#TeamPUSD Newsletter

September/October 2020 Edition

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Reopening Schools Safely

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Message from the Superintendent

The photo above was taken at the October 28 meeting with my Superintendent's Student Advisory Council, consisting of student leaders from all of our high schools. We have been meeting in person, wearing masks and physically distancing, focusing on leadership development, communication skills, and civic engagement/community service. These meetings with students are the highlight of my day. We will be seeing more of these types of in-person small group meetings at secondary schools across the District, as we continue to phase in the safe reopening of our middle and high school campuses. By now, our middle and high school families have heard the customized reopening plans that our sites have been working so hard to develop.

A huge congratulations to our 26 elementary schools, special education programs, and Abraxas High School on their successful reopenings for on campus learning! We are the largest District in San Diego County (and one of the largest in the state) to move forward with reopening. We are grateful for our families’ support as we continue to work together to make this a possibility for students in a safe and thoughtful way. Let’s work together to ensure that we are practicing recommended health and safety measures in order to keep our community infection rates low and keep our schools open.

I also want to commend and encourage all of our staff and families who are in virtual learning. As you may know, for the first time in its history, the Poway Unified School District opened the 2020-21 school year with fully virtual learning. This was no small feat. Try to wrap your head around this statistic: Poway Unified students participated in over 18 million minutes of learning via Zoom video conferencing in the first three days of school!

Our teachers, staff and administrators prepared for months to ensure a smooth start. We surveyed our families on what worked and what needed improvement based on our emergency distance learning in the spring, and implemented those changes for a more rigorous and robust virtual learning experience this fall. We offered professional development sessions for teachers and staff, with a combined 10,000 attendees.

Even as we reopen our campuses for in-person learning, I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate the innovation taking place in our virtual classrooms. In many ways, this pandemic has forced those of us in education to fast forward our efforts to bring learning into the 21st century. Our students are also developing grit, learning to persevere past technical challenges and frustrations, and they are realizing that learning can be exciting and interactive even through a screen. They’re seeing how the curriculum is applicable to their real lives, and they are building time management and technology skills that are vital in college and beyond.

We know virtual learning isn’t ideal for everybody, especially for our youngest children, students with special needs, and working families. That is why our reopening plan brought our elementary schools and small groups of students with special needs back for in-person learning first. But even when we all eventually return in person, my hope is that the positive results of the pandemic on education will continue: providing students with more personalized learning, choice and flexibility, as well as teaching and learning in a whole new way, with creativity, patience and problem solving that will extend far beyond the classroom and beyond the status quo.

-Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps, Ed.D.


Health and Safety Reminders

School Reopening Page

All updates related to School Reopening can be found on our homepage, www.powayusd.com. by clicking on the blue banner (like the one pictured below). Additionally, updates are emailed directly to families.
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Reopening Guidebook

The PUSD Reopening Guidebook is updated frequently in accordance with the latest guidelines from the County Department of Public Health. It reflects the steps our District is taking to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.

To view the most recent version of the Poway Unified School District Reopening Guidebook, click here.

Para ver la versión más reciente de la Guía de Reapertura del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Poway, hacer clic aquí.

Families are encouraged to watch and share this health and safety video to become familiar with the new protocols in place on campus.

Poway Unified Elementary Reopening Video

COVID-19 Dashboard

PUSD has published a COVID-19 Dashboard, wherein all confirmed coronavirus incidents related to Poway Unified school sites and offices are listed. The website can be found here.

The Dashboard is updated once a week and when we are notified of confirmed cases. Columns are separated by month to provide a more accurate snapshot of current cases vs. past cases. Please note that PUSD does not wait to notify close contacts upon initial report of a positive case. However, we do wait for official confirmation from the public health department before listing the case on this dashboard. This could result in a delay of cases appearing on this dashboard or a discrepancy between the number of notifications received and actual number of confirmed cases (when the case is not confirmed positive by public health).



Valley Elementary Virtual Learning

We sat down with Kindergarten and 4/5th grade teachers at Valley Elementary School to provide an inside look into their virtual classrooms and routines. Valley is on a modified year-round calendar, and started the 2020-21 school year completely virtual on August 3. A big thank you to Profe. Rivera, Profe. Sanchez, Profe. Molina, and Profe. Aparis, who were kind enough to let us film part of their day.

Virtual Learning at Valley Elementary: A Day in the Life (Poway Unified)

Secondary Registration Brings Students Together Once Again

Middle and high school students across #PowayUnified picked up course schedules, VLA materials, Chromebooks (if needed), and took yearbook photos in preparation for the first day of school on Sept. 2. We loved seeing the school spirit! Thank you to our staff who made it happen.
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Westview Welcomes Largest Freshman Class to Date

What a welcome from our Wolverines. It was all smiles from students and staff as Westview ASB Link Crew welcomed over 645 (!!!) freshmen with a drive-thru parade and grab bags. Westview tradition says freshmen must run the gauntlet through a staff tunnel at the back-to-school pep rally. ASB and staff managed to create an experience just as fun and memorable, despite the current health orders. Welcome to the pack, newest Wolverines!


#PUSDBacktoSchool Livestream Event

Because of COVID-19, we were unable to host a back-to-school kickoff event in person like in years past. But that didn't stop us, as we WERE able to host a livestream event the night before school started, on September 1. Over 6,000 people tuned in! The livestream featured a special message from all of our principals, our Superintendent, and the annual music video "Be a Light."

You can watch the event below:

Poway Unified School District 2020 Back to School Welcome Premiere


September 2, 2020

A Fully Virtual Start

It takes a village to pull off a #PUSDBacktoSchool like this one. Superintendent Phelps expressed her pride in #TeamPUSD for making the First Day fun, positive, and organized despite a fully virtual start. It was truly a back to school like no other. The 2020-21 year looks different, yes. But with patience, flexibility and grace, we can work through issues and obstacles together. Although we are not starting the year in person, we will continue to push forward and make the best of the situation for each and every #PowayUnified student, each and every day.

Thank you to those who shared their #PUSDBacktoSchool photos with us on social media; it was so nice to share in the joy of everyone's virtual first day. Visit the Adobe Spark page below for all the photos.

Technology Stats for the First Week of Virtual Learning

We need to give a shout out to our #PowayUnified IT Staff. They assisted thousands of families with various technology issues and concerns September 2 through September 4 -- just check out those stats! This doesn't even include the thousands of Chromebooks and laptops our Tech & Innovation Department distributed.

There's always a learning curve. But we couldn't have gotten through virtual learning without them. Thank you!

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In-Person Preschool

Preschool classes were among the first groups to return for in-person instruction on September 2. We stopped by Highland Ranch and Adobe Bluffs Elementary to give families a peek into the health and safety guidelines that are being implemented for students and staff, both in and out of the classroom.


October 1, 2020

Ten PUSD Elementary Schools Reopen for In-Person Learning

Students and staff waited for this day for a long time. We’re grateful to #TeamPUSD for making the return to on-campus learning a safe one, and to our parents for their patience and partnership.

The Elementary Schools that opened October 1 are:

  • Canyon View Elementary School

  • Highland Ranch Elementary School

  • Morning Creek Elementary School

  • Painted Rock Elementary School

  • Pomerado Elementary School

  • Shoal Creek Elementary School

  • Sundance Elementary School

  • Sunset Hills Elementary School

  • Turtleback Elementary

  • Westwood Elementary School

October 8, 2020

Abraxas High School Opens

It was a great day back on campus for Abraxas High School Transition and Diploma programs on October 8. Students and staff were excited to greet one another after months of virtual learning (AHS started classes mid-July). Abraxas is hosting cohorts of students on campus in an alternating schedule, leaving Wednesdays as an "all virtual day" for a deeper campus cleaning and sanitation. Families were given the option to remain fully virtual if they choose.

October 12, 2020

Remaining 16 PUSD Elementary Schools Open

It’s Official: All 26 #PowayUnified elementary schools are open for in-person learning, nearly 7 months (to the day) after emergency closures. This would not have been possible without collaboration, support, and patience from staff and families. Congratulations to #TeamPUSD for reaching this long-awaited milestone.

The remaining elementary schools that opened October 12 are:

  • Adobe Bluffs Elementary School

  • Chaparral Elementary School

  • Creekside Elementary School

  • Design39Campus

  • Deer Canyon Elementary School

  • Del Sur Elementary School

  • Garden Road Elementary School

  • Los Penasquitos Elementary School

  • Midland Elementary School

  • Monterey Ridge Elementary School

  • Park Village Elementary School

  • Rolling Hills Elementary School

  • Stone Ranch Elementary School

  • Tierra Bonita Elementary School

  • Valley Elementary School

  • Willow Grove Elementary School

Studio 701 "Excellence in Education" Series: School Reopening 2020

High school students in the Studio 701 video internship program created this video, sharing PUSD's efforts to reopen for on-campus learning, with new health and safety measures in place.
Poway Unified Excellence in Education Series: "School Reopening 2020-21"


District News

PUSD's Comprehensive Plan for Prioritizing Racial Equity and Inclusion

The Poway Unified School District Board of Education approved the District's Racial Equity & Inclusion Plan, which lays out a path to meeting the goals stated in the Board's anti-racism resolution, including hiring more diverse staff to reflect our diverse students, incorporating more culturally-rich and representative curriculum, and enforcing clear consequences for racist behavior.

District leadership have been meeting with parent and student representatives to ensure their voice is reflected in our planning, as well. This includes hosting virtual Racial Equity Community Conversations with families at all PUSD high schools and feeder pattern schools. The District recently added an additional meeting date (Wednesday, November 2) for families and staff who were unable to attend the meeting hosted by their feeder pattern school.

  • To visit our new Racial Equity website, click here.
  • To view the PUSD Plan for Prioritizing Racial Equity and Inclusion, click here.
  • To register for the November 2 Racial Equity Community Conversation, click here.

CFD Special Tax reduction plan

The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is pleased to announce that it has developed a plan to accelerate the termination of many of its 38 community facilities districts (CFDs) and improvement areas (IAs) by paying off existing debt sooner than originally planned. This would save District CFD and IA homeowners as much as $1.1 billion over the course of the 30-year plan.

Read more about the plan here.

Black Mountain Ranch Southern Site Community FAQ

PUSD has scheduled a Live Community FAQ Meeting regarding the Black Mountain Ranch Southern Site for Wednesday, November 4, from 5:30pm to 7pm. Please see the flyer for more information. It will be a Zoom meeting, and attendees can register here.

This meeting will also be livestreamed on the #PowayUnified YouTube Channel for community members who are unable to attend.

Annual PUSD College and Career Fair

Over 1,500 #PowayUnified students and their families attended the first-ever VIRTUAL College and Career Info Night October 20! Missed the event but still want to watch a session? They were all recorded, and can be viewed in our session catalog here.

Thank you to #TeamPUSD for working together to put on this crucial event for our families, and for the dozens of presenters who shared important info on the college admissions and career pathway processes.

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Garden Road's Green Apple Day of Service

Thank you Balfour Beatty Construction for an amazing day of service at Garden Road Elementary School! Volunteers painted murals, revamped the gardens, created outdoor learning spaces, and much more. Please take a moment to watch this video that captures the entire Green Apple Day of Service event.

2020 Green Apple Day - Garden Road Elementary School - Balfour Beatty

Achievements and Recognitions: Students, Staff, Schools & District

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Three PUSD Elementary Schools Named National Blue Ribbon Schools

We are thrilled to announce three #PowayUnified schools have been named 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. Congratulations to Adobe Bluffs Elementary School, Monterey Ridge Elementary School, and Park Village Elementary School!

Read more about this prestigious accomplishment here.

Honoring PUSD's Administrators of the Year

We are very proud of Mr. Scott Corso (Black Mountain Middle School), "Middle Grades Principal of the Year," and Dr. Jennifer Burks (Associate Superintendent of Tech & Innovation), "Technology Administrator of the Year!" Thank you, Association of California School Administrators Region 18 for recognizing our fabulous #POwayUnified leaders.

PUSD Alumni Honored by Association of California School Administrators

On October 3, we celebrated our student scholarship winners Brendan Lockie (RBHS), Lexie Roche and Barry Kilmister (PHS) in the "Honoring Our Own" ACSA Region 18 Virtual Awards Ceremony! Congrats and good luck in college.

Pomerado Elementary Receives Classroom of the Future Award

Classroom of the Future Foundation officially recognized Pomerado Elementary School's Launch Lab in the "Achieve Award" category. They were honored for their dedication and commitment to improving student achievement through innovative practices that are making a difference in teaching and learning. Congratulations, Pomerado!

National Charity League Donation

Recently the NCL Inc. Poway Chapter (National Charity League) donated some supplies for our Youth In Transition program. The girls in the NCL Class of 2024 held a virtual meeting and shopped for item on Amazon, including: feminine hygiene products, packs of snacks, adult coloring books and colored pencils. These items will directly benefit #PowayUnified students who are identified as homeless or in need of additional assistance. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.

Stone Ranch Students Receive Top Placement in Art Contest

Congratulations to Ruchika Kench and Kylie Barbosa (Stone Ranch Elementary School) on their awards in Olivenhain Water District's annual water awareness poster contest! The theme: "Love Water, Save Water." Ruchika and Kylie each created a piece that portrays the value of water, and captured the importance of water conservation. Their artwork will be in the OMWD 2021 calendar, available for free in December.

The full Pomerado News story here.

PUSD Students Fundraise, Donate Hundreds of Masks to Valley ES

Five former Valley Elementary School students gave back to their Tiger Family in a big way.

Despite attending different high schools, best friends Drew (Rancho Bernardo) Max (Rancho Bernardo) Sean (Torrey Pines) Juan (Poway) and Brandon (Pacific Ridge) joined together with plans to donate over 700 reusable masks to students at Valley. Thank you Drew, Max, Sean, Juan and Brandon for considering the needs of others in difficult times.

Read the inspiring story of how they're making it happen: bit.ly/VESmask

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WVHS Student Honored for AI Project

Edmund Sumpena (WVHS) won the Microsoft “Imagine Cup Junior 2020” award for the Americas for his artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning project, ‘Wanderguardian.’ His innovation was focused on assisting people with dementia. This example of applying course knowledge to a real-world problem, and yielding effective results, is outstanding. Well-deserved, Edmund!

The Microsoft Imagine Cup Junior Program provides students aged 13 to 18 the opportunity to learn about technology and how it can be used to positively change the world. In 2020, the global challenge was focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Full story here.

Team Inspiration "#1 Overall Worldwide"

Robotics Team Inspiration (#11128) was named "#1 Overall Worldwide" in the 2020 RoboSub competition. In a (virtual) competition that included teams from 33 countries around the world, Team Inspiration was the only middle/high school group to earn a world title in the history of the program. Tap the photo to read more about the competition. This is a huge accomplishment for our students, who represent schools throughout #PowayUnified. Congratulations!
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Girl Scout earns Gold Award

Girl Scout Madalyn T. Nguyen shared her love of science, technology, engineering and math with younger girls to “shatter” negative stereotypes of females in STEM fields while earning her Gold Award.

Her project included organizing and moderating two virtual events. They were a seven-week STEM careers series and a Girls STEM Camps Series. Read more about her efforts here.

41 PUSD Students Named National Merit Scholarship Finalists

Congratulations to our 41 #PowayUnified students who were named as Semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program for 2021. Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools across the nation entered the program. We will be sharing the results of the national competition in spring, as the finalists are announced. We are proud of these honorable students.

Outstanding Asian and Pacific Islander Awards

Congratulations to Andrea, Sophia, Angela, Victor (Westview HS) and Kaavya (Del Norte HS), who were recently honored with the "Outstanding Asian and Pacific Islander Student Award" by County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar & San Diego Asian Americans for Equality.

The award recognizes Asian and Pacific Islander student achievement in STEM, arts, civil and community engagement, culture, sports development, and more. Of the 13 awardees, five were from #PowayUnified schools. We extend the heartiest congratulations to our well-deserving students!

Two PUSD Students Named County's "Most Remarkable Teens"

Congratulations to Anika Menon (MCHS '20) and Kaavya Raamkumar (DNHS '22) for being recognized by the San Diego County Public Defender's Office as two of the "Most Remarkable Teens" in 2020.

The Most Remarkable Teen program recognizes San Diego youth ages 13-19 for their contributions and efforts in 25 non-traditional categories including arts and culture, civic involvement, and more.⁠ Read about the program here.

CyberAegis Pentaquark

Congrats to Team CyberAegis Pentaquark for their second place win in the California Cyber Innovation Challenge. The competition consisted of extensive digital forensics analysis and presentation.

DNHS Students Create, Donate PPE to Hospitals

Check out this inspiring story: Del Norte High School students Andrew, Jerry, Nick & Rishi are 3D printing face shields for local #HealthCareHeroes. Their project, which started as a summer "hobby," has now evolved into a non-profit. "Shield Our Health Heroes" has raised enough money to donate 750 more shields to 10 local hospitals. Whether it's making face coverings for hospitals or sending "Cards4Kindness" to people around the world, we can always count on our students to #bethechange.

Full story.


Fun Photos and Videos

Creative Classrooms

Take a look at some of the creativity and innovation taking place in virtual and in-person classrooms throughout the District:
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New Teacher Day

We welcomed 76 educators to #TeamPUSD during (virtual) New Teacher Day. They were introduced to the #PowayUnified Board, District administrators, our Poway Federation of Teachers, and more. We're confident that our newest educators will create the culture and conditions to support world class learners, and we are thrilled to work alongside them.

(NOTE: Not all new teachers are pictured. Pic courtesy of LSS via Zoom.)

Best Buddies Halloween

On a gloomy October weekend, Del Norte High School Best Buddies Program gathered (responsibly, with masks!) for their annual Trunk or Treat event.

A Bronco-style Welcome

Such a warm “Welcome Back to Campus” from Rancho Bernardo High School Bronco Ambassadors. Turtleback students were greeted by RBHS Seniors, complete with homemade signs and a masked “Billy” the Bronco. In addition to this morning, they also greeted the PM group of on-campus students and are planning more ways to support PUSD students in their feeder pattern.
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"Campa-palooza" 2020

Teachers and staff from across the District participated in the Tech & Innovation Department's "Campa-palooza" event, which is a collaborative and hands-on learning night focused on improving student learning through tech. Staff reflected on the technology methods they use in their classrooms, gave insight to other teachers' methods, and attended workshops with District trainers to better improve their tech literacy.

WVHS Theatre Company Virtual Production

BRAVO to our Westview Theatre Company students in this fabulous (virtual) "Bound for Broadway" production! From Hamlet to Hamilton, and the pets of Westview as an intermission special, each of their performances exemplified the unique talents of the Company. Thank you for putting on a spectacular performance; this one's a must-see! Watch the full production here.

2020-21 Bound for Broadway 2020

Friendly Faces Behind the Masks

Prior to opening the remaining elementary schools for in-person learning, we showed some of the faces you might see around. So grateful for each one of these wonderful staff members. If you see any of them in-person, make sure to stop and say "Hello!" #TeamPUSD

RBHS' Senior Class Gift

“We decided to take matters into our own hands ... to make a place on campus for students that’s gonna make them feel united.”

The Rancho Bernardo High School Class of 2021 donned masks and elbow grease as they transformed an area of campus into an outdoor class/lounge space as their senior gift. We can't help but applaud the generosity these Broncos showed toward their peers.

Read the article here.

Elaine Fan (WVHS) Develops App

Westview Senior Elaine Fan was recently featured in a UC San Diego Extension article. Why? She developed her own stress-relief and relaxation app after a year of coding and design. While the app has not been published yet, she hopes to keep working on its development. Way to go, Elaine! Read here.

Oak Valley Debuts Classroom Addition

The new, furnished, two-story, eight-room building features shared flex space and is being put to use during virtual learning. The construction was funded by local CFDs.

Staples Donates Care Packages to Rolling Hills ES

Thank you to Staples, who recently donated over 500, $5 dollar care packages for students and the first days of in-person instruction!


Celebrations and Resolutions

Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 - Oct. 15)

During #NationalHispanicHeritageMonth (September 15-October 15) we recognized the contributions and influence of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the history and achievements of the United States. We highlighted these figures on social media to celebrate rich Hispanic heritage and culture all month.
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October is Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is #DyslexiaAwarenessMonth. We join the CA Department of Education and districts statewide in providing ongoing interventions needed to support the academic success of students with Dyslexia.

Specifically, #PowayUnified offers universal screenings for K-1. Every elementary and middle school has curriculum aligned with the research-based Orton-Gillingham Approach to more effectively meet the unique needs of our students with dyslexia.

Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31)

Red Ribbon Week takes place every year from October 23-31, and provides drug awareness and prevention for youth. In the photo on the left, RBHS committed to staying drug-free by placing red ribbons across campus. Schools have been hosting fun virtual activities as well. Take a look!

National School Lunch Week

Did you know October 12-16 is #NationalSchoolLunchWeek? The National School Lunch Program serves nearly 30 million children every school day. A healthy school lunch has a big impact on a student's life, both inside and outside the classroom. Students enrolled in #PowayUnified schools can pick up FREE breakfast and lunch at convenient school sites, Monday-Friday from 7-8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

More info about PUSD meal pickup can be found on our website here.

Digital Citizenship Week (Oct. 19-23, 2020)

For Digital Citizenship Week (Oct. 19-23), the #PowayUnified Tech & Innovation Department shared lessons, resources and tips for students and their families on how to use technology responsibly (via Common Sense Media). Now more than ever, it is important to work with students in cultivating healthy media habits for a more respectful digital environment.

You can find our Tech & Innovation department on Twitter and Instagram (@pusdinnovate). Give them a follow for more #bytesizedlearning.

World Teacher Day - October 5, 2020

Despite every curveball 2020 has thrown, #PowayUnified teachers continue to do what is necessary to actively educate and engage our 36,500+ students. To all of the amazing teachers around the world who make a difference everyday, we #ThankYou.

Make sure to thank a teacher. #TeamPUSD #WorldTeacherDay

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Custodial Workers Day (October 2)

Happy #NationalCustodialWorkersDay to our staff! This celebration is so timely with the reopening of #PowayUnified elementary schools, and later our middle and high schools. Thank you for your dedication to student and staff health and safety, each and every day. (Westview High is pictured here).

Start With Hello Week (September 2020)

Usually in the third week of September, #PowayUnified students participate in "Start With Hello Week," where they teach fellow peers the importance of empathy and ending social isolation by starting with a friendly greeting. This program is through

Sandy Hook Promise

, and one of our DNHS students is actually on their National Youth Advisory Board.

Meet Aashi Mittal: Aashi has had a direct hand in starting a SAVE Promise Club at Del Norte, and has a deep desire to bring students and staff closer together. Congratulations to Aashi in serving on this board, and we wish #TeamPUSD fun in the virtual Start with Hello activities.

Read more about her work with Sandy Hook promise here.

World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10)

The month of September is designated as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

When you learn to recognize the risks and signs of suicide, and how to utilize the resources available, you are better equipped to support youth who struggle with mental health. By consistently researching social emotional interventions that are evidence-based, and implementing those accessible resources into our programs, we create culture and conditions to support our world-class learners.

Poway Unified School District

The Poway Unified School District is located in northern San Diego County, California. PUSD operates 25 elementary schools (K-5), one elementary & middle school combination (TK-8th), six middle schools (6-8), one continuation high school, five comprehensive high schools (9-12), and one adult school. 24 schools are located in the city of San Diego; 11 schools in the city of Poway; and 3 in the County of San Diego. The District serves approximately 36,000 students and is the third largest school district in the county.