Welcome MUSD Students, Parents, Guardians, and Families!
WE are thrilled for what’s ahead for our students in 2020-21! This will be an exceptional year, and while there will be new problems to solve, there will be even greater opportunities for creativity, ingenuity, and possibility. In MUSD EducatEveryWhere WE are a community dedicated to doing our best for all learners. We look forward to seeing you in our back to school virtual classrooms and town halls!
If you have any questions or need help, please do connect with us, WE are here for You.
MUSD EducatEveryWhere Spring 2020: 3 days preparation prior to our launch into MUSD EducatEveryWhere; 59 days of distance learning and teaching; 95% average engagement per week; weekly average of 277 unengaged learners; no learner without a chromebook or laptop; and some learners with unreliable WiFi.
How do we improve those data points and reinvent MUSD EducatEveryWhere v.2.0? Listening, collaboration, iteration, and partnership with our students and their parents and guardians fuels our drive to achieve our MUSD Strategic Goals, even in this new paradigm of teaching and learning.
We are social beings, and that is how we learn best, and while it is difficult to do so virtually, we are doing it. We are learning how to leverage technology in a way that has engaged us in community conversations at an exceptional frequency and in some respects more personably than ever before. We held 62 cloud meetings from March through August where participants shared and discussed the pains, obstacles and triumphs that our learners faced, not just the youthful ones, but parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, principals -- all learners. We are experiencing authentic engagement and partnership, and we can’t provide the best possible education for our students without each other.
In her book, Turning to One Another, author Margaret Wheatley remarks, “Change always starts with confusion: cherished interpretations must dissolve to make way for the new.” The unknowns around COVID19 create confusion, anxiety and questioning about how to best educate our students. Our students have led the way for creatively solving problems through common purpose and at a distance. #SAMP, Maskify, Robotix, Girl Genius, Azen Seagulls, Coronacovery, and My Roots are Rich, are all virtual non-profits enriching lives through real impact, and all are founded by MUSD students. 260 MUSD team members, parents, guardians, community members, and students form our COVID19 Task Force with 14 subcommittees focused on all aspects of developing MUSD EducatEveryWhere v. 2.0.
MUSD is phasing in 2020-21 with the first day of school on August 13th. All will be teaching and learning from a distance until conditions are safe for us to move into Phase II. Phase II will provide in-person support opportunities for small groups of students with targeted needs such as special education, English language development, homeless and foster youth, and those who are struggling or vulnerable. When Santa Clara County has not been on the California State Watchlist for more than 14 days, we will assess and move into phase III with larger groups of students receiving in-person support (for more details, please see our Special Board COVID19 Task Force Report on August 3, 2020 at 6:00pm). This is MUSD, where a Culture of We propels us forward and strengthens who we are as a community.
Good afternoon MUSD Families and Team Members,
Our lives have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual learning/working, sheltering at home, social distancing, and wearing face coverings are now part of our daily routines as we continue to do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Our Milpitas Unified School District community has stood strong in the face of the unknown and demonstrated an unbridled willingness to help our most vulnerable families by tapping every available resource. Collaboratively we are developing the next iteration of MUSD EducatEveryWhere to ensure safety for all as we phase in the 2020-21 school year.
The ever-evolving COVID-19 factor calls us to remain flexible in our planning. Since April we have garnered invaluable input from countless staff and community members through surveys (6,811 responses overall), video chats, community presentations, board meetings, and our COVID19 Task Force Subcommittees. We are planning for two pathways as we phase in 2020-21 on August 13th with MUSD EducatEveryWhere v2.0:
In both cases the goal is to transition to in-person learning 100% of the time for our learners. We recognize that distance learning has been intrinsically effective for some learners, and we plan to provide this as an optional program for secondary students post-COVID19.
At our June 23 Board of Education Meeting, we announced that all MUSD students will begin the year in 100% distance learning for the first month of the 2020-21 school year. From there, and based on the latest guidelines provided by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department (PHD), we will implement a phased-in, hybrid approach to allow staff and students back on campus for in-person learning. Our MUSD Advisory Task Force mapped out EducatEveryWhere v.2.0 class schedules for elementary, middle and high school, and presented those at our June 9 Board meeting. All decisions we make are in compliance with the guiding principles set forth in the California Department of Education Guidebook (CDE) and theSanta Clara County Office of Education Guidebook (SCCOE).
The first day of school for the 2020-21 school year has not changed, school starts August 13 with all learners in distance learning for the first month. When in-person instruction is appropriate, we have a phased-in hybrid plan to minimize risk for students and staff, with consideration of scientific research regarding the spread of COVID-19. This includes:
As Santa Clara County officials stated in a special press conference on June 30, it is our actions as a community that will influence our ability to provide full-day in-person learning experiences. WE can’t wait to welcome back all of our learners!
Take care, be safe, and know our Culture of We keeps us moving forward together,
Four weeks ago we were plunged into a new way of learning, working, and communicating. To some degree we may be mourning life as we lived it before March 16, 2020. Life at times seems surreal. As learners we are defining new routines and systems which serve to bring a sense of normalcy. For our students they are figuring out distance learning with MUSD EducatEveryWhere. There are challenges for them, and for us.
Parents have shared gratitude for the time and effort our teachers, principals, and team members have invested in assuring every student has what they need to engage in distance learning. They have also expressed how difficult this transition is as they try to navigate the roles of parent and teacher. While it is often easier for youth to quickly adapt, that isn’t always the case for those of us with more years of life behind us.
Anxiety and worry are common feelings, and while the graphic What Can I Do if I’m Feeling Worried? is designed to help our students navigate these feelings, it is helpful for us to use ourselves. Naming emotions allows us to feel them and then move on. Getting outside provides us with time to notice the world beyond ourselves. Being present and consciously using our senses rejuvenates us. This 2-min. video offers insight on How to Clear Your Head. Our emotional well-being is essential to our physical and spiritual health, and our ability to think creatively.
Every advancement starts with the power of creativity. Creativity inspires joy and passion in what we do. Thriving in this new state of being is fueled by our sense of purpose. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” a question that can cause anxiety or spur imagination. It’s not really a question of what we want to be, it is a question of how we want to be, a question about purpose. Sheltering in place offers us opportunity to talk about purpose with our teens, and more so, it offers us a chance to think about our own purpose.
As I listened to a report about the Dear Stranger letter writing project in Oregon, I was inspired. What if WE exchanged letters or emails with one another to build our MUSD community? How much better could we come to know our neighbors? I invite you to join me in participating in the Dear Milpitas Parent & Community Letters Initiative.
The world has had historic eras where humanity has made great gains. The Fourth Industrial Revolution that was softly disrupting many aspects of work, has been accelerated in this time of sheltering in place. The sudden halt to the busyness of life allows us time to fully realize the importance of community.
I have been committed to Milpitas Unified since 1989, and in these 30 years I've had the honor of working with our team in creating, refining and building successful programs and practices. I take pride in knowing that I had a part in hiring a great number of our district’s current employees who have contributed to our academic and community success, and many of whom are our MUSD graduates. Forever learning is a way of life in MUSD, affording us the ability to be the first in many aspects of education.
MUSD is an exceptional district where innovation is nurtured by a community of learners willing to take risks that will propel us in our quest to be the best in the nation. Since becoming Superintendent in 2016, WE as a community have established five Strategic Goals that have resulted in more personalized pathways for learners such as dual enrollment, the Mattos Learning Community model, MHS 9th grade transition program, Bio-tech, Cal Hills PLTW engineering & robotics, and elementary school Project Based Learning teams. We have garnered over $20.6 million in federal, state, and local grants, and established partnerships to further students’ learning experiences such as: Manufacturing Day with the City of Milpitas and Chamber of Commerce; NextFlex and Evergreen Community College; KLA, GirlStart and Facing History; Silicon Valley Education Foundation; South Bay Consortium for Adult Education; and our Milpitas service groups – Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis. Our students, clubs, team members, and schools have won awards such as the MHS Thespian Award in Edinburgh, Milpitas Science Olympiad, Speech & Debate, two CA State Football Championships, WBA Grand Champion Band Finalist, Rose and Curtner Elementary CA Distinguished Schools, Cal Hills CA Model Continuation School, Rancho Blue Ribbon and National Schools to Watch awards, and the CA School Boards Golden Bell Award for our Love 4 Literacy program.
I look forward to the fruition of the seeds of evolution that have begun, WE have so much more to accomplish in meeting our Strategic Goals. These are a few of our projects we are working on this year: a middle college high school; Stanford Model for Virtual Design Construction Engineering; implementation of the K12 Computer Science standards; a new ethnic studies pathway with Facing History and Ourselves; more internships through our bond work, the City, and business partners; and furthering our Love 4 Literacy work.
How we hold the cultures, histories, and experiences of our students and team members in our work enables us to make greater strides in achieving success. WE have made a commitment to deepening Cultural Sustainability in MUSD through accountability, professional learning, community discussions, restorative practices, inclusion, and ethnic celebrations. Establishing a community of learners is not easy, and through perseverance, trust, and our commitment to one another WE are building a Culture of WE.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr is recognized for his "I Have a Dream" speech, which has inspired people for decades; however, his impact is deeper than the singular message of a dream. Dr King's mission calls for people to right the inequities and injustices that he spoke about in the 1950s and 60s that persist today.
This weekend at the 91st Birthday Commemoration, “Reclaiming the Real Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” held in the San Jose library named for Dr. King, people representing different races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and cultures gave voice to Dr King's vision. Through excerpts of his speeches such as “The Other America,” one recognizes the perils of ignorance, prejudice, and insensitivity that results in oppression. The suppression of one's identity depletes the capacity to realize what is possible. People are so much more than how they are defined by others.
The “SJ Womxn's March” held on the same day as the MLK community gathering is an example of Dr. King's mission in motion. 10,000 people marched through downtown SJ calling attention to the rights realize one’s potential. Female leaders spoke about the need for action, from solving the problems of climate change to elevating the history and cultures of students.
Many of our MUSD students, teachers, administrators, board and community members marched and were present to hear Karrington Kenney, one of our Milpitas High School student leaders, speak to the audience. Miss. Kenney called for an education that integrates the triumphs, contributions, and history of our students of African ancestry. When we know from where we come it empowers and liberates us.
History and cultural knowledge provides people with opportunities to seek understanding, to empathize with one another's struggles, and to value each individual. In MUSD on January 24th, every employee will gather together to learn about bias and to commit to ongoing learning that develops cultural sustainability in our instruction, interactions, and connections within our school community. We are embracing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision so, as he says, we will not continue to “fail to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.” Within MUSD a Culture of We is one where every learner’s historical, cultural, and personal perspective is cultivated and celebrated.
Dear MUSD Community,
As we bring the first semester to a close, we have much to be proud of in MUSD!
Strategic Goal #1: Build a Culture of WE is strengthening as we work through the challenges we've experienced this fall. These have afforded us an opportunity to listen and empathize with those who may not have felt compelled to share their voices in the absence of difficulties. More parents and community members participate in our board meetings, community input opportunities, and advisory councils. Our students are leading in action and conversation with each other, staff, and school leaders. Together we are better understanding the different facets of what it takes to be culturally aware and collaborative in our WE.
As we further our partnerships with Milpitas businesses such as Flex, KLA, and XL Construction, and the City of Milpitas, our students will experience more opportunities to job shadow, intern and learn about pathways to career. Advanced manufacturing, virtual design construction engineering, and business development are examples of the careers our students will enjoy as we further our work in meeting Strategic Goal # 3: Develop Educational Pathways.
We are piloting online video archival of our Board meetings and boosting our presence on social media in order to meet Strategic Goal #2: Improve Communication Systems. These videos are available on the home page of our website, let us know what you think.
We received the California School Boards Association Golden Bell Award for our Love 4 Literacy program, the CA Model Schools Award for Cal Hills High School, and we were notified this week that Rose and Curtner Elementary Schools have received the CA Distinguished Schools Award. Rancho Milpitas Middle School is again a National Schools to Watch recipient, and we have applied for the Santa Clara County Hoffman Award. Our athletics scholars won; our 2nd State Football Championship in three years, our 1st Championship for our Robotics Club, division wins by our Speech and Debate team, and our Band students were Grand Champion Finalists for the first time in the 2019 Western Band Association competition. Our learners shine as we strive to meet Strategic Goal #4 Students are Engaged and Making Social, Emotional, and Academic Gains.
In just 90 school days, our students, staff, parents, and community have made incredible strides in deepening the tapestry that makes MUSD a vibrant village of learners. Take time to pause with your family, reflect, and relish the amazing ways in which our children have grown this year. May your holiday be warm and your New Year magnificent!
Our MUSD Community may feel disrupted by recent challenges that allow for disunity; however, through sincere engagement with one another, we will become more tightly woven in unity. Authors Margaret Wheatley and Peter Block speak about the power of dissent and the ability to disagree as a way of strengthening our commitment to one another. Having the space to speak about one’s experience and knowing that others are listening with the sole intent of understanding allows for respectful engagement. Engagement is about empowering through relationship in genuine and significant ways.
In the last few months I have heard from parents, staff, family/community members, and students about feelings of fear, anger, exclusion, and bullying. These experiences have been tied to instances such as a desire to have a voice in our governance, insensitive remarks between adults, lack of understanding about autism, or outrage resulting from the blackface incident. While it is painful to hear another’s hurt, I am thankful for the opportunity to listen. In listening inquisitively to one another, with a desire to seek action that ensures a better school community, our system grows healthier.
Community engagement and cultural sensitivity isn’t something we can teach our students without opening ourselves to an exchange about what matters, where we have been, and where we want to be with each other. In the coming days and months there will be many opportunities for us to share, listen, reflect, and learn about what matters in MUSD. Why? Because engagement is recognizing our basic need for belonging, and the value that each brings to our community. As we prepare for Thanksgiving this week, I am grateful for each of you, as I know that WE are becoming not only the best school district in the nation, but a model community in which cultural diversity is regarded as our greatest strength.
A 4th grade student new to the US recently shared what she was learning in science about habitat and adaptation with visiting professors from the Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan. The learner was tentative as she spoke because she is learning English, but when she heard Assistant Superintendent Wendy Zhang speak to our visitors in Mandarin, her eyes widened and a grand smile lit up her face. She spoke excitedly to Ms. Zhang about hearing someone else speaking her language. Connection through culture, language, interests, customs, heritage, ethnicity, and learning create a sense of belonging. It is this sense of belonging that allows learners to feel valued and capable of becoming their true selves.
October is the month of awareness initiatives in CA that promote inclusivity; for example, Hispanic Heritage, LGBTQ, Italian Heritage, Filipino Heritage, Red Ribbon Week, and Anti-bullying Month. Why? In recognizing these awareness campaigns, we demonstrate that the experiences, beliefs, and backgrounds of our learners are valued; who they are matters. Bullying and substance abuse prevention campaigns remind our youth that there are healthier ways to handle differences, stress, and burdens that may hinder their development. Social Emotional Learning empowers youth to see the strength and possibility in a climate that embraces diversity.
Our students are learning the power of listening to understand through mindfulness practices and strategies that build empathy. At our October Community Based Advisory Council meeting MUSD leaders shared social emotional learning strategies that can be used at home (click for SEL presentation). Social media, texting, and email as mechanisms for communicating do not afford our learners the opportunity to express oneself fully as body language, eye contact, and tone of voice are missing. This is why building inclusive spaces for learning about one another allows for understanding and greater opportunities to develop interpersonal skills that are essential for productive work and life relationships.
Every day is an opportunity to listen for understanding to another’s experience, to make connections, and to work towards a compassionate and inclusive culture, one that is WE together in community for our students.