January 19, 2018

Hello to the PAUSD Community,

I hope that your family has gotten back in the swing of things after a terrific break. PAUSD is definitely on the move again. Amazing things are happening all over our district and our 18 schools are buzzing with a multitude of learning opportunities. I’ve just returned from time at Gunn High School, where I was able to be one of the participants in the Gunn Student Input Lunch. Many thanks to the students who shared their time and thinking via small group rotations, and to Student Trustee, Advait Arun, for setting up this opportunity for us to hear student voice regarding their experiences at the high school.

We were excited last night to welcome our new Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) family members at the annual registration evening hosted by our Equity and Academic Supports Department. As a reminder, please check our Choice School websites, which include Escondido Elementary, Hoover Elementary, Ohlone Elementary, and Greendell, for the kindergarten orientation and school visits.

This week the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) District team attended a training workshop at the Santa Clara County Office of Education. I appreciate the time and focus that this team is putting into learning about the new accountability measures and expectations as we refine our LCAP Plan in the upcoming months. Stakeholder meetings are being planned and we look forward to listening and learning together.

Thank you elementary parents, for your active participation in our mid-year Bridges Math Parent Survey. Over 560 parents provided meaningful feedback about their experience and their child’s experience with the new math curriculum. Stay tuned for an upcoming summary of feedback.

I want to share some information today about how we support students who need extra time and interventions when they have not found success with certain concepts.

RTI is a problem-solving process which includes the provision of systematic, research-based instruction and interventions to assist struggling learners. It assumes that the instruction/interventions are matched to student needs and the monitoring of progress is continuous. RTI is an early intervention framework to prevent long-term academic failure. This multi-tiered system of support is a general education initiative which utilizes data through multiple assessments to inform decision making. Interventions are based on research and dependent on continuous progress monitoring. There are three tiers in this model:

Tier 1 is primarily the group interventions within the general education classroom. It is core instruction for all students and best teaching practices. Differentiated lessons will usually provide the results necessary for progress for about 80-90% of students. Tier 1 is a collaborative practice between the teacher and the school staff.

Tier 2 is when some students do not make adequate progress in Tier 1 and more targeted services and interventions, usually in small group settings, are provided in addition to the instruction in the general curriculum. Tier 2 is Tier 1 plus strategic interventions beyond the classroom teacher. Intervention strategies implemented by other school staff or specialists in addition to general education classroom strategies and interventions, which may take place inside or outside the classroom. Progress is monitored more closely and research-based interventions could last about 6-8 weeks.

Tier 3 focuses on very few students who need support in responding to the targeted interventions in Tier 2. Additional small group or one-on-one interventions may be tried, or additional testing may be warranted to determine more intensive interventions. Intensive interventions are conducted outside the general education classroom. Students may be referred to the Student Success Team (SST) process; and there may also be preliminary consideration of eligibility for Special Education.

All PK-5 schools have developed and implemented a yearly dedicated RTI Plan addressing the specific needs of struggling learners. Schools utilize an RTI Monitoring Tool which gathers the data from the progress monitoring efforts that carefully measures progress.

If you are observing your student struggling in math or reading at this point in the school year, please reach out to your child’s classroom teacher to ask if there is additional support, materials, or approaches that can be provided to help them.

Important Safety Notification

Palo Alto High School received notification from the Sunnyvale police department on Tuesday that a Sunnyvale music teacher had been taken into custody for allegations of inappropriate touching of a minor attending school in Sunnyvale.

Palo Alto High School Administration notified the District Office immediately, where the Human Resources Office was able to confirm that the respondent, Henry Reed, was hired as an hourly employee this school year by PAUSD to assist at Palo Alto High School with the concert and symphonic bands. Prior to hiring Mr. Reed, the employment process included fingerprint clearance through the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Reed has been placed on leave and will not be on District property during the course of the investigation into the allegations.

If any student or parent has questions, concerns, or pertinent information regarding this situation or interactions with Mr. Reed, please contact the Interim Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Anne Brown.

Upcoming Events

Walter Hays

Walter Hays is holding its annual 5th Grade Sponsored Pancake Breakfast and Market on Saturday, January 20. This fundraising event raises money for an end-of-the year gift that students in 5th grade contribute to the school, as well as supports the 5th Grade Promotion Party. Join us one and all!

Great Things Happening in PAUSD


A highlight this week at Juana Briones was a mid-year assembly focused on our student group “Guardians of the Environment.”  Briones English Language teacher, Kristin Mank, has taken the lead of this student group to focus on recycling: what goes into compost and what goes to trash. These students are very proud of their collective efforts to keep Briones clean and to protect the environment.

El Carmelo

El Carmelo Geo Bee Winner: After three fun months of learning about geography, cultures, and how to use clues within a sentence to help find answers, we concluded our Geo Bee Club with a competition where both our 4th and 5th grade participants showed off their skills. We proudly crowned Allie J. as El Carmelo's winner. She will take the next step in an effort to qualify for the State Championship in January. We wish her luck!

GeoBee Winner


Author Matt de la Peña and Illustrator Loren Long presented to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students at Fairmeadow this week.  Celebrating the release of their new picture book, Love, Mr. de la Peña and Mr. Long read their story aloud to captivated students in the MP Room.  Next, Mr. de la Peña shared about his experience falling in love with poetry in college, about the inspiration for the many books he’s written, and about the 104 revisions that he completed to get the story Love to its current version.  Mr. Long reflected about his career in art, including the story of how he came to illustrate Barack Obama’s book, Of thee I Sing, and he also shared about the creative process required to illustrate a book of pictures from a simple manuscript. The students were clearly impressed and inspired by the authors’ work and reflections, a wonderful complement to make their learning in writing and art feel relevant and important!


Hoover Celebrates Inclusive Schools Week, ABC Spirit Week, and Hosts Annual Free Book Exchange: Students, staff, and families are excited to celebrate the unique strengths that each of us bring to the Hoover learning community! This year our Community Advisory Committee (CAC) parent representatives have teamed up with our Asset Building Champions (ABC) program volunteers to create a week’s worth of inclusive activities that also promote the Developmental Assets. Students will enjoy three-legged races to promote teamwork, emotions charades, book readings, music and dance activities, empathy-building activities such as mirror writing, a buddy class brunch, creating cheer cards for our senior friends at Stevenson House, and grade level color day culminating in a school-wide rainbow picture! Students will also keep track of their inclusive choices for the week and share them across the school. Another group of dedicated parent volunteers will also be coordinating a school-wide free book exchange! Students bring books to the MP room where they are sorted and leveled and at the end of the week, each class visits the MP room to pick new books to take home. So much to celebrate!


Nixon School held their annual Freedom Heroes Assembly on Friday morning. This assembly culminates several weeks of learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other important individuals who have all contributed to making our nation and our world a better, more fair place for everyone. The  theme this year has been “Be an Upstander!” Mrs. O’Connell opened the assembly by sharing the story of the family of Sylvia Mendez, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, whose family fought and won a three year court battle in the 1940’s to end segregation of schools in California. Grade levels performed delightful songs for their peers and their parents that matched the theme.

Palo Verde

Palo Verde PTA hosted its annual Science Night on Thursday. With more than 200 Palo Verde students in attendance, this free event was a fun night for the community to come together to explore electricity, magnetism, light, sound, and mechanics. Co-sponsored by PTA and Clariant Inc., the festival itself was conducted by UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS).

The content supported the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Disciplinary Core Ideas: Forces and motion; Types of interactions; Conservation of energy and energy transfer; Wave properties; and Electromagnetic radiation. It also focused on the following Science and Engineering Practices: Asking Questions; Developing Models; Analyzing and Interpreting Data; and Constructing Explanations. A fun time was had by all!

Student Interaction during Next Generation ProjectPalo Verde Next Generation Project Students

Jordan Middle School

AAU Junior Olympics has selected Giselle Toth to be one of the Honored Ambassadors to represent the West Coast for the Junior Olympics in Dance for 2018/2019. This is a portion of her Olympic Bio:

“Giselle started dancing when she was 6 years old and has never stopped. She had been dancing as a single Latin Ballroom dancer for over 4.5 years. Some of Giselle’s dance achievements include: gold medalist at West Coast AAU Junior Olympics in Teacher/Amateur PT2, J1 Gold, Semi-finalist at the US Dance National DanceSport Championship in PT1 Latin, Finalist at Worlds Pro-Am Championship in Pre-Teen 2 Latin, and making history as being the youngest person to earn the title of World Champion in Pro-Am Salsa On1 at the World Latin Dance Cup.

Giselle shares her love for dance through education and inspiration by helping teach people of differing abilities dancing. She has helped teach at the Junior Wheelchair Sports Summer Camp, America DanceWheels Foundation Salsa Workshop, Adaptive Dance Institute Ballroom Dance Workshop for dancers who use a wheelchair, prosthesis, or brace or who have other movement disabilities at venues such as San Jose State University, Bascom Community Center and West Sacramento Community Center. Giselle has been honored to serve in the past as Ambassador and Teen Council for Holiday Heroes with Wender Weiss Foundation for Children, an organization that helps support kids by providing resources to give them the confidence and support they need.  

Giselle has started her own organization, Giving Thanks with Love from Giselle. She tries to help as many girls that she can who may have challenges with keeping up with the costs of dance expenses. She has also been a past recipient of the President’s Award for Educational Excellence by former President Obama.”

I continue to appreciate our families, students, staff, leadership team, teachers, and Trustees. It really does take a village to raise a child. Thank you for your contributions to our village of support targeted on lifting up all of our PAUSD students.

My best to you as the weekend begins,


Karen Hendricks