For immediate release Contact: Shannon Carr,
Board Support & Communications Specialist
(408) 635-2600, ext. 6031
Francis Rojas will become Principal of Milpitas High School (MHS) on July 1 after a 15-year career in education at James Logan High School, considered one of Northern California’s largest high schools with nearly 4,000 students and among the most diverse student populations in the Bay Area.
In Closed Session on Tuesday (May 23), the Milpitas Unified School District Board of Education approved Superintendent Cheryl Jordan’s recommendation for Rojas, currently schoolwide Vice Principal at James Logan High School in Union City, as the new Principal.
“In my conversations with Francis this week, he has already embraced MHS and Milpitas as his school and community,” Jordan said Wednesday. “He refers to them as ‘our school’ and ‘our community’; this speaks to his commitment to US. I'm thrilled for the students, parents, and staff at MHS. With Francis, we have an opportunity to collaborate in a way that will forge a renewed compact with one another grounded in a Culture of We.”
During her report in Open Session, Jordan introduced and congratulated Rojas on the appointment. After being recognized, he came forward to thank the Superintendent and Board Members during a brief speech.
“Aside from the similarities between the demographics and size of James Logan and Milpitas high schools, it is the ‘Culture of We’ that really attracted me to seek out this principalship as the next chapter in my vocation as an educator,” Rojas said. “On the evening of Friday, March 31, I experienced first hand the ‘Culture of We’ at Milpitas High School’s Trojan Olympics. I saw school spirit, unity, cooperation, collaboration and so much more from the students, staff, and parents who were participating. I have never seen that level of engagement and positivity at a student led event in my life. And that’s coming from an activities director.”
He continued: “Moreover, in the interview process, the presence and participation of staff and parents in the stakeholder panels and their willingness to share their ideas with me about what makes them proud to be part of our learning community, our accomplishments, but also able to share their challenges and critiques of the past few years. That manifests the ‘Culture of We.’ In both celebration and challenge, we must be united.”
Rojas began at James Logan as a science teacher and worked his way up to student activities director, five years as a House Principal, and the last two years as the school-wide Vice Principal directly supporting the work of the Principal. In Rojas’ current position, among many duties, he designs, programs, and implements the Master Schedule for teachers and 4,000 students including working with a team of school counselors, department heads, and administrators, as well as leading the Science Department in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, and Career Technical Education Departments as the liaison to the Mission Valley Regional Occupation Program and Ohlone Community College. With his background in music, Rojas was also the administrator in charge of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, including Logan’s nationally-acclaimed Forensic Speech and Debate, Marching Band and Colorguard, and Vocal Music programs.
“In a few weeks it will be 20 years since my own graduation day from James Logan, and I feel I am again commencing on a new journey and chapter in my life,” Rojas said. “Through all my experience as a teacher, student activities director, and school administrator, I have held firm to my values and philosophy that public education, guided by common vision and strong, shared leadership, must provide ALL students with a safe environment and equitable opportunities to learn, whether it is in the classroom through rigorous, standards-based curriculum and personalized, research-based teaching and learning practices, or outside the classroom through a variety of experiences that allow students to make choices and practice what they have learned to build character, integrity, and contribute to our local and global community.”
He is known for demonstrated outcomes as an instructional and organizational leader, from curriculum development to master scheduling, instructional coaching, community outreach, building positive school culture, facilities improvement, and budget and finance.
Rojas’ colleagues have shared he is a balanced leader with a variety of strengths, including being a team player, sincere, compassionate, perceptive and very involved in student life. He has often been referred to as the “heart” of the school.
Rojas graduated Summa Cum Laude from James Logan High School in 1997 and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001. Rojas earned his Biological Sciences Teaching Credential with Introductory Science Supplement from California State University at Hayward in partnership with the New Haven Unified School District Single Subject and Beginning Teacher Induction Programs. In 2009, he returned to UC Berkeley as a member of Cohort 10 of the Principal Leadership Institute of the Graduate School of Education and earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Preliminary Administrative Services Credential in 2010. Rojas earned his Professional Clear Administrative Services Credential in 2013 through the Leadership Support Program at UC Berkeley.
Rojas has also been involved with a number of professional associations, including as an Area B Council Member representing Alameda County for the California Association of Directors of Activities (CADA), a group that honored him in 2012-13 as Advisor of the Year. He was a volunteer for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Member of Cohort 38 for the Human Systems Dynamics Institute (HSD), member of New Haven Pilipino-American Society for Education (NH PASE), and charter member for the James Logan High School Alumni Association. Rojas was also the former Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Anne Catholic Church in Union City from 2000-2007, and Liturgy Coordinator at St. Joseph-Old Mission San Jose in Fremont from 2007-2010.
Watch the full video of Rojas’ speech during the May 23 Board Meeting online now.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Seamless Summer Feeding Option (SSFO) Meal Program can help feed your children healthy meals, at no charge, during the summer. This program will serve all children through age eighteen. No application or registration is required but all meals must be consumed on site. Children will receive a complete, wholesome meal, while parents receive help stretching their food dollars.
The District's Student Nutrition Services Department will operate three Seamless Summer sites during the following days and hours:
Eligible families in Santa Clara County can receive free summer meals through the summer food service programs located throughout the community from the California Department of Education (CDE), USDA Summer Food, and the Hunger Hotline.
Click on the link below to find out more from Santa Clara County of Education website.
Free summer meals for eligible families in Santa Clara County
Linda and Bob Gray, long-time kindergarten volunteers at Joseph Weller Elementary School, were announced as the 2017 Junior League of San Jose Volunteers of the Year during the 48th Annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on April 28.They were nominated by Weller kindergarten teacher Susan Von Tersch for their dedication to Weller kindergartners for the past seven years. They volunteer every day in her class and in Ms. Hirano's class.
"They do not have children or grandchildren at Weller ... they just enjoy helping our students. They are truly making a difference in the lives of the students and WE are very thankful to have them," Principal Alicia Padilla said.
For more photos and videos from the luncheon, visit www.jlsj.org
Pearl Zanker Elementary School raised more than $8,000 during a fun-filled day of activities at its carnival on April 22.
The event featured student and teacher made sponsored carnival games, face painting, and a teacher dunk tank. All carnival game prizes were donated by Pilar Zatarain, a long time friend of MUSD and Zanker Elementary School, who was inducted into the Milpitas Hall of Fame a couple years ago.
Also in attendance was a Milpitas Fire Department truck and engine, Sammy the Spartan from San Jose State University, and a live DJ. Food was featured from Jayden's Kettle Corn and a parent bake sale, in addition to cotton candy and snow cones.
A raffle was held with prizes including tickets to Disneyland and a San Francisco Giants game, gift certificate to Burke Williams Spa, electric cars, a GoPro, and Beats by Dre ear buds.
By Steve Caringella
Educational Technology Coach
Teachers from throughout the district came together for a "Celebration of Learning" on Monday (May 8) to reflect on their professional learning and growth by participating in one or more of the district's initiatives while giving presentations about work they did with students during the 2016-17 school year.
Peggy Bowen from Rose Elementary School, Brenda LeBeck from Pomeroy Elementary School, and David Carter from Milpitas High School spoke about the Milpitas Innovators Exchange (MIX). Lillian McCall from Pomeroy Elementary School presented about both the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) model and Project Based Learning (PBL), which she utilizes together with her students. Martha Chen from Milpitas High School presented about technology and PBL that she employs with her students. Jennifer Baumgartner from Zanker Elementary School and Carla McNeil from Curtner Elementary School presented on Writers’ Workshop. Ashley Grilli and Michael Sommese from Rose Elementary School jointly presented on their work with Rose’ innovative Exploratory Program. Adelina Vargas, Leslie Singh, and Alexandra Santacruz jointly presented on Randall Elementary School’s dual immersion program.Guests attending the presentations included teachers, school and district administrators, and other staff from throughout Milpitas Unified. Both presenters and guests participated in a “World Cafe Protocol,” in which presentations were followed by a reflective question for discussion in small groups. The protocol lasted four rounds, with guests moving to different tables each time. This process allowed for a diverse range of reflection and discussion, ending with a call to action - to consider the impact of the presentations, reflection, and discussion on one’s own practice.
Overall, the event was a great success. It was inspiring to see the impact that professional learning has had on Milpitas teachers, and how that learning greatly benefits students.
By Letta Meyer
Milpitas High School Chemistry Teacher, Science Olympiad Coach
The 2016-17 Science Olympiad season has been a busy and successful one. Science Olympiad is an Olympic style competition where a team of 15 students competes with partners in 23 different science oriented events. The top finishers in an event receive medals. Additionally, the placement in each event contributes to an overall team score. Medals are also given to the top teams as well.
These events fit into two basic categories, building or knowledge, with some events being a blend of the two. In a building event, students are required to build a device to a detailed specification that accomplishes a task. For instance, in Electric Vehicle students design and build a car completely powered by electricity that must travel a specific distance revealed at the competition. Knowledge events have the students study a specific subject area at a higher level than their typical grade level and take a test to demonstrate their knowledge. For example, for the Invasive Species event students learn about different species that have invaded a natural environment and changed it. In order to prepare to compete and different competitions, students meet after school several days a week and several Saturday mornings each month. They spend hours of intense studying, building, and testing to be ready to compete.
Currently in Santa Clara County there is a High School and a Middle School Division. MHS has been competing in our very competitive region for more than 10 years. The MHS students have been reaching out to Russell and Rancho middle schools over the past two years and this year we had teams from each of those schools also compete at the Regional Competition held on March 18 at San Jose City College. At that competition the MHS Blue Team (similar to a varsity team in sports) placed in the top five at the Regional Competition, earning a spot in the State Tournament.
The Northern California State Science Olympiad Tournament was held on April 1 at California State University at Stanislaus in Turlock, California. The team of 15 students shown below competed beautifully in all their events. The team tied for 10th place overall. We also placed in the top five in these events:
Special thanks to the coaches and parents that make this happen for all the students!
By Raquel Kusunoki
Director of Elementary Education
The MUSD elementary school band which has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years gave an astounding performance during its Spring Concert on Wednesday (May 10, 2017) at the Milpitas High School theater.
Proud parents, grandparents, siblings, Board Members, teachers, and administrators filled the theater, as they came to show their support.
The event was a beautiful tribute to Danny Lau, former Board of Education Vice President who advocated for music.
Thank you Chris Kaldy, Joe Santomieri, Melanie Work, Emily Moore, Nicole Poultin, and Michael Vierya for instilling the love of music into our children. Because of your dedication, our budding musicians confidently shared the joy of music as they played "Danza Africana"; "Morpheus"; "Adventures in India"; "Declaration and Dance"; "When the Wind Whispers" and "Parade."
Milpitas Unified School District's Board of Education approved naming the new elementary school at McCandless after Mabel Mattos, the land on which the Milpitas Community College Extension is built after former Mayor Ben Gross, and the Family Resource Center at Randall Elementary School after Josephine Guerrero following a public hearing during its meeting on Tuesday, May 9.
The name recommendations came from the work of the Milpitas Advisory Committee, which consisted of 11 members of the Milpitas community. While five are parents, four of the six staff members are also community members: Elizabeth Correa, Maria Vasquez, Lisa Ciardella, Pearl Bray Chavez, Mauricio Gavidia, Silvia Dias, MaryJane Gertz, Patti Belanger, Michelle Eacret, Deana Harn, and Reena Choudrey. In addition to the committee, staff consulted with Milpitas librarian Steve Fitzgerald, who suggested names, as well as Renee Lorentzen, the Milpitas City Parks and Recreation Director.
Superintendent Cheryl Jordan explained the committee was careful to consider people who represented a range of ethnicities and in particular, looked for female leaders of the past as Pearl Zanker is the only school property named for a female leader of Milpitas. As requested by the Board, the committee only considered those historical figures who have made significant contributions to Milpitas.
Longtime resident Harriett McGuire, Margaret Rodrigues, and Mabel’s son James Mattos spoke in support of naming the new facilities after these residents and the significance of their lifelong contributions to the City of Milpitas.
“Milpitas Unified School District could have no better role model for one of their schools than Mabel Mattos as its namesake, as she embodied all the traits we all want for our children to aspire to,” Margaret said. “I read your mission statement and I was really impressed by a Culture of We, and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh. That is my Aunt Mabel.’ She was just inclusive of everyone.”
James brought a picture of his mom from 1966, when she was president of the PTA, and gave Board Members a history of Mabel, born in Madera, California . She later attended Airpoint School in the foothills of Milpitas through eighth grade, and was a part of several service organizations including an original member of the Milpitas Garden Club, lifelong member of the Milpitas Historical Society, PTA, and Young Ladies Institute.
“During mom’s life, she had seen Milpitas go from rolling hills with orchards, two-lane roads, very little traffic to a city that grew with the times,” he said. “Mom lived a long life and never left the city that she loved. Her heart was always dedicated to keeping Milpitas a great place to live and if mom, Mabel Mattos, is selected for the new school name, it would be a great honor for mom and for our family.”
Resident Robert Burrill also referenced a YouTube video he created about Mabel called “Putting up Cots with Mabel Mattos.”
Former Mayor Ben F. Gross was a civil rights and union activist who became one of the first African-American mayors in California in the 1960s. He was also one of the first black city council members in Santa Clara County when he was elected in Milpitas in 1962, and served a term as mayor beginning in 1966 and was on the City Council until 1971.
According to an obituary published by the Milpitas Post September 16, 2016: “Mrs. Guerrero was a woman ahead of her time and dedicated to serving her community. She worked at the U.S. Post Office for 32 years a the assistant postmaster as well as establishing her own business, Milpitas Cleaners. …. Mrs. Guerrero was also the first woman to serve on the Milpitas Planning Commission (1954) and was Woman of the Year for the City of Milpitas.”
“I knew most of these people,” Harriett said in opening up her remarks, noting having lived at her current residence for 50 years. “...I’m just coming to speak in favor of all of them: Ben Gross, Josephine Guerrero, and Mabel. I have been a member of the Historical Society since it founded in 1980.”