Outdoor Learning and ReOpening of Schools

Happy Women's History and Arts Education Month!

Many have also recently celebrated Lunar New Year, and I want to thank the over 70 caring MDUSD teachers, staff and community members who signed this letter to us with a statement condemning racist and violent actions against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). President Biden’s administration acknowledged the dramatic spike in anti-Asian incidents occurring throughout the country during the pandemic, and said "inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric...has put Asian American and Pacific Islander persons, families, communities, and businesses at risk." 

Our MDUSD students and staff deserve to learn and work in a community and world that is free of racism, discrimination, and violence. Everybody deserves to feel safe in their neighborhoods and communities. We stand firm on ensuring equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist policies and practices in our school district.  All are welcome to join the new Anti Bias Anti Racism (ABAR) committee that launched last week to design ways to move our Equity Board Policy into practice. Email [email protected] to attend their next meeting on March 25th.

Read on for:

  1. School Board work towards reopening
  2. School Board meeting Wednesday March 10th
  3. Superintendent’s Friday letter March 5th
  4. Outdoor Learning Resources
  5. Congratulations Olympic High!

School Board Work Towards ReOpening

It’s been a busy and productive past few months on the Mt Diablo school board, working diligently and carefully towards safe school site reopening. We have:

  • approved Dr Clark’s reopening timeline aiming for mid March (county health had estimated mid-March as Red Tier for contra costa), including the parent survey that provided each principal now with a specific list of students to plan for in-person on site,
  • approved the Reconnect Safely, Return Strong plan,
  • approved the CSP (COVID safety plan) which includes the CPP and checklist and is due 5 days before reopening (State has approved),
  • approved free COVID testing for staff at MDUSD sites via agreements with 2 companies,
  • clearly stated the Board is unanimous that we will follow county & state metrics for hybrid,
  • set 5 negotiating days with MDEA focused on the schedule & logistics of hybrid,
  • stated we are ready to call a special board mtg within 24hrs of a hybrid MOU agreement.

In the meantime we have also been advocating for vaccines. MDUSD partnered with County Health to open a vaccine site at Riverview Middle School in Bay Point, and now with Walgreens to bring 500 J&J vaccines this week specifically for MDUSD staff. (**sign up here for J&J by 5pm March 8th)  

Board members have hosted a town hall in Spanish to be more accessible to those families, and held Q&A at parent meetings throughout the district.

We are also visiting sites to see health & safety readiness. **Thank you to amazing principals, office managers, teachers, & staff working to ensure spaces & systems are ready for students, all the while continuing to provide distance learning.**

 

Plus on March 5th Governor Newsom signed State Bill 86, which provides financial resources and incentives for public schools to open by April 1.

This Wednesday we will consider Dr Clark’s proposed timeline to begin to gradually bring students onto campuses starting March 22nd.

Next School Board Meeting Wednesday March 10th

Find the agenda here, along with information about how to watch the live broadcast as well as how to submit public comments.  Key items on the agenda include:

Superintendent's Friday letter

Click here to read Dr Clark’s March 5th letter, full of information including: 

Outdoor Learning Resources

Repurposing outdoor spaces is a cost-effective way to reduce the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature.

Are you interested in exploring how to use outdoor spaces for learning at your school?

The COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative provides free strategies and case studies to the public at: https://www.greenschoolyards.org/covid-learn-outside  It doesn't have to be complicated. Here is their list of simple ways to consider which activities teachers can bring outdoors, along with basic supplies. Who else remembers Girl Scout situpons - using recycled materials to make insulated, waterproof outdoor seating?

Did you know that MDUSD has many outdoor learning spaces already on our campuses that are ready to use?  Thanks to grant funding, many of our schools already have outdoor garden spaces and garden educators who provide hands-on science. (e.g. Sun Terrace Elementary has 3 outdoor garden areas and rolling white boards that teachers can use.)  You can follow the MDUSD Science & Garden Education Program on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MDUSDGardenEducation/

Congratulations Olympic High!

Mt Diablo’s Olympic High School was recognized by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond as one of the Model Continuation High Schools (MCHS) in the state of California for 2021!  This is thanks to the strong leadership of Principal Lynsie Castellano, and the hard work of her amazing teachers and staff.

“Student attendance and engagement in distance learning during the school closures has been difficult—especially for students who struggled with attendance issues before the pandemic,” said Thurmond. “These model schools have been able to keep at-risk students on track using social and emotional learning, mentorship programs, restorative justice practices, and other innovative methods. Through the work of dedicated teachers and administrators, model continuation schools provide the students they serve with new academic opportunities that can change the course of their lives in high school and beyond.”

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Student Initiatives

Our students never cease to amaze me. This week I want to highlight 2 student initiated projects that are making a difference. Let me know of any others you'd like me to share out in future blogs too:
First up, LEAP MDUSD. They are specifically seeking spanish speaking tutors, so check out Seena's program and spread the word!
Hi Everyone! My name is Seena, I’m a Junior at Northgate High School and the founder of  Learning Enrichment and Assistance Program (LEAP). I am working with MDUSD's Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE)--a program that provides educational services to the nearly 700 homeless and foster students in MDUSD--I match up HOPE and Foster Youth students in need of support with volunteer tutors to have a 1 on 1 weekly tutoring sessions. If you are interested please fill out this form. This is a great way to give back to our community, earn volunteer service hours, and make a difference. 
Visit us at www.leapmdusd.org or on twitter or Instagram @leapmdusd 
Secondly, Music Enrichment Program (MEP). Here's their announcement from Clare Kim, a violinist in Northgate High School’s Orchestra:
Recently, I launched the MEP as an addition to the MDUSD Community Mentors (MCM) with senior Jordan Taqi-Eddin. It is a district-wide program for any student musicians districtwide who would like to receive help over Zoom, as well as any high school mentors districtwide who are willing to share their passion for music (volunteer hours included).
Here is the website link for students to sign up:
After signing up, please click on “Groups” under the “More” tab. From there, you can join the “MCM Family” and “Music Enrichment Program” groups. These groups are important and contain further details.
Previously, during the beginning of 2021, I had mentored students privately in hopes that they would remain engaged with music. Because of the struggles of following along over distance learning, many students have not enrolled into instrumental groups and some have even dropped the class mid-year, one of my students included. While helping these students over Zoom, I was able to be convinced that these lessons were indeed effective and students were receiving the help they needed. I am very excited for the start of this program and encourage you to take part in helping the young student musicians of our district grow!
Way to go, students! 
Read on for:
  1. School Board meeting Wednesday February 24th
  2. Vaccines Open for School Employees & in Bay Point!
  3. Superintendent’s Friday letter Feb 19th
  4. Parent Survey FAQ

Next School Board Meeting Wednesday February 24th

Find the agenda here, along with information about how to watch the live broadcast as well as how to submit public comments.  Click here to see summaries of board action from prior meetings.

Do you have questions about curriculum content or adoption?  There will be a presentation under item 11.1 Update on Materials Adoption Calendar.  Some additional key items on the agenda include:
  • Agreements with labs for COVID testing
  • Approval of COVID19 Prevention Program
  • Update on Hybrid Learning Plan

Vaccines Open for School Employees & Clinic Opens in Bay Point

Thank you to all who advocated for school employees in contra costa county to be vaccinated! I have heard from many MDUSD educators and staff who are relieved to have this layer of protection before more students arrive on campus.

On Feb 18, Contra Costa County Health Services announced: 

Teachers, grocery workers and other frontline essential workers who live in Contra Costa County can now sign up to get vaccinated as defined by California’s vaccination plan Phase 1B.

Residents in these groups, as well as county residents who are 65 years and older who have not yet been vaccinated, can sign up to access state and federal sites through MyTurn or by calling 1-833-422-4255.

Essential workers and residents 65 years and older can also request immunization appointments through CCHS and join the county waiting list for COVID-19 vaccine. 

Los maestros, los empleados de las tiendas de comestibles y otros trabajadores esenciales de primera línea que vivan en el Condado de Contra Costa pueden programar una cita para vacunarse, de acuerdo con la definición de la fase 1B del plan de vacunación de California.

Los residentes de estos grupos, así como los residentes del condado de 65 años de edad y mayores que todavía no se hayan vacunado, pueden registrarse para acceder a los sitios de vacunación estatales y federales a través de MyTurn o llamando al 1-833-422-4255.

Los trabajadores esenciales y los residentes de 65 años de edad y mayores también pueden programar una cita de vacunación a través de los CCHS.

Thanks to CCHS and our county board of supervisors for opening a vaccination clinic at MDUSD's Riverview Middle School.  This is walking distance to so many in the area, and sharing information in Spanish there will go a long way towards ensuring equity in vaccine distribution. 

 

Please spread the word!  If we can vaccinate our elders and school employees, especially those in high COVID areas, then together we can really get this virus under control. 

Superintendent's Friday letter

Click here to read Dr Clark’s February 19th letter including: 

Parent Survey FAQ

The MDUSD parent survey is out now, due March 1st, with a goal of identifying #s of students per site who would like to access in-person learning this spring. I've been asked a number of questions about it, and so I attempted to answer multiple questions in one place by posting an FAQ on Facebook.  More questions may be answered this week when Dr Clark gives his update on Hybrid Learning at the school board meeting. Here is what I wrote. I hope it is helpful to some. 

1. Is this survey binding?
No. This survey is an opportunity for parents to let their school site know if they might want in person learning, so the school site has numbers to design the structure of 4th quarter in person opportunities.
2. How can I decide now without a specific schedule?
The schedules have not been set, those shown are just samples. The general idea is that students stay with their teacher and class via distance learning in the morning, and then come in for extra help and in-person opportunities in the afternoon. (E.g. Reading groups, math tutoring, extra language learning time, optional science labs/experiences, student hands-on art/robotics/leadership)
Each site would take that idea and adjust the schedule to their own student needs and programs (e.g. dual language site could look very different from others.)
Each site needs to know now which students are really interested in coming back in person this spring, so they can plan how to staff the offerings.
3. What if I work and cannot bring my child in the afternoon, but I really want them to have in-person learning? What if my child normally takes county buses to school?
There is an open question on the survey about additional needs. The school and District will do their best to meet as many needs as feasible. So please do write in there what any of your specific needs are.
4. What if a parent has no email or cell phone?
School sites will be reaching out to families in additional ways to help them answer the survey - on paper or by phone. Each site needs to hear from as many families as possible in order to plan.
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School Board mtg February 10, 2021

Over the last two weeks, we on the board have heard loud and clear that many in our community want to see reopening plan details that are clearly delineated as their own agenda item in our school board meetings, rather than in the Superintendent’s report. This week's board meeting does exactly that, including details of reopening preparedness and protocols as well as the required sharing of the CPP draft before it is finalized. 
While we continue to plan for a hybrid schedule, I also remain very concerned about students who are not able to access distance learning right now.  If you are a teacher, parent or staff, did you know that 1:1 in person meetings are allowed?  This has been true since November, and yet I keep finding people who did not know that.  Also extra curricular activities in small groups are allowed right now, following the same protocols as sports conditioning.  Is extra curricular happening in person at your school?  Please let me know how it is going.  Each of these if implemented are a step in the right direction to address concerns of student isolation, depression, anxiety and disconnection.
Read on for:
  1. School Board meeting Wednesday February 10th
  2. Vaccinate School Employees
  3. Superintendent’s Friday letter

Next School Board Meeting Wednesday February 10th

Find the agenda here, along with information about how to watch the live broadcast as well as how to submit public comments.  Click here to see summaries of board action from prior meetings.

Under item 11.4 there will be information provided on the recent MOU agreement with the teacher's union around small groups.
I share in the frustration that many of you have expressed to the board in response to this agreement, that it does not go far enough to do what our Board directed in December: to start small group learning hubs on our campuses ASAP.
Here is the state guidance on small groups, sent in September 2020. Notice it does not recommend waiting until red tier +20 days, nor limiting to 10% of any campus. To me those are barriers to equity, and barriers to student learning access & opportunity.
I hear the term "equity" used as a reason to delay the reopening of our schools. But I do not hear those same people advocating for the "equity" of ensuring a safe place on campus now for our students who need it most.  We have successfully provided in-person sports conditioning on high school campuses throughout all levels of COVID, and I believe we can and should do the same for non-sports activities now.
Item 17.1 will include a presentation, discussion and vote to approve the Safe ReOpening Plan. This will provide board members the opportunity to ask questions and provide their perspective on the many aspects of reopening our schools to students in person.

Vaccinate School Employees

The Contra Costa County School Boards Association sent a joint letter along with 14 school board presidents on Feb 1st with a collective call for the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors and Health Services Department to: (1) immediately ensure that all education workers in Contra Costa County school districts, particularly those reporting to work in-person, have priority access to COVID-19 vaccines and (2) provide clear and consistent communications about how education and childcare workers are to receive their vaccines. 

People have been asking me if vaccines are a requirement for MDUSD school reopening, and the answer is no.  Neither the district nor our teacher's union have said that vaccines should be at all connected to the metrics required to reopen our schools. However, I know that the many of our staff who have been on site this whole pandemic, and the teachers and staff that hope to soon join them will all feel much less fearful if they can get vaccinated soon.  So I joined these groups in signing the letter and advocating for prioritizing vaccinations in our county for education workers. 

Meanwhile, the OUSD superintendent shared this about how the Tier 1B is planned to work in next door Alameda County, where they have decided to vaccinate education employees at the same time as the 65+ population. Districts will provide each employee with a letter to hand the vaccinator that states which priority level they are in.  

So far it appears that our contra costa county is planning to wait until most 65+ are vaccinated before starting to allow education workers to sign up. If you want to take action to support these efforts, you can email the Board of Supervisors asking them to prioritize school employees like Alameda is doing: 

Superintendent's Friday letter

Click here to read Dr Clark’s February 5th letter including: 

  • Message on reopening
  • Negotiations update
  • National School counseling week - thank you Counselors!!
  • MDUSD's Sean Donelan (Northgate) Wins 2020 Congressional App Challenge
  • Black & African American History Month
  • STEAM-4-Students by MDUSD Education Foundation
  • Organizational Update
  • County Science Fair judges needed
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MDUSD Mental Health Webinar tonight

I hope that you and your families are staying well. Did you know about tonight's launch of the Open Conversations about Mental Health Webinar Series from 5-6:30pm?  Attending is easy—simply register in advance, and you will receive a confirmation email with all the information you need.

 When: Monday, January 25, 2021 at 5:00PM Pacific
 Topic: Open Conversations about Mental Health Webinar (#1)

Details from Dr Clark:

"To promote wellness, answer questions, and address common student and family mental health concerns, MDUSD is assembling a panel of mental health professionals who will host this webinar that is free and open to all. The panel will consist of MDUSD mental health staff, including school counselors, school psychologists, social work specialists, behavioral health specialists, and college and career advisors. Audience members may choose to participate and interact virtually, or watch only.

Our professionals are here to help. The stress and responsibilities of ordinary life are already difficult to manage, and this pandemic has created conditions that challenge our mental health and wellbeing even more so. Still, there are practical skills, remedies, and tools that can make all the difference. Tune in on Monday night to ask your questions, express your concerns, and hear from our mental health professionals."

Read on for:

  1. School Board meeting Wednesday January 27th
  2. Superintendent’s Friday letter
  3. "The Hill We Climb" lesson plan
  4. DVC DREAMers Conference
  5. Cash for College

Next School Board Meeting Wednesday January 27th

Find the agenda here, along with information about how to watch the live broadcast as well as how to submit public comments.  Click here to see summaries of board action from prior meetings.

Please note: this year our board meetings have been moved to Wednesdays instead of Mondays.

A resolution will be presented in Recognition of February as Black and African American History Month.

Here is an excerpt: 

WHEREAS the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve states appropriately that the history curriculum of community, state, region, nation, and world must reflect the experiences of men and women and of different racial, religious, and ethnic groups and must be integrated at every level; and
WHEREAS Black and African American history is continuously being made, and concurrently, classroom discussion that is courageous is encouraged in our institution as an essential function of student-centered wellness and education;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Mt. Diablo Unified School District Governing Board proclaims the month of February as Black and African American History Month, and encourages all schools to commemorate this occasion accordingly with appropriate instructional materials, discussions, presentations and projects.

There will be two key reports:

  • California Collaborative for Excellence in Education (CCEE) will present on Systematic Instructional Review
  • Capitol Advisors will present on Key State & Federal Budget Issues

And a key business item will be the approval of a contract for online tutoring for English learners.

Superintendent's Friday letter

Click here to read Dr Clark’s January 22nd letter including: 

  • Updates on negotiations and status of reopening
  • new "Ask the CBO"
  • Organizational Update
  • T-Mobile Project 10 Million - free hotspot & data to families who have a student enrolled in the National School Lunch Program

"The Hill We Climb" Lesson Plan

I was amazed by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb,” at the 2021 inauguration.  Were you?  Here is a resource about how her poem "presents a great opportunity for educators and students to discuss the ways creative expression can help us think about the meaning of democracy."

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/teach-this-the-hill-we-climb-and-the-2021-inauguration

DVC Dreamers Conference

Are you an undocumented student, or do you know someone who is?  Diablo Valley College is holding it's 10th Annual DREAMers conference Feb 3rd-5th, and Mt Diablo alumni are some of the presenters on these panels. Learn how to access college, scholarships and more.  Visit dvc.edu/dreamers for "a safe place that supports education for all members of our community, we created this website as a resource for undocumented students, their families, and their allies."

Cash for College

Join a Cash for College Webinar by the California Student Aid Commission to learn how to apply for CA Dream Act or FAFSA. Register at http://bit.ly/cashcollege21

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Happy New Year - school board mtg Jan 13th

Happy New Year everyone!  

I hope you had some time off for rest & rejuvenation over the break, and are staying healthy.  I know that I appreciated unplugging completely for a bit, spending time with my family on puzzles, hikes and cooking projects.  This has been such a stressful year of what feels like a never-ending global pandemic, but I am back online now and ready to serve, hopeful for the year ahead.

First of all, at our December school board meeting I was honored to be nominated and voted in by my colleagues to be the next President of the Mt Diablo School Board.  Trustee Debra Mason was elected as Vice President, and new trustees Keisha Nzewi and Erin McFerrin were sworn in as the newest members of our board.  Trustee Linda Mayo and student Trustee Michelle Alas will continue to serve as board members as well. I know that this group will work collaboratively together in the best interest of Mt Diablo students, and I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's different perspectives that will help guide our decisions.

At the December meeting we voted to postpone the planned January reopening of schools due to the alarming rise in COVID cases, and so the topic of reopening will be covered this week at Wednesday night's board meeting during Superintendent's report.  Things are very much in flux right now as high rates continue, the Governor's budget came out on Friday, and vaccination timelines are still being developed.  We continue to watch and study how to safely provide education to students while supporting struggling families during this tragic global pandemic.

Read on for:

  1. School Board meeting Wednesday January 13th
  2. Superintendent’s Friday letter
  3. Sign up this week for County Science Fair, 7th-12th grade
  4. Education to End Hate Virtual Classroom Series
  5. Articles/resources on budget, vaccinations, "how to talk to children"

Next School Board Meeting Wednesday January 13th

Find the agenda here, along with information about how to watch the live broadcast as well as how to submit public comments.  Click here to see summaries of board action from prior meetings.

Please note: this year our board meetings have been moved to Wednesdays instead of Mondays.

Two resolutions will be presented:

There are two key business action items:

  • School plans for student achievement Find your school site plan here.
  • Resolution Authorizing and Approving Temporary Transfer Agreement for Fiscal Year 2020-21 from the Contra Costa County Treasury to Address Anticipated Deferred State Funding
    • this is necessary to explore due to state cash deferrals of funding to schools

Superintendent's Friday letter

Click here to read Dr Clark’s Dec 4th letter including: 

Sign up for County Science Fair - 7th-12th grade

Did you see this message today from MDUSD via ParentSquare?

MDUSD Students/Families, A chance to explore and develop your STEM passion is here! The Contra Costa County Science Fair (CCCSEF) (March 11, 12, & 13, 2021) is for students grades 7-12 who are interested in science, technology, or mathematics, and presents an opportunity to engage in independent research. Taking part in the CCCSEF is fun, educational, and rewarding—moreover, you won’t be taking this project alone. Mentors and teachers will help you create the best project possible.

Students can choose from six broad categories, including behavioral, biological, physical, environmental, engineering, math and computer sciences, where they can explore their passions and apply classroom knowledge to tangible experiments. If successful, Contra Costa Science Fair students are able to compete regionally and access the following larger competitions:
  • California Science & Engineering Fair (Virtual): April 12-13, 2021
  • Broadcom MASTERS Middle School National Science Fair (Virtual): October, 2021
  • Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Virtual): May 16-21, 2021
If you are interested, please fill out this Science Fair Interest Form by Friday, January 15. You will be sent a confirmation regarding the next steps for participation, including dates for important informational sessions.

Thank you,
The Office of the Superintendent, MDUSD
on behalf of Bay Area LEEDS

Education to End Hate Virtual Classroom Series

The CA Dept of Education this year has created a series of three virtual classroom sessions as part of the Education to End Hate Initiative.

Watch the third topic, Understanding and Countering Islamophobia, live on facebook this Tuesday January 12, at 4pm. 

Videos of the first two topics are also available to watch - Understanding Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Pedagogical Approaches to Teaching about Native Americans.

Articles/Resources on Budget, Vaccines, "How to talk to children"

  • Governor's proposed budget
    • Superintendents letter in response from 7 largest school districts in CA
    • CA School Board Association blog re Governor's budget - this is a good summary of what's in the budget for schools, and the next steps with the legislature
  • Today's article about the rollout of vaccines
  • "How to Talk to Children about the Capitol Insurrection" - Rise Up Against Racism, a local volunteer nonprofit led by MDUSD parents, wrote this blog that is full of resources for how to talk to children about current national events with age appropriate questions, primary source analysis, media literacy, and exploration of biases, power and privilege.
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Computer Science Education Week

Happy Computer Science Education Week!

Congratulations to our MDUSD award winners from East Bay CUE: Principal Lisa Sullivan for the Administrator of the Year Award and Teacher Shauna Hawes for Affiliate Leader of the Year Award! CUE stands for Computer Using Educators and East Bay CUE has led a regional STEM symposium annually, including free professional development and tech prizes. 

Some MDUSD schools participate in Hour of Code or feature other tech opportunities. What's happening at your school?

This week:

Read on for:

  1. School Board meeting Dec 14th
  2. Superintendent’s Friday letter
  3. Stanford Young Women’s Leadership Summit - apply by Dec 12th
  4. AAUW new STEM webinar for high school girls Dec 13th
  5. Mindfulness for you - every Tuesday 5pm
  6. HOPE seeking holiday donations for homeless students
  7. Free suicide prevention training for students/educators

Next School Board Meeting Monday Dec 14th

Find the agenda here, along with information about the live broadcast and the opportunities for public comments.

**Dr Clark just announced his recommendation to the Board that reopening our MDUSD schools in hybrid should be postponed until the Board can re-evaluate at the next board meeting on January 13, 2021.  The board will discuss this on Dec 14th.**

Superintendent's Friday letter

Click here to read Dr Clark’s Dec 4th letter including: 

  • Trustee Joanne Durkee reflects on public service
  • Reopening Goals Shaped by Negotiations and Pandemic Restrictions
  • Meet Keisha Nzewi, New Trustee for Area 3
  • Organizational Update to the Board
  • This Week In Our Community - including thank you donors to MDUSD Education Foundation’s #GivingTuesday campaign for middle & high school science! 

Young Women’s Leadership Summit 

I was thrilled to see this from Aava Farhadi, a recent MDUSD graduate who is now a student at Stanford University.  She’s organizing “The Young Women's Leadership Summit” (YWLS), which is Stanford Women in Business' FREE annual conference for female high school students in California.

They aim to introduce young women to a variety of business disciplines, and during the 2-day-long conference, attendees will listen to and learn from accomplished women leaders, gain hands-on experience through workshops, and interact with industry professionals, Stanford students, and motivated peers. It will run from January 23-24, 2021 from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM (PDT) each day.

They strongly encourage students from the following backgrounds to apply:

  • Underrepresented in business, defined as being African American, Hispanic/Latino or Native American
  • Underserved, defined as coming from low socioeconomic means, which may be indicated by qualification for free/reduced lunch
  • Potentially the first family member to attend college
  • Coming from a high school with low admittance rates to top-tier colleges, or rural high schools

Please share this far and wide to MDUSD high school students!

Please apply here by Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 11:59 PM (PDT).

New AAUW free webinar STEM series for high school girls

AAUW-OML continues their free webinar series with the goal of encouraging high school girls to stay in STEM classes and pursue STEM related college degrees and careers.  Girls/Women still make up only 32% of those earning STEM related college degrees. Women in STEM careers will talk about their educational path, what they actually do in their job, and demonstrate how all girls can pursue STEM careers, while letting them know that the STEM career field is varied and there is a career in STEM for everyone.  Students, register now before it fills up at https://oml-ca.aauw.net/girls4stem-webinars/

WEBINAR #2  DECEMBER 13, 2020  4 PM PST

“My Career from the Lab to Launching New Consumer Products”, featuring Deborah Martin  MPH/CIH, Global Manager. Product Stewardship & Regulatory, Dupont Nutrition and Biosciences

Register in advance for this webinar: HERE

Mindfulness for YOU every Tuesday 5pm

Have you tried out the new weekly free family Mindfulness sessions on Tuesdays 5-5:30pm? (Sesiones virtuales de Atencion Plena).   Mindful Life Project are providing these free sessions to support your mental and emotional wellness. Sessions are easy to join and are open to MDUSD parents, students, caregivers, and staff. They are held through Zoom every Tuesday evening in English and in Spanish from 5:00PM-5:30PM. Click here to try the English mindfulness session or clic aqui para espanol 

**Please share these out far and wide so as many people can join as possible before they end.

HOPE Holiday Drive for Homeless Students

Mt. Diablo Unified School District is committed to making sure that all students arrive at school ready and able to learn. To supplement our services, our Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE) is requesting donations for our holiday program to support our homeless students in the School District. We are asking for gift cards from the following types of places where kids can purchase something just for themselves:

  • Target •Walmart •99 Cents/Dollar Tree
  • Old Navy • GAP • Chuck E. Cheese
  • Generic prepaid credit cards •Fast Food & Other Restaurants

We are requesting card denominations of $25 or $50, with the amounts clearly marked on the cards with a Sharpie so recipients know how much is available for them to spend. Gift cards can be mailed or delivered to:

Mt. Diablo HOPE 2730 Salvio Street, Room 24 Concord, CA 94519

You can also make a tax-deductible cash donation by sending a check to the above address, or by utilizing the phone app Venmo and sending funds to MDUSD HOPE.

Cash donations will be used to purchase holiday gift cards, and if there is cash remaining after gift cards have been provided for every HOPE student, then the money will be used to support HOPE students throughout the year (i.e. food, gas to get to school, senior activities/pictures, fines, clothing for interviews, prom, yearbooks, brief emergency shelter, and other needs as they may arise). We are asking that donations be made by December 4, 2020.

Please call or e-mail the HOPE program with questions at (925) 682-8000 x3054 and [email protected] All donations we receive go to our homeless youth at MDUSD!

Thank you for sharing HOPE!

Free Suicide Prevention Training for Students/Educators

I mentioned this previously when the state held a live youth summit on the topic. Since then I signed up and took the training myself, and I found it extremely valuable. It includes scenarios and practicing out loud what you would say in various situations. I feel much more prepared to help anyone that might be considering suicide now that I was before. A few scenarios were between students texting - which many of our students may be running into right now.  Let me know if you take the training too - I'd love to connect and discuss.

CALIFORNIA STUDENTS!

To sign up for your LivingWorks Start suicide prevention training:

visit www.lwyouthsummit.com/access or text start to 888-707-0780.

You'll learn skills to help a friend or classmate, and you'll get 90 minutes of community service learning credit!

Once you sign up you have 60 days to complete the training.

 

Stay safe out there,

Cherise

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Reopening, Transfers, Mindfulness, STEM

It's been a stressful time, between COVID and the elections, full of uncertainty and division.  Today I am hopeful though, that together we can work to ensure the best public education possible within safety guidelines.  In this Friday's Superintendent letter you will see efforts to improve communication and input in the process to redesign public education in these uncharted waters.

We as the board have received many, many emails. I read every single one, but I have not been able to answer them each individually. My hope is that the Superintendent sessions and Board study sessions keep you informed as we continue to refine and adjust based on your feedback.  Please see the Friday letter for the latest draft hybrid schedules.

I'm thankful also to see the new weekly free family Mindfulness sessions on Tuesdays 5-5:30pm (Sesiones virtuales de Atencion Plena).  

Read on for specifics on:

  1. Superintendent Friday Letter: including new Board members, draft hybrid schedule, mindfulness & more!
  2. Transfer applications due Nov 15th
    • Holbrook Dual Language 6th grade info night Nov 10th
    • YVHS International Baccalaureate info night Nov 12th
  3. School Board meeting Nov 9th
  4. Board Study Session Tuesday Nov 17th 
  5. AAUW new STEM webinar for high school girls
  6. HOPE seeking holiday donations for homeless students

Superintendent Friday letter

Click here to read about

  • Erin McFerrin and Keisha Nzewi Win MDUSD Board Seats
  • Superintendent Floats Detailed Hybrid Schedule Drafts for Review (click to give your feedback)
  • Superintendent Answers General Questions about Reopening - Written FAQ Available
  • For Your Review: Our District Organizational Update
  • “ParentSquare" to Serve as District-Wide Communications Tool
  • Mindfulness - Free Virtual Sessions Available to You (Tuesday nights 5pm)
  • Advisory: District-Wide Systems Improvement Outage Scheduled
  • COVID-19 Testing and Free Flu Shots

I hope to see you at the new Mindfulness free workshop on Tuesday night!

Transfer applications due Nov 15th

Do you have a 6th - 11th grade student who might be considering transferring to a school other than your assigned neighborhood school?  We are fortunate here in Mt Diablo to have a variety of schools with specialized programs that your student might be interested in.  Ygnacio Valley High is the only school in our region with the International Baccalaureate program, and Holbrook Language Academy has expanded dual language learning into middle school.  Visit https://mdusd-ca.schoolloop.com/transfers for the online transfer application & info.  And here are informational nights for parents/students to find out more:

  • Holbrook Language Academy 6th grade info night - Tuesday, November 10 at 5:30 pm
    (Contact holbrook.mdusd.org for zoom link.)

    • All current 5th graders from our wonderful Dual Language Schools are welcome to apply:
      Bel Air, Bancroft, Cambridge, Meadow Homes, Shore Acres, and Ygnacio Valley Elementary.

    • Holbrook Language Academy desea invitarlos a las noches de información para padres para los estudiantes que ingresen a sexto grado Programa DUAL de IDIOMAs inglés/español para el año escolar 2021-2022.

  • Ygnacio Valley High International Baccalaureate info night - Thursday, November 12th at 7pm
    • Register here for the zoom link.  Students welcome!
    • Come to our IB Info Night to learn what the International Baccalaureate Programme here at Ygnacio Valley High School is all about. There will be a student panel and time to ask teachers about the IB curriculum and what makes it so special.

      Some of the questions we'll be answering:
      What is IB?
      Why take IB classes?
      Does IB really make students College & Career Ready?
      How does IB increase a student's chance of being accepted to the college of their choice?
      What is the difference between IB and AP?
      How do students apply to be an IB student at YVHS?
      How do parents request an intradistrict transfer to YVHS? (Deadline is November 15th!)

      JUEVES 12 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2020
      7 a 8 pm

      Venga a nuestra Noche de Información IB para aprender de qué se trata el Programa de Bachillerato Internacional aquí en Ygnacio Valley High School. Habrá un panel de estudiantes y tiempo para preguntarles a los maestros sobre el plan de estudios del IB y qué lo hace tan especial.

      Algunas de las preguntas que estaremos respondiendo:
      ¿Qué es IB?
      ¿Por qué tomar clases de IB?
      ¿El IB realmente prepara a los estudiantes para la universidad y la carrera?
      ¿Cómo aumenta el IB las posibilidades de que un estudiante sea aceptado en la universidad de su elección?
      ¿Cuál es la diferencia entre IB y AP?
      ¿Cómo se postulan los alumnos para ser alumnos del IB en YVHS?
      ¿Cómo solicitan los padres una transferencia dentro del distrito a YVHS? (¡La fecha límite es el 15 de noviembre!)

      Si está interesado en obtener más información, complete el formulario de registro a continuación para recibir el enlace de Zoom.

Next School Board Meeting Monday Nov 9th

Find the agenda here, along with information about the live broadcast and the opportunities for public comments.  

Board Study Session Tuesday Nov 17th 

We continue to examine how best to reopen schools in person to students in our district. Superintendent Clark has scheduled a special study session on this topic, starting at 4pm on Tuesday Nov 17th.  The agenda will be posted here: https://www.mdusd.org/boardmeetings 

New AAUW free webinar STEM series for high school girls

AAUW-OML is launching a new free webinar series with the goal of encouraging high school girls to stay in STEM classes and pursue STEM related college degrees and careers.  This series is focusing on high school girls, but girls and boys can register for it.  Girls/Women still make up only 32% of those earning STEM related college degrees. Women in STEM careers will talk about their educational path, what they actually do in their job, and demonstrate how all girls can pursue STEM careers, while letting them know that the STEM career field is varied and there is a career in STEM for everyone.  Students, register now before it fills up at https://oml-ca.aauw.net/girls4stem-webinars/

WEBINAR # 1 Sunday, November 22, 2020   4:00 p.m. 

“Engineering with a Purpose”, with Adrienne Johnson

  

Register in advance for this webinar: HERE

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Topic: “Engineering with Purpose”, with Adrienne Johnson, B.S. Civil Engineer; M.S. Sustainable Design and Construction, 2016. How she built a Net Zero Energy School in S. Africa while still in College.

Adrienne Johnson (Sustainability and Project Engineer @Point Energy Innovation)

Adrienne Johnson, BA/BS Stanford University.  Sustainability and Project Engineer for Point Energy Innovation.  While getting her Master’s degree, Adrienne was project leader for a NET Zero Energy project designing the Parkwood Tech Center school in Cape Town, South Africa, in a community disadvantaged by the legacy of apartheid.  She and a co-lead won the prestigious Leadership Award from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2017.   Adrienne is considered one of the top “20 to Watch: Women in HVAC” for her achievements in designing sustainable buildings.  She is a member of Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), U.G. Green Building Council (USGBC) and many others.

HOPE Holiday Drive for Homeless Students

Mt. Diablo Unified School District is committed to making sure that all students arrive at school ready and able to learn. To supplement our services, our Homeless Outreach Program for Education (HOPE) is requesting donations for our holiday program to support homeless students in the School District. They are asking for gift cards from the following types of places where kids can purchase something just for themselves:

  • Target • Walmart • 99 Cents/Dollar Tree
  • Old Navy • GAP • Chuck E. Cheese
  • Generic prepaid credit cards • Fast Food & Other Restaurants

We are requesting card denominations of $25 or $50, with the amounts clearly marked on the cards with a Sharpie so recipients know how much is available for them to spend. Gift cards can be mailed or delivered to:

Mt. Diablo HOPE 2730 Salvio Street, Room 24 Concord, CA 94519

You can also make a tax-deductible cash donation by sending a check to the above address, or by utilizing the phone app Venmo and sending funds to MDUSD HOPE.

Cash donations will be used to purchase holiday gift cards, and if there is cash remaining after gift cards have been provided for every HOPE student, then the money will be used to support HOPE students throughout the year (i.e. food, gas to get to school, senior activities/pictures, fines, clothing for interviews, prom, yearbooks, brief emergency shelter, and other needs as they may arise). We are asking that donations be made by December 4, 2020.

Please call or e-mail the HOPE program with questions at (925) 682-8000 x3054 and [email protected] All donations we receive go to our homeless youth at MDUSD!

Thank you for sharing HOPE!

Sincerely, your friends at the HOPE Program

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Ready to vote?

Did you receive your ballot yet?  I just did, and I plan to vote this week. 

We have excellent candidates for Mt Diablo School Board this year, and tonight is a candidate forum during the CAC Oct 6th meeting at 7pm.  Check out candidate profiles and more at https://votersedge.org/ca

Also our Mt Diablo School Board unanimously endorsed Prop 15: Schools and Communities First, which would bring desperately needed funding back to our schools, cities and county.

You might also be interested in this Latino Voter Guide / Guia Para Votantes Latinos.

 

My latest news is that I just graduated from Masters in Governance - a series of courses from California State School Board Association that equips board members and superintendents with the knowledge and skills to build and support an effective governance structure.

 

And as a parent I was happy to attend virtual back to school nights for both my kids, witnessing first hand the incredible caring & creativity each teacher puts into building relationships with students in this challenging time, as well as taking the time to connect with parents. I am so thankful.

 

Read on for specifics on:

  1. Board Study Session Oct 7th on Reopening School 
  2. School Board meeting Oct 12
  3. Resources:

Board Study Session Oct 7th on Reopening School 

We’ve received many questions about when/where/how we could reopen schools in person to students in our district. That is why Superintendent Clark wrote in his Friday letter about scheduling a special study session on this topic, starting at 3pm on Wednesday Oct 7th.

The agenda is posted here: https://mdusd.org/boardagendas and is focused on a conversation among board members and staff about reopening plans.  If you have questions or ideas to share on that topic, please email [email protected]. There will also be an option to join the meeting live to speak via zoom - how-to information will be posted here on that day.

There is one other topic on the agenda and that is the updating of board policies that relate to Charter schools. These are a simple update from the recent law changes in 2019.

Next School Board Meeting Monday Oct 12th 

Find the agenda here, along with information about the live broadcast and the opportunities for public comments.  

Oct 12th is also Indiginous People’s Day.  One current effort to improve the accuracy and inclusion of our teaching is the CA state Ethnic Studies draft model curriculum. This is geared towards teachers of Ethnic Studies classes (MDUSD currently has one at YVHS and one at CHS), but excerpts from it may be used by any teacher.

LivingWorks Youth Summit 

On September 15, TikTok star and comedian Caitlin Reilly emceed this online streaming event. Actress Lexi Underwood, International Slam Dunk Champion Kenny Dobbs, YouTube Vlogger Lavendaire, AGT winner Shin Lim and more spoke to California middle and high school students at the LivingWorks Youth Summit with one main message: together, we can save lives from suicide. They shared their own struggles of mental health, resilience and hope, intertwined with music, performances and interviews. Watch Here

The Summit was the official launch of the CDE’s online suicide prevention training for staff and students. LivingWorks Start is a 90-minute online suicide prevention skills training program available at no cost to CDE staff, teachers and students through the 58 county offices of education.

To sign up for your LivingWorks Start suicide prevention trainingvisit www.lwyouthsummit.com/access or text start to 888-707-0780.

You'll learn skills to help a friend or classmate, and you'll get 90 minutes of community service learning credit!​  Once you sign up you have 60 days to complete the training.

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High School Voter Education Weeks

Are you ready to celebrate #HispanicHeritageMonth? How about #HighSchoolVoterEducationWeeks?  Both begin today!

Read on for specifics on:

  1. School Board meeting tonight
  2. School District Friday letter
  3. High School Voter Education Weeks starts today
  4. Yes on Prop 15: Schools & Communities First
  5. How to Get Involved / Resources for
    • Students - apply for student School Board position - due Sept 18! 
    • Parents - input meetings Sept 17, 22, 23
    • Teachers - Hispanic Heritage teaching tools, equitablemath.org 

School Board Meeting Tonight, Sept 14, 6pm

Tonight’s school board meeting includes Resolutions to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month as well as Suicide Prevention, appointments of two principals, and a public hearing on the renewal of Rocketship Futuro Charter School. 

Find the agenda here, and look at the agenda header for information about the live broadcast and the opportunities for public comments.

MDUSD Friday letter Sept 11

This MDUSD Friday letter is once again chock full of information for you: from the Organizational Update to the student board member application, from the upcoming college fair Sept 29th to Suicide Prevention resources and COVID testing.

High school Voter Education Weeks Starts Today

From CA Dept of Education: California Education Code designates the last two weeks in September as High School Voter Education Weeks. We encourage schools to designate students as voter outreach coordinators to lead the efforts to pre-register and register their peers.

Students, visit https://registertovote.ca.gov/ to register or pre-register to vote. 

It is now easier than ever to get sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds civically engaged through pre-registration. Once pre-registered, they will automatically become active voters on their eighteenth birthday.

Administrators, students, and parents: visit the Secretary of State’s High School and Youth Initiatives web page portal, which includes important information about voter registration and pre-registration, the Student Mock Election, the Student Poll Worker program, and High School Voter Education Weeks: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/high-school-programs/.

 

Yes on Prop 15: Schools & Communities First

Did you see that Governor Gavin Newsom endorsed Prop 15 Schools & Communities First? 

“Because it exempts small businesses and residential property owners, and funds essential services such as public schools…”

It has been estimated that MDUSD would receive $18 million more per year if Prop 15 passes. What a difference that would make!  That is why our MDUSD School Board voted unanimously on a resolution in support of this measure. Visit https://www.yes15.org/ for more details and to join the campaign. 

How to Get Involved / Resources for 

Students:

Click here to apply for the new MDUSD Student Board Position. Applications are due by September 18, 2020. 

 Note that a successful Student Board Member must:

*  Be currently enrolled as a senior (grade 12) in a MDUSD high school

*  Hold and maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average

*  Be enrolled in 20 credits

*  Be available to attend all scheduled Board meetings (typically two per month)

*  Provide one letter of recommendation from a teacher, administrator, or community member

Student Members will serve from October 2020 - June 30, 2021.   Applications will be reviewed by the MDUSD Executive Cabinet and a finalist will be interviewed by the MDUSD Board of Education.

Parents:

Our district has ongoing committee meetings that you are welcome to attend!

Find details at mdusd.org at Parents & Community / Get Involved.  Next meetings:

Sept 17th:

  • Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) -  3:30-5pm
  • District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) - 5:30pm
  • Measure J Oversight - 5pm
  • Measure C Oversight - 7pm

Sept 22nd: Stay tuned for a Board Study Session, likely to be scheduled Sept 22nd, including a Hearing on the Learning Continuity Attendance Plan (LCAP) - report that is due to the state by Sept 30. Our MDUSD board will vote to approve the final report draft at our Sept 28th school board mtg.

Sept 23:

  • Budget Advisory Committee  (5pm)  

Need help getting school supplies, tech, internet? Remember to contact your school and ask for help. We want to make sure all students have what they need for successful distance learning.

 

Teachers: 

Thank you teachers for sharing your fantastic ideas on Twitter!

  • Teaching Tolerance just posted how to bring Latinx voices into the classroom and uplift a diverse range of Hispanic & Latinx identities, experiences, cultures and histories.  Perfect for our #HispanicHistoryMonth resolution
  • check out equitablemath.org - “A pathway to equitable math instruction” Resources and guidance to support Black, LatinX, and Multilingual students to thrive in grades 6-8
  • And Dr Nadine Burke Harris - our wonderful CA surgeon general - authored Trauma is Written into our Bodies, but Educators can Help - “Educators can deliver the daily doses of healing interactions that truly are the antidote to toxic stress.  Giving children the tools to understand how to recognize what’s going on with them, then how to respond - especially to be able to calm their bodies down - truly is healing.”
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Aug 24 update: coping through smoke days

As the fires rage and COVID is still strong, many of you have been asking how you can help those most deeply affected. Read on for specifics on:

  1. How to help
  2. School District Friday letter
  3. School Board meeting tonight
  4. Resources for
    • Parents
    • Student help & leadership opportunities
    • Teachers - coping tools for challenging times 

How to help

  • School Supply Donations: Please share out this flyer - donations are still welcome to help ensure all our Mt. Diablo Unified School District students have the school supplies they need. Especially needed are headphones, dry erase boards & markers. El Dorado Middle School is where the supplies are being organized for students districtwide, so please drop off or mail directly to 1750 West St, Concord, CA 94521

 

  • MDUSD Education Foundation Distance Learning Fund: This all volunteer nonprofit is dedicated to ensuring quality STEAM opportunities for all MDUSD students districtwide. Your donations to their COVID Remote Learning fund this spring/summer already provided 100 chromebooks to MDUSD students!  Give today to their Distance Learning Fund at https://www.mdedf.org/donate to meet ongoing student needs.  
    • Does your business support our local schools? Check out their Honor Roll Business & Honor Roll Professional programs too!

MDUSD Friday letter August 21st

Read Dr Clark's MDUSD Friday letter - chock full of information for you: from the Organizational Update to new flyers & application for free school meals, from Parent Academy training to hotlines and resources for disasters, stress relief, and emotional well being.

This part really spoke to me, and I hope it does to you too:

“When the smoke clears, I hope you remember that you faced these challenges with great courage and resilience. When the smoke clears, I hope you remember that you had been kind to yourself and that you had taken opportunities to extend a helping hand. When the smoke clears, I hope you remember that you were not alone. We will make it through!”

School Board Meeting Tonight, Aug 24th, 6pm

This Monday’s meeting includes appointments of several Vice Principals and a Database Adminstrator, as well as a vote on the Board Bylaw for a Student School Board member, and votes on technology infrastructure projects.

Find the agenda here, and look at the agenda header for information about the live broadcast and the opportunities for public comments.

Resources for 

Parents:

  • School meals: the government is no longer funding school districts to give out meals to all children, as was allowed during school closures and summer.  So parents should fill out the Free & Reduced Lunch application as soon as possible. Here are the direct links to English and Spanish applications.(more languages available on the application page

Much of school funding is based on the percent of students who qualify for free & reduced lunch.  It is used as an indicator of poverty, and our state provides "weighted dollars" to give higher poverty schools extra resources to meet student needs. Federal dollars and grants are based on this as well.  So it is crucial that we encourage all families who may qualify to fill out the application.  Learn more at Ed100 Parent Leader Guide- School Funding: https://ed100.org/plg-school-funding

And, please spread the word that applying for free school lunches does not have any effect on immigration status or public charge. So even if a family is undocumented, they should feel it is safe to apply for school meals.

  • Get involved: MDUSD has advisory committees where you can share your ideas & experiences.  Anyone is welcome to attend since these are public meetings, or you can reach out to your site principal to inquire about being added as the official site representative.  Find details here.  Next meetings coming up:
    • Community Advisory Committee: Sept 1st, 8pm
    • Equity Advisory Committee: Sept 3rd, 3:30pm 
    • District English Learner Advisory Committee: Sept 17th, 5:30pm
    • Parent Advisory Committee: Sept 17th, 3:30pm
    • Budget Advisory Committee: Sept 23rd, 5pm
  • Need help getting school supplies, tech, internet? Please be sure to contact your school and ask for help with anything you need. We want to make sure every student has what they need for successful distance learning.

Students:

  • Student Advisory Committee (SAC) for MDUSD Education Foundation - Apply Now! (Deadline extended to Aug 31st)  They are not only looking for students who are passionate about making a difference within MDUSD, but also those who represent the diversity and unique experiences that is a cornerstone of our district. Find the application here

  • Free High School Engineering Program for Female-Identifying Students - apply by Sept 12th at swe.berkeley.edu/hsep

  • AP Class Free Online Digital Tools: Did you know that https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/ provides digital tools to help you improve your performance all year long? Their online resources are mobile-friendly, so you can access them anytime, anywhere. To get the most out of AP, sign in there and use the join code your AP teacher shares with you to join your class section.
  • Having trouble checking your school email? Vice Principal Arianda Hernandez at Oak Grove Middle School made a tutorial to help you out! Feel free to share 👌🏽 She also made it en español 💃🏻 Here is the Oak Grove MS YouTube Channel where you can find those and more: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Y-V5UNxw61qRooFMNLBuA

 

Teachers:

Congratulations on surviving week one!  Thank you all for your amazing creativity and dedication to engaging students through distance learning.  It’s a daunting challenge, and an opportunity to redesign education to be more inclusive, culturally responsive, and student centered. I share the resource below as not only a set of tools you might find useful, but also a potential community of educators you can join who are supporting each other in small yet powerful ways.

Free Coping Tools for Challenging Times: MDUSD parent and psychologist Katie Raher shares free resources, printables and ideas for compassionate self care and teaching social emotional wellness on her website here.

 

Take care out there!  Wishing you all safety and good health.

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