November 16, 2018

Superintendent’s Office


Smoke created by devastating fires has negatively impacted our air quality for several days in a row. Under the leadership of our Santa Clara County Superintendent, all school districts committed to remaining open. The decision was made for several reasons, including the probability of unintended consequences and belief that students are often safer in our facilities supervised by our caring staff. In the waning moments, three school districts chose to close their doors. 

Not everyone will agree with our difficult decision, but I did see some incredible things on campuses today. Our busses from East Palo Alto were mostly full of kids who may have otherwise missed notifications of a school cancelation. Our high school Thanksgiving feasts went off beautifully and our volunteers made an extra effort to treat our students with great care. Attendance at our elementary schools was outstanding.  Our staffs were exactly what we would have expected. They came to work with great attitudes and served our students with enthusiasm. We found ways to provide breaks and appreciate the fact that many gave up their time to provide safe places for their students.

On the last day before we break for Thanksgiving, I believe we have many things worthy of our thanks. I read that adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it. We had a dose of adversity and the character of PAUSD was further revealed. I am proud to report that this is a special place!


PAUSD and LPCH have a unique partnership, whereby PAUSD runs a fully accredited academic program, including enrichment, located at the hospital. There is a satellite classroom program located at the RMH. Both locations have recently undergone facility expansions, increasing the total number of patients at each. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two organizations is in the midst of being updated. The previous MOU does not address the increase in patients that has led to an increased teacher load.

Currently, the LCPH school is staffed by four full-time PAUSD teachers, three instructional aides, and one secretary. Educational opportunities are available to inpatients and are provided both in the classroom and/or at the child’s bedside. In addition to weekly Spectra Art lessons for the students, the staff receive support from Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSAs) focusing on English Language Development and standards aligned curriculum implementation.

The RMH site offers instruction for LPCH outpatients and their siblings. Current services at RMH include one full-time teacher and a part-time aide. Students in this satellite classroom receive one day a week of Art Spectra and one day a week of TheatreWorks and music instruction.

Each year the hospital staff puts on a family prom for students with funding from donors and the Lucile Packard Foundation.

In 2014, Stanford Hospital expanded their facility from a 300,000 square-foot existing hospital to 521,000 square feet. The bed count expanded from 134 beds to 278 beds for a net increase of 124 beds. While the new hospital houses all of the patients, the school location has remained in the old wing, creating a long trek for both students and teachers.

The LPCH registered 443 students in 2016-17, and 458 students in 2017-18. As of October 30, the enrollment at the hospital was 279 students. RMH registered 20 students in 2017-18. Currently, enrollment at RMH averages 25 students per month. PAUSD total school costs are approximately $1.1 million for staff. The Stanford Foundation contributes $90,000 for staff and $8,000 for enrichment programs.

Education Services


On Wednesday, November 14, Marion Leonard from The Math Learning Center came to Barron Park to work with the Response to Intervention (RTI) math teachers for a full-day training on the Bridges Intervention Program. The training consisted of two sessions. The morning session reviewed the program structure, model lessons and intervention alignment with the classroom Bridges Curriculum. After lunch, Marion worked with teachers on Intervention assessment scoring, analysis, and module starting placement. She closed the afternoon by addressing the staff’s questions and time was allocated for sites to share about their RTI programs.  


The elementary STEAM Inquiry group met for the first time this year at Barron Park Elementary School, on Thursday, November 15. This year, the committee will focus on exploring state-approved curriculum and reviewing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). They also revised the science pilot timeline from a one-year to two-year cycle since the State delayed the release of the pre-approved textbook list until November 2018.


A core feature of our work with new hires includes our New Hire Equity Workshop series. These workshops not only assist teachers with developing the skills and awareness about meeting the needs of all students, but also provide a forum for creating a common language and commitment and sense of empowerment. Workshops focus on equity in education in a historical context, areas of student need, as defined by district data, and are connected to the California Standards for the Teaching Profession. Using an equity lens, participants explore school and classroom climate and culture, instructional strategies, and the diversity of PAUSD students.

Teachers attend a full-day workshop in the fall of their first two years with PAUSD to create common language and understanding. Participants select follow-up workshops aligned with professional goals. Follow-up options include: 

  • Classroom Culture & Management with an Equity Lens 
  • Special Education Basics for Gen Ed Teachers 
  • Special Ed for Gen Ed Teachers: Beyond the Basics
  • Supports for All Students 
  • Case Studies in Diversity & Social Justice in Education 
  • Supporting English Learners
  • Gender Identity & LGBTQ+ 101 
  • Gender Identity & LGBTQ+ 102 
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching (online course through SCCOE)
  • Student Panel: Perspectives on the PAUSD Experience


Workshops are designed by cross-departmental collaborative teams of teachers and administrators, including the New Hire Equity Team (comprised of teachers and administrators), and the departments of Professional Learning; Academic Supports; Research, Evaluation, and Assessment; Student Services; Special Education; and PAUSD’s Induction Program.


Seven middle school history/social studies teachers from across the district participated in a release day last week. The purpose of the day was to revise the 7th grade unit on eugenics, which the Board had directed teachers to incorporate into the secondary social studies curriculum as part of its decision to rename two of our middle schools. Social studies teachers convened in the spring to create the unit, but after meeting with Milton Reynolds, a former Senior Program Associate with Facing History and Ourselves, the teachers decided to revisit the unit. The unit is now framed around the idea of naming, and the lessons are more clearly student-centered, allowing middle schoolers the opportunity to make meaning of this period of history for themselves.


Some K-12 PAUSD teachers will have an hour of code event in classrooms during the week of December 3rd. Additionally, each family can create their own coding event through resources found online. At this website, students and their families will find a variety of experiences and investigations which bring the ideas of computational thinking and problem solving forward in fun adventures. When you enter the site, click on an activity that looks like fun and click on start! That’s all there is to opening the door to computer science.


PAUSD Math Department members are considering opportunities to include computational thinking and deeper computer science ideas within existing math courses, in order to bring computer science to every student in the District. The experience with Bootstrap Algebra training has highlighted the benefits of mathematical thinking in computer science, as well as computer science thinking in mathematics. Beyond Bootstrap, the mathematics department is also considering the usefulness of teaching spreadsheets, another CS tool, as it teaches data collection and analysis.


Media Arts teachers from three of our secondary schools attended a networking event at KQED Television in San Francisco last week. The event brought together Bay Area Career Technical Education (CTE) and Arts teachers to meet, learn, and share industry best practices related to filmmaking, broadcast, and multimedia journalism. This event emphasized how important it is for our teachers to be able to come together and collaborate, and it illustrates the many ways in which CTE and Vocal and Performing Arts (VAPA) programs are connected.


This program is a partnership between the elementary Creativity Carts and the Big Buddy peer mentoring programs. This past week, Stanford’s Sustainable Food program joined the program at El Carmelo to engage students in hands-on gardening projects. Third-grade Big Buddy mentors worked with their first-grade buddies to build planters and seed boxes. Everyone learned about what it takes to grow their own food. The vision of the EleMENTORy project is to support the individual mentoring relationships that occur between higher- and lower-grade students at the elementary sites during buddy time. This partnership offers Big Buddy mentors the opportunity to work with their younger buddies to foster creativity and innovation by utilizing the Creativity Carts.


The IRB gathered to review student research proposals. The IRB reviewed and approved proposals from Paly’s new Advanced Placement (AP) Research course, which, when followed by AP Seminar, forms the AP Capstone program. The IRB will reconvene at the beginning of December to review student research proposals from Advanced Authentic Research (AAR).


The World Languages Steering Committee, comprised of Instructional Leaders (ILs) from each middle and high school, is working to increase awareness for the Seal of Biliteracy award. To earn this special distinction, students must show proficiency in English and another language by the time they graduate from high school. There is no formal application; rather, students who meet the requirements will be notified of their status in the spring of their senior year. Students must complete English Language Arts (ELA) graduation requirements with an overall grade average of 2.0 and meet standard on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) (administered in grade 11) in ELA. In addition, students demonstrate competence in a World Language by completing one of three options: passing a foreign language AP test with a score of 3 or above; completing the District’s approved consecutive four-year course of study in the same foreign language, with an overall grade average of 3.0 or above; or passing the SAT 2 foreign language exam with a score of 600 or above.


Greene middle school held a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, November 14, in honor of its new namesake, Dr. Frank S. Greene, Jr. (1938-2009). Students, family members, and friends of Greene, were in attendance. The speakers captured Greene’s professional accomplishments, his dedication to developing leadership in others, and highlighted his commitment to supporting minority-led businesses. Dr. Greene’s brother, Arthur, pictured here, cut the ribbon for the dedication plaque. The plaque will hang in front of the school and will be a reminder, as Principal Valerie Royalty-Quandt shared, that all are welcome at Greene Middle School. 

Mr. Arthur Greene

Strategic Initiatives and Operations


Gunn hosted a lunch time celebration of differences and inclusion. There were student performances from the Hip-Hop Club, Acapella Club, Reach Out Care Know (ROCK), and individual student performances. Students from the Hip-Hop club curated a dance performance to celebrate unity and our collective culture that is Gunn High School. The Acapella Club sang “Lean on Me” and encouraged other students to join in the celebration of unity as well. ROCK leadership presented on the importance of seeking out peers, trusted adults, and mental health professionals when you need support. No stigma should be too big to keep you from getting what you need. A couple of students spoke on behalf of the wellness center and what services are available on campus. To conclude the event a few students came together to sing another uplifting song while Unity Day wristbands were passed out to the crowd.


Gunn wellness outreach worker and staff will be encouraging students to reflect on ways they are grateful as we approach Thanksgiving. During Turkey Feast this Thursday we will be present with an activity to allow staff and students to share what they are thankful for. We encourage staff members to expand conversations into their classrooms as well. It is nice to slow down and remember how far we have come this year before we finish out the year strong.


On November 5 and 6, representatives from Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School attended a two-day SEL training hosted by the Institute for Social and Emotional Learning, “Strong Space for Relationships: Building a Flourishing Advisory Program in MS and HS.” Within the training, the representatives were able to participate in some hands-on sample activities for SEL as well as participate in rich discussions about building strong advisory programs with an SEL emphasis, with experts and other representatives from schools in the area. The high school teams will be sharing the learning with their site teams and District leaders to support SEL efforts Districtwide.


On Thursday, November 15, Palo Alto Police Department (PAPD) and PAUSD honored the parents who completed the fall cycle of Parent Project with a graduation and dinner. Parent Project is a 12-week parenting skills program that provides practical tools to help parents find solutions in addressing challenging adolescent behaviors and strengthen family unity. Participants report appreciating the curriculum, discussions and belonging to a cohort of other parents. 

The next round of Parent Project begins January 10 and runs each Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. through March 28. The program is taught in English and Spanish by instructors from both the PAPD and PAUSD. For more information, please contact Agent Brad Young at 650-329-2274 or Lissette Moore-Guerra, LCSW, at 650-329-3722. There is a cost for participating in this program, and financial aid is available.


The District’s annual Section 504 trainings are being offered through webinars and on-site training on December 6 and the Section 504 Training Requirements December 17. These are yearly trainings, and each training has a target audience; one training is designed for 504 Leads and school psychologists, while the other training is for school counselors, school administrators, and other District staff. Final training dates will be shared shortly.  

Business Services


Food Services is starting to conduct "Fireside Chats" with the Leadership Students at the secondary schools. Staff met with the Paly Associated Student Body (ASB) on Thursday, November 15, to learn what types of foods they would like to see offered and ideas about how they would remodel/renovate the Student Center space.

Technology Department


Network staff will be performing routine maintenance and upgrades in the data center and District office this coming Monday, November 19, from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Network-based services will be unavailable for short durations within this window as the tasks are completed. For any additional questions, please contact Derek Moore.


Our efforts to secure our infrastructure and accounts largely rely upon the diligence of all of us, both in keeping login credentials safe and in reporting suspicious online activity. Thank you to all students and staff for your efforts in these areas. We're especially appreciative of the willingness of staff members at El Carmelo, Briones, Nixon, and Fairmeadow, as well as the Special Education staff, for participating and providing feedback on our YubiKey pilot program that adds additional security to our accounts. Stay tuned for a larger implementation in the coming weeks and months as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the information that is entrusted in us.

Research, Evaluation, and Assessment (REA) Department

The REA team attended the California Education Research Association (CERA) Conference. This annual meeting convenes researchers and leaders in K-12 districts, universities, and research organizations as well as California Department of Education (CDE) and county office of education (COE) staff to share current state research and policies. The team brought back valuable information related to the California Dashboard, state assessments, data visualization, and connecting research to practice for continuous improvement. Clarisse Haxton also gave a presentation titled “District Evaluation for Special Education Improvement” to share findings from the District’s special education program evaluation in the 2017-18 school year. Click this link for the slides.

Director Christopher Kolar co-presented with the Chief Academic Officers for Elementary and Secondary Education at Tuesday’s Board meeting on Spring 2018 SBA scores and understanding our within-District performance gaps.

The REA team is scheduling meetings with District leadership team to provide an overview of the California Dashboard; the update is publicly released in early December.