Sweetwater Must Sees Newsletter


Sweetwater District’s Melanie Villanueva Named 2023-24 San Diego County Teacher Of The Year

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The Sweetwater Union High School District is extremely proud to announce that Melanie Villanueva – previously 8th grade science teacher at Hilltop Middle, now a teacher on special assignment at the district office, has been named as a 2023-24 San Diego County Teacher of the Year.

“Today, we celebrate not just a teacher, but a beacon of inspiration who lights the path of knowledge for our students,” said Sweetwater District Superintendent Dr. Moises G. Aguirre. “This Teacher of the Year award is a testament to your unwavering dedication, innovative teaching methods, and the profound impact you have on young minds. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor!”

The 2023-24 County Teachers of the Year were chosen from among 44 teachers nominated by their school districts for their commitment to students, teaching, and continued growth and development. The winners were selected based on a review of their applications and interviews by a panel made up of former County Teachers of the Year, district and county office of education administrators, and a PTA representative. They were chosen based on student achievement, professional development and school community involvement, teaching philosophy, knowledge of educational issues and trends, promotion and development of the teaching profession, and ability to serve as ambassadors of education.

Melanie Villanueva says, “Teaching is not just a profession for me – it’s a passion, and my love for students and their learning keeps me in the classroom to this day.” The passion comes with a purpose as the 8th grade science teacher at Hilltop Middle School in the Sweetwater Union High School District (now a teacher on special assignment) adds, “The best way to close achievement gaps is by providing high-quality instruction and helping students learn to believe in themselves and their abilities.”

“Whenever I visit her classrooms, her students are engaged as you hear them conversing academically with each other and participating in activities she has designed and aligned with appropriate grade-level standards,” recalled Hilltop Middle School Principal Easter Finley in her recommendation of Villanueva. “Her impact begins in the classroom and spills over the entire school, which in turn, influences our community to be a safe place for learning.”

Melanie’s passion for education shines through, igniting curiosity and nurturing the potential within each student. Congratulations on behalf of the entire Sweetwater Union High School District community.

Five Educators from Around the Region Now in the Running for State Title

Five local educators representing schools in Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, and Poway have been named San Diego County Teachers of the Year. Our very own Melanie Villanueva and the honorees were announced at a reception Friday night as part of the 33rd annual “Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers,” presented by San Diego County Credit Union in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE).

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Q & A: Meet New SUHSD Board of Trustees Student Representative Izayah Ringfield

We are thrilled to introduce our newest member of the Student Board of Trustees, Izayah Ringfield. In our ongoing effort to amplify student voices and enhance our school and district leadership, we sat down with Izayah to discuss his goals, vision, and aspirations for his role on the board. This interview offers a glimpse into Izayah's unique perspective and dedication to making a positive impact on our school communitities.

1-What made you want to be the school board student representative?

A reason I wanted to be the school board student representative because of my dedication to inclusivity. Not only racial, and socioeconomic inclusivity but inclusivity in terms of the roles students play at their schools, whether they’re an athlete, or involved with their ASB, or if they aren’t in extracurriculars now but aspire to be, I understand their perspectives and have lived it. Being the student board representative allows me to be the voice for students that feel they can't or don’t use their voice, also allowing me to lift their voices up.

2-What was the application process like?

The application process for the school board student representative position was tough to develop but also incredibly rewarding. I truly believe that the way I approached my application, as long as the essay(s) required was a major part of becoming suhsd’s student representative.

3-What issues are you looking to bring to the board this year?

An issue I am bringing to the board issue is the fact that many of my fellow students across the district have not been educated about the dangers of poor social media etiquette and it has led to several school shooting threats, other dangerous threats, posts made with violent intent, vulgar language on posts, and overall negative school climates, this will be a part of a larger initiative I would like to push for ‘Positive SUHSD School Climates & Culture(s)’. Something I plan to push as well as donating district-wide food waste to food banks in our communities, to not only feed our students but also help the people in need across our metro area. A big part about pushing for issues and change is that it comes with the conversations you have with students and staff across the district and as I continue to have discussions, I will continue to have new ideas and new perspectives to present to the board.

4-What are you doing to be the best representative possible for the student body?

To be the best student representative possible I have committed to doing the work necessary with such an impactful role as this one. Most of the work on this front will come with educating students about my role, having super engaging discussions at our monthly ASB president meetings, and putting in the work and research needed to be an effective and positively impactful student rep.

5-Has anything surprised you about being on the board so far?

I have had one meeting so far, but what has surprised me about board meetings is that I was truly not expecting our SUHSD board of trustees members, superintendent Dr. Aguirre and the directors at SUHSD to be so welcoming and inviting. When I say that, I do not mean I expected them to be rude or totally uninviting, I am just shocked I have not already had conversations with them in the past simply because of the inviting spirit they all carry, and I hope more students can connect with the people who do the work to improve SUHSD’s dedication to educating students, but also connect with them to highlight the improvements they can all make.

6-What are your responsibilities during meetings?

A majority of the work during meetings comes before the actual meeting; I do the research with the agenda presented, have discussions with students and sometimes staff pertaining to my vote, or any questions or comments I might have, and lead a district-wide ASB Presidents’ discussion where we discuss student needs, concerns, comments, and everything in between which I then summarize and speak about at every Board meeting.

7- Do you have any other goals for this year?

A big goal of mine this school year is to have a successful year with my school’s BSU. Last year was our first year and we had some hardships but overall a successful first year, I am just excited to take our club to the next level and cement our role as an exciting and inviting club at the Home of Champions.

8- Who inspires you and why?

My mom inspires me to be a harder worker and a better person. She works tirelessly which seems like every day, along with my dad of course, to provide for me and my two sisters in a beautiful place with also a very high cost of living. Besides providing for us financially, she always ensures that I am given the maximum amount of opportunities to be successful and that I am loved no matter what. The fact that she has been through so much at the age I am now, alone encourages me to keep going.

9- If you had your own podcast who would your first three guests be?

If I had a podcast my first 3 guests would be my older sister, my AP of Student Activities Ms. Petersen (she’s one of the realest you will ever meet), and Steve Lacy.

10- What school do you attend? What sports or extracurricular activities are you involved in?

I attend Chula Vista High School Class of 2025. I am involved in my school’s BSU, our football team, I am the Attorney General of our ASB and a member of our School Site Council. I love my school and the Home of Champions is a major part of who I am as a student and as a person.

11-What do you like to do for fun?

For fun I binge shows, watch YouTube videos, hang out with friends and family, watch Tiktok, and play video games. When I do have time I try to have the most fun I can!

Empowering Change: Behind the Scenes of SCPA's Video Shoot "Bullying Is" To Send a Powerful Message

Taking a Stand Against Bullying Through Visual Storytelling

The Sweetwater District and School of Creative and Performing Arts at Chula Vista High School are proud to share a behind the scenes look into a special project that embodies their school's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment. Students and staff recently came together to produce a thought-provoking video titled "Bullying Is," which will not only raise awareness about the harmful effects of bullying, but also emphasizes the power of unity, empathy, and positive change.

Watch Here for a Behind the Scenes Look....

Behind the Scenes - Bullying Is Film Shoot

Celebrating Excellence: Dr. Elvia Estrella Spotlighted in UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools Research Article

We are thrilled to extend our warmest congratulations to Dr. Elvia Estrella, Program Manager, in the Student Support Services Department on being highlighted for a recent research article she contributed to in the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools. Dr. Estrellas' dedication to advancing education and contributing to meaningful research is truly commendable.

Dr. Estrellas' work reflects her commitment to excellence and her passion for making a positive impact on the educational landscape. The Sweetwater District is proud to have Dr. Estrella as a part of the SUHSD Family.

To read Dr. Estrellas' article; “Supporting the Academic Success of Students with Foster Care Experience: Lessons from Sweetwater Union High School District.” visit: https://transformschools.ucla.edu/research/supporting-the-academic-success-of-students-with-foster-care-experience-lessons-from-sweetwater-union-high-school-district/

Nutrition Nourishment: Keeping Students Healthy and Energized

SUHSD Nutrition Services Department Launches New School Lunch Scanners

New School Cafeteria Scanners at SUHSD!

Superintendent Aguirre and San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephen Team Up for School Safety Tips


"Shining the Spotlight on Excellence: Celebrating Our Dedicated Maintenance & Nutrition Services Department

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SUHSD Maintenance & Nutrition Services Teams:

Thank you for your excellence, commitment, and dedication to the students and families of the Sweetwater District.

Over the past two weeks, SUHSD has experienced a Tropical Storm, and concerns over water safety to several campuses. Both events called for the immediate action and support of Maintenance and Nutrition Services Teams. Without pause, both departments accepted the call to action, and delivered top level service to our school sites.

Thank you for your professionalism, and dedication to our students and staff.

With gratitude!

Embracing a New School Year: Recap of the Energetic Welcome Back Assembly at Castle Park High

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Olympian High School Student Kaitlyn Farley Surprised With $40,000 College Scholarship

It’s the start of a new year and it’s never too early to start thinking about what’s next after high school. Sweetwater District’s own Kaitlyn Farley would agree, having won one of two $40,000 BigFuture Scholarships for August 2023.

Kaitlyn, a junior at Olympian High School, completed planning actions on BigFuture, a free online platform that helps millions of students personalize a plan for the future. College Board’s BigFuture Scholarships financially reward students who complete steps online in the college and career planning process. Completing at least one of the key steps earns students a chance to win a $40,000 scholarship, currently awarded monthly to high school students in the class of 2024 and 2025.

A large group of supporters including Kaitlyn’s parents joined in on the surprise recognition at Olympian High School. Board of Trustee Member Elva Lopez-Zepeda, and Superintendent Dr. Moises G. Aguirre were joined by San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) County Board Member Guadalupe Gonzalez, and SDCOE Area Superintendent Dr. Matthew Tessier.

According to Kaitlyn, she’s not exactly sure where she plans to attend college, however she did express her interest in the Arizona area. “I’m leaning towards somewhere in Arizona since it’s not too far from home. I am also interested in studying psychology and providing support to those in need,” said Kaitlyn.

“We are really excited for Kaitlyn and her family,” said Olympian High Principal Viky Mitrovich. “As a parent currently with a child in college, this scholarship money will really provide support to you, and you’re parents.”

The BigFuture Scholarships are unique and the requirements to qualify are simple. The more steps that students take toward exploring and planning—and the earlier they begin—the more chances they have to earn money for the future. Students don’t have to submit an essay or test score. Eligibility is not tied to citizenship status, family income, or GPA requirements. Completing steps on BigFuture will automatically enter students in for $500 and $40,000 drawings every month. To ensure an equitable process, students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year earn double the entries for every drawing.

“The Sweetwater District is immensely proud of Kaitlyn Farley and this huge accomplishment. Her determination serves as an inspiration to us all,” said Superintendent Aguirre. “We look forward to seeing all the remarkable things she’ll achieve with this scholarship.”

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Launch Virtual Academy Hosts Student Academic Recognition Ceremony

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Unleashing the Spirit of the Vikings: A Recap of the Exciting Viking Day at Mar Vista Academy

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Southwest Middle School's Aloha Day: Embracing the Spirit of Hawaii

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Empowering Safety: Sweetwater District's Threat Assessment Work Group with Dr. Manny Tau

Recently, the SUHSD Threat Assessment Work Group collaborated with Dr. Manny Tau, a nationally recognized expert in threat assessment and school safety to discuss proactive measures that ensure the well-being of all district students, staff, and families.
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Exciting News!

SUHSD is taking a ride through your neighborhood. Introducing our brand new district advertisements. Keep an eye out for these city buses as they showcase the great things happening here in Sweetwater.

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Sweetwater District's 3rd Annual B-LAC Back to School Picnic and Step Jam: A Celebration of Unity and Culture

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Eastlake High Freshman Jaelyn Williams Cross Country & Track Stellar Athlete

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Kudos to Eastlake High cross country and track record holder Jaelyn Williams for her exceptional running performance. Jaelyn has been featured in the San Diego Union Tribune, and several other local media outlets for her outstanding running record.

Read more about Jaelyn here: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/high-school-preps/story/2023-06-29/jaelyn-williams

District English Learner Advisory Committee Nominations

SUHSD DELAC will accept nominations and hold elections during the Sept. 14 2023 DELAC meeting for 3 Community member representatives.


  • Residence in the South Bay
  • Committed to improving English Learner programs
  • Not be currently employed by SUHSD
  • Not have a student enrolled in SUHSD schools
  • Attend nine monthly meetings
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