Celebrating our Teachers and Staff

It's time to celebrate! The Mt. Diablo Teacher of the Year sought nominations of outstanding educators from transitional kindergarten through grade 12 and adult education to be represented as the MDUSD Teacher of the Year.  Over 60 teachers were nominated, and the five finalists were: 

  • David Hunter from Bridge, 
  • Jim Keck from College Park, 
  • Chelsea Ridenour from Diablo View, 
  • Elizabeth McDonagh from Prospect High, and 
  • Elisa Mendoza from Sequoia Middle.  

The two teachers selected to represent Mt. Diablo in the County Teacher of the Year competition are Chelsea Ridenour and Elisa McDonagh.

I had the pleasure of visiting Diablo View Middle School yesterday to present Ms Ridenour her certificate in person!  It was a beautiful day to see students engaged in hands-on learning all over campus, indoors and out, amidst the beats and improvisations of band practice tunes.

Don’t miss the MDEA Academy Awards zoom event May 6th, to celebrate excellent teachers, staff, parents and administrators throughout our district! Details below.

Read on for:

  1. School Board meeting tonight April 28th
  2. Superintendent’s Friday letter 
  3. MDEA Academy Awards May 6th
  4. Vaccination Walk In Clinics
  5. Free Summer Education Academy for Student Leaders
  6. Accelerating Learning as we Build Back Better

School Board Meeting Tonight April 28th

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 April 23rd letter, full of information including: 

MDEA Academy Awards May 6th

You’re invited to this event on Thursday, May 6, 2021, from 6-8pm!

   Click here to watch the awards ceremony

         Meeting number: 145 364 5434

         Password: MDEA20210506

This celebration will be a showcase of all of the fabulous work that dedicated community members are doing all over our district. It will be an engaging opportunity for each of us to look up for a moment from the tasks we focus on each day and see the broader scope and bigger picture of successes across the entire district.  Congratulations to all!  Please see the list of nominees and finalists:  2021 MDEA Academy Award Nominees

Vaccination Walk In Clinics

Our school district has been coordinating with county health to ensure vaccines reach all families.  Here’s exciting news about more accessible vaccines here in Concord and Pittsburg:

  1. There’s a new COVID-19 vaccine clinic opening tomorrow at 1034 Oak Grove Road in Concord



  • Plus these new walk-in mobile clinics (open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.):

    • April 26 – May 2: Albert D. Seeno Jr. Pittsburg Youth Development Center: 1001 Stoneman Ave., Pittsburg

    • May 3-6: Meadow Homes Elementary School: 1371 Detroit Ave., Concord 

Free Summer Education Academy for Student Leaders

Ed100 is hosting a summer Academy for Student Leaders - and it’s free!  Please share out and nominate students to attend.

Their chart shows that there are students from Mt. Diablo Unified School District registered so far from College Park, Northgate, and Concord High. Can you share this out to and/or nominate students from Mt Diablo High, Ygnacio Valley High, Olympic and Horizons?


Accelerating Learning As We Build Back Better 

This article by Linda Darling Hammond is a must read for us all. She says, “If we focus on remediation for “learning loss” we'll go back to the unequal and inadequate pre-COVID education system. Instead, we need to set the norm for a new age that builds on how children really learn, rather than working against it...

It is critically important that we address these concerns based not on outdated notions about remediation, but on what we now know about how people learn effectively.”

Here a key excerpt, and I do recommend reading the entire article for more detail and models of best practices.

“If we really want to support learning, the return to school should not include these staple features of an outdated approach to learning that research has found actually undermine achievement:

  • Testing students to label and track them into “high,” “average,” and “low” groups that are segregated by perceived ability — and often by race, class, and language background as well;
  • Offering regimented drill and kill remedial instruction in these segregated groups, focused on filling gaps in basic skills in the artificial ways they are assessed on multiple choice tests, which then often causes them to be taught in equally artificial ways;
  • “Personalizing” learning by putting students in front of programmed computers for machine-based instruction for long hours at a time — or piles of worksheets that offer the same decontextualized approach to learning;
  • Punishing students who disengage or express frustration and despair by excluding them from the classroom or removing “privileges” like recess and library time;
  • Placing the neediest students in remedial classes with the least trained and experienced teachers who are least likely to know how to create productive learning environments.

Instead, a supportive school return — both this summer and next fall — will seek to ensure that students:

  • Experience warm relationships and social-emotional supports achieved by redesigning schools so that they are relationship-centered, with built-in time for creating community, trust, and belonging among students and with families;
  • Engage in outdoor play and exercise, expressive arts, and collaborative activities that support brain development and learning;
  • Encounter authentic, culturally responsive learning tasks and inquiry projects connected to their experiences that allow them to understand and positively impact their environment;
  • Assess what students need both socially and emotionally as well as academically, address trauma with healing and support, and identify the next steps they are ready to take in their learning rather than labelling them;
  • Accelerate learning through additional time and high-quality tutoring rather than tracking. Intensive tutoring, found to be highly effective, both establishes strong relationships and customizes teaching directly to student readiness and needs.”
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LCAP community input

Please join us for the LCAP Input Meeting tomorrow night!

         On Wednesday, April 21st at 5pm, Mt. Diablo Unified will be hosting a virtual LCAP Input Meeting. 

The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) must be updated annually, be aligned to eight areas identified as state priorities, and describe the school district's overall vision for students, annual goals and specific actions the district will take to achieve the vision and achievement targets.  This year, in addition to the LCAP, the state is requiring that districts complete several other documents describing how Mt. Diablo Unified will target support for African American students, English learners, foster youth, students experiencing homelessness, students with unique needs, and how we plan on coordinating academic and social emotional support to increase student achievement and success.

         Below is the link to the meeting and Spanish translation will be provided.

         Join Zoom Meeting  

        Meeting ID: 857 0573 9817

        Passcode: 684843

Find MDUSD prior LCAP plans and news at https://www.mdusd.org/lcap/lcapnews

  • For parents: here is a handy "what is LCAP" from Ed100: https://ed100.org/blog/lcap-hub . This explains the 8 priority areas that all LCAP plans must cover and much more about how this plan intersects with school site plans and the complexities of state funding.


And if you missed last week's school board meeting, here are the actions we took:

Actions Taken at Last Week's Board Meeting: Fall ReOpening, Intercultural Education, Outdoor Classrooms

I'm proud to share that last week our Mt. Diablo Unified School District school board unanimously approved my Motion for Fall 2021 to include choices for students of:
  1. full time 5 days a week in person school
  2. Independent study
  3. new Virtual Academy
    • (this is for students to receive 100% online instruction from MDUSD teachers)
(a non-binding parent survey will be sent out to gauge estimated enrollment in each of the 3 options, in order to plan for adequate staffing)
We also unanimously passed our first ever Resolution to recognize Arab American Heritage month, and heard from the founder of ing.org about all the free curriculum and speakers they provide to educators on intercultural understanding.
We unanimously passed an updated Climate Change resolution and heard about current efforts and success in creating outdoor classrooms throughout the district, with help from greenschoolyards.org
And we heard an excellent report from our CARES afterschool program that operates at 17 school sites to provide care both in person and online for our lowest income students.
Thank you, everyone in MDUSD for making this all possible! You are showing that even through challenging times, #TogetherWeCan provide excellent education to all students.
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Welcome back from spring break

I hope you all had plenty of time out in nature and off screens, to rest and revive. Ramadan Mubarak to those who celebrate!  I was amazed to learn that today is also Vaisakhi, Navratra, Ugadi, Khalsa Sirjana Divas and Hindu New Year. Understanding each other's traditions and values is so important to building inclusive communities. 

I invited Maha Elgenaidi, founder of Ing.org, to speak at tomorrow’s school board meeting during item 9.3 Resolution in Recognition of Arab American Heritage Month. Ing’s mission is educating for cultural literacy and mutual respect.

Here is a useful brief guide for educators about Ramadan:

Read on for:

  1. School Board meeting Wednesday April 14th
  2. Superintendent’s Friday letter 
  3. Mental Health Webinars
  4. Common Cents 
  5. Drawing on Earth’s Global Challenge

Next School Board Meeting Wednesday April 14th

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 19th letter, full of information including: 

  • Congratulations MDUSD student winners of Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair: Angello Ledesma, Elyse Contreras, Andrea Rosmarin, Jonathan Yu, John Lins, and Erin Weber!
  • Organizational Update including kindergarten registration for fall at mdusd.org/enrollnow and the opportunity to apply for the new  YVHS CCAP STEM program 

Mental Health Webinars

Don’t miss these important Mental Health webinars created by MDUSD Counselors in English or Spanish. Coming up Tuesday April 20 at 5pm is “Anxiety and Depression” - Register here.  You can also watch all past webinars such as “Recognizing When To Get Help Beyond The Homeor register for future topics at https://mdusd.org/mental-health

Common Cents

Did you know that MDUSD has a new column with answers to frequently asked questions? It is about sharing the accurate data associated with all things fiscal, budgets, data, and more!  Visit https://mdusd.org/bscc 

The March 31st post included:

  • What is the cost of a special election for a recall?
  • Why is there a deficit? 
  • Where do the funds come from for our district? 
  • Does district staff engage with legislators to try to get more funding? 

Drawing on Earth’s Global Creative Challenge

Join Mark Wagner this Earth Day in his Global Creative Challenge.  Mark is the amazing artist who led The Largest Illustrated Story chalk drawing project for Mt. Diablo Unified School District at nearly all of our elementary school sites!  

(This flyer features the Wren Avenue Elementary School of the Arts chalk project)

Join him online or in person for his next Guinness World Record attempt! #STEAMforStudents

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MDUSD is Back

What a beautiful day to welcome students to our Mt. Diablo Unified School District campuses. 

I enjoyed this morning as a volunteer with Ygnacio Valley High School PTSA, handing out treats to staff and posting welcome back signs for students.  Thank you to all our Mt. Diablo Unified School District teachers and staff for your hard work to make this all possible! #MDUSDisBack


Read on for:

  • COVID vaccine appointments

  • MDUSDisBack photos

  • Cesar Chavez & Dolores Huerta Days, Larry Itliong

Our school principals are working closely with the health dept to expand vaccine outreach in Bay Point and Monument with Spanish speaking ambassadors.  Plus, great news on vaccines...

Contra Costa Residents 50+ Encouraged to Request Vaccine Appointment Now - Thousands of Appointment Slots Available

People who are currently eligible are strongly encouraged to beat the rush by requesting appointments as soon as possible, using the online request form at cchealth.org/coronavirus or calling 1-833-VAX-COCO (1-833-829-2626). People currently eligible for appointments in Contra Costa include: 

  • Anyone who is 50 or older and lives or works in the county

  • Anyone who is 16 or older and has a high-risk health condition, disability or illness and lives or works in the county 

  • Essential workers who live or work in Contra Costa, including healthcare personnel, emergency services workers, education and childcare workers, agriculture and food workers, transportation and logistics workers, and anyone who lives or works in a congregate living space in the county

CCHS expects this week to expand eligibility to:

  • Anyone who lives or works in the county and is 16 or older

Invitamos a los Residentes de Contra Costa de 50 Años de Edad y Mayores a que Soliciten la Vacuna Hoy Mismo - Miles de espacios para citas disponibles

De ser posible, pedimos que las personas programen sus citas utilizando el formulario de solicitud en línea en vez de llamar por teléfono, ya que esto les ahorrará tiempo. La página de Ayude a su Vecino incluye consejos que le servirán para ayudar a un amigo o un ser querido a programar una cita en caso de que se le dificulte utilizar el Internet o un teléfono inteligente.

Las personas actualmente elegibles para programar una cita de vacunación en Contra Costa incluyen:

  • Cualquier persona de 50 años de edad o mayor que viva o trabaje en el condado

  • Cualquier persona de 16 años de edad o mayor que tenga una condición de salud, discapacidad o enfermedad de alto riesgo y que viva o trabaje en el condado

  • Los trabajadores esenciales que vivan o trabajen en Contra Costa, incluyendo al personal de salud, los trabajadores de los servicios de emergencia, los trabajadores de la educación y del cuidado infantil, los trabajadores del sector agrícola y de alimentos, los trabajadores de transporte y logística y cualquier persona que viva o trabaje en una instalación de vivienda congregada del condado

MDUSD is Back

It was a joy for me to see smiling faces last week at our elementary schools, including Ygnacio Valley Elementary, Meadow Homes, and Walnut Acres! 


Cesar Chavez & Dolores Huerta Days, Larry Itliong

Don't forget that our school district has this Friday April 2nd off in honor of Cesar Chavez Day. Here is a Learning for Justice resource on Cesar Chavez for educators and families.  

California also has designated April 10th as Dolores Huerta Day. Chavez and Huerta together launched the National Farm Workers Association, though some history recognizes primarily Chavez. Both have compelling stories as effective community organizers, and Dolores Huerta is still alive and organizing today. Here is the Dolores Huerta curriculum toolkit all about civic engagement and her signature rallying cry "Si Se Puede".  You can learn about this curriculum on April 1st, 6:30pm with "Teaching the Life of Activist Dolores Huerta." Register at: http://bit.ly/TeachingDoloresHuerta

Organizing is always most effective in coalition, even though our American stories often feature one person instead. In fact, Larry Itliong was the person who started the Delano Grape Strike with more than 2,000 Filipino farmworkers, that Huerta and Chavez later joined.  Their organizations later merged to become what we now know as United Farm Workers (UFW).  Be sure to read his story here to learn the full, true history of their journey together for justice. 

I hope you all enjoy a safe and relaxing spring break April 5-9th!

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