Monday, June 30, 2014

Mock 'Shark Tank' tests business skills of Mission Bay High students

From GPS pet trackers, counting basketballs and Powdered toe pad for ballerinas, Mission Bay High School business students created some interesting products during their Business 100 classes this year.

But before completing the class, they had to sell their new inventions to a room full of sharks.Presentation

With a lesson based on the Shark Tank television show, the students had to "sell" their products to investors. On the ABC television show, aspiring entrepreneurs, franchise and features businesspersons pitch to a panel of potential investors. Like the show, students presented their products or services and hoped for mock financial assistance with their businesses in exchange for equity.
This year’s inventions include:
  • Find my Pet: LED and GPS enabled dog collar to track pet day and night;
  • Ispraya: basketball that keeps track of how many shots made/missed;
  • OnCore: a training sleeve that goes on baseball bats and tracks where the ball hits the bat;
  • Sole Savers: indoor shoe grip spray to help traction for all indoor athletes;
  • Quick Button Fix: a temporary fix for losing a button on clothes;
  • Full Tilt Coolers: sports cooler with an internal slant so tilting the cooler when near empty is no longer necessary;
  • Culinary Stick: a universal wooden spatula stick with replaceable cooking heads;
  • Abrupt Bearings: water and sand resistant skateboard bearings;
  • Sports Tech: laser sensors for marking perimeters of sports playing fields;
  • D&I Innovations (Product: PowderPuffs): Powdered toe pad for ballerinas;
  • The Changeable Brim: universal hat with changeable brims;
  • Travelr: phone application that enables users to find any form of public transportation and taxis
Students began the Shark Tank project by assuming the role of an entrepreneur tasked with devising a proprietary, practical invention that can be a product or service. They spent months developing a business plan for their invention while, along the way, learning important business concepts from the course outline such as starting and operating a small business, human resources, finances, accounting, and marketing. The class included instruction in economics, business ethics, leadership, management, the role of government in business, and developing a career plan.

At the project's completion, students created a prototype and pitched their invention to real business owners, just like on the show. In developing their inventions, students learned about the importance of legally protecting their company via a patent, and protecting their logo and tagline with a trademark. They learned the costs associated with leasing a space to conduct business operations. Additionally, they used Common Core staples of critical thinking and problem solving to determine their cost of goods sold, distribution methods, marketing tactics and total start-up funds that would be required to launch their businesses. Skills learned in English class were reinforced, in that each Shark Tank assignment was accepted only if there were no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors.

Business 100 is a Career Technical Education course in the Business and Finance Industry Sector supported by the Office of College, Career & Technical Education. For more information, contact David West, CCTE Teacher, at

Friday, June 27, 2014

District honors 2013-14 retirees with special reception

There was a mix of excitement and nostalgia at the Eugene Brucker Education Center front lawn as San Diego Unified said goodbye to its retirees.

Retirees 2014 Employees, families and honorees gathered to celebrate the dedication and service of the nearly 650 certificated and classified employees that are retiring from San Diego Unified this year. This includes more than 450 teachers who enrolled in the early retirement program.

Supt. Marten started the festivities Thursday, June 19, by expressing her appreciation to the retirees for their service.

“This year, I have the opportunity to say a very special thank you to all of you,” said Superintendent Marten. “You have made immeasurable contributions, and have given the priceless gift of time and talent to help our students achieve their best – in and out of the classroom. The success of our students is a reflection of your hard and heart work.”

On behalf of the Board of Education, Board Vice President Marne Foster expressed her gratitude to the retirees, thanking them for the tremendous impact they have on the lives of students across San Diego.

As part of the ceremony, each retiree had the opportunity to introduce themselves, say how many years they had been with the district and share details of their journey. Some have served the district for just a few years, others more than 40.

The Monroe Clark Jazz Band, directed by Chris Lea, provided entertainment during the reception and the district’s Food Services Department catered the event.

Zamorano Elementary shining bright at year-end event

zamorano1 Zamorano Fine Arts Academy showcased it's commitment to art education on Wednesday June 25th with it's 27th annual Celebration of Art. So many smiling faces all over campus, all night long.
The evening kicked off with a wonderful performance by the school's orchestra under the guidance of Ms. Smith and Mr. Roulliard. The gates then opened for families to check out the art gallery in the auditorium and the classroom displays all over the south campus. Families participated in art activities led by Zamorano's fabulous classroom teachers around the campus.
People took a chance at our prize table to win goodies donated to the school and art made by focus artists, students, and art staff. All proceeds from the event go to "Keeping the Arts Alive" at Zamorano.
Such support from families and community at events like these help to maintain supplies and positions from one year to the next in these challenging economic times.
Several district guests were in attendance: School Board trustee Marne Foster, VAPA coordinator Karen Childress Evans, and San Diego Art Institute youth Programs Coordinator Sheena Dowling. Everyone got to see first hand what a special place Zamorano is and the wonderful community they call home.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the event!
It's all about celebrating and supporting the arts at Zamorano. Students are offered a chance to grow and thrive in academics AND the arts!zamorano3

New Area 4 Superintendent is Dr. Sofia Freire

Dr. Sofia Freire has been named Area 4 Superintendent and will take office on July 1.
Dr. Sofia Freire
She will supervise schools in the Clairemont, Madison and Henry high school clusters. She replaces Dr. Marian Kim-Phelps, who became Superintendent of the Westminister School District in Orange County, Calif. Judy Tenorio has served as interim Area Superintendent.

Dr. Freire holds a Doctorate of Education and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California. Since 2011, she has served as the Senior Director of School Transformation for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

Her work includes coaching, mentoring, and evaluating secondary principals; planning and facilitating monthly leadership conferences on instructional leadership and organizational management, and summer seminars and retreats on Common Core State Standards; and leading a team of math and English experts in developing curriculum and assessments.

Dr. Freire has more than eight years of service as a secondary principal and assistant principal, beginning her educational career as a multiple subjects teacher, in middle school.

The Clairemont High School cluster contains Marston Middle School; Longfellow K-8; Alcott, Bay Park, Cadman, Holmes and Toler elementary schools.

The Madison High School cluster contains CPMA and Innovation middle school; Field, Hawthorne, Lafayette, Lindbergh/Schweitzer, Sequoia and Whitman elementary schools; Muir K-12 and Mt. Everest Academy.

The Patrick Henry High School cluster contains Pershing and Lewis middle schools; Benchley/Weinberger, Dailard, Foster, Gage, Green, Hardy, Hearst and Marvin elementary schools.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eight students in Class of 2014 divide $150,000 in Broad Prize scholarships

Eight students from seven schools in the Class of 2014 divided the $150,000 in scholarship money received by San Diego Unified as a result of its nomination for the 2013 Broad Prize for Urban Education. Broad Prize

The students are: Dustin Nguyen of Crawford High School; Jake Brooks and Linh Ngo of Madison High; Nathanael Maracle from Pt. Loma High; Kevin Sibaja Allec, SciTech at San Diego High; Gerardo Perez, School of Business and LEADS at San Diego High; Tyler Wallake, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts; and Ari Krasner, University City High School.

The Broad Prize scholarship recipients 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.

"Many excellent students applied and the program was extremely competitive this year. In a competitive scholarship program, not every student can receive an award," said Connie Baumgartner, Program Manager with Scholarship America Scholarship Management Services, which handled the selection process on behalf of the Broad Foundation.

The initial review and evaluation of applications was completed by Scholarship Management Services with careful consideration given to each student’s academic record and all other information including financial data provided on the application. An independent selection committee further reviewed application materials and selected recipients.

San Diego Unified was 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.

The $1 million Broad Prize is the largest education award in the nation. It recognizes urban school districts that demonstrate the strongest student achievement and improvement while reducing achievement gaps among low-income students and students of color.

Houston Independent School District won the prize in 2013, receiving $550,000 in college scholarships for high school seniors who will graduate in 2014. San Diego Unified, along with Corona-Norco Unified School District in Riverside County, Calif., and Cumberland County Schools in North Carolina, will each receive $150,000 in college scholarships. There is no application process for the prize; the districts are selected by the Broad Prize committee and invited to participate.

When the announcement of the prize winner was made in September, 2013, Supt. Marten hailed the efforts of students and staff to create a climate of excellence in San Diego Unified.

"It was an honor to be recognized by The Broad Foundation," said Supt. Cindy Marten. "I am grateful to our team of employees who work every day in-and-out of the classrooms for our children. I'm excited for our students who will receive Broad scholarships."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Future chefs show culinary creativity, win prizes from Uncle Ben

Jacob Spears, a first grader at Hancock Elementary in Tierrasanta, and Isabella Genoso, a seventh grader at Challenger Middle School in Mira Mesa, have won Kindle Fire digital pads and a personal video for their culinary creations in the district's first Kids Create Recipe Contest.
Chef Evan Coben, left, student Jacob Spears
Uncle Ben's Chef Evan Coben, left, winner Isabella Genoso
Watch Videos

Both recipes were Asian themed and used whole grain brown rice and may find their way onto the cafeteria menu next fall. The contest was sponsored by Uncle Ben's Rice, which donated the Kindles and gift cards for the second- and third-place finishers. Students had to create recipes that used brown rice or whole-grain flour tortillas. More than 200 recipes were submitted.

Spears won first in the division for students in grades kindergarten through five for his Teriyaki Vegetable Rice. Katie Bohonak, Noah King, Carlos DeCastro grade four at Green Elementary School in San Carlos took second for their Fiesta Lettuce Wraps. Third place went to Annabelle Isaacson, first grade, Dailiard Elementary School in San Carlos, for her Mexican Pizzaz.

In the division for students in grades six-12, Genoso, a seventh grader, won for her Teriyaki Chicken with Asian Vegetables and Brown Rice. Second place went to fellow Challenger student Sarah Thach, an eighth grader, for her Wrapped Delight. Kyla Yu-Swanson, in grade six at Thurgood Marshall Middle School in Scripps Ranch, took third place with Ma Po Dofu (Asian Brown Rice w/Turkey and Tofu).

Grand prize winners Spears and Genoso each starred in a video with Uncle Ben's Chef Evan Coben.

The Kids Create Recipe Contest invited students from across the district to try their culinary skills by creating a recipe that used either whole grain brown rice or whole grain flour tortillas and could be served on the school lunch menu. The increased use of whole grains in school meals prompted the contest because San Diego Unified's Food Services Department wanted to hear from the students how they would like to see these foods on their cafeteria menu.

After Isabella created her recipe for the video, Challenger students were invited to try the dish and gave rave reviews, according to Sam Esparza, Food Services Site Leader at Challenger. Same goes for Jacob, whose friends and classmates at Dailiard got to enjoy his creation.
The contest was supported by Uncle Ben’s Rice who donated Kindle Fires for the first place winners. The winners also won a starring role in their own cooking video side by side with a professional chef from Uncle Ben’s and had their recipe served to students at their school. The video was produced by Mary Tyranski, a Food Corps service member with the Food Services Department.

For more information about the Kids Create Recipe Contest, contact Joanne Tucker, Food Services Marketing Coordinator at

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tomorrow's technologists show projects to San Diego community

Students from Crawford and University City high schools, as well as Marshall Middle School, were champions at the seventh annual College, Career and Technical Education (CCTE) Showcase event at Liberty Station. CCTE Champs

The event connects business partners with students and teachers to develop a strong foundation for the economic future for San Diego. More than 300 industry professionals volunteer each year as mentors, guest speakers, or advisers for student teams. The students exhibit products they produce and business problems they solve in collaboration with members of the local business community.

This year’s champion in the High School Team category was Crawford High School’s Urban Revolution project that educated students and community members about energy conservation and healthy living. The project provided opportunities for students to work with community members to learn about science, technology and math.

University City High School was named the champion in the High School Open category with a project partnering the Project Lead the Way Biomedical Innovations course grant proposal with Quench and Connect, a non-profit organization. The grant proposal seeks to provide funding for a secondary school in rural Uganda and implement funds for the school to maintain a marketable tilapia fish farm.

Marshall Middle School students examined multiple questions about zoos in the 21st century and which animals should have priority in the San Diego Zoo system in order to be chosen as the Middle School Champion. Student teams researched, designed and built a physical or digital zoo enclosure to best meet the needs of the zoo animal, employees and visitors.

Additional schools recognized for their projects included: Kearny Construction Tech Academy’s Energy Initiative 2020 with a focus on energy efficiency in an effort to cut emissions and reduce dependence on foreign fuel (High School Team category); Mira Mesa High School’s WAMPBAT, a machine that allows a person in a wheelchair to run the infield and outfield practice of a baseball team (High School Open category); and Innovation Middle School’s 3D printed wind turbine which highlights the technology and physics that are involved with the generation of electricity with wind turbines, as well as the creation of these turbines and uses that power an LED light.

For more information about the CCTE Showcase, please contact Ralph West, Interim Director CCTE, at

Board approves $1.2 billion operating budget for 2014-15 school year

Completing her first year as superintendent, the San Diego Unified Board of Trustees unanimously approved Cindy Marten's $1.2 billion "students first" spending plan Tuesday night.

"When the Board hired me last year, my task was to reevaluate every dollar to ensure we are focusing expenditures on proven methods to create quality schools in every neighborhood, improve student achievement and close the achievement gap," said Marten.

At the same time, the Board approved the district's LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan). It now goes to the San Diego County Office of Education for final approval.  See documents approved»

Despite lingering effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the 2014-15, $1.2 billion operating budget has no layoffs, reduces class sizes in lower grades, redirects staffing to classrooms, implements Common Core and focuses on English-language learners.

"I have always believed that however much money we have, in both good times and bad, we have a responsibility to improve the quality of education while serving as good stewards and promoting student achievement," she said. "I am confident that we will meet the needs of our students and support our educators and employees, while living within our means."


  • No layoffs.
  • Reduces K-3 class size from current school year from 27:1 to 25:1.
  • Fully funds the implementation of the Common Core curriculum.
  • Restores the school calendar to 180 instructional days.
  • Stabilizes school staffing including improved front office allocations.
  • Fully funds professional development for educators ensuring the best trained staff for our students.
  • Transitions "non classroom" support teachers into the classrooms.
  • Initiates an early retirement plan for approximately 472 educators, resulting in a net savings of approximately $8 million dollars next year.
  • Supports biliteracy programs and implements Superintendent's English Learner Action Plan for Long-term English learners.
  • Maintains classroom Gate and Seminar funding.
  • Ensures open library hours at every elementary school.
  • Maintains current level of services in arts, athletics, school safety, custodial, nursing and counseling.
  • Maintains the nationally recognized i21 program, giving students and educators the latest technology.
  • Maintains graduation coaches.
  • Implements Transitional Kindergarten at all elementary schools.
  • Meets contractual salary increases.
  • Maintains existing level of health benefits for all employees.
  • Phases out real estate sales to fund budget shortfalls.
  • Initiates a multi-year real estate strategy to generate new real estate revenues.
  • Includes approximately $223 million in facility upgrades and expansions in Prop S/Z funds.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Free lunch for families kicked off 2014 Summer Fun Café

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, left, Supt. Marten, Director Sandip Kaur, Meb Keflezighi Combine a “Walk with Meb and the Padres Friar,” a nutrition decathlon and a free barbecue and what do you have?

The kickoff event of San Diego Unified School District’s Summer Fun Café program, held June 25, 2014 at Skyline Hills Community Park. Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Sandip Kaur, Director of Nutrition Services, California Department of Education, and Superintendent Cindy Marten are joined in the fun.

Summer is a difficult nutritional time for many children. Not only does food insecurity increase among low income families during the summer months, but children also are at greater risk for obesity as they lose access to school meals they rely on during the school year.

The summer meal programs give children the nutritious meals they need to keep hunger at bay and remain healthy throughout the summer. San Diego Unified’s Summer Fun Café meals also support the community’s other summer programs and help draw children into educational, enrichment and recreational activities that keep them learning, engaged, active, and safe during school vacation. Participating in the Summer Fun Café program requires no paperwork, reservations or income qualifications.

San Diego Unified School District Food Services Department partners with the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department, Military Child and Youth Programs, San Diego Public Library and several non-profit organizations to help fill the summer nutrition gap. The Summer Fun Café is funded through the US Department of Agriculture’s “Seamless Summer Feeding Option” and will be at 61 sites: 28 Park and Recreation Centers, 14 community and military sites, and 19 schools.

“Join us for lunch this summer,” said Gary Petill, San Diego Unified¹s Food Services Director. “It’s fun, it’s free, it’s easy and when the kids head back to school in the fall, they will be strong and ready to learn.”

Check out the Food Services website for a list of locations and special barbecues.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

PE teacher Jill Schenk at SD High is Inspirational Teacher

IN THE NEWS:  Moving and motivating students is Jill Schenk's goal, Jill SchenkNBC 7's Rory Devine reports, and her students and colleagues at San Diego High School say it's hard to have a bad day when she's around. Watch video from NBC 7»

Friday, June 20, 2014

Top administrators honored for 2013-14 school year

Administrators at schools and programs around the district have been honored by the Administrators Association of San Diego, the organization that represents many of San Diego Unified's managers, including principals.
Barbara Baron Sylvia Kravitz
Lesley Pearson Maria Moore-Flagg
Ana Morales Bob Raines
Cheryl Hibbln

Honored for the 2013-14 school year are: Barbara Baron, Program Manager, Instructional Resources and Materials Department; Cheryl Hibbeln, Principal, Kearny High Complex School of Digital Media and Design, and Construction Tech Academy; Sylvia Kravitz, Food Services Regional Food Services; Maria Moore-Flagg, Supervising Administrative Assistant, Auxiliary Services; Ana Morales, Manager, Translation and Community Services; Dr. Lesley Pearson. Early Childhood Education Program Administrator; Bob Raines, AASD Retiree Network.

For many years, the association has honored distinguished leaders for their service, Association President Donis Coronel said.

"This year, the Member Relations Committee redesigned the program and expanded the criteria to include eight areas of selection criteria," said Coronel.

The criteria are: how the nominee's work skills contribute to the organization and operation of the district; the nominee's interaction with coworkers and staff; the nominees leadership qualities; the nominees community involvement; the level in which the nominee volunteers and participates in work site activities; an activity of major involvement that affects the life of others; the level in which the nominee supports the educational process of adults and/or youth and the nominees commitment and involvement with AASD.

For more information, visit the association's website.

As Program Manager for Instructional Resources and Development, Baron is San Diego Unfied's top librarian, working with partners in the San Diego Public Library to create a better off-school environment for students to explore the world and complete homework. She's also worked with private sector partners such as Target and Heart of America to bring the organizations' "Library Makeovers" to many campuses.

Cheryl Hibbeln, outgoing principal of two of the small schools at the Kearny High complex, was honored for her visionary leadership and mentoring of principals, assets that she will continue using in her new high school coordinating position in the main district office. Her work at Kearny has helped the community to strengthen their high school standing ultimately drastically improving student achievement. Pioneering efforts in the area of Linked Learning at Kearny High School of Digital Media and Design have brought honors to the school from the state and federal governments.

At the Food Services Department, Regional Manager Sylvia Kravitz works to promote teamwork among her 24 Area Managers and staff, ensuring they provide the best tasting and most nutritious food to students, as well as providing outstanding customer service to our kids. She's also been dedicated to the professional development of her team, helping many to receive certifications from the School Nutrition Association. Outside of the workplace, Sylvia is active in her synagogue where she participates in activities including the winter inter-faith shelter for homeless individuals and families.

In her position in the Auxiliary Services Department, Maria Flagg Moore supervises the clerical staff in the Physical Plant Operations facility. She's helped many of her coworkers receive Microsoft Windows training along with other skills to help them improve their job performance and contributions to educating the next generation of San Diegans. Maria is active in the annual Holiday Hope Food Basket and Food Drive which benefits children and families at various San Diego Unified schools. She has also volunteered for women’s rights organizations that assist young girls and women.

Ana Morales leads the team of translators and interpreters in the district's busy Translation Services Department. At any time, translators and interpreters may be at locations all through the district, doing everything from helping students understand why they are being disciplined or having trouble with school, interpreting parent meetings, IEPs and public meetings such as the Board of Education. In addition to leading a high-performing team, Ana must ensure that all legally required translation and interpretation is performed in a district of vast size. Ana takes her involvement with local groups home with her as well, volunteering with organizations such as Ties for Teens, Mid City Community Advocacy Network and the Tariq Kamisa Foundation.

As Early Childhood Education Program Administrator, Leslie Barnes leads a team that works with the youngest San Diegans to give them a great start on their road to college and career. Students, families, and staff are treated with care, respect and compassion. Professional, yet firm, willing to listen, all the while keeping the best interest of the children and families at the forefront of each interaction -- that is Lesley’s way. She's also active in the community with Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Children's Hospital La Playa unit, the MADCAPS mother/daughter club, Westminister Presbyterian Church, Vanguard Theatre ans Sheakespeare Society.

Bob Raines was also honored for his work with AASD retirees. A 2007 retiree where his last position was Director of Assessment Services, he continues serving the district by staying involved with AASD and ensuring some of the district's most experienced and dedicated supporters -- its retirees -- continue to help San Diego's kids. He serves on numerous AASD committees, including those involved in healthcare for both retirees and current workers and member relations. Outside of AASD, Bob has been a member of Phi Delta Kappa since 1976, has served on the Greater San Diego Mathematics Council and was a member of the Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (VEBA) for two years.

Madison High garden, students, culinary teacher featured in Target ad

IN THE NEWS: Target Stores' 30-second commercial highlights company's donation to In The News Madison High School, garden's positive impact on learning. The school's culinary arts teacher, Justin Halbert, joined a Target representative and a student on NBC 7's morning show. Watch video»

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Well schooled in giving back; Education changed teacher's life, now he's returning the favor

IN THE NEWS: Juan Martin Sajche, a teacher at Morse High School in San Diego, In The Newsreturns to Guatemala each summer to be a volunteer teacher at a school he helped found. Read more from UT San Diego»

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

UC High's ArtsTECH ends year with exhibition

ArtsTECH Academy students from University City High School celebrated the end of their school year with an art exhibit and performances at Barrio Logan's Woodbury School of Architecture.Art on display

Receiving the honor for the evening was student Natalie Eddy, who is the recipient of this year's Chris Gannon Memorial Scholarship. The grant is given in the memory of parent and program volunteer, the late Chris Gannon. It was funded by ArtsTECH teacher John Middleton.

Also honored were retiring teachers Lauriel Adsit and Belinda Brown. Adsit is a longtime art teacher and a co-founder of ArtsTECH. Brown is also an ArtsTECH co-founder, is program coordinator and a theater teacher. Middleton will also be leaving the academy this year, as he is taking an administrator position within the district.

Woodbury University is involved with ArtsTECH through its administrative director, Debra Abel, who is a member of the program's advisory board.

Find out more about ArtsTECH at University City High School by visiting its website.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lafayette students, community create mural in memory of favorite student

IN THE NEWS: 60-foot artwork created by the Lafayette Elementary School students and community is a lasting legacy of their late classmate, Yusra Nasir. Watch story from Fox 5 San Diego» Student works on mural  

Monday, June 16, 2014

SCPA: "A school that fulfills students' desires to pursue their artistic dreams while also preparing them for their academic future"

IN THE NEWS: The San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts was  created in 1979 to educate young people in the Arts.  It has grown into a school that fulfills students' desires to pursue their artistic dreams while also preparing them for their academic future.  Students recently paired up with professionals to stage a production of "Suds: The Rockin' 60s Musical Soap Opera" at downtown San Diego's Lyceum Theater. Watch video from Cox 4 San Diego's Salute to Education»

Sunday, June 15, 2014

'Salute to Education' looks at Farm to School in the Classroom program at Audubon Elementary

IN THE NEWS: Kids who eat better, usually perform better in school, but students don't always make healthy food choices when they have the option. The Farm to School in the Classroom program is helping change that by linking nutrition education in the classroom to the lunch offerings in the cafeteria. Cox 4 visits Audubon Elementary School in Skyline to find out how. Watch video from Cox 4 San Diego»

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Serra High counselor says goodbye after 43 years

Serra High counselor Susan Skinner was one of more than 700 employees who retired last week. Skinner spent 43 years with the San Diego Unified School District. Watch story from NBC 7»

Friday, June 13, 2014

District celebrates volunteers, partners who contribute to local schools

School-site volunteers, Partners-in-Education, advisory and cluster committee volunteer chairs were honored at the 2014 Volunteer and Partner Recognition event held at Clairemont High School on June 4.

Volunteers Sponsored by California Coast Credit Union, honorees enjoyed a reception with entertainment provided by the student band Loose Gravel, followed by a formal recognition ceremony.

View event photos

Honorees were recognized for the countless hours, efforts and in many cases, funds they contribute to their local San Diego Unified schools. Each individual and organization was given a certificate and all were applauded for their efforts during the ceremony.

Superintendent Cindy Marten, Board President Kevin Beiser and California Coast representatives Rene McKee and Perette Godwin shared hosting duties. During the ceremony, Trustees Richard Barrera and John Lee Evans also thanked volunteers for their time and efforts.

Central Elementary School’s Warren LaVallee received special recognition for his 53 years of volunteer service to the City Heights elementary school.

Although the afternoon belonged to the volunteers and partners, the event also featured several outstanding student performances. The band Loose Gravel, which is comprised of elementary and middle school students from four San Diego Unified schools, played a mix of rock tunes during the reception while guests snacked on wraps, vegetables and cookies provided by the district’s Food Services Catering Department. Clairemont High’s own Kyra Johnson kicked off the ceremony with the National Anthem.

Each year, thousands of individuals volunteer their time at school sites across the district and organizations partner with their local school to provide a variety of services or goods to students.

San Diego Unified salutes all of its volunteers and partners and thanks them for their continued support and contributions.

Budding dessert chef sets sights on Cal Poly Pomona, hospitality career

Hannah Bowles, a graduating senior at Madison High, has been awarded Culinary Student of the Year by the San Diego County chapter of the California Restaurant association.
Hannah Bowles
“She is the most talented and dedicated student I have taught in years," said Justin Halbert, her Madison culinary arts teacher. "She is our culinary team leader. As the dessert chef for a local, trendy restaurant, Hannah knows the standard of quality and professionalism it takes to be a successful employee and because of that, she is able to lead by example for her culinary team at Madison. Last year, even when Hannah wasn’t in my class, we collaborated on her recipes and planned a successful catering event for 250 people.”

A graduating senior, Hannah will be attending the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona to pursue a career in hospitality. She also hopes to get awarded the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation scholarship, a highly competitive award in the industry. She was accepted to three other universities, finishing high school with a grade point average greater than 3.8.

The California Restaurant Association San Diego Chapter is a strong supporter of San Diego Unified's culinary arts programs. The 30th Annual Gold Medallion Awards recognize the achievements of both restaurant and service provider members whose commitment to excellence makes a significant difference in the industry and communities they serve.

For more information on culinary programs in the district, please contact Angela Croce, CCTE Program Specialist, at For more information on the California Restaurant Association San Diego Chapter, please visit

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jones Elementary salutes military families

Students, parents and staff at John Paul Jones Elementary School held a Parent Appreciation Day-Military Families Recognition as school's "Spotlight" event for May.
Ceremony at Jones School
Dedicated to the parents of family members who are currently serving in one of the branches of our military service and family members who had previously served, parents and family members who served in Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan were honored for their service. Grandfathers and uncles who served in the Vietnam War were also honored by the students and staff.

The fifth grade students marched into the assembly area carrying a total of 50 flags of the United States.

"It was an extremely proud day at John Paul Jones Elementary school." said Mike George, a retired San Diego Unified principal who presided over the ceremony. "All Jones Elementary students and staff are proud of the service are parents and family members complete."

The school's Partner In Education is the U.S.S. John Paul Jones DD 53 that was out to sea on the day of the appreciation event.

Contact Principal Rita Powell for more information at (858) 496-8140.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Questions, answers about 2014-15 budget: Prop. 30 funding, strategic staffing, 3-year budget strategy

Proposition 30 turned the corner on education funding, but we still have a long way to go. It will take us three years after Prop 30 to have the state funding come up to the level of our current school operations. We are bridging the gap with property sales and an early retirement incentive. We will direct our limited funds to those budget lines that improve student achievement. Dr. John Lee Evans, Subdistrict A Trustee on the Board of Education, has prepared this information.
 Dr. John Lee Evans
I understood that Proposition 30 would put a lot of money into our schools. Why do we still have budget problems?

Proposition 30 stopped the hemorrhaging of state budget cuts to education. But the current plan increases funding so slowly that we will take us until the year 2020 to reach the 2007 level of funding.

Doesn’t the Local Control Funding Formula give a lot more money to San Diego?

The LCFF addresses the issue of equity in funding across the state, but it does not address the issue of adequacy of funding. What does this mean? Governor Brown acknowledged that a district like Compton needs more resources than one like Beverly Hills to create a level playing field of opportunity. The formula does give us an additional grant for students from low income families, English Language Learners and foster children to meet all of their needs. So we are receiving more than some other districts, but the problem is that the base grant for all of the schools across San Diego and across the state is woefully inadequate. That’s why California has ranked between 46th and 49th place among states in per pupil funding for the past several years.

So where is this “extra money” that we have been hearing about?

There is no “extra” money. Last July we acknowledged that it would take three years to stabilize the budget to meet our current operations, staffing levels and class size. We adopted a three year budget plan (13-14, 14-15, and 15-16), which was the amount of time it would take for the income to catch up with our current expenses. If we could stabilize over these three years, we could begin to invest new revenue to improve our schools in the fourth year.

What is the shortfall and why are the numbers always changing?

When the preliminary budget was developed the shortfall was $115 million for 2014-2015 and the projected shortfall for 2015-16 was $69 million. The actual money the state gives us can change. It can go up or it can go down. If more revenues come to the state, our income can go up. On the other hand, it can get worse if the state decides to suddenly increase the district’s pension contribution. It can also go up or down depending on enrollment. These numbers are constantly updated, but the state would have to give us an extra amount equal to each of these shortfalls to begin to have extra money. That is not going to happen.

So how are we supposed to survive these three years?

The board adopted a School Stabilization Fund with proceeds from the sale of properties that the district is no longer using. This provides us money for these three years to avoid making harmful cuts. But it is not sustainable to continue selling properties that generate annual income for the district. This was a short term solution to bridge the gap.

How did we survive all of the state budget cuts the past five years?

We had concessions from all staff in terms of unpaid furlough days for a few years. At this point it’s not reasonable to ask our employees to make any more financial sacrifices. We had federal stimulus money paid to us over three years designed to avoid major layoffs. Of course, those funds are no longer offered. We used up reserve funds in every department to keep our schools successfully operating and there are no more reserve funds to tap.

Does the early retirement incentive for teachers help?

Yes. Because the state is not giving us enough money to employ all of our current staff, we save money by not replacing some of the teachers who retired. Of course, this cannot be done in every case, because we may lack the needed number of teachers with a particular subject credential. The board offered the early retirement incentive to avoid mass layoffs, which create instability in our schools for our students, especially in high poverty schools.

We had Vision 2020 forums to discuss how to spend LCFF funds, as required by the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)? Weren’t we talking about how to spend all of the “new” money?

The LCAP is a method for the district to work with the community to set priorities for improving student achievement across the district and we must also show how the supplemental and concentration grants will be used to help the students with the highest needs. The district must show how our budget aligns with our goals for student achievement across the district with the limited funds that we receive. The Superintendent must creatively work with her staff to improve educational outcomes while living within our means. Just as a family must live within its budget, so too must the district. The only difference is that we cannot get a credit card for our operating budget that would allow us to borrow money this year and pay it back in future years. In spite of the budget limitations we will continue to improve student achievement, as we have successfully done for the past five years.

What has the board asked the Superintendent to do in developing our budget?
  1. Complete a budget for all three years of the original plan that is balanced and demonstrates that there will be no shortfall by the following year.
  2. Develop a budget that is student-centric, a budget that places the highest priority on student needs in the classroom.
  3. Following the official adoption of the 2014-15 budget enter into a joint advocacy plan with the Board of Education calling for our state to address the inadequacy of public education funding in California, so that we can again become a national leader.

Gage Elementary students' artwork flying high at Lindbergh Field

Student artwork from Gage Elementary School in San Carlos has been selected for display at the San Diego International Airport's Commuter Terminal.
Artwork from Gage Elementary students
ArtReach Teaching Artist Jack White created this lesson that allows students to create a contour map of the face. The result is both a science project and a self-portrait. Fourth and fifth graders at Gage learned about the development and utility of the contour map while also exploring self-portraiture. This is one of a series of ArtReach workshops in development that focus on the juncture of science and art.

The Portrait Maps created during the lesson used photographs of their faces to create 3-D self-portraits. Portraits created by 26 students are on display at the Commuter Terminal at the airport now through August. The exhibit is pre-security so anyone can enter and enjoy the art.

Gage Elementary students have worked with ArtReach Teaching Artists since 2010. ArtReach has helped students create original art in a variety of media from paint to pastels to collage and more.

Find out more about Gage Elementary by visiting its website.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Superintendent, USDA Under Secretary drop in on Breakfast in the Classroom

IN THE NEWS: At Central Elementary, Superintendent Cindy Marten and Kevin Concannon, US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, visit with representatives of the 13 million kids nationwide who enjoy the program. Watch video from KUSI»

It's Ballet Folklorico de Escuela Longfellow performing at Pacific Beach Middle School

It was a memorable Ballet Folklorico performance as elementary students from Longfellow K-8 in Clairemont performed for middle school students at Pacific Beach Middle School, part of Pacific Beach Middle School's Cinco de Mayo celebration.
 Cielo Luna Displays the Traditional Doble Vuelo Skirt and Blouse from the state of Jalisco, Mexico

With boys and girls aged 7-14 performing, these students are part of a tradition and program that has been running for more than a decade at Longfellow, a Spanish-language immersion magnet school.

"Thank you to Gloria Cota, parent and Ballet Folklorico volunteer for setting up the event," said Ernest Remillard, Pacific Beach Middle School Principal.

Escuela Longfellow Ballet Folklorico is a parent-volunteer enrichment program that brings the Mexican and Spanish cultures to the students, who are learning the language through Longfellow's Spanish-language immersion program. It's been a part of the school's fabric for more than 12 years, with Vivana Enrique from Muevete Dance Studio as the instructor.

"I have had the privilege to coordinate this program at our school with amazing parent volunteers for the last ten years," said Cota. "Parents Christine Pilger and Valerie Gordon, Cherisa Archuleta, Carla Valdovinos and Myra Woodberry are also volunteers. We are overseen by our on site Resource Teacher Josie Ramirez."

The diversity of the school is definitely portrayed in the dance group that ranges in ages from 6-13 (grades 1-8).

"We have dancers in our group that started in kindergarten and are now at middle school age," said Cota. "We started with a group of 19 students and have grown into 48 students and have added an extra day to accommodate the demand."

Public performances are scheduled after each eight-week practice section.

"Each session always portrays a different region with different costumes and cultural awareness of that region," she said. "We perform at our school functions, Dia de los Muertos for the fall session, Cesar Chavez assemblies, spring open house and the year-end Multicultural Festival. The core group that performs at outside the school functions is our advanced group that has been dancing together for the last 4-8 years together.

"Other performances include Mesa College Festival of Colors, UCSD and we have been invited to perform at next year's Latino Film Festival."

For more information on the program, contact Longfellow K-8 Principal Diana Sanchez at (619) 276-4206.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wangenheim Middle School welcomes, thanks Chargers for weight room

A grant from Chargers Champions program has brought new fitness options to Wangenheim Middle School in Mira Mesa.
Chargers' Corey Liuget
Defensive tackle Corey Liuget, A.G. Spanos, Chargers Executive Vice President, Principal Dr. Matt Fallon were on hand for dedication of the facility, funded by a $40,000 grant from the program. Watch video»

"What the Chargers have done is invaluable," Principal Fallon said at the dedication event. "Besides the monetary donation, which is incredible, it demonstrates to the kids the importance of community and helping one another.”
Spanos, grandson of family patriarch Alex Spanos, said his grandfather began the Chargers Champions program as a way to give back to the community.

“This is a special initiative because it was started by my grandfather to help our schools,” said A.G. Spanos. “With budget cuts in the state, usually some of the first programs to get cut are the athletic programs. It is very important for students to create proper habits to stay fit and active for their lives. Therefore, our organization and my family feel it is important to help make up for that shortfall and create a better quality of life for the young people of San Diego.”

Fallon said the weight room will make Wangenheim a healthier place.

“We put the grant in taking a shot in the dark and this has been thrilling,” he said. “We’ve always wanted a fitness room but have never been able to afford or put it together even though we knew it was very important for the quality of our physical fitness program. When we were named it was really wonderful."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Seedless watermelon, grown in Hemet, is June's 'Harvest of the Month'

Every month San Diego Unified¹s Farm to School team is creating Harvest of the Month videos to connect students to their food and the local farmers that grow it. This month (June) we will be serving Red Seedless Watermelon at school salad bars every Wednesday. The video highlights the watermelon farm in Hemet, CA, the history of watermelon, and the nutritional value of watermelon. Watch video»

Students show off real-world knowledge

IN THE NEWS: Career technical education classes In The Newsat Patrick Henry High School, in a variety of disciplines, are designed to give students hands-on training that prepares them for both entry-level employment and higher education. Read more from Mission Times Courier»

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Thine contest winner is Pacific Beach Middle School

Pacific Beach Middle International Baccalaureate World School won a trophy for best scene at the Shakespeare Festival in Balboa Park. Eight Pacific Beach Middle International Baccalaureate World School students — Sophie Adams, Vance Allan, Nicholas Archer, Ryleigh Maple, Whitney Marshall, Nina Morch, Sophie Reich and Emma Rodriguez — with the assistance of their history and art teacher Mrs. Liebke and Music teacher Mr. O’Donnell, performed a scene at the Shakespeare Festival in Balboa Park in May.Pacific Beach Middle actors

The scenes had to be 9-11 minutes long, could be interpreted openly, but had to stick to Shakespeare’s words. Nina put together a compilation of a scene from Hamlet and a scene from Macbeth that all students performed.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Message from Supt. Cindy Marten: Negotiations Updates coming soon

Prior to preparing our initial proposal for negotiations with the San Diego Education Association (SDEA), the district engaged in extensive outreach and information gathering from various stakeholder groups, including parents, students, staff and community members. We considered their feedback along with budget realities and our Vision 2020 in finalizing the initial proposal.

Our proposal stated that the district would be coming to the process seeking to negotiate "in an environment that includes mutual respect, collegiality, open sharing of information and ideas, understanding of each other's interests, mutual identification of fiscal and other obstacles in approaching total compensation, and a commitment to work toward the mutual goal of establishing a world-class school system for all of our students."

The district and SDEA negotiations teams have met five times since the public disclosure and Board adoption of the initial proposals. I am pleased to report that discussions during these meetings have been collegial, respectful and candid, and we continue to put student needs first. Five additional meetings are scheduled to take place before school begins in late August.

Now that the negotiations process is up and running, I will be providing regular messages entitled “Negotiations Updates.” The purpose of these messages is to make sure stakeholders are up-to-date on the status of negotiations, to promote respect for the process and the people involved, to openly share proposals exchanged, and provide information about proposals exchanged and the interests and rationales driving our work at the negotiations table.

I hope you will find these updates useful and informative.

Cindy Marten
Work Hard. Be Kind. Dream Big. No Excuses.

Meet the Whitman Strings, a very special group of young violinists

IN THE NEWS: Hearing-impaired students and hearing students come together for love of music at Whitman Elementary School in Clairemont. San Diego 6 and Wake Up San Diego's Renee Kohn spent a morning at the school. There was also a special surprise. Watch video»

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Benchley/Weinberger, Sherman elementary schools win video awards

The student produced videos "So You Want to Make an iVIE" received a "Grand Recognition" for Benchley/Weinberger Elementary and Sherman Elementary's "Food Fight" topped its category as San Diego County's student video competition "The Ivie Awards" handed out its 2014 trophies.
Benchley/Weinberger students at awards ceremony

Benchley/Weinberger's video was awarded top honors in the competition, which is sponsored by the San Diego County Office of Education. "So You Want to Make an IVIE," was produced by students working with teacher Kathy Aufsesser and media lab instructor Kathy Bouman. The video gives a humorous yet factual and interesting look at how to create a video. Participating students were Ethan L., Ryan S., Josh B., Jacob C., Hunter H., Jasmine L., Gianna B.

“Aside from the obvious issue of creatively teaching to the standards I feel these videos reach kids with different learning strengths and styles,” Aufsesser told the San Diego County Office of Education at the program's awards ceremony on May 6. “Perhaps the largest benefit to the students is the tremendous boost in enthusiasm for learning they exhibit.”

Winner of the top award in the Grade 3-5 Language Arts -- History category was "Food Fight," Sherman Elementary students' take on nutrition. It starred students Edwin, Xihtlally, Stephanie, Kelly.

"It's a really good experience for the students, just being able to see all of their hard work pay off in the end," Lito De los Reyes told the San Diego County Office of Education. She's the teacher at Sherman Academy who has helped students prepare videos for the competition for the past four years. "It's really fun for them to dress up and go down the red carpet and answer questions about their video. It makes them feel more important and adds weight to what they did."

The Innovative Video in Education (iVIE) program is an annual k-12 student video competition that has drawn thousands of participating students from every grade level across San Diego County for more than a decade. Throughout the school year, teachers and students use video as a project-based learning tool in the classroom, ultimately creating videos that ignite imagination and inspire student confidence while integrating state content standards.

Since 2001, iVIE has grown into a major video competition with more than 300 videos submitted this year in categories ranging from math, science and language arts to documentary and public service announcement. Entries are judged by media professionals and educators. Judges select winners in each category at different grade levels, as well as three "Grand Recognition" winners. This year, there was also a "People's Choice" award picked by viewers at the iVIE Festival, where all of the nominees were shown in April.

iVIE is sponsored by the San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego County Credit Union, Sony, Unified Port of San Diego, San Diego Computer-Using Educators, and The City of San Diego's Environmental Services Department.

Patrick Henry High School might be the toughest golf course in town

IN THE NEWS: The Henry Cluster STEMM Foundation, an organization dedicated to enriching science, technology, engineering, math, and music and arts education in the eleven schools of the Patrick Henry Cluster, is excited to host the 2014 Henry Cluster Mini Golf Challenge. In The NewsTeams of students from kindergarten through twelfth grade have been working hard all year to design and build mini golf holes, and they’ve been having a pretty good time doing it. Read more from Mission Times Courier»

Retired teachers help next generation with $1,500 scholarships

Retired teachers are still helping students, donating ten, $1,500 scholarships to members of the Class of 2014.

Graduates San Diego retired teachers -- members of the California Retired Teacher Association (CalRTA), Division 4 -- have presented the students with the scholarships at their schools' senior award assemblies.

The Scholarship Foundation of CalRTA Division 4 was established 30 years ago, with Division 4 over the years awarding more than $300,000 in scholarships to more than 300 seniors attending four-year universities.

The 2014 scholarship recipients are: Daniel Foster, Patrick Henry; Tiffany Fung, Pruess; Luis Gay, Point Loma; Analie Islas, Lincoln; Shayn Lozano, Serra;  Ashley Ly,  Hoover; Shatesha Morris, San Diego High School of Business and Leadership; Dustin Nguyen, Crawford; Vy Nguyen, Kearny High School of International Business; and Janelle Spikes, San Diego Metropolitan Regional and Technical.

High school seniors were judged on their academic achievement, school leadership, extra curricular activities, community/volunteer service, financial need, and work/home activities. The scholarship recipients have an average grade point of 3.92 and will be attending UC Berkeley, UCSD, SDSU, Tuskegee, Hampton University, and Brown. Their diverse areas of study include engineering, public health, environmental science, chemistry, Public policy, and criminal justice.CalRTA is proud of its scholarship program that recognizes deserving, hard-working, and intelligent young people.
Donations may be made to CalRTA Scholarship Foundation, Division 4 and mailed to Scholarship Foundation, Division 4, CalRTA, and P.O. Box 33421, San Diego, CA 92163-3421. For further information about CalRTA, contact Carol Patrick at or

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

UC High 'Art Attack' brings together campus's budding artists

Artwork, video production, and theatrical pieces came together in one evening of fun as UC High's ArtsTECH academy gave its students in grades 10-12 a chance to perform before an audience of receptive fellow students, parents and community members.
Performing at Art Attack
Art Attack began with a visual arts show in which visitors enjoyed an impressive space-themed decor, food, and marvelous student artwork, according to teacher Ian McAvoy. Principal Jeff Olivero and ArtsTECH teacher Andy Zafuto were among those recipients of a talented student's less than favorable, but very funny, caricature.

Later, ArtsTECH's theater students performed numerous skits, monologues, and musical numbers, followed by video creations.

Productions included a noir-styled interrogation of UCHS's new Vice Principal, Mike Paredes, action films that brought awareness to persuasive techniques used in media, as well as animation that showed students' advanced skills in both drawing and technology. Other videos were presented by sophomores, who showed the work they created in a program with the Shoah Foundation at the University of Southern California.

A piano solo piece, that was at times humorous, but also revealed the mixed emotions of leaving the loved academy for graduation, said McAvoy. Teacher Belinda Brown's theater students provided a heartfelt goodbye. Teacher Lauriel Adsit was the last to leave, as her admiring students helped put away the elaborate decorations.

This year's event was particularly emotional, as art teacher Lauriel Adsit and theater teacher Belinda Brown are retiring in June. Additionally, longtime ArtsTECH English teacher John Middleton is leaving for an administrative position at Lincoln High School, said McAvoy.

The ArtsTECH Academy is a three-year program (grades 10-12) which immerses students in a digital-arts focused curriculum incorporating technology, digital art and design skills. Special features include a state-of-the-art digital media lab, art studio, personalized tutoring, and staff and business partner expertise.

ArtsTECH is currently accepting applications from current freshmen to be a part of its 2014-15 sophomore class. For more information on the program, visit its website.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Crawford cross-country alums raise $1,000 for current students

Crawford cross-country supporters
A group of former Crawford High School cross-country runners organized a 24-hour relay marathon to raise money for Crawford's current cross-country team, many of whom were not properly outfitted for competition.

Co-organizer Yale Strom, father of a San Diego High School cross-country runner, noticed that some of the competitors from his alma mater weren't running in proper running shoes. After coordinating with the Crawford High School administration and athletic director Darcel Glover, Strom contacted his former teammates.

Along with a few "celebrity guest" runners, the Crawford Colts (classes of 1974-80) raised more than $1,000 for the cross-country distance runners at the May 24 event. They'll buy new training and racing flats for their upcoming 2014-15 cross-country and track seasons.

It's not too late to contribute, either by visiting the donation website or mailing a check payable to Crawford High School with "cross-country team" in the memo line to Principal Ana Alvarez, Crawford High School, 4191 Colts Way, San Diego, CA 92115.

For more information, contact Principal Alvarez at  (619) 362-3700

Monday, June 2, 2014

A teacher for the toughest times: Caren Waller is an educator at Rady Children's Hospital

Caren Waller (Photo courtesy UT San Diego)
IN THE NEWS: For more than 20 years, Caren Waller, has been teaching at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego. She does everything from read stories to patients to communicate with school districts about how to best serve injured or ill students. When she first started, she was one of three educators who would push a cart around from room to room. Now, there are six teachers and five assistants working from multiple classrooms throughout the hospital.

Waller, a Leucadia resident who attended Patrick Henry High School, tells us about her unique teaching position. Read more from UT San Diego»

Encanto Elementary transformed into cool EnviroSchool

Birds, snakes and even Dr. Zoolittle invaded Encanto Elementary and the students now know better how to care for their environment.

Snake says hi to Encanto students
"EnviroSchool" is a fun and educational workshop that features "scientists" performing a variety of fun and innovative activities for the students and student participation is part of the lesson. The program, which took a full morning, starts Students were greeted by Dr. Zoolittle -- the San Diego Zoo's zany and good-natured "animal researcher" character. During his introductory assembly, Dr. Zoolittle used magic and animals to teach students about wildlife conservation and recycling through audience interaction and lots of friendly humor.

Encanto students then had the opportunity to participate in three structured learning activities.
  • The Splash Van: A mobile science lab featuring five different stations where kids use computers, microscopes, chemistry experiments and living creatures to learn about water quality and insect life. The lab teaches students the connection between human activities and the health of the environment. 
  • The Green Machine: An interactive exploration program that teaches agricultural awareness at three stations: a soils research station with live earthworms, the water cycle station with dramatic role play scenarios and costumes, and an integrated pest management station with interactive role play and insect puppets. 
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling Presentation, and the Recycling Relay: A hands-on presentation with displays of items made with recycled materials that teaches students the importance of waste prevention, reducing, reusing, composting, and recycling followed by a high-energy recycling race where the environment is the winner. 
The Green Machine, Splash Van and relay are operated by the San Diego County Office of Education. Find out more by contacting Debbie Baker, Principal Encanto Academic Academy, at619-344-6700.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mira Mesa High scholars have a soft spot for kids at Ronald McDonald House

Some of Mira Mesa High's top scholars had a soft spot for kids... working to collect enough money to buy more than 100 brand new pillows for the kids at the Ronald McDonald House.

The students are members of the Mira Mesa High California Scholarship Federation (CSF) club, with donations and help coming from fellow students, staff, and the Mira Mesa community.Big box pillows

“Every child should have a pillow to sleep on at night," said CSF President, Kristine Lee. "The second we heard the Ronald McDonald House Charities had 102 children without pillows, we got right to work,”

Mira Mesa High students worked directly with the volunteer coordinator at the San Diego Ronald McDonald House Charities to identify their greatest area of need. Lee and her team then went back to Mira Mesa High and ran a very successful marketing campaign and drive to collect pillows.

The MMHS Pillow Drive came to a successful conclusion when Charles E. Day, CEO of the San Diego Ronald McDonald House Charities, met students from the CSF club at the Mira Mesa Big Lots to pick up 102 pillows that the CSF club had raised money to purchase for children in need.

For more information on the program, contact Stacey Seiders, Mira Mesa High ASB advisor, at (858) 566-2262 ext. 4412.