CONNECTIONS

MT. DIABLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

MDUSD FRIENDS AND FAMILIES

I always look forward to springtime in Contra Costa County. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful area with a wealth of places to explore and outdoor activities to look forward to. It also means lots of activity at all of our campuses - inside and outside the classroom!


Many of our schools have beautiful school gardens, where students have hands-on experiences in growing their own food, preparing creative recipes, and sharing them with families back home. We're very proud of the partnerships we have with some local agencies who share our belief that these hands-on experiences help build healthy habits that can last a lifetime for our students. Recently, a collaborative involving MDUSD and two local non-profit organizations was awarded a grant to help expand district initiatives focused on better childhood nutrition. More details are below.


As many of you are aware, schools across the country participated in the recent national walkout to protest gun violence, prompted by the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida.


We believe that the key to a strong educational system is honoring student voices. Our district planned for the walk-out day, working closely with students, staff, and community members, including our public safety partners. Each school planned activities and opportunities for remembering the victims of the school shootings, and encouraged freedom of speech and expression. All high school and middle school campuses had organized activities to remember the loss of life in Parkland.


I visited our high schools and saw example after example of our students exercising their voice peacefully and productively.


At one campus, the names of the victims from the Florida high school were read over the school intercom. Students then peacefully walked out, with over 1,000 lining Concord Blvd. with signs of remembrance. Students also lined Viking Drive with signs; passing cars honked in support. At another campus, students gathered on the football field, carrying signs with pictures of the victims, and details about their lives. Concord Police and Pleasant Hill Police provide a secure, supportive presence for the students. Early voter registration forms and information were make available for juniors and seniors at all district high schools.


I thank our schools, families, and community members for listening to our students' concerns, and working with them to create meaningful ways to protest and to honor the peers whose lives were lost.


Dr. Nellie E. Meyer

Superintendent

DISTRICT NEWS

MDUSD 2017-2018 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR AND FINALISTS


Congratulations to the 2017-2018 Teachers of the Year for Mt. Diablo Unified - Kelly Perkins, a Special Education teacher at Ygnacio Valley High School, and Rosanne "Rosie" Reid, an English teacher at Northgate High School. They will represent Mt. Diablo Unified in the 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year program for Contra Costa County.


Kelly Perkins has been teaching since 1991, and became a teacher because she enjoyed interacting with students and supporting their social and intellectual development. She chose Special Education because "a summer school principal saw my potential in the area of Special Education and encouraged me to interview for an open Special Education position in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. Now, 27 years later, I can't imagine doing anything else."


Rosie Reid has been teaching since 2002. As a child, she had an intense love of books and reading, often suggesting to playmates that reading to each other would be more fun than anything else. The first in her family to attend college, she credits "caring teachers and coaches" for helping her succeed in school, and says she "became a teacher to pay this forward."


Full profiles of these top teachers will be included in next month's Connections newsletter.


Congratulations as well to the other finalists, Tannaz Heaney, a Kindergarten teacher at from Sequoia Elementary School; Emily Andrews, a Third Grade/Dual Immersion teacher from Bancroft Elementary School, and Margaret Elliott, an Engineering, Robotics, and Computer Science teacher from Foothill Middle School.


All five were recognized at the March 26 Board of Education meeting. View the video starting at 8:49. Congratulations to all 47 of the nominees and finalists!

MT. DIABLO UNIFIED AWARDED $189K GRANT FOR INITIATIVES CREATING A HEALTHIER FOOD CULTURE


The REAL Food in Schools Collaborative, a partnership between the Mt. Diablo Unified School District; Life Lab, a Bay Area pioneer in garden-based science and nutrition education; Eat REAL, a non-profit dedicated to a rigorous healthy food certification, and Wellness in Action, a community-based wellness education and advocacy organization, has been awarded a grant of $189,430 from Battery Powered, a member-funded giving program established by The Battery, a San Francisco social club which works to marshal resources for people and organizations on the forefront of social change.


Battery Powered’s giving ‘theme’ for this 2018 grant cycle was childhood nutrition, challenging grant applicants to propose solutions to reach children and families in the Bay Area and address barriers that prevent them from enjoying a sufficient, healthy diet.


The REAL Food in Schools Collaborative was founded with a goal of integrating hands-on garden, nutrition, and cooking education and REAL Certified healthy food to support lifelong wellness and achievement for 32,000 Mt. Diablo Unified students. In their grant application, the Collaborative asked for funds to allow leading nonprofit food access, education and community partners to collaborate with MDUSD and each other for two years to scale and institutionalize new food service and education programs, including moving to REAL Certified food service, turning cafeterias into learning spaces for cooking and nutrition, using garden classrooms to integrate healthier food knowledge and culture into the school day, and expand afterschool programs with family involvement.


Learn more!

SCHOOL READINESS TOPIC OF NEXT LCAP SPEAKER SERIES EVENT


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 on April 18 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!

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

PLEASANT HILL COMMUNITY AWARDS


The 47th annual Pleasant Hill Community Awards night was held this past Tuesday, and included honors for an MDUSD teacher, parent volunteer, student, and the district's Garden Education program.


The Educator of the Year award went to Laima Haider, an AP History teacher at College Park High School, cited for inspiring her students to think critically and learn about issues at a global level.


The Teen of the Year award went to Ethan Tuey, a senior at College Park High School. Ethan is a 7th year Pleasant Hill Teen Council member, current chair, and has logged more than 600 hours volunteering for community events and fundraisers. He's also the President of the school's Interact Club and captain of the Swim Team.


Longtime parent volunteer Jeff Eide was recognized with the Education Supporter of the Year award. Jeff has given much of his time to Pleasant Hill schools and is currently the president of the College Park Athletic Boosters.


MDUSD's Garden Education program was honored with the Green Community Award, recognizing the work to build a district-wide program support science and garden education while cultivating environmental stewardship.


Read more about the honorees and awards event!

SCHOOL NEWS

MAKING SPACE FOR A MAKERSPACE


Have you heard about K-12 Makerspaces? Think DIY meets education, and you'll get a sense of why Makerspaces are loved by students as a place to explore their own interests and learn to use a variety of materials - both physical and virtual - to develop creative projects.


“Having a Makerspace at school is a huge hook for students to have access to all sorts of tools and technology, and be completely engaged in problem-solving using the science, engineering, technology, and math principles taught in the classroom,” said MDUSD Superintendent Nellie Meyer.


Current, ten MDUSD schools have a Makerspace on campus: Bancroft, Highlands, Holbrook, Mountain View, Pleasant Hill, Sun Terrace and Ygnacio Valley elementary schools, and Foothill and El Dorado middle schools.


Students at Pleasant Hill Elementary recently helped put together a video showing off their Makerspace and describing what they’re able to do there with their teams.


“It’s the place where you have to let your imagination come out and play with you,” said student Alani Contreras. “There’s really no limit to what you can make in there.”


“Our Makerspace STEAM Lab is a powerful example of what is possible through strong collaborative efforts between our parents and staff,” said Aurelia Buscemi, Principal at Pleasant Hill Elementary. “The vision and planning for this space started last year through staff and parent meetings and tours of STEAM labs that were already established at other MDUSD campuses.”


Learn more!

TEAM MDUSD SPOTLIGHT

DOMINIC MACHI

DIRECTOR, FOOD & NUTRITION SERVICES


How long have you been working for Mt. Diablo Unified?

I started with Mt. Diablo Unified School District in September 1, 2017


What do you find the most rewarding/love the most about what you do?

In food service, we are very passionate about the work we do for our students. In school food service, we are finally being recognized as an important part of student achievement. This contribution towards student success drives the passion for my staff and makes them feel they are part of the academic success for students.


What do you think is the biggest myth or misunderstanding about "cafeteria food" in schools?

I think the biggest myth is the food we serve is mystery food. I am moving the Food & Nutrition Services department in a direction serving restaurant quality food or the same quality you would see at Whole Foods or “O” Organics at Safeway. I also want the students to know where their food comes from being served to them – such as local and regional farms within 100 miles from our district.


What do see as the future for food services/student nutrition programs?

We are looking at the infrastructure of the Food & Nutrition Services Department and the changes that are currently being made for the future. Our district just received a grant from The Battery in San Francisco which is going to support a certification of excellence from the EatREAL organization over the next two years. EatREAL certifies restaurants, corporate dining, and healthcare dining across the country based upon purchasing practices and a high standards matrix focused on vendor animal welfare practices, sustainability, environmental best practices, using food that is locally sourced, no added sugars and scratch cooking in the Food & Nutrition Services program. This mark of excellence would make Mt. Diablo Unified School District the first school district in California and the second in the United States to receive a mark of excellence from the EatREAL organization. This is now our future of our department as we work towards this mark of excellence.


What is something that people don’t know about you that may surprise them….and that you don’t mind sharing?

Well, I have been in food service for almost 43 years, starting out at the age of 12 with my family. I am an Executive Chef and have worked in a Michelin 4-Star restaurant in San Francisco, corporate dining in Silicon Valley, and private clubs which included the Bohemian Grove in the Russian River Valley. I have prepared meals for Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, George H. Bush, and George W. Bush as well as other heads of state from around the world. My greatest joy, though, is preparing meals for our students.


Read Dominic's full profile here!

MDUSD ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

BRANDON BRATCHER

YGNACIO VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL, CLASS OF 2010

District Representative for Congressman Mark DeSaulnier


What were the schools you attended in MDUSD?

I attended Woodside Elementary, Sequoia Middle, and Ygnacio Valley High.


Tell us about some of your most inspirational teachers.

As I progressed through school, topics became more difficult (shocker!). At times, I wasn’t the most diligent student, but all my teachers always pushed me to overcome challenges, embrace things I didn’t know, and to always ask for help. These are attributes that I hold today.


If you could go back to your high school tomorrow, who would you want to see and what would you want to tell them?

I couldn’t go back to YV without seeing Ms. Stobing. She taught me problem-solving skills that I utilize every day. She always forced me to think outside of my comfort zone and to always respect others because “you never know their story or what they’re going through.”


What are some of the most rewarding parts of your job as a District Representative? What are some of the more challenging aspects?

The rewarding part of my job is meeting so many people with amazing stories. Working with the Congressman has exposed me to new ideas and allowed me to engage with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s equally challenging hearing the stories of struggle. Although it hurts to hear those stories, it motivates me to work harder for the district and locate answers for those individuals.


How did your experiences in MDUSD help prepare you for your work?

The diversity in this district prepared me well for the world. Having diversity as a common place in my life helped me understand that we can always find common ground.


Read Brandon's full profile here!

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, Educational Interpreters, and Student Resource Technicians this month!


Come join #TeamMDUSD!

SCENES FROM SCHOOLS

DATEBOOK

APRIL 9, 2018

Regular Meeting - Board of Education

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


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)