Sweetwater Must Sees Newsletter

APRIL 2023

Board Members and Superintendent Advocate for SUHSD and the Entire South Bay in Washington D.C.

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Stand Out Math Instructor at Chula Vista Middle Receives Visit From Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

It’s not every day a huge software mogul pays a visit to a local school here in the South Bay. Recently, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined other members of the foundation’s education team to visit the classroom of 8th Grade Math Instructor Amilcar Fernandez and get a first-hand look at his exceptional leadership in the Math Department at Chula Vista Middle School.

“When I was in middle school, with a lot of sacrifice, my parents bought me a computer because I wanted to learn everything about the internet, computers and become as knowledgeable as Bill Gates. Therefore, when they told me that he wanted to visit my classroom, I was ecstatic,” said Fernandez.

Gates’ visit was largely in part due to Fernandez’s implementation of new strategies and enhancement of other strategies connected to the (CARE Network), a network of 13 schools serving middle grades students that is funded by the Gates Foundation and lead by the High Tech High Graduate School of Education in collaboration with, CREATE at the University of California, San Diego, and the California Math Project.

Over the last three years, the Chula Vista Middle School Math Department has demonstrated new strategies and enhancements learned via the CARE Network. These strategies have assisted Fernandez and other teachers creating positive and collaborative learning environments for students.

In the CARE network, Fernandez has scored high on PERTS Elevate, which measures the extent to which students are experiencing the 6 learning conditions that matter for engagement and learning: classroom belonging, teacher caring, feedback for growth, meaningful work, affirming cultural identity, and student voice. Because of that, Mr. Gates and his colleagues chose to visit Mr. Fernandez's classroom.

“To have someone of such global influence take the time to visit a teacher’s classroom shows how much value should go towards education,” said Chula Vista Middle School principal Lora Bumatay. “The strategies Fernandez has learned via the CARE Network has assisted his relationship building with his students and created an environment where the students collaborate and learn from one other without the fear of being judged.” As a result, Fernandez’s, students have responded and rated him very high, prompting the visit from Mr. Gates and his foundation colleagues.

Fernandez has taught in the Sweetwater District for the last nine years teaching math at Southwest Middle School, Granger Junior High and most recently Chula Vista Middle. His interest in teaching math began as a tutor when his students thanked him for assisting them with math problems in a relatable way. Fernandez, a Structural Engineer graduate from UCSD says, helping students in math brings him much joy, satisfaction, and much excitement.

“I have always looked up to Bill Gates because of my love for computers,” said Fernandez. “This visit has given me an extra push to pursue bigger educational goals that will positively impact not only my students, but more students in our district.”

During the visit, Mr. Gates observed Fernandez teaching his class. Students had the unique opportunity to interact with Mr. Gates and he even shared with Fernandez with some reflections from his experience participating in the lesson. “Receiving feedback gave me the inspiration of going beyond my classroom to meet the needs of my students,” said Fernandez. “Via the CARE Network I have been able to implement new ways of asking students questions in order to get more student participation and collaboration. Being able to collaborate with the CARE Network has taught me a lot of skills regarding collaboration, participation, implementation, coaching, and delivery of a lesson.”

According to Fernandez, the visit from the Gates Foundation has given him a huge sense of accomplishment, but this is just beginning, he says. “As an aspiring administrator, this visit strengthened my belief in reaching more students. This visit reinforced my perspective on teaching, and it provided more motivation to continue growing academically and professionally for the benefit of all students. I plan to continue to collaborate with the CARE Network, and SUHSD district personnel to share best practices that will help meet the needs of all students in Sweetwater,” said Fernandez.

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Sweetwater 2023 Employee Recognition Event

Earlier this month the Sweetwater District proudly honored the 2023 Employees of the Year at the Employee Recognition Event. This years theme, a "Royal Soiree" also recognized employees with milestone years of service and retirees. Congratulations to all district honorees.
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First Annual Mental Health Youth Leadership Summit

Kudos to Margaret Sedor, District Suicide Prevention & Wellbeing Coordinator and district-wide school psychologists and student leaders for hosting the first high school student lead community meeting for and facilitated by high school students. The event was hosted at Hilltop High School

Huge thanks to the summit planning committee: Lila Careaga, Brenda Garcia, Leo Hsu, Luis Lopez, Christobelle Tan, Jessica Neamon, Sesha Haynes, Mark Carpizo, Valerie Ruiz, and high school ASB Assistant Principals!

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Alex Morgan Foundation

The Sweetwater District is very proud to have played a role in the official launch of the Alex Morgan Foundation yesterday afternoon at Montgomery Middle School. Several #SUHSD female athletes were selected to participate in a private listening session. Alejandra Inzunza, Principal of Sweetwater High School emceed the event. Sweetwater is proud to partner with the Alex Morgan Foundation along with new grassroots soccer organization

Let’s Go South Bay!, and Casa Familiar to empower girls and women on and off the field!

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Adult Education Department Receives Promise Practice Award & Model Program Award

Recently, the SUHSD Adult Education Department was acknowledged by the California Department of Education and Sweetwater Board of Trustees for receiving the "Promise of Practice" award and the "Model Program" award. The Promising Practice Awards recognize California ABE, ASE, or ESL Adult Education providers that have implemented strategies and practices to help students attain their goals, transition into postsecondary education, improve program management, enhance learning, and much more. Congratulations to the entire Adult Education Department for this recognition.
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CVM Student National Champion For American U.S. Open

Congratulations to Chula Vista Middle School student athlete Rafael Valencia on the victorious win at the #USMTO National #MuayThai Championship competition! You make all of #SUHSD and the community of #ChulaVista very proud!

SUHSD Math Field Day

Instruction and student activities don’t just occur Monday through Friday. Recently, Southwest Middle School, hosted the 22nd Annual Math Field Day. Thanks to Brahim Wahib, STEAM Programs Coordinator, SUHSD College and Career Readiness, and Southwest Middle for hosting such a great event.

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