March 23, 2018

Hello to the PAUSD Community,

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin

As we head closer to Spring Break during the first week of April, we want to share with you our ongoing  focus on High Quality Teaching and Learning. The educational experience is a commitment and priority in our work each day at PAUSD. We are providing you with specific highlights from both Elementary and Secondary Education Departments, as well as the strong momentum of our Dyslexia Workgroup and the innovating efforts of our Education Technology team.

Elementary High Quality Teaching and Learning

Elementary Teacher Lab Days

The PAUSD Elementary Education Department has facilitated a structure of purposeful, powerful professional learning called Lab Days for the past four school years. Our Lab Days are modeled after Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s (TCRWP) Lab Day structure and the lesson study format. Elementary teachers have engaged in collaborative professional learning around many curricular topics.

Lab Days are a great way for teachers to have professional learning collaborative opportunities to grow and learn together.

These professional grade-level learning communities are organized with a purposeful agenda and are supported by a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA)/Instructional Coach. Along with the TOSA, teams create an agenda to plan, observe, debrief, and identify next steps for ongoing professional learning. Some topics from this 2017-18 school year include review of literacy assessments, development of TCRWP lessons, Bridges in Mathematics lessons, unit planning, Work Places (math games) organization, Problem of the Month, data analysis of formative assessments like the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), alignment of NWEA/MAP’s data with the use of math resources such as Khan Academy, and differentiated instruction. These Lab Days are powerful learning sessions focused on collaboration, cooperation, and coordination with the assistance of elementary TOSAs. Lab Days require a substitute teacher for each teacher in attendance, and this expense is funded under the Educator Effectiveness Fund.

Bridges Math Game Night

The PAUSD Elementary Education Department is very excited to host a final evening of games from the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum. The Bridges Math Game Night is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28, from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., in the Board Room. Reservations are underway and we currently have 70 families signed up to attend. This is the final parent education session to help link our parents with the teaching and learning that is taking place in our elementary math classrooms.

Bridges in Mathematics, published by the Math Learning Center, is a clearly articulated PK-5 curriculum designed to engage students in a unique blend of problem-solving and skill-building experiences. Work Places (math games) are a vital part of the Bridges curriculum. Work Places makes learning enjoyable and effective by providing an environment in which students can create and try strategies, and also learn strategies from others. In Work Places, students choose, collaborate, and cooperate with their peers as they experience a variety of problem-solving tasks. Engaging in math games helps to foster and develop each learner’s use of the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice.

Bridges Math Game Night is an opportunity for elementary parents to learn and play some of the games their children experience and enjoy in their classrooms.

Secondary High Quality Teaching and Learning

The Division of Secondary Education focuses its energy on promoting high quality-teaching and learning, one of the three district goal areas, every day. Our primary responsibility is to ensure that state standards are being implemented in classrooms and our objective is to have students engage in joyful, purposeful learning in their classes. To that end, TOSAs Karen Logue, Tammy Juarez, and Suzanne Antink, are out and about in the schools every day: observing classes, meeting with Instructional Supervisors, and supporting new teachers. It is through their efforts that we are seeing shifts in the way teachers are designing instruction in support of all students’ academic achievement.

They are actively working with teachers to implement Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), monitor the proper placement of students in math (SB359); participating in multiple Professional Learning Communities (PLC's); researching and sharing subject-specific differentiation materials; supporting alignment across schools as new curriculum and standards are implemented; collaborating with teams to write and/or scale learning targets; researching and delivering professional learning opportunities; promoting articulation between middle school and high school; and attending department and steering meetings.

Examples of their current projects include acquisition and introduction of Q-bots, programmable robots, in the middle schools; the integration of computer science into biology through a partnership with Stanford University; and the piloting of recently released History/Social Science materials that are in alignment with the new California State Framework in the middle grades. While the content standards have not changed, the new framework has shifted instruction to include an emphasis on literacy, inquiry, expanded content, and citizenship. In addition, the study of the role and contributions of women, LGBTQ citizens, culturally and racially diverse groups, and persons with disabilities is now required in History/Social Science instruction.

Strategic Initiatives and Operations

The Dyslexia Workgroup launched its first Orton-Gillingham (OG) Approach Classroom Educator Training in response to the Dyslexia Guidelines. OG is a structured, sequential, multisensory approach to teaching reading and spelling which has been proven effective for over 80 years with all students, including those with dyslexia and those who are learning English. This 35-hour training leads to the Classroom Educator certification with the appropriate add-on practicum. This program prepares teachers for implementing the OG approach within a classroom or group. Thirty teachers and reading specialists participated in the first round of training, and the Dyslexia Workgroup is planning to provide increasingly more opportunities to build capacity in our teachers to meet the needs of students with dyslexia. For any questions regarding the Dyslexia Workgroup’s initiatives, please email our Assistant Superintendent of Strategic Initiatives and Operations Yolanda Conaway.

OG Training

Teachers Learn More about Educational Technology!

March 19 - 24 was "Spring Tech Week 2018" for PAUSD teachers. Sessions were offered all week and during a half-day conference on Saturday, March 24. Teachers had the option to attend a variety of sessions around educational technology, technology implementation in the classroom, and specific tools such as Schoology and the Google Suite for Education. Over 70 PAUSD teachers learned in sessions or participated as presenters. Thanks to all that made this a great week for PAUSD EdTech!

Also, here is a highlight of our PAUSD Blended Learning program featured on the Schoology website! Please take a few minutes to enjoy this video on Trasforming Learning with EdTech for our students in PAUSD.

Upcoming Events

Save The Date!!!

Dr. Jackson Katz, PhD, Community Event at the Performing Arts Center, Palo Alto High School on Wednesday, April 11, 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Talking as a family about subjects like sexual harassment, coercion and assault, along with bullying and school violence, can be challenging for both parents and kids.The Superintendent’s RISE Task Force has created a series of programs to help inform and empower parents, students, teachers and staff about these issues. In February, national expert Anea Bogue led related discussions with Gunn and Paly students and our parent community.

On April 11 and 12, we welcome our second speaker, internationally renowned educator, author, filmmaker and cultural theorist, Dr. Jackson Katz, PhD, who will present a multimedia program on issues of gender, race and violence. Dr. Katz is a major figure and thought leader in the growing global movement of men working to promote gender equality and prevent gender violence. He is the Founder and President of MVP Strategies, an educational organization that utilizes the model he originally developed with his colleagues in the early 1990s at the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program.  In all its iterations, MVP is one of the longest-running and most widely influential gender violence prevention programs in North America, and the first major program of its kind in the sports culture, schools and the military. Dr. Katz will provide insights about the intersection and common roots among gender violence and a wide range of other pressing social problems, such as youth violence, gang violence, mass incarceration, school shootings, homelessness, substance abuse, depression and suicide. His work focuses on activating “bystanders” with the leadership skills to challenge all forms of abuse.  Dr. Katz discusses practical strategies for intervention and prevention while focusing on changing the social norms that often underlie acts of harassment, abuse, or violence. For more information visit Dr. Katz' website.

We strongly encourage you to join us on April 11!

We have a regular Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, 2018.

For your convenience, below is a list of Open Session Agenda Items for the regular meeting:

  • Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) Presentation for Middle School
  • Physical and Mental Health Services Update
  • Recommending School Names Advisory Committee
  • Appointment of Independent Auditors for the 2017-18 Audits
  • Authorization to Bid Summer Maintenance Projects
  • Resolution No. 2017-18.12 Reduction of Classified Employee Services

Great Things Happening in PAUSD

Advanced Authentic Research & Innovation (AAR & I)

Congratulations to Gunn AAR student Max Goetz, whose Robotics for All initiative was awarded a grant by the City of Palo Alto’s Think Fund!

The mission of Robotics for All is “to educate students from disadvantaged communities in robotics and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) to help them gain beneficial skills which will be useful throughout the rest of their academic and professional careers.”

We are proud of Goetz’s hard work on his AAR project to make robotics more accessible to students from disadvantaged communities.

AAR Students Collaborating

Bay Area Equity Symposium

“Equity: It Starts With Us”

On Saturday, March 17, 2018, PAUSD’s Special Education Leadership attended the Bay Area Equity Symposium in San Pablo, Ca. The keynote speaker, Dr. Gail L. Thompson, Executive Director of Equity of Illuminate Education, shared inspirational anecdotes that highlighted the symposium’s theme, “Equity: It Starts With Us.”  Meaningful breakout sessions were aligned under four strands:

  • Equity-Driven School Leadership
  • Empowering Underserved Students
  • Equity in the Classroom: Engagement and Instruction
  • Supporting the Whole Student

A challenge question was posed, “What are you committing to at the end of this symposium?’’ The Special Education delegation accepted and committed to engage in the following proactive efforts in advocating for equity-driven leadership:

  • Take opportunities to engage in courageous conversations by confronting unconscious biases that encourage micro-aggressions.
  • Promote the importance of creating a forum to reflect on PAUSD’s existing equity practices.
  • Explore avenues toward more equitable educational practices.

It was certainly an insightful and value-added weekend!

PAUSD Staff at Bay Area Equity Symposium

Food Services

JLS Cafe Room hosted an Elementary Future Chef Competition on Wednesday, March 21, and they had 13 participants representing 9 of the elementary school sites that were finalists in this year's competition. Our theme was Asian Fusion Recipes. The finalists' recipes were Amasian Chicken Teriyaki Sliders, Thai Chicken Curry, Super Smoothie, Indian Yogurt Chicken with Brown Rice, Plantain Spring Rolls with Coconut Dipping Sauce, Ginger Soy Stew, Asian Chick Chick Salad, Tofu Cheese Okonomiyaki, Sushi Celebration, Spring Rolls, Broccoli Beef, California Bibimbap, and Baked Flaked Asian Samosas.

The PAUSD Grand Prize-Winning Future Chef Champion for 2018 was Natalie Neumann from Duveneck Elementary. Her winning recipe was Plantain Spring Rolls with Coconut Dipping Sauce.

Our Plate Presentation Winner was Clara Greffen for her Super Smoothie, and our Overall Taste Winner was Anika Kumar for her Baked Flaked Asian Samosas.

This year's event also featured a new category: Zero Waste Champion. Our Zero Waste Champion for 2018 was Charlie Cohen from Palo Verde Elementary.

A special thanks to our judges Miriam Stevenson, Rosemaie Craig, Myrna Zendejas, Johanna Gonzalez, and Resource Officer Brad Young!!

Thank you to all of our finalists for their hard work, fun and efforts in the competition.

Group Picture of Students at Food ContestPAUSD Staff with Winner of Student Food ContestFuture Chef Fun Shot

Deputy District Attorney (DA) Angela Alvarado Parent Event

On Wednesday, March 21, PAUSD was pleased to welcome Deputy DA Angela Alvarado for a parent presentation on digital safety and media safe kids. DA Alvarado discussed many important topics such as open communication between parents and children regarding devices, and framing such conversations in terms of safety. DA Alvarado also stressed family media use agreements for setting clear guidelines for all members of the household. Family media use agreements should include topics like parent access to devices and best-practices for passwords. Finally, she also presented the idea that our children are online publishers. Helping redirect technology use to be more meaningful helps our children build an online presence that functions as a positive digital portfolio or résumé for themselves. If you are interested in more information about this event, please contact Coordinator of Educational Technology and Libraries, Emily Garrison.

Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP)

On March 22, our Academic Supports Department hosted the annual Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) Placement banquet for 60+ new families that received acceptance into our local schools, with grades ranging from Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 2nd grade.

The featured speaker this year was PAUSD parent and advocate, Mrs. Gina Dalma. Mrs. Dalma also serves as Special Advisor to the CEO and Vice President of Government Relations for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. PAUSD principals and district leadership staff were also present to warmly welcome all of our new families.

PAUSD is beyond excited to welcome our new families to our wonderful schools and District.  We are so happy that they chose us!

Barron Park

California Young Reader Medal (CYRM) Book Club

4th and 5th grade Barron Park students were invited to participate in a CYRM Book Club. Ten dedicated students read all three nominated books in the category of Intermediate Readers: Pax by Sara Pennypacker; Dash by Kirby Larson; and Ms. Rapscott’s Girls by Elise Primavera. Students were led in conversations by teacher leaders Rusty Tooley, Jen Ladinsky, and Kim Moore. Together they discussed characters, themes, author’s craft, and opinions, and compared and contrasted all three books during lunchtimes meetings from December through March. The club culminated this week in a pizza party and a vote for best CYRM book. It was very close, with Ms. Rapscott’s Girl’s winning by one vote!  

Barron Park Student Book Club


5th grade students enjoyed a Walk Through the American Revolution event this week, where students became expert in a variety of topics, role-played different historical figures, and re-enacted historically accurate battle scenes. The learning was rich, detailed, relevant, and interactive. Students and parents who came to watch had fun at the event! Some parents who have come from different countries appreciated the US history lessons as well!

5th Grade US History lessons5th Graders during US History lesson5th Graders during US History Lessons

4th grade students had a very exciting visit from the Junior Museum, where they worked collaboratively to learn about chemical energy and tested how far different ratios of vinegar, water, and baking soda would propel a “rolling rocket.” Students also learned about the appropriate use of safety equipment such as protective goggles!

4th Grader during Junior Museum Visit4th Graders during Junior Museum Visit4th Graders receive Junior Museum Visit


On March 17, 30 students from Jordan’s Science Olympiad Club competed at the 2018 Santa Clara Regional Science Olympiad Tournament. We had two teams of 15 students each compete against 30 other teams from all over Santa Clara County. Jordan Blue came in 6th place, while Jordan Red came in 19th, and our students collected 7 sets of medals:

  • Herpetology - Ezra Gwin-Kerr & April Wu - 4th Place
  • Hovercraft - Franklin Wang & Bill Xia - 3rd Place
  • Meteorology - Kevin Luo & Bill Xia - 4th Place
  • Mystery Architecture - Ariel Hong & Jeremy Yun - 4th Place
  • Towers - Ariel Hong & Jeremy Yun - 2nd Place
  • Wright Stuff - Maia Wood Johnsson & Aidan Hsiu - 2nd Place
  • Wright Stuff - Liam Hsiu & Jeremy Yun - 3rd Place

Jordan Sister City Visit from Japan

Tsuchiura and Palo Alto have been sister cities since 1995 and this year marks the 23rd year of this relationship. Sixteen middle school students from Tsuchiura arrived on Saturday, March 17, and were welcomed by their Palo Alto host families in addition to several students from the Japanese programs at both Jordan and JLS. Nine students were hosted at Jordan and seven at JLS, where they engaged in a variety of fun cultural exchange activities, as well as shadowed students throughout the school day on Monday and Tuesday. After visiting Jordan and JLS, the visiting students went on to tour Stanford University, visited San Francisco, and camped at Yosemite National Park. This summer, students from Palo Alto will visit Tsuchiura and participate in their school activities, as well as travel to other major spots in Japan.

Jordan Sister City Visit from Japan 2 Jordan Sister City Visit from Japan


Gunn Speech and Debate has had many successes throughout the year, accumulating in qualifying Policy teams to the State Championships and to the National Championships.

We have two Policy teams that qualified for States: Bryan Tan and Ichiro Tomaszewski; and, Andy Wang and William Xuan. They will be competing for State Championships in April in the town of Mountain House.

For Nationals, our league can send a total of three Policy teams. A team from Leland, one from Archbishop Mitty, and one from Gunn fill those three spots. Our Gunn team is Siddarth Jain and Arjun Prabhakar (in photo). Sid and Arjun also have the distinction of winning the entire MLK Invitational tournament in Policy this January!

Gunn Students from Policy Team

For Nationals, Sachait Arun and Ethan Shaotran are the first alternates. Nationals will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in June.

Congratulations to all of them!

Gunn’s Entrepreneurship Club, Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), attended a March 3-4 state competition in Anaheim, earning two 2nd place honors, two 3rd places, two 4th places, one 5th place, and five 6th places.

The Gunn Chamber Orchestra with Sandra Lewis and Tiffany Ou attended the  American String Teachers Association National Conference In Atlanta, Georgia, March 8-11. They performed an hour-long concert for attendees of the conference from around the U.S.

The outdoor production of  King Lear (March 15-17 and March 22-24) was a huge success on the N-building grand staircase.

Reach Out, Care, Know (ROCK) presented a free “Warriors Watch” Night in Bow Gym March 9. It was a fun night, with over 100 in attendance, thanks to the help of Paul Dunlap, Mike Heffner, Tara Keith, and Pier Angeli LaPlace.

Thank you to Tara Firenzi, Courtney Carlomagno, and the Social Emotional Learning and Functionality (SELF) mentors for their continued connections with Gunn freshmen.

Our annual March 21-24 Camp Everytown encouraged student connections and inner exploration at Camp Harmon in Boulder Creek. Thanks to chaperones Courtney Carlomagno, Lauren Rocha, Genavae Dixon, Emily Pinkston, Marcus Jamison, and Jack Ballard.

The Small Learning Community (SLC) presented a “World War Gunn” pop-up museum exhibit in the Staff Lounge March 15.

Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) mentors collaborated March 14.

The Youth Community Service (YCS) and Investigative Medicine clubs will organize a second Gunn blood drive at Stanford’s request, hopefully April 16.


5th Annual Paly Student Film (and Animation!) Festival tonight, 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). There is no cost to attend! PG-13 after Intermission. See the Official trailer here.

A curated selection of work from Spring 2017-Winter 2018 from the Filmmaking and Graphic Design community at Paly has screened at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recognized festival Cinequest, AMC Times Square in New York, and has been sent to San Francisco International Film Festival, Scholastic, and the regional Emmys.  

Come celebrate where fine art meets technology in motion pictures. Like the mythical chimeara (our logo) our work is a mighty creature made of many parts. The festival closes with a few words from our student Film Club leadership.

Youth Speaks Out - YSO Exhibition - 2018 Opening Reception

  • Friday, March 23, at the Palo Alto Art Center from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • Free food: pizza, sliders, cupcakes.

Come celebrate Paly-Gunn student portraits expressing what our community should know about them and their needs. GIVE VOICE...let's make the time to listen to them! See you at the movies!


Next week, the robotics team will participate in the Silicon Valley Regional competition, and will offer free tours of the competition venue at San Jose State University and matches throughout the weekend.  To ask for a tour, please email the Paly Robotics Outreach Group. Middle school students, especially underrepresented ones, are strongly encouraged to apply!

Principles of Computer Science

In Principles of Computer Science, Junior Prashanti Anderson, as part of her Computer Science Capstone project, taught the class how to install and deploy the software required to run an FRC robot.  Also in the Principles class, students learned how to represent a network of cities and roadways with basic data structures.

As a Community:

I share this following note from Addison Principal Amanda Boyce.  Through the sadness of such a painful loss, it also exemplifies once again how we are a community that can stand together and support each other.  Where we are connected, we are stronger.

“This past week has been very difficult for Addison School as we grieve the loss of one of our 5th grade students.  However, we have been grateful for the different supports and experiences in response to this tragedy. Addison has been wonderfully supported by our District mental health team, site-based mental health personnel and KARA, a community resource to support grieving children, teens, families, and adults... Our PTA also responded immediately by delivering flowers to the school on Tuesday and providing us with breakfast and lunch throughout the week. Overall, the Addison community have come together in such powerful ways that make us feel proud.”

I’ve been reading a beautiful children’s book given to me by Barbara Harris, entitled “I am Peace” by Susan Verde, and would like to close with the words of the final pages of the book:

“Now I share my peace with others… and hope that it is carried away by those who need it.  And I dream...WE ARE PEACE.”

Passage and I dream WE ARE PEACE

My very  best to each of you as the weekend begins,

Karen Hendricks