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Trustees recognize honorees from the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators' 28th Annual Student Recognition Program
Milpitas Unified School District's Board of Education recognized winners from the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators' 28th Annual Student Recognition Program during its June 13 meeting. The event, which was held April 23 at San Jose State University, is one of the longest running events in the nation organized by a local community organization to recognize African American students.
While Ezuma Ble, Jacorey Hudson, Jordan Paran Parham, and S’Ven Morley, formerly eighth graders at Rancho Milpitas Middle School; Nyla Choates, formerly an eighth grader at Thomas Russell Middle School; and Carmelo Rivera and Ondrea Betner, formerly sixth graders at Weller Elementary School were the only ones who could attend the meeting, certificates were mailed to all 24 honorees of the program.
Other student winners and their respective schools and grade levels from this year include: Alexis Hodgson, Joseph Ofagalilo Williams, Kaelina Harris, Karrington Kenney, and Leila Phillips, eighth graders at Thomas Russell Middle School; Dawn Betner, a sixth grader at Rose Elementary School; and Ajene Revell, Amir Usman Davis, Brandy Redic, Cheyanne Hankins, Cyann Anderson, Dakiya Banks, El-Nia Shifa, Hibo Osman, Jesse Njuki, Kareem Bailey, and Reese Turner, seniors from Milpitas High School.
Last month, the Milpitas Elementary Honor Band, led by Joe Santomieri, earned first place in the three-day "Music in the Parks" competition, beating all middle and high school bands from Northern California. The final day of the competition was held May 20 in the Milpitas High School theater. Honor band students were selected out of all MUSD band and were required to practice extra, on top of regular band practice.
Following the competition, Santomieri emailed audio files of the adjudicators' comments to the students.
"I'm very impressed. I teach middle school, and you would have been one of the bands at my school," said Bob Athayde, a teacher at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California. "I wouldn't normally go up to the stage, but I must say that was a superior performance. ... There were so many good elements going on. Every time a theme entered, I could hear that new theme and the other theme got out of the way. When you repeated a section, you played it softer. That's superior musicianship on the part of your teacher. Boy I just hope you keep playing because you're going to do nothing but keep getting better and better and better. Wow. You knocked my socks off."
Santomieri entered the band to give the students experience competing, and told them not to expect to win. After the competition, Lillie Czarnota, a Curtner student and member of the band, made fliers asking all sixth graders in band at the school to donate $10 each as a sign of their appreciation to the teacher. They presented him with a $100 gift card on May 26.
"I want to thank you for an extremely successful inaugural season," Santomieri wrote in an email to the students following the event. "Everyone was very dedicated and worked diligently to do the very best of their musical ability. Our musical growth was very evident at our district music festival, our end of the year concert, and of course our competition last Saturday. It was an honor for me to work with such eager and talented young musicians."
Milpitas Unified School District leaders celebrated the turning over of a new leaf for 18 teachers during a celebration closing out the successful completion of their participation in the new Teacher Induction Program on May 8. The goal of the new program is to provide new teachers with a rewarding experience that builds professional skills, fosters lifelong peer relationships, and establishes positive instructional practices that will impact the lives of all students and their families.
"Back when we started two years ago, I remember I gave someone a compass," Norma Rodriguez, Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Development, recalled during the ceremony. "When you take on this position as a teacher, you take on a journey. You don’t know where that is going to lead you, but the compass will always point to your true north. And your true north is what you are all about. "
She continued: "I want to thank you for embarking on this journey with us, and we will never arrive. Know that we will always be striving to get there and get there, but with this mindset that we’re always learning and we’re always improving."
Participants of the two-year program receive new teacher orientation; dedicated mentor teachers matched by grade and subject; on-site support; robust mentoring system aligned to induction standards; multi-level support and individual reflective assessment; professional growth units through University of the Pacific; professional learning community, online and districtwide training options; and online support and an efolio.
"We are so proud of the work that you’ve done and look forward to the continual growth that you’ll make as you help our youngsters be all that they can be," said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan. "So thank you very much, each one of you, and be proud of the work that you’ve done."
This year's inductees included Samantha Brasil and Kelsey Taku from Curtner Elementary School; Sarah Green-Thomsen from Pomeroy Elementary School; Elisabeth Pitts from Randall Elementary School; Amber Blanco, Elizabeth Gutierrez, Nicole King, and Vanessa Lorenzana from Spangler Elementary School; Amrun Singh from Rancho Middle School; Caseara Martinez and Wai Lan Tsang from Russell Middle School; Karina Briseno, James Carter, Brian Knitter, Jason Marino, Anthony McCan, and Tomy Nguyen from Milpitas High School; and Kwabena Amo-Mensah from Elmwood/Adult Education.
Milpitas Unified School District has been selected by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP) and the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) as one of 20 public school districts in California to receive the title of 2016 Honor Roll School District.
The Honor Roll is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and highlight successful practices that improve outcomes for students. School districts receiving this distinction have demonstrated consistent high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time, and reduction in achievement gaps among student populations. The Honor Roll recognition also includes measures of college readiness.
“We are proud to recognize those schools and school districts who are succeeding in putting their students on a path of productivity that not only leads to success in the classroom, but also prepares them to contribute to and benefit from a more productive economy,” said Greg Jones, ERP and CBEE Board Chairman. “Leadership from both education and the business community is critical to linking success from one system to the next, and ensuring that students have the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve a college degree and the financial security of a living wage job.”
“The Honor Roll proves that many schools are doing well, even those with high numbers of historically disadvantaged students,” said Jim Lanich, ERP President and CEO. “These schools are clearly doing something right and all schools, no matter what zip code they are in, can achieve this kind of success. School and school district leadership have a great opportunity to find out what’s working at these Honor Roll schools and replicate it.”
The California Honor Roll program is made possible with generous support from numerous businesses and organizations including Automobile Club of Southern California, Macy’s, Wells Fargo, Enterprise Holdings Foundation, and several private foundations. Chevron Corporation provides support for the STEM Honor Roll.
A full list of the Honor Roll schools, districts, and the STEM awardees can be found online.
For immediate release Contact: Shannon Carr,
Board Support & Communications Specialist
(408) 635-2600, ext. 6031
Superintendent Cheryl Jordan, Board Members, Principals, and managers throughout Milpitas Unified celebrated the contributions that classified school employees provide every day to ensure the quality education of more than 10,000 students throughout the school district.
The recognition began with a resolution, adopted by the Board of Education during its meeting on May 9, declaring the week of May 21-27, 2017 as Classified School Employee Week in Milpitas Unified School District.
“The classified school employees of (the District) provide efficient and effective support and ancillary services that are essential ingredients to excellent teaching, sound administration, and high student achievement,” the resolution states.
To wrap up the weeklong celebration, 14 administrators were matched with a classified employee who they shadowed for two hours on May 26 at various school sites and departments during Appreciating Classified Employees (ACE) Day.
That morning, Board President Daniel Bobay joined Latino Liaison Norma Morales in visiting the homes of families from throughout the district and giving students awards while Wendy Zhang, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, was raking leaves and helping clean the grounds of Milpitas High School alongside Steve Gomes; Venus Cenizal, Coordinator of Learning and Development, donned a lunch lady hairnet to join Peter Neddersen in Student Nutrition Services’ Central Kitchen; and Spangler Assistant Principal Katelin McClure paired with locksmith Cindy Winborn, among others.
“This is a great way to end the week that is set aside to appreciate the work that classified employees do throughout the year, 24 hours a day,” Machelle Kessinger, president of Classified School Employees Association Chapter 281, said during an end-of-day taco fiesta. During the event, employees came together to hear what it was like for participants to step into the shoes of classified employees, if even for just a brief time.
Dr. Sheila Murphy-Brewer, Executive Director of Human Relations, shared out her experience joining Dispatcher/Bus Driver Russ Huber 6:30 a.m. at the bus depot to get a start on that morning’s routine with the daily safety check followed by that day’s route.
The highlight, she said, was really watching how the bus drivers “learn the personality of each student that hops on the bus.” Murphy-Brewer added this was particularly impressive because many of the students Huber drives are non-verbal or have challenges communicating.
“Russ never missed a beat.,” she said. “He understood every word out of every child’s mouth and they never stopped asking him questions. … It was heartwarming.”
Superintendent Jordan noted that in following Anastacio Barajas, a custodian at Rancho Milpitas Middle School, she really began to understand his deep connection with the students. He not only knows the students’ names, but mentors the children and is even a part of the Latino Student Union.
“Our classified staff truly are everyday heroes, and I witnessed that with the person I shadowed today,” she said. “...It was very good to spend my time with him. And I really am grateful that we have this in place because it builds connections with us and helps us walk in your shoes so we get a better idea of how you support our school district.”
For immediate release Contact: Shannon Carr,
Board Support & Communications Specialist
(408) 635-2600, ext. 6031
Graduates from the Milpitas Adult Education program proudly moved their tassels from the right to left side of their cap after they were announced as the Class of 2017 on May 31, a seconds-long motion that captured what for some seemed an almost insurmountable goal after years of struggle.
“Adult education is about transformation and lifelong learning,” Giuliana Brahim, Assistant Principal of Milpitas Adult Education, said in welcoming attendees to the ceremony. “Everyone does not follow a straight path, a traditional educational path. For many, life circumstances, peer pressure, and other choices get in the way of completing school. Some immigrant adults have faced other challenges that get in the way of their education. But that need not be the end. Adult education provides people opportunity to complete that education and keep on learning. Today, you have seized this opportunity. Congratulations.”
Approximately 16 students participated in the cap-and-gown ceremony that evening in the Milpitas High School theater. There were close to 100 students total who completed secondary graduation requirements from the Milpitas program -- which includes a site at the District Office and classes at Elmwood Correctional Facility -- either by receiving their high school diploma through 190 credit hours of academic study in the independent study program or successfully passing the General Education Development (GED) test or High School Equivalency Test (HiSET).
“We recognize our social responsibility to embrace adult education for all that wish to improve and enrich their lives,” Board President Daniel Bobay said during his commencement speech. “Adult Education is our duty and responsibility, and the fruits of that labor sits over here today and those we celebrate who are absent. You have graduated this level, and I encourage you to continue your education, keep learning new things. Go and earn your AA degree, your bachelor’s degree, even your master’s degree, or your doctorate.”
Dennise Ponce from the GED Program; Angelika Regine Sanchez from the Independent Studies program; and Mackey Phillips from the HiSET program were among this year’s graduating class. They each shared their personal stories of struggle and the dreams and people that helped them overcome difficult obstacles in order to reach such an important next step in their life.
For Phillips, it was teachers Denise Hollabaugh and Joseph Baiza, who “refused to give up on me” even though he had difficulty in class, noting not being in school since 1985.
"Between the both of them, they helped me achieve something I never thought I would ever do: get my HSE (high school equivalency),” he said. “I am finding that having my HSE is just the beginning. Now I can become whatever I put my heart and mind to. I’ve always wanted to become a certified welder and with a high school education, I can now pursue that goal by entering the welding apprenticeship program where I can earn while I learn this coming July.”
Angelika Regine Sanchez recognized that while the ceremony undoubtedly marked the first step toward a better future, “the road that lies ahead of us will not be easy to take,” she said. “There will be many obstacles and many roadblocks. There will be times when each of us feel like we can’t do it. But with all these things happening, we can overcome any obstacle that life throws at us. … Now it’s time to take the next step in our journey and start building our lives. Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2017.”
Approximately 1,300 students were enrolled at Ayer Adult School in the English as a Second Language (ESL), High School Equivalency (HSE), and Remedial Education programs, in addition to what is offered at Elmwood during the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to Brahim. Classes will begin again in August, and tuition is free for ESL, Adult Basic Education (ABE), and HSE preparation classes. For more information, visit https://adulted.musd.org.
Greetings Milpitas Parents!
Summer is right around the corner. While your children are probably looking forward to free time with friends, many teachers and parents are concerned about "summer slide" the common decline in students' academic skills over summer break. There are things that you can do as a parent to not only prevent summer learning loss, but also to give your child a head start on next year's learning.
Preventing learning loss doesn’t require a huge time commitment, it just requires consistency. A little practice each day goes a long way. In addition to visiting local museums or borrowing books from your local library, Milpitas Unified School District would like to suggest using CK12 BrainFlex. CK12 provides high quality, online education materials for students and teachers. It’s easy to use, it’s free and your child can use it anytime, anywhere. Encourage your child to do one simple thing this summer: practice every day.
Here’s all you need to do:
There is still time remaining to sign up and wait for the program to start. In the meantime, we recommend their adaptive practice to supplement your child's learning! See the topics below.
For the 17th year, the 501(c) 3 non-profit Synopsys Outreach Foundation is offering a summer series of FREE teacher training seminars---day-long, grade and subject specific, approved for 0.5 CEUs per class, and providing a donation of materials to the participant’s school (and held at Oak Grove HS).
Click here for course descriptions and click here to register for SuperSchool classes.
Got (Plants) Science? Grades K-8, July 11
Plants: Their Parts and What We Do With Them, Grades 3-8, July 13
Got (Animal) Science? Grades K-8, July 18
Waves: Light, Sound, Action! Grades 4-12 July 20
This is where you will find the latest news and events about Milpitas Unified.