March 26, 2011

37 Colleges, Universities to Welcome CHAMPS Grads

Crawford's School of Community Health and Medical Practices (CHAMPs) has much to celebrate this year as 37 of our 61 seniors make decisions about the universities they will be attending in the fall.

The Class of 2011, graduating six years after the implementation of a small school dedicated to the study of medical careers and committed to the ideals of the AVID Program, is achieving unprecedented success in its quest to continue its education. By January, 30 students had already received early acceptances to various California State universities.

Now, as the final acceptance letters are being received, 37 seniors are deciding between schools such as Seton Hall, Columbia College, UCLA, UCSD, San Diego State University, and the list goes on (see below).

For more information, please contact CHAMPs Principal William Laine at (619) 583-2501 ext. 2460, or

Friday, March 25, 2011

Point Loma High School Counselor Receives 2011 Counselor of the Year Honors

Laurie Hurl and Point Loma High School Counselor Laurie Hurl was named 2011 Counselor of the Year by the Jonasson Endowment Award Committee. Hurl received a surprise recognition ceremony on March 3 at the school’s monthly staff meeting.

Hurl has been Point Loma High’s head counselor for 20 out of her 33 years with San Diego Unified.
“It was a great honor and the highlight of my career in the district,” said Hurl. “It was wonderful to be recognized in front of my family, friends and fellow staff.”

The Jonasson Endowment Committee at San Diego State University honors a high school counselor every year. The winner is recognized for exceeding their every-day duties and helping students with their academic success.

For more information, contact Point Loma Principal Barbara Samilson at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fulton Step Team Continues Winning Ways

Fulton teamFulton K-8's Wildcat Step and Dance Team continues its winning ways in its second decade, recently taking second place in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, on top of a win last year in the parade and at a Magic Mountain competition.

The team, founded in 2000 by Sherie Edwards and Shanna Cofield, encourages high academic standards and good citizenship, while helping its members develop confidence and self-assurance.

They perform all over San Diego, including recent appearances as the Kuumba Fest, Lyceum Theater and local nursing homes. The team performs rhythmic beats by using their hands and feet in a coordinated exciting fashion of dance. The team also performs hip hop dance routines that are used in dance competitions or as an additional step performance.

Through the years the Fulton Wildcats have performed and/or competed in step shows, conferences, talent shows, street fairs, private parties, parades, news specials, dance competitions and more all over San Diego.

For more information on the team, contact Gwendolyn Kirkland, principal, at or (619) 262-0777.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hoover HS Breaks Ground on New Football Field, Track

Hoover HS

Demolition of the old football field and running track are complete as contractors prepare to install the new synthetic turf field and all-weather track at Hoover High School. The $1.8 million project is funded by Proposition S. Hoover is one of several district high schools getting new synthetic turf football fields and running tracks, which are more cost-effective to maintain.

Completion is anticipated for this summer. Byrom-Davey, Inc is the contractor on the project. For more project information, visit our school facilities projects page at For media inquiries, contact Cynthia Reed-Porter at or call (619) 546-3378.

Academy of Finance at SD High School of Business Gains National Distinction

Academy of FinanceThe Academy of Finance at the San Diego High Complex School of Business has been awarded a prestigious Distinguished Academy status by the National Academy Foundation.

The Academy of Finance, in one of the six schools at historic San Diego High, was the only school west of the Mississippi River to be named a Distinguished Academy. Only nine of the nearly 500 high schools in the nation with finance academies have been named a Distinguished Academy.

The reviewing team that visited San Diego High earlier this year lauded the school's active advisory board, whose members work one-on-one with students to mentor them into the business community.

"Our advisory board engagement, workplace experience for our students and the variety of internships available were things that the team told us were highlights of their visit," said Joe Austin, principal of the School of Business. "The fact that our advisory board members, and other members of the business community, meet monthly with our students, allow them to job shadow, and generally work as mentors was seen as an example of how other schools can do things right."

Austin said San Diego's business community has taken the school to heart.

"Our students greatly benefit from the fantastic corps of individuals who spend their own time sharing their real-world experiences with our students. That's something that money just can't buy."

Founded in 1982 by Sanford I. Weill, Chairman Emeritus of Citigroup Inc., the program brings businesses and educators together to put students on a career path leading to Wall Street. It has since been expanded to include fields such as engineering, hospitality and tourism, and information technology.

For more information on the program at San Diego High School of Business, contact Joe Austin, Principal, at (619) 525-7461 or

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

San Diego SciTech High Students Hope for Sun in May

Students work on their boatA team from SciTech at the San Diego High Educational Complex is busily preparing their entry in the 2011 Solar Cup, the Metropolitan Water District's competition to find the fastest solar-powered boat among Southern California high schools.

The SciTech team spends Monday afternoons and many Saturdays in addition to class time in their Intro to Green Technology class working on the boat that will compete in mid-May.

Approximately 75 percent of the team competed last year and are taking on the leadership roles this year with the new members. They have almost completed the propeller system and hope to install the motor and steering system in two weeks.

Each year, the Metropolitan Water District supplies schools with a new boat that they must build from a kit. The basic shape of all the solar boats in the competition are similar, but it is up to the students as to how to decorate their boat and design their mechanical systems.

Industry and community members are offering support along the way as well. Recently, California Sheet Metal came to talk to the students about the design and fabrication of their motor mount. For more information, contact Katie Carl, CCTE Teacher, at

IN THE NEWS: Patrick Henry Featured on Morning News

"Show Us Your School" feature spends morning with Cheer Squad, JROTC, Orchestra and Improv group at Patrick Henry High School. Poor quality video. Courtesy Fox 5. Watch video»

More than $5,000 Raised So Far for School Supplies

Donate to the Emergency School Supplies Fund
On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the San Diego Unified Emergency School Supply Fund was approved by the Board of Education. This fund is being administered by the San Diego Foundation under their 501(c)(3) IRS classification and gives parents, employees, community members and businesses the opportunity to support our schools.
The San Diego Unified Emergency School Supplies Fund accepts tax deductible donations of any amount, with a goal to raise $1 million by Oct. 31, 2011. This would provide an additional $8.50 per student for every school's supply budget, monies that can be used for paper, pencils, crayons, art supplies and other materials used for instruction. Awards to school sites will be based on student enrollment numbers calculated in October 2011.

To date, $5,461 has been collected for the fund and the district sincerely appreciates the generosity of the donors. Contributions can be made by check or online. To learn how you can make a donation today, go to

For more information, contact Aly Evans at (619) 725-5582 or

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crawford CHAMPs Students Get a Peek into the Future

CHAMPs students at Mesa.Students from Crawford CHAMPs Health Essentials classes recently visited Mesa Community College.

Mesa College offers six Allied Health programs and CHAMPs students were able to sit in on dental and medical assisting courses, observe a technician drawing blood, and speak with the Director of Animal Health Technology. The high school students got a peek at a day in the life of a college student pursuing an education in health.

CHAMPs Healthcare Essentials courses fulfill subject matter requirements at Mesa College. This means students earn the required credits to graduate from college much more quickly.

For more information, contact CHAMPs Principal William Laine at (619) 583-2501 ex.2460 or

New Immunization for 2011-12 School Year

Parents and employees are reminded that a new California law requires that students entering 7th through 12th grades in the 2011-2012 school year must be immunized with a pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine booster called Tdap before they can start school. Parents must provide their child's school with proof of immunization or come to the school to sign a Personal Belief Exemption statement prior to the first day of school.
Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease that can be severe and last for months. The immunity received from either early childhood immunization or pertussis disease wears off over time, leaving older students and adults susceptible again to pertussis. Immunization with Tdap can protect students, schools and communities against pertussis.

The new requirement affects all students – current, new, and transfers – in public and private schools. The law has two phases:
  • For the 2011-2012 school year, all students entering into 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grades will need proof of a Tdap shot before starting school.
  • For 2012-2013 and future school years, all students entering into 7th grade will need proof of a Tdap shot before starting school.
The California Department of Public Health's website, Shots for School, provides extensive information in English and Spanish. Visit

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rosa Parks, Wilson and Hoover Students Join to Make Music

ConcertStudents from three City Heights schools — Hoover High, Wilson Middle and Rosa Parks Elementary — teamed up recently for a most unique event.

Students from each of the schools' music programs came together for the first Hoover Cluster concert. Students in grades 4-12 joined voices under the direction of choir directors Sharon Ormsbee of Rosa Parks, Paula Zuill from Wilson, and Laura Williams of Hoover.

District-wide honor concerts are held each year, combining students in similar grade levels. The Hoover event was unusual in that it combined students from so many different grades.

Each school performed two songs during the concert. During the finale the entire ensemble -- all three schools -- performed together. It was a thrilling evening for all at the historic Hoover High auditorium.

For more information, contact Irene Hightower, vice principal, Rosa Parks Elementary School, at (619) 282-6803 or

Scripps Ranch High JROTC Team in Air Force Academic Bowl

Out of 183 Air Force Junior ROTC teams that started out in Academic Bowl competition for 2010-11, only 16 remain and one of those is from Scripps Ranch High School.
The academic team composed of junior Bryan Salinas and sophomores Alwin Hui, Monica Ngo and Cameo Tsui will compete in the championship round June 24-28. Sponsored by the Air Force JROTC and conducted by the College Options Foundation, the finals will be held in Washington, D.C.
During two rounds of competitive online play, the Scripps Ranch team earned top scores out of the 183 teams that competed from across the world.  In these rounds students were tested on standard high school curriculum including math, science and English.
For more information, contact Col. R. Mike Hogan at (858) 622-9020 x 4421 or, or Master Sgt. Ferdinand Toledo at (858) 621-9020 x 2422 or

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Johnson Magnet School Gets JT the Tiger as Principal for the Day

Johnson TigerWalking into the principal’s office, the last thing you would expect to see is a large, orange cat with black stripes seated at the desk.
What would come as shock to many was welcomed with open paws by everyone at Johnson Magnet School as its mascot, JT the Tiger, subbed in as the principal for the day.

Principal Tracey Jenkins-Martin spent March 2 dressed up as JT the Tiger to show her appreciation for the staff and students completing and exceeding their pledge of reading 2,928 books within a three-week period. In the end, a total of 3,610 books were read.

“This was really inspiring seeing everyone working together to complete their reading goal,” said Principal Jenkins-Martin. “I am really proud of everyone for doing their part and this was just my way of showing them my appreciation.”
Johnson, located in Emerald Hills, is a magnet school for students to thrive in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). To boost students as they reach the stars, it offers three labs (science, engineering and computer research), computers in every classroom, GATE, music and a college-bound emphasis in all classrooms.

For more information, contact Jenkins-Martin at (619) 264-0103 or

Friday, March 18, 2011

John Muir Students Join Other Schools around the Globe in World Math Day 2011

Muir stuMuir studentdents from kindergarten through 12th grade completed
89,839 problems in one day while competing online with students around the world, part of the school's third annual participation in UNICEF's World Math Day. Fifth-grader Mannie Amoguis recorded the fastest Muir time for solving problems in a single game.

World Math Day is the world's largest education event. Students around the globe from ages 4-18 compete against each other in mental arithmetic games on the World Math Day website. The event encourages students of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to do math in a fun, interactive and accessible way. Money raised from the event goes toward struggling schools.

For more information regarding John Muir’s participation in World Math Day, contact Teacher Librarian Anne Lambert at

Excite Your Mind at the San Diego Science Festival

Science Festival 2011Each year in March, the San Diego Science Festival cascades over San Diego County in a week-long celebration of science and engineering that invigorates more than 75,000 students, parents, scientists, educators and other community members. This year’s festivities begin Saturday, March 19, with family-friendly events scheduled at Balboa Park, San Diego State, Miramar College and the Scripps Birch Aquarium.

The festival culminates on Saturday, March 26, with EXPO DAY at Petco Park. This free event will include more than 135 hands-on activities and 12 stage performances for kids of all ages and is guaranteed to entertain and educate everyone aged 1 to 101.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Snowy Week at Palomar

Sixth grade students from Logan and SCPA arrived at the Palomar Outdoor School on March 1 to a winter wonderland. Several inches of snow covered the camp, the first time many of the students had seen snow, let alone lived with it for four days. Watch slideshow»

IN THE NEWS: San Diego School Lunchrooms Go Green

It’s lunch time at Marston Middle School in Clairemont. Hundreds of hungry students grab their lunch trays and line-up at the school’s salad bar. Read more from KPBS-FM»

Perfect Attendance Earns Horton Students a Day at the Aquarium

Horton at ScrippsFifth and sixth graders from Horton Elementary recently got up close and personal with all sorts of Pacific marine life, a reward for earning perfect attendance at this Mountain View neighborhood school.

For many, this was a first-time experience. Students participated in hands-on demonstrations, such as learning about electroreception in sharks, and explored tide pools and living coral reefs.

Good school attendance is critical to student academic success, beginning in elementary school. By 6th grade, a pattern of chronic absence is a predictor of high school dropout rates.

Congratulations to Horton Elementary and its dedicated school community for placing a high value on exceptional attendance. Pictured here, perfect attendance award-winner Salma Santana with a new friend.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It Was a Day for Seuss

It was a great celebration of Dr. Seuss's 100th birthday -- the real Ted Geisel of La Jolla -- for the 2011 Read Across America Day. Here are some photos from several schools that participated: Rodriguez, Fay, Longfellow, Adams and Lindbergh-Schweitzer elementary schools. Watch slideshow»

IN THE NEWS: Hi, You’ve Reached Tech Support, This Is Your 12-Year-Old

Try telling students to make their own podcasts when microphones won't work. Forget about tapping into the web for lessons if nobody can connect. And typing is a dead end if computer keys skedaddle.

All that could foul up classes at Innovation Middle School in North Clairemont, where every kid has a laptop. But Innovation is trying out a tactic that is, well, innovative. Instead of running to the school district for every broken key, Innovation is teaching kids how to fix their computers themselves. Read more from Voice of San Diego»

IN THE NEWS: Middle and High Schoolers Explore STEM

Ask a friend what “STEM” means and you may get a blank stare. But, as soon as Cynthia Park, executive director of the SDSU Pre-College Institute asked last Friday, dozens of young people immediately answered.

Participating schools include:
  • Wilson Middle School
  • Clark Middle School
  • Hoover High School
  • Montgomery Middle School
  • Crawford High Educational Complex
  • O’ Farrell Community School

Read more from the SDSU News Center»

IN THE NEWS: Porter Elementary Student Gets Bicycle

Angel gets a bicycle from NBC 7/39 and Salvation Army in Bikes for Kids program. Watch video from NBC 7/39»

Pelican Finds a New Home at Bird Rock Elementary

Pelican comes to Bird Rock
A pelican will be soaring over Bird Rock Elementary for years to come thanks to the efforts of the school's student council members.

The pelican was introduced as the school’s new official mascot earlier this week. The student council has been hosting fundraisers throughout the year to help bring the pelican to Bird Rock.

Students will participate in a contest to name the pelican and create a school chant. The results will be announced at an assembly on March 30.

“We wanted something that could come to life and have a character of its own,” said Principal Sally Viavada. “The pelican was fitting with its attributes and qualities, and it has always been the unofficial mascot of Bird Rock.”

For more information, contact Principal Sally Viavada at or (858) 488-0537.

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Joyner Microsociety Magnet School Honored by Magnet Schools of America

Florence Griffith Joyner MicroSociety Magnet School has been named a Magnet School of Distinction by Magnet Schools of America, a non-profit organization that promotes magnet schools.

The school, where young entrepreneurs produce goods and services, elected officials establish laws, peace officers keep the peace, judges arbitrate disputes and reporters track down stories, will receive its award at the group's upcoming conference.

Founded in 2007, the school believes that children learn best by doing. More than 650 K-5 students attend the school.

"We are so pleased that the hard work of our students and teachers is being recognized,” said Principal Gilbert Gutierrez. “The students, parents and staff are deeply committed to learning and strive daily to exemplify the goals of our magnet school.”

Each year, the organization honors the best Magnet Schools in more than a dozen categories. For more information, contact Gilbert Gutierrez, principal, at or (619) 640-4000.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake, Tsunami in Japan On Minds of Students, Teachers

The earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan beginning Mar. 11 have been on everyone's minds lately. Here are some places where you can find more information.

Elementary Students
  • FEMA for Kids: Site from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that helps explain earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Middle School Students
  • Time for Kids: Time Magazine section just for students. Look for the latest news on the disaster.
  • CNN Student News: From CNN, a section with video reports for students. Look for the stories on the disaster.
  • Scholastic Kids Press Corps: News written by students like you, with reports on the disaster.
High School Students
  • Kyodo News is the major Japanese news service, similar to the Associated Press in the United States.
  • Asahi Shimbun is a major English language newspaper in Japan.
  • NHK TV is one of Japan's major television networks, which has a website in English.
 If you have any suggestions for website, send them to

100th Day of School Celebration for 100 Percent Attendance at Golden Hill

Golden Hill Celebration
If Golden Hill K-8 was a bit brighter than usual on a recent Family Friday, it was because the school was celebrating one of the biggest mileposts of the school year.

Streamers, flags and piñatas were strewn across the campus and the Golden Hill Eagle mascot was in attendance, all to welcome parents, students and staff to celebrate the 100th day of school. More than 100 guests -- family members and others -- visited and enjoyed the Fiesta Luncheon put on by the district's Food Services Department.

The attendance-oriented message on this Family Friday was how important it is for students to come to school every day and be ready to learn. Vice Principal Karina Reyes and Counselor Ms. Jimenez visited classrooms to give certificates to students who had perfect attendance in the previous month. More prizes were given out by the Parent-Teacher Organization.

One of the goals for the day was to have 100 percent attendance. 14 classrooms had perfect attendance, with overall 96 percent of the students at school.

Family Fridays are celebrated at many San Diego Unified schools. It's all about encouraging family members to be part of their child's school and education. Studies have proven that the more students' families are involved, the better they achieve.

For more information, contact Vice Principal Karina Reyes at (619) 236-5600.

Trail of Broken Windows Leads to "Officer of the Year"

When a vandalism spree led to 94 windows being broken in Ocean Beach, San Diego Unified School Police Officer Ivan Picazo was brought in to help the San Diego Police Department solve the case.

As part of his normal duties with School Police, Officer Picazo works every day with students at Mission Bay High School. He also keeps tabs on local gang activity, whose members look to our schools for recruits.

Thanks to his contacts, Officer Picazo was able to lead San Diego Police detectives directly to the suspects.

Officer Picazo will be honored at the 20th Annual San Diego Peace Officer of the Year Award Ceremony at the Prado in Balboa Park on April 29. For more information, contact Lt. Reuben Littlejohn, School Police, at (619) 725-7000 or

Sunday, March 13, 2011

JROTC Selects Best Drill Individuals and Color Guard Teams

EJROTC Best of Bestach year, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps
(JROTC) units from 13 high school programs select their best drill individuals in grades 9-12 and enter them in the district's Best Drill Individual competition.

The Color Guard Teams comprised of first-year cadets and teams of varsity cadets are also included. Both competitions showcase students in impeccable uniforms as they progress through a three-phase competition, which includes uniform inspection along with stationary and precision drill movements. The selection is extremely difficult as each cadet and team already represent the best from each school.

This year’s "Best of the Best" include:

First Year: 1st Place - C/CPL Jennelee Toctocan - Morse; 2nd Place - C/AMN Kahan Robinson - Scripps Ranch; 3rd Place - C/LE1 Kevin Ebon - Mira Mesa

Second Year: 1st Place - C/ENS Victor Palafox - Serra ; 2nd Place - C/CPT Villy Jean Belmonte - Madison; 3rd Place - C/SSG Jacky William - San Diego

Third Year: 1st Place - C/CAPT D'arius Pinckney - Mission Bay; 2nd Place - C/LE3 Tamara Pasana - Mira Mesa ; 3rd Place - C/ Chris Leonard - Madison

Fourth Year: 1st Place - C/CDR Yesina Hernandez - Henry; 2nd Place - C/LT Steve Warren - Serra; 3rd Place - C/LCDR Jason Collins - Point Loma

First Year Color Guard: 1st Place - San Diego HS; 2nd Place - Mira Mesa HS; 3rd Place - Scripps Ranch and Morse HS (tie)

Varsity Color Guard: 1st Place - Serra and Morse HS (tie); 2nd Place - San Diego HS; 3rd Place - Scripps Ranch HS

Congratulations to these outstanding students. For more information, contact LTC David Guzman, JROTC Program manager, at (858) 496-8203 or

Prop S Update: San Diego High’s New Building Taking Shape

SDHS New Classroom Building
Construction is more than 50 percent complete on San Diego High’s new 16-classroom building that replaces 11 existing portable classrooms on the southeast corner of campus. Features of the new two-story, metal-frame building include student and staff restrooms, elevator and stairs and mechanical and electrical rooms. The $5.4 million Prop. S-funded project also includes 21st century technology and wireless network. Each “smart classroom” will have an interactive whiteboard, wireless voice amplification system, laptops for teachers and principals and netbooks for students. Project partners include gkkworks and Soltek Pacfic. Completion is anticipated for this summer. For more project information, visit our school facilities projects page at For media inquiries, contact Cynthia Reed-Porter at or call 619-546-3378.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dingeman Student's Winning Essay

Dingeman studentCongratulations to Ryan Hobbib, a Dingeman Elementary School fifth grader in Mrs. Schwartz' class. His essay, "Finding Courage Within Myself," won First Place in the 2010 Character Matters Essay Contest, sponsored by the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences, Character Development Center. The Character Matters Essay Contest offers students the opportunity to reflect on and write about experiences related to honesty, courage, respect, responsibility, self-discipline and other character traits.

Ryan's essay won first place out of 1,500 essays submitted in the Elementary School division. He received a plaque and a $125 prize from university officials. Principal Kimie Lochtefeld notified Ryan of his award and personally congratulated him in class.

Fashion Valley Mall Hit By Green Elementary Flash Mob

Childhood obesity might be a great topic for TV news and blogs, but Green students took to the shoppers paradise of Fashion Valley Mall recently to dance and show San Diegans their school's motto, "Academics + Athletics = Success."

Students from the Academic and Athletics Magnet elementary school danced to the song “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)," the official song from the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Their March 5 message was to encourage a healthy lifestyle, fight childhood obesity and increase every student's focus in school through fitness.

Shoppers surprised by the "flash mob" watched the Green Gekos' skill, enthusiasm, rhythm and cooperative school spirit.

For more information, contact Bruce Ferguson, principal, at or (619) 460-5755.

Friday, March 11, 2011

From the Superintendent: Layoff Notices Were "Most Difficult Decision in History"

Read More
Bill KowbaOn Thursday night, our Board of Education faced one of the most difficult decisions in the history of our district. The Board has the heavy responsibility to ensure the fiscal viability of our district, which during this unprecedented budget crisis requires decisions that are both tremendously challenging and necessary.

Living up to that responsibility, the Board made the painful decision to notify more than 1,500 dedicated employees, both certificated and classified, that their jobs may have to be eliminated on July 1 or the start of the 2011-12 school year in September.

The Education Code requires all school districts to notify certificated staff by March 15 that they might not be offered a contract for the following school year. And while the Education Code requires a 45-day notice for classified staff, the Board decided to notify classified staff at the same time as their certificated colleagues. It is important to remember that these are preliminary notices and not actual layoffs.

Over the next few months, the Board of Education, district leadership, fellow employees, union groups, parents, and community supporters will be focusing all of our efforts on developing a final budget that can save as many jobs as possible. This collaborative work will include urging our representatives in Sacramento to put Gov. Brown’s tax package on the June ballot so that Californians will have an opportunity to vote on measures that could provide much needed additional funding for our schools.

In the meantime, we must plan for best- and worst-case scenarios. Since there is no guarantee that the legislature will even place a measure on the June ballot or that it will gain voter approval, we must continue working to remain fiscally solvent and plan for budget reductions that include staff layoffs. It is my commitment to focus all of my energies on developing a final budget that minimizes staff reductions and to continue our strong advocacy for more education funding at the state and federal levels.

This is a tumultuous time for all of us. There is not a person on our staff who has not, in some way, been impacted by this deep, ongoing economic downturn. California’s budget crisis has forced us to make tough choices; trade-offs that were unthinkable just a few years ago. It has also created an atmosphere of uncertainty as we wait anxiously for critical information and prepare for a number of alternative scenarios. We will continue to keep all employees and the public informed as we move towards June when the Board of Education must approve the final 2011-12 budget.

Please know that I deeply appreciate the work of all employees and their unwavering commitment to do what’s best for our students, even as we face the most unsettling of circumstances.

Bill Kowba, Superintendent
Bill Kowba

Training Healthy Living Promotores

Horton Parent Academic Liaison, Marigarita Bacigalupo, parent Maria Cruz, Horton Wellness Coordinator Rudy Dominguez and parent Francisca Perez.
Parent Academic Liaisons from Kimbrough and Horton elementary schools, and Mann Middle School, together with parents and the wellness coordinator, attended the San Diego County Office of Education Promotores Academy on February 15 and 17.

Promotoras are individuals who reflect their school community and reach out to parents to connect them to programs and resources.
Promotoras will invite parents to workshops and activities at their site that promote physical activity and healthy nutrition. School site workshops and activities include zumba classes for parents, family health fairs and other information on healthy shopping.

Healthy Works is the local Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program; a $16 million grant funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to address the obesity epidemic. Administered by the County of San Diego, Healthy Works partners the County with numerous community, governmental, and educational organizations to put into place environmental and systems strategies designed to improve health and wellness.

For more information, contact Vanessa Forsythe RN, MSN, District Wellness coordinator, at (858) 496-1089.

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

Thursday, March 10, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Music Supporter Tells of Its Importance

A community supporter of music education discusses its importance in education, including its requirement by many top universities, as declining state funding may cause cutbacks in San Diego. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Carver K-8 Hosts Egypt Fair

Egyptian cuisine, a tea room, products, posters and other information on the Middle Eastern nation were presented by eighth grade students at Carver K-8 School during a recent Egyptian Product Fair.

Students demonstrated what they've learned from Samy Hendawy, a visiting teacher from Egypt and as part of programs from the U.S. State Department, the American Council of Schools and the U.S. Department of Education. Hendawy has been teaching the students Arabic -- Carver is an Arabic Language Magnet School -- and much about his home nation's culture.

Students researched one of eight areas and presented their learning through film, posters, Arabic vocabulary and conversation. During the day, all Carver classrooms participated; in the evening the Fair was open to the public. Participants were able to sample authentic Egyptian cuisine furnished by the Egyptian Tea Room.

Hendawy received fellowship from the U.S. Department of State to participate in the 2010 Teachers of Critical Languages Program, one of 26 teachers  from China and Egypt. He is teaching Arabic for this year at Carver.

For more information contact Stephanie Mahan, principal, or Jennifer Thomas, ELST, at (619) 583-7021.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Holding on to Parent Voices

San Diego Unified School District, called model Title I district, hopes to see a doubling in federal Parental Information and Resource Center funding, but it still wouldn’t be enough, says Bea Fernandez, program manager for parent outreach and engagement. Her office runs special parent engagement programs for Somali, Lao and Burmese refugees on Saturdays; Family Fridays, in which parents are invited to read in the classroom for 30 minutes; and Parents on the GO, a family wellness program, among many others. Read more from District Administration Magazine»

Physical Plant Staff Connects with Students

Madison auto students

Every month, Physical Plant Operations (PPO) staff members have the opportunity to see their most important customers – our students – by holding mandatory monthly safety meetings at various schools.
Madison High School recently hosted the group for an Autoimmune Safety meeting that was held in the high school’s new “Autotorium,” a beautiful eco-friendly building connected to the new Auto Shop.

In addition to learning about autoimmune disease safety, PPO staff met with Madison students who are enrolled in the ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification program, part of the College Career and Technical Education (CCTE) Program.

Mike Reynolds from CCTE discussed the goals of CCTE and various programs at Madison and around the district. PPO employees were impressed with how Madison incorporated green building components into their new facility, including a solar roof, high efficiency hand dryers, orientation to provide shading year round in the courtyard area, utilization of natural ventilation instead of air conditioning, polished concrete which is easy to clean and maintain, energy efficient transformers, and air compressors that are rotary instead of piston, which make them more quiet and energy efficient.

For more information, please contact Maria Moore-Flagg at (858) 573-5719.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

IN THE NEWS: Auditorium to be named after beloved teacher

It’s where his students sang and danced, read poetry and showcased their original books. Later this month, the auditorium at Longfellow Spanish Immersion School will be renamed for the late Narcisco S. Garcia, the beloved teacher who inspired students, teachers and parents throughout San Diego. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

SCPA Hosts Acclaimed Documentary Producer, Film Festival Exec.

Tonya Lewis Lee, Producer of I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education and Lee Ann Kim, SD Asian Film Festival Founder, recently met with students at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA).

Sponsored by the Associated Student Body and the EPIC Program, students were able to discuss the acclaimed film with the director. It chronicles the struggles of the Buffalo (N.Y.) High School for the Performing and Visual Arts as students and staff worked to fully integrate its lunchroom. Kim and Mitzi Lizarraga, SCPA Principal, moderated the discussion.

Lewis Lee, also discussed Giant Steps to Change The World, the book she co-authored with her husband, director Spike Lee. The book is a compelling look at what youth may do to empower positive change in the world.

For more information, contact Lizarraga at (619) 470-0555.

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

Barona Donation Helps 'Soaring Eagles' With Computer Equipment

Presenting the donation check to Ballard Parenet Center
The Barona Band of Mission Indians has given a $5,000 education grant to the Soaring Eagles Workshop, an education program for Native American students at San Diego Unified's Harold J. Ballard Parent Center in Old Town.

The funds will be used to purchase laptop computers, flash drives and calculators for the Soaring Eagles Workshop, an after-school cultural arts program. Part of the Center's Title VII American Indian Education program, the Soaring Eagles provide Native American/Alaskan Native students in  kindergarten through grade 12 with an opportunity to learn traditional ceremonies and tribal customs.

Assembly member Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) joined Ballard Center Director Beatrice Fernandez in accepting the grant, which was presented by Edwin "Thorpe" Romero, chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians.
"The students who attend the Soaring Eagles Workshop are often removed from their tribal reservations, traditional tribal ceremonies and customs," said Vicky Gambala, program organizer.

"We are pleased to support this important program that encourages students to participate in these culturally enriching activities," said Barona Tribal Chairman Edwin "Thorpe" Romero, "improving their self concept and cultural pride, which impacts their success in school and life."

The Barona Education Grant Program, created and administered by Tribal Government, is the first of its kind in California. The goal of the program is to create strong educational opportunities for the children of California by building upon the success of the Barona Indian Charter School, which operates under a continuous improvement model.

Schools throughout California can apply for educational grants from Barona to purchase much-needed supplies and materials that promote academic improvement. Each grant awarded by the Barona Education Grant Program is $5,000. The Barona Band of Mission Indians has been sharing resources through its Barona Education Grant Program since 2006, awarding more than $1 million to more than 200 schools statewide.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians is recognized by the United States government as a sovereign Nation. For more information, visit the tribe's website.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

Summer Fun Café Military Outreach Saluted

Summer Fun Cafe 2010
Summer Fun Café Kickoff Event at Skyline Hills Community Park on June 24, 2010
Congratulations to the hard-working and innovative staff at San Diego Unified's Food Services Department and their Summer Fun Café for receiving another honor: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Western Regional Office award for Service in Distinctive or Rural/Underserved Communities.
An Honorable Mention Sunshine Award was given for developing a unique program tailored to the needs of families living on military bases in order to serve more children.

The Summer Fun Café has won three previous USDA Summer Sunshine Awards in three different categories:
  • Successful Community Partnerships, 2005
  • Integrating Nutrition Education and Physical Activities, 2008
  • Increasing Nutritional Value of Meals and Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, 2009
The Summer Fun Café serves lunches and snacks to children during the summer when school is out at 61 neighborhoods whose schools have more than 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. The program is in 23 parks, at eight military programs and at schools, YMCAs and various community centers.

For more information contact Gary Petill, director, Food Services at (858) 627-7301.

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

PrimeTime Applications for 2011-12 Accepted Starting Monday, March 7

PrimeTime, San Diego Unified's extended-day program, is accepting applications for the 2011-12 school year from March 7 through May 6.

Parents/guardians are reminded that all students need to apply, even those currently in the program, in order to be considered for next school year.

PrimeTime Extended Day Program, (formerly known as the “6 to 6” Program) provides elementary and middle school students with a fun and engaging learning environment during the hours that most parents/guardians are working. Parents/guardians can feel comfortable knowing their children are not only receiving professional academic support, but are also interacting with peers in a physically and emotionally safe environment.

Students can “get in the Zone” in the PrimeTime environment by participating in structured activities with their friends. Art, music, athletics, and cooperative team-building games, are just a few of the invigorating activities children will participate in during the prime part of the day.

PrimeTime is offered at 132 schools and serves more than 20,000 students.
Applications will be sent home with children and made available for download from the District’s website on Monday, March 7.

To be included in the initial review and enrollment process, applications must be sent via U.S. mail to the PrimeTime partner providing services at the child’s school, postmarked between March 7, 2011, and May 6, 2011.

In addition to the PrimeTime staff at the San Diego Unified School District’s Extended Learning Opportunities Department, the PrimeTime team is a collaboration among many departments, programs and individuals who work together to make the program the best it can be. District departments including Food Services, School Police, Nursing and Wellness, as well as site principals, teachers and parents, together with our community partners, Bayview Charities, Center for Community Solutions, Harmonium, San Diego State University Research Foundation, Social Advocates for Youth, Union of Pan Asian Communities, and YMCA of San Diego – make up the team which offers a full service, enriched and fun learning environment for all students at each site.

For more information regarding PrimeTime please contact the Extended Learning Opportunities Department at (858) 627-7562.

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

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Collection Includes 3,000 Juice Pouches, 1,000 Plastic Bags, 570 lbs. of Batteries

Juice pouchesCurie Planet Patrol members Sammie and Emily, collecting juice pouches for their Disney Planet Challenge project.
The Planet Protectors
Curie Planet Patrol members with the 570 pounds of batteries collected at their Jan. 31 recycling.
Fourth graders at Curie Elementary School are taking the cleanup of Planet Earth into their own hands.
In 10 weeks, they collected more than 3,000 juice pouches, part of their Terracycle Pouch Brigade effort. They hosted a recycling event and collected 1,000 plastic bags, 570 lbs. of batteries, 238 light bulbs and 100 printer cartridges.
They're also part of the Disney Planet Challenge, a nationwide effort to encourage middle- and elementary-school students to learn about their local ecosystem. The Planet Challenge aims to teach kids about science and conservation while empowering them to make a positive impact on their communities and planet.
For more information, contact Chelsea Cochrane, science teacher, at (858) 453-4184 ext. 124.

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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Zealand Literacy Success Shared

Field Elementary class with Lyn Reggett
Lead Speech Language Pathologist Claudia Dunaway, left, Lyn Reggett and Kristen Silva in Silva's first grade class at Field Elementary School.
New Zealander Lynn Reggett is guest teacher in Kristen Silva's first grade class at Field Elementary School during a visit to share literacy teaching methods from the island nation.

Sponsored by San Diego Unified's Special Education and Literacy Department, the visit gave students the opportunity to take a lesson from Reggett on shared reading and writing.

Teachers were also in attendance for the Jan. 27 session, observing Reggett's methods.

With one of the highest literacy rates in the industrialized world, New Zealand has achieved international renown for the high quality of its literacy education.

For more information, contact Linda Earlston at (858) 273-3323.

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

Friday, March 4, 2011

Today's Issues Tackled by Umoja Club at Pt. Loma High

Tchaiko Kwayana, left, Amani Van Reed, Jamiela Winfield, Alara Bennett, Haiti TEACH-IN Presenter Pierre Labossiere, Uchechi Anigbogu, Alexis Ruiz, and Sharee Sweet.
A teach-in at Point Loma High School helped students explore Haiti with Pierre Labossiere, co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee.

Among the issues discussed: why is Haiti, the second-oldest republic in this hemisphere (1804) (after the USA) one of the world's poorest countries? The answer to that question changes emotion from pity to outrage when details of the history of Haiti are known. The Umoja Club, which will publish those findings in time, urges all to become well informed by becoming truth-seekers.

In 2009, the feature was Chimamanda Adichie's The Danger of a Single Story; last December, it was to present "the book of the century," Michele Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

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

From The Superintendent: Ask Sacramento to Let Us Vote for Schools

Contact Your Legislators
Bill KowbaAs I’m sure you’re well aware, our district is facing a fourth year of huge funding cuts from the State of California. As we prepare next year’s budget, the $120 million reduction could mean that more than 900 of our certificated staff — teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses — and more than 500 of our support staff may lose their jobs on July 1.
Class sizes will jump, especially in the early years where Kindergarten through grade 3 will go from our current average of 24 students per class to an average of 29.5 students.
One of Gov. Brown’s plans is to spare education from bigger cuts by asking voters to extend several taxes we’re already paying. To do this he’s requested the state legislature to put this matter before voters in June.
If California voters approve these measures, our district will be able to restore about $57 million in budget cuts, save hundreds of teacher and support staff jobs, and possibly keep our K-3 classrooms at their current size.
We urge all of our school families and the community to learn more about this critical issue. We hope you'll take action by contacting your state representatives and urge them to give California voters the right to vote on school funding choices on a special June election ballot.
Our California PTA has a website that will help you find and contact your state legislators.
Thank you for becoming a more informed and involved member of our school community.
Bill Kowba

Presidential Medal of Science Recipient Visits Serra High

On Feb. 16, Junipero Serra High School welcomed UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, who was honored by the school’s Science in the City program for receiving the National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.

Serra High science teacher Ericka Senegar-Mitchell invited Fox to speak to the Ladies of Science in the City, a student-run program that promotes a passion for science among peers while exposing students to various careers in the field of science. Following a presentation and luncheon, Fox joined students in the biotech lab to conduct a pickle experiment, by her side, husband and UCSD chemistry professor, James Whitesell.

Senegar-Mitchell, a current County Teacher of the Year, started the Science in the City program on campus to make a positive impact on dropout prevention. For more information, contact Ericka Senegar-Mitchell at (858) 496-8342.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Physics Projects Shown by Mt. Everest Students

The physics class at Mt. Everest Academy hosted a Physics Project Exhibit for staff, fellow students, and family members to attend.  Each student selected a physics concept to research, and then built a physical model demonstrating that principle.  The students each explained the concept to their audience, and then showed the principle in action with their exhibit.

The physics principles demonstrated were:  Bernoulli’s Principle, Newton’s Third Law, wavelengths, force, gravity, acceleration, pressure, speed and velocity.

After observing the presentations, attendees were asked to grade each project.  First place was awarded for the Centripetal Acceleration display and second place was awarded for the Wavelength display.

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

Scripps Ranch Students Turn Castoffs into Clutchbags

Students enrolled in Clothing and Design at Scripps Ranch High School participated in a Re-Cycle or Re-Use project.

Some students used their sewing skills to create tote bags that replace paper or plastic grocery bags. Others turned gently used pillow cases, jeans, shirts, jackets and other out-of-use household items into trendy drawstring bags and zipper clutches. Discarded buttons and lace were then added as design embellishments.

The items are on display in the school office, reminding us that with a little bit of creativity, we can all make changes toward a greener way of life. For more information, contact Barbara Hillman, CCTE teacher, at (858) 621-9020 ext 4504.

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

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Longfellow Video Takes National Honors

The National 2011 Discover Languages Video Contest, hosted by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, has awarded students at Longfellow Academy first prize in its 2011 contest to "Bilingualism."

The video was a cross-curricular project between Spanish and multimedia classes. This allowed the students to first study the benefits of multilingualism in Spanish class, write a script and record the video on campus. The project was finished in their Multimedia class. Watch video»

Contact Cary Knight, Middle School Multimedia Teacher, Longfellow Spanish Immersion Magnet School, (619) 276-4206, for more information.

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

Author’s Visit Inspires Hoover High Students

On Feb. 3, Hoover High School hosted a visit and reading from celebrated writer, lê thi diem thúy, author of “The Gangster We Are All Looking For.” The true-life novel about a Vietnamese refugee family in San Diego is told from the perspective of the family’s young daughter.

More than 250 students, teachers, staff and other invited guests participated in a deeply meaningful, intellectual and personal experience. Students were attentive and engaged during both the readings, and the question and answer period.

Earlier in the year, Hoover’s teachers assigned the book to their students, guiding them to deeper levels of analysis. This course of study set the groundwork for many thoughtful questions for the author. Following the visit, students reported feeling “more alive, connected and inspired.” For more information, contact Principal Chuck Podhorsky at (619) 283-6281.

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Silver Gate PE Teacher Gets Statewide Honors

Geoff McCloud has been named California Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. The Silver Gate Elementary School teacher will be honored at the Association's upcoming conference.

"It was an honor and a privilege to watch him in action!" said Ruth Silofau, a former winner who is involved in the selection. "To be teaching for as long as he has and to still have that type of enthusiasm and energy is a tribute to who he is as a person and as a teacher."

McCloud said he was honored to receive the award as recognition of his success with students.

"My mission statement is simple: Silver Gate Physical Education... building better citizens through meaningful movement," he said. "Making movement fun at the elementary level increases the chances of having active humans
throughout their lives. I really do have the best job in the whole world."

For more information on McCloud and Silver Gate Elementary, contact Sandra McClure, principal, at (619) 222-1139. Contact the Association for more on its Teacher of the Year program.

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Crawford CHAMPs Student Receives TODOS Math Award

At last week’s 2011 Greater San Diego Math Conference, Crawford CHAMPs sophomore Israel Barbosa was recognized by TODOS: Mathematics For All for his outstanding achievements in mathematics.

In only his second year of high school, Israel has already completed Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB and is currently enrolled in AP Calculus BC, the highest level high school mathematics course.

This summer, Israel plans to further his advancement by studying multivariate calculus at a local college. For more information, contact CHAMPs Principal William Laine at (619) 583-2501.

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