Message from the Superintendent: December 2019
Santa Clara Unified is keeping me busy, folks!
This past month, I had the chance to fulfill a promise and do something very special. At the beginning of the school year, I held a “Cover My Job” raffle for our staff and Special Education Paraprofessional Jackie Hall was one of the winners. On November 15, I gave Ms. Hall the day off and was her sub for the day in Teacher Ashley Palmano’s preschool classroom at Westwood Elementary School. I had so much fun with Ms. Hall’s students — we danced, learned about the letter “G”, and had some fun with “G” foods (goldfish crackers and grapes)! Ms. Hall was supposed to have the day off, but she snuck in and joined us for lunch. :) I’m glad she did because it was very special to get to hear more about her, Ms. Palmano, their lovely students, and our special education preschool program. I did my best to make Ms. Hall proud that day as I modeled the activities for students and kept them engaged in their learning and play. I had a blast but — whew! — was I exhausted by the end of the day!
My Monday school bus rides continue and I look forward to spending this special time with our bus drivers and students as they make their way to and from all of the campuses in our 56 square mile school district. I learn a lot about each community and school this way, and I love the chance I get to connect one-on-one with students and staff.
On Thursday, December 5, I had the privilege of joining SCUSD Board Vice President Jodi Muirhead and 49ers Co-Chairmain John York in San Diego at the California School Boards Association where we won a Golden Bell Award for our STEM Leadership Institute. The institute provides multi-year, year-round academic support, STEAM enrichment, skills training, and leadership opportunities to students in middle and high school. Students, who are with the program for six years from seventh grade at Cabrillo Middle School to twelfth grade at Santa Clara High School, commit annually to 300-plus hours of program learning time in addition to their typical school hours. By cultivating student mastery in STEM subjects and in key skill areas, the program prepares students for college and empowers them to pursue their passion, so that they may become the well-rounded leaders of the future.
Last month, we officially launched our #SCUSD2035 visioning work “Imagine tomorrow together” and we have been running ever since. It’s been really exciting and our hearts and minds are filled with all the possibilities for success that this year’s work will bring to our students.
On November 16, we held our first event, Student Summit, for high school students. Students were excited to be asked to help us create a new vision for education in our district and they readily shared their experiences and ideas. We have more than 20 additional focus groups planned this month with middle school, high school, and alternative school students.
We also launched our 90 member Guiding Coalition with stakeholders from all across our district and community. The coalition is a working group. They will shape our portrait of a graduate, educator, and system based on what they hear from our stakeholder meetings and surveys, and from all the very best ideas they learn during their learning journeys to innovative educational spaces in San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Don’t worry — there will also be a virtual learning journey available online for the entire community to join in on later this month. Stay tuned!
Lastly and, for now, most importantly, our big community event is coming up on Wednesday, December 11 from 5-8 p.m. at Cabrillo Middle School. It is open to everyone and I hope you will join me there, whether you have 30 minutes or two hours to spare. We’ll have childcare, refreshments, and Spanish interpreters available. This is a self-paced, activity-based event that will have fun, interactive stations with our district’s leaders serving as your docents. We’re also hosting similar events for our special education, Alviso, and Family Resource Center communities.
Follow along on our Vision 2035 webpages and on social media at @SantaClaraUSD and #SCUSD2035.
I still pinch myself daily that I get to work for this amazing school district as, together, we guide our children to success! What an honor.
Dr. Stella M. Kemp