A 33-member contingent of educators from Gyeongbuk, Korea observed our Milpitas Unified School District educators and students in action as they toured Mattos Elementary School, Milpitas High School and Milpitas Middle College High School on Thursday, February 16.
Connected through Google Workspace for Education, MUSD Technology Director Chin Song organized the one-day visit along with Gyeongbuk, Korea Superintendent Jongsik Lim with a goal of exchanging educational strategies and tools for the betterment of global education. Google Workspace for Education is a collaborative of educators that utilize Google tools and services tailored for schools to collaborate, streamline instruction, and keep learning safe.
“MUSD is honored to have you here with us today, so that we can learn from you and you can learn from us,” said MUSD Board of Education President Chris Norwood, who referenced MUSD Strategic Goal #1 Building a Culture of WE. “Our goal in public education is to ensure that all of our children see themselves in the things that they are learning and doing, and preparing them for the world tomorrow.”
After starting their excursion at Mattos Elementary, our special guests–including 23 Korean teachers–were divided into groups and escorted throughout the Milpitas HS campus by student leaders along with MHS and MUSD educators. At Middle College HS, students shared their learning experiences and answered questions about their community service projects and the MCHS programming.
MUSD Superintendent Cheryl Jordan summarized MUSD Strategic Goal #3, Build Pathways to the Future, and Strategic Goal #5, to do so in creative and strategic ways, “so that the learning environment provides our learners with everything possible for their future.” Board Trustee Anu Nakka welcomed “the opportunity to learn, grow and expand and explore together.”
At the end of the visit, Gyeonbuk District Superintendent Jongsik Lim, through translation, shared that “solving the problems of the future is our goal for the purpose of education.” MUSD looks forward to developing this new innovation partnership in global learning.
MUSD Board President and Milpitas HS Alumni Class of '83 Chris Norwood, born in Spokane, Washington, shares that Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. is his favorite African American historical figure "because he cared deeply about the health, wellbeing, safety and economic mobility of others." The movie Hidden Figures is inspiring because "it showed STEM contributions of African American women in space race."
During Black History Month 2023, he plans to host events, read, donate books, watch Netflix movies with family and children. "When I was a kid, there weren’t very many positive stories about Black History. It is important for people to have positive historic role models from all walks of life."
The annual celebration is important to him because: "I am a part of Black History for my family, Milpitas Unified School District and the city of Milpitas. The work that I do on behalf of Milpitas is a part of Black History. Black history is World history; it’s American history." Additionally, "the month provides everyone an opportunity to learn about a people/culture whose positive contributions and history has been suppressed, destroyed, distorted intentionally and unintentionally. Black History Month is also a time of celebration, reflection and social healing."
Milpitas HS Activities Director Jerell Maneja, native to South San Francisco, shares that what he learned from his third grade presentation on George Washington Carver makes him his favorite African American historical figure because "I presented about Carver's advancements in science and farming, especially how to increase yields in interplanting. It started to build my interest in science and technology." The movie Jackie Robinson (along with Chadwick Boseman's portrayal in the biopic) was inspiring because it captured "the breaking of the color barrier in baseball and transformed the sport completely."
His favorite way to celebrate Black History Month is "learning about history through the African American perspective (such as the important role that slaves served in the American Revolution) along with watching films that feature African American leads, like Hidden Figures and Black Panther." The holiday is important to him since it "allows us to listen and amplify Black stories of the past beyond racism and slavery, especially about some of the great contributions African Americans have done for us but are often never shared or are downplayed." Additionally, Maneja adds: "It also helps us refocus on some of the injustices they continue to face in our present day and open discussion on the necessary steps to create a more equitable society."
Milpitas Middle College HS Principal and Dual Enrollment Coordinator Karisa Scott shares her favorite African American historical figure is Ida B. Wells, an excellent journalist and activist, "because she was fearless in the face of injustice, she refused to accept the status quo, and she lived sacrificially." She is fascinated by Maya Angelou's All God's Children Wear Traveling Shoes "because it explored the African American experience in Africa and because she is an incredibly astute and lyrical writer."
One of the ways she likes to celebrate Black History Month is to explore cultural events around the Bay Area "to expand my knowledge and build community. The SJ Mercury News always publishes a list of events happening around the Bay, check it out!" Black History Month is important to her because she can "learn more about the history, experience, and contributions of people of African Ancestry. This is especially important considering the fact that this information was suppressed for so much of this country's history."
Thomas Russell Middle School Principal Sean M. Anglon did not want to point to just one African American historical figure and instead recognizes that "the effort of many known, and oft unknown, people helped to make our world a better place for all people of color, not just those of African ancestry." The movie, The Watchmen, is a current favorite of his because it "showed, for the first time for many around the globe, both the reality of Black Wall Street as well as the horror of its destruction."
One of his favorite ways to recognize Black History Month is "talking with my family and with my students to ensure the knowledge continues to be transferred." The holiday remains important but "like Carter G. Woodson, the creator of Black History Week which became Black History Month, I actually would rather Black history, as well as the histories of other communities of color, be examined year round to better prepare children to respect and recognize each other to better work together as adults; however, I will take a solitary month in the meantime."
Burnett Elementary School Principal Hanna Asrat, a native of Irvine, CA, shares her favorite African American historical figure is Josephine Baker because "she was a celebrated dancer, a Civil Rights activist who refused to perform for segregated audiences, and a spy! What a Renaissance woman!" The current hit ABC sitcom show Abbott Elementary is one of her favorites because "it stars so many actors of color, was written by a woman of color, and is the first show about teaching and schools I've seen that provides an accurate (if sometimes hilarious and ridiculous) picture about what education really looks like." She added: "It captures the full personhood of teachers, the silliness and joy of working in an elementary school, and the relationships in schools."
Principal Asrat's favorite way to celebrate Black History Month is "to learn about historical figures I know little about, to intentionally read works by Black authors, and to listen to music by Black artists." The holiday is important to her "as a reminder that Black history is American history - and that we must continue the hard work of working towards racial justice until that is a reality for everyone."
Milpitas Community Educational Endowment Founder Robert Jung was selected as the provisional appointment to the Milpitas Unified School District’s Board of Trustees at the February 7 special meeting at Randall Elementary World Languages School.
“I believe that my passion, my vision and my experience are key contributions that I can bring to the board, which can help strengthen the governance team,” said Jung in his closing remarks. “I'm excited for what’s in our future, especially with our additions of the Innovation Campus, new theater as well as our growing world languages school.”
Jung, who was previously appointed to the MUSD school board in 2017-18, will serve the remainder of the departed Hon Lien’s term through November 2024. Lien vacated her seat after winning election to the Milpitas City Council.
Jung was among a four-applicant pool that included former Milpitas High School Athletic Booster Club President Rosana Cacao, Community Board Advisory Committee President William Lam and auditor Doug Sueoka. A fifth candidate had withdrawn his name from consideration prior to the Feb. 7 special meeting.
“It’s so wonderful to see the engagement in education and for each of you to step up and have the courage to come in front of us,” said Vice President Minh Ngo prior to the board’s vote. “This is definitely going to be a tough choice for the board, but I hope each of you continue to be engaged because we need engaged parents and community members for our district to continue to grow.”
After each candidate gave opening and closing statements, as well as answered questions from the Board, Jung received three votes of approval from Board President Chris Norwood, Vice President Minh Ngo and Trustee Anu Nakka, with Board Clerk Kelly Yip-Chuan giving her support to Sueoka.
“All the candidates brought their own unique set of skills and experiences to the table and each of them should be commended for being part of our appointment process,” said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan. “We look forward to Mr. Jung joining our governance team and helping to support all of our staff and students.”
Once confirmed, Jung, who is active in the community with Hope for the Unhoused and the Rotary Club of Milpitas, was sworn in for his seat on the school board with the Oath of Office.
“I’m hopeful that no matter what the outcome is that we can all stay connected and you can learn more about the school district,” said Board President Norwood at the conclusion of the interview process. “This time will come again soon and now that you have an idea of what this is like hopefully it will inspire you to continue your work.”
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.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.