CONNECTIONS

MT. DIABLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

MDUSD FRIENDS AND FAMILIES

It’s that time of year again! Mt. Diablo Unified high school seniors have been getting “you’ve been accepted” letters from colleges and universities across the country. Some have also made decisions leading them to employment opportunities, trade schools, and service in our military. We are very proud of all our seniors have accomplished in their high school careers, and everything they’ve done to become college and career ready.


College readiness isn’t just about the academic part of a student’s profile. Colleges look at a much broader set of skills – skills and experiences that tell them a student is well-rounded and that the academic prep done in high school indicates a student has the ability to complete his or her chosen degree or certificate program successfully.


Components that assure college readiness for students also assure the ability to succeed in other areas include:


Academic Preparation

A student who is fully prepared for college is also fully prepared to succeed for the next steps beyond high school and well into adulthood.


Emotional Readiness

College isn’t easy, and students need to be prepared emotionally to juggle and balance the demands of school, work, and home with maturity, confidence, and perseverance.


Social Skills

These are important in high school, and essential in college. Students who get involved in campus activities and organizations build communication skills and tend to do better in college.


What can incoming high schoolers do to become college ready?

  • Choose challenging courses such as college prep or AP courses
  • Ask for help if you need it
  • Get involved in school and community activities to build communication and social skills.


In its Future of Jobs report, the World Economic Forum cites the top 10 skills required for success in the 2020 workplace. In addition to skills you would expect, such as complex problem-solving, they also say there is an essential need for so-called "people skills", including being able to effectively coordinate and communicate with others, having an an orientation toward service, and demonstrating emotional intelligence.


These are qualities our students learn from their earliest school days, and we will always strive to create teaching and learning environments that promote these skills. Learning is a lifelong proposition and so many successful adults have gone straight to work, started at community colleges, attended multiple universities as well as entered the military. Whatever they choose, continuous learning is key.


Dr. Nellie E. Meyer

Superintendent

DISTRICT NEWS

FISCAL REPORT CARD SHOWS MDUSD WITH 'VERY STRONG CREDIT POSITION'

Moody's Investor Service, in its annual fiscal report on Mt. Diablo Unified, describes the district as having a "very strong credit position" with an Aa2 rating that is above the median rating of Aa3 for U.S. school districts. The key credit factors cited for the positive report were a "healthy financial position, an extensive tax base, and mid-ranged debt and pension burdens."


In this month's report, Moody's stated the district's financial position continues to be healthy, noting that the district's cash balance as a percent of operating revenue (30.7%) is a stronger than the U.S. median, and rose from 2013 - 2017. Furthermore, the fund balance as a percent of operating revenue (25.6%) is slightly above other Moody's-rated districts nationwide.

STUDENT SAFETY AND GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION

Public schools are charged with not only supporting student achievement, but providing a safe environment. While gun violence on campus is rare, the occurrence of any threat to the safety of students is unacceptable on school campuses and safety of both students and staff is paramount.


The Mt. Diablo Unified School District takes this issue very seriously, and in March convened a work group to help develop a resolution in support of safe schools and gun violence prevention. The final Resolution on Student Safety and Gun Violence Prevention was approved unanimously at the April 9 board meeting. Our thanks to the staff, parents, and community members who worked together to craft the resolution.

SCHOOL READINESS TOPIC OF APRIL LCAP SPEAKER SERIES

As part of the key goal in our Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for Parent/Family & Community Engagement, we are committed to making sure parents, families and community members are informed, engaged, and empowered as partners to support student learning. Last year, we introduced our Community Speakers Series to provide an activity supporting these goals.


Please join us tomorrow for an evening with First 5 Contra Costa for a conversation about school readiness, and preparing little ones for a smooth and simple transition to kindergarten. The event is open to all MDUSD parents, guardians, and caregivers to learn about practices to implement at home before the new school year to help new students start their school career with success.


Learn more!

STUDENT NEWS

CONCORD HIGH SENIOR RUNNING FOR STATE ASSEMBLY

A Concord High School student, encouraged by his teachers to run for City Council, is taking his dream to effect change to an even higher level. Aasim Yahya is running for California Assembly District 14. The district is currently represented by Tim Grayson of Concord.


In an interview with the Concord Pioneer, Aasim said that ever since he was a young boy, he know he wanted to "effect change, not only in Concord, but to empower other youth to feel as if they too can speak up and stand up."


He notes that the largest voting block in the country now is between 18 and 25 years old, meaning "the course of our national rests in the hands of those who are the youngest."


Read Aasim's full interview in the Concord Pioneer!

NORTHGATE HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR HONORED AS SOCIAL JUSTICE CHAMPION

Northgate High School student Lucy Siale is the recipient of the 2018 California Council for Social Studies Student Award as a Champion of Diversity and Social Justice. The award recognizes students for consistent leadership skills in advocating for issues of diversity and social justice, exhibiting courage, compassion and respect for others of diverse backgrounds, and having a positive impact on their peers, school, and the larger community.


Lucy was nominated by her former history teacher, Meg Honey, who, in her nomination form, described Lucy as "passionate, learned, courageous, innovative, and inclusive" and credited her as a student leader "wholly committed to social justice".


In her nomination, Ms. Honey wrote:

"This fall, Lucy demonstrated the tremendous organizing potential of young people when she organized the DACA protest march in Oakland. I really engaged with Lucy's process, observed her social media activism, and followed the protest march as it unfolded. Lucy's organizing brought thousands of people to Oakland, and her work was the subject of several articles and news reports. The way that she effectively covered all logistics of the protest (from toilets, to medical facilities, to water and supplies) was nothing short of astounding, and the speech that she gave at the event continues to inspire me."

SCHOOL NEWS

YGNACIO VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL ROBOTICS TEAM HEADED TO HOUSTON FOR GLOBAL COMPETITION

Ygnacio Valley High School's venerable student robotics group, Project 212 Warriors Robotics, was recently honored as the Rookie All Stars at the San Francisco regional for FIRST, an international organization founded to inspire students to be science and technology leaders and innovators through mentor-based research and robotics programs. They are now bound for the FIRST global championship competition in Houston, Texas.


FIRST Robotics' Rookie All Star Award celebrates the rookie team exemplifying a young but strong partnership effort, as well as implementing the mission of FIRST to inspire students to learn more about science and technology. The FIRST championship draws more than 30,000 young people from 60+ countries.


The team has been fundraising to cover costs of 30 students to attend the Houston event. On their GoFundMe page, the team notes that it is "made up of students from all walks of life and with a diverse group of students, 75% being students of color, we hope to build diversity in the STEM fields. Also, our President and Project Manager are both women. Our goal is also to increase access to STEM education for women."


"As a rookie team in FIRST Robotics, we were unaware of the possibility of going to Houston for Globals. Our team has worked day and night for the past three months just like every other FIRST team. We have at least 3,015 work hours among our team."


Congratulations Project 212 and good luck in Houston!

SUN TERRACE ELEMENTARY STEM MAGNET SCHOOL TO PARTICIPATE IN COMCAST CARES DAY

Every year, Comcast NBCUniversal employees pick up their paintbrushes and hammers on Comcast Cares Day, Saturday, April 21. It is one of the nation's largest single-day corporate volunteer efforts and Comcast NBCUniversal’s celebration of its year-round commitment to service. This year, Sun Terrace Elementary has been selected as the Comcast project site in Concord.


Volunteers are encouraged to come and help with projects like:

  • Cleaning out/weeding the planter areas throughout campus and adding mulch
  • Adding privacy slats to the kindergarten playground fence
  • Painting new games on both the upper grade and kindergarten playgrounds
  • Leveling the running track and adding more gravel where needed
  • Painting the wood picnic tables


This is by no means a comprehensive list, but we hope it helps give you an idea of the types of projects planned. The clean-up activities will start at 7:30 a.m., and end at 2 p.m.


In addition to clean-up activities, Comcast can also provide a grant to the Sun Terrace PTA, based on the number of volunteers participating. To sign up for the Comcast Cares Day at Sun Terrace, visit this webpage and click on the "Volunteer" button.

MDUSD TEACHERS OF THE YEAR - AND NOW CONTRA COSTA COUNTY TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS!

We learned on 4/19/2018 that both Kelly Perkins and Rosie Reid were named finalists for the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year awards! Winner will be named next month! Congratulations to both of these talented and dedicated educators!!!


KELLY PERKINS

Ygnacio Valley High School – Special Education


What drew you to teaching?

I have loved working with children from a young age. In my teen years I began volunteering at every opportunity (Vacation Bible School, babysitting, children’s musicals, classroom helper, special needs classes at church, Special Olympics. Once I graduated from college with a degree in Human Development, I knew pursuing a career in teaching in elementary education was what I wanted to do. I hadn’t thought about teaching kids with special needs, but when the opportunity arose, I took my first teaching position in a moderate-severely handicapped classroom and loved it! I still do, all these years later. It’s been the best job I could have ever hoped for.


What do you do in the classroom to collectively acknowledge and value the range of diversity among your students, while moving them forward as a group?

My students are unique individuals and learners with a wide range of ability levels. I write thoughtful and comprehensive IEP’s (individualized education plans) to meet my students individual needs. I create a learning environment that both challenges and engages my learners to achieve to the best of their ability levels. With such a huge range of learners (for example, I have students learning to recognize the numbers from 1-10 and others working on pre-algebra in math, I have students learning the sounds of letters and others reading 4th grade level chapter books). Because of the range of ability levels, it is important to individualize my instruction as much as possible. We do a lot of small group, rotating station type of learning for math and reading instruction, using technology every day to enrich learning. As a group we work on special projects together (such as our yearly music video and our performance in the good-bye rally). My students also enjoy project-based learning where they learn to work in small groups on special projects (such as creating a class cookbook or writing and performing in their own commercials). I feel with thoughtful preparation, keeping in mind the diverse needs of my students, learning is enriched, and students achieve to their full potential.


Describe a recent ‘a-ha’ moment where you saw a student make a connection to his/her classroom learning experience?

I have a student in my class who is a selective mute and a non-reader. She has an augmentative communication device that she came in with at the beginning of the school year but didn’t know how to navigate. After working every day with her on the device and teaching her the pathways to using her core vocabulary for several months, this student learned not only all the icons on the home screen page, but how to navigate up to five more hits/pages to communicate sentences. Augmentative communication can be very difficult when students first begin using it because it is just like learning a new language. With the added difficulty of a student being a non-reader, the task is that much harder. When she learned the pathway to core vocabulary communication we did a lot of fist pumping and wahoo’s!


What are areas you want to delve into as a teacher to push yourself in the next year or so?

I would like to create more opportunities for real life science and science experimentation in my classroom. My students enjoy hands-on activities, especially when something cool happens (like making a volcano erupt). This spring we are incubating chicken eggs (for the first time!) as well as watching butterflies go through the life cycle in a netted, classroom butterfly habitat. I want to give my students more opportunities like these captivating science lessons. I have always felt science wasn’t my forte, so I’m pushing myself to delve in and see what great things happen.


Read Kelly's full profile here!

ROSANNE (ROSIE) REID

Northgate High School – English, Academic Language Development


What drew you to teaching?

I love literature and I am a dedicated social justice warrior. I came to teaching to disrupt the status quo and to help those who are disenfranchised rise up. I think teaching people to read and understand the stories of others and to tell their own stories is one of the best way to achieve a more compassionate and just society.


How would you describe your philosophy of teaching?

Many people feel that if you are working for equity, you need to essentially compromise rigor and dumb down the curriculum, but it is actually by teaching a rigorous course that all students grow. An easy class only perpetuates the status quo, as nobody learns much and those on top, stay on top. But when work is genuinely challenging and demands high levels of literacy and critical thinking, everyone grows.


What do you do in the classroom to collectively acknowledge and value the range of diversity among your students, while moving them forward as a group?

I try to give options for choice and give prompts or tasks at a range of ability levels. I try to use differentiation strategies that don't hurt the stronger students, but really help those who struggle. I try to include a lot of structured student talk, so everyone can learn from each other.


Describe a recent ‘a-ha’ moment where you saw a student make a connection to his/her classroom learning experience?

My student Haley recently told me that she has started noticing all kinds of things about how girls and women are treated since she learned to apply a gender lens to texts and situations. As an athlete, she has realized that girls' sports are always secondary to boys' sports, and that most people tend to have lower expectations for female athletes.


What is the best thing you’ve read this year? What are you reading now?

I loved A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, but it is not for the faint of heart. It is very sad and violent and beautiful. I'm reading Exit West by Mohin Hamid now for my book club.


Read Rosie's full profile here!


NEWS FLASH! We recently learned the County's Regional Occupation Program (ROP) nominated Glen Barker, a Sports Medicine teacher at Northgate High School, as their ROP finalist for the County Teacher of the Year. Watch for a profile of Mr. Barker in the next Connections!

MDUSD ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

LYNSIE SHATSWELL CASTELLANOS

Mt. Diablo High School - Class of 1997

Currently Principal, Olympic High School (MDUSD)


What were the schools you attended in MDUSD?

I began my educational journey through Mt. Diablo Unified at the age of 2. At the time, Mt. Diablo High School had an ROP Child Development Program and with that, a preschool! My godmother decided to enroll me there and I attended with many people I remain friends with to this day. I then went on to Sun Terrace Elementary School, Glenbrook Middle School and finally, Mt. Diablo High School (Once a Red Devil… Always a Red Devil!).


What led you to choose a teaching career?

I actually have a very brief teaching history. I helped develop the educational program for the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in San Diego. I started tutoring on the reservation while in my second year of college and then stayed aboard to help create a high school program from the ground up. We went from instructing in a small room off the tribal hall to opening a brand new educational building. I guess looking back this was my first experience in alternative education (I was only 18 I think). After receiving my bachelor’s from San Diego State University, I started and completed my Master’s in Social Work/Pupil Personnel Services Credential) program at UC Berkeley. Social work became my passion, but the love of school always remained. I believe this is how I eventually ended up in schools for the long haul.


How do your students inspire you? And your teachers?

My students inspire me with their continued resilience and open-mindedness. Their ability to be flexible and to pick themselves up, despite challenges, encourages me every day. My teachers, behavioral health specialists and support staff inspire me with their knowledge and expertise. I love learning from them and benefiting from their vast skill set.


What would you like the community to know about Olympic High School?

I want the community to know that Olympic High School is an amazing program with highly skilled staff and students. We have a variety of programs and services to meet the diverse needs of all our students. Perhaps most unique is our focus on the student’s mental health needs. We recognize and value the experiences our students have been through but believe strongly that they can and will accomplish great things. Student voice matters, and we want a campus that is welcoming to all students.


How did your experiences in MDUSD prepare you for this career path?

My early education through the Mt. Diablo feeder pattern definitely prepared me for college and my career to this day. Not only did I get a strong academic foundation, but I also got the experience learning in a diverse community of learners. Mt. Diablo fostered and promoted student voice and the belief we could achieve great things!


Anything fun to share from high school memories?

I was voted Ms. Mt. Diablo for school spirit!


Read Lynsie's complete profile here!

MDUSD IN THE NEWS

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

Mt. Diablo Unified is always looking for potential team members. Please check our personnel website and our LinkedIn page for updated classroom positions and other positions we’re looking to fill, such as Special Education Assistants, Instructional Assistants, and a variety of administrative and clerical positions. We’re looking to hire new School Office Managers, Campus Supervisors, and Special Education Assistants this month! And we are always recruiting for Custodian Trainees, School Bus Driver Trainees, and Clerical Substitutes A $5,000 signing bonus is offered for Speech Language Pathologists.


Come join #TeamMDUSD!

SCENES FROM SCHOOLS

DATEBOOK

APRIL 18, 2018

LCAP Community Speaker Series #4 - School Readiness with First 5

Riverview Middle School, 205 Pacifica Ave., Bay Point, 94505 (Get Directions)

  • 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • View flyer here!


APRIL 23, 2018

Regular Meeting - Board of Education

1936 Carlotta Dr., Concord, CA 94519 (Get Directions)


MAY 14, 2018

Regular Meeting - Board of Education

1936 Carlotta Dr., Concord, CA 94519 (Get Directions)