Wednesday, January 30, 2013

School Board President talks about vote to avoid employee layoffs

IN THE NEWS: Board President Dr. John Lee Evans discusses budget. See more from KPBS»

No such thing as hot air in Fulton K-8 balloon-car race

Racing balloon cars
 And they're off... balloon-powered cars during race.
Sir Issac Newton might not have recognized the setting, but his Third Law of Motion was put to the test and proven again in Suzanne Smith's eighth grade science class.

For her lesson plan in the Physical Science Forces and Motion Unit, Smith challenged her students to design and build a balloon-powered car that could travel at least five meters.

"The students based their design strategies on their knowledge of drag, friction, momentum, thrust and Newton's Third Law of motion," she said. The activity not only solidified the information presented in the unit, but stimulated the students' interest in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The cars generally had four wheels and a body where a full balloon was attached. The escaping air from the balloon provide the propulsion for the car. The challenge was having enough air in the balloon to push the mass of the car the required five meters.

“It is great to see the students participating in engaging, fun, and interesting educational projects that increase knowledge and interest in science, while preparing our scholars for college and the 21st century global economy”, said Dr. Stanley Munro, Fulton K-8 Principal.

Fulton’s comprehensive curriculum centers on critical literacy, math, science, social studies, physical education, and English language development. All students at Fulton have the opportunity to understand computer/digital technology through an experiential, sequential, and cross-curricular program in our state-of-the-art computer lab.

For more information on the programs at Fulton, contact Principal Munro at (619) 262-0777.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hidden in the heart of North Park: Thomas Jefferson Elementary

IN THE NEWS: Parent explores his neighborhood school and finds a jewel. Read more from San Diego Uptown News»

State Senate hearing held at Perkins K-8

Backers of a California state Senate bill that would help school districts upgrade facilities for energy efficiency held a hearing last week at Perkins K-8 School in Barrio Logan.
Board of Education Member Richard Barrera,
second from left, testifies before
Senate hearing. Also on
panel were, from left: Stanley
Dobbs, San Diego Unified
Chief Financial Officer (partially
hidden); Barrera; Sean Hulen,
U.S. Green Building
Council; Lee Dulgeroff,
San Diego Unified Facilities,
Planning and Construction Executive Director.

The bill, SB-39, would implement parts of 2012's Prop. 39, which closed corporate tax loopholes and specified that funds would be used for clean energy projects. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).

Joining Senator De León on the dais were Senate Appropriations Committee member Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach) and San Diego representatives Senator Marty Block; and Assembly members Toni Atkins and Shirley Weber. Panelists from education, labor, business and environmental organizations outlined pitfalls to avoid when spending the more than $2 billion in energy efficiency funds generated by the initiative.

“Hearing from experts and community members has been a great learning process about the needs of our communities,” said Senator De León. “I look forward to several more hearings we have planned around the state to seek input from stakeholders and to working on passing Senate Bill 39 so we can get Californians back to work, save energy and improve conditions for our schoolchildren.”

At the hearing, Stan Dobbs, Chief Financial Officer of the San Diego Unified School District, shared their total utilities cost for 2011-2012 was $17.4 Million. The gas and electric service alone was $13 Million. By retrofitting schools in the district, it is estimated the energy savings could be around 25 percent, generating an additional $3.25 Million that could support teachers and efficient district operations that have been especially hard hit by cuts in recent years.

Also appearing at the hearing were Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified Board of Education Subdistrict D representative; and Lee Dulgeroff, executive director, Facilities, Planning and Construction. Barrera and Dulgeroff discussed bonds approved by voters in recent years, Prop. S in 2010 and Prop. Z in 2012.
Sen. deLeón's bill would target the most needy districts, however Barrera and Dulgeroff recommended that it also include provisions to help out districts such as San Diego Unified, who have received voter approval to raise taxes for improvements such as this.

Another witness, Mary Luévano with Global Green, cited its study, Healthier, Wealthier, Wiser: A Report on National Green Schools. The study, which included data from the United States Green Building Council, reports that green schools on average save $100,000 per year – enough to hire two new teachers, buy 500 new computers, or purchase 5,000 new textbooks. Researchers have also found that students in old buildings scored 5-7 percentage points lower than students in new buildings and that classroom noise, lighting and temperature improvements can lead to a 36-point increase in California Academic Performance Index scores.

Panelists included Barrera,Dobbs and Dulgeroff from the San Diego Unified School District; and Sean Hulen, United States Green Building Council Representative and Vice President, Balfour Beatty Construction, who focused on accountability mechanisms for school construction programs, current funding and programs, and the auditing process, oversight and accountability necessary for success. Jennifer Badgely, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 569; and Peter Miller, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council focused on job creation and how we should measure fiscal outcomes and benefits.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hoover basketball player learning lessons outside the classroom

IN THE NEWS: Family came first for hoops and gridiron star Damonte Holiday, but he's now back in school where he belongs. Read more from UT San Diego»

Robotic inventors of the future getting their start with Legos

If you pass by the door of Mrs. Baxter's Room 52 at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School in Clairemont, you might see sixth graders playing with Legos and wonder, "what could be going on?"

But once inside this busy classroom you would see that groups of students are confidently completing a series of challenges in their afternoon enrichment "Robotics Lab."

Sponsored by the Devil Ducks Robotics Team at Madison High School, teams such as Team Awesome, Team Robo-Nerds, Team Mad Hatters, and Team Electric Bulls are collaborating with their fellow students to build robots that can earn points by going through Lego towers and pushing Legos through those towers.

Students are learning about the scientific trial-and-error process which sometimes relies on physics and good common sense.

So the next time you see a commercial on TV about a futuristic robot performing a task, please know the future is here at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementaryand successfully thriving in Room 52!!

For additional information contact Media Production Assistant Julie Harris at or 858-496-8400.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Edison Elementary student council meets with county supervisor

Students with Ron Roberts Members of the Edison Elementary School Student Council recently visited the County Administration Center and met with Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Roberts to see how similar the county government is to their own on-campus panel.

The students also shared their thoughts for San Diego's future.

While there, the students lead the pledge of allegiance during a Board of Supervisors meeting. The fifth-grade president, fourth-grade vice president and secretary, and third-grade fire marshal were in attendance.

For more information on programs at Edison, contact Principal Murchison at 619-344-5400.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dana Middle science program gets $3,250

Global software developer Bentley Systems has again made a donation to the science program at Dana Middle School in Point Loma.

The $3,250 grant will be used to purchase equipment and materials for the school's labs.

"We would like to thank the employees at Bentley Systems Corporation for continuing to provide our science department with funds to purchase equipment and materials for our classroom labs," said Principal Diane Ryan. "The ongoing support from more than a dozen Bentley employees, who donated money that was matched by the company, is outstanding."

Last year employees at Bentley Systems Incorporated raised $3,000 through a matching grant program with their company for the purpose of supporting the science program at Dana Middle School. The Dana Middle Science department used these funds to take a field trip to the Cabrillo tide pools, acquire video cameras, electronic balances, and polyprophylene measuring wear, purchase chemistry supplies for use in classroom demonstrations.

Bentley is the global leader dedicated to providing architects, engineers, geospatial professionals, constructors, and owner-operators with comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure. Bentley's mission is to empower its users to leverage information modeling through integrated projects for high-performing intelligent infrastructure. For more information about Bentley Systems Incorporated, please visit them online at

Friday, January 25, 2013

Montgomery Middle School Picked for Medical Detectives program

Montgomery Middle School in Linda Vista is part of a 30-school nationwide test of the Medical Detectives curriculum, giving its students the opportunity to explore mysteries in biomedical sciences through hands-on projects and labs.

Students investigate medical careers, vital signs, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, as well as human body systems such as the nervous system. Genetic testing for hereditary diseases and DNA crime scene analysis put the students in the place of real life medical detectives. According to the program's authors, Project Lead the Way, the unit will be field tested spring 2013 and made available to the network for the 2013-14 school year.

Project Lead The Way is a non-profit provider of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum and professional development to middle and high schools.

Montgomery will be adding to an already successful Project Lead the Way program that features offerings for students in grades 6-8. Medical Detectives adds additional variety to a curriculum that already includes such topics as design and modeling using CAD software, automation and robotics, and architecture. 

Justin Goodrich is the instructor selected to pilot the course at Montgomery. Approximately 30 teachers nationwide will be piloting the unit. These teachers will be the lead instructors of professional development training for the teachers who wish to implement the Medical Detectives unit when it officially rolls out for the 2013–14 school year. There are more than 5,200 Project Lead the Way programs in more than 4,200 schools nationwide.

Montgomery Middle School has an enrollment of approximately 450 students in grades 6–8. The strong instructional program consists of courses in the core subjects (English, mathematics, social studies, and science). Elective courses include computer technology, Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID), yearbook, dance, band, orchestra, Spanish, engineering, math and science projects, Associated Student Body, drama, and art. The Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program includes “cluster” and “seminar” classes. The Special Education department provides supports for students who qualify for services. The YMCA’s PrimeTime and PRYDE After School Programs assist students before and after school with homework and extra curricular activities. Classroom tutors are provided in collaboration with local universities.

For additional information, contact teacher Justin Goodrich at

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mother-baby Friendly Workplace award goes to district

Receiving the award.
Dr. Nellie Meyer, left,
accepts award from Coalition
Treasurer Dr. Nancy Wight
and Coalition President
Kim Elkins.
When the San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition held its fifth-annual Liquid Gold Gala in October, San Diego Unified was one of four local organizations to receive a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Award. The Board of Education adopted a Resolution to Encourage Lactation Accommodation in School Facilities in July 2011.

The Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Awards ceremony began with opening remarks by County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten who oversees all health programs; she spoke about the benefits of breastfeeding for the health of San Diego. Awards in four categories were given to San Diego employers that have instituted comprehensive programs in support of breastfeeding mothers returning to work. The winners in each of the cat­egories included: Business — Intuit Inc.; Schools — San Diego Unified School District; Govern­ment Agency — Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Inc. WIC Program; and Non-Government Organiza­tion — 2-1-1 San Diego.

The San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition is a non-profit organization whose members are professionals dedicated to promoting and supporting breastfeeding in San Diego County. The coalition publishes Breastfeeding Resource Guide and offers educational events. For more information, please visit

Deputy Superintendent of Academics Nellie Meyer attended the event and accepted the award on behalf of the district.

Freese Elementary's Safety Patrol gets kudos from SDPD Southeastern Division

The Freese Elementary School Safety Patrol has been selected as the best in the San Diego Police Department's Southeastern Division for the 2012-13 school year.

The Southeastern Division serves the neighborhoods of Alta Vista, Bay Terrace, Chollas View, Emerald City, Encanto, Jamacha-Lomita, Lincoln Park, Mountain View, Mount Hope, Oak Park, Paradise Hills, Ridgeview/Webster, Shelltown, Skyline, Southcrest and Valencia. Freese Elementary is located in the Skyline neighborhood.

Officers from San Diego Police and the San Diego Unified School District Police who work with Safety Patrol squads observed all squads for their adherence to the rules, consistency in uniform, cleanliness of patrol room, and more.
Freese Safety Patro
"We are very proud of the outstanding job Freese's Safety Patrol squad is doing," said Principal Alma Hills.

The school Safety Patrol was started in 1935 by the San Diego Police Department and began at just one school. Its purpose was to help elementary school children cross streets safely on their way to and from school and to reduce the number of pedestrian and bicycle collisions involving elementary-age students.

The School Safety Patrol is in nearly 90 schools throughout the city. There are nearly 2,000 fifth and sixth grade students serving as Patrol members. It is their job to cross children and adults safely at their school locations. The San Diego Unified School District Police Department and San Diego Police Department work together to train and supervise the students, whose jobs include:
  • Control pedestrian traffic;
  • Control vehicle traffic;
  • Watch and report traffic violations.
For more information on the Freese Elementary Safety Patrol, contact Principal Hills at

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Local Refugee Community Celebrates Karen New Year

The Crawford High School auditorium was decorated in traditional Karen decor on Jan. 12 to celebrate the Karen New Year.

Karen youth presented a colorful show of traditional fashion, music and dance before moving on to the cafeteria to share a meal.

It’s an important holiday for the Karen people, whose culture is religiously diverse. The Karen New Year is not specific to just one religion and allows the community to bond together. In the Karen state of Burma, this is the season of the rice harvest and a time to celebrate the abundance that hard work brought in.

Nye Elementary students raise $825 for New Jersey school

The destruction from Hurricane Sandy inspired students at Nye Elementary School in the Valencia Park neighborhood.

It inspired them so much that the students and families raised $825 for Belmar Elementary School in Belmar, NJ.

Lead by students in Olivia Flores' second grade class, the effort involved students talking to other students, telling them about the storm and how it affected kids on the other side of the country.

"They wanted to help students who were directly affected by the storm and decided to collect money for students at Belmar Elementary School in New Jersey," said Flores.

The students from Ms. Flores’ class raised funds by introducing their ideas at a monthly awards assembly and followed up by going to classrooms and educating other students about the storm and how to help. The funds have been donated to Belmars’ Storm Relief Committee; committee has developed an action plan to aid their students and families.

For more information, contact Flores at

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Board President, Mayor, local psychologists join to make schools safer

In The News Dr. John Lee Evans, Board President and a clinical psychologist, has announced that the San Diego Psychological Association, City of San Diego, the San Diego Unified School District and others will be joining to provide a community-wide solution to the problem of extreme violence against schools.

The news conference, held Jan. 22, included Evans, Board of Education District E member Marnie Foster, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, San Diego City Council Member David Alvarez, San Diego Unified School District Police Chief Rueben Littlejohn, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, and representatives of the San Diego Psychological Association. ASB presidents Daniel Hamilton from La Jolla High and Marcus Dearing from University City High also joined the call for change.
Attendees at news conference

News Coverage

Grant from NASCAR Champ and Lowes does extreme classroom makeover at SD High SciTech

Work funded through a grant from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation that remodeled the Green Technology and Engineering program classroom at San Diego High's SciTech school is now complete. The 2012 grant funding was for additional tools and equipment including electrical trainer boards, a 3-D printer, computer tables, flooring, whiteboards and an assortment of tools for students to complete various hands-on projects.

Recently, students and Lowe’s representatives, a partner in the grant, gathered on campus to install the final elements to transform their old classroom which was originally used as an auto shop class to an engineering classroom that focuses on green technologies.

The new equipment and facility upgrades have allowed students to participate in extra-curricular programs as well as daily in class. Students are constructing the solar boat that will race in the Solar Cup event in May, 2013, and have been able to participate in ACE mentoring and FIRST robotics competitions. The ergonomics, safety and comfort for every student in the classroom have improved and the 3-D printer that provides students with the opportunity to engineer and design three dimensional objects has taken the program possibilities higher than ever imagined.

The Introduction to Green Technologies and Energy course is currently only offered at SciTech. The course is a foundation class which meets the University of California UC a-g requirement for physics lab credit. Before the grant funding, the instructor had to improvise ways to teach electronics, alternative fuels, and other components of engineering.

The engineering curriculum follows the Project Lead the Way model which is the leading provider of rigorous and innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education curricular programs used in schools.

For more information about SciTech’s Green Technology and Engineering program, please contact Katie Carl, CCTE Teacher, at For more information on the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, please contact

Go to photo gallery.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Energy Challenge raises $26,500 for middle schools

Albert Einstein Charter, Pacific Beach Middle, and the Creative, Performing and Media Arts middle schools were the big winners in the San Diego Energy Challenge. The contest from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Simple Energy gave SDG&E customers in the San Diego Unified School District boundaries the chance to compete on behalf of their chosen middle school to win cash grants. Participating customers earned points for their school of choice by saving energy on Reduce Your Use days and getting members of their community to sign up and support their team.

The grand prize winner was Albert Einstein Middle School, which was successful in enrolling the equivalent of 69 percent of its student population to compete on its team by saving energy, and received a $15,000 grant. Pacific Beach Middle School won first prize and received $5,000, and second prize went to Creative Performing Media Arts, receiving $3,000.

“We are grateful to SDG&E and Simple Energy for supporting our middle schools with such a unique and innovative program,” said San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Bill Kowba. “The San Diego Energy Challenge school competition provided not only the opportunity for schools to earn much-needed funding, it also provided students with the opportunity to promote the importance of saving energy. Congratulations to the winning schools.”

Other schools participating and receiving $500 were DePortola, Dana, Mann, Farb and Lewis middle schools. The utility donated $26,500 to San Diego's middle schools.

"We’re proud that by saving energy in a fun and interactive competition, participating customers were able to reduce their energy use on Reduce Your Use days," said Caroline Winn, SDG&E’s vice president of customer services and chief customer privacy officer. “Because of the smart meters now in place, we’re continuing to find creative new ways for our customers to engage with their energy usage data and save money.”

The San Diego Energy Challenge uses Simple Energy’s “Social, Fun, and Simple”™ online game platform to encourage customers to save energy through friendly competition with their friends and neighbors. This innovative program earned backing from the Department of Energy (DOE), and SDG&E was awarded DOE funding to run the program.

“The San Diego Energy Challenge shows that by framing energy savings as a competition we can motivate people to save a lot of energy,” said Yoav Lurie, CEO of Simple Energy. “Layering on rewards and the opportunity to help a local school makes it even more effective. We’re inspired by how much energy San Diegans are saving.”

In addition to SDG&E giving away approximately $26,500 in prizes to San Diego area middle schools, participating customers that live within the SDUSD boundary were able to win individual prizes such as a tablet computer or gift cards through a drawing for being one of the day’s top savers.

Now moving into its next phase, the San Diego Energy Challenge will continue to engage customers with their energy data and incentivize energy savings with individual prizes through February 2013.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 840,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help our customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.

Simple Energy uses social game mechanics to change how people save energy and how utilities engage their customers. Simple Energy’s customer engagement platform and applications combine leading behavioral science research and social game mechanics that encourage energy efficiency. Participants in Simple Energy programs compare their real energy usage with their friends and neighbors, making energy efficiency social, fun, and simple.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Association of African American Educators (AAAE) annual conference to be held March 8, 9 in San Diego

Registration for the Association of African American Educators (AAAE) 22nd annual conference is now open. This year's conference theme is "Still We Rise" and promises to encourage, equip, and empower. The conference will be held at the Mission Valley Marriott Hotel on Friday, March 8, from 5-9 p.m., and Saturday, March 9, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

AAAE hosts an annual conference to encourage, equip, and empower attendees to make a meaningful difference in the lives of African and African-American children. Educators and concerned community members return each year to learn from each other and from engaging workshop facilitators, session presenters, and keynote speakers. Educators, parents, students and interested community members are invited to attend. See flier pdf for details.

Registration information is online at Registration deadline is Feb. 8, 2013; Late registration deadline is Feb. 22.

For more information or with questions, send an email to or visit the AAAE website at

Friday, January 18, 2013

Joint-use facilities upgraded at ALBA Community Day School

San Diego Unified School District Board Member Richard Barrera, San Diego Council President Todd Gloria, and ALBA Community Day School Principal Vernon Moore joined students, school staff, city and school district leaders, as well as community members on Dec. 6 for the official dedication and ceremonial ribbon cutting for the newly upgraded joint-use facilities adjacent to San Diego Unified School District’s ALBA Community Day School.

Improvements included a new basketball court, new 30-foot light poles at joint-use playing field, new matting around the horizontal bars, a resurfaced ALBA ribbon-cutting ceremony joint-use play field, newly repaired concrete sidewalk areas, new signage and new fencing around joint-use play field.

The cost of this project was approximately $400,000, which was funded by school district’s Proposition S bond program. Construction began in July 2012, and was completed in early November 2012. Project partners were IBI Group (architectural) and GEM Industrial Inc. (construction).

The City of San Diego and the school district have a long-standing agreement to maximize shared use of schools and/or park land to mutually benefit the city and the school district. The facilities shared by the city and the school district include multipurpose turf fields, lighted athletic fields, tennis courts, gymnasiums, parking facilities and libraries. In total, the school district and the city currently have nearly 80 joint-use agreements.

For more information, call 619-725-7252 or e-mail

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Juarez Elementary students learn lessons, raise $200 for American Cancer Society

Running at Juarez. Juarez Elementary School students have raised $200 for cancer prevention and research through the American Cancer Society's Relay Recess Program.

The students circled the school's playground, raising money through pledges, cheered on by Melissa Matthews of the American Cancer Society. A few weeks before the Dec. 20 run, Matthews had discussed good health habits and cancer prevention to a schoolwide assembly.

"The students learned important cancer prevention practices such as having a healthy diet, using sunscreen, and exercising," said Marceline Marques, Principal at Juarez Elementary. "This activity was a meaningful way to demonstrate caring for cancer survivors (one of our students), and also for those who have lost their battle (the parent of one of our teachers)."

While running, students and staff read helpful health tips printed on placards positioned on the course.

We invited parents and community members to participate as well," said Marques."Some were cancer survivors and some were walking/running in honor of a loved one. "

The Relay Recess Program brings cancer education and community service in the classroom; engages elementary school students in the fight against cancer; and allows students to have fun with entertainment and activities that reinforce what they learn in the classroom.

Located just north of Qualcomm Stadium in the Serra Mesa neighborhood, Juarez Elementary School has approximately 250 students in kindergarten through grade five.
For more information, please contact Principal Marceline Marques at, or (858) 496-8145.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fertile ground: Richly educational school gardens are cropping up all over

IN THE NEWS: Three pumpkins on the picnic bench inside Silver Gate’s 6-year-old school garden aren’t Halloween remnants. Grown in one of the garden’s 10 raised beds, they were part of a lesson on circumference for fourth-graders, explains the garden’s volunteer coordinator Loc Leute. Everything in this garden in a corner of the playground and a new one outside the school’s kindergarten area becomes lessons, including the worm bin donated by Solana Center. Read more from UT San Diego»

Clairemont High takes Junior Achievement crown — again

Team Profit Margin, from Clairemont High School, won the Junior Achievement (JA) Titans of Industry Challenge, an annual competition for students to test their business knowledge and skills against other student teams from around San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Clairemont High team
This is the fourth year in a row that a Clairemont High School team has won the competition. Alan Walter, Clairemont Academy of Business & Technology teacher, uses the virtual business software in his courses to prepare the students each year for the competition.The competition was held Dec. 13 at the University of Phoenix branch in San Diego.

“The students are placed in the seats as CEOs of a virtual corporation and are required to wrestle with sales, profit margins and market share in a high-tech, competitive market," Walter said. "The students enjoy the competition among their classmates, but really look forward to the JA event each year.”

Two teams from Patrick Henry High School placed second and third in the competition. A member of team Anonymous, Bryan Nguyen, was a member of a two-person team last year that scored well enough to compete in the World Global Junior Achievement Titan Challenge in Delaware last summer. He was back again this year with a new teammate and took second place. Third place went to team Black Mambas.

This year, for the first time, along competing with their classmates, the students also went head to head with the teams from Poland. The Polish students joined the competition from across the seas to compete online with the San Diego students.

Junior Achievement of San Diego’s board members — Elizabeth Rice, former president of Innovative Solutions, and Dowling & Yahnke Senior Portfolio Manager Michael Brown — also joined the competition to cheer for the students and offer advice from the professional side.

Next year, Junior Achievement expects to hold a national competition. If the participating teams from San Diego place high in the U.S. competition, they will be invited to the Global JA Titan Challenge in the summer of 2013.

Junior Achievement gives out special thanks to the sponsors—Farrell Family Foundation for the financial support of JA Titan program and University of Phoenix for donating the classroom space for the competition.

Patrick Henry team
For more details on the JA Titan program, please see the program website.
Patrick Henry team

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wonderful Soul Lives to Guide Homeless Kids Out of Danger

IN THE NEWS: Terilyn Burg, a Maintenance and Operations Program Assistant with San Diego Unified's Physical Plant Operations Department, is profiled in U-T San Diego. Ms. Burg is executive director of the local chapter of "Stand Up for Kids," a program that provides a helping hand to homeless kids. Read more from UT San Diego»

District's top nurse has advice on coping with this year's flu season

The Nursing and Wellness staff at San Diego Unified School District is urging parents/guardians to have their child vaccinated against this year's flu bugs.

"Children can be very susceptible to viruses such as the flu," said Michelle Bell, Nursing and Wellness Program Manager. High illness rates have been seen in other parts of the country and getting a flu shot is a very good precaution.

Here's more information on the flu.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Green Elementary surprises Patrick Henry students with a flashmob during lunch

Green Elementary Academics and Athletics Magnet School walked over to Patrick Henry and surprised the student body with wonderful dance and music during lunch. The Patrick Henry principal was in on the secret and introduced the students and Green Elementary PE teachers.

The PE curriculum at Green Elementary includes various forms of dance including Ballroom dance with all the manners and cordial academics associated with it. In addition students learn cultural dances in preparation of the Junior Olympics celebration Green has in late spring. The PE Department and Green Elementary School have received numerous awards for their athletic program in addition to their high ranking academic scores.

Some of these are: Best Physical Education Program in State of California Association For Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance; Exemplary Elementary Physical Education Site, San Diego County Office of Education; Spotlight on Success School, Presentation to San Diego Unified School Board; Let's Move Campaign Presenters at Petco Park and San Diego Convention Center for American Alliance for Health Physical Education Recreation and Dance.

For more information on Green Elementary Academics and Athletics School, please contact Principal Bruce Ferguson at, or visit its website.

Board Vice President Beiser commentary: Grading teachers — Scores not reliable

IN THE NEWS: District B Trustee Kevin Beiser pens a commentary about evaluating teachers based on their students' test scores. Read story from UT San Diego»

It's back to class today for year-round schedule schools

It's back to school today, Monday, January 14 for students at schools on year-round schedules as San Diego Unified School District's winter break ends.

Year-round schools have longer winter and spring breaks, as the school year extends to July 19; traditional schedule schools end their year on June 11. Both schedules have the same number of days of instruction.

Schools on the year-round schedule are: Audubon, Baker, Balboa, Bethune, Birney, Boone, Burbank, Carson, Carver, Central, Chavez, Cherokee Point, Clark, Dewey, Edison, Emerson/Bandini, Ericson, Euclid, Farb, Fay, Garfield Elementary, Golden Hill, Hamilton, Hancock, Hardy, Horton, Ibarra, Jerabek, Johnson, Jones, Joyner, Kimbrough, Knox, Language Academy, Linda Vista, Logan, Marshall Elementary, Mason, Miller, Montgomery, Normal Heights, Paradise Hills, Penn, Perkins, Perry, Porter, Rosa Parks, Sequoia, Tierrasanta, Valencia Park, Walker, Webster, Wilson, Zamorano.

Traditional-calendar schools opened on Monday, January 7.
For more information on the district's calendar, go to the calendar page.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kearny, Mission Bay clusters hold enrollment fairs

Schools in the Kearny and Mission Bay high school clusters will hold all-school fairs at their campuses on Saturday, January 26.

Each school in the community will have displays on their curriculum and what makes the school special. The Kearny-area fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school, 7651 Wellington St. Mission Bay High is the site for the Pacific Beach schools fair from noon to 3 p.m., 2475 Grand Ave. (92109). Both fairs are free and open to the public. The schools are holding these events ahead of the Feb. 15 school choice deadline.

At Mission Bay, the six Pacific Beach schools -- Sessions Elementary, Pacific Beach Elementary, Crown Point Junior Music Academy, Barnard Mandarin Chinese School, Pacific Beach Middle and Mission Bay High -- will have informational booths, activities for the kids and performances throughout the afternoon. The Mission Bay Cluster All Schools Fair will be the perfect opportunity for interested parents and students to meet the principals of each school and learn about the incredibly wide range of programming being offered right in their own backyard! The International Baccalaureate Program will be highlighted at Mission Bay High, Pacific Beach Middle and Sessions Elementary as well as the music programs at Crown Point, the GATE/Seminar program at Pacific Beach Elementary and the Mandarin Chinese Magnet program at Barnard, which will move into the neighborhood in 2013-14.

There will be food, games, and tons of information about the Pacific Beach schools.

At Kearny High, the 16 elementary, middle, and high schools in the Serra Mesa and Linda Vista communities that comprise the cluster will highlight their core instructional programs and the extras at their sites. Several early childhood programs (Pre-K) are offered at the elementary schools, and many students at the Kearny High Educational Complex begin attending classes at Mesa College in 11th grade, some completing one year or more of college by high school graduation (the 13 in Pre-K to 13).

Workshops for cluster-wide programs such as Special Education, Giftedand Talented Education (GATE), English Language Learner (ELL) will beoffered, as well as for specialized programs such as Advancement ViaIndividual Determination (AVID) and Science, Technology, Engineering,and Mathematics (STEM). The workshops are scheduled from 12:30-1:30p.m.; Spanish and Vietnamese translators will attend the workshops andbe available for the entire fair.

Activities for children are planned, and food will be available. This event is not limited to families in the Kearny cluster; the entire Serra Mesa and Linda Vista communities with school-age children are welcome.

For more information, please contact Rosemary Cruz at or
Laura Bellofatto at

Saturday, January 12, 2013

8.5 tons of food collected by JROTC

San Diego High team
The San Diego Unified School District Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (JROTC) Food Drive is an annual community service project to support our city in collecting food during the holiday season.

Given the economic struggles by many in San Diego, JROTC cadets set a goal of surpassing last year’s collection of 10,960 lbs. Together with friends, families, school faculty and students, the 13 JROTC units collected an amazing 53 percent increase of 16,795 lbs. (almost 8.4 tons).
Scripps Ranch High team
Donations of canned and dried goods went to various local charities, churches and food banks to be distributed to families just before the holidays. In the past three years, JROTC cadets have contributed over 39,000 lbs. (19.5 tons) of food to our community.

Each year, special recognition is given to the school which donates the largest amount and this year’s Community Service Streamer will be presented to San Diego High School. In second place was Scripps Ranch HS and James Madison HS placed third. We thank all cadets for their donations to this worthy event.
For more information, please contact LTC David Guzman at

Friday, January 11, 2013

From Supt. Kowba: Governor’s January budget proposal

Superintendent Kowba, Board Members, Staff and Community Members meet with Marty Block
Governor Jerry Brown released his budget proposal for the 2013-14 fiscal year yesterday, Jan. 10. At first look, the Governor's proposal seems like a good starting point for restoring funding to public education, although it will take us time to analyze its impacts for our District.  San Diego Unified is committed to providing stability for our students and schools in the 2013-14 year.  As we study the details of the Governor’s proposal, we are hopeful that we can maintain stable school staffing in the next budget year. After five years of cuts to education, it is a relief to see that trend reversed but as the Governor stated, it will take time to return education funding to the adequate levels that we saw in 2008.

This is a step forward but at first look we believe there will be enhancements that we and others in the education community will be urging the Legislature to make as they begin to refine this preliminary proposal from the governor.  As we go through our own budget process in the coming weeks, we will make clear to both the Governor's office and to the Legislature where the proposal needs to be improved in order to achieve the goal of stability for our schools in the coming year. These efforts began last week when Board members Richard Barrera and Kevin Beiser, SDEA President Bill Freeman, teachers, administrators, community members and I visited State Senator Marty Block regarding adequate funding for education.

For more information about Gov. Brown's budget proposal, go to .

Bill Kowba

11 high schools part of statewide ‘Linked Learning’ initiative

Eleven San Diego Unified high schools, plus the new charter school at the new San Diego Central Library, are part of a statewide pilot of “Linked Learning” according to Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Participating schools are: SciTech, Multimedia, Visual and Performing Arts and School of Business at San Diego High; Hoover High; Clairemont High; Crawford High; Kearny High schools of Digital Media and Design, Construction Tech Academy and Science, Connections and Technology; Patrick Henry High; Mira Mesa High; and the new downtown San Diego library charter school.

Health sciences program at Crawford High.
"Linked Learning prepares students for college and career – not just one or the other – and transforms high school education by igniting students' passions." said Shawn Loescher,  Director of San Diego Unified's College Career and Technical Education program. "It works by integrating rigorous academics with career-based learning in school and in real-world professional workplaces. Students also are provided academic support and counseling."

Linked Learning finds connections between basic high school subjects and a student's interest in a career or college program. It has been in use by several San Diego Unified high schools; Kearny High School of Digital Media and Design and the Construction Tech Academy are certified Linked Learning campuses.

“These 20 pilot projects combine two of California’s greatest strengths: our diversity and our capacity for innovation,” Torlakson said. “They aim to serve hundreds of thousands of students from districts all over the state, and I am confident they will help students use their time in school to learn real-world skills and graduate prepared to contribute to the future of our state.”

Schools in other San Diego County districts are involved through the Linked Learning San Diego Consortium, a partnership of five school districts within San Diego County: San Diego Unified, Carlsbad Unified School District, Escondido Union High School District, Oceanside Unified School District, and Grossmont Union High School District. Long Beach Unified School District is serving as a mentor to the consortium, with support from ConnectEd California (a statewide group that advances career-technical education) and the University of San Diego.

The consortium will work to develop and share innovative Linked Learning strategies among its members, take advantage of economies of scale through regional collaboration, build transition strategies with feeder middle schools, strengthen collaboration with local institutes of higher learning, and serve as a model for replication of best practices.

Each of the high schools offers unique programs that appeal to students, helping to raise academic achievement and graduation rates.
  • SciTech at San Diego High offers: Engineering and Design, Health Science and Medical Technology.
  • Multimedia, Visual and Performing Arts at San Diego High: Arts, Media and Entertainment.
  • School of Business and Leadership at San Diego High: Public Service, Finance and Business.
  • Hoover High: Information Technology; Building Trades and Construction; Engineering and Design; Health Science and Medical Technlolgy.
  • Clairemont High: Business And Finance; Arts, Media and Entertainment.
  • Crawford HIgh: Public Services; Health Science and Medical Technology
  • Digital Media and Design at Kearny High: Arts, Media, and Entertainment
  • Science Connections and Technology at Kearny High
  • Construction Technology Academy at Kearny
For more information on the programs, contact Shawn Loescher, Director, Office of College Career and Technical Education at

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Need information on San Diego's schools? There's an app for that.

San Diego Unified app
running on an Android
San Diego Unified's new smart phone app, giving parents and the community quick access to locations of district schools, up-to-date news and other features, is now online.

Available for the Apple iPhone, as well as phones and pads running the Google Android system, the app was co-developed by the district and its web content management system contractor, Schoolwires Inc.

"This new mobile app will give on-the-go access to district news and information" said Bernie Rhinerson, Chief of Staff, "for all of our parents and the community at large who need timely information about our schools and who want to keep up with what is happening in our district.“

The app is available for download from the iTunes app store for Apple products, or from the Google Play app store for devices running the Google Android system. There is no charge for the app, however the end-user may have to pay for data usage depending on his or her phone plan.

"San Diego Unified School District now will be able to effectively deliver its rich district experience powered by Schoolwires to community stakeholders using mobile devices," said Jason Coudriet, vice president of Product Design and Innovation, Schoolwires, Inc. "We are excited and pleased with the success of the project. "

Current features include access to the district's News section, which provides daily stories on student achievement, new programs and innovative school programs, an address and telephone number listing of all district schools, staff directory and links to the district's Facebook and Twitter pages. Additional features will be added to the app in the coming months, including an iPad version and Spanish-language support.

“As one of the first large urban school districts in the country to offer a mobile information application," said Rhinerson, "San Diego Unified continues to be on the leading edge in using new technologies to stay connected with our stakeholders.”

For more information on the app, contact District Webmaster Geoff Smith at

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Barnard Elementary selected as a top Mandarin Chinese school

Principal Eddie Park
Barnard Mandarin Chinese Magnet School in Pt. Loma has received international recognition as one of four top Confucius Classrooms out of more than 500 worldwide.

The school was nominated by its local partner, the Confucius Institute at San Diego State University, which received a $1 million grant at the same time the honors were announce for Barnard.

"Our Barnard community is thrilled and proud to hear that the program was recognized as being one of the best in the world," said Principal Eddie Park, who traveled to China in December to receive the award. The school received the prestigious California Distinguished School honor in 2010.

Located in the Loma Portal neighborhood, Barnard has gone from struggling to international recognition since the Mandarin Chinese program started in 2007 under former principal Mary Watry. Park, who succeeded the retiring Watry a year later, told U-T San Diego in February 2012 what hard work on the part of staff, parents and students can do.

“This is a testimony of a successful public school,” he told the newspaper. “There is a lot of news about failing public schools these days. A lot of people are talking about how our education system is broken. We turned a failing public around. This is a school parents are now seeking out. It is a California Distinguished School. This shows you what you can do when you work hard, get the resources you need and have the support of the parents, the community, the staff and the children.”

The school has several native-speaking Mandarin Chinese teachers and the language is taught in all grades, while maintaining state and district standards. It also uses technology – the internet and smart boards purchased through funds from voter-approved bonds – to allow students to have real-time teleconferences with schools in China and Taiwan.

"The educational community is also part of our team at Barnard," said Park. "From our literacy specialist, Maria Nichols, and Mary Waldron of the district's Office of Language Acquisition, to Dr. Lily Cheng at SDSU and even the Utah Dual Language Consortium, all contribute to create amazing opportunities for our group of kids in kindergarten through fourth grade."

The success of the program is prompting a move to the larger campus of Bayview Terrace Elementary School in Pacific Beach for the 2013-14 school year.

"This program grew from just an idea on the part of a principal and an administrator to worldwide acclaim," said Superintendent Bill Kowba. "It's a great example of our district's philosophy of nurturing innovation that, in this case, will help educate the next generation of world citizens."

Park accepted the award on behalf of the school at the Global Confucius Institute Conference, an annual meeting held in Beijing that is sponsored by the Office of Chinese Language International Council or Hanban, an institution affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education.

Since 2004, Confucius Institutes have been set up in more than 100 countries. Improved understanding of Chinese language and culture is the goal, along with developing friendly relations between China and other countries.

For more information on the school, contact Park at

News coverage

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mira Mesa senior honored by local Veterans of Foreign Wars

Nicole Hardson-Hurley accepts award
from District 1 Commander Dale Smith, left, and
District 1 President Ellie Mello.

Nicole Hardson-Hurley, a senior at Mira Mesa High School, has received the Outstanding Spokesperson for Democracy Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars California District 1, San Diego.

One of the VFW's international programs for high school students, it encourages young adults to reflect on the United States' democratic ideals. Nicole's win means that she'll move on to the state competition in Sacramento. Not only must students write the essay, they must read it to the audience.

"She's a democratic young leader at Mira Mesa High," said Principal Scott Giusti. Hardson-Hurley is vice president of the school's student government, an actress in the school's drama program and president of Impact San Diego.

"She's a well-rounded individual who will represent our city well at the state capitol," said Giusti. "We're proud to have such an outstanding and dedicated student leader."

Nicole was awarded the plaque during a ceremony that was opened by the school's Air Force JROTC color guard. Guest speaker was the the school's AFJROTC Wing Commander, C/Lt.Col. Arnelle Sambile.
The Voice of Democracy program has been supporting youth since being founded by the VFW in 1947. The national competition culminates in a $30,000 scholarship award.

For more information, contact Sara Leonard, Vice Principal, at

Monday, January 7, 2013

Met student works water wizardry for Coastkeeper

IN THE NEWS: After learning that an automated water sampling device needed for stormwater testing would cost $7,000, a 16-year-old San Diego Coastkeeper volunteer figured he could do better. Read more from UT San Diego»

Kearny Construction Tech Races to Jimmy Johnson Grant

Students celebrate the grant from Jimmy Johnson Foundation. Students at Stanley E. Foster Construction Tech Academy at Kearny Educational Complex rejoiced at the news of receiving a grant for $47,476 from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation to upgrade, preserve and certify the last remaining precision-machine tool technology program in San Diego county.

 The funding will upgrade and replace equipment necessary to acquire industry recognized certification in the manufacturing and engineering pathways.

Data show that career opportunities are growing for machine-tool operators and machinists. Currently, there are more than 600,000 unfilled machinist-related jobs nationwide and little to no infrastructure in place offering professional-level training.

The equipment will outfit the facility with a modern  milling lathe and training simulators common to industry. With this new equipment, students will have an edge in obtaining employment and will learn to use the tools of tomorrow. Students will acquire professional training which meets the requirements to accredit the program under National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation, in partnership with Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, has been supporting schools through the Champions Grant program since 2009. Champions Grants are distributed to K-12 public schools in Chandra and Jimmie Johnson’s hometowns in California, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

For more information about Kearny Construction Tech Academy and/or the machine tooling program, please contact Principal Laura Bellofatto at or Greg Quirin, CCTE Program Specialist, at

Saturday, January 5, 2013

In interview, School Board President optimistic about future

IN THE NEWS: Dr. John Lee Evans discusses student achievement, continuing budget challenges. Read more from UT San Diego»

San Diego Unified gets high marks for school choice

IN THE NEWS: Brookings Institute ranks district in top 10 in parents' ability to choose the right school for their child. See study.

News coverage