The leaves are changing and the weather is cooling; it must be Fall. Our students are actively engaged in learning and our teachers are preparing for the PAUSD Powerful Practices staff development conference on Friday. In my house, we just made our first pumpkin pie of the season; a sure sign that Halloween is right around the corner.
CAMPAIGN UPDATE: Only 5+ weeks to go before Election Day, November 8th, 2016. I've enjoyed being out in the community at candidate forums, talking about issues that matter in our school district. A heartfelt thanks to so many of you for your kind comments, your endorsement, and for taking a lawn sign and/or hosting a coffee event to introduce me to your friends and neighbors. I need to raise an additional $5,000 this month to run a competitive campaign, so if you haven't had a chance to donate yet, I would very much appreciate your financial support: https://heidiemberling.nationbuilder.com/donate. Campaigns are expensive and I need your help to WIN on November 8th.
On Sunday, September 25, 2016, Fairmeadow held its annual Rock & Walk, a community-building event with a walk-a-thon for kids, arts & crafts, community booths, food trucks, and a silent auction of great items. Halfway through, the teachers and parents took over the lawn for a special flash mob dance! What a great day. Principal Grant Althouse remarked that it's his favorite event of the year. I enjoyed meeting the new PTA Executive Board, chatting with families and teachers, and taking a walk around the school with the kids.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Chinese Parents Group Welcome Back Luncheon at Gunn High School on September 10th. It was a lively event with more than a hundred families in attendance. Great to hear some of the issues and questions about their PAUSD experiences. Many families are coping with how to raise a bi-cultural teen. Very interesting discussions and very delicious food! Thank you for including the Board of Education in this wonderful annual event.
Welcome back to the 2016-17 school year! I hope you all had a wonderful summer with your families. I managed to arrange a sleepaway camp for both my kids at the same time for two weeks, which was a terrific experience for them and us! The summer felt a bit short overall, however, since the district got an unpleasant surprise in July. More on that in the "Budget Shortfall" item below. Before we get to that, I wish you all a very joyful year, filled with engaging, meaningful learning experiences for each and every student in our PAUSD community.Read more
Welcome back to the 2016-17 school year. Here at PAUSD, we hit the ground running with back to school events around the district. I was happy to attend several welcome events, including a new teacher breakfast with 100 of our new classroom superheroes. Looking forward to their energy and enthusiasm throughout our excellent school district. I also stopped by the Barron Park Ice Cream Social on a lovely afternoon just before the start of school. On the first day of the new year, I brought some sweet treats over to my liaison schools: Fairmeadow, El Carmelo, Nixon, and Jordan Middle School. Everyone was busy and excited to welcome students and families. I wish you all a wonderful year!
My colleague Melissa Baten Caswell and I toured the new Peery Athletic Center at Palo Alto High School this summer. It will be an unparalleled athletic complex for our students! The sunken gym will hold about 1600 people, making it a showpiece of the Paly campus. We are fortunate to have the generous support of the Peery Family for this wonderful addition to our school. Our building program has truly transformed our schools, creating engaging environments that meet the promise of our students.
June is always a packed month with graduations, final reports on our focused goals, and a two-day School Board retreat to plan for next year. I was honored to attend graduations and promotion ceremonies at Paly, Jordan, Barron Park, and Hoover this year. Congratulations to our 492 Paly Vikings and 509 Gunn Titans who graduated this year! Our summer school program is also up and running, with 600+ high school students taking advantage of courses in Algebra, Geometry, and Living Skills, 300+ middle school students enrolled in a STREAM-focused curriculum (science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and math), and 350+ elementary students working on reading, writing, science, math, design thinking, and problem-solving skills.Read more
Congratulations to our 492 Paly Vikings and 509 Gunn Titans who graduated this year! Board members alternate attending our high school graduations each year and this time around, I got to shake hands with the Viking graduating class of 2016. It was a fabulous and emotional event, as always, with great music and inspiring student speeches. I was also honored to attend Jordan Middle School's promotion ceremonies, along with a visit to Hoover and Barron Park's promotions as well. Our students work very hard and are ready for their next adventures!
The month of May always seems like the busiest month of the school year, doesn't it? I'm looking forward to attending both Paly and Jordan's graduations this week and my kids are certainly looking forward to the end of finals. The PAUSD School Board continues meeting through the month of June, including our Annual School Board Retreat on Mon. June 13th (9am-4pm-Open Session) and Tues. June 14th (9am-2pm-Closed Session for Superintendent Annual Review) at the Sheraton at 625 El Camino Real. We will review our annual data and set focused goals for the coming 2016-17 school year.Read more
Nearly 900 Advanced Placement (AP) exams had to be re-taken this week because the school discovered seating irregularities and test distribution errors. As soon as the school realized the errors, they were reported to the College Board, who invalidated the original exams. This was a nightmare for students, teachers, and administrators and sparked an investigation, which will result in a report to the School Board for how to ensure this will not happen in the future. Many Gunn High School teachers are being flexible with end-of-year projects and exams, in order to accommodate the stress of the re-takes. Our students were understandably shocked and dismayed to have to re-take their AP exams, but handled the situation with grace, strength, and resilience. I headed over to the high school on Thursday afternoon with some of my Board colleagues to serve Rick's Ice Cream, a small and tasty token of our support.