Welcome Back to School 2023

Welcome back to school. I hope you had a rejuvenating summer!  I was out of town for much of it, including an educational trip to Israel & Palestine (see my reflection & photos here) and volunteer staffing a girl scout camp in the mountains. It was an adjustment for me to get used to being away from my cell phone, and a needed respite. Our family also hosted students who were visiting here from Japan, which was a heartwarming cultural experience.

For those of you who don’t receive the ParentSquare messages within the district, here are highlights of the last school year: MDUSD Year in Review 

And remember you can always read the weekly Friday letters, see Superintendent Goals, and more at mdusd.org/about/superintendent

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

Next School Board meeting Aug 16th

The next school board meeting is tomorrow night, Wednesday, August 16, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at mdusd.org/boardmeetings 

The agenda includes: 

  • Revisions to the LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan)

  • Consideration of the change of mascot proposed by Concord High

  • Review/Approval of textbook for new Financial Algebra course

  • Review/Approval of Tentative Agreement for a 3 year contract with Teamsters Local 856

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

First Day of School

On Thursday after dropping off my high schooler, I visited new Principals in my trustee area to wish them a happy first day of school. This beautiful art piece at Mt Diablo Elementary conveyed what I saw out at our schools, smiling students coming together in a warm and welcoming environment!

Here you can read bios of each of these new principals:

Ava Sudduth SummerBridge Academy

Another highlight of the summer was the Ava Sudduth Academy, where Dr. Lamont Francies brought incoming 6th grade focal scholars to Riverview Middle School for a 2 week summerbridge orientation, academic support, and enrichment to bolster their readiness for success.

Community partners such as Village Keepers and AKA Sorority contributed food, resources and volunteers. Young Audiences of Northern CA and the Mt Diablo Education Foundation provided an awesome body percussion class there, taught by the amazing Antwan Davis. Antwan has performed all over the world, including in the Broadway show STOMP!  I reveled in the chance to stop by and join in his class.  

It is by strategically investing in positive, culturally responsive pedagogy and building up tight knit communities like these, that we will begin to break down long standing inequities in our public schools. We are deeply grateful to all who lead this work with hope and determination.

Successful Districtwide Parent Conference

It was a joyful reunion to run into so many parents, students and staff at the Parent Conference last Saturday. I was impressed with the wide variety of workshops in English, Spanish and Dari; the room full of free backpacks, books and school supplies; and the gym full of community organizations sharing their information. Not to mention a tasty lunch for all.  Thank you to our Mt Diablo Adult school for organizing and hosting!



Happy First Week of School, from our family to yours!


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Happy Graduations

Congratulations to all graduates of MDUSD schools!  What a joyous time it’s been to see you walk across the stage, into the next phase of your lives. I was honored to represent our school board in accepting the graduating class at the Northgate High school ceremony. It was extra emotional for me since I've known many of those students since elementary school, and am so proud of how far they've come!

Thanks to the City of Concord for posting videos of commencement ceremonies here.

And to the City of Walnut Creek for posting the video of Northgate Commencement here

Plus many of our schools were included in this Concord Clayton Pioneer graduation article.

See (and please share) detailed news on graduations and many other celebrations and awards in the June 2nd district Friday letter here.

Next School Board meeting June 14th

The next school board meeting is tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at mdusd.org/boardmeetings 

The agenda includes public hearings on 

  • the LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan),
  • the Proposed Budget for 2023-24,
  • The SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area)

A final version of all of these will then be voted on at the June 28th school board meeting.

We will also be voting on appointments to many principal and vice principal positions, as well as hearing reports on the district plan for Foundational Literacy, what it takes to consider a Parcel Tax, and revisions to the 10 year Technology Plan.

I’m looking forward to hearing the Annual Report and Literacy Action Plan from the Bel Air Elementary School Early Literacy Support Block Grant as well. 

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

Give your input on LCAP

The draft LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) is available here for all to read, along with an online survey in English and Spanish where you can provide your ideas. There is also a public hearing during this week’s board meeting on June 14th, where any member of the public can come to speak in person. Please read and share! All input welcome. 

Budget Hearing 

Item 18.2 on our June 14th board agenda is a Public Hearing on our Proposed budget for 2023-24. Your input and questions are welcome, by emailing [email protected] or coming in person to speak! 

Free Summer Meals

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District's Food and Nutrition Services Department will provide free community meals including breakfast and lunch for children 18 years and younger at 19 District Sites in Bay Point, Concord, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill and at the Concord Library during portions of the summer. The list of times, dates and sites is HERE.

No identification is required and each child can receive one portion per meal per day, which must be consumed on-site. Breakfast will be served from 8:40-9:10 a.m. and lunch will be available from 12:10-12:40 p.m.

Coming up


The Concord Communities Alliance in partnership with several other community organizations is organizing a Juneteenth celebration to be held from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, June 25th at Todos Santos Plaza in Concord.

Called "Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future," the event will include music, speakers, vendors, food, and crafts. 

Save the date!

MDUSD parents are invited to attend a free Parent Conference from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, August 12th at the Loma Vista Adult Center, 1266 San Carlos Ave. in Concord.

The event will feature a keynote by Dr. Lettie Ramirez, author of "You Are Not Alone: Recipes to Obtain Success by Parents for Parents." 

It will also include workshops in English and Spanish, community resources, free lunches for registered adults and kids, free backpacks and school supplies, and childcare. 


And I'll end this blog with love:

Community PRIDE

What a joy it was to organize school board members from around our county to show our support for youth in the Clayton PRIDE parade together.

Thanks to the Clayton PRIDE committee for creating this growing family event for our region to express love & inclusion to all in the LGBTQIA+ community.  Thanks to each of our schools and each city that is flying the rainbow flag and organizing events during the month of June to share resources and support.




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Happy Classified Employees Week

Happy classified employees week! I hope you’ve given lots of love to your classified staff, such as classroom aides, food servers, bus drivers, and custodians. We celebrated our district classified employees of the year at our last board meeting:

  • Pamela Filstrup, Clerical and Administrative Services
  • Patrick Reed, Custodial Services
  • Loretta Hurlbut, Paraprofessional
  • Jay Morrow, Technical Services 
  • Ronald Rivett, Transportation Services

Kudos to Morrow and Rivett who were also chosen as County Classified Employees of the year!

Performing Arts Abound

This time of year is such a joy, as students at every school perform in music, drama, and dance. 

Our student board member Anahi Nava Flores emceed the Mt Diablo High School Multicultural Rally, which was a beautiful display of students expressing cultures, dances, and music from all around the world. The audience of students cheered enthusiastically for every single group, small or large.


I was blown away by the talent of our Northgate jazz bands who performed at Yoshi’s in Oakland last week. The place sold out, as it did for Concord High Jazz bands the following week as well. Northgate orchestra, winds, and concert band also were fortunate to play at the Lesher Center for Performing Arts. 


Thank you to Mt Diablo Music Education Foundation for sponsoring Music in the Park at Todos Santos for all MDUSD instrumental and choral music students, and thank you to our passionate music teachers!


Black Excellence

I'm so proud of our district for hosting our first annual Black Excellence Awards to celebrate students and staff.

More than 400 people attended MDUSD’s First Annual Black Excellence Awards Night on May 16th at Concord High to recognize and honor over 150 student award winners in grades K-12. Awards were also presented to members of the Black Educators Association and the Parent of the Year for the African American Parent Advisory Council. It was an empowering evening full of celebration for the amazing accomplishments of our Black and African American students! 
A KTVU report about the event called it "a joyful night." 


May 10th School Board Meeting Highlights

We recognized June as PRIDE month, encouraging all school sites to fly the rainbow flag and proudly show their support for and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ students. 


At the recommendation of the student advisory committee, we were pleased to vote to appoint Susana Barrios from YVHS as the Student School Board member for 2023-24!  We also voted in:


  • Students presented on the Concord HS proposed mascot change
  • Growing Healthy Kids shared photos and results of their program, and 
  • Parents presented on the very real dangers of fentanyl and how to prevent them. (these parents here in our community were each affected personally, either with a child who died from fentanyl or who was saved by Nalaxone). I highly encourage everyone to view their presentation (here at 2:55:30) and share the following resources from them:
    • May 9, 2023 was Fentanyl Awareness Day.  Fentanyl deaths have increased at an alarming trajectory across the state and nation.  It is now reported to be involved in 80% of drug related deaths for people under 21 and it impacts youth from all racial, ethnic, socio-economic, religious and other backgrounds.  
    • Education and prevention programs are  effective in reducing the number of deaths related to fentanyl.  Naloxone is readily available to community members and will save lives of those overdosing on fentanyl if administered in time.


Adopted Curriculum: 

We approved Standards Aligned History-Social Science Materials for Elementary History-Social Science Instruction, which included Spanish materials for dual language schools and emerging bilingual students. This completes our curriculum adoptions TK-12 for History-Social Science, which has been a goal of mine for many years. Look for these textbooks and online materials this fall when school begins!

The complete meeting agenda is here

Next School Board meeting 

The next school board meeting is Wednesday, June 14, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person! See details at mdusd.org/boardmeetings 


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Day Of The Teacher 2023

Happy Day of the Teacher!

Spring is a wonderful time of year to celebrate everyone who makes a difference in the lives of our students.  Last week was Administrative Professionals Day: a chance to recognize those in our offices who do so much to make sure our families feel welcomed, informed, and respected.

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, and California also celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week May 8-12th. We get to celebrate Classified School Employee Week May 21-27th, and don’t forget School Lunch Hero Day this Friday May 5th

I hope to see you on Thursday, May 11th at the districtwide MDEA Awards of Excellence event, at Centre Concord from 6 PM – 9 PM. Tickets are available for purchase through Eventbrite

View the Award Nominees here

Coffee Meetup this Thursday

I’ve been hearing from the public about many crucial issues lately, especially around safety, literacy, and mental health support. 

Stop by Coffee with your Trustee: this Thursday May 4th, 8:45am-10am at Contra Costa Coffee, for a relaxed local setting in which to share your ideas and concerns with me.

On Safety: Last week’s violent assault on Northgate High’s campus was horrific, and my heart goes out to the victim and her family.  Deepest gratitude to the school staff, police and emergency personnel who whisked her to the hospital while ensuring the rest of campus was secure, all the while doing their best to communicate with families & media. 

We must do more to prevent the violence and bullying that we are encountering throughout our schools and community. For the last year I’ve been advocating for MDUSD to follow the best practices of How to Prevent Gun Violence in Schools, and our district is now contracted to have the Sandy Hook Promise Say Something Anonymous Reporting System in place by this fall. Please share your perspective and ideas on this important topic.

Next School Board meeting 

The next school board meeting is next Wednesday, May 10, 2023. We welcome your input via email or in person. See details at mdusd.org/boardmeetings 


We have so much to be proud of. Here are a few current highlights:

Congrats to MDUSD's two District Teachers of the Year, who have both been named as County Teacher of the Year Finalists - Joseph Alvarico of Ygnacio Valley HS and Danya Townsend of Olympic HS!

Congratulations to two of our District Classified Employees of the Year that were selected as Contra Costa County Classified Employees of the Year: Bus Driver Ronald Rivett (Transportation Services) and IT Network Systems Admin Jay Morrow (Technical Services), who are now California Classified School Employee of the Year nominees! 

Congratulations to Dana Tarantino, Northgate High math teacher, recipient of the prestigious Warren Eukel trust award for excellence in teaching!

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