Mobile/Tablet Menu

Desktop Menu

Search Container

Superintendent's Update - March 15, 2024

Superintendent's Update - March 15, 2024

From the Office of the Superintendent .  .  .

Board Agenda Calendar

View Calendar of Board Items 2023-24

Superintendent Austin’s Message . . . 

For those of you who have been here for some time, you may recall that when we hit March, I often write about the cycles of a school year. It’s March! If we had a stress meter for each month, October, March, and May would have the highest ratings in most years.

Why March? Spring Break is on the horizon, but not quite within reach. Secondary students are starting to evaluate their current grades and calculate what needs to happen to obtain the grades they want by semester’s end. Things that have built up all year typically become more annoying as the year-end approaches. Friends may have rifts, relationships transition, and there is almost always a hot button topic that arises.

Predicting the cycle does not help avoid it. I met with a group of students at one of our high schools recently to discuss a variety of issues. After the meeting a student told me that he had considered visiting the Wellness Center, but didn’t think he felt  “bad enough” to justify the visit. We had a nice conversation about seeking advice before it’s “bad enough.” Understanding that a lot of people are feeling stress around this time of year may make it easier to feel less isolated. Let’s all remind ourselves to intentionally give others a little space and grace. 

Spring is also a time of celebrations! I hope everyone has a chance to reflect on the positives of this year. For parents, it may be as easy as breaking out old pictures of when your kids were little. My grandson just had his first birthday and I found myself thinking about when his dad was at that stage. It’s easy to get so caught up in the moment that we don’t give ourselves time to see how amazing the growth process is. 

We have a limited number of days left together this school year. It has been a great one in many aspects. Let’s focus on the good, finish strong, and maintain a smile whenever possible!

Upcoming Parent Education Events

  • Gender Development in Childhood and Early Adolescence
    Monday, March 25, 2024 /  6:30-8:00 pm 
    Sponsored by the PTAs of Barron Park, Ohlone, JLS, and Walter Hays
    (Zoom link will be shared next week.)

    Gender has morphed from Are you a boy or a girl?  to a question that is much more complex. If you are hoping to more fully understand this changing landscape, join us for an informative session with Joel Baum, Director of Education at the Child & Adolescent Gender Center at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He will help us become gender literate, from the importance of pronouns, to understanding what it means to be non-binary, to how gender develops, and how we can best support our children and their friends in being their most authentic selves. We will also have a parent perspective, a former student perspective, and time for Q&A. This is a webinar format, so attendance is anonymous. Submit questions here.

    Register for the event here

    Virtual meeting link (via Zoom)
    (Password: 297536)
    View more event details

  • Youth Mental Health First Aid Training for Parents and Caregivers
    Wednesday, March 27, 2024, 5:00pm – 9:00pm

    Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches adults how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth. This 6-hour training gives adults who interact with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to children and adolescents (ages 6-18) who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.

    This is a free Zoom training for parents and caregivers, presented by the City of Palo Alto and Momentum for Health.

    View more event details.

    Register by email Kennya Rodriguez before Friday, March 15, 2024.

Congratulations to Assistant Superintendent Lana Conaway – Recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Education Award!

Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs, Lana Conaway, received the Outstanding Leadership in Education Award at the California African American Superintendent and Administrators (CAAASA) 2024 Statewide Professional Development Summit, held in San Diego on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. This year’s theme,  Meeting the Promise of Brown v. Board of Education, is noteworthy as public education marks the 70th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, and the ongoing efforts for schools across California and the nation to ensure that education is equitable and inclusive.

CAAASA recognized and celebrated Ms. Conaway’s committed leadership in PAUSD, employing strategic and innovative methods to address systemic barriers that hinder student achievement and wellness, through her development of the Systemwide Integrated Framework for Transformation (SWIFT Plan). PAUSD is gratified that Ms. Conaway’s service to students, educators, and the parent community is recognized statewide.

DreamCatchers Information Night

PAUSD is proud to continue a strong partnership with DreamCatchers, a nonprofit that serves approximately 170 middle school students, each of whom receives exemplary academic support from local high school and college students. Students at Fletcher, Greene, and JLS are matched with a tutor for the school year, allowing development of a close mentoring relationship in academics and beyond.

On Wednesday, March 13, DreamCatchers hosted nearly 100 families of rising 5th – 8th-grade students, along with high representation from teachers, administrators, student and family engagement (SaFE) specialists, and District Office staff.

The successful event highlighted information about DreamCatchers’ summer 2024 program, as well as  plans for the 2024-25 school year. The summer program will include fun and enriching activities, including robotics, journalism, and sports! 

This was a wonderful communal event of dining and learning together. Thank you to DreamCatchers, whose valued service to PAUSD students continues to grow each year!

Rise to the Challenge

Career Day and Work-Based Learning Event for Special Education and Postsecondary Students

On March 15, 2024, students from Grades 11 and 12 participated in a career exploration and empowerment event held at Foothill College. Hosted by the Department of Innovation and Agility’s Work-Based Learning Program, the Rise to the Challenge event was tailored for special education and postsecondary students. Participants delved into future career and work opportunities that are in line with their aspirations, engaging in interactive, educational activities designed to help prepare them for life after high school. The event also featured a student leadership conference, offering invaluable insights into becoming proactive community leaders through hands-on learning. This remarkable opportunity enabled students to rise to the challenge, equipping them with the confidence and skills needed to shape their futures.

Empowering Education: Fast-Track Schools Leading the Way with MTSS* Excellence

*Multi-Tiered System of Supports

Alignment with District Priorities: Navigating MTSS Implementation in Fast-Track Schools

Over the past month, our five MTSS Fast-Track schools have delved deeply into site-specific MTSS work, aligning their practices with the  District’s MTSS Framework. This framework's development directly corresponds to the District's priority goals as outlined in  The Promise, showcasing a steadfast dedication to early literacy, equity and excellence, and innovation. Furthermore, The Promise places significant emphasis on bolstering mental health and wellness, thus offering a holistic approach to education that nurtures both academic growth and the overall well-being of every student.

MTSS Team Consultations

In late February, the five schools took part in MTSS Team Consultations, a pivotal step in advancing MTSS Districtwide. Guided by a Panorama Professional Learning Director, the Fast-Track teams engaged in focused discussions on leveraging student data effectively. These sessions aimed to refine intervention tracking procedures, analyze assessment data, and craft tailored strategies to enhance student outcomes.

MTSS Implementation Planning

In our continued support of the Fast-Track MTSS school teams, participants from Addison, Escondido, Fairmeadow, Gunn, and Paly engaged in a culminating professional learning workshop focused on MTSS Implementation Planning. This workshop provided a platform for reflection, review, and planning for the 2024-25 school year. During the workshop, participants shared their MTSS implementation experiences from the past year, exchanging insights, challenges, and successes, fostering collaboration and facilitating effective cross-school alignment and learning.

Teams discussed best practices and resources for MTSS implementation, using Panorama's assessment tool for self-assessment. They then developed an action plan to align practices with the District framework, enhance effectiveness, and optimize impact.

MTSS Trailblazer Celebration: Recognizing Achievements in Student Support and Growth

Thanks to the active engagement of stakeholders Districtwide and the utilization of the Panorama tool, valuable insights have been gained to enhance student support at each site. Furthermore, staff has successfully measured the impact of support strategies, correlating them with student growth at various points throughout the year. Panorama leadership has recognized PAUSD as their top partner district, with the highest number of intervention plans leading to students achieving their goals. With these accomplishments, there is much to celebrate!

Unlock the Latest MTSS Innovations: Insider's Guide to PAUSD's Next Big Moves!

PAUSD Linktree