Superintendent Message – Board Meeting December 10, 2018

  • Welcome everyone! Thank you for joining us for the last board meeting of the calendar year.
  • The December board meeting is always the Board’s organizational meeting. With that comes the election of the 2019 board officers. I want to thank Trustee Hall and Trustee Pike for their service as president and vice-president, respectively, of our Board since December 2017. When I went back to check their attendance at school or district functions and events over the past year, in addition to board meetings, they have collectively attended over 100 events. That attention and visibility is symbolic of their commitment to our students, staff, and community. Both Trustee Hall and Trustee Pike go above and beyond and we appreciate that they care!
  • As we all know, our financial condition as a district has taken center stage for the past couple of months. Even with the work needed to address the budget shortfalls, I want to ensure everyone in our Sweetwater community knows that the focus remains steadfast on our purpose of educating students and paying attention to both their academic and non-academic well-being. Here are some examples:
    1. Teaching and learning is going strong with professional learning team meetings, pull-outs, learning & equity walks and professional growth opportunities at both the site and district level.
    2. Excellence through Equity training continues through book clubs on culturally responsive teaching, LGBTQ+ trainings after school, and conflict resolution PD.
    3. Students are progressing toward college requirements via A-G classes, AP courses, and/or a career technical education pathway.
    4. Counselors continue to meet with students to help with college applications, provide social-emotional support, or address academic concerns.
    5. Extra-curricular and co-curricular activities are in full force since school began in July. For example: Robotics continues to grow in 3 different arenas – Land (VEX & FIRST), Air (Multi-rotos “Drones”), and Water (Sweetwater Seawater & Perch). We’ve hosted 9 VEX & FIRST events since July; Air and Water events happen 2nd semester. There are approximately 580 students participating in VEX & FIRST, 80 in Drone, and 60 in underwater. Robotics – alive and well!
    6. VAPA classes and performances continue to amaze audiences. Just last week was Holiday Sing 2018. The following schools participated with the expertise of their directors: BVM – Alejandro Tapia/Gail Kennedy, BVH – Gail Kennedy, CPM – Tamara Frazier, CPH – Richard Kellis, CVM – James Llamas, CVH – Michael Sakell, ELM – John Academia, ELH – Judy Beaver, HH – Michael Gray, MoH – Gabi Urdaz, OLH – Jennifer Opdahl, ORH – Shafer Burnett, RDR – Jennifer Sudderth, SYH – Wendy Charines, SUHI – Alisa Van GinkelApproximately 22,550 students are enrolled in classes like art history, dance, digital media, art, computer music, instrumental music, vocal music, music theory, and theater. And, we have amazing teachers who inspire students every day!
    7. Middle and high school athletics continues to flourish and provide our students a way to stay connected. All our schools participated in the MS Athletics League. One thousand two hundred fifty-six students participated in football, softball, baseball, Cross-Country, Cheer, and Tennis.
      • SYH’s 10th grader Denise Castro played for Mexico’s National Under 17 Team in World Cup Soccer. Mexico’s Under 17 team finished 2nd in their best performance at a FIFA women’s youth tournament. Congratulations Denise!
      • High school athletes also made their presence known throughout CIF. In the Fall we had approximately 3,500 scholar athletes participating in 8 different sports: Cross Country – BVH Boys Div. 1 Champions and 6 male and female athletes qualified and ran in CIF State Championship; Football – OLH, ELH, ORH, HHS, CVH, MVH, SUHI, SOH, CPH qualified for playoffs; Boys Water Polo – ELH, MVH, OLH, BVH, ORH qualified for playoffs and MVH is D2 CIF Runner Up; Field Hockey – HHS, ELH, BVH in CIF playoffs with ELH as D2 CIF Champions; Girls Volleyball – ELH, ORH, MVH, MOH, SUHI, CPH, HHS, SOH in playoffs with SOH winning D5 CIF Championship; Girls Tennis – BVH, ELH, CVH, MOH, MVH, SUHI in playoffs. It’s been another banner season for Sweetwater schools.
    8. Our teachers make an impact every day.  In this month’s San Diego Magazine, the cover headline is “Heroes – The Men and Women Behind the City’s Toughest Jobs.” The article profiles “six local heroes who are affecting change, empowering the underserved, and making San Diego a better place” – a firefighter, sheriff, military captain, social worker, medical case manager, and a teacher – that teacher is Adin Esparza, CPM special education teacher who works with 7th and 8th grade students with autism. She is an inspiration to all of us!
    9. On top of all the day-to-day work our staff does with students and families, a group of Sweetwater employees coordinated an effort to support some CVH Alumni who lost their homes in the Paradise fires. True concern for our Sweetwater connections.
    10. Congratulations to SUHI Principal Maribel Gavin who was given a proclamation from the National City Council for her community service and involvement; so December 14, 2018 is Maribel Gavin Day in National City! Go Red Devils!
    11. As we approach the end of the 1st semester, we wish our students success as you complete finals next week and we thank all Sweetwater employees for the above and beyond attitude and work ethic you display every day on behalf of our students, families, and each other.
  • A colleague gave me a copy of Colin Powell’s book, It Worked for Me – In Life and Leadership. Powell provides lots of wisdom and insight using the experiences and lessons learned from his public service in the military and US government. Living through these past few months, I found his words to be inspirational for me. In the first chapter, Colin Powell shares his 13 rules in life and leadership and I hope sharing these rules will bring inspiration to you as you address both the accomplishments and challenges you face in your life and leadership opportunities:
    1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning. This rule reflects an attitude and not a prediction. I have always tried to keep my confidence and optimism up, no matter how difficult the situation. Things will get better. You will make them better.
    2. Get mad, then get over it. I’ve worked hard over the years to make sure that when I get mad, I get over it quickly and never lose control of myself.
    3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
    4. It can be done! Don’t surround yourself with skeptics. At the same time, don’t shut out skeptics and colleagues who give you solid counterviews.
    5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it. Don’t rush into things.
    6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision. Superior leadership is often a matter of superb instinct. Often, the factual analysis alone will indicate the right choice. More often, your judgment will be needed to select from the best courses of action.
    7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours. Since ultimate responsibility is yours, make sure the choice is yours and you are not responding to the pressure and desire of others.
    8. Check small things. Success ultimately rests on small things, lots of small things.
    9. Share credit. People need recognition and a sense of worth as much as they need food and water. Share the credit, take the blame, and quietly find our and fix things that went wrong.
    10. Remain calm. Be kind. In the “heat of battle” – whether military or corporate – kindness, like calmness, reassures followers and holds their confidence. Kindness connects you with other human beings in a bond of mutual respect. If you care for others and show them kindness, they will recognize and care for you.
    11. Have a vision. Be demanding. Purpose is the destination of a vision. It energizes that vision, gives it force and drive. It should be positive and powerful, and serve the better angels of an organization.
    12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers. Fear is a normal human emotion. It is not itself a killer. We can learn to be aware when fear grips us, and can train to operate through and in spite of our fear. If, on the other hand, we don’t understand that fear is normal and has to be controlled and overcome, it will paralyze us and stop us in our tracks. We will no longer think clearly or analyze rationally. We prepare for it and control it; we never let it control us.
    13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Perpetual optimism, believing in yourself, believing in your purpose, believing you will prevail, and demonstrating passion and confidence is a force multiplier.
  • In closing, I wish you all a warm, safe, and loving holiday season. Life is way too short; family and friends matter and deserve our attention and love. Happy holidays!