Welcome to the Spotlight on Student Learning! The Spotlight is the District’s monthly electronic newsletter, and each edition will feature a mix of news, information, and articles by educators about classroom practice and innovation. The Spotlight also features information about opportunities for families to learn, engage and provide input about District initiatives, and I encourage all families to participate. As I explain below, each edition of this year’s Spotlight will have a different theme, and this month’s theme is Communications & Engagement. Please read on!
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Advancing District Goals
For several years, the District has been in a state of transition. We completed a major seismic safety and facilities modernization program. We welcomed new principals at five of our six schools. We adopted new and exciting instructional technologies at all levels, from kindergarten through 12th Grade. We implemented Common Core Math and are in the process of piloting and implementing new curriculum materials. We developed comprehensive programs for professional development of our educators, teacher evaluation, and teacher mentoring. We aggressively managed our budget to minimize the effects of unprecedented volatility in State funding for public education. And although I have worked in the District for over 12 years, I am new to the role of Superintendent. The constant is change.
Despite all of these changes, the District remains focused on and dedicated to its essential goals — to provide an extraordinary 21st Century Education and enhance learning opportunities for all students. As I explained in my letter to District families this summer, achieving these goals requires work on several fronts, including:
- Continued focus on developing and delivering relevant curriculum with innovative instructional strategies.
- Design of flexible, adaptable technology, facilities and other infrastructure to support learning and instruction.
- Commitment to the social and emotional health and development of students.
- Expansion of programs to promote digital literacy and digital citizenship in the contemporary, rapidly-changing technology and media environment.
- Renewed emphasis on citizenship and service learning, instilling a sense of purpose beyond oneself.
- Continued diligence in fiscal planning and management.
- Routine, two-way communication about District initiatives with students and families.
This year, each edition of the Spotlight will focus on one of these areas. The focus of today’s Spotlight is communications and engagement with District families.
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One of my goals as Superintendent is to establish robust, two-way communication about District initiatives with students and families. There are several communications vehicles that I hope you will find useful:
- The Spotlight on Student Learning
Each Spotlight will include a letter from me, District news and information, brief profiles of teachers, and articles by teachers about classroom practice and innovation. I’m very proud of all the good work in the District, and look forward to highlighting this work each month. The Spotlight will also include a list of upcoming meetings and other opportunities for families to learn and engage about District initiatives. Please see the list of events under Engagement, below.
- School Bulletins
Each school site will continue to have its own weekly electronic bulletin for site-specific news. The bulletins feature messages from the school’s Principal and parent club president, and news and information about the individual school. You should have already received the first bulletin of the school year.
Many of our administrators and educators use Twitter to chronicle their work and share ideas (and enthusiasm) about classroom practice. I encourage you to follow us at www.twitter.com/piedmontunified and check out #piedmontbold to see how our teachers are embracing the many changes in curriculum and instructional technology.
- The Piedmont App
New this year, helpful reference and calendar information about the Piedmont schools can be found at Piedmont USD Switchboard. You can download this to your phone or tablet for free, and then personalize it by selecting the schools attended by your student(s).
- The Piedmont Portal
For additional information about the school community and a calendar of school-related events, please look for the Piedmont Portal at http://www.piedmontportal.org/, the Piedmont Education Foundation’s weekly electronic newsletter.
As I mentioned, one of my goals is to promote robust two-way communication. This kind of engagement is essential to build and strengthen our partnerships with families, and for the success of our efforts to continually improve our educational programs and support the social and emotional development of students.
I encourage all families to get involved and participate in some of the many committees that help shape District policy. Upcoming meetings and events, all of which are open to the public include:
- The Board of Education, Wednesday, August 26, 7:00 PM, City Hall Council Chamber, 120 Vista Avenue.
The Board of Education oversees and establishes policy for the District. Board meetings are usually held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month in the evening.
- School Site Councils
Each school site has its own Site Council, with the exception of the District’s three elementary schools, which have a combined “Tri-School” site council, consisting of staff and parents (and, in the case of the PHS and MHS, students). Each Site Council discusses and develops a plan to improve student performance, and serves as a forum where school staff, parents and students can discuss issues that affect student performance. Site Councils typically meet once per month in the afternoon. Upcoming meetings include:
Tri-School (Elementary) Site Council. Tuesday, September 1, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, Havens Library, 323 Highland Avenue.
Piedmont Middle School Site Council. Tuesday, September 8, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, PMS Room 201, 740 Magnolia Avenue.
Piedmont High School Site Council. Tuesday, September 1, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, PHS Student Center, 800 Magnolia Avenue.
Millennium High School Site Council. Wednesday, September 9, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, MHS, 760 Magnolia Avenue.
- Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), Tuesday, September 15, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, District Office Board Room, 760 Magnolia Avenue.
BAC consists of representatives from each school site, each employee association (APT for teachers and CSEA for classified staff), administration, school support groups, District families, the community at-large, and the Board of Education. BAC reviews the financial health of the District’s General Fund budget and makes recommendations for Board consideration in the budget development process. BAC typically meets seven times each school year.
- District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC), Monday, September 28, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, Havens Library, 323 Highland Avenue.
DTAC consists of educators, administrators, and families, representing all levels from kindergarten through 12th grade. DTAC considers tech curriculum, course pathways, and instructional technology, and makes recommendations to keep District programs relevant and adaptable to changing needs. DTAC typically meets four times each school year.
- Special Education District Advisory Committee (SEDAC), Thursday, September 17, 3:30 – 5:00 PM, District Office Board Room, 760 Magnolia Avenue.
The Special Education District Advisory Committee is a group of parents, board members, teachers, and site and district administrators who meet 3 times per year to discuss programs, professional development, and services related to the District’s special education programs. Any member of the public is invited to attend.
These are just a few of the meetings and events throughout the school year that offer opportunities for families to get involved and provide input. Another important committee, but one which does not have a September meeting scheduled, is the Local Control Accountability Plan (or LCAP) Committee. The LCAP Committee plays a role in formulating and monitoring progress toward District goals.
I strongly encourage all families to participate however they can, whenever they can, in any of these . Please look to the Spotlight for a list of upcoming meetings and events each month.
Thank you for reading all the way through this letter on communications and engagement. I welcome your questions and comments at any time, so please don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Randall Booker, Superintendent