Superintendent's Newsletter

Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District

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September 2018

Superintendent's Message

Dear Livermore Community,

Welcome to the 2018-19 school year! Teachers and school staff were preparing for the arrival of students long before summer vacations were finishing up, and our vibrant classrooms show their dedication and commitment to the success of our students. Many of you have also seen our Facilities and Bond departments working hard to erect elementary playgrounds, finish installing solar structures, and construct our new high school athletic stadiums. Thank you to the entire Livermore community for approving Measure J and for your ongoing support of our schools!

As the new year begins, I am eager to share our district-wide commitment to educating our students so that they will truly be able to contribute and thrive in our world. In order for all of our students to be successful, we have formalized our Livermore Framework for Success that supports students to ensure academic achievement, positive school climate, and social emotional competence.

Throughout the coming months, we will provide opportunities for families to learn more about the framework so that staff and families can support our students together. This month, I would like to introduce you to the Choose Love curriculum that will provide the basis for our social emotional learning. Our 9th Annual Kickoff keynote speaker this year was Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement founder Scarlett Lewis, whose message introduced employees to this enrichment curriculum.

The program, which is a natural extension of our character education program, focuses on four character values - courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion in action. Developed in the wake of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, where Scarlett Lewis’ son Jesse lost his life, Lewis was determined to spread Jesse’s philosophy of “Nurturing, Healing Love” as a way to prevent future tragedies.

The four elements of her program honor Jesse’s memory by providing students from kindergarten to high school the tools to process their feelings in a positive way. In teaching students to navigate frustrations, setbacks, and challenges in a healthy way, they are more likely to grow into a supportive and nurturing environment together. Key members of our community are committed to reinforcing our efforts. I look forward to the positive impact this program will have in our schools and our community.

With gratitude,

Kelly Bowers, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Back to School Kickoff Celebration

LVJUSD celebrated its 9th Annual Back to School Kickoff Celebration to welcome back over 1,500 employees from their summer break and celebrate their return to our schools. The event served to reinvigorate the spirits of our educators and staff with a performance by the Livermore jazz band Element 116; a cheerful greeting by our high schools’ cheerleaders, Shooting Stars, and school mascots; and continental breakfast before they headed out to their school sites to start the new school year.

During the address to staff, LVJUSD was recognized for the fifth year as a Bay Area News Group 2018 Top Workplace and presented the award by Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Dawn Argula. Keynote speaker Scarlett Lewis’ message introduced employees to our Choose Love curriculum, providing inspiration to take with them to the classroom.

Special thanks to our major community sponsors - the Real Estate Alliance of Livermore (REAL) and the Livermore Valley Education Foundation (LVEF). And thank you to the Kickoff Committee and volunteers who strived to make the event special and memorable for our teachers and staff before embarking on another school year!

Livermore Students Choose Love

All students in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District are participating in the Choose Love social emotional learning curriculum during the 2018-19 school year. Founded by Scarlett Lewis, the program has been developed by educators to provide schools, families, and communities with the tools to promote self-empowerment, resilience, connection, and optimism.

Choose Love teaches children that they can control their responses to emotions. Scarlett Lewis shares, “When children realize that they have the power to positively impact themselves as well as those around them, it is empowering and perpetuates their positive actions and interactions.”

The program focuses on four important character values – courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion in action – which cultivate optimism, resilience and personal responsibility. The Choose Love curriculum blends social emotional learning (SEL) with character education, positive psychology, mindfulness, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence. It is aligned with State Academic Standards, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success, and the five Core SEL Competencies of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

Nelson Mandela has said, “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love . . . for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” The Choose Love curriculum empowers children and adults to respond with dignity and humanity to any situation.

Choose Love is part of our district’s Framework for Success that combines academic, behavioral, and social emotional supports to ensure student success.

Choose Love is part of our district’s Framework for Success that combines academic, behavioral, and social emotional supports to ensure student success.

For more information on the Choose Love curriculum, please visit the Jesse Lewis Choose Love website.

Some of our students, who piloted elements of the curriculum last year, participated in a video expressing their ideas about the four character values in the program.

Livermore Students Choose Love

CEMEX Donates Notebooks for Science Classes

Building material manufacturer CEMEX donated 1,050 composition notebooks to LVJUSD. This generous donation will ensure that every 4th grader will have a notebook for science classes. “Next Generation Science Standards encourage use of notebooks as a way for students to make sense of what they are learning,” said Regina Brinker, STEM Coordinator at LVJUSD. “Students will use notebooks to record observations, data, and results from experiments; sketch observations and prototypes of engineering projects; collaborate and brainstorm projects and experiments; and record overall learning. CEMEX's generous donation is much appreciated and allows for equitable use of notebooks by all students.”

four people holding science notebooks next to a stack of boxes full of donated books
Plant Superintendent Grantt Franco, CEMEX Regional Manager Deborah Haldeman, Dr. Kelly Bowers, Director of Curriculum & Special Projects Kevin Grier

Livermore Health Fair Serves Community

LVJUSD hosted the Livermore Health Fair on August 15th at Junction Avenue K-8. This free community event was made possible with the collaboration of the City of Livermore and Alameda County, with numerous agencies donating their time and resources. Alameda County Public Health Department offered vaccines and Axis Medical provided sports physicals. John Muir came equipped with mobile dental and medical clinics for dental screenings, as well as blood pressure and diabetes screenings for parents. Our nurses, child welfare and attendance specialists (CWA), and Student Services staff helped coordinate the event.

Over 100 volunteers from Kaiser Permanente, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Stanford ValleyCare, and USF School of Nursing helped the event run smoothly. Local optometrists, doctors, and dentists made themselves available during their busy season for students at the start of the school year. Members of the Granada High School Latino Club assisted families throughout the day, and dance teams from Granada and Livermore High entertained kids with face paintings and tattoos.

The event served over 250 community members, including more than 80 families. Students and families benefited from the generosity and commitment to community of our local health professionals, schools, and volunteers.

Leo Croce & Joseph Turnage at Croce Elementary School

Former LVJUSD Superintendent Leo Croce visited his namesake school Croce Elementary, along with author and former Marylin Avenue principal Joseph Turnage, to share with students their collaborative process in writing a book about Croce’s life. Students gathered at two morning assemblies on August 29th to hear Croce and Turnage detail their joint writing process for the book Mission Completed, story of Croce’s life of service as an Air Force pilot in World War II, as an educator, and in the Livermore community as LVJUSD’s Superintendent and benefactor.

After the assembly, students sang their school song with a new appreciation and spirit. It was a rare opportunity to discover the origins of their school firsthand; to learn the story and meet in person a real American hero whose name graces their school. They can now take even more pride in the name, knowing the man and his story.

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Author Joseph Turnage, Leo R. Croce, Superintendent of Schools Kelly Bowers, Ed.D, Croce Principal Kendra Helsley

Parent Institute for Quality Education Coming to LVJUSD

Parents and guardians are invited to attend a no-cost, 2-day seminar to support their students’ academic success. The seminar takes place over two Saturdays, September 22nd and 29th, at Lawrence Elementary School, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Topics covered include navigating the school system, communication with teachers and counselors, developing academic goals, and higher education.

Please contact Leslie Lemieux in the LVJUSD Community Engagement department for more information:, 925-960-2919.
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Construction Connection

The Measure J Bond Program Department has been hard at work for our students over the summer with various projects throughout our district. Immediately after graduation, work began on the stadium renovations at Granada and Livermore High schools. These projects include completely replacing the home and visitor bleachers at both campuses, and for LHS, a running track expansion to match GHS, allowing both campuses to host larger regional competitions.

Read more about the high school stadium renovation projects.

Additionally, new playgrounds are springing up at elementary and K-8 schools around the District. Six schools’ playgrounds have already been completed at Altamont Creek, Arroyo Seco, Croce, Jackson Avenue, Junction K-8, and Lawrence, with more playgrounds slated for construction at other campuses over the coming months. The new equipment is sparking the imagination of students who are finding unique ways to play and explore their playgrounds.

Focus on accessibility and inclusion creates opportunities for all students. With parent and student input, and taking into account the needs of each campus, each playground offers unique elements for students to discover. In addition to favorites such as slides and bridges, the playgrounds also include musical activities and games that allow for creative engagement and group play. Students of all ability levels will find elements to enjoy, and the new rubberized safety surface ensures that students can navigate the structures even more comfortably and safely.

Reflecting what is taught in the classroom, students can apply their creativity while engaging in physical activities. The playground design encourages students to include their peers in their play, find ways to share, and to work together. Variety in the elements gives all students the freedom to find many areas of the playground to enjoy, and new ways to play, that engage their bodies and minds.

For more information about this project and future projects, visit our Bond Program webpage.

Altamont Playground Video

Attention to Attendance

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The new school year means new routines for students and families coming to a new school or adjusting to a different schedule. Making the effort at the beginning of the year to come to school and be on time builds a foundation for good attendance throughout the year.

Help students succeed in class by sticking to appropriate bedtimes. Leaving some time between waking up and being ready to go can prevent the morning rush, giving students ample time to organize their homework and eat breakfast. Schools offer breakfast as a part of their meal plan as well - those who qualify for free or reduced lunch can receive this benefit for breakfast, too. Visit our Campus Catering page on the LVJUSD website for more details.

Even as children grow older and more independent, families play a key role in making sure students arrive at school safely every day, and understand why attendance is so important for success in school and in life. One important way to support daily attendance is by reviewing the School District Calendar to plan family vacations to coincide with school breaks.

Contact your school for site-specific attendance information

Read Livermore Police Department’s Traffic Safety Tips

Resources for attendance improvement from the California Department of Education

Board Recognitions

New Administrators

Our Board of Education voted last spring to approve an additional vice principal at each of our comprehensive high schools beginning this year. Along with these additions, several staff members accepted new administrative roles.

Tammy Rankin and Ravi Prabhala have taken the helm at Mendenhall Middle School as principal and vice principal, respectively. Erik Taylor moved to Del Valle Continuation High School as vice principal. Brett Christopher and Valerie Nebo have both taken roles as vice principals at Livermore High School. Clark Conover is now serving Granada High School as vice principal. In addition, we welcomed several new administrators to our district. Joe Meunier is the new principal at Smith Elementary, and Kim McNeely has joined our staff as LVJUSD’s Bond Program Administrator.

Read more about our new principals and our new vice principals.

We are thrilled to welcome these talented and hard-working people to their new roles in our district!

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Tammy Rankin, Clark Conover, Ravi Prabhala, Brett Christopher, Valerie Nebo, Kim McNeely, Joe Meunier

Spotlight on Our Schools

Mendenhall Middle School

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) pilot program at Mendenhall Middle School enhances the core of instructional needs in most classes – in writing, reading, researching, reflection, and collaboration. When integrated into instruction, technology supports new strategies for education. Implementing a device provides students with a nimble resource to address diverse learning styles, accommodate individual learning rates, and encourage cooperative learning. Students learn to take responsibility for their personal property, as well as accepting increasing responsibility for their own learning as they gain more agency

As digital citizens who learn to communicate globally, the more students become literate in learning with their devices, the more they can take advantage of online and digital resources to enhance their education. While students have various opportunities to utilize their devices, one facet of the BYOD program is taking note of times when a lesson is best done in the absence of technology. An emphasis is placed on teaching students not be become overly dependent or attached to their device, but understanding when and how it should be accessed.

Teachers at Mendenhall take advantage of the new techniques offered by the devices in the classroom such as Flipped Instruction and Google Classroom that allow for timely feedback on projects and assignments, as well as collaboration with students in real time. Assignment submission is more streamlined, with students able to receive and submit assignments online. Students and teachers can both take advantage of electronic calendars to keep dates straight.

The ability to collaborate on projects and assignments, ask each other questions, and work together from both within and outside the classroom in safe and monitored environment via the Google platform is a tremendous asset for students raised in the digital age. Developing a sense of technology as an educational tool within the school setting gives students an understanding of the scope of what is possible with their devices.

Save the Date!

  • September 22 & 29: PIQE 2-day Seminar at Lawrence Elementary @ 8:30 am - 3:30 pm

  • September 23: LVJUSD Community Day at the Oakland A’s @ 1:05 pm

  • September 26: Reclassification Ceremony at Livermore High School @ 6:00 pm

  • September 27: Special Olympics - Elementary Level at Granada High School @ 9:00 am

  • October 5: No School - Non-Student Day

  • October 5: Manufacturing Day

Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District

Each student will graduate with the skills needed to contribute and thrive in a changing world.