Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Three District Middle Schools, One Charter Ready to GEAR UP

Harriet Tubman Village Charter, Marston Middle School, Montgomery Middle School and Taft Middle School were among 51 schools selected statewide to participate in the California GEAR UP grant program.

GEAR UP, which stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, supports staff development to increase instructional skills and student achievement at the middle school level.

Each school is participating in the planning phase of the program, and if selected to continue, will receive $10,000 per year for six years.

“Being selected for this phase is a huge accomplishment,” said Taft Principal Mike George. “I know I can speak for all my peers at the other schools - we all plan to be accepted for the final award.”

Selected California GEAR UP schools commit to strong academic programming and a cohesive college and career readiness curriculum, beginning at the middle school and connecting with area high schools and local postsecondary institutions. GEAR UP provides a network of support and professional development activities to integrate a college-going culture into school site reform efforts.

For more information about the grants, please contact each school’s principal. For more information on the California GEAR UP grant program, please visit their website.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Crawford Law Students Are Defendant, Prosecution and Defense

"Prosecutor" Armand Binombe "Defendant" Jamal Robinson  "Defense Attorney" Diego Cruz
"Prosecutor" Armand Binombe "Defendant" Jamal Robinson"Defense Attorney" Diego Cruz
It was almost a real criminal case gone to trial after six months of work, except that the attorneys and defendants were high school students and the case itself was based on Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

Sponsored by Thomas Jefferson School of Law, 20 students from at Crawford's School of Law and Business worked for six months with mentors in the Crawford Legal Institute and Mentorship Bond (CLIMB) program to prepare for the trial. The students amazed the audience with their public speaking skills, courtroom strategies and professionalism.

“I was nervous at first, but it turned out to be a lot of fun," said student Greg Parker. "The best part was doing the closing argument and seeing people listen to what I have to say.”

Program mentors work with the students in a variety of ways. Every month, mentors speak to the Crawford students about the path they took to get to law school and what they can do to attain the same position. The mentors then hold a roundtable discussion where they answer questions about life and the law school experience. Culture Night, which introduces high school students to entertainment outside of the mainstream media, focuses on current social and legal issues by examining various forms of legislation, art, music, and film.

For more information, please contact Steve Luttbeg, Crawford Law Academy teacher, at sluttbeg@sandi.net or Clinton Minus for the CLIMB program at minuscm@tjsl.edu.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bullying Isn't Welcome at Kearny Science, Connections and Technology (SCT)

SCT students rally.
Kearny SCT students rally against bullying.
Students at Kearny’s School of Science, Connections and Technology(SCT) made it clear that there is no place for bullying on their campus.
During a recent lunch period, students planned and organized a peaceful campaign to bring awareness to their peers about the harmful effect of bullying. In bright-colored tee shirts, a hundred students carried signs with bullying statistics, raising attention for this important issue. SCT is one of four small schools on the Kearny campus.

The group’s goal was to educate their peers, letting them know that discrimination has a face not just a number.After walking through campus, students joined hands in a large circle and observed a moment of silence for teens nationwide that committed suicide as a direct result of bullying.

SCT's anti bullying campaign could not come at a better time. Last September, California passed Seth’s Law, which tightens anti-bullying policies in California schools by ensuring that all schools have clear and consistent policies and by establishing timelines for investigating claims of bullying. Many students felt encouraged by the passing of Seth’s Law and hope that future students will not have to endure bullying of any kind.

For more information, contact Jessica Graham, SCT teacher, at jgraham1@sandi.net

Saturday, January 28, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Students Uplifted by Citizenship Ceremony

Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Gerda Weissmann Klein watched Friday as the dreams of 50 people were made real during a citizenship ceremony at San Diego High School. Friday’s event took place at the downtown San Diego campus because teacher Arlene Harris uses civics and citizenship curriculum created by the nonprofit group Citizenship Counts, which Weissmann Klein founded. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Whitman Elementary PTA Wins $1,000 National PTA Grant

Whitman Elementary’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was one of 45 PTAs nationwide to receive a $1,000 grant as part of the 2012 PTA Take Your Family to School Week Grant Program. The grant is meant to enable PTAs to implement programs that engage families in the school community.

Whitman was awarded the grant in December and its PTA plans to use it for activities centered around the school's Family Science Week Feb. 13-16. Families and friends are welcome to join Whitman in these fun-filled and informative activities:

Monday, February 13, 2012: UCSD Jacob’s School of Engineering
Come learn about the basic concepts of Engineering from one of Whitman’s Partners.
Two assemblies: Grades 4-6: 1:20 p.m. – 2:20 p.m., Grades K-3: 2:25 p.m. – 3:25 p.m.
Monday, February 13, 2012: Family Science Night, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Reuben H Fleet, Whitman’s Partner, will be presenting concepts of science and offer hands-on experiments sure to delight children.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012: Career Day
In-school event where parents and community members will visit classrooms to speak about their careers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012: Read to Your Student Day
Parents and caregivers are welcome to read to their student’s classroom.

Thursday, February 16, 2012: Robotics Day
Students from the James Madison High School involved in the Robotics Club will be invited to partner with classrooms to explore and build robotics using Kinetic Robotics.

Each year, "Take Your Family to School Week" is celebrated as a way to honor PTA’s legacy of building family-school partnerships. This year, the celebration runs February 12–18, 2012.

PTA "Take Your Family to School Week" is sponsored by the AXA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AXA Equitable. The AXA Foundation is a Proud National Sponsor of PTA. The AXA Foundation provides more than $1.3 million a year in scholarships to make college a reality for students across the country.

For more information, contact Laura Schumacher with the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs at 619-297-7821 or www.sdcouncilpta.org.

Friday, January 27, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Cluster Association launches initiatives for better education

About 85 elementary school educators in La Jolla came together on Jan. 18 at La Jolla Elementary School to learn new strategies for teaching mathematics, at a training supported by the La Jolla Cluster Association (LJCA). The gathering marked the first time that different public schools in La Jolla brought their teachers together for professional development. The principals of La Jolla, Bird Rock and Torrey Pines Elementary Schools organized the event. San Diego Unified School District math experts showed a video and led grade-level group discussions. Read more from the La Jolla Light»

United Nations Conference Preparations Under Way

Model UN Meeting Human rights, food security, the use of child-soldiers and nuclear disarmament are being researched as students at several schools prepare for May's Regional Junior Model United Nations Conference.
Schools involved include Grant K-8 School; Lewis,Wangenheim and Mann middle schools; and Scripps Ranch and Patrick Henry High schools.

An academic simulation of the United Nations, Junior Model United Nations educates participants about civics, current events, effective communication, globalization and multilateral diplomacy. Participants research a country, take on roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult, and then develop solutions to world problems.

The two-day conference, schedule for May 30-31 at the University of San Diego, encourages study of United Nations principals of democratic life, such as respect for the rule of law, civil discourse, the peaceful competition of ideas, and consensus-building and consensus-conversion through international governing institutions.

If you or your school is interested in participating in the San Diego Regional Model United Nations Conference, please contact Anne Anthony at aanthony@sandi.net or visit our website at http://www.sandi.net/Page/2738.

Cubberley Elementary Students Treated to Harp Concert

Cubberley Elementary students were treated recently with a 45-minute harp concert by Sarah Davis, courtesy of the Musical Merit Foundation of Greater San Diego's "Close Encounters" program.

Davis played songs from several genres, including current tunes such as Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” Students also learned about the history of the harp and how it works. Davis is completing her last year at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music on full scholarship.

The Musical Merit Foundation of San Diego helps discover, encourage and present young music students of exceptional talent. The Foundation raises funds to provide scholarships to those students who show exceptional musical talent and who pass preliminary and final auditions and evidence exceptional talent.  The Close Encounters program enables schoolchildren of all ages to hear a young artist in an intimate setting at no cost to the school.

For additional information, contact Principal Rosemary Cruz at rcruz1@sandi.net or (858) 496-8075. For more information on Close Encounters and the Musical Merit Foundation, visit the website http://www.musicalmerit.org/

Dancers from SCPA headed to National High School Dance Festival

SCPA Dance Connections Dancers from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts will be performing under the direction of internationally-known choreographers and in front of an international audience in March at the prestigious National High School Dance Festival.

Scheduled for March 9-11 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, 25 dancers from SCPA have been selected to perform two dances:
  • Excerpts from the Disinherited will be choreographed by Tony Award winner and SCPA friend Donald McKayle. McKayle returns to SCPA this year to teach students his politically revealing dance, House of Tears, which will be performed April 19-28 at SCPA.

  • Echoes of Ailey, choreographed by Christopher Huggins, a former dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Aterbaletto of Reggio Emilia in Italy.
SCPA dancers performed Excerpts and Echoes of Ailey during the school's 2011 annual dance concert.

The four-day festival will welcome 1,500 students in grades 9-12 from around the world representing their high school. The festival also offers a full day of scholarship auditions, as well as more than 200 master classes including ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip hop, musical theater and salsa.

For more information on SCPA, contact Mitzi Lizarraga, principal, at (619) 470-0555.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Farmers brings “Blessings in a Backpack” to Miller Elementary

“Blessings in a Backpack” is a new program designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the federal free and reduced meal program and may not have any or enough food on the weekends. The backpacks will be delivered to Doris Miller Elementary school on the morning of Friday, January 28. Kate Rose and other PGA TOUR wives will lead the delivery of the backpacks to the school. Read more from Farmers Insurance»

Junior Achievement Crown Goes to Clairemont

Students in competition
Students in competition
Clairemont High’s Academy of Business Technology won the fourth annual Junior Achievement Titans of Industry Challenge, managing a virtual corporation better than the other 17 high schools in the competition.

The competition placed grade 10-11 high school students in the seat of a chief executive officer of a virtual corporation for a day, required to wrestle with sales, profit margins and market share in a high-tech, competitive market.

Team Apprenti’s win is the third year in a row that a team from Clairemont High has won first place. Patrick Henry High's team, The 1%, took second place, while another team Clairemont team, Team Identity, placed third.

In addition to the competition, students were given the opportunity to hear the real-life application for what they are learning through their Junior Achievement program. Chris Goodman, Vice President/Finance and Accounting, Sony Electronics, Inc., shared the relevance of knowing how his team’s financial decisions determine the continued success of the company. And Dr. Cecilia Williams, University of Phoenix School of Business Campus College Chair, gave the students insight on how Junior Achievement Titan applies to future college business courses as well as working in the field upon graduation.

Junior Achievement is a worldwide organization that strongly believes education in economics and finances are important in preparing students for success in a global economy. For more information about JA, go to www.jasandiego.org.

For more information, please contact Alan Walter, AOBT Teacher, at dwalter@sandi.net.

Mission Bay Students Explore Career Options

Checking into medical careers. More than 1,000 Mission Bay High School students were introduced to a variety of careers at a career-ready event, "If The Shoe Fits."

More than 100 local business and community organization representatives were on hand to speak with the students about becoming college and career ready.The event was sponsored by San Diego Unified's Office of College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE) to give students a look at a variety of professions.

“Different occupations require different skills and education," said Ralph West, Instructional and Community Development Program Manager. "Just like shoes, you’ve got to try them on to see if they fit so you can make appropriate decisions for future classes and post-secondary education.”

All industry sectors from California were represented at the event. Some of the highlights of the 35 interactive exhibits included the U.S.Marshall’s Office Explosives Unit and their bomb-sniffing dog, the UCSD Neuroscience Graduate Students who brought surgical gloves for students to wear while handing human brain specimens, the Mossy Automotive Group which provides student internship sites every year, the U.S. District Court, the California Center for Sustainable Energy, a 20-foot by 20-foot weather station depicting water shortage and irrigation education by the City of San Diego Water Conservation Program, the San Diego Humane Society, San Diego Fire and Rescue and San Diego County Hazardous Materials Division.

For more information, please contact West at rwest1@sandi.net or (858) 503-1747.

Community Helps Birney Elementary Recover and Thrive

The tragic fire at Birney Elementary School has resulted in an outpouring of community support. The school's foundation, Friends of Alice Birney Elementary, is managing the relief effort through its website, www.friendsofalicebirney.org. The PTA sponsored a bake sale on Saturday, Jan. 21 and raised more than $2,000.

Several other events are in the process of being organized, including the “Food Trucks Rally for Birney Elementary Fire Relief,” scheduled from 3:30-7 p.m. next Friday, Feb. 3. Five gourmet food trucks will circle in the parking lot of the New Vision Christian Fellowship, 4353 Park Blvd., with 20 percent of the proceeds going to the school. Special thanks to everyone who has donated their time, talent, items or money.

The fire damaged the school kitchen and combination cafeteria/auditorium, where the before and after school programs were housed, as well as the recently outfitted “Birney Buddies” room, a center for non-directed play for students experiencing difficulties adjusting to school.

With their indoor cafeteria out of commission, Food Services has set up a large tent on the playground to serve breakfast and lunch, so the students haven't missed a meal. The before and after school programs (prime time and ices education) have been relocated elsewhere on campus. Repairs continue on the school.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Freese Elementary Gets $100,000 Grant from Target Corp.

Freese Elementary Arts and Culture Magnet School in the Skyline neighborhood has been awarded a $100,000 grant by Target Corporation, nominated by viewers of TV's Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The grant will be used to support the school's Arts and Culture Magnet Program and purchase new books.

"I'm just so excited at what this will mean for our school," said Alma Hills, Freese Principal. "Due to budget cuts, our Arts and Culture program, which provides every Freese student with rich experiences in music, dance, theatre and visual arts, has been in danger of being eliminated.

"Additionally, Freese library book collections have been severely worn, due to our ambitious Scholastic Reading Counts independent reading program, in which Freese students have read more than 100 million words for multiple years. I want to especially thank Mary Pat Hutt, Freese's Arts and Culture Resource teacher, who submitted the nomination."

As an Arts and Culture Magnet school, Freese students constantly expand their cultural knowledge by exploring topics with local artists, musicians, dancers and actors, both on and off campus. All students in grades kindergarten through five participate in six- to eight-week arts and culture rotations, which are often enhanced by field trips and assemblies.

Superintendent Bill Kowba saluted not only the commitment to education by Target and the Ellen DeGeneres Show, but the excellent program at Freese.

"The Freese community took the initiative to pursue this important opportunity and deserves great credit for that," he said. "Not only is the funding appreciated, but the national recognition again highlights the quality education that students receive at Freese and all over the San Diego Unified School District."

As the Feb. 15 deadline for school choice applications approaches, Freese is holding open houses so prospective parents can tour the site and explore the programs. Contact the school at (619) 479-2727 for a schedule.

In addition, Freese will have a display at this Saturday's All Schools Fair, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Recital Hall in Balboa Park. Find Freese online at www.sandi.net/freese

Lindbergh Schweitzer Holiday Efforts Paid Off

What's a "service learning magnet school"?

For the students and staff at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School in Clairemont, it means helping the community. Two projects during the holiday season were examples of this every day effort:
  • The second annual Emily Palmeter Toy Drive took place at Lindbergh Schweitzer Service Learning Magnet School shortly before the winter break. Honoring the memory of a former student, parents and staff donated more than 180 toys which were given to the school's partner, SAY San Diego, for its Adopt-a-Family Program. The Palmeter family graciously agreed to distribute the toys to this organization because it provides needed holiday support for families in the Clairemont community.
  • Lindbergh Schweitzer Service Learning Magnet School found a way to promote parent involvement and help those in need at the same time. The school’s recent holiday dance admission was a canned food donation or a check written to help homeless families. Parents eagerly donated approximately 200 cans of food which was given to the school's partner, SAY San Diego, that will help stock their pantries for families in need. $150 was donated to the district's Office of Children and Youth in Transition that helps families who are homeless.
  • The veterans at the VA Hospital in La Jolla received holiday card tray favors created by students and families while taking a break during the holiday dance.
For additional information contact Media Production Assistant Julie Harris at jharris2@sandi.net or 858-496-8400.

Shoes Tell Story With Today's Kids

Old school at Morse.
Old school at Morse.
Styles come and go and come back again.

At Morse High School, old school shoes are back in style according to Morse seniors, Tyrone Patrick and Ben Manu, reports Greg Quirin, a San Diego Unified Resource Teacher in the College, Career and Technical Education program.

"I couldn’t help but notice that a majority of the male students were wearing Converse All-Star shoes. I couldn’t resist and asked the students if I could photograph their shoes," said Quirin.

“A lot of students like the old school Converse All-Stars," said Manu.
"They are pretty cool shoes to wear, comfortable, in style, and great for skateboarding and sports," said Patrick. "They come in different colors and styles and can be customized with different color laces.”

Manu noted while most wear Converse, some still prefer the classic style Van’s shoe which is also popular among skaters and very similar in style to the nearly century old and still going strong Converse All-Star.

The truth is, the All-Star still remains strong and popular among many of our youth. The All-Star shoe has evolved into a global youth symbol of originality, individuality and self-expressionism. Chances are you or someone you know has owned a pair of Converse All-Stars.

To date, more than 750,000,000 pairs have sold since their debut in 1917 and there are no signs of losing popularity.
What are your thoughts? Contact Greg at gquirin@sandi.net.

Pepsi Grants Go to EB Scripps Elementary, University City High

UC High students
UC High students Kimia Nouri and Jazzy Cranford
Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School in Scripps Ranch and University City High School have received grants from Pepsi's Refresh Everything program.
Both schools received $10,000 grants, with University City High using its grant for band and color guard uniforms, while EB Scripps will hold Family Science nights with its proceeds. In each case, a proposal was written and posted on Pepsi's RefreshEverything.com website; the proposals need to be one of the top vote-getters in their category for the month.

Kimia Nouri and Jazzy Cranford saw a huge opportunity to help their their University City High Band and Color Guard through Pepsi's program. With their teacher, UCHS Music Director Cameron Brown, the joined with the school's Music Boosters to write a grant application for new instruments and other materials for the program. With heavy voting by the University City High community, the entry came in second for November voting and was awarded the $10,000 grant.

Family Science Nights are on the horizon at Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School, after the school community also won a November grant for $10,000. Science lab equipment bought with the grant will allow experiments and other demonstrations during the family events.

"We are so thrilled to finally be able to move ahead with this project," said Greg Collamer, EB Scripps Principal. "We have a team of parent volunteers who have been eager to get started with the purchases and preparation for this program."

For more on the program, go to the Pepsi website.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SCPA Singer Wins National Honor

Victoria Matthews with her 2010 Craig Noel Award.
Victoria Matthews from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) is a 2012 YoungArts Merit Award Winner in Voice from the YoungArts Program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. She receives $100 from the program, which identifies emerging artists and assists themat critical junctures in their educational and professional development.

“Victoria Matthews is most deserving of the Merit Award which acknowledges Victoria’s work ethic, determination, talent and intellectual pursuits," said Mitzi Yates Lizarraga, Principal of the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts. "I am equally proud of our young dancers who push themselves athletically in the beautiful art form of dance.”

Victoria also received the 2011 Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Young Performer from the San Diego Critics Circle. She was honored for her performance of Little Inez in Hairspray, produced by the San Diego Repertory Theatre in partnership with SCPA. The school counts five Tony Award-winners among its alumni along with countless others who are working professionally in the artistic arena.

One of 271 YoungArts 2012 Merit Award Winners,Victoria was selected in a blind adjudication process of applicants from around the nation. She is eligible to participate in regional competitions in New York and Miami.
For more information aboutYoungArts, visit www.youngarts.org. For more information on the school, visit its website at www.sandi.net/scpa

IN THE NEWS: A Touch of the Classics

For nearly two decades, the San Diego-based nonprofit Classics 4 Kids has been filling the arts education void, using its multidisciplinary music programs to engage elementary school children in classroom learning. Lessons are developed in partnership with San Diego Unified School District and include trainings that show teachers how to incorporate music and arts into their classroom. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Roosevelt IB Middle School Breaks Ground for New Grass Park, Tennis Court Renovation

Roosevelt During winter break the Greater San Diego City Tennis Council held a groundbreaking ceremony for a renovated four-court community tennis complex at Roosevelt IB Middle School. In addition to the tennis court upgrades, the project includes improvement of the existing sand surface field to a multi-purpose grass park. Both developments will provide an enhanced experience for the student body as well as the community. 
The existing four asphalt-surfaced tennis courts that are on the west side of the school will be resurfaced to a state-of-the-art conventional two-toned hard court surface and the potentially dangerous metal nets will be replaced with conventional tennis nets. The courts will also be lined for USTA “10 and under tennis” to enhance the enjoyment and development of younger children.  The tennis courts are being renovated and resurfaced. This project was jointly financed by a combination of foundations, private donors, and a grant from the San Diego District Tennis Association. 
Dr. Arturo Cabello, principal of Roosevelt stated, “It’s an honor to be a part of this collaborative effort to support academics and athleticisms.  We encourage our students to find a sport they like and become good at it so they might compete for academic and athletic scholarships to college one day.”
The president of the Greater San Diego City Tennis Council, Ben Press, commented, “As an alumnus of Roosevelt Middle School, I remember playing on two white cement tennis courts.  Now four tennis courts will be renovated for the enjoyment of students and community members for many years to come.”
Former NBA superstar, television sportscaster, and a neighborhood member, Bill Walton showed his support by attending the ground breaking event.  “I am proud, privileged, honored, humbled and most fortunate to be directly involved in this wonderful project," said Walton. "We owe our children the best, and this is a huge step in the right direction."
The Greater San Diego City Tennis Council is a 501-C3 charitable organization whose mission is to repair and resurface public tennis courts within San Diego County.
For more information, contact Principal Cabello at (619) 293-4450 or acabello@sandi.net 

Monday, January 23, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Chinese, It’s the New Spanish

Robert Dorsey is not Chinese, but he drives 25 miles from El Cajon to Point Loma every morning so his two daughters can learn to speak, read, and write in Mandarin. “In my culture, it’s English, Ebonics, and maybe a little bit of Spanish,” says Dorsey, who is African American. “About ten years ago, my wife was in college, and her professor told her Chinese was the language to learn. I want to give my kids a little bit of an edge in life.”
Read more in the San Diego Reader»

December Nights Showcases de Portola Middle Music Students

DePortola De Portola Middle School’s award-winning Advanced Chamber Orchestra and Symphonic Band were the opening acts at the Balboa Park Annual December Nights event. It was the first time the de Portola Middle School Instrumental Music Program performed at what has been called the “nation’s premier holiday festival,” held in the historic Spreckels Organ Pavilion.  

Afterwards, one audience member wrote to de Portola principal, Elizabeth Gillingham, stating, “I was very impressed with your performances.  You all looked great, keen attention to the conductor and absolutely beautiful music.  I and everyone else were very proud of your accomplishments; the best of the whole day.” 

In addition to her kind words, she donated $500 to help support the de Portola music program. For more information, contact music teacher Brad Pulverenti at bpulverenti@sandi.net.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

District P.E. Depts. Receive Record Number of Sports Balls

Students from Muir K-12
Muir K-12 students J.J. Schmike, Xavier Sullivan-Roe and Amaya Ollison.
Thanks to Kaiser Permanente’s generous donation of thousands of sports balls, district physical education teachers can now offer more activities in their classes that were not previously possible due to a shortage of balls. The December donation also set a new Guinness World Record for the most balls collected in a single day.

With class sizes increasing, and equipment budgets decreasing, this donation has had a tremendous impact on the quality of service to our children. Kaiser Permanente gives our physical education teachers and their students some hope during a time when most budgets have run dry.
Schools received the equipment based on their physical education teachers’ regular attendance at professional development events this fall and their ongoing commitment to improving their programs. Kudos to the physical education teachers at the following schools for going the extra mile:

Audubon K-8, Bell MS, Clairemont HS, CPMA MS, Correia MS, Crawford HS, Fulton K-8, Golden Hill K-8, Hoover HS, Innovation MS, Knox MS, Lincoln HS, Marston MS, Memorial Prep MS, Millennial Tech MS, Monroe Clark MS, Montgomery MS, Morse HS, Muir K-12, Muirlands MS, Pacific Beach MS, Patrick Henry HS, Point Loma HS, Roosevelt MS, Scripps Ranch HS, Taft MS

According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), “Teachers [must] organize their classes to maximize opportunities for all children to learn and be physically active. Enough equipment is provided so that children spend virtually no time waiting for turns or standing in lines...” NASPE calls for one ball for every two children to increase the opportunities for students to acquire new skills and be successful in physical education. However, many schools have not seen new physical education equipment for 3-5 consecutive years or more.

For more information, contact Brenna Baringer at 619-725-7124 or bbaringer@sandi.net.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

JROTC Cadets Collect 5.5 Tons of Food

Junior ROTC Food Drive
JROTC students at Scripps Ranch High collected over 1 ton of food for local charities, churches and food banks.
Each year, San Diego Unified School District's JROTC cadets rally to support San Diegans by collecting food during the holiday season. This year was no exception as 13 JROTC programs conducted the annual JROTC Holiday Food Drive.
Together with friends, families, school faculty and students, the cadets collected an amazing 10,960 pounds (almost 5.5 tons). Donations of canned and dried goods went to various local charities, churches and food banks to be distributed to families just before the holidays.
A Community Service Streamer, special recognition given to the school that donates the largest amount per student, will be presented to Scripps Ranch High for collecting 2,120 pounds (over 1 ton). San Diego High placed second and Lincoln High placed third. 
Thank you to all cadets for their donations to this worthy event.
For more information, contact LTC David Guzman at dguzman1@sandi.net.

Friday, January 20, 2012

From the Superintendent: Our Four Budget Realities

William Kowba, Superintendent
At the onset of 2012, our school district continues to face significant financial challenges stemming from the deep and prolonged state budget crisis. Five years of K-12 education cuts has taken its toll on everyone. All of us who care deeply about preserving the quality of education will struggle with balancing tough trade-offs in the weeks and months ahead.

In this letter, I provide a first look at the 2012/13 budget to establish a common appreciation of the district’s fiscal realities. During this very difficult time, it is critical that we all comprehend the realities that we must face together and that we openly communicate with one another about our concerns. I believe that it is important for every employee, parent and community member understand the basics of our budget situation and to appreciate the difficult work underway by the Board and our staff to balance our budget. I am very sensitive to Board meeting testimony and casual conversation that suggests that this will be a better budget cycle with new resources and minimal cuts. That is not the case based on current information.

The fiscal landscape is a very sobering one as outlined below.

Budget Reality #1: The Governor’s Budget Does Not Increase School Funding. The proposed November Ballot Measure Does Not Improve K-12 Education Funding.

Contrary to some early media reports, the proposed 2012/13 budget IS NOT a good one for school districts. The great ambiguity associated with state revenues, the legislative turmoil in Sacramento, and the high stakes gamble of a November ballot measure has put us out on a limb.
  • School districts will not receive new or additional funds for educational programs or staffing. The proposed K-12 state budget is one of flat funding. San Diego Unified will experience about the same funding level next year as this year. A flat budget is a negative budget because there are no cost-of-living adjustments for fact-of-life expense growth tied to utilities, health care, fuel, and the like. With flat funding from the state, our district will still face a significant deficit which I explain below. Rather than provide any real increase in resources, the proposed state budget is shifting money to remove previously planned deferred payments to school districts. This means we may receive our General Fund allocations in a timelier manner, but no additional money from redevelopment agency accounts or other sources.
  • School districts face a potentially HUGE midyear cut dependent on the passage of a tax measure by California voters in November 2012. The Governor’s strategy for a November ballot measure also has NO additional money for schools; it would just keep our funding at the current threshold. Simply put, a successful ballot measure only preserves the status quo for K-12 funding. But, per the proposed state budget, a failed ballot measure could result in a $4.8 billion cut to education. The governor’s staff has said that a funding reduction of this magnitude would be the equivalent of cutting three more weeks off school next year. Such an outcome translates into a devastating resource cut halfway through the school year.
Budget Reality #2: Our Expenses Exceed Our Revenues.

For several years, San Diego Unified has been able to partially offset our revenue shortfall by using one-time funds and reserves. This amounts to deficit spending and it must stop. We continue to face a reality that the district’s total operating expenses significantly exceed our total annual revenues. Given that there are no additional monies forthcoming from the state, we must significantly cut district costs again, recognizing that more than 90% of our expenses are connected to salaries and benefits.
The fiscal facts are straightforward:
  • San Diego Unified is projecting an operating deficit of more than $90 million for the 2012/13 fiscal year and more than $125 million in 2013/14 if budget reductions are not made.
  • There no longer are adequate reserve funds to accommodate revenue deficiencies.
  • Our expenses must be realigned to match our revenues for the district to become financially stable.
  • Our Board of Education is committed to balancing the district budget and will do everything necessary to maintain the district in a solvent position, thereby avoiding a state takeover.
  • Positive cash management remains a crucial and challenging element of the district’s budget.
Budget Reality #3: We Have to Fix a Multi-Year Structural Deficit Problem.

To achieve and sustain a stable financial footing, it is necessary to solve our multi-year structural deficit with ongoing expense reductions and limit the use of one-time solutions like proceeds from the sale of real estate. My goal is to guide the Board to a plan that can stabilize our budget not just for next year, but for the foreseeable future to avoid the annual trauma of program cuts and layoffs.

Financial stability is dependent on making very difficult reductions for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 budget years. Our list of cuts, reviewed by the Board at the first interim financial report presentation on December 13, will serve as the basis for more than $150 million in reductions to our General Fund Unrestricted budget over the next two years. These adjustments include significant class size increases and educational and support services decreases, actions that no one wants to even consider…but unfortunately that is our reality.

Budget Reality #4: Given No New Revenues in Sight, Both Employee Concessions and Layoffs Must Be Considered.

With flat budgets looming in the “best case” scenario and expenditures exceeding revenues, the District has few options with which to overcome the budget shortfalls. We are at a crossroads where the choices are bleak and severely impact both central office and campus operations.

At this juncture, the Board has asked that we reach out to our unions to address a package of employee concessions that can help the district mitigate the number of layoffs needed to balance the budget and safeguard our academic and administrative programs so critical to student achievement.

We are hopeful that the conversation with the employee collective bargaining teams will begin in the very near future. Some suggested concessions include deferring the negotiated salary increases in current contracts, continuing the current five-day furlough of the last two years, applying salary rollbacks, and/or reshaping health benefit contributions. Contingencies also have to be considered in response to mid-year cuts. We all must approach these negotiations open minded and committed to equitable agreements that lessen the blow of personnel reductions and personal sacrifices.

What’s Next?

On Jan. 24, Chief Financial Officer Ron Little and I will present a budget overview to the Board of Education. In preparation for that meeting, we are collecting technical information, analyzing the proposed state budget, and updating our financial projections. A key element of this work will be the direction received from the County Office of Education about factoring midyear cuts into our proposed district budget.

We are also stepping up advocacy with our elected representatives in Sacramento. “The devil is in the details” and that is very true for the state budget. We are awaiting specific legislative budget language forthcoming in early February. It will provide more details about how school districts can be expected to implement a possible midyear cut, such as legislative authorization for a three-week school reduction as a contingency.

We will continue to face great uncertainty about our budget for the next six months. The state budget will evolve and change during a time when school districts are required to make layoff notice decisions. This is a terribly disconnected process where local agencies act on and react to State government decisions with no synchronization between the two parties. We are likely to face the reality of issuing March 15 certificated layoff notices in unprecedented numbers and subsequently rescinding some number as budget details are updated and employee group negotiations become finalized.

In conclusion, the budget situation is very serious, but one we can overcome through our demonstrated past resiliency and commitment to expending our best efforts. Let me assure all of you that I will continue to present complete and factual budget information to you and the Board. I will devote all of my energies to finding solutions that can minimize the impacts of these difficult fiscal realities.
I ask that each of you continue to stay focused on our mission to provide a quality education to our students each and every day. We are a team and by working collectively and collaboratively, we will get through the worst of times in California public education.
William Kowba

IN THE NEWS: ESPNHS CA Athlete of the Week

It was a difficult start for Briteesha Solomon and the rest of the San Diego Mission Bay girls basketball team at the 2011 West Coast Jamboree that was held in Orinda just before the start of the new year. But Solomon went on to show she’s one of the most explosive and talented guards in the state and is the first ESPNHS Cal-Hi Sports Athlete of the Week among basketball players this season. Read more on ESPN»

Students, Community Gather for First Student 2 Student Council Day

S2S Student Council Day More than 70 students, staff and community members involved with Student 2 Student (S2S) clubs in San Diego County came together January 7 to share best practices and energize school programs at the first-ever Student 2 Student Council Day.

The S2S Council Day offered teams the opportunity to exchange ideas and strategies. Teams learned from each other’s presentations and brainstormed long-term goals and plans for future program improvement. Students from Pt. Loma and Serra high schools were among the attendees.

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

The Navy and Marine Corps School Liaisons partnered with the San Diego Unified School District to present the event, which was made possible by the collaborative outcome of the Department of Defense Education Activity’s Operation Student Success Grant (OSS).

S2S is a powerful high school program designed by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC). Students and staff receive extensive training from MCEC to customize an individualized program for implementation at school sites.

For more information on S2S and MCEC, please contact Kimberly Shapazian in the Office of Children and Youth in Transition at kshapazian@sandi.net or (619) 725-8168.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cabrillo Elementary Gets Visit from Clifford the Big Red Dog

Cabrillo Elementary Students Students at Cabrillo Elementary received a rare treat on Wednesday as Clifford the Big Red Dog visited students during their Reading is Fundamental (RIF) book distribution.

Betty Carlos, RIF chairperson and second grade teacher, set up this special day for Cabrillo's students to promote a life-long love of reading. One of the RIF guidelines is that a child may choose any book, regardless of the type or level. Most students chose books on grade level.

“Any reading is good reading,” said school library assistant Lauryn Gates. “This is what the RIF program is all about."

A special thanks to RIF, Scholastic Books and the staff at Cabrillo for making Clifford’s visit a memorable experience for all of our students!
The Reading is Fundamental program delivers free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most, inspiring children to be lifelong readers through the power of choice.

For more information on Cabrillo Elementary, visit http://www.cabrilloelementary.com/. For more information on the RIF program, visit http://www.rif.org/.

Doyle Students, Retired Seniors Bridge the Generation Gap

Doyle ES In early December, second and fifth grade students from Doyle Elementary School made a special visit to Vi at La Jolla Village, the school’s new Partner in Education. Vi is a high-rise retirement facility not far from the University City elementary school campus. The visit was part of an intergenerational learning experience.
The students had made Water Conservation posters that were put on display at Vi. During their visit, the students explained their posters to the residents. Many of the residents are retired professionals. After the presentation, the students were treated to lunch with the residents followed by an Ice Cream Social. A good time was had by all.
Research shows that today’s children and older people have limited opportunities for meaningful interaction in a country increasingly segregated by age and marked by long distance grandparents and grandchildren. Intergenerational learning experiences help children learn from and develop positive images of older adults as well as help older adults achieve a sense of fulfillment and reduces feelings of isolation.

For more information, contact Doyle second grade teacher, Alice Evans, at aevans1@sandi.net

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Donations Make the Season Bright for Homeless Students

homeless Thanks to the generosity of community members, businesses, schools and district employees, our students who are experiencing homelessness had a brighter holiday season. The Children and Youth in Transition Department received donations of food, clothing, shoes, and recreational items, including:
  •  600 food bags
  •  Holiday Adoption of 26 families (includes 80 children)
  •  More than 1,000 toys and recreational items     
  •  Hundreds of blankets, hats, gloves, coats, sweaters, scarves, sweatshirts, sweatpants, socks, shoes and hygiene kits
These items not only provided homeless children with the essential items they need but also with the joy that other children experience when they receive a new piece of clothing or an unused toy. We are extremely grateful to these individuals and groups for their support and donations:

• Joseph A. Banks
• A local church group
• Clerkin and Sinclair, LLP
• Continental Data Graphics
• Dept. of the Navy, Southwest Regional Maintenance
• Feeding America
• Girl Scouts
• Promises2Kids
• SKF, Inc
• Starbucks
• Trader Joe’s
• Andrea Agrilla
• Maricela Campbell
• Dottie Engel
• The Erickson family
• Mark and Denise Hays
• Jan Hudson
• Mohammed & Virginia Kasbati
• Tiffany Kavanaugh & neighbors
• Colleen and Dan Lingman
• Annex 13 and 14
• dePortola Middle School JS2S
• Legal Department
• The Medi-Cal Collaborative
• Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School
• Muirlands Middle School
• Office of Language Acquisition
• Cathy Burge
• Naomi Diem
• Catherine Galvan
• Oscar Grajeda
• Rosemary Kerkau
• Richard and Sonia Mahfouz
• Kristin Makena
• Vanessa and Freddy Moreno
• Diana Peterson
• Maureen Rogow
• Marie Stimpson and friends
For more information, contact Pam Hosmer, program manager, at 619-725-7652 or phosmer@sandi.net

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Birney Elementary School Reopens Wednesday

Alice Birney Elementary School will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 18, following an early morning fire on Jan. 17 that damaged the school's combination auditorium-cafeteria and adjacent kitchen. There were no injuries reported.

The International Studies Magnet School will begin its Winter quarter on Wednesday, a day late. Birney is on a year-round schedule and its more than 500 students have been on vacation since Dec. 19. Staff has been working all day to ensure that a safe school is available for students on Wednesday.

"It should be close to a normal day for us," said Amanda Hammond-Williams, principal. "We'll talk with our students about what happened, then it's back to work."

The full cost of repair is still being determined by San Diego Unified School District staff. There was fire and smoke damage to the building, which is separate from other structures at the campus. Structural repairs, and replacement of fixtures and equipment will be funded by the district, however there were losses of materials for the school's drama and before- and after-school programs that are not expected to be covered.

"We estimate that it will cost about $50,000 to replace all the materials we had stored in the auditorium," said Hammond-Williams. Donations to the school can be made through the foundation, which is online at

Cadets Compete for JROTC Crown

Scripps Ranch High team
 Scripps Ranch High team.
San Diego High students
San Diego High students congratulated by Dr. John Lee Evans, Board of Education President.
Morse students receive awards.
Morse students receive awards.
It was a day that would have made John Philip Sousa proud.

The annual JROTC Best Drill Competition brings teams from all 13 San Diego Unified high schools to one location to find out which team has the sharpest uniforms and performs the best drill movements, both stationary and precision.

The traditional drill movements help students develop discipline that helps them in their adult lives. Even if they don't end up serving in the military following college, many JROTC graduates credit the program for helping them focus on what's important in their lives. They also credit the program with helping them to develop a sense of self-discipline.

Categories for this event consist of Platoon and Squad Drill, Best Drill Individuals in grades 9-12; and the first-year cadets and Varsity Color Guard Teams. Each school showcased students in impeccable uniforms throughout the three-phase competition which included uniform inspection, stationary and precision drill movements.

Team sizes varied from 27 participants down to individual performance as cadets competed for top honors among their peers. The selection was extremely difficult as each cadet and team represented the best from each school, but in the end the following cadets stood out as the best among the best.

Presenting awards was the Board of Education President Dr. John Lee Evans.


  • Overall Best Drill Unit Award – Mission Bay High School
  • First Year Individual
    • 1st Place - C/SMN Austin Curvo – Serra
    • 2nd Place - C/AMN Josh Rowe – Scripps Ranch
    • 3rd Place – C/PFC Michael Albritton – Mission Bay
  • 2nd Year Individual
    • 1st Place - C/CPL Sonny Markland – Mission Bay
    • 2nd Place - C/SGT J. Douangsouphonh – Lincoln
    • 3rd Place – C/SSG Andrew Dong – Madison
  • 3rd Year Individual
    • 1st Place – C/CPT Alvin Timbang – Morse
    • 2nd Place – C/SSGT Jesse Hernandez – Mission Bay
    • 3rd Place – C/2LT William Jacky – San Diego
    • 3rd Place – C/2LT Ariceli Lopez – Crawford
  • 4th Year Individual
    • 1st Place – C/CSM Xavier Gervacio, Lincoln; and C/SFC Kashawn Hughley, Kearny
    • 2nd Place – C/Maj Justine Folloso, Morse; and C/CPT Tamara Pasana, Mira Mesa
  • 1st Year Color Guard
    • 1st Place – Mira Mesa
    • 2nd Place – Morse
    • 3rd Place – San Diego
  • Varsity Color Guard
    • 1st Place – Scripps Ranch
    • 2nd Place – Mission Bay
    • 3rd Place – Mira Mesa
  • Best Squad Drill
    • 1st Place – Morse
    • 2nd Place – San Diego
    • 3rd Place – Mira Mesa
  • Best Platoon Drill
    • 1st Place – Scripps Ranch
    • 2nd Place – Morse
    • 3rd Place – Mission Bay
For more information, contact LTC David Guzman, program manager JROTC Military Sciences, at (858) 496-8203 or dguzman1@sandi.net.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chesterton Elementary Gets One-day Makeover

Chesterton Elementary
Principal Herb Delute talks with volunteers working at the school.
Chesterton Elementary School was selected from among schools nationwide to receive the first-ever “We Give Books” school makeover, an initiative sponsored by the Pearson Foundation.

On January 3, more than 200 representatives from Pearson spent the day at Chesterton Elementary providing new learning materials, beautifying the school grounds, refreshing classrooms, and working with students and teachers on academic projects. Volunteers also prepared care packages containing books and essential supplies for families in need.

Principal Herb Delute and the entire student body greeted the volunteers, who were then joined by Captain Scott Adams, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Point Loma and treated to a presentation by the Color Guard from U.S. Marine Corps HMH-462.

In addition to beautifying the school, Chesterton Elementary also received a brand new “We Give Books” library. Parents and teachers received complimentary “We Give Books” online reading activation kits, with step-by-step instructions for activating the program’s growing library of free high-quality digital children’s books.

The day-long effort was an extension of the Pearson Foundation’s ongoing “We Give Books” literacy program, which provides free hardcover and paperback books to children served by schools and non-profit community organizations through online reading campaigns at www.wegivebooks.org. The Chesterton event was sponsored by Pearson Higher Education, which has adopted the “We Give Books” program as a way to come together and take part in local, hands-on projects that immediately benefit students and teachers.

For more information, contact Bridget de la Garza in Children & Youth in Transition at 619-725-8165.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Schools, Offices Closed Monday, Jan. 16 for Martin Luther King Holiday

All San Diego Unified School District schools and offices will be closed Monday, Jan. 16 for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

All schools and offices will reopen Tuesday, January 17. It will be the first day back for schools on year-round schedule, which have been on winter break since Dec. 19. See the district's academic calendar for more information.

Re-Energizing Education is Focus of Upcoming Event

Administrators, teachers, parents and other education supporters are invited to attend this event co-sponsored by San Diego Unified, the San Diego County Office of Education, Poway Unified and Mission Federal Credit Union. It will take place Feb. 2, from 5:45 - 9 p.m., on the USS Midway.

The San Diego County Office of Education recently formed a coalition of leaders from local business, community, and educational organizations to find creative and effective ways to greatly improve public education throughout the county. Re-Energize Education is an opportunity developed by the Transforming Education Group, a cross-sector team of dedicated individuals who seek consolidated efforts and comprehensive solutions to improve K-12 education.

One of our group members is award-winning author, Steve Farber, a San Diego leadership consultant. His series on Extreme Leadership has caught the attention of many educational leaders across the country. He will be the keynote speaker at the event. To learn more and to register, go to http://www.re-energizeeducation.org

Saturday, January 14, 2012

All Schools Fair Set for January 28

School Fair Back by popular demand, the Fourth Annual Enrollment Options/Magnet All Schools Fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Recital Hall in Balboa Park (next to The Puppet Theater). More than 1,500 families attended last year's event.
The free event highlights schools and student performances from throughout San Diego Unified. Families across the county can learn first-hand about the many educational opportunities available to students, including those whose parents work but do not live within the district’s attendance boundaries.
Information about district-run schools, including neighborhood, magnet and International Baccalaureate, as well as other innovative programs will be in one place. Representatives from the enrollment office will be available to answer questions.
For more information, visit the All Schools Fair webpage

Conference Focuses on Transforming Lives

Administrators, teachers, parents and interested community members are invited to attend the Association of African American Educators' 21st Annual Conference being held March 2 and 3, 2012, at the Mission Valley Marriott, 8757 Rio San Diego Drive (92108).
This year's topic is "Transforming Lives:  Building Bridges and Closing Gaps." Dr. Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., executive director of the National Center for Urban School Transformation, will be the Friday dinner speaker. On Saturday, 18 workshops will be offered and Dr. Arlene Ackerman, former superintendent of Urban Districts will be the Saturday luncheon speaker.
Advanced registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 3, and late registration is Feb. 4-24. No registration at the door. Title I and 2 funds may be used to register for the conference.
For more information and to register, go to http://www.aaaesandiego.org/events-programs/ or email AAAEAnnualConference@gmail.com.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mira Mesa High Students, Staff Dash Through the Snow

Mira Mesa High School
Mira Mesa High students enjoy their winter wonderland.
Students were caroling while teachers and administrators were making snow angels at Mira Mesa High School just before winter break. The campus quad was transformed into a snow-filled Winter Wonderland thanks to one of the school’s community sponsors, Dr. Bronner’s All-One Ark Magic Soaps.

Both students and staff alike joined in on the fun while utilizing the opportunity for some added learning.

“The snow day at Mira Mesa was wonderful and fun, but it also reinforced a Visual and Performing Arts homework project I assigned,” said teacher Sandra Bartels. “I taught kids how to fill shadows using natural light for portraits with bounce cards. Several kids ran up to me excited, as they had seen how snow can do the same. Applied learning!”

Dr. Bronner’s All-One Ark Magic Soaps created the Interactive Foam Experience. All-One Ark Magic Soaps, a branch of the Bronner Chemical Company, developed the industry standard fire-fighting foam concentrate used by fire departments around the country. Dr. Bronner modified a version for making artificial snow for Hollywood.

“Mira Mesa High students will remember this day when they were delighted in such a great gift to kick off the winter break,” said Principal Scott Giusti.

Check out more photos of the Mira Mesa High Winter Wonderland check the Photo Album on the school website here: http://www.sandi.net/domain/11159. To learn more about how you can bring a Winter Wonderland to your campus, contact Rafi Loiederman at info@alloneark.com.

Standley Middle School Student Wins Top Prize in Cybersecurity Poster Contest

John Nover
John Nover
John Nover, an eighth grader at Standley Middle School, won an iPad2 and $500 for Standley Middle School after winning first place in the second annual "Securing Our E-City" cybersecurity poster contest sponsored by ESET, a local internet security company. His theme of choice was cyberbullying.

John was recognized at an awards ceremony downtown on Oct. 25, where he picked up his iPad2, and his poster was displayed with a first place sticker on it. He was also interviewed and photographed.

During John’s academic prep class on Nov. 3, the school was presented with the $500 check, which will be used to establish programs at Standley to address cyberbullying and bullying issues on school campus.

Congratulations John and thank you!

For more information, contact Principal Heidi Eastcott Lyon at 858-455-0550.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

District Teachers Awarded Math for America San Diego Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship

Mira Mesa High School’s Frederick Griesbach, La Jolla High School’s Trang Vu and Suzanne Fore from Serra High School were among seven mathematics teachers countywide recently selected for the 2011 Math for America San Diego Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship program.

Math for America San Diego is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving mathematics education in San Diego County public secondary schools.

Supported through a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the five-year Math for America San Diego Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship offers comprehensive leadership training and professional development to experienced middle and high school mathematics teachers who currently teach in high need school districts.

“These teachers were chosen from a field of exemplary and experienced high school mathematics teachers from districts throughout San Diego County,” said Barbara Edwards, executive director of Math for America San Diego. “Each is dedicated to working with their colleagues to raise mathematics understanding and achievement in high school students. This program will enhance their instruction and leadership abilities and provide new opportunities for collaboration among department and district colleagues.”

Fellows receive an annual $10,000 stipend and rigorous professional development, including participation in a three-week summer institute and yearlong training sessions.

Griesbach has taught at Mira Mesa High School for six years. He is the co-founder and head of the Mira Mesa High School Varsity/JV lacrosse program and serves as a Mira Mesa High School Junior Varsity football coach. Griesbach holds a MA in Mathematics Education from State University of New York (SUNY), Albany; and a BS degree in advertising from Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.

Vu has more than 20 years of teaching experience in San Diego secondary schools. Before becoming a teacher at La Jolla High in 2000, she taught middle and high school mathematics at Gompers Secondary School and served as a master teacher for teacher candidates from various teacher education programs, including University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and National University. She was a mathematics instructor for the San Diego Community College District, Mesa College; and was program coordinator for the Before Calculus Program for UCSD. Vu graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA degree in Applied Mathematics and a MA degree in Teaching and Learning: Curriculum Design from UCSD.

Fore is a National Board Certified Teacher with more than 12 years of mathematics teaching experience. Fore was a runner-up for Teacher of the Year for San Diego Unified School District (2004-2005) and chosen as Teacher of the Year at Serra High School (2004-2005) and Garfield High School (1999-2000). She received a BA degree in Mathematics and Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of San Diego. She also holds a MS degree in Instructional Leadership from National University in San Diego.

For more information about Math for America San Diego, visit: www.mathforamerica.org/sandiego or contact the organization by email sandiego@mathforamerica.org or phone: 858-822-6284.

Zamorano Community Art Show Features Masks

A finished mask
Working on a mask
Masks do their job
Working on projects
It wasn't a masked ball, but the recent Zamorano Fine Arts Academy Community Arts Event could have been an event in any corner of the world, as attendees explored and experienced different mask-making techniques.
"Ten mask-making centers were set up, with students, their siblings, parents/guardians and visitors working, laughing and creating their own masks," said Don Masse, the school's visual arts resource teacher. "It was great to see so many hard working people take time out of their hectic schedules and share their time and energy with our students and teachers."
The participants got to use a wide range of media and techniques and were exposed to different cultural mask making traditions.
A common thread that ran through many of the mask designs was the use of symmetry. This event was a great, low stress way to reinforce our students' understanding of this important mathematical and spatial concept. Approximately 400 students, family members, friends and staff members attended.
For more information, contact Masse at dmasse@sandi.net.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Edison, SD High International Studies are Blue Ribbon Nominees

Edison Elementary School and the School of International Studies at the San Diego High Educational Complex have been nominated for Blue Ribbons from the U.S. Department of Education.

The two schools were in a group of 35 submitted by the state Department of Education. Nominees generally receive the awards, which are generally announced in the fall by the U.S. Department of Education.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve at very high levels and/or where the achievement gap in narrowing. The Program sets a standard of excellence for all schools striving for the highest level of achievement.
"Both of these schools have outstanding, innovative programs and hard-working students in very challenging neighborhoods," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "Edison is a national leader in English-language learning and International Studies is regularly near the top of America's best high schools lists."

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is part of a larger U. S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best school leadership and teaching practices. Each year since 1982, the U.S. Department of Education has sought out schools where students attain and maintain high academic goals, including those that beat the odds.

"There are only two other school districts of the thousand in the state that had two schools nominated," said Kowba. "This is another indication of the fine learning being done by students, the fine teaching being done by our teachers and all the fine work being done by our staff."

Nearly a dozen San Diego Unified schools have been honored over the years with a Blue Ribbon, most recently 2010, when the School of Digital Media and Design at Kearny High and Preuss UCSD charter picked up the prize. For more information on the Blue Ribbon winners, go to http://www.sandi.net/Page/33040.

IN THE NEWS: Conference to focus on school tech

Program at Innovation Middle School featured as SD Unified was only local district to gain federal Internet grant. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune»

Montgomery Middle Grant Will Help Students Get Safely to School

Montgomery Middle School will begin a volunteer Safe Passage and Violence Prevention Coalition among students, school officials, parents and law enforcement thanks to a $1,000 grant from the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

The school's Volunteer Parent Safety Patrol will provide adult supervision on street corners along routes to school in order to address the fears of gangs and bullying that were reported by students in the school's 2009 Safe Passage Survey. Brochures and outreach fliers will inform parents and community members about Safe Passage efforts and will educate them about available resources and the health benefits of choosing walking and bicycling.

In addition, bicycle helmets will be purchased with the grant. They will provide basic protective equipment to students who cannot afford to purchase the equipment on their own.

Safe Routes to School programs are sustained efforts by schools, parents, schoolchildren, community leaders and local, state, federal and tribal governments to enable and encourage more children to walk and bicycle to school. The National Center, which serves as the clearinghouse for the federal Safe Routes program, received 212 eligible Safe Routes mini-grant applications from schools and community organizations nationwide during this fifth award cycle.

Proposals selected in the highly competitive process distinguished themselves by identifying a need and proposing a sustainable program to address it.

For more information on Montgomery Middle School, contact Jonathan Ton, principal, at (858) 496-8330.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

IN THE NEWS: Board President Discusses Budget, Student Achievement

The upcoming budget reductions and achievements by students and staff are discussed by Dr. John Lee Evans, board president. Courtesy KUSI-TV. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

Lincoln Student Becomes SDPD Cadet

Jasmine Ramirez
Jasmine Ramirez
Jasmine Ramirez, a Lincoln High School of Public Safety student, recently graduated from the San Diego Police Department Cadet Program. Jasmine originally was interested in pursuing art after high school, but changed her mind after taking Lincoln's Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Careers course.

“I decided I wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement and help people,” she said. Jasmine was excited to qualify for the program and start the rigorous application process.

The program is voluntary and provides great law enforcement experiences such as ride-alongs, assisting with security and traffic control, and undercover work.Students receive community service hours during the program as well. Jasmine plans on working towards becoming a sergeant in the Cadet Program and learning as much as she can.
For more information, please contact Ray Beattie, CCTE Teacher, at rbeattie@sandi.net or visit the SDPD Cadet website at http://www.sandiego.gov/police/recruiting/opportunities/cadet/index.shtml.

IN THE NEWS: San Diego Unified’s vision for educational excellence

Board President John Lee Evans pens commentary in San Diego Union-Tribune:

As we enter 2012, the San Diego Unified School District is also focused on the year 2020. How can we afford to do this when we are facing budget shortfalls never seen over the past century? Simply put, we cannot afford to wait.

Read more»

Monday, January 9, 2012

Locally-Grown Lunch Menu Items are a Hit

Suzi's Farm says this is for San Diego Unified.
Suzi's Farm says this is for San Diego Unified.
America's healthiest and tastiest school lunches continue to be in the cafeterias of San Diego Unified. For example,certified locally grown Kabocha squash from Suzie's Farm in the South Bay is our January Harvest of the Month, appearing eachThursday in school salad bars.

More than 10,000 pounds of the vegetable were grown especially for San Diego school kids. Local persimmons were so popular in December that they're staying on the salad bars until we run out, which will probably be in a week or so.
San Diego Unified's Farm to School program and itsinnovative Food Services Department keep our kids healthy and ready to learn.For more information, contact Gary Petill, Food Services Director, at (858)627-7301.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Plaques Mark Mira Mesa High Achievements

Board Member Evans and Supt. Kowba with Mira Mesa High JROTCBoard Member John Lee Evans and Supt. Kowba with JROTC at Mira Mesa High.
More photos on Mira Mesa High website»
Mira Mesa High was honored last spring to be only one of five schools in the state that was a California Distinguished School and California Exemplary Career Technical Education Program. The honors mean the Marauders, according to the State of California, excel in both academics and career preparation.

The school marked the rare combination recently, installing plaques on the wall of the school's administration building. On hand for the ceremony were Board President John LeeEvans, Superintendent Bill Kowba and San Diego City Council Member Carl De Maio. Officiating were Mira Mesa High Principal, Scott Giusti.

Schools selected for the Distinguished School Award demonstrate significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap. The Exemplary Career Technical Education Program award salutes the school's classes that include broadcast journalism, culinary arts and nutrition, JROTC.

The event featured the school's Air Force JROTC Saber team cadets and color guard, with more than 100 cadets greeted our many distinguished guests and community supporters. The celebration included entertainment by the Madrigal choir and a saxophone quartet.

The plaques were unveiled with a drum roll and then there was a reception with donations from major school supporter, Chick-Fil-A.

For more information on programs at Mira Mesa High, contact Principal Giusti at (858) 566-2262.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Kumeyaay Students Keap Streak Bearly Alive

Kumeyaay students
Kumeyaay Elementary students in Mrs. Bernstein's class recently collected 398 stuffed bears to benefit Rady Children's Hospital.
Kumeyaay students in Mrs. Bernstein's room collected 398 stuffed toys to Benefit Rady Children's Hospital.

This is the 12th year that Mrs. B and her class has collected bears and delivered them to the San Diego Police Department for a special ride to the hospital.

The new stuffed toys help children find comfort while at the hospital.

Friday, January 6, 2012

District Speech Pathologists Present to Conference

Speech pathologists from San Diego Unified recently present papers at the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association conference in San Diego.

Anne Callies, Assistive Technology Speech-Language Pathologist, co-presented “Effective Use of Visual Supports in the 21st Century Classroom.” Tim Tipton, Senior Speech-Language Pathologist, and Angela Gaviria, Resource Teacher, collaborated to present “English Learner Representation in Special Education: A Comprehensive Evaluation Process.” Sharlee Mosburg-Michael, Senior Speech-Language Pathologist, shared “Supporting Vocabulary and Language Development Through Collaboration With Classroom Teachers.”

Also, Jennifer Taps Richard, Senior Speech-Language Pathologist, co-presented “Powerful Assessment and Analysis for Children With Phonological Disorders.” Cheryl Stromberg, Speech-Language Pathologist, discussed “Childhood Apraxia of Speech Resource Center: An Innovative Support in the Schools.” All sessions were well attended and the content praised by both academic and clinical practitioners from across the country.

More than 10,000 speech-language pathologists (Speech-Language Pathologists) and audiologists attended this national event Nov. 17-19. These professionals shared cutting edge practices and further enhanced the district’s reputation as a leader in speech-language pathology.

For more information on the program, contact Jennifer Taps at jtaps@sandi.net.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Freese Elementary Opens New Parent Room

Freese Parent Room
Volunteers celebrate the new Parent Room at Freese.
Freese Elementary Arts and Culture School recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Parent Room, created to strengthen the home/school connection for students by providing parents a place to volunteer, hold workshops and conduct other activities.

The Parent Room offers space and materials for volunteers to complete projects, as well as access to computers and information relevant to parents. Maria Nixon serves as volunteer coordinator, matching teachers’ needs with parent volunteers.

With the support of Freese’s School Site Council, parent volunteers started the project in September and culminated with the grand opening celebration December 16.

For more information, contact Alma Hills, Freese Elementary School Principal, at (619) 479-2727.

Hoover High Students Tour Qualcomm, Shadow Executives

Hoover HS Students at Qualcomm
Students Lesly Amparo and Miguel Bacilio ask "what if?" at the new Qualcomm Museum.
Hoover High School Academy of Information Technology students recently spent the day at Qualcomm Inc. shadowing executives and touring the new Qualcomm Museum.

Employees led student tours through various parts of their facilities, from the data storage room and IT Communication/Customer Service Center, to its new museum that showcases Qualcomm's rich history of innovation.

Guides provided insight into Qualcomm's history and talked about their employees’ daily work and responsibilities. During lunch, presenters informed students about the various careers in computer technology and shared their own career path stories, in addition to offering students an opportunity to network and talk with mentors in small groups.

For more information, contact Chuck Podhorsky, Hoover High School Principal, at (619) 283-6281.

IN THE NEWS: Kearny High Design Students Get Their Own Library

San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) makes donation.
Student and donor