So Much Good News

Happy Easter, Ramadan, Passover, or Bihu to all who celebrate!  

This week I had planned a coffee meetup for Friday April 22nd, but instead I will be attending the San Ramon regional PTA Advocacy Day: Let me know if you’d like to join me there!  Then the following Friday April 29th will be our coffee meetup at 9am at Contra Costa Coffee in Walnut Creek. Stop by for a chat if you can make it, I’d love to see you. I’ll share more about how you can help fully fund our public schools.

We have so much great news to share from our Mt Diablo schools right now, as well as important information. Read on for:

  • April 15th Friday letter - don’t miss it
  • School Board meetings - science curriculum adopted!
  • High School Juniors - check out &
  • Open Job Listings to Share
  • Ride for Jose Castillo

April 15th Friday Letter - Don’t Miss It

Don’t miss the April 15th Friday letter, as it has so much great information to celebrate!  Please share this news with your networks.

It includes: Riverview MS students explore the Bay Point Regional Seashore, District news including Unified Sports at YVHS is a success; School news including Valhalla PFA DREAM committee highlights Diversity, Respect, Equity, Action and Multiculturalism; Staff Spotlights on a former District and CA Teacher of the Year, MDUSD's Director of Technology & Innovation, and a stand-out history teacher; Student Spotlights including athletes in the news and Social Media Shout-outs; important dates, and more!

View all Friday letters and Organizational Updates at

School Board meetings

The April 13th school board meeting was such a joy, including the exciting adoption of our NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) curriculum for elementary and high school. Here’s a summary from the Friday letter: 

At Wednesday's School Board meeting, trustees unanimously approved the District's Tentative Agreement with the MDEA teachers' union and a mascot change from the Warriors to the Wolves at Ygnacio Valley High School. In addition, the Board approved Next Generation Science Standards materials for elementary and high school students that drew enthusiastic endorsements from teachers, who mentioned squid dissection as a highlight of the elementary curriculum. The Board also approved the appointment of Ivanna Huthman as the new Administrator of Dispute Resolution in the District's Special Education Department, as well as Summer School administrator appointments

In addition, the Board recognized April as Arab American Heritage Month and approved a resolution In Recognition of Earth Day on April 22nd and a Call to Action on Climate Change. Also, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark reported on efforts to improve outcomes for all students in the District, Business Services Department administrators reported on a plan to reorganize Maintenance, Operations and Facilities staffing, Dr. Heather Fontanilla reported on new proposed Career Pathways courses for Construction I and Animation III, and District administrators reported on a proposed grant to improve A-G course completion required for CSU and UC admissions by high school students. A complete summary of the Board's actions is here.

Our next board meeting is April 27th, where we get to recognize our Teachers of the Year! 

Find all agendas, videos, and how to participate at

High School Juniors - Check out &

Every high school junior should begin to explore their options for education beyond high school. There are many opportunities of all types, as well as scholarships and grants to help pay for them.  Take a look at, a site run by the College Board, where students can create a list of schools they might be interested in applying to, take mini SAT practice quizzes, find financial aid, and win scholarship money.

If you want to take the SAT, the next dates are May 7 and June 4th, and the test location in our district is Ygnacio Valley High. Be sure to register early because sites fill up quickly with students from all over the region.

Are you or is a student you know undocumented? That should not stop anyone from pursuing higher education. Visit for information about the CA Dream Act financial aid application, mentorship, and resources for careers and entrepreneurship.

Open Job Listings to Share

There are many open jobs in our district for all levels of skills & experience, part-time or full-time, so please share this link far and wide: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

The new higher salaries are starting to be listed, so please share these jobs with your diverse networks. We look forward to welcoming excellent new members to #TeamMDUSD!

Ride for Jose Castillo

It was very emotional for me to bike in the “Ride for Jose Castillo” on Saturday, organized by Bike Concord and students from Mt Diablo High. Much love to the entire community who feel this great loss.  Here is a photo of student leader/organizer Anahi, who shared that the poster she’s holding was made by Jose’s classmates and friends, given by teacher Dr Snyder to Jose’s family.


We must all continue to champion safe routes to walk & bike to school in every part of our district, and collaborate with cities to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. The good news is that we have so many dedicated community members, educators, and student leaders who are working hard every day to build healthier, safer communities for us all. 

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How YOU can help fully fund our public schools

We’ve recently heard from many teachers, parents, and community members who passionately believe that our Mt Diablo schools should be offering more - more music, art and science, as well as providing more counselors, nurses, librarians, smaller class sizes and higher salaries. Our school board agrees, but the vast majority of CA public school funding comes from the state, which we do not directly control. Therefore we've had to make tough decisions to carefully balance student offerings and salary raises within the confines of finite resources and declining enrollment. 

The good news is that we can all work together to fully fund our public schools here in Mt Diablo and across California! 

Here are 4 concrete ways you can join in:

  1. Share your story: Personal narratives are key to any successful movement. For 40 years, California has systematically disinvested from our public schools. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, staff, student or community member, your story needs to be heard. Go to to share your story and join their movement to fully fund California’s public schools. 
  2. Raise the Base: The biggest push right now that groups are coalescing around is asking the state legislature to “Raise the Base” per student state funding to public schools. The San Ramon regional PTA is holding an event on this topic on April 22:  They also have this helpful info page.
  3. Educate yourself: provides free short lessons on how California’s education system works, with key information about how parents and students can get involved at the school, district, or state level.  Create a free login and earn tickets towards monthly drawings where you could win up to $1000 for your school.  
    • They also run California’s largest annual conference for student leaders, which this year will be held June 20-22, 2022. Every high school should be represented by at least one freshman, at least one sophomore, and at least one junior. You don’t have to be an official student leader to join. Is your school represented? As of today it looks like only College Park High is. Keep track hereStudents can register directly, and educators & parent leaders are encouraged to sign up as an ally to nominate students & spread the word. Sign up at
  4. Local fundraising: A group of parent, teacher and business volunteers created the nonprofit MDUSD Education Foundation in 2016, to raise money for Mt Diablo School District STEAM and career/college programs.  They aim to ensure that no matter what zip code you live in, you’ll receive a quality education here in our public schools.  
    • Check out to donate or to volunteer on a committee or board.
    • Are you a realtor or business owner?  Join their Honor Roll Business or Professional programs to showcase your commitment to our local schools.

Interested?  Let's meet in person to discuss! 

Now that places are open again, I'd love to connect with you.  Let's start with anyone who would like to join me at a locally run coffee shop, so that we can support local small business at the same time.  Come to "Coffee with Cherise" at 9am on

Can't make it? Let me know other ways to connect - I'm happy to visit PTA/PFC meetings, neighborhood groups, etc.


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Agreements reached

I have not written for some time, while both Omicron and union negotiations took center stage. It was incredibly disheartening, but I’m glad to say that after a ton of diligent work by many, the clouds are parting. Contracts have been agreed on and ratified by both our school board and the membership of MDSPA (school psychologists) and Teamsters.  And on March 19th a Tentative Agreement was reached with MDEA (teachers), averting a potential strike.  

It is crucial now for us all to unify once again.  After so much negativity and misinformation flooding our community, we must move on to support and champion our local public schools together. Each of us can do this by highlighting and sharing the many successes & opportunities of our Mt Diablo school district.  For example, today three Mt Diablo students won Youth Hall of Fame Awards at the County Board of Supervisors Cesar E Chavez Celebration. Congratulations to Mark Rainier Catapusan from YVHS for the Perseverance Award, Seena Farhadi from NGHS for the Leadership & Civic Engagement Award, and to Krish Veluthakkal from Sequoia Middle School for the Leadership & Civic Engagement Rising Star Award!

Read on for:

  • Open Job Listings to Share

  • Seniors - fill out your FAFSA or CADAA by April 1st
  • School Board meetings
  • Superintendent Friday Letters

  • Next blog - how to increase funding for our public schools

Open Job Listings to Share

There are many open jobs in our district for all levels of skills & experience, part-time or full-time, so please share this link far and wide: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

The new higher salaries get listed as each of the agreements are ratified by employee groups and the board. We look forward to welcoming excellent new members to #TeamMDUSD!

High School Seniors - fill out your FAFSA or CADAA by April 1st

Did you know the deadline was extended for financial aid forms?  

EVERY senior should turn in either the FAFSA or CADAA by April 1st. 

These make you eligible to receive money to help with college, DVC, or Adult/Career Education. How to Apply:

School Board Meetings

At our March 23rd board meeting, we voted to approve the Teamsters agreement, and celebrated their hard work and creativity in crafting a win/win agreement with overwhelming support from their members.

We also recognized Adult Education Week - check out the wide range of Mt Diablo Adult Ed offerings here, from parent education, family literacy and cooperative preschool, to career tech certification and English as a Second Language: 

Students then took center stage, with YVHS students presenting how they are building school unity around a new mascot, and MDHS students advocating for retroactive granting of high school diplomas due to Japanese internment.   

Our next board meeting is April 13. Find all agendas, videos, and how to participate at

Superintendent Friday Letters

If you are a community member or leader who does not receive the Friday letters directly in your email, I recommend you view them at They are full of successes that you can share out to your network to champion our local public schools, and the Organizational Updates there show reports from every department from facilities to fiscal. 

The March 18th letter included: A closer look at three Teacher of the Year finalists; District news including Teamsters Union reaches Tentative Agreement; Ygnacio Valley High's Robotics Team hosts "Robot Reveal"; Staff News and Social Media Shout-outs; Student Athlete spotlights, important dates, and more!  

The March 25th letter included: Students advocate for a mascot change and honorary diplomas for those interned during WWII at recent School Board meeting; the community mourns the loss of a YVHS student; District news including Riverview MS Tree Planting Day was a success and MDUSD is hiring for many different positions; School news including actor and comedian Zooms into Northgate Film Studies Class.

Next blog - How to Increase Funding for our Public Schools

Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will write in detail about ways that we can all advocate for increased funding for our public schools.  We've heard from so many parents, teachers, and community members who passionately believe that our schools should be offering more - more music, counseling, nursing, smaller class sizes. Our school board agrees, but has had to carefully balance student offering and salary raises within the confines of finite resources and declining enrollment.  Together we can make a difference, whether locally via the nonprofit MDUSD Education Foundation, or through state advocacy with groups like Evolve California.

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First School Board meeting of 2022 tonight

Happy 2022 everyone. It sure has been a tough start to the year with the Omicron variant. The good news is that our schools here in Mt Diablo Unified remain open, thanks to the "all hands on deck" amazing dedication and hard work of so many teachers, staff, administrators and volunteers. 

This included handing out over 50,000 free COVID home tests to students in December and January, ramping up PCR COVID testing sites even more, communicating out new guidance from county health, and filling in for each other when staff are out quarantining.  Our district will also soon receive and distribute N95 masks from the state to all staff.  

Tonight is our first general school board meeting of 2022, which will include consideration of raising substitute pay (hourly rate plus a $1,000 bonus), resolutions for MLK Jr day and Human Trafficking Prevention month, revision of high school English courses, and key reports on Maintenance & Operations and Facility Assessment.

Read on for:

  • Substitute Jobs & Open Job Listings to Share
  • La Clinica COVID vaccine & booster appointments open TODAY & Friday
  • January 7th Superintendent Friday Letter
  • January 12th School Board meeting
  • Human Trafficking Prevention month resources

Substitute Jobs & Open Job Listings to Share

YOU can help us keep our schools open! The District encourages parents and community members to consider becoming substitute teachers in the District and to share information about these opportunities with friends and neighbors. Please click here for the job description, which lists the current pay rates: More information about the requirements to become a substitute teacher in the District is here.

Plus, there are many open jobs in our district for all levels of skills & experience, part-time or full-time, so please share this link far and wide as well: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

We look forward to welcoming new members to #TeamMDUSD!

La Clinica COVID vaccine & booster appointments open TODAY & Friday

Please get your COVID vaccine or booster to keep our communities as healthy as possible. is a great place to find one near you.

We are pleased to share that La Clinica Monument in Concord has COVID-19 immunization appointments available for Moderna and Pfizer 1st and 2nd doses, boosters and Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11 years today, Wednesday (Jan. 12) and Friday (Jan. 14) from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Appointments are required.

To make an appointment, please call (925) 510-1226.
La Clínica Monument is located at 2000 Sierra Road, Concord CA, 94518

January 7th Superintendent Friday Letter

This Jan 7th letter is chock full of information and good news to celebrate, including:

A Concord High teacher is honored at a 49ers game, Congrats to the Fall Mt. Diablo Adult Education Surgical Technologist Grads, District news including the distribution of rapid COVID tests and future school year calendars coming soon, Student Board Member Spotlight, important dates and the Superintendent's Weekly Organizational update.

Jan 12th School Board meeting

Here is tonight's January 12 board meeting agenda. The meeting is in person at Monte Gardens as usual. Find all agendas, videos, and how to participate at

Human Trafficking Prevention Month Resources

Please share the Human Trafficking tip line: 925-957-8658.  Visit or at for local help, resources, and educator training.


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