MVLA District Dispatch

September 2019

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Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year!

Hello MVLA Staff,

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year – and congratulations on a successful and strong start.

In the first months since I joined this amazing district, I have heard from many staff members some things I think are a wonderful tribute to MVLA. They related to me many stories and anecdotes highlighting the good and hard work you do every day, and the wonderful relationships you have so carefully built and work to maintain. It is obvious that you all have a very deep connection to MVLA. As your new superintendent, there couldn’t have been a more inspiring way for me to start – seeing how much you care about MVLA and knowing that it is important to all of us that we continue to grow, learn, and do what’s best for our students.

Something else I've been learning about and appreciating – the strength of MVLA traditions. I love that MVLA has a tradition of strong academics, led by a strong student-centered team. I am also impressed by our committed board, involved parents and supportive community as our partners in education. The collective commitment to our student's success is apparent, as our new year gets underway.

I am visiting classrooms and working with our schools to align them with the latest and best practices. We will do so with a focus on equity, making sure all students have the support they need to achieve excellence. I am evaluating the district's systems, looking at the organization as a whole, and using my past experiences to find areas that we can improve. I truly believe this district is a place where students learn the skills and confidence to be our future leaders.

In September, I will be meeting with staff, students, families, community and business leaders in informal settings to hear about your MVLA experiences and your ideas for continued success. I hope to meet many more of you during this time.


Nellie Meyer

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19 New Teachers Join MVLA

This year, MVLA welcomes 19 teachers to our district - some new graduates and many with years of classroom experience. At New Teacher Orientation in early August, they dug in with our traditional “establishing roots” ceremony and planted several hydrangeas in front of the District Office.

Join us in welcoming these new colleagues to our MVLA classrooms and community:

Hector Arias - Math, LAHS

Nicole Behaylo - Special Ed, LAHS

Rachelle Burnside- English, MVHS

Yoonsun Chai - Art, LAHS

Lauren Diez - Choral, LAHS

Bill Dunbar - Math, MVHS

Liesl Fry - Speech/Language, LAHS

Persephone Hintlian - Special Ed, LAHS

Jodi Hwang - English, LAHS

Kirk Jennings - PE, MVHS

Lauren Kato - Dance, MVHS

Shannon Porfilio - French, LAHS

José Rosario - English, MVHS

Jay Ruby - Special Ed, District

Rich Rullo - Special Ed, MVHS

Julie Song - English, MVHS

Raylynn Virasak - Special Ed, MVHS

Bernice Wei - Mandarin, LAHS

Ariele Wildwind - Math, MVHS

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Meet Bob Fishstrom: New Director of Info Services

Join us all in welcoming our new Director of IT - Robert (Bob) Fishtrom! Bob comes from the Sequoia Union High School District, where, for six years, he directed IT and oversaw a $10-million bond budget and supervised the technology department staff. He implemented that district’s first 1:1 Chromebook initiative, providing devices for more than 800 students. Prior to his current district-level position, Bob was at Carlmont High School in Belmont for six years, first as an administrative vice principal, then as an instructional vice principal. He has coordinated standardized testing, planned comprehensive master schedules, managed programs relative to personnel, school operations, curriculum, instruction and more. Bob has also been a technology resource teacher, technology and social studies teacher, and lecturer on “Technology for Educational Administration” at Santa Clara University. Bob earned his Bachelor of Arts and Masters degrees from San Francisco State University, and holds a teaching credential from the College of Notre Dame.

Congratulations to 33 Permanent Teachers & Staff!

Congratulations to our 18 teachers and 15 classified staff who earned their permanent status this year! You can read the full list of recipients in the MVLA Newsroom.

At the annual kickoff Dr. Phil Faillace, President of the MVLA Board of Trustees. inspired with his welcome message, relevant to new and experienced teachers:

“By virtue of this office, I am one of five community members who have the good fortune to be part of the MVLA team - which is usually more like a functional family than a team - that you have also chosen to join, and that has a uniquely important charge. We alone, among the myriad taxpayer-supported institutions that render a dizzying variety of often overlapping social services, have the responsibility to provide a free academic education to young persons on the threshold of adulthood…

We – actually you – are the curators and custodians of a precious body of knowledge, methods of inquiry, skills at creating works of great beauty and at explaining concepts difficult to grasp, and components of various cultures that have nurtured the souls of those who have lived in them. But you are more than custodians and curators, important as those roles are. You are the transmitters not only of all those constructs I have just mentioned, but also of a tradition of rigorous reasoning based on evidence and logic – a tradition that today is under attack. This tradition and all of those other wonderful constructs of humanity that have taken centuries to accumulate, would be lost forever in a very few generations were it not for the accomplishments of our professional educators. You are nothing less than the guides to the future of civilization.”

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New Absence Management Tool

On August 8, you received an email to create a Frontline Absence Management account. Please follow instructions and create an account for yourself. If you already have an account, you are all set - no need to create another one!

All MVLA employees will be using this system to enter absences this year - even if you do not require a substitute. This is going to be a very positive change once we get used to it as we will be able to stop paper absence reports* and maintain more accurate records. Scheduled absences can be entered in as soon as possible. Entering them in early will provide accurate accounting as well as ability to monitor who is on campus in unexpected situations.

Contact us if you need more detailed instructions and guidelines to come. Thank you and happy new school year!

Leyla and Personnel Team

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ZenDesk is the Ticket to IT Help

We have 4,300 teachers and staff and a small tech support team to help us all. If you need any kind of IT assistance - fixing an email glitch, updating a teacher page, learning Google classroom tools and more - submit a ticket to the HelpDesk: It helps our IT team keep track of all of the work and help us get back online and productive.

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What Can you Buy with $1.8 Million?

MVLA Foundation Annual Report

With the support of high school families and community members, the MVLA High School Foundation surpassed its $1.804 million goal and funded essential and innovative academic programs for over 4,300 students in 2018-19.

Please read the 2018-19 Annual Report to learn about our programs and view the list of participating volunteers and donors to whom we are extremely grateful.

New Asst. Director of SpEd: Sumita Gosala

Sumita Gosala is the new Assistant Director for Special Education. She is a multi-lingual scholar with more than 20 years of teaching experience and extensive expertise with students with moderate to severe learning disabilities. Sumita comes to MVLA from the Jefferson Elementary School District in Daly City, where she coordinated student placement and IEP meetings for five years, and worked another seven years as an inclusion program specialist. Her credentials include administration, traumatic brain injury and orthopedic impairment, and other neurological and physical disabilities. Sumita also participates in the annual Autism Spectrum Disorder summer series organized by Stanford University, and is a certified instructor for the Crisis Prevention Institute.

Welcome to the MVLA family, Sumita!

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3 Reasons Teachers & Staff are the BEST Phonathon Callers!

  1. You already know all of the wonderful services and programs that the MVLA Foundation funds for our schools.
  2. You have experienced first-hand the difference our grant makes in students' lives.
  3. Parents think it is pretty special when you take time out of your busy schedules to make calls.

The annual MVLA Foundation Phonathon is on Tuesday, Sept. 24 and Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 6-9 p.m., at the offices of Compass Real Estate (formerly known as Alain Pinel), 167 S. San Antonio Road, in Los Altos.

We need 100 volunteers each night to call families to ask them for donations. We make it easy with scripts and a short, friendly training - and there’s plenty of food and good company!

The Foundation can't do it without your support. Please sign up to join in!

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Insurance Info at Your Fingertips

The Personnel Department has made wallet-sized information cards to provide contacts for questions you may have about Kaiser, Cigna, Delta and other insurance coverage. There is also a website and phone for "ExpertQuote" at or 408-953-1000.

Stop by the Personnel Department at the District Office to get your card - or a bunch for your department!