Coast 2 Coast Advocacy 2024

This month I had the opportunity to extend my education advocacy to the national level in Washington D.C. along with superintendents and school board members from all over California. An extra bonus for me ended up being that my eldest child Kai was admitted to Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, and their admit days were right after my conference there.  We visited the beautiful campus, met professors and attended lectures, and they committed to attend.  Thank you to YVHS International Baccalaureate program for providing the opportunity in this district for students like Kai to explore and excel in an education focused on global affairs.

Here are highlights of April:

  • School Board meeting held April 24, 2024
  • Walnut Acres International Fair
  • “Miss Representation” film and resources
  • Student Board member application due April 30th
  • Coast 2 Coast with CSBA
  • District Friday letter

School Board meeting held April 24, 2024

The board meeting included Resolutions in support of 

  • School Lunch Hero Day May 3rd
  • California Day of the Teacher May 8th and National Teacher Appreciation Week May 6-10
  • May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month and National Foster Care Month

We also

  • appointed 5 Vice Principals,
  • heard a presentation on and approved ethnic studies course revisions,
  • heard a presentation on and approved the supplemental materials reading list,
  • approved school site safety plans, and more.

See the full agenda, minutes, video here.

Walnut Acres International Fair

One of my highlights of last week was attending the Walnut Acres International Fair. Hosted by the Walnut Acres Parent Faculty Club (PFC), this event is a celebration of the rich tapestry of cultures within our district. From the vibrant performances to the tantalizing array of foods, the fair showcased the beauty of diversity. What struck me most profoundly was the presence of both an Israel and a Palestine table, reminding us of the importance of fostering understanding and empathy in times of global strife. Additionally, witnessing a Northgate student's project on preserving immigrant cultures reminded me of the power of youth voices in shaping our collective future.


“Miss Representation” film and resources

Moving from cultural celebration to critical dialogue, I attended a panel and film showing of "Miss Representation" in Walnut Creek that was hosted by our Assemblymember Bauer Kahan. This event not only shed light on damaging gender norms and stereotypes but also introduced valuable resources like the Representation Project's other films and free curriculum. (see With age-appropriate materials and a forthcoming Gender Equality Training Program (GET), they're equipping educators, parents, and students with the tools to challenge harmful paradigms and foster a more inclusive society.


Student Board member Application Due April 30th

It's so valuable to have student voice at the dais with us at every school board meeting. Be sure to encourage students entering junior or senior year to apply. See information & application here.

Coast 2 Coast with CSBA

Beyond local initiatives, I had the opportunity to advocate on a broader scale at the CSBA Coast 2 Coast event. Alongside school board members and superintendents from across California, we championed several key issues. Foremost among them was the fulfillment of the Special Education funding promise outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Nearly half a century since its enactment, this promise remains largely unfulfilled, with current funding levels hovering around 7-10% of the intended amount. By supporting legislation to establish a glide path toward the promised 40%, we're striving to ensure that every student receives the support they need to thrive. We also rallied support for our own Congressman DeSaulnier’s bill to increase funding for preschool, infant & toddler programs. These are currently funded at lower per pupil rates than 1999, and we know early intervention is the most effective and also cost efficient way to ensure success for students with disabilities.

In addition to special education funding, our advocacy extended to teacher recruitment, retention, and retirement. Initiatives like the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act and efforts to repeal disincentives such as the windfall elimination provision and pension offset are essential in attracting and retaining talented educators who are vital to student success. Moreover, we recognize the critical importance of broadband access, privacy, and cybersecurity in an increasingly digital world, advocating for policies that safeguard both educational opportunities and student data.


As I reflect on these experiences, I'm reminded of the power of collective action in effecting positive change. By engaging with our community, leveraging resources, and advocating for meaningful policies, we're not only fulfilling our duty as stewards of education but also shaping a brighter, more equitable future for all. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in this important journey.

District Friday Letter

And don't miss more fabulous district news & photos in the weekly Friday letter. See all weekly letters & organizational updates at

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2024 Teachers of the Year

Happy spring!  It’s a wonderful time to get outdoors, cheer on student athletes, enjoy a multitude of performances, and celebrate our teachers and staff. I've especially enjoyed seeing many parent led celebrations from various cultures, like the Persian New Year Nowruz.

In this blog:

  • Board meeting this Wednesday celebrates Teachers of the Year
  • Celebrating Dr Clark, new President of CAAASA
  • Diablo View Middle Recognized as California Distinguished School
  • Multilingual Education
  • District News Sources

Board meeting this Wednesday celebrates Teachers of the Year

The next school board meeting is this Wednesday, March 27, 2024, where we have the honor of celebrating our Teachers of the Year Finalists and Nominees.  Over 30 teachers were nominated to move ahead in the nomination process, and two teachers have been selected to represent MDUSD in the County Teacher of the Year competition: Ingrid Wright, of Bancroft Elementary School and Mia Carella, of Walnut Acres Elementary School.  Congratulations, Ingrid and Mia! 

I had the honor of being invited to join in the schoolwide celebration of Mia Carella last week, where the whole school formed a maze outside on the blacktop for her to run through while they cheered.


The board meeting agenda also includes: 

  • Resolutions in support of Adult Education Week and Arab American Heritage month
  • A presentation by our International Baccalaureate schools 
  • Vote on Approval of materials for English Language Arts for middle and high school
  • Vote on Approval of a Project Stabilization Agreement with the Contra Costa County Building and Construction Trades Council 

And more. See the full agenda and how to participate here.

Celebrating Dr Clark, new President of CAAASA

I’m so proud of our superintendent, Dr. Clark, for his leadership not only of our district, but also for the way he encourages us all to learn from the wider world around us. One excellent resource is CAAASA (the CA Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators). I attended their conference this year to see Dr Clark be installed as the next President of CAAASA. It was so inspiring and uplifting!  

The speakers were amazing, including experts like Linda Darling-Hammond and Pedro A. Noguera, PhD. Workshops were top notch with so many best practices and research based tools. Best of all was the incredibly warm and inclusive vibe of the entire event - full of affirmations, personal stories, heart, community, and connection.

Diablo View Middle Recognized as California Distinguished School

Congratulations to Diablo View Middle School in Clayton, for being named a 2024 California Distinguished School by the California Department of Education (CDE)! The CDE identified 293 middle and high schools statewide for this honor, based on their performance on state indicators on the 2023 California School Dashboard, with a focus on demonstrating excellence and growth in academic achievement and ensuring a positive school climate. They also recently held a grand opening of their school wellness center as well!

Multilingual Education

Last month I attended the CABE conference (CA Association for Bilingual Education). It was chock full of information about how to best serve our multilingual students, as well as how to create environments where home languages are valued and learning multiple languages is encouraged as an important skill for our global economy. 

Literacy was a hot topic, and this article summarizes well what I learned in a few of the workshops:  3 Ways to Ensure English Learners Benefit From the Science of Reading

District News Sources

For those of you who don’t receive the ParentSquare messages within the district, remember you can always read the weekly Friday letters, see Superintendent Goals, and more at

If you’re on social media, please follow and share our school district news in your community: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Happy Lunar New Year 2024

I’ve really enjoyed seeing how much our schools are celebrating the rich diversity of cultures that families bring. Gregory Gardens Elementary recently held a Heritage Night, which it turns out had invited the Diablo Taiko group to perform, and Diablo Taiko is a group that I joined last fall. So not only did I get to taste delicious food from countries such as Ukraine, Mexico, India, Nepal, but I also had the pleasure of performing and sharing Japanese drumming with joyful students!


Instrumental music is going strong in MDUSD as well. I was fortunate to see the stellar performances of both Concord High and Northgate High at the Folsom Jazz Festival, where both ranked as finalists among a field of many schools. And check out this video that Concord High created to recruit students into music.

Read on for:

  • Board meeting this Wednesday
  • Yondr - Phone free schools
  • YVHS Teacher Joseph Alvarico honored at California Teacher of the Year Gala
  • Register now for Middle School girls STEM conference

Board meeting this Wednesday

Tomorrow night’s board meeting will include 17.1 potential approval of a consultant to Assess the Electoral Feasibility of a Ballot Measure Related to Class Size Reduction. Thank you to the exploratory committee of teachers, parents, and community who vetted many and recommended this consultant. Visit to see all board meeting agendas, minutes, and how to participate.

Yondr - Phone Free Schools

Olympic High School presented at our last school board meeting about how their pilot Yondr program is going to create a phone free school and maintain healthy boundaries around technology.

This is something we could consider implementing in other schools or districtwide. You may have seen Yondr outside of schools recently at a concert or show, as many venues use this technology as well. Take a look at this Presentation, and let me know what you think!

YVHS Teacher Joseph Alvarico honored at California Teacher of the Year Gala

Ygnacio Valley High School’s Mr. Alvarico was one of just 5 teachers statewide honored as Teacher of the Year this year. He spoke at the celebration in Sacramento last week, sharing his inspirational story.  I encourage everyone to watch his speech and read the MDUSD article here.

Mr. Alvarico is such an inspiration. I love how he ended his speech: “Isn’t it remarkable that the lessons I learned from a small school in Manila are now resonating in the hearts and minds of students here in California? Yet, the crucial question we must ask ourselves is this: 'What limitless potential can we unlock in young minds when we bring these expanded, real-world, community-supported learning opportunities to every school in California?'"

Register now for Middle School Girls STEM Conference

The 2024 AAUW-OML STEM Conference for Middle School Girls (6-8th grade) will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2024 at Saint Mary’s College from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Each student will select 5 of her top choices out of the 14 workshops offered.   The cost is $50, but full Scholarships are available.  Click on the STEM Conference webpage for more info.

Registration is now open and will close on February 29th, but it is filling up fast. Click on the link to register.

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Happy New Year 2024

Happy New Year 2024!

I hope you all had a wonderful winter break, with the opportunity to rest and revive, as well as to connect with friends and loved ones.

At MDUSD, our board held our re-organizational meeting in December, where Erin Mc Ferrin was elected as Board President and Linda Mayo as Vice President for 2024. 

We also approved a Tentative Agreement with the MDEA Teachers' Union that will provide a 9% salary increase effective July 1, 2024 and 100% health benefits coverage at Kaiser rates starting Jan. 1, 2024. (Due to "me too" clauses in other union agreements, these raises and benefit increases will also be effective for other union and association employees.)  Thank you to MDEA and to our district negotiating team for working so diligently to make this possible.

Thank you to everyone who donated to HOPE for the holidays! Ms. Rosie Reid and the HOPE team did an incredible job hosting the largest holiday fair we’ve had for homeless & foster youth, collaborating with local community organizations who provided free food, toys, coats, school supplies, shoes, haircuts, and even a bilingual Santa.


And a beautiful Kwanzaa celebration was organized by the Mt Diablo African American Parent Advisory Council in Bay Point. It was a wonderful way to focus and reflect on family & community this winter.


Next school board meeting is Wednesday January 17th. Details at

Submit Teacher of the Year nominations through Jan. 16. 

Who are your favorite teachers?  Here’s your chance to recognize them.

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is now accepting nominations for 2024-25 District Teachers of the Year, who will go on to compete for Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) 2024-2025.

District staff members, parents/guardians, students and community members are encouraged to nominate classroom teachers who have demonstrated a passion for teaching, an ability to differentiate instruction to meet students' needs, and teachers who connect with and support their school community. 

The deadline to submit a Teacher of the Year Nomination Form is Tuesday, January 16, 2024. Click here for the form in English and here for the Spanish form.

New, free Youth Mental Health & Behavioral Apps from

I’m excited to share this groundbreaking new state program providing free, safe, and confidential mental health support for young people and families across the state with two easy-to-use mobile apps:

  1. Brightlife - Behavioral health coaching for parents, caregivers, and kids 0–12
  2. Soluna - free, safe, confidential mental health support for 13-25 year olds


Get support with the tough stuff and help your child thrive. No costs attached. No insurance required. No referrals needed.

Sign Up for Free

California cares. That's why California is paying for 100% of the care your family gets through BrightLife Kids. Real coaches. Real simple. Really free — for all California families.

En Espanol

Obtén apoyo para lo difícil y ayuda a tus hijos a prosperar. Coaching de salud conductual para padres, tutores y niños de 0 a 12 años. Sin costos asociados. No se requiere seguro. No se necesitan referencias.

A California le importa. Por eso California paga el 100 % de la atención que tu familia recibe a través de BrightLife Kids. Coaches reales. Muy sencillo. De verdad es gratuito para todas las familias de California.

In many languages!

Includes coaches who are bilingual (English/Spanish) and live translation services that cover 17 other languages* for parents/caregivers who need it. 

*Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean, Armenian, Russian, Farsi, Japanese, Arabic, Cambodian, Hindi, Hmong, Thai, Laotian, Punjabi, Mien, and Ukrainian


Confidential support for 13- to 25-year-olds in California. No cost. No pressure. Chat 1:1 with a professional coach, use interactive tools to destress, or explore quizzes, videos, forums, and more.

I'm excited to introduce you to Soluna: a new, innovative, and completely free mobile app that offers confidential mental health support for your child, wherever they are in their journey. 

Research shows a stark increase in mental health issues in young people due to pressures around academic stress, social media, and tech usage. As digital natives, your child and their generation face complex challenges and stressors unlike any before them. And they often struggle in silence. That's why having a safe, private, digital mental health resource for young people is so critical. And Soluna is here to help. 

Why Soluna? Based on over two decades of clinical research, Soluna is leading the way in digital mental health for young people with a commitment to inclusivity and equity. And it all starts with our robust, diverse suite of resources designed to support a variety of needs and interests for young people ages 13 to 25. 

A universe of tools at your fingertips 

Here’s a quick look at the resources we offer to ensure your child can find the support that's right for them: 

🛠 Interactive tools: Our Thought Shaker, Mood Log, Starboard, and more will help users destress, find calm, and reset. 

🤝 Soluna coaches: Users can chat via text with a professional for personalized, 1:1 guidance. 

🔮 Unique content: To learn more about their mental health, users can explore quizzes, text chats, swipeable activities, and more. 

📕 Digital journal: For venting their feelings, jotting down ideas, or drafting big dreams, we provide users with a safe and private Free Write space

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