On Wednesday, June 8, 2023, the Milpitas City Council unanimously approved an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Workforce Development grant of $30,000 to launch the Milpitas Adult Education (MAE) Career Training Center, which will ignite new workforce development opportunities for Milpitas residents.
“The success of our local economic growth is directly linked to the expansion of our adult education program,” said MUSD Superintendent Cheryl Jordan.”This aligns with MUSD Strategic Goal #3 to develop educational pathways that allow students to develop their passion in pursuit of their future careers. This grant affirms the City’s commitment to its residents who will benefit from the development of the MUSD Innovation Campus”
The Milpitas Unified School District currently serves over 12,500 preschool thru adult learners and is one of the largest employers of the city of Milpitas. MUSD’s adult education program provides academic classes for English Language Learners, high school credit recovery, GED, high school diploma, and other services to secondary school and adult students. The addition of the Career Training Center will be a key component of the programs and services to be offered at the new MUSD Innovation Campus. Phase I of the MUSD Innovation Campus will open Fall 2023.
According to Mayor Carmen Montano, "The Milpitas Adult Education (MAE) Career Training Center will play a crucial role in directly empowering our residents with the skills and knowledge needed for meaningful employment. It is a win-win situation for Milpitas as more qualified residents will attract more employers, leading to increased job opportunities and economic growth.”
Director Alex Andrade of the Economic Development & Trade Commission states, ”The Mayor and City Council recognize the economic importance of having Milpitas residents live, work and play in the city of Milpitas. Their approval to allocate a portion of ARPA funds for workforce development aligns with our Economic Development Strategy Action Plan and will increase employability of our local residents to Milpitas businesses post pandemic.”
MUSD Board President Chris Norwood adds: “Higher learning during/post high school looks very different from college graduation. It has a variety of twists and turns. We now have the ability to use our funds to further impact our local economy and adult education system. It is win-win for all adult residents.”
MAE Principal Giuliana Brahim also appreciates the approval from Milpitas City Council,”The Milpitas City Council has always attended Milpitas Unified School District events and talked about ways to collaborate on behalf of Milpitas residents. We all recognize there is work to be done to increase local resident employability in Milpitas and this is just the first step of many.”
For our final session of the MUSD Student Learning Opportunities Series for the 2022-23 school year (there will be more in 2023-24!), 15 students from our middle and high schools visited the Electrical Training Alliance of Silicon Valley, the largest electrical apprenticeship in Northern California with an average of 600 students.
Robert Chon, apprentice coordinator, toured the facility with our students and provided a step-by-step overview of how students can apply to and participate in their program. Thank you Robert for sharing these pathways with our MUSD learners!
When the 2022-23 school year comes to an end in June, elementary school educator and teachers’ union leader Diana Orlando’s “magical career” in education will conclude after 36 years with Milpitas Unified School District.
“It truly is a family here,” said Orlando, who started as a substitute teacher for Rose Child Development Center (CDC) in March 1987. “I have made some of my closest friends here in the District. They are now my family.”
Orlando’s educational pathway quickly went from part- to full-time when she was hired September 4, 1987 as a preschool teacher and head teacher for the what was referred to as the “latch-key programs” before being hired as a Science Specialist, splitting her work day between Sinnott and Curtner elementary schools.
“MUSD has always been a cutting-edge District and always puts students first,” Orlando said. “We give out staff freedoms some Districts would never allow. We have been a collaborative District whether that be between teachers, between admin and teachers or between the association with the District.”
Board President Chris Norwood recalls first meeting Orlando while on the 2014 campaign trail at Peet’s Coffee in Milpitas. “Her passion and care for MUSD teachers, staff, students and families was evident throughout the conversation,” he recalled. “She wears her heart on her sleeve and is unapologetic about it. Fast forward nine years and numerous conversations later - her approach, care and passion are still very much the same. … She is always the champion for educators, friends and family.”
After remaining at Curtner for a year as a science specialist in 1990, Orlando transferred to teach 1st Grade at the same school and did so until 2000 when she moved to Pomeroy to teach 1st grade, where she remained until this school year’s end. “I looped between 1st and 2nd with my students until 4 years ago,” she shared. “I ended my teaching career in 2023 in second grade.”
“Leading from the heart, that’s what I’ve known Diana to do throughout her career. She is about people and strives for the best education for all learners,” said Superintendent Cheryl Jordan of her longtime MUSD colleague. “Diana has been an integral part of shaping our work together, especially in building a Culture of We; her love for kids reverberates throughout and will continue to do so for years to come.”
Colleague Laura Polden, now at Zanker Elementary, shared: “When I was a student teacher at Pomeroy, Diana always made me feel supported and loved. She is great for a warm hug and an ear to listen to everything you have going on in your life, not just at work.”
What has made MUSD so dear to her heart: “The people,” she said. “MUSD is my second family. I raised my girls in this District and I am proud of the education they received here. The lifelong friendships mean everything to me.”
Colleague Ashley Grilli, currently at Rose Elementary who established a strong, lasting bond with Orlando and her family over the years, shared: “Whether the occasion was celebratory or full of grief, Diana has always shown me what it means to be a caring mother, a committed teacher, and a person who stands up for what she believes in.”
Orlando, an active member of the Milpitas Teachers Association who has held officer roles of site rep, negotiator, lead negotiator, vice president and eventually president, stepped outside the classroom and dedicated 2022-23 as the first full-time released MTA union president. She fondly remembers fun times at the Benevolent BBQs up at Ed Levin Park at the end of the school year as well as The Sharon Smith Unity picnics. “It brought us together to celebrate the school year and wish everyone a wonderful summer,” she noted.
Some more of her most memorable moments/events throughout her storied career are playing in a bowling league with her MUSD colleagues, other staff bonding events, including trips to horse races, hockey games, baseball games, football games, “and who can forget the Perotti staff bus trips. Lots of good times in MUSD over the years.”
In the upcoming years, Orlando plans to spend more time with her daughters and boyfriend, traveling and working out. She also is interested in volunteering with Mental Health and Suicide Prevention groups and substitute teaching “to get my kiddo-fill and see all my friends and colleagues.”
For the younger generation of educators, Orlando said: “Teaching isn’t just a job, it’s a career. Find your passion within teaching and follow it. Always remember the reason you became a teacher because that will keep you moving forward even in the toughest of times.”
“Make sure you find balance between work and home because this profession can consume your every waking moment,” she continued. “Be creative, be silly, be the person you wanted as a teacher and never forget our kiddos need us and we need them. Teaching is hard but it’s so rewarding. Stay strong and enjoy this magical career we call teaching.”
Chris Norwood, President of the Governing Board of Milpitas Unified School District and 2020 California School Boards Association (CSBA) State Board Member of the Year, recently became the first MUSD appointment to the CSBA Delegate Assembly in the school district's 67-year history.
Each year, elected Santa Clara County School District governing board members vote for several of their peers to represent the county’s collective voice within the CSBA Delegate Assembly, which is “a vital link in the association’s governance structure,” as stated on the CSBA website. Delegates work with local districts, county offices, the Board of Directors and Executive Committee to “ensure the association reflects the interests of school districts and county offices of education throughout the state.”
This year, Norwood was selected to join the Santa Clara County team of representatives. Several former MUSD governing board colleagues recommended to Norwood that the MUSD Board commit time to learning about the power of advocacy and the legislative policy work behind public education.
“The Santa Clara County School Boards Association congratulates Mr. Norwood and all the delegates elected to champion Silicon Valley school district voices, families and students,” said SCCSBA President Bridget Watson. “This year we had a competitive field of highly qualified candidates. We appreciate the delegates’ dedication, expertise and service to our community.”
Milpitas Unified School District Superintendent Cheryl Jordan understands the importance of this milestone for Milpitas Unified. “Board President Norwood is a systemic thinker grounded in community. He pushes himself and others beyond the norm to assure every learner has experiences that reveal their own vision for what is possible. His insights and innovative thinking will benefit educational institutions throughout our state as a member of the CSBA Delegate Assembly.”
Chris Norwood states, “With the encouragement of CSBA and SCCSBA leadership over the past eight years, I’ve gone from a new school board member to California State School Board Member of the Year and co-producer of several Annual Education Conference (AEC) sessions. I look forward to participating in the CSBA Delegate Assembly on behalf of our region.”
More than 115 transitional kindergarten through sixth grade students spent their Spring Break at Randall Elementary World Languages School for the second annual April Acceleration Academy.
“April Academy provides an extended learning opportunity for our students to build vocabulary, math and science skills through project based learning,” said Executive Director Priti Johari, who commended the April Academy team for creating a wonderful experience for our students.
Using a Project Based Learning model, students were given the opportunity to engage in a learning that was deep and long-lasting by developing their class projects throughout the week. PBL blends content mastery, meaningful work, and personal connection to create powerful learning experiences.
“Ultimately, our goal with the April Academy was for our students to create a powerful learning experience by helping them gain competence in critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration,” said director Raul Patino, who polled families at the end of the week and received a 97.4 percent approval rate.
On the last day of the academy, students showcased their projects to families who visited their classrooms. Each of the families in attendance had the opportunity to interact with students and ask questions regarding the projects developed by students.
“Working in groups and creating a product were major contributors to what made the learning relevant and meaningful to them and truly allowed us to accelerate their learning,” Johari added.
TK students delved in the Art of Shapes for their PBL; the kindergarten unit was titled ‘Rain or Shine’; first-grade projects were ‘Inspired by Nature’; and second grade students learned different ways of ‘Taking Care of Our Environment.’ Meanwhile, the third-grade unit captured ‘Species Survival’; fourth graders explored ‘Getting to Safety’; fifth graders were introduced to ‘Plastics’; and sixth grade students learned about ‘Shrinking Our Footprints’.
Students in TK teacher Wendy Lundeen's class learned about different shapes and their attributes (number of sides and vertices); examined art from different artists (Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Ruth Asawa, and Alexander Calder) and learned about how they created their art as well as what shapes they incorporated into their art.
"At the end of the week, we created our own two-dimensional and three-dimensional art pieces using paint, canvases, Model Magic, and chenille stems," Lundeen shared. "Students also recorded their own artist statements about their pieces where they discussed the shapes and colors they used in their art. QR codes of their videos were created so that the community can learn more about each student's art piece."
“In my personal opinion, programs like these make our student community get together and see the importance of diversity across all the school sites,” Patino added. “Parents took the opportunity to meet others from different schools just like our students did as well.”
After an extensive search amongst innovative and experienced administrators in the state, Milpitas Unified School District Superintendent Cheryl Jordan announced Greg Wohlman as the new Principal and Chief Innovator of Milpitas High School and New Campus Programs.
At its April 18th meeting, the MUSD Board of Education unanimously approved the appointment. Mr. Wohlman comes to Milpitas after building an impressive resume filled with career and life experiences as an educator and educational leader in Minnesota, Las Vegas, Alaska and Tahoe-Truckee.
“I am very honored to be here to accept this position,” said Mr. Wohlman, who chose to make the 5-hour drive to be here in person to meet the MUSD School Board rather than speaking to them virtually. Mr. Wohlman is charged with inspiring more than 3,000 high school students as well as leading the teachers and classified team members at MHS and its future high school program at the MUSD Innovation Campus.
“Greg has a varied professional experience that will benefit our MHS and district community,” said Supt. Jordan. "Our recruiters spoke to several of Mr. Wohlman's colleagues, staff and students, and I spoke with his current Superintendent. A common theme is that Greg is still visible in every classroom. He knows the students by name and he makes himself available at all times.”
Mr. Wohlman has served as Principal of Multiple High Schools within the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District since 2014, which includes leading two high-performing schools simultaneously as they earned 6-year WASC accreditations, as well as heading up multiple schools within Kuspuk School District in Kalskag, Alaska from 2008-2014. He was named the 2012 State of Alaska Principal of the Year, the 2020 Placer County (Calif.) Principal of the Year, and the 2020 Association of California Administrators (ACSA) Region II Principal of the Year.
“He is somebody who is looking for a place like Milpitas that he can call home for a very long time,” Supt. Jordan added.
“MUSD is the place that harbors innovative thinking in education so our schools maintain and exceed our students’ expectations for relevant and safe learning environments and pathways to post-secondary success,” added Mr. Wohlman.
Mr. Wohlman said he will draw from MUSD’s Strategic Goals in his leadership by helping to build and sustain the all-inclusive Culture of WE (one of the major reasons he considered MUSD); improving lines of communication with better outreach to families, students and staff; increasing educational pathways for all learners; nurturing academic growth; and identifying creative, student-centric strategies to ensure healthy learning environments.
“By focusing on aligned goals, professional learning, and systemic improvement, I believe that together we will continue to improve student learning, maintain a safe learning environment for all students, and sustain the current success of students and staff,” Mr. Wohlman said. “I have built school buildings and modernized campuses, created school cultures that attracted and maintained staffing, designed pathways of success for all students, and created safe and effective learning environments for our most prized stakeholders, our students.”
Although Mr. Wohlman will officially begin on July 1, he will be in MUSD several times this spring to meet with staff, students and parents.
"On July 1, we begin a new chapter of leadership at Milpitas High School," said Board President Chris Norwood. "Our Board, community, caregivers and families are excited to have Mr. Wohlman wholeheartedly accept the position and look forward to partnering with him to increase our student pathways to success."
Welcome to the #MUSDfamily, Principal Wohlman!
When the Milpitas Unified School District / San Jose City College Dual Enrollment Program was still in its infancy, educators from both institutions sought out input from existing programs to find out what made them successful.
“The top takeaway was that we are not involved to serve the interests of our district, but instead to serve the interests of the other district,” said director Michael Mooney. “If the two organizations come together with that in mind, they can do magic for the students, and that’s what we did here.”
The MUSD/SJCC Dual Enrollment Program was recently selected as one of only five recipients of the Glenn Hoffmann Exemplary Program Awards, given by the Santa Clara County School Boards Association (SCCSBA).
“On behalf of SCCSBA, once again, congratulations on an outstanding program that exemplifies putting students first and excellence in education,” wrote Hoffmann Exemplary Awards Committee Chair Isabel Jubes- Flamerich in the award notification letter. The Hoffman Awards Dinner is on Wednesday, May 10, from 6-9 pm at the Metropolitan Education District.
“It shows the outcomes of what can happen when we have a shared vision and we have such excellent, collaborative partners like SJCC to really allow us to maximize our supports and to offer the best pathways available to our students,” said coordinator Karisa Scott. “This award validates all the collaborative, hard work that we’ve done.”
What started with a cohort of 30 students in year 1 has grown to approximately 150 juniors and seniors in only its third year. When a dual enrollment student graduates from high school, they not only earn a high school diploma but also have the beginnings of a college transcript with up to 30 credits.
Additionally, depending on their selected pathway, a student can graduate with workforce certificates. For example, in Computer Science, they can earn an Emerging Tech Entrepreneurial Certificate; and with the Educational pathway, they acquire an Early Childhood Education Certificate.
“These are not only building their high school transcripts and their college transcripts, but also getting them certificates so they can immediately enter the workforce,” said Scott, adding that they are all “really proud” of the dual enrollment students for maintaining above a 90% success rate.
Learn more about the MUSD-SJCC Dual Enrollment Program here.
Milpitas Police Chief Jared Hernandez, along with Officer Shuyo Chang, caught the attention of students at the March 31 career fair at Calaveras Hills High School.
Chief Hernandez, a Milpitas High School alumnus who rose in the MPD ranks, detailed the qualifications needed to become a police officer as well as the variety of job opportunities available within the department for both sworn and unsworn personnel.
The two police officers were two of about 20 individuals representing an array of organizations, businesses, military branches, governing bodies and more to host students from Calaveras Hills HS, Milpitas Middle College HS, and Milpitas Adult Education.
“The goal of the career fair was to expose students to different career choices and have them hear about what the journey was to get into that career,” explained Calaveras Hills HS counselor Jonathan Payne, who organized the event in collaboration with MUSD Middle College High School and Milpitas Adult Education. “The presenters talked about not just what they are doing now but how they got there.”
Students made their way to different classrooms throughout the day for sessions where speakers included Milpitas Mayor Carmen Montano; MUSD Board of Education President Chris Norwood; Blach Construction Senior Project Manager Ryan Holman; Tradeswomen Inc. Project Manager Jessica Fontenot; Amazon Staffing Administrator Jay Giddens; Uber’s Alicia Mendoza; social worker Sabrena Stice; jeweler Kathryn Deierlein; and auto mechanic Dennis Muaka.
“I feel like this is a good opportunity as far as knowing what our futures could look like,” said Eli Venegas, a junior student at CHHS who wants to join the Army and also become a welder. “Some people don’t know what they are going to do after they graduate.”
The career fair aligned with MUSD Strategic Goal #3: Develop educational pathways that allow students to apply their passion in learning for their future careers.
Recent CHHS graduate Juan Aguilar (December 2022), who is learning about the fire science pathway at Silicon Valley Career Technical Education, attended the career fair to hear about other professions such as with Blach Construction.
“It was interesting what he was talking about, how it is different from working in the field to the shop work,” Aguilar shared. “I just wanted to get more knowledge about it.”
Payne added: “There’s a lot of students that we have this year who are interested in construction. They just need to know the next steps to pursue a career in construction," which include design, architecture, engineering, and management.
A UC Berkeley graduate student shared how to get into the education field, and another representative told students about the pathway to becoming a stylist or manicurist by enrolling in cosmetology certification programs.
The Girls Empowerment Leaders Club (GEL) at Milpitas High School is an organization that serves to uplift other girls to become confident leaders. With over 20 members, the officer cabinet strives to spark leadership skills, prepare girls for future careers, and help girls feel at home in the MHS community.
To grow leadership skills, members participate in activities to communicate effectively and learn about successful women’s journeys. Members are also inspired by influential female leaders in all industries in the Empowering Quote Series.
The club also recognizes the importance of career preparation, and members are able to prepare for their future through GEL’s Informational Series that features various career pathways and high school tips. Members are also able to learn from leading experts in a variety of fields, such as politics and medicine.
Most importantly, the club ensures that each and every member’s voice is heard. The club collaborated with an art club for a penpalling activity to help girls bond and connect with others in the diverse MHS community. In addition, GEL’s Member of the Semester program recognizes stellar members who actively participate in bondings and meetings, fostering a culture of empowerment and inclusivity.
Finally, the club plans on celebrating the achievements of women who have shaped the world we live in today. Last year, the club created a video at the MUSD Board of Education about Women’s Rights. This year, the club is planning to host informational meetings and fun bondings to increase awareness around women’s achievements.
Through all these activities, GEL is dedicated to empowering girls and ensuring that they have the resources to reach their dreams.
By Fiona Chan, Girls Empowerment Leaders Club President
MUSD Executive Director of Inclusive Services for All Learners Mary Jude Doerpinghaus was among a distinguished panel for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 8’s Spring Leadership Forum: Leading with Equity on March 7.
Other panelists were: Vern Caruz, Elementary Principal at Stipe Elementary, Oak Grove SD; Roxane Fuentes, Ed.D, Superintendent, Berryessa USD; and Jamal Splane, Ph.D, Director, School Culture & Climate/C&I at Los Gatos-Saratoga UHSD.
The panel focused on:
“While my background has centered around special education, my career has always focused on empowering staff and families to partner as ‘one team’ that focuses on assets and belief in the potential of each and every child each and every day,” Doerpinghaus shared.
Director Splane noted: "This event brought administrators together in fellowship, solidarity, and with a focus on addressing the educational and opportunity gaps that have increased recently for our students of color and from marginalized communities. Our students continue to benefit from these types of events."
The panel shared various personal definitions but all centered around how equity in education means that each child receives what they need to develop their full academic, social and emotional potential.
“As leaders we have to remove barriers to disrupt inequitable practices, look at our own biases and privilege and to create school environments that are conducive to equally high outcomes for all of our learners, especially those that are marginalized,” Doerpinghaus added. “Being an equity champion requires us to be self-aware and to lead through courageous conversations with an open mind and heart.”
Berryessa USD Superintendent Fuentes agreed: “Equity in education aims to create a level playing field for all children by supporting those who need it most. It requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success.”
Doerpinghaus shared with audience members that educators need to know their students and their personal stories, and understand what assets they bring to us daily. “Once we discover these, we can cultivate and build upon their unique gifts, talents and interests to develop areas of challenge and to create an environment that better supports them and their needs,” she explained.
Supt. Fuentes again echoed those sentiments: “We need to create spaces for our school and district leaders to understand and dialogue about the unique challenges and barriers faced by individual students or by populations of students so that they can best support their teams in providing additional supports and resources to help students overcome those barriers.”
Building equitable, inclusive and respectful communities is not a "one shot deal or something that happens overnight,” Doerpinghaus concluded. “We need to weave this work into our daily lives and it takes time to cultivate a community that holistically values the diversity and unique gifts and lived experiences of our people.”
“Much has been documented--and rightly so--about the post-pandemic need to ensure students and teachers are receiving adequate support to function effectively in schools,” Splane added. “Support for school leaders should also be a part of this conversation. ACSA Region 8 understands this and continues to be on the forefront of these efforts.”
The diverse panel included perspectives on cultural inclusion, recognizing our collective histories, valuing the wisdom of our ancestors and indigenous peoples, and ensuring that our students see themselves in what they learn.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.