As a Grammy nominated and multi-platinum album award composer, 1971 Milpitas and Ayer High School alumnus Bob Singleton has fond scholastic memories of growing up in his hometown.
“The music programs in junior high and high school allowed me to experience writing and performing music that actually got performed,” said the now 70-year old southeast Texas resident. “It was a wonderful time with friends and faculty who shared life, experiences, music, and friendship.”
Singleton attended Spangler Elementary, Thomas Russell Middle School and Ayer High School before becoming the first Senior Class President of Milpitas High School when the campus opened in 1970-71. After which, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Music in Composition with Honors from University of North Texas.
A composer and producer of music, including work for concerts, albums, television, churches, and feature films, Singleton spent a decade as the music director for Barney the Dinosaur during the 1990s. He’s received a Grammy nomination, 4 Dove nominations, and 2 multi-platinum album awards. More recently, he has created and composed concerts for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, while also having performances of his concerts by Nashville Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic, Savannah Philharmonic, and several others.
With all of his career accomplishments, Singleton banks on his early educational experiences in Milpitas, especially with his musical mentor Bob Russell and Ayer HS Stage and Concert Band.
“[Bob] challenged all of us in the music programs to be excellent, and brought many of us into the honor bands that he led, including the East Side Union High School District Honor Stage Band and Santa Clara Valley Honor Stage Band,” Singleton shared. “His professional standards and inspiration opened my eyes to the depth of the music experience.”
At Milpitas HS, he was inspired by educators Donald Close and Pete Galde. “My life today is largely the product of the influence of these teachers and counselors, along with my parents and my crazy, fun, diverse friends all through school,” he added.
Singleton, who considered his Milpitas school friends as “family-away-from-family,” played soccer and tennis as well but music was his passion. In providing words of wisdom for the younger MUSD generations, he said: “Be a servant in all you do. Listen more, talk less. Learn all you can, and share what you know selflessly. If you are in the arts, make art for your audience. Get to know them and to love them. Make mind, soul and body connections with your audience. Serve them and try to make their life better with your art."
Learn more about Bob Singleton at https://www.singletonproductions.com
Curtner, Mattos, Pomeroy and Sinnott Elementary Schools were among 62 primary schools in Santa Clara County—and 356 throughout the state—selected as 2023 California Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education (CDE).
“It’s an incredible honor to finally be recognized at the state level for all of the decades of hard work that our staff has put into this school in supporting our community,” said Pomeroy Principal Nichol Klein.
The California Distinguished Schools program recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.
Mattos Principal Jackie Vo Felbinger credited the school’s signature practice of establishing “learning communities” with approximately 100 students and 2-5 teachers where a teaching team and students are assigned to each learning community. This allows for teacher collaboration that supports students in the entire community with collective responsibility for every student’s success, she explained.
“This achievement is a collective effort between our students, teachers and staff and families,” added Principal Vo Felbinger. “We all work very hard using high levels of collaboration and we should all feel the pride of this honor.”
Curtner Principal Kevin Slavin said the award “is truly a testament to the work that all of our teachers, staff, students, and families do each and every day to support our students.”
“This community puts their heart and soul into the success of all of our learners,” added Principal Slavin, crediting key factors of targeted interventions, differentiated learning, and enrichment opportunities such as STEAM that further support student growth.
The California Distinguished Schools award program is celebrating its return this year after the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily suspended reporting of state and local student data.
“I think the Sinnott community is super excited and proud at how well we’ve done after the pandemic,” said Sinnott Principal Laurie Armino. “It’s been a real challenge these last couple of years to transition back to in person learning, and I think the staff, the students and the families have really put in the time, effort, and care into learning.”
The exceptional elementary schools recognized this year are illustrative of the hard work, dedication, and resilience shown by educators and schools across the District given the unprecedented challenges of COVID in the last three years.
“Coming through the Covid pandemic, there was just a lot of work put into ensuring that students’ social-emotional well-being was taken care of and acknowledgement that we needed to care for our community,” Klein said. “So, as our community knew that we were here to support them and be their partner, we were then able to ensure that academic progress was made for all students.”
The CDE uses multiple measures to identify eligible schools for the program based on their performance as specified on the California School Dashboard. Schools were selected by analyzing data reported through the 2022 Dashboard, including assessment results, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates, and socioeconomic data.
“Their innovation and hard work have helped to ensure their students can heal, recover, and thrive—even in the toughest times,” CA Superintendent Thurmond said. “California Distinguished Schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration, but also highly successful, data-driven school efforts ranging from professional development for educators to mental health and social-emotional wellness strategies to address the needs of students and families.”
Since its inception in 1985, the California Distinguished Schools Award celebrates exceptional schools, districts, teachers, and classified employees for their success in supporting students. Awardees hold the title for two years.
The American Civil Rights Movement was brought to life inside the Milpitas High School Theater on Wednesday, January 18 as a group of talented musician-historians, called At the Table with Dr. King, led a live performance documenting the life of Martin Luther King Jr.
“The music was awesome, great singers, very inspirational,” said Milpitas HS freshman Allie Klaydman, 14.
Milpitas HS senior Kenneth Tsau, 18, agreed: “I thought the show was great. It was really powerful how they mixed music with the words of Dr. King.”
The hour-long learning experience sets out to teach students about the American Civil Rights Movement and valuable lessons of equality and respect. Through music, poetry, historical video footage and Dr. King’s own words, At the Table also challenges students to engage in creative acts of service and leadership in their communities.
“The message really resonated with me: You’ve got to do something or nothing will happen,” said 17-year-old senior Hanna Lum, who participated twice in Wednesday’s three sessions by At the Table with Dr. King.
“I thought it was really well done,” shared MHS senior Nitin Ramesh, 17. “It certainly made an impression on me about standing up for yourself and what you believe in no matter what comes your way.”
Senior Elle Leabres, 18, the president of the MHS TrueColors Club, was inspired by the call to action “to promote equality in all communities and minority groups that do not have a strong voice.”
“It was very impactful on how they conveyed their message through music, imagery and quotes from Dr. King,” Leabres said. “It really encouraged me as a leader of a club to push for equality even further.”
Weller Elementary School's 2nd to 4th grade classes, as well as students from Rose Elementary School, were able to attend the afternoon session at MHS.
“We greatly appreciated this opportunity to learn about Dr. King and all his contributions. Students loved learning through song and engaging with the performers on stage,” said Weller Principal Deanna Elzey. “We sometimes forget how powerful music can be in our instruction. It was a joy to see the students clapping and dancing, as they embraced Dr. King's legacy and lasting impact on us all.”
Milpitas Adult Education learner Xueyan “Amy” Guo’s educational goal is to earn a Master’s degree in Computer Science in five years. Guo was one of a trio of adult learners who were honored at the MAE Mid-Year Promotion Ceremony on January 13 before an audience of district and school leaders, adult educators and fellow adult learners.
“It takes tenacity and persistence to study English,” said Guo, who was promoted to Advanced English As a Second Language after showing her grasp of ESL4. “I want to say thanks to Milpitas Adult School. It has offered us a chance to transition into American society successfully.”
Guo’s instructor Hongyan Zheng gushed over Guo’s work ethic, perfect attendance, attentiveness and dedication to reaching her goals while still finding time to help her classmates along the way.
“Amy has shown full dedication, diligence and commitment to learning English,” said Zheng. “She has very active participation in classroom activities–collaborative work and independent work–and helping others. …She has performed excellently on our assessments.”
The on-site celebration, hosted by MAE Principal Giuliuna Brahim, highlighted the academic achievements of students who have made significant measurable skill gains in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, and are eligible to promote to the next level of ESL and or exit our ESL program.
“It's very important that we recognize these three students because their efforts are very important in reading, writing, speaking and listening,” Brahim said.
Along with Guo’s promotion, ESL2 learners Liji Zeng and Tuyet-Minh Long were recognized for their advancement to the next level. Instructor Vinita Jain praised Zeng and Long for their achievement.
“They have acquired the necessary skills to move to the next level,” Zeng said. “I congratulate them on their achievement and wish them the very best as they move forward.”
Zeng returned praises to her teacher for guiding her and her fellow adult learners in their educational journey. “I like ESL2. I like my teacher. She is a very good teacher,” Zeng shared. “She teaches me a lot of vocabulary, grammar, sentences and articles. I will miss everyone and look forward to going to ESL3.”
Board of Education President Chris Norwood, Board Clerk Kelly Yip-Chuan and Board Trustee Anu Nakka, as well as Assistant Superintendent of Human Relations Jonathon Brunson and Director of Secondary Education Maurissa Koide, were in attendance for Friday’s special recognition ceremony.
“We are always excited to hear the news and celebrate the successes of our adult learners,” said Norwood, who complimented the adult learners for making the leap into ESL and urged them to share their experiences with future generations. “We look forward to helping you find ways to get into the workforce in this area…because you are Milpitas, you are part of our family and, as we always say, ‘We are MUSD and we continue to move forward together.’”
Milpitas native and Milpitas Unified School District alumna Vanessa Espitia was announced as the new Coordinator of Early Childhood Education and Family Engagement at the January 10, 2023 meeting.
Espitia attended Rose Elementary School, Rancho Milpitas Middle School and Milpitas High School. Her grandparents moved to Milpitas in the 1950s and her mother attended MUSD schools as well. They all still reside here in Milpitas.
“Today is a big day for me. I’m humbled and honored to be able to serve my community, to live in my community,” said Espitia, who currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Sinnott Elementary School. “I’m Milpitas through and through, and I’m so excited to be the next coordinator for early childhood development, to move forward our youngest learners, to be able to work on family engagement in our district.”
Eighth through 12th grade students from Rancho Milpitas Middle School, Thomas Russell Middle School, Milpitas High School and Calaveras Hills High School were invited to a tour of the facilities at Pipes Trades Training Center this week.
At the Pipe Trades Training Center, students learned about exciting career opportunities in Commercial Plumbing, Steam Fitting, and HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration). Students received in-depth knowledge of the programs at the training center, a step-by-step walkthrough of the application process, and heard firsthand experiences from current apprentices.
The visit ended with a tour of their 102,000 square foot facility featuring 45 classrooms and numerous hands-on labs. This was an exciting opportunity for our students as they learned of alternate career paths that could provide them with lucrative career opportunities. Apprentices shared that they were able to afford homes in San Jose due to the exceptional salary and benefits packages provided in their prospective fields.
Milpitas school and city leaders, as well as staff, alumni, donors, and community members, gathered at 1331 E. Calaveras Blvd. for the symbolic “Topping Off Ceremony” for the MUSD Innovation Campus on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.
One day prior and earlier the same day of the historic event, students and staff from Calaveras Hills High School, Milpitas Adult Education and the District Office, along with Board of Education trustees, City officials and other MUSD Innovation Campus donors, signed a construction beam before the Blach Construction crew raised it onto one of the building structures.
“Signing the steel beam is a commitment to being the foundation for innovation in MUSD,” said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan. “WE are the foundation that fortifies our commitment to designing intergenerational learning experiences that provide students with state of the art skills.”
The MUSD Innovation Campus is a first-of-its-kind high school through adult, early childhood education research and workforce development center. Located on the site of the former Samuel Ayer High School, the MUSD Innovation Campus will be a hub for future-ready learners of all ages to connect with local businesses and partners within classrooms and labs tailored to provide a real-world education.
“I look forward to the completion of the MUSD Innovation Campus, in partnership with the City of Milpitas, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, and Assemblymember Alex Lee. Together, we will revitalize this regional area’s economy, workforce development and academic offerings to underserved youth, immigrant/migrant communities, and adult learners of all ages’ said Board President Chris Norwood, a MUSD alumnus who witnessed first-hand how the closing of Samuel Ayer HS in the early 1980’s impacted the Calaveras Blvd-Park Victoria and surrounding neighborhoods.
The 99,000 sq. ft. campus includes six new two-story buildings, along with one modernized building, which will house classrooms, experimental learning labs, career simulation facilities, and science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) labs to facilitate a wide variety of programming supported by flex spaces and outdoor learning quads and courtyards. The site will include office space for the District.
Through partnerships with community, colleges and universities, as well as local and regional businesses, the MUSD Innovation Campus will provide training and education that support growing and emerging career fields and practical career simulation. One of the founding partners for the MUSD Innovation Campus is KLA Corporation, which donated $750,000 for the naming rights to the STEAM Lab.
Programming will include adult education, business entrepreneurship, robotics, biology, virtual reality, AV production, coding, artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer science and virtual design and construction, as well as simulation for legal, financial, manufacturing and health career training. The MUSD Innovation Campus will provide dedicated space for MUSD’s Adult School, Calaveras Hills High School, and additional facilities for Milpitas High School students.
MUSD Innovation Campus will emerge in three phases: Phases 1 and 2 are scheduled for completion in summer 2023 and summer 2024, respectively, while Phase 3, which includes the workforce and early education research centers, should be complete by fall 2025. MUSD continues to seek the support of individual financial partners like that of KLA Corporation to sponsor this innovative bridge between local businesses, technical training and future-ready learners. For more information, please visit: www.musd.org/campus-campaign.html
Rancho Milpitas Middle School recently earned its sixth re-designation as a School To Watch, a statewide program implemented by the California League of Educators, CA Department of Education, CA Middle Grades Alliance, National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform, and the CA Schools to Watch model schools.
“We truly have an incredible group of teachers at Rancho and this Schools To Watch re-designation is a validation of the great work happening in classrooms across our campus,” said Rancho Principal Casey McMurray.
Rancho was first designated a School to Watch in 2008 and then re-designated in five subsequent years. Rancho will be honored for its sixth redesignation at the CA League of Schools conference in Monterey in March 2023 and then at the National Forum of Schools To Watch in Washington D.C. in June 2023.
While their parents are huddled outside the classroom, the excitement is building for about 30 fourth- and fifth- grade students at Weller Elementary School as the young female scientists make final preparations on their projects for their GirlStart Showcase.
It is a culmination of the semester-long, after-school program, which seeks to inspire elementary-school aged girls by exposing them to the wonders of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and potential career paths in fields that are disproportionately lacking for females.
“For me, it is just about making things fun for the girls. We are an after-school program that they come to after a day of classes and schoolwork,” said Elise Pham, GirlStart STEM crew member. “We want them to have fun with their projects. We want to teach them that STEM is something achievable for them.”
Julian Roque, a Science Specialist with Milpitas Unified School District, likes how GirlStart provides tons of materials that may not be available to them otherwise. “Because of that, the girls can do so many different STEM activities,” said Roque.
“I definitely think GirlStart is one of the best ways for girls to be involved in STEM. There is such a small percentage of girls going into STEM,” Roque added. “To have this opportunity so early on will hopefully inspire them later in life to pursue a career in STEM.”
With projects touching on nutrition, density, gravity, aerodynamics and more, these primary students are already building a foundation and passion for STEM through scientific research, experimentation and discovery.
“Density, it [determines] whether an object sinks or floats,” said 9-year-old fourth grader Aria Kawamoto in describing her team’s Showcase project.
“We pour water on cereal and then a magnet pulls out the iron,” shares 10-year-old fifth grader Saivi Manthana.
One day earlier, Zanker Elementary School hosted its GirlStart Showcase with 26 participants illustrating a different aspect of STEM that they learned through weekly hands-on science experiments over the past nine weeks. For the showcase, they make posters and talk about the activity and vocabulary they learned.
“With each activity, we talk about a career in STEM and a woman who is in that career who is very successful,” said Iris Tilton, a neuroscientist and a GirlStart STEM crew member. “I hope the girls are able to see themselves in a STEM identity and feel they have the option to pursue a career in STEM if they want to and don’t feel held back.”
Zanker teacher Laura Polden sees the results firsthand as her students have “become more organized, more goal-oriented, more thoughtful and just able to produce something on time, and that definitely trickles down to me in the classroom.”
Fifth grader Sritha Kottam, 10, and her group of five shoot a rocket in the air for their project at the Showcase. “It’s about rocket launching and gravity, and how much force is needed.”
“It’s Newton’s Third Law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” added 10-year-old Ansruta Roy. “We never gave up and did lots and lots of experiments to be able to launch the rocket.”
Third graders in Mrs. Anderson’s class are fully engaged as they learn about magnetic force, while first graders in Mrs. Dawson’s class are just as captivated as they learn about the reflection of light.
In both classrooms at Burnett Elementary School, the Science is Elementary program–which enlists science-savvy staff and volunteers—inspires younger students through interactive, hands-on activities.
“I love the interactiveness of the lessons,” said Mrs. Anderson, who assists the Science is Elementary staff and volunteers as they divide the students up into smaller groups following a whole class lesson.
Science is Elementary comes into kindergarten through 3rd grade classrooms at Burnett, Rose and Sinnott, once a month, bringing along an array of materials and supplies for demonstrations, activities and scientific discovery. Each student has a Science is Elementary folder to record their findings.
“The kids have really enjoyed this program,” said Mrs. Dawson. “The way they set up the lessons is very kid appropriate and definitely connects with what we’ve been teaching.”
Before each visit into the classroom, Science is Elementary sends the teacher a set of slides to teach a pre-lesson to their students. Then, they dig deeper for that day’s session. Afterwards, the teacher receives a follow-up lesson to reinforce the concepts they have learned.
On this particular Friday, lead instructor Genie Njolito dangles a paper clip from a string and asks the students about the different types of forces at play: air pressure, gravity and muscle. She then asks them if it is balanced or unbalanced and additional questions such as “What is a magnet; what objects are attracted and which are not; and how can we move the paper clip without touching it?” They learn that the earth is a giant magnet and that magnets have a north and south pole. During group work, a volunteer helps them move a paper clip along a piece of paper with a magnet underneath.
“When we come in, we want to inspire the kids to ask questions and empower them to do science,” said Jennifer Urmson, Director of In-person Programming for Science is Elementary. “It is a hands-on experience. It’s about exploration and discovery. It’s a lot of fun.”
In Mrs. Dawson’s classroom, students are learning about reflective and translucent materials. In their small work groups, they hold up different reflective materials such as aluminum foil, CDs, spoons and mirrors. With each item, students are asked if they can see their reflection and if one is more reflective than the other.
“It’s so easy for our teachers to implement,” said Burnett Principal Hanna Asrat, who has observed Science is Elementary in action. “The kids are always super excited. It’s a great way for our youngest students to have hands-on science experiences.”
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.