September 12, 2016
Welcome to our board meeting! Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of September 11th! We want to remember first responders, the thousands of people who lost their lives that day, and hundreds of thousands impacted by those who lost their lives. It’s a reminder to all of us that each day is precious with those we love and care about.
We are in the final week of our first quarter of the 2016-17 school year!
- Students and staff continue to do amazing work, both in and out of the classroom. Just last week I received an email from Kelly Hamilton, the Visual and Digital Arts teacher at ORH. The CIS Coordinator asked her students to design LCAP posters so students would be more familiar with them. This is just one of the many ways our staff and students work together to create more clarity for all. Thank you student Anthony De Vera for the design work!
- The 2nd Annual Building & Trades Career Readiness Fair is being held at CPH on September 14, 5:30-7:00 p.m. Appreciation is extended to Construction Trades CTE Teacher Cesar Gamez for organizing and coordinating the fair. It’s open to all students, staff, and families across the district.
- Last Thursday and Friday, approximately 100 Sweetwater teachers, counselors, and administrators participated in an Equity Symposium sponsored by SDCOE. The keynote speaker was Dr. Pedro Noguera. Dr. Noguera is a distinguished professor of education at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, he served as a tenured professor at New York University and Harvard. The title of his keynote was “Excellence through Equity.” Sound familiar? The message he shared is in total alignment with our own pursuit of LCAP Goal 2 – creating a safe and healthy learning environment for each student by building a culture of equity and a positive climate that promotes excellence throughout the district.
- Noguera shared that in order to make equity central we must give students what they need to be successful, both academically and socially.
- We must recognize that not all students are the same because they learn in different ways and at different paces.
- He proclaimed that pervasive inequality makes the pursuit of equity difficult but essential.
- Finally, he said that keeping equity central means staying focused on outcomes – both academic and developmental.
- Then, all of our school teams reflected on a number of questions:
- Instead of focusing on how to raise achievement we should ask: how can we get our students excited about learning?
- Instead of focusing on how to prepare our students for state exams we should ask: how do we prepare our students to be independent learners? What will they need to know to be successful in life?
- Instead of asking how to cover the curriculum we should ask: how will I make what I teach relevant and meaningful to students?
We not only attended the symposium, several of our staff were members (Principal Rich Carreon, Dr. Fulcher, HH teacher Carla Redelings) on panels and five of our students (3 SoH, 2 SUHI) sat on a panel that discussed the topic: Confirming our Conviction for Equity. They were impressive!
All Sweetwater staff left the symposium feeling inspired to advance the equity work we are beginning here! And we know where we are headed will lead us to answer the reflective questions he posed! In fact, we are on our way to understanding what it means to be equitable vs. equal. Thanks to all who made the time to attend!
On Saturday night, a number of us attended the 26th Annual Salute to Teachers where the 2016 Teachers of the Year were announced! We are profusely proud of all five of Sweetwater Teachers of the Year who represented us in the San Diego Countywide competition. Our incredible teachers are: Mariana Hughes, English teacher at ELH; Tracey Kiser, Math teacher at HH; Kim Lepre, English teacher at RDR (formerly of HM); Sylvia McBride, Social Science teacher at CPH; and Stuart Douglas, Biology Teacher at GJ. For 13 of the 26 years, we have had a Sweetwater teacher chosen as one of the five teacher finalists selected countywide. This year we are happy to announce that honor continues with Stuart Douglas as one of the finalists for 2016. He thanked his parents, family, colleagues and especially, his students. Congratulations to Stuart and all our teachers of the year!
Finally, 2016 is our National Park Service Centennial. Did you know we have 413 national parks in the U.S. and 27 here in California? On September 24, there is free admission to any one of our national parks in honor of the 100th birthday! “The centennial kicks off a second century of stewardship of America’s national parks and engages communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs.” We all benefit from the wonders and beauty of our national parks! We have an intersession coming up; plan your next adventure and visit one of our national parks. Remember: free admission on September 24 and November 11. The National Park Service encourages everyone to “get up, get out there, and find your park!”
In closing and in honor of the National Park Service Centennial, I want to share advice from a Caldera (volcano):
- Rise to the occasion
- Be spectacular
- Vent when you need to
- Make a big impression
- Have deep reservoirs
- Get fired up
- Show ‘em what you’re made of!
Have a safe and relaxing break!
Thank you for the opportunity to serve and support each of you!
Karen Janney, Ed.D.
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