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.
By Charlotte Torres
Administrative Secretary, Learning & Development
On April 8, students from Weller Elementary School participated in their first Robotics Challenge. Weller teachers Tien Mai and Noel Diep-Amin coached participating students once a week after school to prepare for this popular event.
Students were given the opportunity to collaborate as a team and compete with other schools throughout the Evergreen School District using the Lego EV3 robotics platform. This year, the event was held at Katherine R. Smith Elementary in San Jose. The focus of the event was to make computer science and robotics accessible to as many students as possible.
"The kids had a great time showcasing their learning," teacher Noel Diep said. "Most of all, they showed amazing sportsmanship and support for one another."
Parents and staff came to support the students who placed in some of the challenges. Adrian and Ian earned first place in the Sumo competition while Eason, Joseph, and Josephine came close. In addition, Ethan, Jason, Elise, and Vanessa earned second place in the Drag Racing while Zachary and Matthew earned third place. In addition, Eason, Joseph, and Josephine came really close in the Sumo competition as well.
Principal Richard Julian was dressed in his "Sundae" best for the Bulldog Bash at Burnett Elementary School March 31, which included recognition for students of the month, perfect attendance, winners and nominees for the MUSD Latino Student Achievement Award Ceremony, and winners from the City of Milpitas' Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Writing contest.
The cherry on top of the monthly celebration was when 36 students who sold five or more items during a recent PTA cookie dough fundraiser were called to stand in front of their schoolmates to turn Principal Julian -- dressed in a full-length white protective suit, with cotton balls in his ears for protection -- into an ice cream sundae by dousing him with toppings including whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, marshmallows, gummy bears, and more.
By Shannon Carr
Board Support & Communications Specialist
Danny Lau, Vice President of the Milpitas Unified School District Board of Education, passed away on March 20 following a serious illness.
“Danny’s passing is heartbreaking; he was a member of our MUSD family who dedicated much of his time to the success of our staff and students,” Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said that afternoon. “He sought excellence for kids, and knew that his part came in nurturing that in all with whom he worked. Danny was the kind of leader who illuminated the capacity and strengths in others. I will greatly miss Danny, and am grateful for his example of unassuming yet determined leadership.”
She emphasized Mr. Lau is an integral piece of the school district, which serves more than 10,000 students from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Board President Daniel Bobay, who was first elected in 2008, has served beside Mr. Lau since he was appointed in 2011.
“We are very saddened by the passing of Danny Lau,” Bobay said. “He was the Vice President on our Board and we committed earlier this year to working to make the board and school district more stable in support of our Superintendent. For our friend and for his family, ‘We will miss you Danny Lau.’”
Mr. Lau, 59, has lived in Milpitas for more than 35 years, and has always been active in school and the community at large. He was sworn in by Superintendent Karl Black on March 15, 2011 after longtime trustee Mike Mendizabal unexpectedly announced his resignation, effective January 31 of that year. Mr. Lau ran again in 2012 to keep his seat, and was re-elected in 2014 to a four-year term.
"I just feel so grateful and want to thank all the voters out there who supported me and continue to trust me to do the right thing for their school district,” Mr. Lau said in an article that was published during the 2014 election (Milpitas Post, 2014). “My campaign has always been about trust, integrity and experience and the voters apparently said yes, and trust me to do a good job."
At that time, Mr. Lau shared his hopes to continue improving communication between parents and the school board, and increasing parent engagement and the involvement of local businesses in the district.
District leaders, including Wendy Zhang, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, reflected on Mr. Lau’s longstanding impact on the Milpitas community by sharing the many efforts he has supported and helped lead since joining the Board of Education.
She shared that Mr. Lau has been part of a Board which, among its efforts, has been instrumental in opening the community college extension facility between the District and San Jose-Evergreen Community College District in February; establishing a family resource center at Randall Elementary School in November; replacing the Milpitas High School track in 2016; opening the new aquatics facility at Milpitas High School in 2014; the passage of Parcel Tax Renewal, Measure C in June 2014; the passage of bond proposition Measure E in June 2012, a $95 million general obligation bond that enabled the school district to make much needed improvements to its aging facilities and begin the journey of developing a new elementary school; and the departure of a superintendent.
“Danny supported all instructional programs,” Norma Rodriguez, Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Development, recalled. “He was a champion of public education and held the site leaders (Principals) to high esteem.
She specifically cited his love of music, technology, and innovation, saying: “He was excited about the possibilities personalized learning presented to our students and to closing the gap. He was concerned about the social and emotional being of all of our students and was committed to having our parents partnering with us and fully engaged in their children's education.”
In addition, Rodriguez said Mr. Lau was a strong supporter of the Dual Immersion program at Randall and wanted the District to start a Mandarin language program within the District.
“He wanted our district to be the best in the Bay Area in delivering innovative programs and reaching excellence in everything we undertake,” she said. “He was unapologetic for having high standards for all of us and always expected our best.”
Among his many other contributions to the District, Mr. Lau has been a board representative for the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce, Milpitas Sister Cities Commission, City of Milpitas/MUSD Communications Subcommittee, voting representative on the County Committee on School District re-organization, and member of the Community Board of Advisory Council.
Before joining the Board of Education, Mr. Lau volunteered for 17 years years as a school board member for the non-profit Milpitas Community Chinese School (Smart Voter Biography, 2012). During that time, he learned about school issues such as budgeting, hiring/training teachers, parent communication, developing curriculum, working with volunteers, and planning events. Previously, he served as an officer on a school's Parent Teacher Student Association and School Site Council.