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