Sharing the Good News and Good Work of Students and Staff

February/March 2018 Edition

Superintendent's Message

Dear Team PUSD,

This April marks my one-year anniversary as the Superintendent of the Poway Unified School District. It’s been a wild ride. If you had asked me last year to predict what might happen in my first year, I doubt that I could have imagined all the highs and lows that would be heading my way.

But what I was prepared for, was to do the work. I knew this first year would be critical, to move this District forward, and to establish my role as a new leader. This has meant many 17-hour days, sleepless nights, a couple of bouts with bronchitis and the flu, and working many weekends and holidays, and to be honest, sometimes the magnitude of what I am trying to be and do is daunting. But as I reflect on the past year, I truly believe that I have made a difference. Guiding an organization as large as PUSD through change is challenging. The changes have come, little by little, day by day.

Someone asked me the other day, what fills my days, so I thought my anniversary would be the perfect time to share some examples with you.

5am My day starts early. It’s the only time I have to myself. To check emails and catch up on the news.

6am Wake my 11-year-old daughter. Although now that she’s in 6th grade, she’s pretty independent. If my schedule allows, I’ll make her breakfast. This may be the only time I see her during the day, because I often get home late at night, after she’s gone to bed.

7am Hit the road for my hour commute to the District office. This is when I’m getting all my calls made. I’ll check in with my executive assistant, Tina, to get a sense of what the day looks like. At this time, I’m also touching base with board members, principals, and directors, to get an update on any concerns or issues that may need my attention.

8am I pull up to Del Sur Elementary School for my first scheduled appearance of the day, surprising our District Teachers of the Year. Over the next two hours, we visit Westview High School and Valley Elementary School as well, and I have a chance to personally thank our teachers and staff for their excellent work on behalf of our students. The people that make up TeamPUSD have truly made this a special place.

10am I am back at the District Office for a negotiations update with some of my Cabinet members, Associate Superintendents Ron Little (Business) and James Jimenez (Personnel). PUSD prides itself in a strong relationship with our employee groups.

11:15am Two representatives from the India Heritage Language School of San Diego come by to discuss possible partnerships to bring more foreign languages into our schools. Increasing foreign language pathways for our students, from kindergarten to 12th grade, is a passion of mine.

12:15pm I rarely have time to eat, but I grab a bite with my Director of Communications, Christine Paik, as we prepare for an upcoming interview for Edutopia, a national education publication that highlights best practices in public schools.

1pm I meet with the San Diego Police Department to discuss potential partnerships to increase school safety.

2:30pm A visit to Willow Grove Elementary, the final school on my list of schools to visit. (My goal was to visit all 39 in my first year). The principal, Amy Huff, shows me around the classrooms and I get to see firsthand our students learning and engaged. I also address the staff’s questions and concerns, and assess how to best support site needs.

4:00pm to 9:00pm On Board Meeting nights, we go into closed session around 4pm. Open session starts at 6pm and wraps up around 9pm. I am grateful to our five Board members, who have supported me in my work so far. As I drive home, I debrief with staff and make mental notes of what I need to follow up on for the next day.

The Superintendent of today must be visible, accessible, and knowledgeable at all times. Emotions are high when it comes to children, and the stakes are high when it comes to public education and taxpayer money. I approach my job with humility, respect, and understanding. I know there’s so much more work to be done, and I am deeply grateful to have been entrusted with this monumental, yet rewarding position in service of our students.


Marian Kim-Phelps, Ed.D.


This will be reprinted as Dr. Phelps' monthly School Column in the Pomerado News early April edition.

Excellence in Education Video Series

PUSD digital media interns Noelle Betz, Zach Camerino, Seth Dacio, Sabrina Darian, and Nathan Xia have been working with the Communications Department to create monthly “Excellence in Education” videos that highlight how PUSD is achieving its mission of college and career readiness throughout the District.

**We are now accepting applications for next year's internship. Contact Christine Paik, Director of Communications at cpaik@powayusd.com for information.**

February's "Excellence in Education" piece highlights the joint PUSD choir performance of Mozart's Requiem at the Poway Center for Performing Arts. If you missed the performance, take a moment to watch. You'll be impressed!

The March "Excellence in Education" piece focuses on PUSD's Peer Ambassador program, bringing high school role models into our elementary schools to teach good citizenship and smart life choices.

Student, School, and Staff Achievements

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SoCal Cyber Cup Challenge

Del Norte High School won the 9th annual SoCal Cyber Cup Challenge, a cyber security competition for middle school and high school teams held on March 24, 2018. The Cyber Cup’s goal is to encourage students to learn about computer security threats by providing an educational venue where students are able to apply the theories and practical skills they have learned, and foster a spirit of teamwork, ethical behavior and effective communication both within and across teams. You can watch an interview with some members from the winning team here.

San Diego County Scripps Spelling Bee

Congratulations to the following PUSD students who competed in the 49th Annual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee:
NingXin "Karen" Sun of Mesa Verde MS, Emily Shanmugam of Bernardo Heights MS, and Madhumita Narayan, representing Oak Valley MS.
Poway Unified is proud of these AMAZING PUSD middle school students!

San Diego Science and Engineering Fair

Congratulations to PUSD’s winners who took home 5 first place awards and 3 second place awards at the 64th Annual Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. Atulya Mandyam (MVMS); Edmund Sumpena (MVMS); Enoch Segura (OVMS): Julia Lopatka (BHMS); Anusha Kadiyala (BHMS); Sumanth Gurram and David Wu (WHS); Andre Yin (WHS): and Daniel Zhang (WHS).

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DNHS State Champs!

Del Norte High School Boys Soccer won the CIF State Championships, for the first time in school history!

NBC Teacher of the Month

Mark Vitti of Oak Valley MS was named San Diego County Office of Education Teacher of the Month and received a surprise visit from NBC7 for the award. Mark and his class were interviewed by reporter Rory Devine. His students say Mr. V provides a kind, safe, and fun learning environment. Mark was nominated by fellow teacher Martin Reisert.

PUSD Classified Employees of the Year

Shelley Porter

Shelley Porter, Sunset Hills' Library media tech was named one of the District's Classified Employees of the Year! She goes out of her way to make every visit to the library an experience where books come alive, real connections are made, and students have the opportunity to discover a love for learning. Read more about her here.

Michele Cass

Michele Cass, Administrative Assistant for Alternative Programs, was named one of the District's Classified Employees of the Year! Michele is known for many things – especially for consistently providing above and beyond support for administrators, teachers, staff, and students. And she does so with a passion for the job and the students she serves. Read more about her here.

PUSD Teachers of the Year

Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 18 Administrators of the Year

Poway Unified has six awardees who will be honored at the upcoming Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) “Honoring Our Own” Awards on April 27th. This is the most from any single school district! For a complete list of winners, click here. Katie Salo, Assistant Principal at Mt. Carmel High School, also won at the state level as ACSA's Secondary Co-Administrator of the Year for all of California!

PUSD Podcast Episode 6: Christine Paik, Director of Communications

"PUSD Podcasts" is a monthly podcast, hosted by Communications Director Christine Paik. In this episode, Communications Specialist Harry Katcher sits down with Christine to turn the mic on her. She talks about why school districts need communications professionals and why she left behind a life of flying in jets and sliding down fire poles.

Poway Unified School District

PUSDPodcast Ep. 6 - Christine Paik, Director of Communications by Poway Unified School District

Fun Photo Gallery

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Sundance Talent Show

Sundance Elementary's Talent Show included a ghost-busting confetti celebration.
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Ellis Island Experience at Stone Ranch

Second graders at Stone Ranch Elementary School set sail to America, traveling past the Statue of Liberty and entering via Ellis Island as newly-arriving immigrants. Students, each with a passport and persona, were processed, examined by doctors, placed in waiting areas, and either accepted into the country or turned away.

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The 12th Annual San Diego Regional FIRST Robotics Competition was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Arena. The competition spanned 3 days (March 8-10) and PUSD was well represented by Westview, Del Norte, Rancho Bernardo, and Poway High Schools. Matches consisted of Red team vs. Blue Team alliances, with 3 schools randomly selected to each side. As luck would have it, Westview, Poway, and Del Norte were grouped as an alliance for the first match of the day - and won! You can see more photos from the event here.
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Every 15 Minutes

Poway High School held the "Every 15 Minutes" DUI accident reenactment showing the dangers & impact of driving under the influence. The intense, realistic scenario unfolded in front of hundreds of juniors & seniors & involved student actors and real CHP, sheriffs officers, and firefighters.
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Leprechauns at Midland

A group of adorable leprechauns surprised the front office at Midland Elementary School for St. Patrick's Day.
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Welcome DNHS Class of 2022

Del Norte High School principal Greg Mizel took an epic selfie with the soon-to-be incoming Class of 2022
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Sunset Hills Teambuilding

Faculty and staff at Sunset Hills ES had a professional development day with a focus on teamwork and community building. Led by a teambuilding organization, teachers and staff formed teams and attempted challenging, but fun, activities designed to enhance collaboration and communication.
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Amazing Madrigals

The RBHS Madrigals posed for a photo after performing the National Anthem at the PUSD Recognition Dinner.
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Cesar Chavez Day

Saturday, March 31, 2018, is César Chávez Day, a state holiday honoring Latino labor leader César E. Chávez. The day is intended to promote service to the communities of California in honor of Chavez's life and work. Chávez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in the 1960s.

Don't Miss the PUSD Band and Orchestra Festival

The festival is a three-day event that includes a mix of free and ticketed performances, featuring over 40 middle and high school ensembles from PUSD, as well as other Southern California school districts. You can read more here and watch a video from last year's festival here.

CTE Tarde del Familia/Family Night

The 3rd annual CTE Tarde de Familia/CTE Family Night will be held on Tuesday, April 3rd at Meadowbrook Middle School from 5pm to 7pm for Spanish-speaking families. The spotlight will be on the Health Science and Medical Technology pathway for PUSD students. The main presentation is done in Spanish, and the event will include professionals from all over San Diego County.

Kendra Couch Classic

For the past six years, Mt. Carmel High School has hosted a “Cancer Game” to bring awareness and raise money for cancer research. This year, seven other teams joined Mt. Carmel High School for their first-ever cancer awareness tournament - the Kendra Couch Classic - named in honor of a cancer victim and dear friend of the organization. The final championship game, played in honor of former PUSD Board Member, Todd Gutschow, has been scheduled for Saturday, April 7, 2018, at 1:30 pm at Mt. Carmel High School. You can find more information here.
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Registration and enrollment for free preschool

Poway Unified School District (PUSD), in partnership with the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), will again offer FREE State-Funded and Head Start preschool classes in 2018-2019 for 3 and 4 year olds.

Registration days will be held on April 30, 2018 at the District Office Community Room, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 from 9:00 am to 11:00 am and on May 3, 2018 at Valley Elementary School’s multi-purpose room, 13000 Bowron Rd., Poway, CA 92064 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

PUSD offers 5 six-hour classes at Valley, Los Penasquitos, Sundance, and Pomerado Elementary Schools. There are 2 three-hour classes held at Del Norte High School and Rolling Hills Elementary School. One free meal is included for all students in the 3-hour classes and 2 meals for the 6-hour classes. Parents are highly encouraged to volunteer in class 2 days per month. Eligibility is based on family income and other factors. Priority is given to 4 year olds, however, space will be available for a limited number of 3 year olds. Children must reach the age of 3 or 4 years by September 1st.

Parents or guardians who wish to register their children will need to bring birth certificates for all children living in the household, the child’s up-to-date immunization records, two proofs of residency, and one year’s documentation of income. Registration packets will be available at the registration site or can be downloaded ahead of time from the PUSD Preschool website: http://www.powayusd.com/preschool (follow link to “State Funded Preschool”).

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Tee Up and Make a Difference: Golfers and Sponsors Needed!

We invite you to join other education, business, and community leaders at this special event that will include breakfast on the golf course, hole contests, an air cannon, and an awards and auction lunch.

With your help, we can reach our goal to raise $75,000. The Poway Unified School District prepares 36,000 students for college and career readiness. Your participation in the Annual Golf Classic will support our STEAM initiatives, the opportunities for rigor, relevance and relationships in every classroom, and the expansion for real-world, work-based learning opportunities for students and teachers.

We encourage sponsorships, as well as sign-ups for foursomes and individual players. Sign up today! Don't play golf, but still want to help? You can donate online, participate in our silent auction, or join us for the lunch and auction only.

News Minute

Are you catching our weekly news updates on social media? These are one-minute video recaps of the week’s news with PUSD Director of Communications, Christine Paik. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you don't miss out!

Important Dates:

  • District Recess: April 9-13, 2018
  • Board of Education Meeting: April 19, 2018
  • Board of Education Meeting: May 10, 2018
  • PUSD Foundation Golf Tournament: May 11, 2018
  • Memorial Day Holiday: May 28, 2018

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.