Congratulations Teachers of the Year
Congratulations to our Mt Diablo Teachers of the Year nominees and finalists!
Our students are so fortunate to benefit from your passion, expertise & mentorship. Read more about them here.
I’m very excited about the progress Bel Air Elementary is making in early literacy, as part of the Early Literacy Support Block Grant - which includes 70 schools from districts across the state. They are training all teachers on the Science of Reading, and purchasing materials accordingly.
The state leaders of this grant ask every school to use an assessment tool called DIBELS to monitor and benchmark literacy growth in early grades. Bel Air started with a paper/pencil version of DIBELS, and will now be piloting a digital version this spring: https://amplify.com/programs/mclass/ Based on over 30 years of research, mCLASS® is the gold-standard K–6 assessment and intervention suite for early literacy that helps every child learn to read confidently.
In Spanish: https://amplify.com/programs/mclass-lectura/
The development of mCLASS Lectura also involved a team of nationally recognized experts representing a range of regions (Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean), along with focus groups featuring classroom teachers, special education teachers, specialists, and administrators.
“It's incredibly important we attend to the Spanish language alongside English in assessment practices, to make sure we're not underestimating the ability of a really significant percentage of our nation’s school population.” –Dr. Lillian Durán, Co-developer of mCLASS Lectura, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Education, University of Oregon
Other districts such as San Ramon use mCLASS for their tiered intervention plan to help students learn to read.
What do we mean by Science of Reading? Here’s an excellent Science of Reading handbook that is useful for teachers and parents.
Feb 22nd School Board Mtg Notes
The last board meeting lasted until 11:30pm, chock full of important information and discussions. I would like to highlight two of the topics here:
After listening to everyone at the Town Hall at Pine Hollow the night before, this was the board’s chance to discuss with the superintendent about priorities and next steps to face racism and bullying in our schools. I am thankful we are shining a light on this difficult topic, to thereby be better able to address it. Thank you to all who participated.
I think Board President Nzewi’s comments were especially insightful, starting from her personal story as a black parent in our district and moving into her recommended action steps. Listen to her comments at 3:13.00
Given all my excitement about our district focus on how to effectively teach reading, I felt blindsided by a proposal that came to that board meeting: to provide iReady assessment & lessons districtwide.
Essentially I expected that our district would learn from the literacy initiative at Bel Air, listen to our dyslexia task force (made up of parents, teachers and admins with this speciality), and then expand those best practices districtwide in terms of both professional development and validated materials that align with the Science of Reading.
Instead, this proposal came to the board as information, to spend $600,000 on iReady assessments and lessons in reading and math districtwide and to limit other programs that address areas built into iReady.
--> Watch my comments & the ensuing discussion in the board meeting here: starting at 4:28:00
My feeling is that we should make data driven decisions, especially for something we are going to require in classrooms districtwide. Instead of making a quick decision to revert back to funding iReady districtwide, let’s spend 1 year collecting the right data.
Let’s pay for those schools that love iReady to keep doing iReady. But at the same time let’s let Bel Air fully pilot mCLASS without double burdening their students to do iReady at the same time. And let’s offer to other schools the opportunity to pilot mCLASS in English and Spanish, including their highly regarded and validated dyslexia screener.
Then at the end of the school year, we’ll have real data to look at and use to decide which tool is really the best choice for MDUSD.
Similarly, I'd like to see us make real data driven pilot comparisons for math, vs other assessment and lesson options such as
- Khan Academy: https://districts.khanacademy.org/ (As a parent, I found Khan Academy to be a great way for my kids to drive their own learning, where both I and their teachers could also easily see a dashboard of their progress through each topic of each grade level on any given day.)
- I know that some of our schools have also had great success with Math Bridges, which has a family component in English and Spanish for every lesson, as well as targeted intervention for struggling students.
If you have experience to share on this topic, please reach out to me. I'd love to hear what's working in your classroom.
The next school board meeting is this Wednesday, March 8, 2023. The agenda includes a report on home to school transportation and the second interim financial report. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at https://www.mdusd.org/boardmeetings
Distinguished Schools, Town Hall on Racism, Nominate for Awards of Excellence
Congratulations to these Mt Diablo schools, recognized for excellence by the state of CA!
California Distinguished Schools awarded to Bancroft Elementary, Sequoia Elementary, and Walnut Acres Elementary
California Model Continuation High School awarded to Prospect High
We are so proud and thankful for all that these school teachers, staff, leadership and families did to build excellent learning communities.
Town Hall Tuesday re Concerns about Racism & Bullying
One of my key priorities in running for school board has been “Welcoming, Safe, Inclusive schools for every Mt Diablo student,” and unfortunately like many schools across the U.S., ours have had incidents of hate, racism, and violence. This is something we take very seriously.
Our board President Nzewi and superintendent Dr Clark have therefore now scheduled a Town Hall for this Tuesday night, February 21st, at 6:30pm at Pine Hollow Middle School, Multi-use Room at 5522 Pine Hollow Road in Concord.
This is intended to be a safe place for families to speak up about these issues, and for our district leadership and board to listen. All are welcome.
The next school board meeting is this Wednesday, February 22, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at https://www.mdusd.org/boardmeetings
This meeting includes a review of a contract with Curriculum Associates to provide iReady math & reading assessments and lessons districtwide for 2023-24. You're welcome to share your experiences and opinions via email to [email protected] or comment during that item at the board meeting.
Feb 1st School Board Mtg Actions & Resources
Here are a few highlights from the February 1st school board meeting:
appointed Matthew Fielder as the District's Chief Accountant and Tiffany Jackson as the Vice Principal at Shore Acres Elementary School in Bay Point.
reviewed reports on enrollment projections and the Governor's Proposed Budget for 2023-24
approved a Teamsters Side Letter adjusting Landscape Department job descriptions & salaries
In my board report I shared these important resources:
https://www.calhopeschools.org/ - this anxiety & mental health resource is provided free to families and schools: The CalHOPE Schools Initiative links 3 powerful resources together at one easy access point for CA educators:
A Trusted Space: Redirecting Grief to Growth,
Angst: Building Resilience, and
Stories of Hope: SHORTS.
https://besmartforkids.org/ - Secure firearm storage is an essential part of home safety. With more guns in more homes due to an unprecedented surge in gun sales over the past two years, it’s more important than ever for parents and caregivers to know how secure storage protects children. And in 2020, gun suicide among children ages 17 and under reached the highest rate in more than 20 years and firearms became the leading cause of death among children in the United States. Storing firearms securely can help prevent these tragedies and keep kids safe.
Nominate a Teacher, Parent or Staff for Awards of Excellence by Feb 28th
On Thursday May 11th, you and the entire Mt Diablo Unified School District community are invited to get together at Centre Concord to recognize, promote, and celebrate the excellence of MDUSD employees and community members!
Nominations are now open for the MDEA Awards of Excellence for that evening. All nominees will be listed in the event program.
You can be the one to make sure your school is represented there. Please submit nominations here by February 28th for the following Awards:
Outstanding Achievement in Teaching
Leadership & Courage
Awards for Staff Members, Supporters, and Community Members
Outstanding Classified Employee
Outstanding Parent Volunteer
Outstanding Volunteer Organization
Outstanding Collaborating Team
Social Justice - individual or small team acting to improve equity, racial justice, diversity, and inclusion in our MDUSD schools
Submit your nomination here, due by Tuesday, February 28th.
Save the date to attend and celebrate all nominees together at the MDEA Awards of Excellence on Thursday evening, May 11th at Centre Concord!
New Year 2023
Happy new year! 2023 has started off well for our Mt Diablo school board, thanks to the hard work of staff and teachers as well as parents and community. Trustee Nzewi is now our school board President, and Trustee McFerrin is Vice President. I’m thankful to President Nzewi for opening our first board meeting with a thoughtful land acknowledgement to show respect to our Native American community.
Here are a few highlights from the January 18th meeting:
In efforts to attract and retain quality staff, our board focused on increasing salaries especially for our lowest paid workers. We:
- approved a tentative agreement with CSEA (CA School Employees Association) for the 2022-25 collective bargaining agreement,
- approved salary increases & schedule updates for Food & Nutrition staff,
- approved summer school higher compensation rates,
- approved salary schedule adjustment for school principals & administration.
We approved a 5 year contract to improve our district website. (Thank you to all who submitted feedback along the way!) The new site will include:
- User friendly design with search
- Improved ADA accessibility
- Mobile friendly app
- Integration with ParentSquare & calendars
- Translation into more than 100 languages
- Aiming to launch by July 1, 2023
- And we approved audits for the district, charter schools, and bonds - all of which showed overwhelmingly that funding is well managed and spent appropriately in MDUSD
Anonymous Reporting System Chosen
Dr Clark added a link to his Superintendent Goals here on the website. One of these goals has been to implement a districtwide anonymous reporting system that includes
- alignment with Collaborative For Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) social-emotional learning standards,
- multiple language access to report tips via phone, app, and website,
- trained crisis counselor response 24/7.
Thanks to all who contacted our board to prioritize this! Dr Clark reported at the January board meeting that after researching various options, the district has contracted with the Sandy Hook Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, which includes all of the criteria that you requested. Planning and setup begins this spring, with the system aiming to launch for the 2023-24 school year.
Did you see the new addition to our Board meetings page? It is the “Trustee questions and staff response”, which had been recommended by community members.
Both Student Trustee Navaflores and I spoke at a recent Concord City Council meeting in support of a city ordinance to stop the sale of vape & flavored tobacco that targets youth. I’m grateful to LGBTQ Minus Tobacco and all the organizations that provided key data that led the city council to vote 5-0 to direct staff to draft the ordinance. Our MDUSD Board had passed a resolution in 2020 asking all cities in MDUSD to take this action, and it’s good to see Concord stepping up now to follow suit along with Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill.
The next school board meeting is this Wednesday, February 1, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at mdusd.org/boardmeetings
Swearing In Ceremony Tonight
Tonight our Mt. Diablo Unified School District board meeting includes my swearing in ceremony for a second term, alongside Linda Mayo and Debra Mason.
You’re welcome to come in person, or watch online!
It begins at 6pm, and will be held at our school district Board room at 1936 Carlotta Drive, Concord CA 94519
We will also have our board reorganization (voting for President/Vice President for 2023), a report on the first interim financials, and more.
See full agenda and how to watch/participate here: https://www.mdusd.org/boardmeetings
Many thanks for your all of your support of our schools,