Friday, February 28, 2014

Snapping Joy at La Jolla High School: Student newspaper project has classmates smiling

IN THE NEWS: Inspired by an art installation in Los Angeles, students at La Jolla High School recently finished a project aimed at grabbing images of joy and passing the joy to other schools. The school’s Hi-Tide newspaper staff built and installed a sculpture to house a motion-activated camera to take photos of students’ random expressions of joy.  Read more from La Jolla Light»

California All-State Orchestra includes seven San Diego Unified students

The annual California All-State Orchestra, which brought together the top student-musicians to perform together, included seven students from the San Diego Unified School District in the 2014 edition.
Musical brothers Jake and Davis Boring.
The honors this year went to: Henry High, Tim Toombs, grade 10, French horn; Mira Mesa High, Jake Boring, grade 11, alto sax; Pt. Loma High, Michael Brown, grade 10, percussion, and Clifton McKenzie, grade 10, tuba; Scripps Ranch High, Alec Candib, grade 9, baritone, and Michael Lamar, grade 10, bassoon. The lone middle school participant was from Wangenheim Middle School: Davis Boring, grade 8, clarinet.

One musician, Jake Boring of Mira Mesa High, was making his third appearance. His brother, Davis, was honored for the first time. Pt. Loma's Brown and McKenzie were among only four to represent the school in the last 40 years.

"This is such a fantastic honor for these young musicians," said Dr. Karen Childress-Evans, Director of San Diego Unified's Visual and Performing Arts Program. "California is home to the motion picture industry and has more than its share of world-class musicians and musical families. We're all very proud of them in San Diego Unified."

The orchestras and bands performed Feb. 20-23. For more information on the programs, visit the California Orchestra Directors Association website.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Transitional Kindergarten coming to a neighborhood school near you

School CrossingTransitional Kindergarten, for students who have their fifth birthday between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2, will now be held at all San Diego Unified elementary school campuses when the 2014-15 school year begins in September. Families can register their eligible students at their neighborhood school or, through March 7, can request another campus through the Choice Program.

The Board of Education approved the expansion of the program at its Feb. 25 meeting.

Questions and Answers

  1. Why has California changed the Kindergarten cutoff date?
    In 2010, California enacted the Kindergarten Readiness Act (SB 1381). Prior to that time, California’s cutoff date of Dec. 2 for Kindergarten entry was one of the latest in the nation. In most states, children must turn five by Sept. 1 in order to start Kindergarten. California’s late Kindergarten cutoff allowed children as young as 4 years and 9 months to be in classes with children more than one year older. Rolling back the Kindergarten entry date a few months can make an enormous difference in the early years when children are rapidly growing and developing.
  2. What is Transitional Kindergarten?Transitional Kindergarten, often referred to as TK, is an exciting educational opportunity for children who turn five between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. It is the first phase of a two-year Kindergarten program that uses age-appropriate curricula aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Transitional Kindergarten acts as a bridge between preschool and Kindergarten and is designed to provide our youngest learners with the pivotal skills and experiences needed for success in Kindergarten.
  3. What are the benefits of Transitional Kindergarten?Transitional Kindergarten offers an additional year of school to our younger students. It provides opportunities to learn in an academically challenging and enriching environment. Children who attend Transitional Kindergarten are more likely to acquire the academic skills, confidence and maturity they need to succeed in school.
  4. What does the research say about Transitional Kindergarten?
    Research is clear that high-quality education for young learners is vitally important in assuring school success and plays a key role in closing the present achievement gap among groups of students. According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation in 2007, the readiness gap mirrors the achievement gap of students in the primary grades. The RAND report demonstrates “that there are sizable gaps in the extent to which children in California enter school ready to learn, gaps that persist when student performance is measured in Kindergarten through the third grade (Cannon & Karoly, 2007, p. 59).

    Data synthesized by long-term preschool studies found that children who participated in high-quality early childhood programs tended to have higher scores on math and reading achievement tests, greater language abilities, and less grade retentions. These data show that there was less need for special education intervention, remedial support, and there were lower dropout rates (Lynch, 2005).

    Entering Kindergarten at an older age is an important early predictor for student success. Some studies indicate that students who are older when they enter Kindergarten demonstrate a significant boost in academic achievement, self-confidence, and healthful attitudes about school and learning (RAND, 2007)
  5. If my child attends Transitional Kindergarten, is he/she being held back?

    No, Transitional Kindergarten is not a remedial program. It is designed as the first of a two-year Kindergarten program.
  6. What are the eligibility requirements for Transitional Kindergarten?

    Beginning the 2014-15 school year and beyond, children who have their fifth birthday between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2 are eligible for Transitional Kindergarten.
  7. Is Transitional Kindergarten mandatory?

    While schools must offer a Transitional Kindergarten program for all children eligible to attend, student enrollment is voluntary though strongly encouraged.
  8. Is Transitional Kindergarten free or fee-based?

    Transitional Kindergarten is part of California’s K-12 public school system and is free to all age-eligible children.
  9. How is Transitional Kindergarten different from preschool?

    The standards, curricula and teacher credentialing requirements in Transitional Kindergarten are different than those in preschool. Transitional Kindergarten is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, is an academic program, and is taught by fully credentialed teachers. Transitional Kindergarten builds on the skills children may have learned in preschool and serves as the first of a two-year Kindergarten program.
  10. How is Transitional Kindergarten different from Kindergarten?

    The curricula in Transitional Kindergarten is modified to meet the needs of younger students. Transitional Kindergarten includes an emphasis on oral language development, literacy immersion, number sense, and it provides collaborative experiences that promote cooperation, self-confidence, self-regulation and healthy attitudes about school and learning.
  11. Are there academic standards for Transitional Kindergarten?

    The Common Core State Standards provide end-of-year standards for Kindergarten. San Diego Unified has used the Common Core Standards to design end-of-year expectations for Transitional Kindergarten that are appropriately modified to reflect the first of a two-year Kindergarten program.
  12. What is the curriculum for Transitional Kindergarten?

    While no state curriculum is mandated, San Diego Unified provides curricula and resources that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
  13. Can Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten students be enrolled in the same classroom?

    Districts have the flexibility to determine how best to meet the academic needs of students. Some schools will offer a stand-alone Transitional Kindergarten class while others will offer Transitional Kindergarten in combination with a Kindergarten class.
  14. Are the attendance requirements in Transitional Kindergarten the same as in grades K-5?

    Yes, regular attendance is required at all grade levels.
  15. Do students in a Transitional Kindergarten program receive a report card?

    Transitional Kindergarten students receive a report card three times a year.
  16. How long is the Transitional Kindergarten day?

    San Diego Unified is seeking a waiver from the California Department of Education to provide Transitional Kindergarten students with a modified school day that will closely match the minimum day schedule of the school (between 3.5 to 4 hours).
  17. Can students who turn five years old after December 2 start Transitional Kindergarten at the beginning of the school year?

    No, pursuant to law (EC 48000[c]), a child is eligible for Transitional Kindergarten if he/she will have his/her fifth birthday between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.
  18. Can students who are age-eligible for Kindergarten attend Transitional Kindergarten?

    Parents of Kindergarten age-eligible students, in consultation with the school principal and/or staff, may request enrollment in a Transitional Kindergarten program. Parents must sign a Kindergarten Continuance Form verifying their understanding that they are enrolling their child in a two-year Kindergarten program.
  19. Can students enroll in grade 1 upon completion of Transitional Kindergarten?Transitional Kindergarten is the first of a two-year Kindergarten program. A student who participates in Transitional Kindergarten is expected to complete the second year of the program in Kindergarten before attending first grade. Pursuant to District Administrative Procedure 6121, early promotion to grade 1 may be considered on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with the parents, teacher(s), and principal.
  20. Can children with fall birthdays be enrolled in Kindergarten instead of Transitional Kindergarten?

    Early admission to Kindergarten is rare, but may be considered on a case-by-case basis. This decision is made collaboratively with the parents, teacher(s) and principal and must reflect the best interests of the child. Contact the site principal for more information.
  21. Can students be retained in Transitional Kindergarten?
    Students will not be retained in Transitional Kindergarten.
  22. What is the class size of a Transitional Kindergarten classroom?
    Transitional Kindergarten mirrors the class size of a Kindergarten classroom.
  23. Where will Transitional Kindergarten classes be located?

    All San Diego Unified elementary schools  will offer Transitional Kindergarten beginning in the 2014-15 school year.
  24. Will Transitional Kindergarten provide support for children who are learning English as an additional language?

    Yes, English Learners in Transitional Kindergarten have access to appropriate supports and services.
  25. How will Transitional Kindergarten impact students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)?

    All services identified in the student’s IEP will continue.
  26. Are there childcare/extended day opportunities for children attending Transitional Kindergarten?
    Many schools offer childcare services through local agencies (such as the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Harmonium). Information about school and community-based childcare programs are available at school sites.

    Currently San Diego Unified is exploring ways to offer additional extended day programs to be inclusive of a modified day Transitional Kindergarten program. These may include both before- and after-school care. Contact the Extended Learning Opportunities Department at (858) 627-7562 for more information.

    In addition, parents are urged to consider private daycare options that will best fit their needs.
  27. How do I enroll my child in a Transitional Kindergarten program?To enroll your child in a Transitional Kindergarten program at your neighborhood school, contact the school site directly for enrollment information. School Choice applications are not necessary when planning to attend your neighborhood school.
  28. How do I enroll my children in a Transitional Kindergarten program at a school other than my neighborhood schools?

    The School Choice/Open Enrollment Act offers opportunities to apply to any school in the district on an availability basis only. The deadline to apply is March 7, 2014. Applications can be completed online at Contact the Enrollment Options office at (619) 725-5672 or for more information.
  29. Will there be transportation to schools offering Transitional Kindergarten programs?

    Transitional Kindergarten students are eligible for the same transportation services as all other students at the school.
  30. Are students in Transitional Kindergarten required to meet Kindergarten immunization requirements?

    All children are required to provide proof of immunizations before admission to Transitional Kindergarten.

Trustee Beiser honored as "Music Legislative Leader of the Year"

The California Music Educators Association (CMEA) has chosen Kevin Beiser, San Diego Unified School District's Board President, as the 2013 CMEA Legislative Music Leadership awardee. Beiser had earlier received recognition from the San Diego chapter of the CMEA, which nominated him for the statewide award.

Scott Hedgecock, Association VP, left, BEiser, Russ Sperling, Associaton President "After receiving the local section award for supporting music, the CMEA board of directors unanimously decided to give Kevin Beiser our state-level Legislative award," said CMEA President Russ Sperling. "For music to flourish in our schools, it's critical to have supporters like Kevin on our school boards holding the line for music education. Kevin has been a strong voice advocating that all students have access to a quality education that includes music as an essential."

Beiser fought to protect music funding amid the District's budget crises and worked together with parents and teachers to help organize the community to protect as many of the varied music programs as possible. With his experience as part of school bands during even his earliest elementary school years as well as being a public school Math teacher, Beiser knows the important role music programs play in a well-rounded education.

"I'm honored that my commitment to keeping music programs in our district's schools has been recognized by the CMEA, both locally and throughout the State," Beiser said. "I proudly share this recognition with my fellow Board of Trustees. They voted to protect the funding for music programs as often as possible."

Beiser received his award at the award ceremony held during the California All-State Music Education Conference (CASMEC) in Fresno, California on February 21.

Beiser was elected to the San Diego Unified Board of Trustees in 2010 representing District B. Prior to his election his work with students earned him "San Diego Math Teacher of the Year" honors in 2008-09. In December, 2013, Beiser was selected by his fellow Trustees to be the School District's Board President.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

District's student stores compete for top honors

In The News IN THE NEWS: The team from Serra High School's Super-Q Store won first place in the competition with their strategy of using mobile racks to reach more students on their campus and bringing in vendors to do product sampling promotions. Second place went to the team from Clairemont High's Chief Hut, who implemented an express line for a top selling product, and third place went to the team from Kearny High's Komet Corner, who tested a combo meal strategy, pairing top selling items with less popular items. Read more from the Youth Entepreneurship Program»

Auditors give SD Unified propositions S and Z an 'A'

An independent audit of San Diego Unified School District's Propositions S and Z bond program gave the district the highest audit opinion that a school bond program can receive. The audit by Christy White Associates (CWA) of San Diego gave the school district an "unmodified" audit opinion on both the performance and financial audits for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.

"Our district has a proven track record in successfully managing the bond programs," Board President Kevin Beiser said. "Each year the district's bond program undergoes an independent performance audit and an independent financial audit, and each year the Props. S and Z bond programs have received the highest audit opinion a school district can receive.

"We have the largest public works program in San Diego County, and with that comes a tremendous amount of responsibility and accountability," Beiser added. "To ensure transparency, we not only have these annual audits, but we also have a board-appointed Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee that monitors the expenditures of bond funds and holds monthly public meetings."

"The district's Facilities Planning and Construction division and Finance Office are implementing and managing the bond program very effectively and efficiently," said Heather Daud, principal of Christy White Associates. "The bond funds are being financed and expended in a very responsible manner.

"The 'unmodified' auditor's opinion indicates an opinion given without any reservations," Daud added. "It basically means that the auditor (CWA) feels the district followed all accounting rules appropriately, and that the financial reports are an accurate representation of the district's financial condition."

This year, as a result of its financial audit, CWA found that the district's financial statements "present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Propositions S and Z Bond Building Fund as of June 30, 2013; and the results of its operations for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America."

As a result of this year's performance audit, CWA found that the Propositions S and Z bond program "complied, in all material respects, with California Proposition 39, as incorporated in Article 13A of the California Constitution and Education Code Section 15264 et seq. during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2012."

On November 4, 2008, the voters of San Diego County approved Proposition S by nearly 69 percent,
authorizing the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds not to exceed $2.1 billion. On November 6, 2012, the voters of San Diego County approved Proposition Z by nearly 62 percent, authorizing the issuance and sale of general obligation bonds not to exceed $2.8 billion.

Birney Elementary students collect 2,249 lbs. of shoes in Great Kindness Challenge

More than 2,000 pairs of shoes — weighing 2,249 pounds — have been collected by Birney Elementary School students as part of their second Great Kindness Challenge.

Shoes ready for transport “Not everyone has spare dollars to contribute to something, but most people have a pair of old shoes around,” said Karin Claisse, the parent who organized the drive.

The 2,249 pounds of shoes, all usable and paired, will be sorted and delivered to developing nations by the organization Shoes with Heart.They filled 90 large, green trash bags, packaged and delivered to the charity.

The exercise encouraged the students and staff of the University Heights school to look beyond their own community to collect shoes for deserving nations. Since 2009, Birney has been an International Baccalaureate World School Primary Years Programme, which "focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It is defined by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from six subject areas, with a powerful emphasis on inquiry-based learning," according to the program's website.

The project highlighted Birney's second-year participation in The Great Kindness Challenge, one school week devoted to performing as many acts of kindness as possible, choosing from a checklist of 50 suggestions.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

$20,000 in grants to University City schools by local supporters

Teachers from all five University City public schools received grants from a pool of $20,000 raised by the neighborhood's school-support organization, EdUCate!

Tara Astacio, Spreckels Elementary kindergarten teacher The organization commits at least one-third of its donations to teachers each year.

The Teacher Grant committee carefully considers and scores all grant applications on the basis of several factors, including the number of students the grant will impact, its educational value, the longevity of the project, its practicality, innovation, collaboration and cost effectiveness.

"This program directly impacts our children, so please consider supporting these grants through a tax-deductible donation through any one of our giving programs: Honor a Teacher, Dollar a Day, Oktoberfest and Taste of the Triangle. We appreciate your donations!" the group said in its latest newsletter.

Teachers receiving donations include: Tara Astacio, Nikki Botts, Melissa Carian, James Cope, Brandon Corenman,Kelly Dudley, Tricia Eads, Janet Engebretsen, Sonia Gomez-Neri, Lisa Gordon, Gail Hall, Nicole Harris, Coretta Hazelton, Susanna Holcomb, Tara Howell, Marie Juergens, Karen McKelvey, Jeanette Monastero, Teem Osborne, Melinda Prietto, Maureen Quessenberry, Mary Ricci, Craig Sacchetti, Kimberly Sharman, Suwanna Siegler, Ellie Vandiver, Lisa Wood.

EdUCate! is a nonprofit foundation established in 1993 to provide supplemental funds for all five of the University City Public Schools: Curie Elementary, Doyle Elementary, Spreckels Elementary, Standley Middle, and University City High Schools. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $1.3 million to the five University City public schools, raised primarily through its many events and programs.

For more information on the organization, visit its website.

Monday, February 24, 2014

California Department of Education Warns Public of Potential Telemarketing Scam

The California Department of Education has received information today about a possible telemarketing scam and is warning the public not to share any personal information on the telephone with unsolicited callers.

Concerned citizens have been calling the Department of Education to ask whether the state agency has called their homes asking about the Preliminary SAT® (PSAT), a standardized test, which gives students firsthand practice for the college entrance examination. The caller asks for personal information, credit card numbers, and more. The caller ID seems to show the call is coming from the State of California or the main telephone line of the Department of Education. These calls do not come from the Department of Education.

The Department of Education has contacted the proper law enforcement agencies to look into this potential scam. If you receive such a call, do not answer any questions and hang up immediately. You may also file a complaint online directly with the Federal Trade Commission using the FTC Complaint Assistant, also in Spanish.

Friday, February 21, 2014

2013-14 school calendars add another day for instruction

Supt. Marten and the Board of Education are pleased to announce that the district has partnered with the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) to restore an instructional day to the 2013-14 school year, bringing the total number of instructional days to 179. This restoration assures that our students receive maximum educational impact and have increased opportunity for success.

Calendar Additionally, another instructional day has been added to the 2014-15 school calendars, bringing the total number of instructional days to 180. This number represents that instructional days will be fully restored to the pre-budget crisis level, a priority of the superintendent, board members, staff and parents.

Below is the restoration plan for the 2013-14 school year.

Traditional Schools: June 13, 2014, is now an instructional day and the last day of school for students.

Year Round Schools: June 23, 2014, will become an instructional day. It was previously a non-school day.The last day of school for Year Round sites remains Monday, July 21, 2014.

Please Note: Schools have the option to change their graduation/promotion to Friday, June13. If sites have already planned their promotion/graduation on Thursday, June 12, they may keep that date as planned. Students should return for a final instructional day on Friday, June 13. Parents should check with their principal on the status for their child’s school.

Teachers honored from Mission Bay and Patrick Henry high schools, Innovation Middle School

The California League of Schools Region 9 has honored San Diego Unified teachers from Innovation Middle School, Mission Bay and Patrick Henry high schools.
Chantel Walsh Tracy Borg Andrew Myette

Chantel Welch of iMiddle is the California League of Middle Schools Educator of the Year for Region 9, which includes schools in San Diego and Imperial counties. Tracy Borg of Mission Bay High School, and Andrew Myette of Patrick Henry High School were all finalists for the Region 9 Educator of the Year from the affiliated California League of High Schools.

Welch is an Educational Specialist at iMiddle in Clairemont. As the Educator of the Year from Region 9, she will compete against other regional winners from around California for statewide Educator of the Year, which will be announced March 1.

"Chantal represents the Innovation Middle School staff and San Diego Unified School District with unrivaled enthusiasm, compassion, and grace, consistently going well beyond her primary responsibilities as an Educational Specialist," said Principal Harlan Klein. "She supports student learning at all levels and provides quality leadership. She is a well-deserving recipient for this honor."

Borg is a Mission Bay High IB Psychology teacher, and Myette is an English Teacher at Patrick Henry High. Both were both named finalists for the California League of High Schools Region 9 Educator of the Year.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Walker Elementary gets $1,000 grant to support Read Across America

Walker Elementary School in Mira Mesa has been awarded a $1,000 Read Across America 2014 Event Grant from the National Education Association (NEA) and Renaissance Dental.
Reading at Walker Elementary
 Read Across America
Renaissance Dental

The funds will be used to support the Read Across America activities, including the purchase of new books for the school library, as well as funding a student VIP luncheon, t-shirts and Dr. Seuss-themed bookmarks, pencils and other items.

The Read-a-Thon ran Jan. 27 to Feb. 7, part of  Walker’s Read Across America activities. Students at each grade level who read “above and beyond their reading goals” are selected as Student VIPs. On Feb. 26, several community leaders and children’s book authors are visiting classrooms to read books and to talk about how their careers involve literacy. Walker Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) volunteers are helping with many of the month-long activities. The school’s Author, Illustrators, and Journalists (AIJ) Academy students are creating a “Read Across America” newsletter and simulated newscast.

Other activities include a Barnes and Noble Booksellers Family Night Fundraiser filled with fun activities and includes book signings with children’s book authors Salina Yoon, Randy Morrison, Shannon Messenger, Cindy Jenson-Elliott, and Henry Herz. Walker’s Student Council has organized a week-long of fun events at the end of February.

"We are extending our school’s participation in The Great Kindness Challenge by having families donate a pie-throwing ticket for students who are unable to afford a ticket," said Principal Rochelle Dawes. "On March 3, the official Read Across America day, we have a school assembly with “Literature Comes to Life” which includes our students and staff."

The Read Across America Committee consists of PTO (Brandi Scholte, Lauree Gammon, and other parent volunteers) and Walker Teachers Grace Nall, Karen Harris, Michel Cazary, Dar Cooper, Sharon Laws, and staff. Walker Elementary School thanks the NEA, Renaissance Dental, CTA, SDEA, Walker PTO, Barnes and Noble, Mission Federal Credit Union, community restaurant businesses, leaders, and partners for their support and encouragement in the celebration of Dr. Seuss’ Birthday and the love of literacy.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Board president, Encanto teacher honored for environmental work

School Board President Kevin Beiser and Encanto Elementary School teacher Lynn Howard have honored by the California State Board of Equalization as "Healthy Planet Local Heroes."
Lynn Howard
The award was given by Betty Yee, State Board of Equalization Member from District #1 to honor local leaders and influencers who have made an impact in creating healthy communities and a healthy planet. Among the other recipients of the award are Interim Mayor Todd Gloria, County Supervisor Dave Roberts, the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Whole Foods Markets, La Vita Compounding Pharmacy, Bastyr University, youth leader Sophia Holbrook, and Max Guinn, Founder of KidsEcoClub.

The awards were presented at a formal gala on Feb. 1 at the Rancho Valencia Resort which included presentations by Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smisthonian's National Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Jeremy Jackson, Yale's Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholar. Proceeds from the event benefitted KidsEcoClub, who partners with educators to bring science, environmental, and leadership programming to K-12 schools in the San Diego Unified School District and across the San Diego region.

Beiser was recognized for his environmental leadership while serving on the school board, most notably the banning of styrofoam lunch trays, the operating of school buses with biofuels, reducing energy use in school facilities, promoting school gardens and locally grown food in school cafeterias, and the passage of a resolution for the closure of the San Onofre nuclear reactors to remain until they are certified safe. The award also noted his "stalwart dedication to the safety and well-being of the students in the San Diego Unified School District," including his contributions to the enactment of the historic anti-bullying program and the expansion of anti-bulling programs.

Howard was recognized for her outstanding leadership, passion, and dedication in her service as a science teacher with the San Diego Unified School District. Howard's focus on global issues that deepen students' understanding of how to build a healthy ecosystem enhanced by biodiversity, and to finding solutions to climate change, have earned her this award. The state also recognized Howard's work with National Geographic in teaching about energy and participating on its Explorer expedition to study arctic bears, and for promoting team work in the learning setting to promote and strengthen multi-cultural interactions. Attendees at the gala took home "seed bombs" of California poppy and native wildflower seeds put together by Howard and her students.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Local women engineers guide the next generation

One generation of San Diego women engineers is mentoring the next generation as the local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers has connected with girls studying engineering at Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch high schools.

Future engineers and their products Under the watchful eye of today's professionals, the Mira Mesa High team developed a toy to help teach primary colors to a client while the Scripps Ranch High team was matched with a client that cannot communicate verbally and only has function of two fingers. A lap desk was built for the client to assist with answering yes/no questions.

The challenge from the professionals was building and presenting a learning adaptability solution for a patient at Rady Children’s Hospital.

Girls from Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch High Schools participated in the STEP Up event sponsored by the local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers to use their engineering skills in the service of others. STEP Up (Service Through Engineering Program) is in its third year and focuses on building and presenting a learning adaptability solution for a patient at Rady Children’s Hospital. The teams, consisting of three-six girls, are matched to a child patient as well as their parents and physical therapist.

Students from both teams said the event was a great learning experience that helped them see that engineers solve problems to help people. It further emphasized the importance of communication, working as a team, and time management. The girls are all currently enrolled in the engineering programs at their high schools that are supported in the district by the Office of College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE).

For more information, please contact Melissa Woods in the CCTE Office at or (858) 503-1837 or the Society of Women Engineers STEP Up program.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Election day runs smoothly with help from high school students

Tuesday's mayoral election in the City of San Diego had some helpers from local schools.
Working the polls
Students Donna Flores, of Pt. Loma High, and Hayra Jaramillo, of John Muir School, helped check in voters in a downtown San Diego precinct, supervised by poll worker B.J. Gloudon on election day, Feb. 11.

They're part of a county program for high school students.

The High School Student Poll Worker Program, under California Elections Code Section 12302, allows high school students to serve as poll workers and actively participate in the election process, even if they are not eligible to vote. Launched in 1998 this program has been a tremendous success. Students receive a certificate for community service and a stipend paid directly to them or to their school, depending on the district policy.

To become a Student Poll Worker, contact your social science teacher or school official and ask to be nominated. To qualify for the program you must: be at least 16 years of age by Election Day, a United States citizen, and have a grade point average of at least 2.5. For more information, see the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters website.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Federal Judge Barbara L. Major discusses legal and personal responsibility with SD High School of International Studies students

A frank discussion of the legal issues encountered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major provided a lively event recently for San Diego High School of International Studies students as Judge Major discussed her life on the federal bench and professional career.

Judge Major Part of the school's "Inside the Courtroom" series in cooperation with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the program brings leaders of San Diego's judicial community to the downtown campus to give students an idea of how they reached their career goals, experiences along the way, and what as jurists they can share with today's teenagers.

Judge Major said it is an extremely bad idea to accept an offer to drive a vehicle over the border. She sees countless cases where the person had no idea what was actually in the car and was arrested for trafficking drugs. The law is clear on this issue and does involve time in jail. Judge Major has been on the federal bench since 2004, following a term as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. She earned her B.A. from Stanford University in 1983, and her J.D. from U.C. Berkeley in 1987.

While the focus of the event was current topics in civil law, Judge Major entertained the audience with stories of her career as a young lawyer at a large law firm, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and a federal magistrate judge. In addition, Judge Major provided students with her perspective on how the legal profession has become more accepting of women, as well as the challenges they still face. The Jan. 29 event closed with a lively question and answer session.

The “Inside the Courtroom” program is a collaboration between San Diego High School of International Studies and the U.S. District Court for the District of Southern California. Modeled after James Lipton’s television series Inside the Actors Studio, its speakers provide a unique opportunity for International Studies students to get a realistic perspective of the legal profession and the role of law in their lives. The series provides students in the school’s legal pathway an opportunity to enrich their understanding of the law via interaction with its professionals. Speakers cover topics specifically selected to augment content from the classroom while describing its real-world application in a vocational context.

The program continues on Feb. 26 with the Hon. Margaret Mann from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California. Previous speakers include the Hon. Jeffrey T. Miller from the U.S. District Court. For more information or guest speaker suggestions please contact Patrick Goddard at

Monday, February 10, 2014

Professionals take aim at Serra High students' resumes, interview skills

Marketing students at Serra High School spent several weeks polishing resumes and cover letters, learning about ways to highlight their marketable skills, and how to conduct themselves in a professional interview. Then the cold calls started. Each student participated in securing more than 40 professionals from a variety of industries to come to Serra High to conduct mock interviews.
Between all of the classes, the students contacted more than 300 businesses and organizations to participate. The students organized the entire event from establishing the agendas for the day, the rotation schedule, the interview questions and materials given to the interviewers, and even emceed the event themselves.

Trevor Hall, a junior, said, “It really made me feel like if tomorrow I had a job interview, I could walk in there with no fear or doubt that I would be relaxed and do my best. Kim-Chi Nguyen, another student, thought the experience was valuable because, “I have a hard time talking to people in general. I've failed an interview in the past because I was not prepared. This time, I was able to practice a lot and also got great feedback from my interviewer on what to improve and what to keep the same with my answers and behavior.”

For more information, please contact Joe Schmidt, CCTE Marketing teacher, at

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Honor an Inspirational Teacher and Student this Month Program

Ashford University, in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education, presents NBC 7 San Diego's Inspirational Student and Teacher of the Month.

Inspirational Student of the Month
Nominate an inspirational student (high school) or teacher (K-12) from your school who is an outstanding individual on his or her school campus and within their community.

Each month, NBC Education Reporter Rory Devine will award a selected student or teacher during a surprise recognition in their classroom. Devine will interview the selected student/teacher on-air as part of the recognition.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Scripps Ranch High cooks to top of "Teen Iron Chef"

Scripps Ranch High School took home the coveted "giant fork" trophy, topping fellow Culinary Arts and Management students from San Diego, Morse, Madison, and Hoover high schools in the ninth annual Teen Iron Chef competition.

Defending champion Madison High School came in second. In the competition, teams of four students from each school have one hour to prepare a three-course meal, judged by some of San Diego's top chefs. Additional pressure is put on the students by giving them an ingredient, only revealed when their one hour begins, that must be incorporated into the menu. This year's secret ingredient: honey.

Kimberly Coelho is the culinary arts program teacher at Scripps Ranch High School; at Madison, Justin Halbert is the instructor. This year's judges included: Ed Powers of Chili's; Ken Irvine from Bleu Boheme; Durwin Daniels of Fish Market; Jon Weber from Cowboy Star; and Bernard Guillas of the Marine Room.

Teen Iron Chef was the brainchild of a College, Career and Technical Education teacher who wanted her students to experience competitive cooking and based the San Diego Unified School District's competition on the Iron Chef America series on the Food Network.

The event is sponsored by the California Restaurant Association San Diego chapter and was held at the SDG&E Energy Innovation Center in Clairemont, one of the few facilities in San Diego that can handle five teams cooking at one time.

 News Coverage

Friday, February 7, 2014

Minneola Tangelos go fresh from North County orchards to SD Unified cafeterias

The journey of the February "Harvest of the Month" documented in video. They're on the salad bar every Wednesday in February. Watch»

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pershing Middle School celebrates 50 years with song and alumni

IN THE NEWS: Pershing Middle School celebrates 50 years. Watch video»

Optimist awards go to students with 'outstanding personal attributes'

The Sunrise Optimist Club of San Diego has honored students were selected for their outstanding personal attribute to their school or community, high academic achievement.

Winners The students are: Jayda Warburton, Point Loma High; Kassandra Elias, Clark Middle School; Bredan Chueng, Challenger Middle School; Anirudh Perubotla, Challenger Middle School; and Anthony Hatashita, Correia Middle School.

Also in attendance were Diane Ryan,Challenger Middle principal, and Richard Del Principe, Clark Middle Vice Principal, along side the students' families and the president and members of the Optimist Club. The recipients were honored with a medal and and certificate and treated to a wonderful breakfast.

Herbert Ibarra was the first Latino principal in San Diego. Born in 1923 to Mexican parents, he was a graduate of San Diego High. He later earned his masters degree in education from San Diego State, and worked to establish guidelines for the second language program for the San Diego school system. He toured the country to establish similar programs in other cities. He became the first student who graduated from San Diego High School to later be the school's principal. The Optimist Club hopes his story will be an inspiration to all students and honors outstanding student leaders with an award in his memory each year.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy marks Lunar New Year

IN THE NEWS: School's winter festival celebrates Asian-Pacific community in San Diego and around the world. Watch video»

‘Hour Of Code’ teaches more than 5,000 San Diego kids to think

More than 5,000 San Diego Unified students participated in a massive campaign called the Hour of Code to write computer code to highlight Computer Science Education Week.
Hour of Code
All levels of students from elementary to high school participated and in some cases, high school students acted as mentors in the lower grades classrooms. The self-guided activities were designed to encourage interest in the field and show that anyone can learn the basics of computer code and foster computational thinking early and nurture creativity, problem solving and critical thinking. As the late co-founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, said, “I think everyone in this country should learn how to program a computer.. because it teaches you how to think.”

The Office of College, Career and Technical Education supported some middle and high schools by helping to select a lesson everyone could use and even supplied business professionals in some classrooms as mentors during the event. The courses involved in the event were not just computer science courses, but also engineering, geographic information systems, business management and ownership, website architecture, statistics, marketing, intermediate algebra, English and many others.

Geographic Information Systems students at Kearny High, prepared a geographic and demographic map of the participating CCTE classes. The size of the circle representing the school site was determined by the number of students participating. Photography students from Point Loma High and Kearny Digital Media and Design traveled the district taking pictures of many of the participating sites.

Even though the event happened in early December, some teachers have reported their students liked the lessons so much, they have been choosing a new one to work on in their spare time each week.

Map of participation:

For more information about Computer Science Week and the Hour of Code:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Board of Education, Superintendent Invite San Diego to Vision 2020 Forums

The Board of Education and Superintendent Cindy Marten invite all stakeholders to a series of neighborhood meetings to Dream Big together for the future of our schools over the next few weeks.

"We are committed to having clear, long-term priorities based on our Vision 2020," said Kevin Beiser, Board of Education President. "We believe that when our priorities are inspired and informed by our parents, students, employees and community members, we will have important information for long-range planning with students at the center."

The "Vision 2020 Forums: What Kinds of Schools Do We Want" series offer parents, staff, students, and community members an opportunity to give input to the superintendent and the board members on priorities for our students and schools.

"These forums will yield a clear and collective sense of our district-wide long-term priorities," said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “We look forward to continued stakeholder engagement beyond these forums as we work together to create quality schools in every neighborhood.”

San Diegans are encouraged to attend the meeting in their Sub-district but can attend any of the meetings listed below.
Child care and Spanish translation services will be provided.
Please RSVP.
For further information or questions, email

Broad Prize sets March 3 deadline for $150,000 in scholarships

March 3 is the deadline for graduating students to apply for $150,000 in two- or four-year scholarships, depending on the type of higher education institution they choose to attend, the result of San Diego Unified being a finalist for the 2013 Broad Prize for Education.

Broad Foundation Educaton If selected as a Broad Prize scholarship recipient, students attending four-year colleges or universities will receive up to a $20,000 award ($5,000 per year, paid out over four years). Students attending two-year colleges or vocational schools will receive up to a $5,000 award ($2,500 per year, paid out over two years). Awards are for undergraduate study only.

Named by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation as one of the top for US school districts to demonstrate the greatest overall performance and improvement in student achievement, while at the same time reducing achievement gaps across ethnic groups and between low-income and non-low-income students.

Students can apply for the Broad Prize at They can also check with their school counselor for assistance in completing the application.

Although The Broad Prize recognizes urban school district efforts on the whole, the beneficiaries of The Broad Prize funds are the students themselves. The Broad Prize winning district receives $550,000 million in college scholarships for graduating high school seniors, and the finalist districts each receive $150,000 in college scholarships. As an extra bonus, the first high school to reach 100 applicants, or 100 percent of seniors in the case of schools with fewer than 100 seniors, will receive a $500 bonus to support its school counseling center.

All awards may be renewed for up to three additional years or until a bachelor’s degree is earned, whichever occurs first. Students attending a two-year college or vocational school may transfer to an accredited four-year college or university. The award amount will be adjusted upon transfer. In no instance will an award exceed $20,000.

Renewal is contingent upon maintaining a cumulative 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale in a full-time course of study and continuation of the scholarship program by The Broad Foundation.

Monday, February 3, 2014

School counselors honored during National School Counseling Week

National School Counseling Week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association, is being celebrated this week, Feb. 3–7, 2014, to focus public attention on the unique contribution of professional school counselors within U.S. school systems and how students are different as a result of what school counselors do. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.

Celebrat School Counseling School counselors are being saluted for being actively engaged in helping students examine their abilities, strengths, interests and talents; for working in a partnership with parents as they encounter the challenges of raising children in today's world; for focusing on positive ways to enhance students' social/personal, educational and career development; and working with teachers and other educators to provide an educational system where students can realize their potential and set healthy, realistic and optimistic aspirations for themselves.

Professional school counselors are certified, experienced educators with a master's degree in guidance and counseling. The combination of their training and experience makes them an integral part of the total educational program.

"School counselors work with all students to remove barriers to learning by addressing students’ academic concerns, career awareness in post-secondary options and personal/social skills,” said Kwok-Sze Wong, Ed.D., executive director of the American School Counselors Association. “Comprehensive school counseling programs help to increase student achievement and provide a much-needed resource for students, parents, teachers and administrators. School counselors are integral to student success."
More than 32,000 school counselors nationwide will be participating in the week's festivities. Parents or community members with specific questions or concerns about school counseling programs should contact the school counselors at their local schools. More general information can also be found on ASCA's website,

Clairemont Teacher Looks To Turn US Presidency Collection Into Touring Exhibit

Museum artifact. (Courtesy KPBS)
IN THE NEWS: Jim Fletcher has taught history at Clairemont High for 27 years. Like any longtime teacher he has lessons and materials he relies on every year. But for Fletcher that includes a 40,000-piece collection of presidential memorabilia. A small portion of the collection lines the walls of a room the school uses for tutoring. Fletcher started collecting political pieces when he was a student at Clairemont in the 1970s. He brought some of those first pieces into classes to show his students and the rest, as they say, is history — literally.

News coverage

Video courtesy KPBS
From Fox 5 San Diego.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Going Meatless on Mondays brings health and environmental benefits of veggie movement to schools

Farm to school IN THE NEWS: Meatless Monday has reached the plates of San Diego youngsters. In September, San Diego Unified School District adopted Meatless Mondays in its elementary schools. Gary Petill, director of the district’s food services, said it was an opportunity to educate children about a plant-based diet.

“We decided on K-5, because young children are learning lifelong eating habits,” Petill said. “We might get push-back in high school. With Meatless Monday, when the fifth-graders go to middle school, they may be more open to vegetarian options. Read more from UT San Diego»

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Scripps Institution of Oceanography partnership brings ocean to classroom

Ask any young student what a scientist might look like, and answers typically involve descriptions of older, frizzy-haired, bearded men wearing lab coats. A unique educational partnership between Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the San Diego Unified School District directly challenges this notion by placing bright Scripps graduate students inside local K-12 classrooms. Student to student at Wangeheim

In 2009, the National Science Foundation’s outreach program, Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12), awarded Scripps Oceanography a five-year, $2.5 million grant to fund the Scripps Classroom Connection fellowship. Each year, Scripps Classroom Connection partners nine Scripps graduate students with nine teachers in K-12 classrooms across San Diego County.

Over a four-week summertime workshop, Scripps graduate students collaborate with seasoned teachers to create yearlong lesson plans for earth science students. Read more from UC San Diego»