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Monday, February 18, 2019

Notations On Our World (Weekly Edition): On the Local Education Front

As we welcome all to a new week here in our Education Property, we have the pleasure to showcase the latest out of the Capistrano Unified School District.    Capistrano Unified is one of the largest School District in the State of California serving over 54,000 Cities over 11 Cities with over 54 facilities with a 450,000,000 Million Annual Budget-it also turns out that our hometown, Laguna Niguel, is one of the communities it serves and our co-founder & editor serves on the District Facilitates and finance advisory committee:

February 14, 2019
Capistrano Unified School District:
An Unwavering Commitment to
Student Success 
Congratulations to our 2019 Teachers of the Year!
CUSD 2019 Elementary, Middle and High School
Teacher of the Year Surprise Visits

Three Capistrano Unified School District teachers have been named “2019 Teachers of the Year” for their outstanding commitment to engage all students in learning. District officials, school colleagues, friends and family gathered to announce the winners during surprise classroom celebrations on February 4, 2019.
District Board of Trustees President Gila Jones, Trustee Judy Bullockus, Trustee Amy Hanacek, Trustee Patricia Holloway, Trustee Martha McNicholas, Superintendent Kirsten Vital, District Executive Cabinet Members, and Capistrano Unified Education Association President Joy Schnapper were present for the celebrations, and congratulated the winning teachers – Jill Brick, Amanda Hatcher and Ashly Ogden – for their unwavering commitment to student success.
“I am always inspired to recognize the great work of our incredible teachers and the positive impact they have on our students,” said President Jones. “They are wonderful examples of the teachers we have in our District, and we look forward to cheering them on at the County level.”

The winning educators were selected as Teacher of the Year by their respective schools before advancing as candidates for the District’s 2019 Teacher of the Year honor. The three teachers now advance to the Orange County Teacher of the Year competition later this year.
Below are this year’s honorees:
Elementary School Teacher of the Year: Jill Brick
Jill Brick has been teaching at George White Elementary School since the school first opened its doors 29 years ago. Her goal as an educator is to instill the joy of learning in a safe classroom, while motivating all students to strive to become life-long learners. “Every day is a new chance for me to make a difference in someone’s life, every year is a new adventure, every student is a new relationship,” she says.
Mrs. Brick’s colleague states the word that best describes her is “passionate.” She explains, “I have yet to meet another teacher, or better yet, individual, that beams with such radiant passion. This teacher has a passion to learn, a passion to embed knowledge into young minds, and a passion to make each individual the best person they can possibly be.”

Watch the moment we surprised Mrs. Brick HERE!
Middle School Teacher of the Year: Amanda Hatcher
Amanda Hatcher has taught at Ladera Ranch Middle School since 2014 as a social science teacher. With fifteen years of teaching experience, Mrs. Hatcher states she wants to “continue to grow as an educator and never become stagnant.”
As the Peer Assistance Leadership (PAL) advisor, she strives to engage allstudents in leadership development opportunities, empowering them to solve challenges, take on social issues and educate their peers. She is a “complete servant at heart, utilizing her ability, heart, personality and experiences to further the opportunities of her students and professionally support her peers,” says Ladera Ranch Middle School Assistant Principal Jim Christensen.

Watch the moment we surprised Mrs. Hatcher HERE!
High School Teacher of the Year: Ashly Ogden
Ashly Ogden has been a teacher in Capistrano Unified School District for eight years. During this time, she has taught a variety of courses within special education, and currently teaches general education math at Serra High School.
As the daughter of an educator, she grew up with the awareness that teaching is much more than providing knowledge of a subject matter. She defines teaching as, “leading by example, teaching respect, self-love, appreciation for education, and the drive to find your passion.”
Ms. Ogden ensures all her students have a strong foundation in math, in a classroom where the subject may feel frustrating or overwhelming. “Her personal mission is to ignite excitement about math,” says Serra High School Principal Meg Ervais. She does anything she can to engage students in a challenging subject by joking, dramatizing, and even dancing when needed!

Watch the moment we surprised Ms. Ogden HERE!
Teachers of the Year By School Site

Congratulations to the following educators for their
Teacher of the Year recognition by school site!

Elementary School

  • Ambuehl Elementary - Lucy Fiorenza
  • Arroyo Vista Elementary - William R. Henry
  • Bathgate Elementary - Catherine Sherburne
  • Truman Benedict Elementary - Nina Brubaker
  • Marian Bergeson Elementary - Sarah Marie Woolley
  • Canyon Vista Elementary - Noreen Collins
  • Castille Elementary - Lisa Woodland
  • Chaparral Elementary - Amy Clarke
  • Concordia Elementary - Barbara Johnson
  • R.H. Dana Elementary - Stephanie K. Smart
  • R.H. Dana ENF - Starline Kealoha-Martz
  • Del Obispo Elementary - Sandy Connell
  • Don Juan Avila Elementary - Shannon H. McKinstry
  • Esencia Elementary - Jill R. Sweaney
  • Carl Hankey Elementary - Stacy Rumpf
  • Hidden Hills Elementary - Linda Waters
  • Kinoshita Elementary - Marla Andre
  • Ladera Ranch Elementary - Deanna Maass
  • Laguna Niguel Elementary - Susan D. Battenfield
  • Las Flores Elementary - Carri McGuire
  • Las Palmas Elementary - Estrella Villafranca-Ruiz
  • Clarence Lobo Elementary - Pam Reynolds
  • John Malcom Elementary - Wendy Thomas
  • Marblehead Elementary - Kelsey Mitchell
  • Moulton Elementary - Briana Fischer
  • Elementary Music - Michelle Brunton
  • Oak Grove Elementary - McCall Lee
  • Oso Grande Elementary - Kimberly Williams
  • Palisades Elementary - Sherry Huang
  • Philip Reilly Elementary - Sarah Collins
  • San Juan Elementary - Luz Hamidi
  • Tijeras Creek Elementary - Jenna Levy
  • Viejo Elementary - Ángela E. Yong
  • Vista del Mar Elementary - Janice A. Killian
  • Wagon Wheel Elementary - Susan Bock
  • George White Elementary - Jill Brick
  • Wood Canyon Elementary - Richard Klaus Neumann

Middle School
  • Aliso Viejo Middle - Jana Monroe
  • Arroyo Vista Middle - Mike Hammond
  • Bernice Ayer Middle - Christine Gibson
  • Don Juan Avila Middle - Jacqueline Simmons
  • Carl Hankey Middle - Carol Foote
  • Ladera Ranch Middle - Mandy Hatcher
  • Las Flores Middle - Annalee Cappello
  • Marco Forster Middle - Mark Rivadeneyra
  • Newhart Middle - Michelle Wendehost
  • Niguel Hills Middle - Rocky Brown
  • Shorecliffs Middle - Heather S. Ponsen
  • Vista del Mar Middle - Leesa Shults-Amon

High School
  • Aliso Niguel High - Kurt Westling
  • Capistrano Valley High - Christina L. Lee
  • Dana Hills High - Chau Tran
  • San Clemente High - Kati Bennett
  • San Juan Hills High - Bill Kaiser
  • Junipero Serra High - Ashly Ogden
  • Tesoro High - Susan Stegner
Partnership with JUST Water
How CUSD Eliminated 9,000 Pounds of Plastic Per Year

In January 2018, our incredible students came together to reduce single use plastic in CUSD schools.

Jackson Hinkle, a recent graduate of San Clemente High School, proposed the #PlasticFreeCUSD movement. Through this student-led initiative, JUSTWater was brought in to replace PET plastic water bottles as a sustainable option in over 60 schools within CUSD.

A year later, CUSD has eliminated nearly 9,000 pounds of plastic from our schools!

We are #CUSDProud of our students for making a difference to help the environment.

Thank you to the JUST Water Team and CUSD Food & Nutrition Services! Together, we are making strides towards a better future!

Watch the Video HERE!

Second Annual Innovation Showcase Recap
Thank you to everyone who attended the Second Annual Innovation Showcase on January 23, 2019!

The event highlighted the extraordinary education programs, pathways and choices available to our CUSD families including our CapoForward Schools, Preschool Programs, Visual and Performing Arts, Athletics, Language Immersion, Full-Day Kindergarten, College and Career Planning, Film, Robotics, Engineering, Culinary Arts, our HMO Program, and many other college and career pathways for our students.

Did you join us for the Showcase? We want to hear from you! Email us at with your favorites from the event + suggestions for next year!

Check out our highlights from the night in the photos below!
School of Choice for the 2019-20 School Year
is Happening Now!
About School of Choice
Capistrano Unified School District's School of Choice (SOC) program offers parents within the CUSD boundaries the opportunity to apply for another CUSD school that they would like their child to attend.

Dates to Apply
The SOC window to apply is open from February 1, 2019 through March 1, 2019.

Approval and denial emails will be sent to the email address that is used on the application on April 26, 2019

More Info
To verify if your address is within CUSD boundaries or to find your home school, please use the School Locator tool here. 

If you do not live within the CUSD boundaries please click here to find more information about Inter-District transfers.

Click here for the list of schools open to SOC for the 2019-2020 academic year. Openings are based on the initial number of seats available for the fall based on projected enrollment and facility capacity. Once a site capacity is reached SOC will be closed to that site. 

Kindergarten and New Students to CUSD
Parents will need to enroll their child at their home school in order to obtain a 7 digit student identification number.  This ID number is required to complete the SOC application. New student registration began on February 4, 2019.

Kindergarten parents should also attend the home school’s Kindergarten Round-up. The information given will be standard throughout the District, so there is no need to attend the requested school’s round-up. Click here for Kindergarten Round-up dates.

Please note that TK placement is not completed through SOC. Please contact the Early Childhood Programs Department for any preschool or TK questions.

Governor's Budget Update
What the Budget Means for CUSD

Governor Newsom shared details of his proposed budget earlier this month, which included a cost of living increase to the current funding provided by the state for the education of our public school students, as well as one-time funding for employee pension costs. While this budget has been called a homerun by some politicians in Sacramento, for us, it’s more of a base hit. Overall, this budget is a 1 percent improvement above the first interim projections.
While this budget is an improvement over budgets from the last several years under Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), CUSD remains one of 25 percent of Districts in the state that is underfunded. California remains at the bottom10 percent of states in per-pupil funding and until that changes we will continue to be challenged by a broken school funding formula that was written in Sacramento.
The two primary factors affecting the District budget in the Governor’s 2019-20 proposal are the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase and the $3 billion STRS rate buy down.
Since full implementation of the LCFF, districts now only receive additional funds through the COLA, so fortunately the COLA is projected to be higher in 2019-20 than anticipated, resulting in an additional $79 per Average Daily Attendance (ADA). This ongoing revenue is offset slightly by a reduction in the COLA in one of the out years in the multi-year projection.
In an acknowledgement that he is listening to districts about the difficulties of absorbing pension rate increases, the Governor also provides an additional $3 billion from outside proposition 98 which will go to CalSTRS as a way to ‘buy down’ the pension rates in future years by 1 percent in each of 19-20 and 20-21 and an ongoing 0.5 percent after that. Although the STRS rate still increases next year by 0.82 percent a reduction from projected rates frees up money in the multi-year projection for other uses.
Money is also proposed for districts struggling with the costs of special education. $576 million is proposed to support expanded special education services and school readiness supports at Local Education Agencies (LEA) with both high percentages of students with disabilities and unduplicated students. CUSD is likely not eligible due to its low unduplicated count.
The early childhood education proposal includes among others, universal preschool for all low income four year olds implemented over a three year period. More details on this will emerge later in the budget process.
Unlike the previous several years this proposed budget contains no proposal for any one time monies.
In Summary
The Governor’s budget is headed in the right direction, but it does not go far enough to increase our overall per pupil funding costs. We will continue to work with legislators and our lobbyists to send that message.
Thankfully, for the last 5 years, we anticipated these current budget challenges and have responsibly built reserves that, along with the efficiency plan we are currently putting in place, will allow us as a school district to continue to prioritize our funding and our resources towards our students and our classrooms. Today, close to 95 percent of our funding is prioritized to our students and classrooms and this remains our priority as we prepare budgets for the years ahead.
Defining the DBQ Project Method and
How it Improves Student Success
All middle and high school social studies teachers are in their third year of administering the District Common Interim Assessment (CIA) for their students. The assessment is given twice per year and is the result of work done by Nina Glassen, District History/Social Science Curriculum Specialist, as a way to provide a meaningful assessment of student learning in social studies classes.

Working with teachers, Nina determined that the Data Based Question (DBQ) process, founded in 2000 to support teachers and students in learning to read smart, think straight, and write clearly, would align with state standards and help prepare students to attain disciplinary literacy at a Depth of Knowledge level of three or higher; much better than other types of assessments that were available.

Together with these teachers, Nina worked to identify DBQ units and assessments that could be used in all sixth through twelfth grade history/social science classes, and the assessments were launched.

As a result, students are doing significantly better! The number of students who are proficient and advanced grew in both 2016-17 and 2017-18. The data is also used to build stronger skills among teachers - Improving morale and increasing confidence, as well as student work.

Chris Carter, San Clemente High School Principal states, "The DBQ Project has enabled our history-social science teachers to align the curriculum to the Common Core State Standards and has given them the skills to evaluate and assess student writing." Carter continues, "The DBQs act as common assessments that allow teachers to collaboratively evaluate our instructional program."

Nina’s efforts were recently recognized by the DBQ Project, where she has also been invited to present as a guest presenter at an upcoming national conference.

MTSS Focus
System of Supports

What is MTSS? 
CUSD is making a commitment to increase the social emotional, behavior, and academic support for all of our young people. We call this focused approach to organizing and providing support: “Multi-tiered System of Supports” or “MTSS.”

MTSS Focus for February:
Praise and Encouragement
For the month of February we are emphasizing the importance of positive reinforcement as part of our "behavioral" support for all students.

When students are provided with positive reinforcement, it will increase their motivation and inspire them to learn positive habits that will be beneficial and fruitful throughout their lives.

Family Resources
The following articles and resources are available for your family to learn more about positive reinforcement and strategies you can use at home:

Parenting Workshop for February
To support our families and provide parenting strategies to support their children's behavioral needs, we offered the following parent workshop during the month of February:

  • Using Rewards and Consequences

Future Workshops
Make sure you're following us on social media for upcoming parenting workshops!

Check the "Upcoming Events" section of this newsletter for information on the March Parenting Workshop!

National School Counselor Week and
2019 OC K-12 School Counselor Awards

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