#TeamPUSD Newsletter

November/December 2020 Edition

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Superintendent's Message

Dear PUSD Staff and Families,

As 2020 comes to a close, I am not only relieved to be able to move on to 2021 with optimism and excitement, but I also look back in awe at all the amazing work we have accomplished together! We survived a worldwide pandemic and were leaders in education through it all! To say that this year has been difficult is an understatement in so many ways, but you found the silver lining when it looked like there was none; you found flowers where there were weeds; you gave hope when some could only see despair; and you made the impossible possible when no one imagined it could be done…because we are Team PUSD! The power of our collective efficacy is truly boundless.

When we were ordered to close schools in March, I watched our amazing employees spring into action, offering to take on jobs and help out wherever they were needed. I watched teachers change the way they taught students and implement new practices that elevated their teaching and transformed the way our students learn. Families pivoted to virtual learning, remaining flexible, patient, and understanding. We mobilized and overcame obstacles and our own doubts as we reopened campuses this Fall — staff and families all working together in unison.

There were many moments throughout this year when I found joy, gratitude, and inspiration by watching kindness being shared, innovative practices being implemented, and countless staff and parents going above and beyond to serve the best interests of our children and the PUSD community. Our students learn from observing the example we as adults set for them. They learned that while change can be difficult, adapting to change builds lifelong skills and character. I observed students conducting dissections on their kitchen counters over Zoom; hundreds of students across our campuses coming together to perform a composition, dance routine, or sing songs in virtual concerts; and students being inspired to give back to their struggling neighbors with food and toiletry drives and PPE donations.

In PUSD, we see this work as much more than just a job. It is a calling to make a difference for each child, especially when “school” may be the only safe place for them to be. I look forward to 2021 being a year of hope and optimism hope and optimism that we can return from this difficult year, stronger than ever before.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season. I hope you find some well-deserved rest and fun! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your support.

With sincere admiration and respect,

Marian Kim Phelps, Ed.D.



District News

Trustees Patel & Sytsma Elected to PUSD Board

The Poway Unified School District welcomes new Board of Education Member-elect Dr. Cindy Sytsma, and reelected incumbent Dr. Darshana Patel. They will be sworn in at the December 17, 2020 meeting.

In a recent article from Pomerado News, Trustees Patel and Sytsma detailed how they plan to bring about change in the District during their terms - including improving relationships with the community and inclusive education.

UPDATE: Racial Equity and Inclusion

Throughout September and October, school sites held Community Conversations on Racial Equity and Inclusion for their feeder patterns, intended to engage parents in conversations to foster trust and build relationships.

Feeder patterns will be meeting again in early 2021 to discuss systems improvement and updates; upcoming meetings can be found here.

Have you visited our new Racial Equity and Inclusion website? There, you will find:

  • The Official PUSD Racial Equity and Inclusion Plan
  • Resources (books, podcasts, SDCOE Equity Department, etc.)
  • Racial Equity and Inclusion Programs in PUSD
  • Events
  • Professional Learning
  • Systems Improvement

Free & Reduced Price Meal Applications

Even though meals are currently free to all Poway Unified students, we still need our families who think they might qualify, to apply to free and reduced lunch. It's more than a meal - Free and reduced price lunches mean more resources and funding for our schools, and therefore our students.

Families may visit the PUSD Food & Nutrition Department website (here) to fill out an application by December 31, 2020.

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Black Mountain Ranch Southern Site - FAQs

On Wednesday, November 4, 2020 the District held a live community FAQ with a panel of experts on the Black Mountain Ranch Southern Site surplus property. This meeting was livestreamed on the Poway Unified YouTube Channel, and the recording can be watched below. Following the meeting, additional questions were asked and answered here.
Surplus Property Community FAQ

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a generosity movement that inspires people to do good in their communities following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But in PUSD, giving is year-round! Because of the generosity from donors to the Poway Unified School District Foundation and individual school site foundations, we can continue to provide additional resources and learning opportunities for our students.

This year, we'd like to thank Amazon Logistics and The San Diego Futures Foundation for donating $8,000 worth of WiFi routers and data, clothing, and food for our Youth in Transition. Click here to see how you can donate.

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Poway Adult School Winter Registration Open

Winter Term 2021 Registration for the Poway Adult School is now open! Classes start January 11. There's something for everyone: check out the catalogue here.

Achievements and Recognitions: Students, Staff, Schools & District

PUSD Receives "Golden Bell Award" from CA School Boards Association

For the first time since 2013, the Poway Unified School District (PUSD) was selected as a recipient of a “Golden Bell Award” from the California School Boards Association (CSBA). This educational honor, in the category of School Culture and Safety, highlights PUSD’s district-wide ‘No Place for Hate’ efforts, anti-bias training for staff, See Something Say Something Tip line, safety committee work, SAVE Promise clubs, and PUSD’s anti-racism resolution and equity improvement planning.

Read more about the programs and systems improvements that have had a positive impact on school culture and safety: bit.ly/pusd-gba

PUSD's National Blue Ribbon Schools

Adobe Bluffs, Monterey Ridge, and Park Village Elementary were officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools in a virtual ceremony last month. Congratulations to our schools, who were all named "Exemplary High Performing Schools" for inclusion, immersion, diversity, and specialized instruction initiatives.

The full video announcement can be viewed below.

2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools announcement

Employee Recognition Drive-Thru Event

After the annual employee recognition dinner was canceled back in March, we were excited for the opportunity to honor our Employees, Teachers, and Volunteers of the Year with a recognition drive-thru event. It was the perfect way to celebrate #TeamPUSD in these times. Check out the full photo collage recap at the button below.

Allison Leedom Surprised with "Tribute to Teachers" Award

Congratulations to Garden Road Elementary Teacher Allison Leedom, who was surprised via Zoom with the

KyXy Radio 96.5 FM

"Tribute to Teachers" Award. Ms. Leedom was chosen because of a beautiful letter written by a former student's grandma, which thanked her for extraordinary dedication to her students in the early stages of emergency closures.

APSM Presents Awards to #TeamPUSD

Board members and Officers from the Association of Poway School Managers (APSM) delivered some COVID-delayed “Special Achievement in Support of Student Learning” plaques throughout PUSD. We join APSM in showing our support for these exceptional leaders who make a positive impact in our schools and throughout the District.

The Association of Poway School Managers (APSM) is made up of Administrators, Managers, Supervisors, Counselors, Psychologists, and Certificated Specialists supporting teaching, learning and operations.

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Westview Senior Commits to Duke University

Watch the full announcement from Good Morning San Diego where Mandela Tobin, Westview High School's Defensive Lineman, commits to playing football for Duke University. We are excited for Mandela in this next step of the journey.
Westview's star defensive lineman Mandela Tobin makes his college commitment live on KUSI News

DNHS Yearbook Award

Del Norte High School's Yearbook , "Traditions," was recently named a Crown Finalist in the print category by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA). The Crown awards are the highest recognition given by CSPA to a student print or digital medium for overall excellence. Congratulations!

Edmund Sumpena Receives Congressional Challenge Award

Edmund Sumpena is using computer science and app technology to make a life-saving difference for people with dementia through his app, "WanderGuardian." Edmund previously was awarded the "Microsoft Imagine Cup." He also received the Congressional Challenge Award from Congressman Scott Peters. Congratulations, Edumnd!

Westview Senior Awarded American Veteran's Scholarship

Congratulations to Westview Senior and NJROTC Operations Officer Sophia Righthouse on her scholarship from the American Veterans Center. Next Spring, Sophia will escort WWII veterans to Guam and Iwo Jima for the Reunion of Honor. The award is presented annually to two Young Marines who exemplify qualities of Jimmy Trimble III. More info about this prestigious honor can be found here.

Poway High Team Spyder Awards

It was a big season for Poway High School's Robotics Team Spyder #1622, as they received four major awards from SWENext and National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT):

  • Pictured above: PHS "SWENext Club Best Practices" Award (Out of 250 clubs nationally)

Congratulations to our students on this fantastic accomplishment.


Fun Photos and Videos

Black Mountain Middle School AVID Induction

In early November, Black Mountain Middle held their annual induction ceremony for students in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. It looked a bit different this year, but each student lit a candle toward the path of college and career readiness/success. Thank you to Danielle Reyes, the AVID Teacher at Black Mountain, for putting together such a special night and sharing these photos.

Winter Wonderland at Creekside Elementary

Creekside's PTA made it snow for their magical drive-thru Winter Wonderland. Students got to see fun decorations and lights as well as fun characters like the Nutcracker.

Holiday Spirit

Our students and staff are really getting into the holiday spirit around the District! Take a look at some fun photos they shared on social media:

PUSD Combined Choirs Virtual Performance

We are pleased to share with you a recording of Mozart's, Ave Verum Corpus, performed by the combined advanced choirs of Del Norte, Mt. Carmel, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, and Westview High Schools. Please enjoy and Happy Holidays!
Ave Verum Corpus (W.A. Mozart) - Virtual Choir Performance
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New Murals at Pomerado ES

There's a colorful new addition to Pomerado Elementary School, thanks to Pandr Design Co. "Be Kind," "Work Hard," and "No Excuses" are the murals that were painted on ball walls in early November. Thank you to Pandr Design artists Roxy and Phoebe for gifting these beautiful outdoor spaces to our Wildcats.

RBHS Winter Concert 2020

Winter concerts are a tradition in Poway Unified, and this year is no exception. Even though our student orchestras cannot gather in person like in years past, we can still support them virtually. Please enjoy this video from the Rancho Bernardo High School Orchestra performing their winter concert.
RBSO Winter Concert 2020

The Great American Smokeout 2020

The Great American Smokeout is a day that challenges people to pledge to quit smoking or vaping and to learn more about prevention. To learn more about facts and statistics, our Student Support Specialists Loretta Shugrue (BHMS) & Caia Wright (MVMS) collaborated with SDCOE Club Live to host a virtual trivia game show for students. ⁠

Thank you, Loretta and Caia, for educating our students on this important topic in a fun way!

Face Masks and School Spirit

Many schools throughout the District are modeling new PPE that is "on brand" with their school colors or mascots. Take a look!

Student Reporting Labs: VAPA During Virtual Learning

Visual and Performing Arts classes at the secondary level look entirely different with virtual learning as the current norm. As we work to bring middle and high school students back to campus in a safe and gradual way, we are reminded of students like Alex and Megan who have had to make significant adaptations to continue their fine arts education.

Watch this piece by KPBS Student Reporting Labs below.

The tricky dynamics of Zoom band class

New Mural for RBHS Student Services

Rancho Bernardo High School's Mural Club completed a "Mini-Mural" for their Student Services room this month. They have already received requests for additional projects around campus! Previously, they painted a large mural for the Class of 2021 as a summer project.


Did you know our Technology & Innovation Department is on social media? They are empowering innovation in teaching and learning by sharing teacher tech spotlights, "byte-sized" learning tips, and professional development opportunities.

You can follow our team on Twitter and Instagram, and use the hashtag #PUSDInnovate.

District-wide Food Drives

Now more than ever, there is a need in our community to support families who are food insecure. Mt. Carmel hosted a food drive through the MCHS Fight Against Hunger Club and ASB. Pictured right, Monterey Ridge also collected donations for a local food drive. With the support of Poway High School students and community volunteers, Chaparral Elementary School hosted a "Drive-by, Drop-Off Donation Event" to benefit Poway families in need. You can see this event and similar efforts to give back to the community in the video below.
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The Littlest Donor

Olivia is a Del Sur Elementary student who wanted to support our YIT families. So, she dropped off cheerful bags containing individually wrapped snacks and toothbrushes to distribute to our families who are experiencing homelessness. Thank you, Olivia!

Thanksgiving Care Packages

Our Youth in Transition Team distributed care packages and holiday meals prior to Thanksgiving break, for our families in need. Families were provided with essentials including food, grocery gift cards, face masks, socks and gloves, personal care and hygiene products, and hand-written notes. Meals were graciously provided by Elements Café.

Studio701 "Excellence in Education" Video Series

For the November installment of the "Excellence in Education" series, our student media interns highlighted how CTE teachers are still providing hands-on career education during virtual learning. Watch below:
Poway Unified "Excellence in Education" series: Virtual Career Technical Education

Women in Engineering Day

We are grateful for our business partnerships! Our Poway CTE Department worked with Lockheed Martin to host a two-day "Women In Engineering" virtual event, complete with kits for hands-on activities for participating students. Panelists shared valuable information about the engineering field, answered questions, and walked students through what it takes to have an engineering career.

3D Animation

Below, check out a video from Rancho Bernardo High School's 3D Animation Pathway where they used Maxon3D software via Splashtop.
RBHS CTE 3D Animation Snowman


Celebrations and Resolutions

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Happy Holidays!

The Poway Unified School District wishes you and yours a safe holiday season and a Happy New Year. The District and its offices will be closed December 21, 2020 - January 1, 2021 in observance of the winter break.

Computer Science Education Week and #HourofCode

This year, our Technology & Innovation Department has made it easier than ever for teachers to introduce coding activities into their Canvas LMS courses for #HourofCode. These same activities are accessible outside of the classroom, too!

Simply visit www.hourofcode.com/us/learn for dozens of grade-level appropriate tutorials that promote a Growth Mindset in computer science education.


There is a lot to be grateful for this year, despite the trials and challenges of 2020. In this season of gratitude, we are especially thankful for #TeamPUSD.

For the teacher who consistently show up for our students.

For the Staff who support our families.

For the Administrators who guide our schools.

You are loved!

Veteran's Day

On Veteran's Day, we recognize those in uniform who have served our country. Thank you for your bravery and dedication.

World Kindness Day (Nov. 13)

World Kindness Day is an international observance that promotes the importance of being kind to each other, to yourself, and to the world. The purpose of this day, which is celebrated on November 13 each year, is to help everyone understand that compassion for others is what binds us all together.

Picture courtesy of Canyon View Elementary.

National School Psychology Week (Nov. 9-13)

Our School Psychologists are valuable members of #TeamPUSD who empower our 36,500+ students to be the best version of themselves. They create necessary safe spaces where every child can thrive in their own capacity, day in and day out. They have individually and collectively leaned into this present challenge and because of their efforts, more of our students' needs are being identified and addressed. Thank you all.

High Schools Bring Awareness to Mental Health

Throughout November and December, high schools throughout the District have taken to social media to provide tips, facts, and skills about mental health and mental health awareness for secondary students. Take a look at some of the posts:

Dia de Los Muertos (Nov. 1-2)

Día de Los Muertos (or "Day of the Dead") is a Latin American holiday that celebrates life and death, in honor of one's ancestors. Many people celebrate this holiday with festivals, sugar skull decorations, and traditional song/dance. Photo courtesy: @therbhsstable on IG.

Poway Unified School District

The Poway Unified School District is located in northern San Diego County, California. PUSD operates 25 elementary schools (K-5), one elementary & middle school combination (TK-8th), six middle schools (6-8), one continuation high school, five comprehensive high schools (9-12), and one adult school. 24 schools are located in the city of San Diego; 11 schools in the city of Poway; and 3 in the County of San Diego. The District serves approximately 36,000 students and is the third largest school district in the county.