Thursday, October 31, 2013

Enrollment Options application period opens for 2014-15 school year

The enrollment period for 2014-15 school choice is Nov. 1, 2013 to Feb. 15, 2014. Families can apply for district programs, such as Magnet Schools, the Voluntary Enrollment Exchange Program and Open Enrollment.

Visit for the online application and other helpful materials. Applications are given a computer-generated random number and are treated equally once received during the open enrollment period -- first come, first served does not apply.

Elementary salad bars taking a dip

Dipper Bars are the newest thing being tested in San Diego Unified cafeterias.
Introducing Dippers! Recent fall festivals at Ellen Browning Scripps, Hickman and Sessions elementary schools were able to sample some of the local, farm fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables from their new Dipper Bars.

The Dipper Bar concept takes salad bars a step further by offering fruits and vegetables cut in a way that can be dipped in a variety of healthy sauces and dips like hummus, salsa, and the new Green Bellies honey mustard dressing.

Dipper bars make salad bar food into finger foods, making them easier to eat at lunch. The Dipper Bar program is being piloted at selected schools.

“Cathy Carrot” was dietetic intern Kathleen Galendez who was accompanied by Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School site leader Matilda Ma. The displays and events were organized by Mary Tyranski, FoodCorps Service Member.

For more information on Food Services programs contact Gary Petill, Food Services Director, at

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Superintendent, Board President chart course for future, honor graduates

San Diego Unified has all the parts to create America's best school system, Superintendent Cindy Marten said at the 2013 State of the District ceremony Tuesday evening.

Hall of Fame inductee
Joe Schloss, left, with
Board of Education
Member Richard Barrera.
"I see a future where we keep our promise to children," she told an audience of nearly 400. "I can tell you that we have, right here in our backyard, exactly what it takes to build the best school system in the nation."

Opening the program, Dr. John Lee Evans, President of the Board of Education, said that the focus of the meeting was on Vision 2020, the Board of Education's roadmap for the future, but that we also needed to look to the past.

"All five of us are products of public education in schools across the country," Evans said of the district's Board of Education members. "We owe a debt of gratitude to our parents’ generation. They believed in public education. We believe that every student in San Diego Unified today should be provided the same opportunities to succeed that the five of us had."

Supt. Marten and President Evans also introduced the first members of the San Diego Unified School District Hall of Fame. San Diego City Council Member Todd Gloria (interim mayor in 2013-14) was introduced as the first member of the Hall of Fame, which will recognize graduates of San Diego Unified School District schools.. Go to Hall of Fame web page. Download Hall of Fame photo (4.2 mb)
One of the highlights of the program was the performance and participation of students. Students participants included:
  • Chamber Bravura, Marshall Middle and Scripps Ranch High schools
  • Kearny High School Army JROTC, led by Col. Tim Swann
  • Kearny High School ASB students
  • Hoover High School Band; Christopher Mena, director
  • Cheerleaders from Serra, Lincoln and Kearny high schools

News Coverage

Opinion: Don't fear Common Core

IN THE NEWS: With the curriculum, coming soon to California, students and teachers are discovering new ways of reading, thinking and communicating with one another. Read more from the Los Angeles Times»In The News

Angier Elementary students create can sculpture to ‘say no to drugs and bullies’

More than 2,600 cans were collected and built into a tower by Angier Elementary School students to show that they “just say no to drugs and bullies,” part of the school's Red Ribbon Week activities.
The collected items from the food drive are then used by teams from each grade to construct creative can towers and structures.

"This is a great opportunity to challenge the students' cooperative learning skills,' said Principal Andrew Gergurich, "their engineering techniques, and their creative abilities, while using an everyday item.
"After they construct these towers, we then donate the food to the Serra Mesa Food Pantry."

This year Angier All-Stars and families had donated more than 2,600 cans of food. 800 more cans than 2012. The additional cans not only helped in constructing huge structures, but will help many needy families in the Serra Mesa Area, and restock the Serra Mesa Food Pantry.

"Our All-Stars and families never cease to amaze me! They are so generous and always willing to give back to our great Serra Mesa community," said Principal Gergurich. "This was a great event that not only focused on the importance of saying no to drugs and bullies, but provided resources to needy individuals in our school community."

For more information on how to donate to the Serra Mesa Food Pantry please call 858-278-2633. If you would like more information on Angier Elementary please contact the office at (858) 496 ­ 8295 or email Principal Gergurich at

Monday, October 28, 2013

Roosevelt Middle School students host unique mayoral debate

In The News IN THE NEWS: Labor and business have weighed in. So have Democrats and Republicans. Now it’s time for the middle-school set to have a say in San Diego’s mayoral race. Three of the four leading candidates vying to become the city’s next leader have committed to attending an unprecedented student-organized debate at Roosevelt Middle School on Wednesday. The “Mayoral Community Forum on Education” is a project of the campus’ Cesar Chavez Service Club and will feature issues raised by the “Chavistas,” as students in the club are called. It is the first student-organized San Diego mayoral debate in recent history. Read more from UT San Diego»

Heart screening finds eight teens at risk

The Eric Paredes Save A Life Foundation screened 815 teens on Sunday, October 20 at a free cardiac screening facilitated by the wonderful administration at Patrick Henry High School. The screening sought to detect heart abnormalities that could put teens at risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), a silent killer of 7,000 kids annually.

Eight teens were found to be at risk, meaning they had a heart abnormality dangerous enough to be referred to a doctor for follow-up evaluation and treatment. SCA can strike without warning signs - the first symptom is often death. EKGs, like the ones given at PHHS, are not a part of a teen’s annual check-up or pre-participation sports physical.

Free screenings provided by the EP Save A Life Foundation in partnership with local high schools include a health history, EKG, and echocardiogram if indicated. The EP Save A Life Foundation has screened nearly 10,000 teens since 2010, detecting almost 100 heart abnormalities that were serious enough to cause SCA.

Parents can register their teen for future screenings at

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Superintendent talks about ‘State of the District’

Superintendent Cindy Marten talked about Tuesday's State of the District event, changes in the way students are tested and other issues as Serra High School Senior Class President Diego Schoenfeld joined her for two appearances on local morning news shows on Friday, Oct. 25.

"We're celebrating all that is good about public education," said Marten. "Diego is certainly a great example of that."

Marten appearances on the Fox 5 Morning News and KUSI's Good Morning San Diego are part of her continuing effort to meet with San Diegans and continue to foster a dialogue about our schools. Marten has also appeared on NBC 7 News Today, San Diego 6 in the Morning, KPBS-FM Midday and UT-TV's Roger Hedgecock Show in extended interviews such as those conducted on Friday.

"I really want to thank all the San Diego media for giving us this time to have an ongoing discussion about San Diego Unified and education," she said. "I try to always bring along one of my bosses, the students, to give a different perspective on what we're talking about."

Watch video

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Henry's Engineering and Design Academy receives Golden Bell

The Engineering and Design Academy at Patrick Henry High School has been named a Golden Bell Award winner by the California School Board Association.

The award, from the organization that represents elected school boards throughout the state, recognizes public school programs that are innovative and sustainable, make a demonstrated difference for students and focus on meeting the needs of all students.

"Congratulations to Kathy Schulze, Jack Lococo, and Roger Jaffe who are key academy teachers, Rick Lewis (for his work as the counselor), and the academy teachers (English, math, history, and science) who support the program," said Principal Elizabeth Gillingham. "Your work is being recognized and we are very proud to accept this honor!"

The Golden Bell Awards program, now in its 34th year, promotes excellence in education and school board governance by recognizing outstanding programs and governance practices of school boards in school districts and county offices of education throughout California. Golden Bell Awards reflect the depth and breadth of education programs and governance decisions supporting these programs that are necessary to address students’ changing needs. This awards program contributes to the maintenance of effective governance and the development and evaluation of curriculum, instruction and support services.

For more information, visit the program's website.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vision 2020 in Action: Marvin Elementary School

Teachers and staff tend to stay at schools for their entire career, but for their entire lives?

Marvin families
That's what Superintendent Cindy Marten found at Marvin Elementary School in the Allied Gardens neighborhood during a recent visit, part of her A Quality School in Every Neighborhood Tour.

"I kept meeting staff members who talked about how much they loved the school," said Supt. Martin. "I found out that almost half the staff actually grew up in the neighborhood and came back to teach at the school."

Supt. Marten makes several visits to schools every week with an eye toward innovation and excellence, as well as proof of A Quality School in Every Neighborhood. An example of how Marvin has created that family feeling -- one teacher has a photo of herself as a kindergartener in her classroom. What's special about the photo is that it was taken in the same classroom where she now teaches Transitional Kindergarten.

"That cycle of what it means to be a community school was very inspiring to me," said Marten, "and all those stories matter."

Marvin Elementary is nestled in Allied Gardens, a community of mostly single-family homes. just northwest of San Diego State University. Marvin students are part of the Patrick Henry High School cluster, attending nearby Lewis Middle School as they move up through the grades.

Principal Jay Derwae points out that Marvin, with a 2013-14 enrollment of 409 students, includes Transitional Kindergarten and grades kindergarten through 5. The all-school science fair and other afterschool programs (science, aerobics, art, Spanish, basketball, soccer, jump rope) offer additional inst ruction to our children. The school's mission: that all students will learn to their fullest potential in a safe and clean environment.
Marvin Elementary School
Principal Jay Derwae
5720 Brunswick Avenue
San Diego, CA 92120
(619) 583-1355 – Office
(619) 582-7853 - Fax

Helicopters on campus, anti-drug pledges, red-dressing means it's Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week, the annual national drug awareness program that allows our schools to rally around anti-tobacco and drug awareness messages, continues through Oct. 31 at many San Diego Unified schools.

Schools are celebrating the event in a variety of ways. Here are some examples.
  • Hearst Elementary School in Del Cerro welcomed officers from the San Diego Police Department to school, along with the command unit and visitors from the San Diego County Department of Animal Services. Watch video»
  • Cubberley Elementary in Serra Mesa created a very visual sign to the community of the school's drug-free attitude, as students created the letters for "drug free" by stuffing red cups in the school's perimeter fence.
  • Red was the order of the day on Oct. 21 at the City Heights campus of Rosa Parks Elementary School. Students assembled on the school's playground and all took a drug-free pledge.

The National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign. NFP provides drug awareness by sponsoring the annual National Red Ribbon Celebration. Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Board salutes Filipino American History, Native American Heritage

The Board of Education has proclaimed October as Filipino History Month and November is Native American Heritage Month.

Many classes around the San Diego Unified School District will use these months as an incentive to focus on Filipino History and Native American Heritage.

For October's designation of Filipino American History Month, Subdistrict E Trustee Marne Foster noted that the local chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society is a very active educational group in San Diego.

"The Filipino American community in San Diego County is the largest Asian American group in the county," she wrote to Trustees, also noting that there are more than 3 million people in the United States of Filipino heritage.

In his message to the Board of Education, Subdistrict D Trustee Richard Barrera said that Native Americans have a rich and important heritage in the United States and that there are many students of Native American heritage at San Diego Unified.

"The contributions of Native American Indians to this nation’s government, history, and culture are as numerous and varied as the tribes themselves," Barrera wrote, "and the President authorized and requested to call upon federal, state, and local governments, groups and organizations and the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities."

Download copies of the proclamations (PDF)

UCSD Tells SD High Schoolers They Can ‘Achieve UC’

IN THE NEWS: UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and admissions officers from UCSD visited Mission Bay and Clairemont High School as part of "Achieve UC,"
a systemwide initiative by the University of California to attract more of the state's lower-income high school students. Read more from KPBS»

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Community members, staff encouraged to support the PTA

You do not have to be a parent or teacher to join the PTA. Anyone can join a school PTA and support the organization's mission to positively impact the lives of all children and families. Superintendent Cindy Marten recently showed her support by joining the PTA at Cherokee Point Elementary School. She is encouraging San Diego Unified employees and community supporters to follow her lead.

The superintendent was the guest speaker at the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs general meeting on Sept. 23, where she talked about the district’s Vision 2020 of creating quality schools in every neighborhood. The district has deemed that one of the 12 indicators of a quality school is parent/community engagement around student achievement. The PTA is one avenue to support that quality.

 If you are interested in joining a PTA or starting a PTA, please contact the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs at 619-297-7821 or

Second-Hand Bikes Give Lifeline To San Diego Refugees

IN THE NEWS: Edith Okello enjoys riding her bike home from Crawford High school in City Heights. Her long braided hair blows in the breeze as she glides down Orange Avenue. But the 15-year-old’s journey hasn’t always been this carefree. Read more from KPBS»

Hoover High college day helps foster ‘education culture’

IN THE NEWS: San Diego State's Aztec Warrior helped celebrate Hoover High School's drive ensure students are ready for college and career.  All students participated in Oct. 16 College Day where they attended workshops and took college-prep tests. Hoover High School has a guaranteed admission program for its students with San Diego State University and is part of the College Avenue Compact program.

Watch video from KUSI-TV.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lewis Middle School shows San Diego how to shake

IN THE NEWS: Lewis Middle School invited San Diego to see how it's done during the annual Great California Shakeout on Thursday. See media coverage.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Meet San Diego Unified’s New Food Soldier

It’s not a stretch to say San Diego Unified School District has one of the more progressive school lunch programs in the nation. Read more from Voice of San Diego»
Its school cafeterias are stocked with fresh salad bars. Mondays are meatless. School gardens are thriving. Local organic tofu is a regular menu item. A million pounds of local, fresh produce like avocados, persimmons and Julian apples have reached the hands and mouths of growing kids, thanks to a vibrant farm-to-school program, and a climate that allows for a year-round growing season.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary students collect for UNICEF

Trick or Treat for UNICEF
Students at Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School in Clairemont are working to raise $500 for Trick or Treat for UNICEF program.

"If they can raise $500, our students will providing funds to build a well for clean drinking water in a country in need," said the program's organizer, teacher Mary Morgan.

Trick or Treat for UNICEF, the United Nations International Children's Fund, has been a popular fundraiser since 1950. The kids carry small cardboard boxes seeking donations.

Morgan asks students if they could remember being hungry for more than a day -- and no child answers "yes." She then talks with students about the fact that in some countries children go to bed hungry every night, and sometimes for days, even without clean water to drink.

She reminds the students that even though we live far away and in a different country, we still could help.

From there, she asks for volunteers to join Trick or Treating for UNICEF.
For more information, contact Deanne Rohde, Principal, at (858) 496-8400.

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Food and Nutrition Services truck wraps carry Farm to School message

Trucks bringing America's freshest, healthiest and best-tasting lunches to San Diego Unified elementary campuses are now wrapped with a brightly colored message about the San Diego Unified Farm to School program.

New truck sign The message is simple and clear: we serve fresh locally grown fruits and vegetable to our students.

The truck-wraps were funded through the Community Transformation Grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, through the County of San Diego. Two of the grant's goals are to communicate to our families our pledge to provide high quality, healthy meals to our students and to provide equipment and supplies to our kitchens to facilitate fresh produce preparation.

The girl holding oranges is the daughter of one of our farmers and the students at the salad bar are from Logan Elementary School.

For more information contact Ashley Cassat, Farm to School Specialist at

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Find out about California's new way of funding schools at upcoming meetings

Leadership from the San Diego Unified School District will be visiting Cluster Committee and other parent meetings over the next several months to discuss California's new school budget plan, called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

LCFF shifts the focus from funding dozens of state-mandated programs to funding based on local district control and student needs,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten, “with extra dollars allotted to low-income children, foster youth and English learners.”

According to the state Department of Education, each district creates a three-year plan not only for funding but for accountability; under the old budget system, district plans covered only funding. The California Department of Education is expected to issue guidelines in January for creation of the Local Control Accountability Plan, which ties student achievement to program funding.

“The funding formula and the local accountability plan in many ways bring the rest of the state into compliance with our district's Vision 2020,” said Dr. John Lee Evans, Board of Education President. “As we have outlined in the Vision 2020, we're making staff more accountable to ensure annual improvement in the education of our students.”

According to Vision 2020:
  • Staff will develop both quantitative and qualitative measures to measure the broad range of achievement.
  • Such measures will incorporate an individual growth model.
  • Such measures will facilitate the improvement of instruction.
  • Such measures will be readily available and understandable by students, parents and community members.
  • Student achievement will also include measures of personal development and citizenship development.
The community meetings will give San Diego Unified residents the opportunity to hear about the new funding formula, its impact on the district budget and the expectations for the budget development process. If you want to learn more about the Local Control Funding Formula, visit the website at or email

Find Out More

Three counselors get $1,000 grants for excellence from San Diego Downtown Kiwanis

Longtime Counseling Department supporter Kiwanis Club of San Diego has awarded three, $1,000 grants to school counselors Nico Negrette of Balboa Elementary in Shelltown, Clara Hayashigawa from Miller Elementary in Tierrasanta, and Trina Lee, head counselor at Hoover High in City Heights.

Kiwanis winners During the 2012-2013 school year, it sponsored an incentive project to support the school counselors with the Six-Step Accountability Process known as MEASURES (Mission, Element, Analyze, Stakeholders-Unite, Results, Educate Stakeholders) and subsequent Results Reporting. School counselors who participated in this process drafted their MEASURES with principal support and monitored the progress of their students.

At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, they presented their results through a peer review process and three school counselors were recognized at the All School Counselors’ Opening Meeting on September 19 at San Diego State University.

 San Diego Unified School District extends its congratulations to all three recipients and their gratitude to the Kiwanis Club of San Diego for its continued support.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Shaky day tests preparedness for earthquakes and emergencies

The 2013 Great American Shakeout is scheduled at 10:17 a.m. today as students throughout the district practice duck-and-cover drills, as well as school evacuation procedures.

Shakeout Many schools also took the opportunity to use the drill as a teaching topic, helping students learn about how to handle emergencies, what causes earthquakes and other related subjects.

All district schools and sites have emergency response plans in place and are prepared should an earthquake or other disaster strike during school hours. Schools routinely practice emergency drills, including earthquake and fire.

For information on how to plan for and survive a 'quake, go to the district's Earthquake Preparedness page.

UC High student journalists interview Superintendent Cindy Marten

IN THE NEWS: The San Diego Unified School District welcomed Superintendent Cindy Marten as she took office on July 1, 2013 ( She has more than 25 years of work experience in education as a teacher, literacy specialist and principal. As Central Elementary’s principal for the past six years, she is commonly noted for the school’s rise in its Academic Performance Index (API) score from 631 to 788 ( In an interview with The Commander Editor-in-Chief Emily Siegler, Marten discussed high school student achievement as well as district-wide issues. Read more from University City High School Commander»

Ongoing skill training keeps operations efficient

Responsible for maintaining landscaping and irrigation systems at more than 180 locations is a big job for any team, and San Diego Unified's staff holds regular training sessions to keep up on the latest techniques, including a recent session conducted by material and equipment suppliers.

Landscape technicians learned by doing with representatives of Eagle Industries, Hunter Irrigation, Rain Bird Irrigation and Hydroscape, bringing them up to date on the latest technical advances in irrigation systems, valves, PVC fittings, solvents and gluing techniques.

"This is the kind of skill set training in the Landscape Operations world that is most comparable to that provided to teachers and principals to keep them up to date in the latest instructional methodologies," said Drew Rowlands, Executive Director, Auxiliary Services. "The Landscape Department strives to assure the most efficient approaches are applied to reduce water waste, maximize resource utilization, and reduce environmental impacts.

Gluing PVC is actually a chemical welding process what melts the PVC pieces together to form a solid bond. General plan reading, operation and troubleshooting are a part of the curriculum for Irrigation Training Modules provided by the vendor instructors. The Oct. 4 session included staff from throughout the district.

"Resolving common challenges as we move away from old technology and equipment in an effort to improve the delivery system for irrigation is the foundational goal," said Jonel Smith, Landscape Services Supervisor, Scripps Mesa Zone.

For more information, contact Smith at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Superintendent's classroom visits highlights new ways to support teaching

IN THE NEWS: Principals and superintendents in the San Diego Unified School District will be spending less time in their offices and more time in the classroom. NBC 7's education reporter Rory Devine explains the logic behind this new approach. Watch video from NBC San Diego»

Cookies point way to learning at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary

When grade 6 students at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School in Clairemont saw their teachers opening bags of Oreo cookies, little did they know they were in for a math lesson.

A project of teachers Bridget Kyi and Caye Baxter, students learned that stacking cookies was a good way to incorporate creativity, collaboration, communication, scientific strategies, problem solving, critical thinking, as well as experimenting with a delicious popular food item. The project was the school's contribution to O.R.E.O. Project 15, an international project that each year uses Oreo cookies in a different educational activity.

"I liked this project was because absolutely everyone has access to real life mathematics," said Kyi.
Working in teams of four or five students, each had un-timed turns to try and stack as many cookies as they could. Students were judged on the number of cookies used, not the height. Students estimated how many they thought they could stack as well as guess if it would be an easy or hard task to accomplish. They couldn't use anything to stabilize the cookies and once their hand left the cookie, they could not reach back to reposition it.

There were many favorite techniques to stacking; standing was preferred, some students knelt down to be at eye level with the table,some held one arm behind their back, some stood over the stack as if to get a better view, and of course, no elbows on the table.

In all, the students were eager to try and break the classroom record of 30, with the average being 22.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trayvon Martin school forums discussed

IN THE NEWS: Superintendent Marten explains upcoming school events to discuss Florida case. Watch video from KUSI-TV»

IN THE NEWS: Alcott Elementary gets magnificent mural

Artist Myriah McGlynn has been working with the San Diego Unified for seven years now.  Last year, with her grandfather(s) as her inspiration, she began adding educational murals which provide vivid color filled with encouragement for the children attending classes at Alcott Elementary.
She began with Sesame Street characters which progressed into the wonderful mural which adorns the auditorium portion of the school at the entrance on Hidalgo Avenue. An owl themed mural was requested by the principal of the school and a fundraiser was held to help with funding for the project.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

District Security and Safety Task Force set to launch

In an effort to make our schools the safest in the nation, a group of district staff and school security experts will be visiting district school sites this year to measure the safety and security of each of our campuses.

While at the site, the team will collect feedback from site staff and stakeholders about their safety concerns and needs, as well as conduct the safety and security appraisal that will examine six different security variables. These include: access and egress, locks and doors, policies and procedures, training, cameras and communications.

A pilot sample of 16 schools, selected from all grade levels and all district geography, will be initially appraised. Data from these schools will be used to help refine the work done at the other campuses.

Deputy Superintendent of Business Support Services Phil Stover will be supervising this work over the next year and will work directly with principals to schedule site visits. The goal is to appraise all district schools this year.

An email address has been setup for all district stakeholders, as well as the public, to communicate their concerns about campus safety and security directly to Deputy Superintendent Stover. Share your questions or concerns with him at

The district has set aside funds from its bond program to complete the work to bring our schools up to a safety/security standard that is the best in the nation.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Clark Middle School demonstrates Vision 2020 in action

The district's Vision 2020 calls for Quality Schools in Every Neighborhood. To help identify what defines a quality school, the board and district staff developed 12 indicators of a quality school. In her efforts to support the implementation of the vision, Supt. Cindy Marten is making weekly visits to district schools, looking for concrete examples of Vision 2020 indicators in action to share with others. This year's priority indicators are: 1) access to a broad and challenging curriculum, 2) quality teaching and 3) quality leadership.

The superintendent recently visited Clark Middle School in City Heights and saw first-hand the great work being done at the school. Clark Principal Tom Liberto escorted Supt. Marten, Chief of Staff Staci Monreal and Area 5 Supt. Mitzi Merino around the campus and into multiple classrooms, where they saw students actively engaged in learning a broad and challenging curriculum, many through the use of technology in the classroom. 

Of particular note was the school's Welcome Center, where brand new students from around the world have the opportunity to learn with and from each other. A supportive environment that values diversity is one of the 12 indicators.

"In the Welcome Center, we saw real collaborative student learning," said Supt. Marten. "One of our core beliefs is that you learn language by using language. This was very evident at Clark Middle School."

For more information about the Vision 2020, go to  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Schools to join state Thursday in Great Shakeout

For the past couple of years, San Diego schools have "experienced" a 7.8 magnitude earthquake each October. Are fault lines and shifting tectonic plates to blame for this annual phenomenon? No, it’s just the state Office of Emergency Services’ Great California ShakeOut, an annual statewide disaster exercise.

duck and cover This Thursday, Oct. 17, schools and worksites across the district are scheduled to again "drop, cover, and hold" when at the appointed time, 10:17 a.m. The district’s participation in the drill is being coordinated by our School Police Services.

“Student safety is our priority at San Diego Unified ,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “Through proper preparation with events like ShakeOut, our students, teachers and all employees can learn what to do during an earthquake to ensure that everyone remains safe. ”

If asked, many locals would likely say that wildfires pose a more severe threat to our city than earthquakes do. While the San Andreas and San Jacinto Faults are more than 60 miles away from highly populated areas, San Diego is sitting on a major fault, Rose Canyon, that cuts right through the heart of downtown.

All district schools and worksites have emergency response plans in place and are prepared should an earthquake or other disaster strike during school hours. Schools routinely practice emergency drills, including earthquake and fire. With the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan still in recent memory, it is now more important than ever for San Diegans to be prepared for the “Big One.”

In addition to being prepared at school and work, it’s important for families to have their own earthquake preparedness plan. All San Diegans are encouraged to participate by registering at . Learn more on how to prepare for an earthquake or other disasters by visiting . For more information on your school's or worksite’s emergency response plan, check with your site administrator.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

District educators shine at annual Salute to Teachers

Cox Communications, in cooperation with the San Diego Office of Education and Ashford University, hosted the 40th Annual San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards on Oct. 5.

Among the honorees were our district 2013 Teachers of the Year and Runners-up along with two district teachers who received special recognition for their expertise in environmental education and science and technology.

salute to teachers
Left to Right: Lara Dickens, Patrick Trotter, Kyra Phillips, Ken Hughes, Cindy Marten, Angela Wolde.
San Diego Unified had six outstanding candidates vying for the title of County Teacher of the Year. They included Kenneth Hughes from Lewis Middle, Jessica Graham from Kearny High Science Connections & Technology, Lauren Robinson-Hunt from CPMA, Amy Sanders from Nye Elementary, Angela Wolde from Euclid Elementary and David Weber from Preuss UCSD, who was named a finalist. Although none were selected County Teachers of the Year, their dedication and commitment to our students is immeasurable. Learn more about the teachers.

Two San Diego Unified teachers received special awards at the event. Lara Dickens teaches AP Environmental Science and Physics at Henry High School. She was named the Sycuan 2013 Environmental Educator. Last year, as part of her class, students performed an energy audit and initiated a plan with the district to reduce energy consumption on campus by removing excessive lighting and taking advantage of natural light.

As faculty advisor for the Henry High School Environmental Club, students focus on themes they feel strongly about such as the environmental benefits of being a vegetarian, recycling, litter removal and growing your own food. Dickens' goal is to provide opportunities for students to be "green leaders' and hopes her students realize they can make a difference, right now.

Patrick Trotter from Bethune K-8 was named the Procopio 2013 Science and Technology Educator. He teaches the Gateway to Technology program, a hands-on, project-based program, which covers various topics, including Design & Modeling, Automation &Robotics, Energy & the Environment and Flight& Space. Trotter's mission is to get his students hooked on engineering. He knows the knowledge and skills his students gain will create a strong foundation, and a career in the engineering field is a win for them and a win for the nation.

San Diego Unified students were spotlighted as three of the student entertainment acts during the event. The Mission Bay High School Preservationists, one of the nation's premier traditional youth jazz bands; Chamber Bravura, nationally ranked a cappella group comprised of middle school and high school students from Scripps Ranch, under the direction of Katherine Girvin from Marshall Middle School; and sisters and vocalists, Nicole and Natalie de Kozan, students at Marshall Middle School and Scripps Ranch High School respectively, all performed to the delight of the crowd.

Supt. Cindy Marten was on hand to join the celebration, which was co-hosted by long-time San Diego broadcast journalist Dennis Morgigno and Headline News anchor Kyra Phillips. Phillips is a childhood friend of Supt. Marten.

The annual event is dedicated to the 26,000 teachers in San Diego County who not only educate, but also inspire and motivate their students every day.

Repeats of the show are being aired on CoxSan Diego Channel 4 and iTV Channel 16. Air times are listed on

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Food Services Department welcomes FoodCorps service member

San Diego Unified continues to bolster its efforts to teach kids about healthy food by adding nutrition specialist Mary Tyranski to its Food Services team.

Tyranski, a FoodCorps service member, has joined the Farm to School team for one year to help get the word out about the healthy local food the district serves in its meal programs and to get students excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Mary Tyranski
Her first several assignments will include engaging students in Harvest of the Month taste tests, helping schools join the Garden to Café program, and educating parents, students, and the community about our Farm to School Program.

Placed in limited-resource communities for a year of public service, FoodCorps service members conduct hands-on food education, support garden based education, and help facilitate getting local food into public school cafeterias.

The district is one of 12 sites in California that was chosen to host a FoodCorps service member, beating out nearly 50 other host site applicants. New to California this year, FoodCorps is a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy.

Tyranski is a native Californian who left her career as a television news reporter to pursue her true passion – nutrition. She is studying to become a registered dietician and is dedicated to helping students achieve a happy and healthy lifestyle.

For more information contact our Farm to School Specialist, Kathryn Spencer at

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ericson Elementary students get civics lesson from local assemblyman

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who represents the 77th Assembly District in the California State Assembly, recently visited fourth- and fifth-graders at Ericson Elementary in Mira Mesa to discuss California politics and the legislative process.

Assemblyman Maienschein visits Ericson Elementary Reading about California government in Social Studies class is fun, but learning about it first-hand from your local assemblyman is even better.

The visit began with an introduction from Assemblyman Maienschein that included a brief personal history, followed by a formal presentation about the interworking’s of California government, and ended with a question and answer period.

The students have been studying all levels of California government in their Social Studies classes so they were well prepared. In advance of the visit, they reviewed materials on government, elections and the Assembly. Students posed questions to Assemblyman Maienschein about how ideas become laws, the governor’s role in this process, and even the future of testing for students.

“The students were very excited to meet Assemblyman Maienschein,” said fourth-grade teacher Rhoda Stephens-Yoder, who organized the visit. “He told me he was very impressed at the quality of the questions and how well-informed the students were.”

For more information about Assemblyman Maienschein’s visit, please contact Stephens-Yoder at 858-271-0505.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Building peace makers at John Muir

John Muir students at Peace Makers event Members of a campus club at John Muir that focuses on domestic and global issues facing women today recently had the opportunity to meet some inspiring women from across the globe at the Women PeaceMakers Workshop at USD’s Institute for Peace and Justice.

Students listened to and engaged in conversation with women leaders and defenders of peace from countries such as Pakistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Sudan and India. They listened to stories and accomplishments of the speakers and participated by asking questions, writing letters of solidarity to earthquake victims in Pakistan, and meeting other students from San Diego and Baja California.

“The keynote speakers were beyond inspiring,” said junior Angelica Marsigan. “They made me feel as if I could accomplish anything and that I could contribute greatly as a female leader in our world.”

Members of the Girls Impacting and Realizing Liberation in Society club attended the event. Started last year by former John Muir student, Casey Leyes, G.I.R.L.S. is a campus club focusing on domestic and global issues that face girls and women today.

The club works to empower middle- and high school-aged students to be change makers in society while providing opportunities for involved students to connect with local and international advocates for the progress of girls and to champion women’s causes themselves.

Students learn about and participate in campaigns related to the sexualization of women in the media, women in politics, women in religion, human trafficking, education of girls, and the oppression/progress of women around the globe.

Eighth-grader Lily French says what she likes best about G.I.R.L.S. is “the fact that we are learning about things that are happening to girls around the world and helping them in our own way.”

Long-time John Muir partner, WorldLink, a program that connects students with global affairs, helped the G.I.R.L.S. club members attend the Women PeaceMakers Workshop.

For more information about the G.I.R.L.S. club, contact Barbara Magoffin at John Muir. For more information on the event speakers, please visit the event website.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

San Diego County “A Salute to Teachers” awards gala slated for Saturday

Teachers of the Year The San Diego County Teacher of the Year awards will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, at the annual “A Salute to Teachers” event, sponsored by Cox Communications and the San Diego County Office of Education. The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. at the Balboa Theater in downtown San Diego and will also be televised live on Cox San Diego Channel 4.

This year’s event will highlight several district teachers and students. San Diego Unified students will be performing in three of the entertainment acts, including the Mission Bay High School Preservationists, one of the nation's premier traditional youth jazz bands; Chamber Bravura, nationally ranked a cappella group comprised of middle school and high school students from Scripps Ranch, under the direction of Katherine Girvin from Marshall Middle School; and sisters and vocalists, Nicole and Natalie de Kozan, students at Marshall Middle School and Scripps Ranch High School respectively.

In addition to these outstanding students, two San Diego Unified teachers will be receiving special awards: Lara Dickens from Henry High School has been named the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation 2013 Environmental Educator, and Patrick Trotter from Bethune K-8 has been named the Procopio 2013 Science and Technology Educator. A short video about each of the teachers will be shown at the ceremony and they will receive their award from the corresponding sponsor on stage.

Of course the culmination of the evening will be the announcement of the 2013-14 County Teachers of the Year. San Diego Unified has six outstanding candidates vying for the title of County Teacher of the Year. They include Kenneth Hughes from Lewis Middle, Jessica Graham from Kearny High Science Connections & Technology, Lauren Robinson-Hunt from CPMA, Amy Sanders from Nye Elementary, David Weber from Preuss UCSD and Angela Wolde from Euclid Elementary. Learn more about the teachers.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Students display work at STEM event, meet Congresswoman Davis

Congresswoman Susan Davis, Sofia Coseip
and Jayda Warburton.
For anyone who still thinks that girls don’t like robotics and all things related to science, technology, engineering and math, a day at the “Engaging Girls in STEM” event may finally convince them otherwise.

More than 80 students, educators, and organization leaders joined Congresswoman Susan Davis to talk about careers in the STEM fields and how young women can get involved and develop their skills in these areas.

Among the attendees were Muirlands Middle School eighth-grader Sofia Coseip and Jayda Warburton, ninth-grader at Pt. Loma High School, who participated in the event as part of the Boys and Girls Club of Linda Vista robotics program. Their team, the Stuffed Dragons 6565, had the opportunity to showcase their robot to attendees, including Congresswoman Davis.

The Stuffed Dragons were joined by several other groups of young women engaging in STEM activities, including the Girl Scouts and the Society of Women Engineers, who also had the opportunity to display their work.

Local female business leaders led a panel discussion in which they reminded the young attendees to “surround themselves with mentors and advocates who recognize their talents” and to “find their passion and do what makes them happy.”

Congresswoman Susan Davis hosted the event in collaboration with STEAM Connect and YMCA Youth and Community Center in North Park.

For more details on the event and careers in the STEM fields, visit the event website.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Library is usually in the school, not the other way around

Superintedent and board members
City officials, dignitaries and thousands from the community came together in the East Village last Saturday to officially dedicate the new Central Library and tour the new facility in advance of the Sept. 30 grand opening.

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten spoke on behalf of the district and  was joined on stage by Board President John Lee Evans and Board Member Richard Barrera during the program. Board Vice President Kevin Beiser and Trustees Scott Barnett and Marne Foster also attended the event.

The board members and Superintendent Marten had their own “sneak peek” of the library earlier in the month when they toured the library and the new e3 Civic High charter school that occupies two floors of the library. e3 Civic High is one of the district's charter school.

"Based on a shared purpose around literacy and lifelong learning, the partnership between e3 Civic High and the New San Diego Central Library will be a vanguard example of collaboration," said the school's website. "Along with these community-based affiliates, e3 Civic High will support and challenge its students to learn, create, and excel through civic and workforce partnership."

The district is leasing two floors in the library for e3 Civic High. The district recently completed renovations to the two floors so that classes could begin Sept. 3. The costs to the district included $20 million for a 40-year lease and an additional $8.3 million for tenant improvements, $1 million for classroom furniture, and more than half a million for modifications to the building to accommodate the school.
For more information on e3 Civic High, visit

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Will “high-quality customer service” for San Diego principals mean high-quality schools?

IN THE NEWS: The story of a new superintendent coming to town and shaking a school district up in the name of improving education is a familiar one. San Diego Unified's new superintendent, Cindy Marten, is basing her makeover of city schools on the theory that the key to school success is top-notch principals. Read more from KPBS.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pt. Loma High student puts his singing talent on national stage for spot on ‘X Factor’

IN THE NEWS: Point Loma High School student Ty Desharnais could have that undefinable “something” that makes for star quality. An audio tape by the 15-year-old singing sophomore was submitted online to “The X Factor” television music competition recently by his mom, Michelle.

Ty Desharnais To everyone’s surprise, not the least of all Ty’s and Michelle’s, Ty Desharnais has outcompeted countless other contestants to make it through the first couple layers of auditions for the show. Now, he is waiting to hear if he’ll survive to the semifinal round, where contestants audition at the homes of competition judges. Read more from the San Diego Community Newspaper Group»

Japan Foundation grant adds $20,000 of joy to Barnard dedication

It was a joyous occasion last Friday as dignitaries from around the globe joined Board of Education members Kevin Beiser and Richard Barrera, Superintendent Cindy Marten and Principal Eddie Park to formally dedicate the new location for the Barnard Asian-Pacific Language Academy.

Cutting the ribbon Now located at the former Bayview Terrace Elementary School campus, Barnard has kindergarten through grade six and is expanding its language offerings, thanks in part to a $20,000 grant from the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. The school will now offer dual-immersion programs in Chinese, which it has offered since 2007-08, Korean, which began last school year, and Japanese.

"This grant is provided through the Japan Foundation’s Salary Assistance Grant Program for Japanese Language Courses," the Foundation said in a news release, "which is one of our several grant programs designed to support US educational institutions to initiate, expand, or maintain their Japanese language program."

Principal Eddie Park welcomed the visitors, as well as Barnard students and families to the dedication.

"We recognize that raising children in the modern world is a team effort and our students benefit from a strong educational team that includes school, community and you," he said.

The school is now located at 2445 Fogg Street (92109). For more information, contact Park at (858) 800-5700.