Friday, November 21, 2014

Kimie Lochtefeld Named Area 3 Superintendent

Kimie Lochtefeld, principal at Dingeman Elementary, has been named the new Area 3 Superintendent. The announcement was made at the Nov. 18 Board of Education meeting.

Kimie Lochtefeld She will oversee the Kearny, Mission Bay and Point Loma clusters. She replaces Julie Martel, who is taking on a new role as Executive Director, Facilities, Planning and Design.

Lochtefeld has been an employee of San Diego Unified School District since 1992 in the positions of teacher, vice principal and principal. Since 2008, she has served as principal of Dingeman Elementary, located in the northernmost area of the district, where she has worked with stakeholders to create a school vision and mission statement, developed a grassroots STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) program, and re-energized teacher-led professional learning communities. Under her leadership, Dingeman Elementary received the 2013 California Distinguished School Award.

From 2003 to 2008, Lochtefeld served as the principal of Audubon Elementary, which became Audubon K-8 under her leadership, located in the southernmost area of the district. In addition to organizing and implementing the middle school grade levels, Lochtefeld worked closely with community partners such as the YMCA, Evoke Dance, San Diego Children’s Choir, and the San Diego Opera to provide enrichment opportunities for all students.

As principal of Hearst Elementary from 2000-2003, Lochtefeld worked with the school’s foundation and city representatives in eastern San Diego to develop a Parks and Recreation joint-use field agreement.

As a site administrator, Lochtefeld has demonstrated exemplary practices in developing instructional leadership teams and creating a professional culture that focuses on the inter-relationship between curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

As a teacher, she has worked with GATE/Seminar, English Learners, and a student with disabilities in grades 2 through 5, served as grade level chair for literacy, math, and science, and was an SSC chair and ASB advisor.

Lochtefeld received her bachelor’s, master’s and multiple subject teaching credential from San Diego State University and a Clear Administrative Services Credential from the University of San Diego/Educational Leadership Development Academy.

Board President's Scholarship Recipients

 Since 1994, San Diego Unified has presented the Board President’s Scholarship to monthly, classified district employees who are currently enrolled in a college and have a goal of becoming a teacher. 

The scholarship award is presented annually by the President of the Board of Education to four monthly classified employees interested in becoming a teacher and who are already enrolled in a college program. Each recipient receives $1,000. Scholarship funds are to be used for tuition, fees or books at any local two- or four-year accredited college or university.

Long-time district Partners-in- Education , California Coast Credit Union and Mission Federal Credit Union, support the scholarships with donations of $2,000 per financial institution.

The 2014 Board President's Scholarship recipients were announced and recognized at the Nov. 18 Board of Education meeting.
Each recipient received a plaque and check for $1,000 from the respective credit unions:

2014 Mission Federal Credit Union Awardees

Vanessa Jackson

Vanessa Jackson Vanessa is currently a special education assistant at Jones Elementary School. Although Vanessa has always wanted to become a teacher, she questioned which grade level and subject to pursue. After working with special needs students during her college internship she had found her calling.

“I am filled with enthusiasm to have the opportunity to concurrently work with special needs children and gain knowledge to become an effective special education teacher," Vanessa stated.

Vanessa’s colleagues describe her as a self-starter who is devoted to her students. She is currently attending National University to earn her Special Education Mild/Moderate teaching credential.

Kadie Shedd

Katie Shedd Kadie is a special education assistant at Scripps Ranch High School. Kadie plans to use this scholarship award to continue her education in Arizona State University’s online Bachelor’s program.

“Teaching is not a profession one chooses to be involved in," Kadie said. "It is a calling; a deeply rooted understanding and passion that cannot be learned in a classroom.”

Her colleagues think she has already proven her effectiveness as a teacher and added “she has innate teacher instincts, and she is always finding ways to help give students the extra guidance and motivation the need to meet each day’s objectives.”

2014 California Coast Credit Union Awardees

Cynthia Jackson

Cynthia Jackson Cynthia is a special education technician at ALBA Community Day School. Since beginning her career with the San Diego Unified in 1987, she has held several positions within the Special Education Department helping the students that needed her the most.

“My passion for giving back to the community motivates me to give all that I can to repay the debt of gratitude I owe to the powerful role models from my youth who inspired me to become a teacher, Cynthia stated.

Cynthia’s colleagues describe her as a dedicated professional and an “invaluable asset to all.” She currently attends San Diego City College to earn her Degree in Liberal Arts and African Studies.

Craig M. Williams

Craig Williams Craig has been employed at Silvergate Elementary as a noon duty assistant since 2010 and a science assistant since 2012. He plans to use this scholarship award to complete his education and earn his teaching credential.

Craig believes that with this opportunity he will be able to, “continue to touch the lives of students in my care.”

Craig’s colleagues admire his ability to reach out to students as individuals and take a personal interest in their success. One teacher writes, “He genuinely pays attention to each child and is responsive to individual needs.” Craig believes that with this opportunity he will be able to, “continue to touch the lives of students in my care.”

For more information about the Board President's Scholarship, visit .

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Engagement, expectations key to helping students

Kamphet Pease Wilson Middle School teacher and San Diego Unified Teacher of the Year, Khamphet "Pet" Pease, was recently named a 2014 San Diego County Teacher of the Year. She shares her love of teaching and her students in a recent UT San Diego commentary. Read the article.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Loma Portal Elementary receives grant from Barona Band of Mission Indians

Loma Portal Elementary was recently awarded a $5,000 Education Grant by the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

Beth Glasco, Heather Nelson, Mindy Fenska, State Senator
Marty Block and Principal Rebecca Penh
The Education Grant will be used to purchase new books for the school’s library. Each book will have a special bookplate honoring the Barona Tribe for this generous grant award.

"We are thrilled to fulfill the wishes of so many students by being able to supply the library with new series and books,” said librarian Mindy Fenska. “There are books for students at all reading levels.”

State Senator Marty Block sponsored Loma Portal Elementary and was on campus for the check presentation along with Barona Councilwoman Beth Glasco.

Heather Nelson, grant writer for Loma Portal, reached out to Senator Marty Block, who wrote a letter of support for the school in order to be considered and chosen for this grant.

For more news on Loma Portal Elementary School, please visit their website.

Hoover High counselor named Counselor of the Year finalist

Tawnya Pringle Tawnya Pringle, a full-time counselor at Hoover High School, has been named one of the five finalists for 2015 Counselor of the Year by the American School Counselor Association.

The award honors the professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates - and often lifesavers - for the nation's students. Pringle is the only finalist from the state of California.

The other finalists include Jennifer Degruise from Montegut, La; Jennifer Diaz, from Sugar Hill, Ga; Cory Notestine, from Alamosa, Colo; and Liz Parker from Laurel, Va.
Nominations for the School Counselor of the Year awards program were submitted by the state counselor associations.

The School Counselor of the Year awards panel was composed of representatives from the School Superintendents Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, No Kid Hungry and school counselors.

The panel selected the finalists based on several criteria, including: school counseling innovations, effective school counseling programs, leadership and advocacy skills and contributions to student achievement.

"School counselors make significant contributions to the overall well-being of students and their success," said Richard Wong, Ed.D, executive director, American School Counselor Association. "They have unique qualifications and skills that allow them to address students' academic achievement, personal/social and career development needs."

Pringle, Principal Joe Austin and a representative from the California School Counselors Association will be flown to Washington, D.C., in January 2015. They will join the other finalists for three days of celebratory events. The honorees will have meetings with their members of Congress, attend a congressional briefing, be honored at the White House and be formally recognized at a black-tie gala.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Secretary of Education visits Angier Elementary

US Dept of Education Secretary Arne Duncan visits Angier Elementary in San Diego Unified US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently visited Angier Elementary School to see how the school is preparing students for high school and ultimately college and careers.

Duncan’s visit started with a stop in Katie Finlay’s fifth-grade classroom to talk with students and observe their learning. The visit also included a roundtable discussion in which Duncan asked participants about their successes and challenges in transitioning to the new standards and assessments.
Participants included district resources teachers, classroom teachers, an Angier parent, Superintendent Cindy Marten, Board Vice President Marne Foster, Angier Principal Andrew Gergurich and SDEA President Lindsay Burningham.
Duncan was in San Diego to take part in an education policy forum. For more details on Secretary Duncan’s visit to Angier, please read the following media stories.

UT San Diego: Education secretary checks in on common core

KPBS: U.S. Secretary Of Education Visits San Diego To Talk Common Core

NBC-7: Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visits to Talk Common Core

CW 6: Secretary of Education Visits Angier Elementary

'Zero tolerance' doesn't help students deal with toxic stress

This commentary was published in UT San Diego on Nov. 6, 2014

by Godwin Higa

In line after recess, Jacob gets antsy and starts poking Marcos. Marcos tells Jacob to stop, and when he doesn’t, Marcos pushes Jacob. An altercation ensues.

At a school with a zero-tolerance discipline policy, Marcos and Jacob would be sent to the principal’s office and suspended based on guidelines set by the district. Tens of thousands of elementary school students were suspended last year statewide. The numbers grow as students advance to middle and high school. Most of the students suspended are children of color and males.

At Cherokee Point Elementary School, where I am principal, the story would have a different ending. After three years of declining rates, we have had no suspensions since the 2012-13 school year. The fight might be handled by a teacher who has been trained to understand how a child’s brain reacts to ongoing stress. She might call in a counselor to talk to the students. They would ask not just “what had happened in line?” but also “what’s going on at home?”

At our school, the staff would know that Jacob’s mother is terminally ill. They’d know that Marcos’ father had just moved out. Staff would hold the students accountable by helping them calm down and try to touch each other’s hearts. The students would decide together how to make it better.

Overwhelming evidence now shows that school suspension does not change student behavior for the better. It also does nothing to help kids who are acting out because of toxic stress, the kind of stress that comes from chronic exposure to trauma and adverse experiences like abuse, neglect and household dysfunction. In my early years as an administrator, I picked up one of my third-grade students walking from a fast-food establishment with a bag in his hand, unsupervised and alone. Suspension had done him no good, and possible harm.

At Cherokee Point, we have been able to come together around a vision of a school that does not ignore the trauma in many children’s everyday lives, but rather understands how it impacts their ability to learn. Toxic stress damages the developing brains and bodies of kids, and may make it difficult to sit still in school or to control emotions in challenging situations.

Lest we think “trauma-informed” schools such as ours are only for a few kids going through tough times, studies show that a majority of Californians have been exposed to at least one adverse childhood experience. At Cherokee Point, teachers, parents, San Diego State professors, college students and community advocates all work together to address these stressors and ensure that our kids’ education is not interrupted by outside factors. That includes offering everything from counseling services to parenting support groups to fresh produce, clothing, and shoes for those who need them.

Increasingly, we are not alone in our efforts to reduce the impact of trauma on children. This year, the San Diego Unified School District is rolling out a new school discipline strategy aimed at resolving the issues that lead to student conflicts. Known as restorative justice, this strategy will help teachers and principals districtwide to look behind the conflict at what was going on for the affected parties, and how it can be made right.

The efforts in San Diego don’t stop with children. San Diego County Health and Human Services also is offering training to help its entire staff become more aware of the impact of trauma on the lives of those they serve. This year, I was appointed by the mayor of San Diego to serve as a Human Relations commissioner. My goal is to help change policies throughout the city to create more trauma-informed schools and compassionate communities.

My hope is that our work in San Diego can serve as a model for other parts of the state and nation. In December, I presented at a summit in Anaheim on “Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court,” where 30 counties were represented. This week, I’ll be speaking at the first-ever statewide summit on adverse childhood experiences. Convened by the Center for Youth Wellness, the summit in San Francisco is bringing together policymakers, educators and health professionals to address this threat to our children’s well-being.

By working together and bringing the resources of our state to bear, we can create more compassionate schools and communities where all children are able to learn, grow up healthy and become productive members of our society.

Higa is principal of Cherokee Point Elementary School in San Diego.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ashford University donates $10,000 to district's Children and Youth in Transition

Representatives from Ashford University recently presented the district’s Children and Youth in Transition Department with a check for $10,000.

Encanto Encanto Elementary was selected to receive more than 500 backpacks filled with school supplies that were purchased with the university's generous donation. Encanto is a high needs school with 100 percent of the student population receiving free breakfast and lunch.

Dr. Tony Ferrell, Executive Dean for the College of Education at Ashford University, is an alumnus of San Diego Unified and was on hand at the Encanto celebration. He spoke to the students about the importance of working hard in school and being prepared to learn. Board Vice President Marne Foster; LaShea Collins, District Office Director for Assemblywoman Shirley Weber; and Monica Montgomery, Senior Policy Advisor, for Councilwoman Myrtle Cole, were also in attendance to participate in the celebration.

This is the third year that Ashford University has underwritten efforts to provide children in need with essential school supplies. This partnership exemplifies Vision 4 of the district's Vision 2020 that community involvement with school volunteers and business partnerships add to the success of our students.

Ashford University is headquartered in San Diego, California and is the largest educational holding of Bridgepoint Education, Inc. The University offers associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in more than 50 degree programs on campus and online.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Broad and Challenging Curriculum: 'a-g' requirements for high school graduation

Graduates As part of the district's monthly reports detailing progress with implementation of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), a presentation on 'a-g' requirements for high school graduation was provided to the Board of Education on Oct. 28, 2014.

To be considered for admission to a University of California or UC campus, students must complete what are called “a-g” requirements. A study conducted by San Diego Unified in 2009 showed that our students were graduating from our schools and could not apply to UC or California State University (CSU) campuses because some of the a-g requirements were not on their transcripts. In 2010-11, the 'a-g' Task Force began developing implementation plans based on the audit results. The Board of Education approved the Task Force recommendations to: align district graduation subject requirements with UC/CSU 'a-g' subject requirements and require new graduation requirements to be implemented with the Class of 2016.

“This initiative ensures access for all students in our schools and makes sure we have courses available and the necessary supports for our students,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten at the Board meeting.

“The initiative is one that I am very proud of.”

Since 2011-12, district staff have been laying the 'a-g' implementation groundwork to ensure success for the Class of 2016 and beyond. Implementation has included assisting high schools in developing master schedules that include 'a-g' courses; working with high school principals, counselors and registrars on the 'a-g' course sequences; providing additional supports for students; developing four-year plans with 8th grade students to ensure they will be on track to graduate; and establishing a High School Resources Office to coordinate implementation efforts.
A study of the implementation of the new 'a-g' requirements shows that approximately 59% of juniors (Class of 2016) are on track to meet them. Actions are underway to make sure the remaining 41% are able to catch up. Manual reviews of transcripts are underway to look at each student’s progress individually. Aggressive alignments of master schedules are in progress for next semester to ensure course offerings are consistent with the needs of students at individual campuses. Realignments of pathways from middle school into high school are also underway to ensure coursework supports 'a-g' requirements, especially in regards to world language offerings.
“Teachers understand the importance of access; they understand that we want students to have exposure to higher-level material,” said Marten. “We also need to make sure we provide sufficient support classes and interventions so that our teachers have what they need to help students be successful.”

Related Resources

Family engagement helps students achieve

Did you know that students whose parents or guardians are engaged in their education achieve at higher levels?

Research shows that these students traditionally have higher grades and graduation rates, better social skills, behavior and attendance, and a more positive attitude.

Engaging families in support of student achievement is a collective effort among parents, teachers and administrators that starts at home and extends to school and the school community.

Whitman ES Mom and Student “What is important is how much support parents provide at home, whether it’s reading with their child, or going to the school to learn about a-g or Common Core,” said Bea Fernandez, program manager for the district’s Parent Outreach and Engagement Department. “There are a lot of things that parents can do to give their child the message that school is important.”

According to a recent report by EdSource, students whose parents promoted academic achievement at home scored better on academic tests. In addition, parents that were more involved with their child’s education “became aware of homework assignments and tests and were able to reinforce good study habits in the home.”

To help guide parents in working with their children at home, the National, State and Local PTAs offer a variety of materials, including information on literacy, tips for reading with your child and how to make healthy lifestyle choices. They also offer parents guides on Common Core that provide tips on talking to your child’s teacher and how to help your child learn at home.

Encouraging and facilitating parent engagement is a key component of the district’s Vision 2020 and Local Control Accountability Plan to increase overall student achievement. The district works with schools, principals and teachers to facilitate communication with parents and increase engagement across all socio-economic levels for all students.

Through the Parent Outreach and Engagement Department, the district works with school sites to offer more than 90 free classes for parents, including “Destination College,” “Mathematics Today,” “Raising Skilled Readers,” and “Common Core.” Most classes are taught in both English and Spanish.

“Our responsibility is to reach out to families and help build relationships between parents, teachers and school sites,” Fernandez said. “There are great opportunities for parents to get involved, like the workshops and parent advisory groups. But it’s important that parents take the opportunities that are provided by their schools, especially those that are linked to student learning. Picnics and carnivals are great, but the opportunities that are linked to student learning are the opportunities that will impact how their student does in school.”

Whitman Elementary PTA President Celeste Ozaki agrees.

“Parent engagement isn't just about sending the child to school or if the parent attends a school activity, but how active the parent is in the education process, such as homework, meeting with the teacher, attending school meetings, as well as learning and understanding the education process,” Osazki said. “As a PTA leader, I probably take it to the extreme in the level of involvement; however, I have seen a difference when I observe parents just taking their level of engagement beyond just sending their child to school.”

Horton Elementary Principal Nassersa Mitchell says that they engage parents by listening and responding to family needs and personally inviting them to campus.

“Parents asked for more training on Common Core so now we host a monthly workshop,” Mitchell said. “We noticed that we were not getting as many fathers as we would like on campus, so I explicitly reached out to them. Their interest prompted us to start a Dad's Club this year, which now has more than 50 dads attending.

“They were so excited to be targeted in a positive light. Many are supporting our site after hours and are going to start helping after-school clubs with gardening, art, and music.”

The school’s efforts resulted in nearly 90 percent of Horton families attending Open House-Curriculum Night and about 150 parents attending Family Fridays.

Ozaki said that one reason Whitman Elementary has been successful in engaging parents is that staff, teachers and administrators have created an open and friendly school environment. Both the principal and teachers communicate regularly with parents, including one-on-one conversations, which Ozaki feels goes a long way in helping parents understand how much of an impact they truly have on their child’s education.

Creating opportunities for engagement as well as environments in which parents feel comfortable approaching the school is essential to the partnership and to overall student achievement.

“Students’ success depends on the strong working relationship between the school and family for students to grow emotionally, academically, and socially,” Mitchell said. “Relationships are everything. At Horton we strive to build long-term healthy relationships with mutual trust, respect, love and supports with accountability for all of us for the best interest of all students.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Farm to School program joins California Thursdays pilot project

food services San Diego Unified’s Farm to School Program has been “growing” strong since 2010 and is now looking beyond the salad bar.

As part of the California Thursdays pilot project, Food Services will expand its focus to sourcing the entire school meal, not just the salad bar, from California farms. California Thursdays launched at 27 elementary schools on Oct. 23 with a special kick off event and lunch at Pacific Beach Elementary School (right). Lunch featured a freshly prepared school meal sourced entirely from California growers and producers.

Media coverage from PB Elementary

   NBC7 San Diego, watch video
   CBS8 San Diego, watch video.

The California Thursdays menu will be served every Thursday and will highlight Mary’s Chicken Drumsticks from Pitman Family Farms located in Sanger, CA, where they raise free-range, air-chilled and antibiotic-free chickens. In addition, our locally grown salad bar, milk from Southern California cows and a whole grain roll will be offered. The goal is to expand to all elementary schools within the district.

To learn more about the district's participation in California Thursdays, watch this video.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Development of transition plan to align all schools on a single calendar is underway

San Diego Unified is in the early stages of transitioning all district schools to a single traditional academic calendar to replace the current system in which there are 118 traditional and 54 year-round schools.
Transitioning schools to one calendar offers a variety of positive benefits and supports for families. Currently, some families have siblings in both traditional and year-round schools, which can pose challenges for childcare, vacations and other activities because students are not on break at the same time. A single calendar also serves families who rely on older siblings to look after younger children.

In addition, a single district-wide calendar will better accommodate students who transfer from one site to another without loss of instructional days due to mismatched calendars. Students of military families who receive orders in June will not lose instructional time due to leaving before the year-round schedule ends. Read more.

John Muir celebrates new fitness center

Nobody really enjoys doing push-ups, but when you’re doing them at a fitness station on rubberized material instead of dirt, they’re almost bearable.

Student at Muir Student at John Muir Magnet School are more excited about exercise, even push-ups, thanks to their new fitness center built with funds from a San Diego Chargers Champions grant. Students, staff and dignitaries were recently joined by Chargers’ personnel and linebacker Donald Butler to celebrate the new facility.

The new fitness center occupies a large section of the school’s dirt field, and includes an area with rubberized material and grass for fitness stations, as well as a practice area for the school’s archery program. Fitness equipment was also purchased using funds from the grant.

Hundreds of students attended the dedication ceremony, highlighted by a question and answer session with Butler and a dance by the school’s third graders to the San Diego SuperChargers song. Butler participated briefly in the dance number and tried his hand at archery with the help of the school’s top archer, Angelica Marasigan.

Physical education teacher Caryn Maroni spearheaded the effort to apply for the Chargers Champions Grant. The school was awarded the grant in the amount of $45,000 in 2013.

The district’s Physical Plant Operations staff, led by Tom Tomovich, helped build the Fitness Center. It was completed in June of this year.

Funds allocated to Chargers Champions are administered through the Chargers Community Foundation, the San Diego Chargers’ charitable foundation. The Foundation was established in 1995 by Dean and Alex Spanos to “help” San Diego build on its strengths by supporting individuals, activities and organizations that work to make the city a better place to live.

Chargers Champions consistently provides more support for schools than any other private company in the county. In 14 years, more than 100 schools have received funding for projects ranging from outdoor fitness trails, weight rooms, running tracks or fitness equipment.

For more information on the Fitness Center and grant, please contact Muir Principal Laura Bellofatto at 858-268-1954.
Video (San Diego Chargers)
Photos (San Diego Chargers)
For photos, visit the district website