In June, I had the pleasure of visiting Barron Park to see PAUSD Summer School in action. Principal Arcia Dorosti and Summer School Coordinator Dr. Kara Rosenberg gave me a tour of the wonderful elementary school programs and projects going on this summer. Innovative teaching practices based on the "engineering design process" are embedded in every class, whether intervention or enrichment. (See "Makerspace" classroom photo above for creativity in action!) The students and teachers are actively engaged and excited for the project-based learning going on in every classroom. About 400 elementary students are enrolled at Barron Park and Escondido, 180 middle students are enrolled at Terman, and about 700 high school student (session 1) and 500 high school students (session 2) are enrolled at Gunn.
Congratulations, Graduates! This week, I had the pleasure of accepting, on behalf of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education, the 2014 graduating class at Palo Alto High School, the eighth grade promotion class at JLS Middle School, and my daughter's fifth grade promotion class at Juana Briones Elementary School. It was a week of excitement, reflection, and an opportunity to celebrate our students' hard work, dedication, and achievement. I am consistently impressed with the students I meet, both for their academic efforts and their commitment to creating caring, supportive environments at their schools and in the larger community. From becoming a "buddy" to a student with special challenges to volunteering time and energy with Youth Community Service, these students exemplify our dual strategic plan goals of excellence in education and strong personal growth and development.
NEW SUPERINTENDENT: The Board of Education is pleased to have chosen a finalist for our new Superintendent.Read more
I was honored to accept, on behalf of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education, the JLS Middle School 8th grade promotion class of 2014. Principal Sharon Ofek congratulated the students in poetry form, honoring their hard work and thanking the teachers and parents for supporting, inspiring, and preparing students for the next phase of their learning in high school. It was nice to hear 31 students welcome families in 31 different world languages. My colleague, Camille Townsend, reminded students to remember their "ABCs," Always Be Creative, Always Be Colorful, Always Be Communicating." Congratulations graduates!
I was honored to accept, on behalf of the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education, the 475 graduates from Palo Alto High School's graduating class of 2014. It was a memorable evening, with very moving student speeches and great performances from our talented students. Congratulations to Principal Kim DiOrio on completion of her first year as Principal. This is definitely one of the best perks of the job.
I was happy to attend the retirement celebration for long-time Ohlone teacher and Principal Bill Overton (seen here playing the guitar for a campus sing-along). Bill served at Ohlone for more than 30 years and will be missed by the entire PAUSD community. His commitment to Ohlone's Core Values and to the Ohlone Way leaves a strong legacy for both former and future students. I was able to stop by the Ohlone Volunteer Thank You party a few days before this celebration and Bill was in great spirits for his next adventures. The Ohlone community is eager to embrace their new Principal, Louise "Nicki" Smith, an experienced Principal for more than 15 years in several schools with similar philosophies of teaching and learning. For the past three years, she has served as a reading specialist at Ohlone, so she is already an integral part of the school family. Congratulations, Bill, and welcome to Nicki!
It was a pleasure to stop by and visit with teachers and outgoing and incoming PTA Presidents at Addison elementary this week. Everyone is excited to meet the new Addison Principal, Amanda Boyce. She is presently the principal at Stocklmeir Elementary School in the Cupertino Union School District, where she has served for the past two years. She has held a variety of leadership positions in Cupertino including district curriculum support teacher, intervention teacher, new teacher mentor, and summer school principal for the Special Education program. I met Ms. Boyce and her family at a recent School Board meeting, where she commented, “As a mother and educator, I appreciate the District’s work to ensure that academic progress is balanced with social and emotional development. I am eager to get to know the students, staff, and parents of Addison School and look forward to collaborating on a vision that supports the growth of each child.” Welcome to Palo Alto!
One of my committee assignments is the City/Schools Liaison Committee. My colleague Dana Tom and I invited our City Council liaisons, Vice-Mayor Liz Kniss, and Councilmember Greg Schmid, to tour Gunn High School, JLS Middle School, and Fairmeadow Elementary School. There are new buildings on each of these campuses, funded by the Strong Schools Bond, a $378 million bond passed by the Palo Alto community in 2008 with nearly 78% of the vote. Our city colleagues enjoyed seeing the completed construction at each school site, which now benefits thousands of students in our district.
Today I stopped by Palo Verde to visit with Principal Anne Brown and thank the teachers, staff, and students for a fabulous year. I was lucky enough to see some literacy samples across grade levels, reflecting the partnership work between Teachers College and the Palo Verde staff this year and it was very impressive. The ability to create a strong piece of writing will serve these students well as they move through PAUSD. I also had the opportunity to see the last meeting of the Project Cornerstone parent volunteers, who have donated their time, energy, and enthusiasm towards our students' social and emotional health this year.
SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH UPDATE: We are actively searching for the next superhero to helm our high-performing school district. Community input was solicited throughout the month of April from a variety of stakeholders and a job description was created and posted. This is a confidential process to encourage the widest diversity of applicants, including sitting Superintendents. The Board met on April 30th with our search firm, Leadership Associates, to discuss applications and we will be interviewing candidates next week. The new Superintendent will start on July 1st.Read more
On Wednesday, April 30th, I attended the Technology Showcase at the District Office and it was an amazing, interactive experience. Students from kindergarten through high school demonstrated how they use technology in their classrooms. Beaming teachers supported students and instructed visitors in the latest classrooms tech tools. This was a great opportunity to share ideas and lesson plans between teachers of different schools. About a dozen schools participated. Here is a photo of a kinder from Barron Park showing me her storyboard, which she then converted into an ipad movie. Cool.