As we approach the end of the first semester, there are wonderful opportunities to see our students shine in a wide variety of musical and theatrical performances and shows. (Find out more detailed information on the individual calendars on the school websites.) Also, check out one of the many student publications from Paly and Gunn and read in-depth stories about current issues in our community, as well as student perspectives, interests, and passions. Here are a few to check out online. Gunn--Oracle: http://gunnoracle.com/, Paly--Campanile: http://www.palycampanile.org/, C Magazine: http://issuu.com/c_magazine, Verde Magazine: http://verdemagazine.com/, Viking Sports: http://www.vikingsportsmag.com/.Read more
October was an extremely productive month, with two School Board meetings, two study sessions on Enrollment Growth, and a Board Policy Review Committee meeting. I also attended a California Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) meeting in Sacramento, a Schools for Sound Finance (SF2) meeting in Hillsborough, a Los Altos Hills Town Council meeting, the annual Santa Clara County School Boards Association (SCCSBA) dinner focusing on raising expectations for "at-risk" kids, and a day and a half internship program called Packard 101, which introduces local elected officials and community leaders to the world-renowned Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.Read more
On October 21, 2015, Mayor Karen Holman and I joined Hoover Elementary for their Unity Day celebration. The students each made paper links, which joined together to represent the entire community coming together towards inclusion, tolerance, and efforts to prevent bullying behaviors. The Hoover Librarian read the book, "Bully" with the kinders, and the kids discussed what it means to be an "upstander" in the school community.Read more
Powerful Practices 3.0: A day of learning for teachers by teachers! I enjoyed stopping by this year's third annual Powerful Practices Staff Development Day for district elementary school teachers and Principals, held at Gunn High School. Keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Hehir from Harvard spoke about how the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) support differentiation and personalized learning in the classroom, without additional stress on teachers.Read more
Dr. Thomas Hehir is a Professor of Practice in Learning Differences at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is in Palo Alto for a week to consult with PAUSD around our special education programs, inclusion efforts, and co-teaching experiences throughout our PK-12 district. He hosted a parent evening conversation, morning coffee presentation (the photo above is from that event at JLS), and provided the keynote at our Professional Practices 3.0 Staff Development Day of Learning. It is such an amazing opportunity for the district to hear from and work with Dr. Hehir and his team. Thanks to Dr. Holly Wade at the District Office and her entire team for inspiring us to improve our services for ALL students.Read more
School is well underway and my kids and I are enjoying the cooler temperature of fall. The School Board is hard at work planning for future growth, managing budget and goal priorities, and creating intellectually-stimulating as well as safe and welcoming schools for every student, every day.
ENROLLMENT GROWTH: This year, we have 12,488 students enrolled in PAUSD schools, a decrease of 44 students from last year. Our elementary schools decreased by 171 students to a total of 5,514, including a decrease in kindergarten enrollment. Our middle schools increased by 61 students for a total enrollment of 3,013. And our high schools increased by 66 students for a total enrollment of 3,961. Enrollment growth in K-5 is projected to be stable over the next five years. We have a "bubble" class moving through our 5th grade classes right now, so the middle school enrollment is expected to increase one more year, and then taper off. Our high schools were built out to accommodate the projected growth over the next five years. 58% (37 of 64) overflowed students (students placed in a school other than their neighborhood school) were placed in a nearby "cluster" school. The Board will have a study session on elementary enrollment on Monday, Oct. 5th from 6-9pm at the district office to plan for the near and future growth in our district.
Welcome (back)! This is the beginning of my fourth school year on the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education and I thank you all again for entrusting me to be your elected representative. Thanks to all of you who have subscribed to my monthly newsletter for the past three years and welcome to those of you who joined recently. As always, you are welcome to unsubscribe anytime, using the link at the end of the e-mail. If you think others would enjoy reading about the activities of the School Board, please let your friends and family know--anyone in the community is welcome to subscribe or read past issues at: www.heidiemberling.com.Read more
On Saturday, August 15th, families from the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park gathered with local activists at Mitchell Park to celebrate the next step in preserving economic diversity and protecting low-income housing options in Palo Alto. More than 100 youth living at Buena Vista attend PAUSD schools and would be displaced if these families lose their homes. Buena Vista students make up 30% of the population at Barron Park Elementary School. My colleague Camille Townsend and I drafted a letter of support on behalf of these students in May of 2013, which was signed by the full School Board and read aloud at a City Council meeting. The picnic was in celebration of receiving $14.5 million in housing dollars from Santa Clara County, matched by $14.5 million from the City of Palo Alto, and sponsored by Caritas, a non-profit organization willing to make an offer to buy the Mobile Home Park. More hurdles to follow, but it's important to celebrate steps towards a successful resolution for the 450 individuals and families living in our community. It was a fun afternoon of delicious food and great conversations.
On Thurs. August 13th, Superintendent Max McGee welcomed the PAUSD faculty and staff back to school for the 2015-16 school year. Everyone is getting ready to greet the 12,471 students returning this fall. Dr. McGee encouraged teachers to become "students of our students," seeking first to understand how each student learns and then to modify instruction and delivery to meet student's needs. He also challenged teachers to have high expectations for every student, particularly historically underrepresented students, and provide the support needed to be successful in school. And he reiterated that students excel when they feel a sense of purpose in the work they do. Our school sites will be focusing on creating time and space for teachers to form Professional Learning Committees (PLCs) this year, in order to collaborate and share or grow best practices across the district.
With Palo Alto Mayor Karen Holman at the City's Comp Plan Summit
Share your views!! The City of Palo Alto has begun the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan, which is a document required under California law to guide cities and counties in planning future development and growth. The seven sections (or "elements") within the plan are: Land Use & Community Design, Transportation, Housing, Natural Environment (includes Open Space, Conservation, Safety, and Noise), Community Services & Facilities, Business & Economics, and Governance. This plan will guide our city through 2030, so it is important that citizens have a chance to participate in its development. To that end, the City of Palo Alto created a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and I am serving as the PAUSD Representative to the Committee. We meet monthly and each month we discuss a different element of the plan. Our first meeting was in July, to present an overview of the process. On August 11th, we will be looking at the Community Services & Facilities element.Read more