October 20th was Unity Day, a day to be united for a kinder, more accepting, and inclusive world. We wore orange throughout our district, a bold color reminder that schools are places where we strive to be an oasis for all to thrive in learning and working. How do we get there? What are our Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities?
Our strengths lie in our desire to teach, learn, and be curious--children and adults alike. Our desire to be a MUSD community for our learners is a strength.
The inability to be in person as freely as we were prior to this global disaster is a weakness. Inexperience in ciphering through social media and virtual communication applications are as well. Our students in transitional grades from middle to high school missed the opportunity to be physically present at school. They missed out on an aspect of discovering their voice in community.
While social media provides all of us the opportunity to build a sense of belonging, it also risks creating a social environment that is two dimensional--without physical presence we miss communication cues such as tone, facial expressions, and body language. While virtual communication through visual platforms does provide some of this, it misses the unspoken communication and connection to another person that our presence provides.
Communication through social media platforms can be a threat as it has a propensity for one to slip into a mindset of disregard for how our words impact another. It seems to embolden the use of accusatory language rather than seeking to understand another’s viewpoint or context. Ironically, while the internet allows us to discover friendship across the globe, it can also threaten our sense of security.
Connection is an essential factor in building resiliency as are purpose, flexibility, and hope. Re-centering on our MUSD vision, so that we might enable our learners to realize their own purpose moves us forward. Modeling flexibility allows us all to find ways to develop strategies that benefit us in our purpose. Hope nourishes us when our energies are depleted. We have the opportunity to support resiliency through inclusion and empathy for one another. We have the opportunity to move forward in ways that multiply ingenuity and creativity for all learners.
Dear MUSD Family and Community,
Twenty years ago today I stood with my baby in my arms watching the reports of the plane crashing into the World Trade Center. In the moment my thoughts were about those who died and the surrounding areas because my cousin worked nearby. As we came to understand that it was not an accident, but a strategic attack on national institutions of finance, security and government my thoughts turned to why and what if?
What if one of the victims had been someone connected to me? What would I do? How would I make sense of the loss? Reading about those who lived near Milpitas and the meaning their loved ones have found in their deaths elicits an element of solace. Still I wonder.
I reflect on how 9/11 disrupted and reshaped our lives around travel, international relations, and our entry into massive events such as concerts and sports. For our children it's just how it is, but for us it reminds us of our vulnerability.
2,996 died and how many others since? There were emergency workers who responded in search of survivors who years later lost their lives or continue to live with illness as a result of exposure to toxins released at the site. There are victims of the war that ensued afterward in the Middle East.
There are those who suffer due to the fear that the attacks instigated against people of Middle Eastern descent or whose faith is Islamic. Why 9/11 happened has political and economic answers. The aspect that divides people is prejudice.
We who live and work in our City on the Hill, strive to be a community that embraces All. Milpitas Unified is strengthened by this community, and is dedicated to serving every student in a culture of diversity and inclusion.
While we recall the events of 9/11 today, let's continue to expand our understanding of one another. In our actions and words we have the power to affirm compassion in humanity for our children.
Committed to WE,
Nearly 150 years ago the first labor day celebrations erupted through struggles to change conditions where workers as young as 5 years old toiled in factories 7days a week for 12 or more hours. Leaders amongst those working in the first industrial age fought for conditions that upheld human development and wellness. This Labor Day marks a need to recognize the determined efforts of so many workers in our nation, state, community, and in our schools.
While extensive work hours with no time off for vacation became a characteristic associated with factory workers in the late 1800s, COVID19 has resurrected the 7-day work week for many today.
We know our medical and public safety sectors have been working through COVID19 to protect us. Researchers have dedicated time to provide data that help to inform changes in our practices so we can contain the virus. Educators have stretched and evolved to serve our students and their families through virtual and in person learning.
Our digital devices afford us the ability to be on from anywhere, which means, we can work without limitations. This is only an advancement towards our future workforce development if we define how we use our time outside of the work space. Our minds need creative rest, our bodies need movement and play, and our spirits need connection with family and friends. Our children need this time to dream, invent, and be curious on their terms.
Let us take this Labor Day to thank all those in MUSD who have invested so much of their time these last 18 months to assure that all is working for our students. As we strive together to provide our learners with opportunities to discover their purpose and develop pathways to their future careers, we in turn thank you for being alongside us in this work.
May today’s Labor Day holiday find you exploring, imagining, resting, and sharing joy-filled moments with loved ones.
Dear MUSD Students, Families, and Team Members,
As MHS teacher Ms. Bellotti said to me on the first day of school, “it feels so right,” to be back together in person! These first nine days of school have been both exhilarating and challenging. We continue to navigate through this global pandemic by implementing new strategies and directives designed to provide physical safety, and optimum conditions for learning and human development.
It is critical that we adhere to the safety guidelines and directives of the California and Santa Clara County Public Health Departments. We will continue to require masking for all indoors as recommended by the American Pediatrics Academy and the CPHD, and for elementary students and team members outdoors per MUSD directive. When all persons are masked it allows for modified quarantine, which means children and youth do not miss out on in person learning. This 8/6/21 CPHD Frequently Asked Questions document outlines the safety practices we have instituted in MUSD and provides medical explanations for quarantine expectations.
To date there have been 20 identified cases of COVID19 in MUSD schools, and with our weekly testing program, we expect that number to increase. Our COVID19 Safety page provides updates and explanations for each of our safety protocols, including our MUSD weekly testing schedule and the latest SCCPHD Quarantine Decision Tree.
The Modified Quarantine and notification protocols are directed by the PHD. If you receive a notification that you or your child is a close contact, it is not always necessary that you quarantine depending on if you are vaccinated and/or are a student. If you receive one, your notification letter will inform you of next steps and if you or your child must quarantine and/or test.
It is important that our students do not miss out on key learning opportunities, and if quarantined, students may take advantage of short-term Independent Study (IS). Short-term IS requires a signed contract by a student’s parent/caregiver and assignments provided by their teacher(s). We do expect parents/caregivers to follow the modified quarantine procedures, staying in person for learning if permitted, staying in person for learning if permitted.
All of us have been investing time and resources to meet the needs of our learners. Living and working through this pandemic has at times been extremely difficult and harsh. With grace for one another we will persist through 2021-22 in a way that fosters resiliency and ingenuity in all learners.
The World Economic Forum cited in its October 2020 report that Emotional Intelligence is one of the top 15 job skills our future graduates must develop by 2025 in order to succeed in the future of work. Emotional Intelligence skills competencies, according to the report, include, “Awareness of the wider world, of history and of social justice issues that result from historical inequalities.”
While the 4th Industrial Revolution has accelerated how we work, learn and live, these last 15 months have spotlighted the need for human connection at a deeper level of consciousness. Violence against people based on their religion, ethnicity, race, gender, age, and more elevates the need for us to recognize the gifts and strengths of one another’s diversity. The month of May offered recognition opportunities such as Cinco de Mayo, Jewish American Heritage Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, National Older Americans Month, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Many of our students experienced virtual celebrations where they learned through story and other activities about our MUSD family members who are of Asian, Pacific Islander, or Desi descent.
MUSD’s Strategic Goal #1, Build a Culture of We, is about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our policies, practices, and especially, in our relationships with one another. Striving for this goal requires a commitment to learning about others, and ourselves, which is why we have established a Culture of We Equity Team this year to accelerate our growth.
Every month there are dedications to remind us of the beauty within the diversity that makes up our human family. As we move forward through the pandemic and to new ways of living, let us keep focused on the awareness we have gained in the last 15 months. The dignity of each person and their culture, history, ethnicity, race, gender, age, religion-- all that makes up who each of us is, that is precious. On May 31, Memorial Day, we honor those who have given their lives for our own, they fought for who WE are as a nation.
Dedicated to the WE in all of us,
Virtual working, teaching, learning, and living is challenging. Struggles do beget innovation, and from that we’ve created exceptional learning experiences for our students in MUSD EducatEveryWhere. Technology has allowed us to stay connected with each other from anywhere in Milpitas, the USA, and the world. We are in our students’ homes, and their parents and caregivers are in our classrooms. Yet, a screen between us hinders the organic connection that ties us closer in community.
In the last five days 1,805 of our learners stepped onto campus to be in person with the 966 MUSD team members who have invested so much of their lives to support our students, their families, and each other. The time we have together is precious, both in person and on screen. Masks can’t hide the smiles in our eyes and the excitement in our students’ voices. However, feelings of trepidation may not be so apparent. Wonderings of how we will maintain the quality of learning for both those in person and online creep into conversations about how version 3.0 of MUSD EducatEveryWhere is progressing. Ingenuity in how to maximize the time for both groups of students also emerges.
As Esmeralda Santiago points out “How can you know what you’re capable of if you don’t embrace the unknown?” The year with COVID19 has been fraught with unknowns… we didn’t know exactly how we would build our online learning classrooms, how we could support our students with special needs including social emotional welfare, or how we would be able to provide learning experiences in music, PE, or art virtually. With this opportunity for expanded in-person learning we have new unknowns to work through, and we will do it just as we’ve done before, together.
At the forefront of our partnership is knowing we depend on each other to uphold our compact for safety and security. We will continue to maintain the more stringent precautions of 6 foot social distancing, twice monthly COVID19 testing for on campus students, and staying home if a student has travelled more than 150 miles out of Santa Clara County. Meeting strategic goal #1, build a Culture of We, requires a commitment to persevere through the unknowns together.
Committed to Our Community of Learners,
Human connection is that magical space that elicits creativity and brilliance. Sharing our celebrations, customs, and histories deepens our relationships and strengthens our Culture of We. February highlights opportunities for shared experiences such as Lunar New Year, Valentine’s, Presidents Day, and Black History Month. We are keenly focused on who we are as individuals in relation to our collective histories and stories to a greater extent than we have been in the past. The power of nearly instantaneous communication allows us to experience each other’s struggles and joy.
We are living the 4th Industrial Revolution in this pandemic, we see that in our online learning and remote working environments. As with each of the last three industrial revolutions where machinery facilitated easier and faster ways of doing things, so too does the 4IR. Data analytics and artificial intelligence is evident in the pop-up messages in our browsers. These and other 4IR elements such as robotics and machine learning give rise to the 5th Industrial Revolution, which some have likened to a renaissance. 5IR is humanity, it is how humanity uses these technologies for purposes that enhance life.
The five pillars of the 5IR are; 4IR service to humanity; Connection of business to purpose; UN Global Goals 2030; and Empowerment of women and girls. Leadership, social influence, emotional intelligence, and inclusion are skills that our students will need for their careers in 2025 and beyond. “Culture and people specialists” is an emerging field in the future world of work. The United Nations Goals 2030 incorporates 17 goal areas necessary for a human focused future. Two of those goals are designing Quality Education that is equitable and inclusive, and the other is Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions that provide “justice for all.”
Our purpose speaks to us through our students, and our humanity is what our learners embody. MUSD proudly recognizes the human centered ingenuity that our learners demonstrate in their endeavors and conversations as illustrated in this month’s edition ofMUSD School LIFE.
Did you know we are in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution (4IR)? I’ve been delving into learning more as it fascinates me. The first two revolutions evolved over time with the development of mass production lines and factories, making adaptation and lifestyle changes gradual. In our generation we are experiencing the overlap of both the third and fourth industry disruptors. Where manufacturing became automatic and “just in time” in the 1990s, it is quickly becoming autonomous and real time with machine learning and data analytics. Computers are more than a repository of information, they are a pocket sized utility that facilitates communication, applied learning, and creativity.
Since its founding in the 1830s, the factory design of education has remained relatively unchanged until now. Creativity, innovation, global interconnectedness, interpersonal skills, and applied technology are the skill areas our students need for their career paths and in general, to be participants in their communities (World Econ. Forum Schools of the Future). The factory model can’t maximize learning experiences that will enable students to gain these 4IR skills.
Creativity and innovation are essential in preparing for the future of work, more so, they are pivotal in our ability to thrive in our present life circumstances. All of our learners (students, teachers, classified team members, school leaders, and parents) have demonstrated ingenuity. Our students have designed remarkable strategies such as MyRootsAreRich and GirlGenius to connect with others across the community. Our educators have developed practices that support their students with social emotional learning. Our parents have created networks and partnerships with our teachers and paraprofessionals. MUSD EducatEveryWhere embodies these new ways of learning in our virtual community. We continue to expand our capacity as we discover what is possible together in this new frontier. Together We are designing the future in MUSD.
January 24, 2020 was an exceptional staff in-service day as it was the first time every MUSD team member assembled together for a day of reflection and inquiry in conversation about the multifaceted aspects of Strategic Goal #1, Build a Culture of We. We established three commitments that day:
1. Be an Upstander
2. Learn about and recognize our own biases
3. Be culturally inclusive so our students see themselves in what they learn
Earnest dedication to furthering what it means to live a Culture of We in MUSD illuminated the outlook for a year of promise. That promise is being realized in the way we have come together in spite of the disruption of nearly every aspect of how we live our lives. Our MUSD milestones are indicators of this: Continuity of learning since March 16th; Digital devices and WiFi provided for every student; Early Childhood Development Centers in operation since June; Black Lives Matter Community March; 260 person COVID19 Task Force work; Phase 2 of MUSD EducatEveryWhere with Learning Labs, Learning Pods, educators and community partnerships for in-person student support; Parent/Guardian/Staff support networks; City School COVID19 Partnership; Milpitas Alliance Partners for Future Ready Learners launch; Student produced Board Resolutions recognizing different cultures and needs; Milpitas Safety First Campaign; and more.
November 2, 2020 established our second all team Culture of We Sustainability learning day where our 3 commitments were explored more deeply resulting in equity work around policies and practices that hinder learner opportunities. Safety and security are upheld when we, as upstanders, identify actions, words or practices that erode the learning environment. Physical and emotional safety are vulnerable with COVID19, and they are paramount in our ability to launch Phase 3 of MUSD EducatEveryWhere.
Our teachers, classified team members, principals, district leaders, board trustees, our students and their families -- all who are a part of our WE, have sacrificed and invested an astounding amount of time to develop meaningful learning experiences for all. WE want to see each other in person for instruction at all levels, and we can by assuring conditions are safe to do so. It takes steady progress, understanding, and continued communication to develop trust that every one of us is committed to doing our part. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance, together WE make possible reality.
On November 4, watch for surveys from your school or department, these will inform our planning for Phase 3, scheduled to begin mid-January 2021.
WE must keep moving forward together!
198 days and counting since March 16, 2020, the day that launched us into a duality of virtual working, learning, and living. At times it may feel stifling and exhausting, and we keep moving. Figuring out how to adapt and reshape what we do so that we are thriving might seem to be a monumental challenge, but together we are innovating. The reality is without a sense of optimism and an understanding of the strength within us, our momentum is restrained. How might we realize our joy within growing pains individually and collectively? Creativity.
Creativity relieves stress, allows for problem solving, ingenuity, and BEING present. Take time to CREATE. Our Milpitas High School student leaders designed an initiative titled “Embraced as Individuals, Together as Trojans.” Following their lead students have participated in this photo contest, produced this BLM video, and are striving for deepening inclusivity and interconnectedness. Rose teachers invented their own version of a monthly album featuring student art, wellness, and “The Adventures of Flat Rose Teacher.” Our high school learners continue to inspire with their service projects such as the Cal Hills Relay for Life next month at Great America, and STEMgirls Virtual Career Fair.
MUSD EducatEveryWhere includes our diverse experiences, cultures, and talents interwoven for learning together. Sharing those experiences through movement, art, song, and story develops our sense of self-actualization. We have more than potential, we have collective power to evolve together, our Culture of We is on the move!