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Superintendent's Update - September 4, 2020

From the Office of the Superintendent:

Superintendent's Update

The agenda for our Board of Education meeting on September 8 includes the following areas of special note:

Superintendent's Report - we will quickly touch on COVID19 topics:

  • Kevin Gordon, Capitol Advisors - Founder and CEO of Capitol Advisors, Kevin Gordon, will provide legislative updates on many of the most relevant topics affecting schools in California. His presentation may include special education, funding, reopening guidelines, and upcoming legislation. As always, Mr. Gordon will be available to respond to questions and receive input for lobbying efforts.
  • Budget Update - CBO, Carolyn Chow, will provide information about the status of the PAUSD budget, while also considering guidance about expectations for the future.
  • Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) - The Board of Education will consider the LCP proposal for action at our September 22 meeting. We will conduct a brief presentation and take comments during a Public Hearing at the September 8 Board Meeting. The full plan is attached to our Board Agenda document.

The California Public Health Department guidelines have some new information, including a new color-coding system to replace "watch list" criteria. Currently, 4.8 million California students are prohibited from returning to in-person instruction due to their county status. EdSource produced a nice FAQ section that can be found HERE.

As an example, Santa Clara County is in the most-restrictive category of "purple" at this moment. The ratings will be evaluated on September 8. If we move into the "red" category, the clock begins to determine if we can remain out of "purple" for fourteen days. Hypothetically, Santa Clara County schools could be allowed to open for large-scale in-person instruction as early as September 22. Each school district would determine their pace to return.

PAUSD has predetermined that large-scale in-person instruction would not commence prior to October 12. There is not a staff recommendation to change positions at this time. We will continue to monitor the list and will have public discussions before moving back to in-person models.

Specific provisions do allow the return of some special education and struggling students. The provision is not dependent upon the color rating. For these exceptions, no more than 25% of a school's total population may be on campus. We are working through details on those exemptions to the order.

The City Manager shared an opportunity for residents and employees to participate in COVID-19 testing in Palo Alto on September 11 and 25. Appointments are requested and guarantee a test. Walk up participants may be seen as time permits. Anyone interested may click HERE for appointments.

The City has asked for PAUSD assistance to provide feedback on grade separation options for the rail system. Churchill and Charleston Avenues are major considerations, as is dispersing traffic into new patters. The input timeline for this phase is closing soon. For those interested in impacts from possible options, please take a moment to visit the sites below.

As the Superintendent of Schools, I sent the following letter to the Palo Alto City Council on February 20, 2020 to express concerns regarding a potential closure of Churchill Avenue:

The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) has not taken an official position regarding proposed options to mitigate increased rail traffic. As the Superintendent of Schools, I want to provide some context about District use of Churchill Avenue (Churchill).

On any given day, Palo Alto High School (Paly) averages a little under 1,000 bicycles. The majority of bicycles enter from Churchill, although exact data is not easily obtainable. Clearly, student safety is the top concern of the District and a full closure of Churchill may negatively impact student safety related to bicycle commuters.

PAUSD deploys 22 busses each day to various parts of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. Currently, our busses cross Alma Street at Churchill over 20 times per day as part of routine business. This does not include athletic or other extra-curricular trips. Our only entrance to our transportation yard is on Churchill. Practically speaking, a closure of Churchill would force every bus onto El Camino to make a right or left turn.

Our Maintenance and Operations fleet crosses Alma and Churchill approximately 175 times per day. This includes vans, trucks, and trailers. As described for our busses, the maintenance yard also depends upon a single entry/exit point on Churchill.

It is our understanding that proposals exist or may arise restricting large vehicle access to some mitigation options. PAUSD would contend that restrictions to large vehicles would negatively impact our busses and maintenance vehicles.

Finally, while traffic is the main focus of mitigation efforts, PAUSD would also like to raise the point that increased rail use negatively impacts the learning environment at Paly. Current rail use is already a major distraction for students in classes paralleling the rail line. The staff and students at Paly would benefit greatly by any mitigating efforts connected to sound barriers.

PAUSD is thankful for the efforts of our City leadership and the volunteers serving on the committee to propose solutions.


The long-awaited opening of PAUSD+ Student Support Centers is here. Support Centers will open on Tuesday, September 8, at 8:30 a.m. with a soft launch for student registration, employee set-up and training, and dry run. Doors will open to students on Wednesday, September 9, from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The program is designed to reduce the impact of school closures on our families during distance learning. PAUSD will make these no-cost Support Centers available to families with school-aged children in grades 6-12 who need a structured, quiet place to work.

Registration Information
Parents will receive a personal invitation to join PAUSD+ via text and are asked to indicate acceptance of the offer to register. In-Person Registration will be held ONLY for invitees on Friday, September 4, 1:00-3:00 p.m., and Tuesday, September 8, 9:00 a.m-3:30 p.m., at 25 Churchill Ave.

Registration packets will include: Registration Form, COVID19 Waiver, Safety Protocols sheet, Self-Screening Sheet, and reminders of what to bring.

What to Expect

  • A dedicated learning space to participate in their distance learning instruction
  • Materials to assist in completion of assignments
  • Students must bring their own laptop, Chromebook, or device, and power cord
  • Center staff will assist with logging in to class meetings, looking up class assignments, reaching out to teachers, and remaining on task with frequent check ins
  • Internet and printer access
  • No more than 14 students will comprise a cohort
  • Homework support
  • Breakfast/Lunch

Student Schedule

* Students will miss some of the office hour time (3:10-3:40/T,W,TH) and will need encouragement to schedule a time with teachers before that time. Teachers should be notified to prioritize time for students in PAUSD+.






8:30 Doors Open

8:30 Doors Open

8:30 Doors Open

8:30 Doors Open

8:30 Doors Open

~9:30 Arrive for Breakfast (optional)

~8:30 Arrive for Breakfast (optional)

~9:10 Arrive for Breakfast(optional)

~8:30 Arrive for Breakfast (optional)

~8:30 Arrive for Breakfast (optional)

Arrive no later than 9:45 for COVID screening

Arrive no later than 8:45 for COVID screening

Arrive no later than 9:25 for COVID screening

Arrive no later than 8:45 for COVID screening

Arrive no later than 8:45 for COVID screening

10:00 Classes Start

9:00 Classes Start

9:40 Classes Start

9:00 Classes Start

9:00 Classes Start

~12:35 Lunch

~11:40 Lunch

~11:40 Lunch

~11:40 Lunch

~11:40 Lunch

3:05 Classes End

3:05 Classes End

3:05 Classes End

3:05 Classes End

3:05 Classes End

3:30 Doors Close

3:30 Doors Close

3:30 Doors Close

3:30 Doors Close

3:30 Doors Close

Safety Protocols

  • Cohorts will be limited to no more than 14 students, with no more than two supervising adults.
  • Cohorts will not interact with other such groups, including interactions between staff assigned to different cohorts.
  • Supervising adults will be assigned to one group and will work solely with that group.
  • Physical distancing between children in the same cohort will be balanced with developmental and socio‚Äźemotional needs of the age group.
  • Physical distancing between adults will be maintained to the greatest extent possible, and both adults and students must wear face coverings.
  • Health screenings will be conducted daily.
  • Students riding the bus must be screened by parents daily. Students may only ride the bus with a completed health screen.

We recognize that schools play a critical role in advancing racial and social justice. To that end, administrators, teachers, and students are beginning to explore opportunities to understand and challenge bias, racism, and privilege in PAUSD schools and classrooms.

Examining the constructs that create inequity (e.g., bias, racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia) in our schools is something the District takes seriously. Anti-racist work, in particular, will require us to acknowledge that racist beliefs and structures are pervasive in our system, schools, and classroom - and then actively doing work to dismantle the systems that continue to perpetuate disparate outcomes for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

We recognize that we must re-evaluate our curriculum and our instructional practices and address inequities and teach constructs such as bias, racism, and privilege.

Here is what PAUSD is working on to dismantle antiracist/anti-biased ideals:

Anti-Bias Curriculum: Using lessons developed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and The Social Justice Standards established by Teaching Tolerance as a foundation, educators are exploring and/or implementing lessons that can shift the school culture. The themes of the lessons vary by level and include:

Equity-Focused Capacity Building: Leaders across the District will engage in equity-focused professional learning to build capacity and share resources to take back to their school or department.

Site Team Development: Teachers at some schools are engaging in book studies, creating brave spaces for discussion, and developing site equity teams to tackle the barriers to equity in schools. While all schools and all educators are not at the same level of readiness, there is a tremendous amount of support for the work. Many schools opened with an equity-focused agenda for staff development day.

PAEA Partnership: The Office of Equity and Student Affairs will be partnering with the Palo Alto Education Association (PAEA) to support 4 PAEA areas of focus: Curriculum, Community Engagement, Hiring and Retention of BIPOC, and increasing diverse representation in PAEA. This will allow increased visibility for the work, partnership on events and training, and enhancement and sustainability of efforts to build an equitable system.

Student and Family Engagement (SaFE) Specialists have donned their superhero capes and are tackling some of the District's most pressing needs. You have heard of them, but might not know who they are:

The Student and Family Engagement Team spends each of their day calling, emailing, and visiting families to ensure they are connected and engaging with PAUSD schools. For many families, the voice of our staff on the phone calms them, assures them, and empowers them to keep moving forward and navigate this schooling process.

Our team consists of some of the most family-oriented individuals dedicating every day to ensuring whole-family success. Hobbies of this team include Zoom calls, frequent time on phone calls, long walks through school halls, and empowering student voices.

SaFE Team

Top Row: Miguel Fittoria, Coordinator (sites Duveneck, Paly, Greendell); Denise Li (Gunn, Ohlone); Juan Cruz (Gunn, Fletcher); Christian Muñoz (Barron Park, Palo Verde, Juana Briones, Escondido), Stacey Davidson (Hoover, El Carmelo)
Bottom Row: Christine Castillo (Nixon, Hoover, El Carmelo); Micaela Flores (Greene, Paly); Claudia Quiroga (Addison, Hays, Fairmeadow); Mele Tupou (Gunn, Paly); Ana Perez-Hood (Fletcher, JLS)

Ana Perez-Hood - Ana is starting her 16th year here in PAUSD, and spent several more years as a parent. With such a deep connection with this District as both parent and staff member, Ana approaches each interaction with a level of awareness and knowledge seemingly unrivaled. Each family that works with Ana is forever made stronger, and year after year, families shower Ana with flowers and gifts to show their appreciation!

Micaela Flores - Micaela is a student-turned-staff member. Who is better to help guide students towards success than someone who knows what the journey is like?! Micaela is able to connect with students with such ease, you'd think her students were her brothers and sisters! Micaela is always smiling, chatting with staff, and a friendly face for parents seeking help. As a lifetime community member in East Palo Alto, her experience helps her empathize with PAUSD students, encouraging them to continue persevering.

Starting the first week of school, the SaFE Team put on their first LatinX Parent Ed Series. Hosting this live event on Zoom at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, the SaFE Team worked with families on navigating the PAUSD website, understanding the use of Zoom, troubleshooting tech, submitting requests for help, and even on navigating Schoology and IC. Over 100 families joined the live event and stayed until 8:30 p.m.!

Our videos are made available to all students and families; however, they are in Spanish as we feel it is critical for families to participate in events that they can understand.

Visit the PAUSD Community Engagement Center website to learn more, and to connect with local resources.

Our next Parent Ed event will be on Thursday, September 10, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. Any parent is welcome to join (Reminder: this series is in Spanish!)

PAUSD teacher librarians strive to build a diverse collection and intentionally seek out materials by or about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Our greatest hope is that the critical roles of school librarians and the library program are centered in equity and will continue to drive student learning and teachers' teaching.

A Message from the Elementary Library Team:

"Happy September! In these "unprecedented times" (mid-March and beyond), the elementary teacher librarians have become an even stronger team. All twelve have collaborated on lesson design, read aloud recordings, and locating and promoting online reading resources to students, staff, and families. As librarians, we feel strongly about maintaining equitable access to our library collections, and currently, we are preparing to circulate physical library books and to unveil a brand new elementary ebook platform.

As teachers, we understand we have a new kind of students and a new kind of classroom. Our classes have gone from 20-24 students to 40, 60, even over 100 students at some sites. Along with our colleagues, we are learning the ins and outs of Schoology and tips and tricks for Zooming with students. Instead of the usual library routines and norms, we've begun the school year with lessons about community, being a good Zoomer, and how different coming back to school has been.

To Our School Community: This school year is surreal! We are here for you, so please reach out if we can help."

Elementary Library Team

Alphabetical by site - Top row: Patricia Ohanian, Addison; Rusty Tooley, Barron Park and PreK-12 Lead Teacher Librarian; Doree Tschudy, Duveneck; Yvette Ngo Vo, El Carmelo; Nina Bailey, Escondido; Michelle Brown, Fairmeadow. Bottom row: Kristin Howell, Hoover; Julie Griffin, Juana Briones; Laura Lajeunesse, Nixon; Grace Bunya, Ohlone; Amy Hansen, Palo Verde; Jen Ford, Walter Hays.

The Fletcher Distance Library is up and running! Library orientations have been provided to all 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes through Tiger Camp and English classes; and we are already starting collaboration on research projects and teacher requests. Much assistance has been provided to staff members asking about the use of copyrighted works and how to use them with publisher permission.

Most exciting to announce is the start of Curbside Pick-up/Drop-off starting September 2! Just this past week, students have learned of the just-approved process for a contactless system modeled after that in place at the Palo Alto City Library. As of August 29, we already had 60 requests for books in a period of just a few days. Students are contacted once the books they placed on hold are ready for pick-up, and library staff will be waiting at the front of the school wearing masks and gloves, ready to provide books to eager readers. The Fletcher Library has snuck a little surprise in each book - a short story from the newly arrived Short Story Dispenser (from the Shortédition company in France)! The library received this fantastic machine after winning a PiE grant. The Palo Alto City Library contributed ongoing expenses for the grant, making it a true city library/school library collaboration.

The Fletcher Virtual Library Google Slides showcases the Curbside Pick-up/Drop-off information. Students whose families are unable to make it to Fletcher will be contacted by library staff offering to deliver the books with parent/guardian permission. Additionally, library staff will be delivering books provided by the office of the Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Affairs to students in need, working with our counselors and our Family Engagement Specialist to identify students.


Special Education is in the process of planning for the safe return of students with disabilities and those with "acute" needs as indicated by the August 25, 2020 guidelines from the California Department of Public Health office. We want to ensure that our planning meets all of the requirement delineated in the new guidelines. Please rest assured that our goal is always to keep students and staff safe.

We are happy to report that we will be able to open in person instruction for students who attend the post-secondary program on Thursday, September 10, as part of Phase 1. The program will be located at Cubberley, a centralized location to meet the needs of our students. We are working diligently with our teachers and support staff to ensure that we have appropriate safety measures in place. An Open House is being scheduled for participating families on Wednesday, September 9, with a time to be determined after the publication of this report.

Elementary and secondary programs are working collaboratively to continue the plan for the phased return to in person instruction for students in the learning center, Futures, and Therapeutic programs. The department has been reaching out to families (phone, surveys, etc.) and staff to gather information that will be used in the reopening plan. More information will be provided as our plan is finalized.

Governor Newsom's April 2020 Executive Order N-56-20 triggered a revision of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and its budget for the 2020-21 school year. Subsequently, State legislation passed AB77 and trailer bill SB98 which replaced the LCAP with the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan (LCP) for this school year. Senate Bill 98 establishes the requirements of the LCP and is a key part of the overall budget package for schools, while providing information at the District level for how student learning continuity will be addressed during the COVID-19 crisis in the 2020-21 school year. According to the California Department of Education (CDE), the intention of the LCP is to "balance the needs of all stakeholders, including educators, parents, students and community members, while both streamlining engagement and condensing several pre-existing plans."

The template, released by the CDE on August 1, 2020, must be completed and approved by September 30, 2020. Two meetings are necessary: one for a Public Hearing and one for Board approval.

The Board of Education will hold a public hearing during the next regularly scheduled Board Meeting, September 8, 2020, to receive comments and recommendations from members of the public regarding the specific actions and expenditures proposed in the draft LCP.

Members of the Middle School English Literature Selection Advisory Committee will be holding their first meeting of this school year on Wednesday, September 23. A part of PAUSD's ongoing curriculum evaluation and renewal cycle, the Advisory Committee convened last year and spent fall semester reviewing the literature that is currently taught in our middle schools. Members also began to read and vet new titles for possible inclusion in the curriculum for grade 6-8. Unfortunately, the work was interrupted by school closures in March. This year, the Committee will continue to examine new titles. Guided by Emily Style's, "Curriculum as Window and Mirror" (1988), members are seeking to diversify the reading list by looking for texts that simultaneously allow students "to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others, and into mirrors in order to see [their] own reality reflected." The Committee anticipates recommending two core literature texts, as required reading for each grade level (6-8), to the Board of Education in late spring of 2021. The Committee will also be recommending a menu of supplemental literature for optional use in each grade level.

Given that schools will be closed for in-person learning for an indeterminate amount of time, it is imperative that language access be delivered to any student and family who needs it. Currently, the District meets the legal requirements for translation services. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly changing conditions and guidelines have increased the need to provide on-demand interpretation and translation support that is quickly accessible to staff and families.

The District will use Language Line Services (LL) to provide phone interpretation services to facilitate communication with limited English speaking families and community members. Language Line provides interpretation for incoming calls, outgoing calls, or during an in-person meeting through a speakerphone. Via the LanguageLine app, teachers, students, and community members can access video interpretation in 40 languages and audio-only interpretation in more than 240 languages, all within seconds at the touch of a button.

LL will allow us to move beyond compliance and afford teachers the opportunity to connect with students and families on demand, when they need it most. The service affords parents and the community the opportunity to communicate in their preferred language.

The Gunn and Paly Athletic Directors have been meeting to discuss the protocols needed to resume athletic conditioning for student athletes. Outdoor conditioning for student athletes will start on Monday, September 14, 2020. The athletic directors will send out more detailed information regarding the protocols next week.

What is the Full Distance Learning (FDL) Program? The FDL Program is a new and innovative full distance learning program, which provides an option for K-5 students, who have chosen not to return to school if/when hybrid learning becomes possible. Veteran teachers are supporting this program through their creative teaching styles and incorporation of technology. Families and students remain connected to their home school sites through PTA eNews and virtual events.

The FDL Program is off to a wonderful start! The first few weeks of school have focused on establishing a classroom community, building relationships, and cultivating a sense of belonging through interactive experiences. Teachers are setting class routines and norms and building a sense of belonging through various collaborative activities, such as pajama parties and Zoom games during class meetings, bedtime read alouds, while simultaneously guiding students through the use of virtual tools and platforms (i.e., Schoology and Zoom); all essential to support PAUSD curriculums during Reading and Writing Workshop, Bridges in Mathematics, TCI: Social Studies Alive!, and Science.

Innovation and Agility-Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) is preparing the 2020-21 Request for Application for the California Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG). The submission due date is September 17, 2020. The CTEIG is a State education, economic, and workforce development initiative, with the goal of providing K-12 pupils the knowledge and skills necessary to transition to employment and postsecondary education. Some of the major projects supported by the grant in the past include: upgrades to the JLStanford (JLS) Middle School Industrial Tech ventilation system; new devices for Video Media and Engineering programs at Fletcher and JLS; lighting and technology equipment for Paly Stage Tech program; purchase of industry grade tables for the Gunn Robotics program; and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) equipment for Design & Technology offerings at Greene.

Secondary students are using a variety of online curricula and supplements to support distance learning education this year. These programs have been vetted by teachers for effectiveness and meet student privacy standards. While some programs are brand new this year, others should be familiar to students from previous years. Distance learning has required some new access points for instructional aides, language tutors, and other staff. The goal is to provide students with as much targeted support as possible during distance learning.

Students are using DreamBox and Desmos in math classes, in addition to adopted curriculum, such as Big Ideas Math (grades 6-8). Science classes will access the newly adopted Amplify Science (grades 6-8). Middle school students will continue with the simulation tool supplement, Gizmos, and high school students will now have Gizmosaccounts for all science courses. Targeted classes will start up with an additional virtual lab tool, Pivot Interactives.

Board-adopted social studies curricula include: TCI's History Alive! for grades 6-8, Cengage's World History, 9th Edition for World History and Contemporary World History, and McGraw-Hill's IMPACT: Principles of American Democracy, for Government classes. PAUSD has recently purchased Lexia, a personalized, research-based literacy improvement program. Students in grades 6-8 and qualifying high school students will be using Lexia's PowerUp Literacy program as a supplement to their regular Language Arts classes.

The Palo Alto Unified Consortium Induction Program provides a two-year support system for teachers in their first steps as professional educators, leading to a recommendation for a Clear Teaching Credential. The overarching goal of the Induction Program is to prepare teachers to address the academic and social needs of all students, allowing each student to meet or exceed academic content standards. For the 2020-21 school year, the Induction Program will support 30 PAUSD teachers through weekly mentoring focused on goal setting, gathering student data, and reflecting on practice. Mentors are experienced PAUSD teachers who engage in ongoing professional learning to provide high quality support. Among the teachers in our program, 18 are new to the Induction Program this year, and 12 are continuing in their second year. All PAUSD mentors completed the Modern Pedagogy course over the summer, and are prepared to provide support in distance, hybrid, and face-to-face teaching models.

In preparation for the 2020-21 school year, over 800 teachers completed an online course entitled Modern Pedagogy for All Modalities. The course was designed and facilitated by PAUSD staff. The design team represented a partnership between Educational Services and Instructional Technology, and a team of teacher leaders provided feedback on the course design, facilitated cohorts of the course, and provided support for one another. Modern Pedagogy supported teachers in the development of skills for a variety of instructional delivery models: in-person, hybrid, and face-to-face, in response to changing health guidelines. The course covered several areas of teaching and learning, including equity and inclusive learning environments; educational technology; pedagogy for online and hybrid learning; and assessment. The course will remain open to teachers throughout the 2020-21 school year for reference, review, and deeper dives. A huge shout-out to our teachers for their commitment to students and their engagement in quality professional development over the summer!

Business Services

Summer meal programs can continue operating as funding allows. This announcement brings a huge relief to our school meal program and the community we serve. Families who might not qualify for free meals are still going through a tough time and are worried about how to keep food on the table. Now their children will have one less thing to worry about as they adjust to evolving in-school and remote learning scenarios.

"(Washington, DC, August 31, 2020) - Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as December 31, 2020, depending on Winter Breaks. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. This unprecedented move will help ensure - no matter what the situation is on-the-ground - children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.

"As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially," said Secretary Perdue. "We appreciate the incredible efforts by our school foodservice professional's year in and year out, but this year we have an unprecedented situation. This extension of summer program authority will employ summer program sponsors to ensure meals are reaching all children - whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually - so they are fed and ready to learn, even in new and ever-changing learning environments."

"School Nutrition Association greatly appreciates USDA addressing the critical challenges shared by our members serving students on the frontlines these first weeks of school. These waivers will allow school nutrition professionals to focus on nourishing hungry children for success, rather than scrambling to process paperwork and verify eligibility in the midst of a pandemic." said School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Reggie Ross, SNS. "We look forward to continuing our dialogue with USDA to ensure school meal programs are equipped to meet the future needs of America's students.""

Human Resources

We will be periodically featuring our new PAUSD staff who have joined us for the 2020-21 school year. This week, we'd like to introduce Mayra Cabral, Education Specialist at El Carmelo.

Mayra Cabral

Mayra Cabral has joined the El Carmelo team as their new moderate to severe special education teacher. Originating from the Chicago suburbs, Mayra earned her Bachelor of science degree in Special Education with a learning behavior certification from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. This is Mayra's second year of teaching. Previously, she taught dual language resource and has experience with students and young adults from ages 5 to 25. Her passion for teaching includes finding multiple ways to encourage student development and providing unique methods of instruction where students can demonstrate their social and academic growth. Mayra is a fluent Spanish speaker who entered into education to help break down the stigma that some families may experience when coming across language barriers. She is very excited to share her dedication to education and advocacy for diverse learners.