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Superintendent's Update - February 25, 2022

BOARD OF EDUCATION

The agenda calendar should always be seen as tentative until formally posted the Friday before each meeting. The calendar can be found HERE.

BOARD OF EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY 22

Our last meeting covered several items of interest for some families and staff members. I have provided links to the information for those interested:

  • PAUSD Human Resource report HERE.
  • Expansion of TK program HERE.
  • Local Control Accountability Plan HERE.
  • Homework report Part I HERE.

ON THE HORIZON

Our first PAUSD Promise summary report will be presented to the Board of Education in March. We understand that everyone processes information differently. To help, we are presenting the information in three formats. Internally, we call the formats the t-shirt, binder, and book versions. For practical purposes, people should think of it as the short, medium, and long documents. The short version will be the most shared version in the community. The other two simply provide the additional commentary, data, and analysis that led to the conclusions found in the short version.

Immediately following the PAUSD Promise progress report, we will dive deeply into Mental Health approaches for next year. The investment will be significant. This includes our time, staffing, finances, and effort. This plan could come forward by the second meeting in March.

The revised PAUSD Promise will be ready for discussion in April. This is important since our budget will reflect the stated priorities in the 2022-23 PAUSD Promise. This will include our Professional Development Plan, instructional materials, staffing, and structure.

We are not limping to the finish line. Instead, we are sprinting with an eye to an exciting and powerful 2022-23.

GUNN TITANS UNLEASH THEIR INNER JEDI WITH SLAM

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) was the theme of the day at the Student Leaders' Antiracist Movement (SLAM) at Gunn High School on Friday, February 25. Over 100 students (with a waitlist) elected to participate in a 2-day immersive experience to engage and empower students as catalysts for social change through an antiracist leadership youth movement. Throughout the day, students engaged in learning designed to deepen their understanding about race while building their racial consciousness. Students engaged in reflection and dialogue with one another in this highly interactive and intentionally designed community building experience.

Lana Conaway, Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs, described the day as "beautiful," and "one of the proudest moments during her tenure at PAUSD" as she observed students from different backgrounds and experiences share their stories and their hopes for a stronger, more inclusive Gunn community.

Among the participants, were Board member Jesse Ladomirak, who said "there is clearly a strong desire from students to learn and have conversations about [race and equity] and I think as a school district, we owe it to our students to create the opportunity and spaces they are asking for."

Students were eager to share their thoughts about the event:

"Dear Ms. Conaway, I just wanted to tell you how glad I am that I came here today. It truly allowed me to learn about my peers' opinions on the racism and colorism issues that our school is facing." ~ Chania

"Hello Ms. Conaway, the racial equity training today was incredibly helpful, and I am so glad I was able to attend! I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect with my peers and hear their stories and perspectives! Sincerely, Nia"

"Hi Mrs. Conaway. I had a great time at the equity training! I learned about ways to improve my skills when speaking about race, and I think that by hearing other peoples' stories, I've become more aware of what's happening at Gunn." ~ Heeseo

Wendy Stratton, Principal of Gunn High School, says that she has seen this work with SLAM and the consultant and presenter, Dr. Lori Watson (Dr. LAW), transform the experiences of students in Tamalpais Union High School District and "couldn't be more excited to see how the students at Gunn will use the information to help cultivate a more inclusive climate." Courtney Carlomogno, who helped Wendy plan the event, agrees and says that, "her interactions with thousands of students have shown how much students need the skills to talk about their own identity as well as the identities of the wide range of peers in their community."

Gunn teachers are thrilled to see their students engaged in this work. One teacher writes, "I am driven by seeing students thrive in this work on racial equity. We as teachers were talking and listening to our students' excitement. We discussed that our main goal that drives us is seeing our students be successful. I believe that this work is hard, eye opening, and needed for both staff and students. As educators we need to be able to empower our students and give them the tools to stand in their truth and feel proud of who they are. "

Another full day of training in April will build on these foundational discussions and understandings.

Teachers at attending workshop Teachers at training
Teachers at training

EARLY LITERACY

Daily Reader's Workshop includes intentional and well-planned differentiated reading instruction of classroom teachers. As students read independently, teachers conduct reading conferences and small group lessons to observe student progress using reading skills and strategies taught. Teachers learn about student strengths and areas for growth during this instructional time through observation, listening to students read, having conversations with students about their reading, and conducting informal decoding, fluency, and comprehension assessments called running records.

In addition to this daily work with students, the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) is a standardized formative assessment administered to all students at least three times a year. Teachers have completed the middle of the school year BAS, which provides detailed and specific information about each of their student's reading processes and reading behaviors. Teachers plan lessons for students based on what they learn about their readers, and these lessons may focus on reading strategies to promote comprehension, vocabulary, reading fluency, or phonics.

As teachers build relationships with their students throughout the school year, and learn about their interests and instructional needs, there is a deliberate selection of books, texts, and genres to reinforce student proficiency. This daily early literacy partnership between educators and students creates lifelong learners.