Monday, July 27, 2015

District talks about preschool on KUSI's 'San Diego People'

Robin McCulloch, director of early childhood education and Horton Elementary teacher Bea German appeared on KUSI's "San Diego People" to discuss the importance of early childhood education and what the district is doing to increase access for low-income families. Hear about what today's preschools teach our kids and how to enroll your child in one of the many programs offered by San Diego Unified.

San Diego People is KUSI's landmark television news program that offers guests the time to delve into issues in more than thirty-second soundbites.

Grant K-8, San Diego High students to be featured at Cabrillo Festival

San Diego Unified will be well represented at the 2015 Cabrillo Festival.

Cabrillo Festival Art Contest Winner Grant K-8 fourth grader Alexis Carey won the annual art contest and San Diego High School of International Studies junior Emese Maklary was named “Miss Cabrillo” and “Spirit of Cabrillo Award” winner for the 2015 Cabrillo Festival.

Carey’s 8 ½” x 11” piece of artwork was selected as the best portrayal of Cabrillo’s historic voyage along the coast of the Californias in 1542 and for its overall depiction of the festival’s theme: Where Cultures Come Together and History Comes Alive.

Carey’s winning artwork is displayed on the festival brochure and website. She and her teacher, Allison Wilson, were both awarded $100 and are invited to sail on the San Salvador September 27 to view the historical re-enactment of the landing of Cabrillo, his soldiers and the priest on Ballast Point.

Miss Cabrillo 2015 Emese Maklary Maklary was named Miss Cabrillo Festival 2015 at a pageant in March sponsored by the Cabrillo Civic Club No. 16 San Diego and Portuguese American Social and Civic Club. She was also named the “Spirit of Cabrillo” award winner. Maklary will represent the Cabrillo Festival at events in Ensenada and San Diego during Cabrillo Festival.

The 52nd annual Cabrillo Festival will take place September 26-27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ballast Point, Naval Base Point Loma, located at the south end of Rosecrans Street. Admission is free. Please visit the festival website for more details.

Friday, July 24, 2015

$13 million coming to region for career readiness

The road to a high-skills, high-wage career will now be easier and more accessible for local high school and college students.

The San Diego County College and Career Readiness Consortium (CCRC) has been awarded a grant for more than $13 million by the California Department of Education. The $13 million grant was one of 40 grants given throughout the state and the only grant awarded in the San Diego region. San Diego Unified's portion of the grant will be more than $2.3 million and the San Diego County Office of Education will manage the grant.

"This grant opportunity is about excellence and innovation, not the status quo," said San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten. "Innovation means more than events and opportunities - it means integration - bringing the content to life by allowing opportunities for students to apply what they are learning in the real world and to be asked to do the things that people really do in their jobs. Students will rise to the level that we hold the bar. Hold the bar at excellence and you will get excellence."
The San Diego County College and Career Readiness Consortium is a countywide network of high schools and community college districts that includes 116 high schools and eight community college campuses throughout the county. Lead partners also include United Way of San Diego County and the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

The CCRC program will help strengthen career pathway curricula and programs throughout the region, provide coordinated systems, and promote preparation for and effective transitions to postsecondary programs that lead to high-wage, high-demand careers.

A press conference was held July 22 at Kearny High School to announce the grant. Speakers included Mayor Kevin Faulconer; Superintendent Cindy Marten; County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Randy Ward; San Diego Community College District Chancellor, Dr. Constance Carroll; and United Way President and CEO, Kevin Crawford.

“This is about creating opportunities for every family and child," Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "Our mission of creating One San Diego and opportunities start here with our innovation economy. I can’t think of a better way to help San Diego families than to help provide them with a better pathway to a job in our innovation economy.”

The initiative will specifically focus on growing three sectors in San Diego including advanced manufacturing, clean energy and information and communications technology. It will also build a regional infrastructure for career pathways by supporting the professional development of teachers and counselors, curriculum development and alignment and robust industry engagement.

Media Coverage of News Conference:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Holmes Elementary third graders win national science competition


The Toshiba/NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) ExploraVision National Contest challenges K-12 students from across the United States and Canada to work in groups to simulate a real research and development team. Student teams choose a technology of today and envision what it could be like 20 years from now.

This year, two teams of students from third-grade teacher Diana Celle's class at Holmes Elementary in Clairemont took second place and honorable mention in the competition. Read more on the school's website


Friday, July 17, 2015

Central Elementary students go camping

In the News IN THE NEWS: Third graders at Central Elementary School recently got to experience the great outdoors - some for the first time - with an overnight camping trip to Stelzer County Park in Lakeside. Students experienced typical camping rituals, such as hiking and singing songs around the campfire, as well as a variety of learning activities. Superintendent Cindy Marten joined the students for their overnight adventure. The trip was made possible by the Jarrett Meeker Foundation. Watch more from KUSI News.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Three schools awarded grant to help with storm water collection

In the News IN THE NEWS: In response to Governor Brown's Drought State of Emergency Proclamation, the State Water Resources Control Board has awarded the San Diego Unified School District, in partnership with Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek, a grant totaling $1.2 million for use in storm water retention/reuse and water conservation best management practices at three area schools along Chollas Creek: Millennial Tech Middle School, Gompers Preparatory Academy and Horton Elementary. The grant will not only bring water quality and water conservation education to hundreds of students at the three schools, but will also provide for the development of career pathways to Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) conservation technology fields. Watch more at NBC 7 San Diego.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Wangenheim Middle student excels on and off field

In the News IN THE NEWS: A 13-year-old Mira Mesa girl who is playing little league baseball with the boys is proving she's in a league of her own. Mira Mesa's All-Star has a secret weapon, and her name is Cara MacNaughton, who just completed eighth grade at Wangenheim Middle. Cara started playing T-ball with the boys when she was five-years-old and never looked back. From Rancho Penasquitos to Coronado, Cara is the only girl playing intermediate boy baseball.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Harvests of the Month: nectarines and plums

Plums The Harvests of the Month for the summer are the white nectarine and black plum from Kingsburg Orchards located in Kingsburg, Calif. Both fruits should be on school salad bars every Wednesday during the summer.
Watch the latest Harvest of the Month video to learn more about how local farmers are providing our students with delicious, healthy fruits and vegetables every month.

Summer Harvest of the Month Virtual Field Trip video links:
YouTube: (available outside district)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Point Loma teen wins Braille Challenge

IN THE NEWS: Cricket Bidleman has captured her fourth North American Braille Challenge victory — the first time in the varsity division — and she is already thinking about the next attempt.

“I have a title to uphold,” Bidleman said Tuesday, smiling as she corralled Nipi, her service dog, in the living room of her family’s Point Loma home.

Cricket, 16, competed against other blind teens in 10th to 12th grades from the United States and Canada. She was one of 60 finalists culled from more than 1,100 Braille students who had been picked to participate in the contest that tests speed, accuracy and comprehension.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Two students win Food Services recipe contest

In the News IN THE NEWS: Two Point Loma cluster students have won a San Diego Unified School District recipe contest, and their concoctions will be on next year’s menu. Ocean Beach Elementary School fourth-grader Zarai Rosenzweig-Bullard took first place in the K-5 age group and won an amazon Kindle for her “Terrific Turkey Tacos.” Correia Middle School eighth-grader Ava Marie Bunn also claimed first place in the grades 6-12 category for her “AVAcado salad.”

Read more from SD

Monday, June 29, 2015

Office of Children and Youth in Transition receives national honor

The National Assistance League's Operation School Bell® Award was presented at a recent Board meeting by its local chapter to the San Diego Unified School District's Office of Children and Youth in Transition (CYT), led by Program Manager Vanessa Peters. The Assistance League of Greater San Diego forged a relationship with this office more than three years ago, and together they have developed a process that, in the last year alone, has enabled more than 200 of the hardest to reach children in San Diego to participate in Operation School  Bell (OSB). Peters is shown in photo holding the award with members of the local Assistance League.

Operation School Bell®, the signature philanthropy of the organization's 120  chapters nationwide,  began in the 1950's as a one-woman effort to provide clothing to disadvantaged children so that they could attend school. This year, Operation School Bell in Greater San Diego grew to provide new school necessities to more than 3,100 students in 70+ schools in eight school districts. Each child who visits Operation School Bell receives two complete school uniforms plus a jacket, underwear, socks, a hygiene kit, homework supplies and a brand new book. Satellite programs fit and purchase new clothing and shoes for qualified students at  community  retail stores. All  children  are  greeted  by  an  Assistance League (AL)  volunteer who guides them through the process  of selecting two complete outfits and needed supplies just for them.

The Office of Youth and Children in Transition works to support the continuity of education of students in transition including students in foster care, those experiencing homelessness, military dependents, and students who have refugee status. A goal of this office is to ensure students receive a quality education during transitional times when consistent attendance at a "home school" is too  often  interrupted.

A significant expansion of Assistance League of Greater San Diego's signature philanthropy - primarily supported with revenue from its Thrift Shop at First and University and donations from individuals and foundations - was made possible through collaboration with the office of Children and Youth in Transition. A series of special events brought busloads of 60 children at a time to AL's Chapter House in Hillcrest. CYT provides the bus, driver and supervision to travel across the city to pick up children in grades K through 6 whom have been identified as in critical need of assistance.

A group of eight educators from CYT welcomes the children to Operations School Bell and ensures professional supervision for the children while they wait their turn to try on clothes with an AL volunteer. As they wait, the children  are guided by the CYT team through the process of writing 'thank you' notes, building with Legos, making puzzles and playing educational games. When the last child is fitted with what may be his or her first new clothes and only book at home, the group gets back on the bus and each child is safely delivered to his school or family.

Assistance League of Greater San Diego nominated Office of Children and Youth in Transition for this national award for many reasons:

1. The staff has the expertise to identify children in need who are often missed by individual schools that may not have the chance to recognize their needs before they move on.

2. Educators worked with OSB leaders to work out a plan that works for our organizations' strengths and to meet the students' needs.

3. CYT has eliminated the transportation barrier that has limited OSB outreach to the neediest populations.

4. The events have been replicated with consistent success and positive outcomes.

5. Potential funders have attended the events, resulting in significant grant income to purchase clothing and supplies.

6. CYT has been a positive voice about Assistance League's impact on the community.

7. Presenting the award to CYT can bring public awareness of the needs of San Diego's school-aged population.

2015 marks the Assistance League of Greater San Diego's 50th year of serving San Diego. To learn more about the Assistance League of Greater San Diego and Operation School Bell, visit

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Eat smart, play hard at this summer's free lunch program

Where can you enjoy a great BBQ, see the circus, play hard, win prizes and rub elbows with the mayor AND the Padres Friar all for free? – the Summer Fun Café Kickoff BBQ, of course! The barbecue is Thursday, June 25 from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Skyline Hills Community Park, 8285 Skyline Drive (92114).

The kickoff event will feature San Diego’s own Fern Street Circus with jugglers, acrobats, aerialists and live music. A free BBQ lunch for all children and accompanying adults will be provided. This family-friendly event will also feature the San Diego Padres Friar and Pad Squad, fun games with lots of prizes, an inflatable jumper, crafts, music and prize drawings.

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 are also at greater risk for obesity as they lose access to the school meals they rely on during the school year. The summer meal program gives children the nutritious meals they need to 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.  The EAT SMART. PLAY HARD. theme translates to eating healthy food and being physically active every day.

“It is important that San Diego learns about this valuable summer lunch program for children,” 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.”

San Diego Unified has offered the summer lunch program since 2003, and now serves nearly 250,000 meals and snacks each summer. The program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Seamless Summer Feeding Option” and will be at 58 sites: 27 park and recreation centers, 14 community and military sites, and 17 schools.  For a complete schedule and locations, go to and select Summer Fun Café or go to Participating in the program requires no paperwork, reservations or income qualifications.

More than 1,500 children and their parents/guardians are expected to attend the kickoff event. The community resource fair at the event provides participants with a wide variety of information about services from community partners.  Additionally, every family goes home with a bag of fresh fruit and vegetables from the San Diego Food Bank or Feeding America San Diego.  The San Diego Honda Dealers are underwriting the cost of the adult meals at the kickoff event, and General Mills is sponsoring parent participation in other BBQ events.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

District celebrates 2014-15 retirees

Employees, family members and honorees gathered Wednesday to celebrate the careers of the more than 250 employees that are retiring from San Diego Unified this year -- and have given years of service to our students and our district.

2015 retirees Both Superintendent Cindy Marten and Board Trustee Richard Barrera were there to thank the retirees and congratulate them on retirement.

Each retiree had the opportunity to introduce themselves, say where they worked and how many years they had been with the district. Some have served the district for just a few years, others more than 40.

The annual event was held on the lawn of the Education Center and featured refreshments from Food Services and music provided by the Monroe Clark Middle School band.

To view photos from the event, please visit:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kiwanis Club of San Diego names Alyson Ramirez School Counselor of the Year

Alyson Ramirez The Kiwanis Club of San Diego recently honored Alyson Ramirez, head counselor at De Portola Middle School, as the district's 2014-15 Counselor of the Year. The award was presented at the Counseling and Guidance Department End-of-Year Meeting held May 29.

De Portola Principal Ryan Brock supported Ramirez's nomination by stating, “Simply put, she amazes me. She handles an incredible workload with a tremendous amount of responsibility with grace and ease. I never hear anything but overwhelming praise for her and the work she does. She is an amazing head counselor, woman and mother. She really deserves this honor and she represents so many great aspects of school counseling.”

Ramirez has been a school counselor in San Diego Unified for 12 years. She grew up in Brawley, CA and moved to San Diego to attend college. She has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Education with an emphasis in Guidance Counseling. In addition to her work at De Portola Middle School, Ramirez is a member of the district’s Crisis Response Team.

Principal Brock, vice principals Heather Potter and Suzanne Fore, and school counselor Amy Ericson attended the event on May 29 to support their colleague. The Kiwanis Club of San Diego has been a long-time partner-in-education with district's Counseling and Guidance Department.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Foster Elementary fourth-grader designs winning sunglasses

The future is so bright at Foster Elementary School that students all over campus are wearing shades. Cool, new shades called “Striker” designed by fellow classmate, Evan Bui.

 Foster Elementary Student Evan Bui and family
 Contest winner Evan Bui and family with Knockaround founder Adam Moyer.
Bui’s blue and orange creation with lightening bolts was selected from among more than 300 designs submitted by students at three elementary schools that participated in a design contest sponsored by ArtReach and Knockaround Sunglasses.

Knockaround Sunglasses brought Bui’s design to life and company founder Adam Moyer presented pairs to all fourth- and fifth-grade students at Foster Elementary at their June 10 awards ceremony. They also received a small magazine that included images and concepts with all the student’s designs.

The sunglasses are sold as the company’s Limited Edition Class Acts Sunglasses and available to the general public for purchase on Knockaround’s website. All proceeds from sales are donated to the participating elementary schools, and ArtReach, to help fund the program in schools next year.

The contest was made possible through ArtReach’s partnership with Knockaround Sunglasses, a local sunglasses manufacturer. Every year Knockaround visits local elementary schools to talk about the importance of art and give students the opportunity to design a pair of sunglasses.

ArtReach takes artists into schools throughout San Diego County to provide visual arts instruction. They provide free workshops that give sequential, standards-based art lessons to Title I schools that meet other need criteria.

For more information on Foster Elementary, contact Principal Karla Shiminski at 619-582-2728.

Photos courtesy of Brock Scott Photography

Friday, June 12, 2015

District appoints new principals for 2015-16 school year

Superintendent Cindy Marten recently announced the appointments of several new principals for the 2015-16 school year. Included below is a list of appointments and a short biography.
  • Boone Elementary School: Erica Renfree
  • Curie Elementary School: Cara Ramsey
  • Dingeman Elementary School: Tamara Lewis
  • Edison Elementary School: Eileen Moreno
  • Florence Elementary: Alexis Conerty
  • Grant K-8: Kathy Lorden
  • Lafayette Elementary School: Anne McCarty
  • Linda Vista Elementary School: Michael Beraud
  • Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School: Victoria Peterson
  • McKinley Elementary School: Deb Ganderton
  • Marston Middle School: John Gollias
  • Montgomery Middle School: Stephanie Brown
  • Roosevelt Middle School: Christina Casillas
  • Standley Middle School: William Pearson
  • Mt. Everest Academy (Interim): Courtney Browne
  • San Diego High School (Interim): Dr. Carmen Garcia
Boone Elementary School, Erica Renfree
Renfree is currently a vice principal serving both Dana and Correia middle Schools. She has worked at the two sites since 2013. She has also taught at Patrick Henry and Lincoln high schools. She began working for San Diego Unified in 2006. She received her bachelor’s and master’s from the University of San Diego and her administrative credential from San Diego State University.

Curie Elementary School, Cara Ramsey
Ramsey is currently a Common Core cluster support teacher for the Leadership and Learning Department. She previously worked at Porter Elementary as a teacher. She received her bachelor's, master's and administrative credential from the University of San Diego.

Dingeman Elementary School, Tamara Lewis
Lewis is currently the vice principal at Chollas/Meade Elementary School. She served as a teacher at Baker Elementary School prior to her appointment at Chollas/Meade. Lewis has worked for San Diego Unified since 1990. She received her bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from San Diego State University, master’s degree from National University and administrative credential from San Diego State University.

Edison Elementary School, Eileen Moreno
Moreno is currently the Director of Curriculum and Assessment in the Santee School District. Moreno is a former San Diego Unified principal who served at Fay Elementary School from 2007 to 2013. Moreno began her career as a teacher at Emerson/Bandini in 1997. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego, teaching credential through the district's BECA program and master’s degree and doctorate in education from San Diego State University.

Florence Elementary, Alexis Conerty

Conerty is currently a Common Core cluster support teacher for the Leadership and Learning Department, and previously held the positions of ELST and elementary school teacher. She has worked for San Diego Unified since 1998. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of California, San Diego and her master's and administrative credential from San Diego State University.

Grant K-8, Kathy Lorden
Lorden is currently vice principal at Pershing Middle School. She has also served as a vice principal at University City and Serra high schools, and has worked for San Diego Unified since 2008. She received her bachelor’s degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University, and teaching credential, master’s degree and administrative credential from Point Loma Nazarene University.

Lafayette Elementary School, Anne McCarty

McCarty is currently vice principal at La Jolla High School and has been there since 2013. She is an adjunct professor at San Diego State University in Special Education. She also served as vice principal at Clairemont High School and has worked for San Diego Unified since 2003. McCarty received her bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University, teaching credential from California State University San Bernardino, and her master’s and administrative credential from San Diego State University.

Linda Vista Elementary School, Michael Beraud
Beraud is currently interim principal at Dingeman Elementary School. He served as vice principal at Dingeman from 2009 until he was appointed interim principal. Beraud has work for San Diego Unified since 1986. He received his bachelor’s degree, teaching credential, master’s degree and administrative credential from National University.

Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School, Victoria Peterson
Peterson is currently interim principal at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School. She served as vice principal at Audubon Elementary prior to her interim appointment at Lindbergh Schweitzer. She has taught at the elementary level as a classroom teacher and resource specialist. She has worked for San Diego Unified since 1997. She received her bachelor’s degree from Grambling State University, master’s degree from National University and her administrative credential from San Diego State University.

McKinley Elementary School, Deb Ganderton
Ganderton is currently an elementary school principal in the Escondido Union School District. She obtained her bachelor's degree from Florida International University, her master's from the University of Laverne and her administrative credential from National University.

Marston Middle School, John Gollias
Gollias is currently an assistant principal in the San Marcos Unified School District. He obtained his bachelor's at Arizona State University and his master's and administrative credential at San Diego State University

Montgomery Middle School, Stephanie Brown
Brown is currently vice principal at Dana Middle School. She has worked at Lincoln and Point Loma high schools as a mathematics teacher and special education teacher. Brown has worked for San Diego Unified since 1996. She received her bachelor’s degree and teaching credentials from California State University, San Marcos and her administrative credential from the University of San Diego.

Roosevelt Middle School, Christina Casillas
Casillas is currently principal at San Diego High School MVPA. She has also served as vice principal at University City High School and Home Hospital. She has a background in special education. Casillas began her career with San Diego Unified in 1999. She received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, administrative credential and doctorate in education from San Diego State University.

Standley Middle School, William Pearson
Pearson is currently the interim principal at Standley Middle School. He has been at Standley since 2004, serving as vice principal, resource teacher, and teacher until becoming interim principal. He has worked for San Diego Unified since 1999. He received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of California, San Diego, his teaching credential from San Diego State University and his administrative credential from the University of San Diego.

Mt. Everest Academy (Interim), Courtney Browne
Brown is currently vice principal at Innovation Middle School. She has worked for San Diego Unified since 2003. She earned her bachelor's degree at Hollins University, her master's degree at University of California, San Diego and her administrative credential  at San Diego State University.

San Diego High School (Interim), Dr. Carmen Garcia
Garcia is currently principal at San Diego High School of International Studies. She has been with San Diego Unified since 2005, and has previously held the position of principal at Roosevelt Middle School. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of San Diego, her master's from National University and her doctorate from the University of Southern California. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

K-9 Officer Blitz helps with drug prevention and awareness

When it comes to drug prevention and awareness, K-9 Officer Blitz is truly top dog.

Blitz, the K-9 Officer Blitz is a Certified Narcotics Detection Dog who joined School Police Services in May 2014 as part of the district’s ongoing effort to eliminate dangerous drugs from our campuses.

Since joining the School Police Canine Program, Blitz has been working like a dog. Along with his partner and best friend, School Police Officer John Pasenelli, Blitz has conducted more than 70 unannounced sniffs on middle and high school campuses at the request of the school principals. Blitz does not sniff individuals but passively indicates that he's detected a narcotic odor if he comes across an odor, regardless of where the odor emanates. All visits are in accordance with city, state and federal laws.

Blitz and Officer Pasenelli have also been passionately sharing School Police Service’s drug prevention and awareness messages to more than 13,000 K-12 students as well as over 3,400 community members at events such as National Night Out, Crime Stoppers Light the Night, Girl Scout Troops and the Kiwanis Club of San Diego. Their message to San Diego Unified students and the community is clear: Keep our students safe and our campuses drug free.

School Police obtained Blitz through a $60,000 grant from the San Diego Police Foundation. The monies were earmarked to purchase a narcotics detection canine, equipment and training. School Police sought the grant for this program to support middle and high principals who wanted the services but could not afford them due to limited and reduced budgets. School Police is now able to provide this valuable program free to the district along with vital age-specific anti-drug education.

During the summer months, Blitz will be doing his homework by training hard for next school year. He and Officer Pasenelli are looking forward to visiting with more students next year to talk about the importance of saying no to drugs.

For more information about the School Police Canine Program and how you can invite Blitz to your school for anti-drug education and assemblies, visit

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Board approves 2016-17 academic calendars for all schools

calendar On June 9, the Board of Education approved the 2016-17 academic calendars for both traditional and year-round schools. The first day of school will be Monday, August 29, 2016. Traditional schools will end on June 14, 2017; year-round schools will end on July 21, 2017. See full year calendars below:

For more information, read the June 9, 2015 Board Report.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer Fun Café kick off, summer resources for parents and students

As the school year winds down, the district and others across the County are preparing summer reading programs, camps and other events to keep kids active and healthy during the summer.

Summer Fun Cafe The district launches its Summer Fun Café on June 25 with a kickoff barbeque at Skyline Community Park (8285 Skyline Dr., 92114) from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.). There will be free lunch for all, as well as, games, prizes, music and free bags of fruits and vegetables from the San Diego Food Bank and Feeding America San Diego. Visit the Food Services website for more information.

The Summer Fun Café is an opportunity for kids to eat healthy food, engage in active play and have fun. FREE lunches will be provided for children 18 years and younger at various locations throughout the summer. No proof of income or paperwork is necessary. Parents accompanied by children are welcome to eat with their children for only $2. Click here to view all of our Summer Fun Café locations and times. 

In addition to these great opportunities, the district’s Parent Outreach and Engagement Department and Public Information Office have compiled a list of summer reading programs, camps and other events for kids and families throughout the summer. A list of resources is available by visiting the main web page at and going to the Parent tab/Resources/Summer Resources for Students. We'll be adding to the list as new opportunities become available.

Monday, June 8, 2015

District's 2015-16 draft Local Control and Accountability Plan Now Available

The draft of San Diego Unified's 2015-16 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) is now available in two versions:

2016–2018 Draft LCAP - a full, 3-year version using the state’s required template
2015–16 User-Friendly Draft LCAP (English) - reader-friendly version of the LCAP that focuses on actions and services for 2015-16
2015–16 LCAP, Versión simplificada (Español) 

In addition, a reader-friendly version of the 2014–15 Draft Annual Update is also available.

Theses documents were generated after a year-long process of community engagement that involved numerous presentations to district advisory groups, parent groups, employee groups and others. At each meeting, stakeholders had an opportunity to provide comments and input. For more information about the LCAP, visit

The Board of Education had its first reading of the 2015-16 draft at the June 9 meeting and provided comments and feedback to staff. Members of the public may submit input via the online survey. Input and comments received will be considered and adjustments to the LCAP may be made prior to approval by the Board of Education at its meeting on June 23, 2015.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Crawford High students lead Restorative Practices workshop

In the News
IN THE NEWS: Students from the Crawford High School Academy of Law led an in-depth Restorative Justice workshop on Wednesday, educating nearly 100 teachers, staff and administrators, as well as student leaders, on how to implement restorative practices at their respective high schools. Six San Diego Unified high schools, including Hoover, Madison, Morse, Lincoln and San Diego, are piloting the restorative program. The workshop taught educators and students about using facilitation and peer mediation practices to resolve disciplinary issues as well as develop a stronger sense of community at their individual schools.Watch more at CW 6.

Schools, work sites impacted by state-mandated water use restrictions

As most of us are aware, California is in a multi-year drought. In April, Governor Brown mandated water use restrictions and reductions to begin Monday, June 1, 2015, and remain in place until Feb 28, 2016.

When in drought, save every day, every way As a result, the district's Auxiliary Services has created water restrictions for school and work sites. These state-mandated restrictions will impact various district work practices, which should result in the 16 percent monthly reduction of water use as compared to the water used each month of 2013.  

The restrictions were developed with the health and well-being of staff, students and parents as the priority while complying with state-mandated water use restrictions.

Irrigation, particularly grass, uses the most water in the district. Watering for lawns will be reduced or stopped, which will result in lawns turning brown over the summer. Playfields, trees and shrubs will be watered and maintained for education activities. Watering school education gardens will be limited to Mondays and Fridays before 10 a.m. for no more than 10 minutes for any area. All student car washes are strictly prohibited.

Saving water is everyone’s responsibility. Below are some simple guidelines to follow everyday:
  • While washing hands, turn off water between application of soap

  • Listen for toilet leaks and report immediately to POS/BSS

  • Watch for leaking faucets and drinking fountains and report immediately to POS/BSS 
Practice diligence in reporting water leaks with a work order. Submit a repair request to or call 858- 627-7250 to have it placed in a high-priority status. This applies to anything from dripping faucets to toilet and irrigation leaks.

If you have questions or need more information, contact Darin Vey, Energy/Utilities Program Supervisor at .

For more information on water-saving tips and programs, visit

Video and broadcast journalism students earn accolades

Students in the district’s Career Technical Education (CTE) video and broadcast journalism programs are being recognized for their skills in video production, recently earning high honors from both the Waste No Water Film Contest, hosted by the City of San Diego, and the San Diego County Office of Education’s Innovative Video in Education or iVIE Awards.

Film icon Point Loma High’s Cinematic Arts program won first and third place in the Waste No Water Film Contest, which challenges high school and college students to create 30-second public service announcements that emphasize the importance of responsible water use.

Trevor Sykes and Austin Correia won for their film "Water Cops." It will play this summer before each movie shown at the AMC Mission Valley, AMC Bonita and Edwards Mira Mesa cinemas.

Tyler Pasela placed third for his film "Cat Possible."

The videos are available for viewing on the San Diegans Waste No Water Facebook page at

At the iVIE Awards, students from Serra, Hoover and Mira Mesa high schools won in their respective categories. A total of 10 video productions were nominated from San Diego Unified CTE programs. All iVIE nominated videos are shown on ITV Cable 16 in a series called "The Best of iVIE" and are also available on Time Warner's On Demand channel.

9-12 STEM
Black Holes - Junipero Serra High - San Diego Unified
9-12 News
The NEST. News, Entertainment, Student Television. 2-19-15 - Hoover High - San Diego Unified
9-12 Documentary
The Man Behind the Machine - Mira Mesa High - San Diego Unified

The Innovative Video in Education awards is a K-12 student video competition and festival held by the San Diego County Office of Education. iVIE was conceived to encourage and reward teachers who utilize video as a project-based learning tool in their classroom, and students who use film and visual literacy to demonstrate their understanding of classroom concepts. All videos submitted to iVIE integrate the California Common Core State Standards or Content Standards.

Each year, hundreds of video are submitted and involve the work of more than 3,000 students. Submitted videos are judged by media professionals and educators.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Harvest of the Month is Red Seedless Watermelon

The Harvest of the Month for June is the Red Seedless Watermelon from Eagle Eye Produce in Hemet, CA. Find this refreshing fruit on school salad bars every Wednesday during the month of June.

Watch the latest Harvest of the Month video to learn more about how local farmers are providing our students with delicious, healthy fruits and vegetables every month.

June Harvest of the Month Virtual Field Trip video links:
Eagle Eye Produce Farmer Card  

Two Super Bowl MVPs visit Lincoln High School

In the News IN THE NEWS: Students at Lincoln High School got to hear from two football legends and Lincoln alumnus that if you dream big, anything is possible. As part of the lead-up to Super Bowl 50, the NFL is honoring players who played in the Super Bowl and presenting them with a gold football at their respective high schools. Marcus Allen, Terrell Davis and several other former Lincoln players visited the campus on Tuesday to receive their gold footballs and share their great memories of Lincoln High School.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New multi-purpose track and field opens at Whittier K-12

Whittier K-12 IN THE NEWS: A multi-purpose tack and field was dedicated Tuesday at Whittier K-through-12 school. However, it isn't your ordinary track. It's customized for special needs students. The promise of leaving "no student behind" isn't just lip service for the San Diego Unified School District, and thanks to tax payer money, school officials turned a dirt lot into a true field of dreams. On Tuesday, district leaders, teachers and parents joined students to celebrate the completion of a new multipurpose, synthetic field. Watch more at CBS 8.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lindbergh Schweitzer students visit plane that will fly around the world

When pilot Robert DeLaurentis called Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary Principal Victoria Peterson a few weeks ago to introduce himself and talk about his plans to fly solo around the world, she was thrilled at the prospect of her students being included in his historic endeavor.

Lindbergh Schweitzer students The natural connection of Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight and the school’s namesake is what brought the pilot and the principal together. Eager to share the project with students and answer questions, DeLaurentis arranged a trip to Landmark Air, Hanger 3, located near Lindbergh Field, to show the students the actual plane that he will be flying around the world for the next 90 days.

Eager fourth-grade students from Mrs. Catarius’ and Mrs. Bennett’s classes got to try on his survival suit as well as enter the cramped quarters of the plane and see the equipment he will use to help him navigate around the globe. When the students asked if he was afraid, Delaurentis told the students that he has only been a pilot for five years, and fear is what prepares us to face challenges.

On the plane’s outer shell is a sticker of the school’s mascot, which happens to be a tiger sitting on top of the world. As part of the around-the-world flight, he will also retrace the flight path that Charles Lindbergh flew back on May 21, 1927 when he became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

The students sent him off with a rousing cheer of his flight-themed phrase, “I can fly through life!” Delaurentis left San Diego on May 17, and his solo flight will officially end when he lands in San Diego sometime in late August.

The now fourth graders will then be fifth graders, and will be ready to have the pilot return to their school with his stories from his trip around the world.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Inside the Local Control Funding Formula

California is in its second year of using the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) to fund K-12 education.

This change was considered by many to be revolutionary in that it streamlined the state’s funding formula to allow school districts to exercise greater discretion in deciding how funding should be used to serve local needs and better support the neediest students.

LCFF With LCFF, the allocation has changed from the state’s former flat, per-student allocation to one that has equity at its core. Now, California school districts that have higher concentrations of students with greater needs, such as low-income students, English learners, and foster youth (referred to as “focus” students in San Diego Unified), receive proportionately more funding to support those students. And, although there are some important guidelines with this funding model, the state does not dictate how the funds must be spent; that decision is left up to local districts. Under LCFF, the number of categorical funds – those with ‘strings’ attached for their use – was cut from 30 to 14, allowing districts far greater flexibility in determining how to support their respective student populations most effectively.

Under LCFF, districts receive two types of allocations per student. One is called “base funding” and is received for all students. The second type of funding, “supplemental and concentration funding,” is allocated based on the concentration of focus students (low income, English learners and foster youth) at each school.

As required by LCFF, extensive community engagement is conducted to ensure transparency in the process and to help all stakeholders more fully understand the new model. In addition to presentations conducted throughout the year, the Board of Education conducted a special workshop focused on LCFF on May 6, 2015. Superintendent Cindy Marten, Chief Financial Officer Jenny Salkeld, and other district leaders presented information to explain how the district receives and spends LCFF dollars.

Superintendent Marten emphasized that the LCFF supports a district focus on equity that began several years ago.

“Our Vision 2020, developed in 2009 with its 12 indicators for quality schools in all neighborhoods, reflects a moral imperative that one’s zip code should not dictate a student’s access to or success in a rigorous college- and career-ready education,” she said.

The superintendent also stressed that LCFF funding supports strategies and actions that are prioritized by data analysis and community feedback. Given that over 63 percent of district students are considered focus students, many supports are provided districtwide; however, they are designed to principally benefit focus students.

Some strategies —ones that emerged as top priorities from community feedback— not only benefit focus students but all students. These include lowering class sizes and increased counselor support. In addition to these districtwide strategies that provide additional resources at each school campus, schools also receive funds to implement site-specific strategies.

During discussion, board trustees emphasized the need for clear communication to continue reaching out to all stakeholders in the San Diego Unified community. Vice President John Lee Evans suggested including “equity” in the name for the new funding model, thereby coining a new acronym, LCEFF. Trustees noted that there are positive trends for some of our metrics (e.g., improving graduation rate and decreasing dropout rate); however, continual data analysis is needed to understand where some student groups need additional support.

Superintendent Marten indicated that this year’s data analysis has identified three student groups (English learners, students with disabilities, and African American students) for which specific, focused supports need to be implemented. Trustee Richard Barrera stressed that our core belief in equity will only be realized with a corresponding investment in equity.

More information about LCFF is available on the district website at All of the LCFF workshop materials are available at the Board Docs meeting site at The video of the meeting is available at

Early Childhood Education program enrollment starts this month

Starting this month, the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program is enrolling children for the 2015-16 school year.

Early childhood education provides children with the critical foundational skills, strategies, and experiences that promote success in school and beyond. Extensive research shows that students who participate in high-quality early childhood education programs:
  • Engage in more complex activities with peers and materials
  • Enter kindergarten with necessary skills for school tasks
  • Show greater knowledge of numerical concepts
  • Are less often retained or placed in special education classes
Children showing off their artwork Approximately 3,000 students are registered each year in the State Preschool program. Numerous program options are available to qualifying families to enroll their children:
  • State Preschool Head Start Extended Day Classrooms (6.5 hours) at 17 different locations across the district
  • Three-hour State Preschool Programs, with both morning and afternoon sessions at 43 different elementary school locations
  • Full-day care is offered for families who qualify and meet both income and needs requirements at Child Development Centers (CDCs) in 12 different locations across the district.
This year, there are more than 1,200 students who entered preschool at age 3 and are eligible for priority enrollment to attend in the coming 2015-2016 school year. Priority enrollment will enable returning families to make early school and program choices. Qualifying families have been notified by their child’s classroom teacher and provided priority enrollment appointment request forms, allowing them to schedule appointments now and eliminate the need to attend the open enrollment fairs planned for June and July.

These enrollment fairs will be conducted at middle and high schools in the communities served by the State Preschool programs. The calendar of enrollment fairs will be finalized May 18 and will be posted on the ECE program website.

Each registration event will provide for both scheduled appointments and walk-ins. The enrollment fair calendar will include an appointment hotline families can use to schedule appointments at their convenience.

For additional information, please contact the Early Childhood Education Programs office at 858-496-8126.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Three district schools honored with 2015 Gold Ribbon Schools Award

Henry, Scripps Ranch and Serra high schools have been honored as 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools. Health Sciences High and Middle College, Preuss and San Diego Vision Academy Middle charter schools also appeared on the 2015 list of Gold Ribbon schools released by the California Department of Education on May 5.

CDE Logo This is the first year that the California Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program has been implemented. The program is temporarily taking the place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while the state transitions to new assessment and accountability systems.

The Gold Ribbon awards recognize California schools that have demonstrated exemplary achievements in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education – including the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

“These schools are academically successful, vibrant and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said. “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.”

Schools apply for the Gold Ribbon awards based on a model program that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies and practices. The new award is recognizing middle and high schools this year and elementary schools in 2016.

In addition to receiving a Gold Ribbon Award, Serra High School and the three charter schools were distinguished as Title I Academic Achieving Schools. This recognition is given the schools on the list receiving federal Title I funds that assist in meeting the educational needs of students living at or below the poverty line.

"It is a great honor and privilege to become a Gold Ribbon School Award Recipient," said Serra High Principal Vincent Mays. "I am so proud of our dedicated faculty and staff members, they embodied the true spirit of professionalism. They have worked tirelessly with our student body to push them to greater academic heights. I know that our parents and community members also celebrate this special honor."

For more information and a complete list of recipients, please visit the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program on the California Department of Education’s Web site.

Versatile Special Education Technician named Classified Employee of the Year

Although his title says “Special Education Technician,” Rodel Agpaoa’s role at Pacific Beach Middle School is far more wide-reaching.

Rodel Agpaoa His versatility and involvement in the school community are two of the many reasons he has been named San Diego Unified’s Classified Employee of the Year for 2015.

“The students and adults that he works with directly know how much he cares; but the kids that don’t know him that well know that he is caring, positive open and understanding person who sets a positive example as a contributing member of the community,” teacher Don Wood wrote in a recommendation letter. “Students recognize that he is someone who not only has a wide variety of skills, but he is enthusiastically willing to share his skills with others.”

While Agpaoa works mainly as a special education technician with students in a mild moderate special education class, he consistently goes above and beyond his job description inside and outside the classroom.

He spends his own time researching and preparing materials for his students in order to maximize their learning. While in general education classrooms, he not only assists his special education students, but makes himself available to any student that needs assistance. He regularly helps out in both the health and front offices, and with other school wide activities.

He also strives to make connections with students and families throughout the school. He’s involved with Super Friends, which pairs students from special education with students from general education classes for school and community activities, and also started a fishing club. Agpaoa partnered with the San Diego Sports Fishing Association to schedule approximately five trips per year, many at no charge to students.

“This club continues to provide student with an opportunity to learn life-long skills, and Rodel has demonstrated outstanding leadership in developing and realizing the club,” said Nurse Mary Gantz.

Gantz added that Agpaoa is constantly seeking new opportunities for professional growth and development. Last year, he attended Incident Command Support training; he studies nutrition and hygiene to help students with special dietary needs; and studies geometry so he can help out in the advanced math classes.

“Rodel is a leader at Pacific Beach Middle School,” wrote Principal Kimberly Meng in a recommendation letter. “He works hard, is proactive in a crisis, calm under pressure and confident in his knowledge and experience. He exemplifies the ideal employee and human being.”

Agpaoa will be honored along with Classified Employee of the Year runner up Torri Wright from Valencia Park Elementary at the Classified Employee of the Year celebration on May 19 at Ibarra Elementary School.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Graduation rate rise, dropout rate decline continues five-year trend in San Diego Unified

San Diego Unified School District once again has the lowest dropout rate and second highest graduation rate in 2014 among the state's largest districts according to statistics recently released by the California Department of Education. The district-wide dropout and graduation rates surpassed both the statewide and countywide percentages.

With the Class of 2014 results, the dropout rate continued its decline maintaining the district’s status as having the lowest rate among large, urban districts in California. The 2014 dropout rate was 4.5 percent, a 0.7 percentage point decrease from 2013. Rates in other large, urban school districts ranged from second-place Sacramento with 5.3 percent, to Oakland with 24.1 percent. The statewide percentage was 11.6 and the countywide percentage was 9.7.

San Diego Unified also remains the district with the second-highest graduation rate among large urban school districts in California. Among the district’s 7,096 students in the 2014 cohort—students who started high school together in 2010—89.6 percent of the seniors graduated. That is an increase of 1.7 points from 2013. Only Garden Grove Unified School District had a higher rate, narrowly edging out San Diego Unified with 89.7 percent of its 3,644 student cohort graduating. Sacramento, with 85.1 percent of its 2,802-student cohort was third. The statewide 2014 graduation rate was 80.8 percent and countywide was 79.6 percent.

“As part of our Vision 2020 to create quality schools in every neighborhood, we made a promise and commitment to the community to advance and accelerate student achievement, to improve graduation rates and to decrease the dropout rate. To once again be at the top among the state’s largest school districts in these important areas is an incredible validation of the hard work and commitment of our teachers, staff, families and students to ensure all students will graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary for academic and career success," said Superintendent Cindy Marten. "The data show that our high expectations for all students are being met and that we are on the right course to make even greater progress across all student groups.”

Graduation rates between ethnic groups continued to narrow, although there was still a gap. The increases in the 2014 graduation rates for African American and Hispanic students groups, compared to 2013, were 3.8 and 3.4 points respectively. These increases in graduation rates doubled the district overall rate increase of 1.7 points from 2013 to 2014.

Although graduation rates for English Learners, students with disabilities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students are much lower than the district-wide rate, the one-year increase in graduation rates for English learners was 5.5 points., students with disabilities was 6.8 points, and socially disadvantaged was 2.5 points.

Since 2010 when the first cohort dropout rates were released, the rate for African American students has dropped by 57 percent, the rate for Hispanic students has dropped by 42 percent, and the rate for English Learners has dropped by 37 percent.

"To see our graduation rates continue to rise at the same time we are raising academic standards is a testament to the hard work of our students and our staff, and, as a Board, we could not be more proud," said Board of Education President Marne Foster. "We will continue to focus on providing a world-class education and ensure equity, access and success for all students.”

Marten and Foster cited programs and interventions that have been successful in making sure students stay in school and graduate: the Check and Connect program, graduation coaches at all high schools, expanded summer school, San Diego Community College District partnership, online learning interventions, Linked Learning Initiative, and the College Career and Technical Education pathways program.

For specific school results, go to the California Department of Education website,

San Diego Unified recognized by City for recycling efforts

San Diego Unified was recently named one of the Recyclers of the Year by the City of San Diego based on its school and facility waste diversion and recycling efforts. The district was honored at an awards ceremony at the San Diego Zoo in April.

Recycler of the Year award Each year, the City’s Environmental Services Department selects businesses and organizations located within the City that have implemented or expanded innovative and successful waste reduction, recycling and recycled product purchasing programs during a one-year time frame.

Overall, the district diverts nearly 583 tons of material each month from the landfill and saves approximately $21,000 in disposal costs each month. Recycling savings include:
  • Mixed recyclables (paper, plastic and metal containers etc.) and shredded paper from schools and facilities at approximately 257 tons per month
  • Construction and demolition material (157 tons/month)
  • Wood and landscape material (84 tons/month)
  • Asphalt (48 tons/month)
  • Scrap metal (16 tons/month)
  • Electronic waste (13 tons/month), and
  • Other materials, including pallets, universal waste lamps and batteries, and used oil, antifreeze, and oil filters (totaling 7.6 tons/month)
 Janet Whited and Char D'Ambrosia
Janet Whited and Char D'Ambrosia
The District has had waste and source-separated recycling collection service with EDCO for more than 20 years, including hundreds of commingled recycling bins throughout the District. Moving forward, the district’s goal is to achieve an additional 15 percent reduction in solid waste disposal by enhancing current waste-diversion programs from schools and administrative offices this school year.

As part of the partnership, EDCO publishes information about recycling, and has also created a dedicated website for San Diego Unified ( staff and students to inform them of ways to reduce waste and increase recycling, and it provides resources, tools, and incentives to support these efforts at all district schools.

San Diego Unified was one of several businesses citywide to receive the Recycler of the Year award. The award evaluation focused on waste and recycling collection systems; the amount and types of materials recycled or diverted from landfill disposal; purchase of environmentally preferable products, education and outreach programs and activities; recycling policies or procedures that have been incorporated into daily operating procedures; and incentives that encourage waste reduction and recycling practices.

Devoted educators honored at Day of the Teacher celebration

 2015 Teachers of the Year
 Brenda Mueller, Ronald Lancia, Michelle Yepiz, Shirley Miranda, Mary Lou Baranowski, Supt. Marten and Simone Kincaid

San Diego Unified School District's 2015 Teachers of the Year, Michelle Yepiz from Zamorano Fine Arts Academy, Brenda Mueller from De Portola Middle School and Ronald Lancia from Mission Bay High School, were honored at the Day of the Teacher celebration on May 5.

“Teaching will always be a part of my heart, and as a former teacher, I know the commitment to your craft and the love of your students is what led you here today – and I thank you for that,” Superintendent Cindy Marten said. “Today’s recognition allows us an extraordinary opportunity to celebrate and recognize all of our teachers and dedication to their students, families, schools and each other.”

During the celebration, more than 140 Teachers of the Year from individual school sites along with district Teacher of the Year runners-up were honored.
In a message to all teachers, Board President Marne Foster expressed her appreciation for the district's educators.

 Media Coverage
“I want to thank you for the work you do – day in, day out – to touch the minds, hearts and lives of our students and their families.” Foster said. “You have dedicated yourselves to making our students successful, caring, literate, contributing members of our community. With you, we are creating improved and broader measures of student achievement and ensuring that all students will graduate with the skills and motivation needed to succeed academically and socially.”

Yepiz, Mueller and Lancia, along with the three runners-up, will go on to compete in the county-wide competition for the San Diego county Teacher of the Year, part of the process leading to the national Teacher of the Year. This year’s runners-up are Mary Lou Baranowski from Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School, Simone Kincaid from Creative Performing and Media Arts Middle School and Shirley Miranda from Morse High School. The county Teacher of the Year ceremony will be held this fall and is organized by the San Diego County Office of Education.

The Day of the Teacher celebration is a traditional event on the Board of Education calendar in which all Board members and senior district staff are scheduled to attend. A pre-event reception was catered by culinary students from Scripps Ranch, Morse and Madison high schools, and music was provided by the Madison High School String Orchestra. New to this year’s event was a dance performance by students from Creative, Performing and Media Arts Middle School.

Sponsors of the event were San Diego Gas and Electric Co., AXA Advisors, California Coast Credit Union, California Schools VEBA,, Mission Federal Credit Union, NTA Life, the San Diego Education Association, the San Diego Education Fund, The Standard, the San Diego Padres and College, Career and Technical Education.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

District seniors receive scholarships from retired teachers

Even after retirement, teachers are still helping students.

CAl RTA Logo Members of the California Retired Teacher Association (CalRTA), Division 4, will be awarding 10 San Diego Unified high school seniors $1,500 scholarships at their senior awards assemblies.

High school seniors were judged on their academic achievement, school leadership, extra-curricular activities, community and volunteer service, work and home activities, and financial need.

The 2015 scholarship recipients in the district are:
  • Feliz Avitia, Gompers High
  • Vania Bailon-Casarrubias, Point Loma High
  • Aurora Espinoza, Patrick Henry High
  • Iman Farahani, La Jolla High
  • Kien Nguyen, Hoover High
  • Quynh Duy Nguyen, Crawford High
  • Sankaran Ramanarayanan, Mira Mesa High
  • Samantha Rizzuto, High Tech High
  • Sarabi Rodriguez, Preuss High
  • Aracely Zeferino, Kearny High School of International Business
The scholarship recipients have an average grade point of 4.64 and have been accepted at the following universities: Columbia University, Mills College, Loyola Marymount University, San Diego State University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, San Diego, University of San Francisco, Washington University, Whittier College and Yale University.

The students’ diverse areas of study include: behavioral neuroscience, biochemistry, business management and administration, computer communication, English literature – pre-med, journalism, linguistics, psychology, special education, speech language pathology and structural and aerospace engineering.

The Scholarship Foundation of CalRTA, Division 4 has awarded over $450,000 in scholarships to more than 300 seniors attending four-year universities since its establishment 30 years ago.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Scripps Ranch High String Orchestra earns top honors at National Orchestra Festival

The Scripps Ranch High School String Orchestra earned a Superior rating, the highest possible rating, at the American String Teachers Association National Orchestra Festival held at Abravanal Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah this March.

Their performance earned great acclaim from judges, parents, students and the chair of the event, Valerie Palimeri. This is the first time the 50-member orchestra has competed on a national stage, making its success even more impressive.

“Earning this puts us in the conversation as one of the best orchestra programs in the state, if not the country,” Director Russell Shedd said. “This is a huge honor for our kids, the program and the district.”

The National Orchestra Festival is an annual festival held in conjunction with the ASTA National Conference. In addition to receiving placement, ratings and comments based on their performance, each festival group receives personalized feedback and an educational clinic from leading clinicians and adjudicators in the industry.
Festival participants are also able to attend all 180 conference sessions and workshops at the ASTA National Conference, some of which are designed at a student level specifically for National Orchestra Festival attendees.
To qualify for the competition directors must submit recordings of their groups, as well as several years of programing, one year in advance of the festival. Only nine orchestras in the country were selected by ASTA to compete in this year’s competition.

The Scripps Ranch High School String Orchestra is part of the school’s music program and is open to students of all grade levels.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Miller Elementary students learn about healthy eating, gardening

In the News IN THE NEWS: More than 3,000 students in the San Diego Unified School District are learning valuable life lessons through gardening. The school district received $2.5 million in grant money for the three year program. Miller Elementary is one of five schools to take part in the program to help the kids learn to link what they grow in the garden to what they eat at the dinner table. Angier, Chesterton, Hancock and Mason elementary schools will also participate in the program. Watch more at 10 News.

May Harvest of the Month is the organic Peewee Avocado

The Harvest of the Month for May is the organic Peewee Stehly Farms Organics in Valley Center, CA Find this super veggie on school salad bars every Wednesday during the month of April.

To help educate students on where the Harvest of the Month produce item comes from, San Diego Unified has created monthly Harvest of the Month videos that act as virtual field trips to the farm. These videos are an opportunity to connect students to their food and local farmers. We encourage principals to have their teachers share the videos in the classroom so students can experience the full circle of their food. We encourage parents and students to watch as well!

May Harvest of the Month Virtual Field Trip video links:
PeeWee Avocado Farmer Card  

Monday, April 20, 2015

District Teachers of the Year announced for 2015

Michelle Yepiz from Zamorano Fine Arts Academy, Brenda Mueller from De Portola Middle School and Dr. Ronald Lancia from Mission Bay High School have been named San Diego Unified School District's Teachers of the Year for 2015.

2015 Teachers of the Year These three devoted educators will be honored at the Day of the Teacher celebration scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, at Madison High School. More than 140 Teachers of the Year from individual school sites, district Teacher of the Year runners-up, Future Educator Scholars and Mashin and STEM scholarship winners will also be recognized.

“Great teachers make a positive impact on students by consistently creating learning conditions that allow students to meet success,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “These three individuals are skillful and passionate professionals who are not only dedicated to improving their own skills but also collaborating with colleagues to create the best learning environment for students. With enthusiasm and purpose, they make a difference every day in the lives of their students and in their school community.”

Yepiz has been teaching at Zamorano Elementary for 11 years. Her teaching method is an active and engaging style, and her enthusiasm to teach helps encourage her students to learn. In addition to teaching, Yepiz organizes an after-school theater class to expose her students to the arts and coordinates an annual school-wide musical.

“I firmly believe in educating the whole child,” Yepiz wrote in her application essay. “My philosophy centers on the idea that the arts are an integral part of education. The arts must be integrated into the curriculum, not as an addition, but as an enhancement to learning.”

Mueller has been a teacher for more than 15 years, 11 of them teaching science at De Portola Middle. She is a Noyce Master Teaching Fellow at San Diego State University, constantly honing her craft as an educator. Mueller’s main focus in the classroom is to foster a safe environment in which students can participate in productive discussions and talk about their ideas.

“She is able to build strong relationships with her students while simultaneously commanding their best effort,” wrote De Portola Principal Ryan Brock. “Students flock to Mrs. Mueller and often speak of her friendly demeanor. Class observations show a high level of rigorous and demanding instruction. Brenda offers the best of both worlds (rigor and relationship), which makes for an incredibly powerful educational environment.”

Lancia has been teaching for 16 years, 11 of which have been at Mission Bay High teaching an array of classes in language arts, film, yearbook and AVID. He treats his student as individuals, and seeks to bring them together in collaboration.

He also developed a program called ACES, or the After-school Center for Excellence and Support, which offers students academic support across curriculum. For Lancia, the program represents four distinct areas of personal commitment.

“Hearts represents the importance of mentorship and service,” Lancia wrote in his application essay. “Clubs represents the club/community effect I deeply value. Diamonds signifies a balanced approach to academics, a notion I’ve appreciated since studying multiple intelligences. And finally, spades represents digging deeper one-on-one and building relationships.”

Yepiz, Mueller and Lancia will go on to the county-wide competition along with the three runners-up for the district’s Teacher of the Year. This year’s runners-up are Mary Lou Baranowski from Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School, Simone Kincaid from Creative Performing and Media Arts Middle School and Shirley Miranda from Morse High School.

Every year, one teacher at each level – elementary, middle and high school – is selected as District Teacher of the Year along with a runner-up at each level. Nominees are first selected by their school sites, and then have the option to go through the application process, which includes writing essays, an interview and a classroom observation.

For more information about San Diego Unified’s Teacher of the Year program, contact Jennifer Rodriguez at

What you need to know about lockdowns

School hallway The safety and security of children on our school campuses is the district’s number one priority. It’s unfortunate that schools across San Diego County are experiencing an increase in threats that are forcing schools into lockdown or to take other safety precautions.

The district has emergency plans and procedures in place for various situations, including lockdowns, and schools routinely conduct emergency drills to make sure that everyone is prepared in the event of an actual emergency situation.

It is important for parents to be knowledgeable of these procedures and to know what occurs during lockdown situations. To get a general overview, we have created a list of frequently asked questions relating to lockdowns. Contact your child’s school principal to learn more about specific safety procedures at their school.

What is a lockdown?
Lockdowns are defined as the act of confining students and personnel in a secured location until the emergency or threat, such as police activity, is over. Faculty and staff are instructed to lock all doors and windows leading into the classroom or office, including interior doors that connect with other rooms, and close all window coverings. Students and staff are directed to hunker in a corner or safe area, away from doors and windows, and maintain silence. Instruction is halted. Doors are to remain closed and locked, and nobody is allowed on or off campus until the lockdown is lifted.

A modified lockdown may also be ordered in which all of the above are adhered to with the exception of hunkering in a safe area and halting instruction.

Who decides if a campus should go into lockdown?
A principal, site administrator or any public safety official may order a lockdown. These individuals may also deactivate a lockdown after consultation with all agencies involved if it is a multi-agency event.

Under what circumstances are lockdowns put in place?
The following events may be grounds for a lockdown or modified lockdown: nearby police activity, threats to the campus or any individuals on the campus, natural disaster or environmental hazard.

What occurs during a lockdown?
Once a lockdown has been ordered, the administration will notify staff and students through whatever mechanism the school site has pre-selected to use for notification. This could be an intercom, email to staff, group text to staff or bells that ring a specific way for lockdowns. Once issued, the custodial staff will help comb the campus for students who may be walking outside the classroom, and either return them to class or bring them to a safe area.
The principal or designee serves as incident commander and works with School Police and/or San Diego Police during the lockdown. Site administrators have instant communication with school police dispatch via police radio. Information is quickly relayed from officers on scene to Dispatch. Mobile staff members are equipped with site based radios and officers on scene have the capability to communicate with mobile staff equipped with site based radios.
Staff hunker down in a safe room. Teachers take attendance, secure the classroom and then hunker down. The principal or principal designee will keep staff updated on the situation as it progresses, which teachers will share with students, as appropriate. Students are advised not to be texting at this time, however, if they do, the preferred message is the message that is coming from the teacher with factual information.

While students and staff are safe, the lead police agency monitors the situation. Once officials determine the campus or surrounding area is safe, the lockdown will be lifted and all staff and students are notified. Parents will be notified as soon as possible that the lockdown is lifted, especially if action by them is needed.

Can anyone enter or leave campus during a lockdown?
No, nobody is allowed on or off campus during a lockdown.

How long is a typical lockdown?
A school can be on lockdown for anywhere between 15 minutes and five hours. On average, they last approximately 3 hours.

What is the difference between a lockdown and shelter-in-place?
A shelter-in-place is most often used during an environmental hazard when it’s necessary to keep students indoors. In this situation, schools are advised to seal all air vents, doors, windows and HVAC vents with duct tape, in addition to following all lockdown procedures.

When will parents/guardians be notified about a lockdown on their student’s campus?

The school site makes every effort to communicate with families within the first 30 minutes of a lockdown, either by phone, email or text message (if available). Please keep in mind that the school’s first priority is to keep students and staff safe during this time. If communication is not forthcoming from the school, please do not come to the school site or call School Police. Know that your student is safe and that as soon as time permits, school staff will communicate the necessary information to parents and if/when action may be needed on your part.

In addition, follow San Diego Unified on Twitter and Facebook, as the district is making every effort to post updates about lockdowns that occur throughout the district. If your school has a Twitter feed, follow that, too.

If you have not yet opted-in to receiving text messages via SchoolMessenger, please make that effort so that principals have the option to communicate with parents via text message. Click here for more information.

What should parents do when they hear there is a lockdown at their child’s school?
Please remain calm and do not come to school. If there is police activity at or near the school, you may be putting yourself in danger by coming to the school. Refer to the district’s or school’s Twitter feed and await direction from the school site.

Can parents pick their child up after a lockdown is lifted?
Yes, parents may pick-up their child after the lockdown is lifted. If the lockdown lasts past dismissal time, the school may use a modified dismissal in which teachers escort students to the front of the school and oversee the dismissal process. If a traumatic event has occurred, the school will initiate a formal Reunification Process.

When is the formal Reunification Process initiated?
If there is a traumatic event after which it’s decided that no more instruction will occur that day, a formal reunification process will be initiated. The school will make a call to parents asking that they come pick-up their student. Two areas will be setup: one for the parent to request their student, the other for them to pick-up their student. Staff and police officials will identify the child, get him/her from their classroom and release them to parents/guardians. Parent identification is required to pick-up your child.

How can parents learn more about the safety procedures setup at their student’s school?
Each school site has a Site Emergency Response Plan that outlines all safety procedures. The Ed Code requires this plan be updated every year. Around October, schools should hold a meeting for staff and parents to review the plan, provide input, establish expectations for both staff and parents in the event of an emergency and discuss any safety concerns.