May 18, 2018

Hello To Our PAUSD Community,

On this beautiful spring afternoon, with only nine more school days ahead, there is so much to think about in terms of transitions and celebrations. I’d like to open this Weekly with a note of appreciation to some remarkable PAUSD employees who will be retiring from the District. These 32 employees represent 655 years of combined service to our school community.  Collectively and individually, they have been described as “connected to students,” “dedicated,” “a colleague,” “a professional,” “skillful,” “respected,” and “respectful,” to name just some of the positive attributes. We celebrate and thank each of these team members, and wish them all the best for rewarding journeys ahead.

“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold.  But other times it’s essential to take time off and make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.”  Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I’d Like to Give to You

  • Karan Barich, Instructional Aide – El Carmelo, 18 years
  • Julie Barnea, 2nd Grade Teacher – Hoover, 22 years
  • Cheryl Borja, Food Services Assistant – Food Services, 21 years
  • Cris Boswell, Student Attendant – Gunn, 23 years
  • Suzie Brown, Registrar/Secretary – Paly, 33 years
  • Lynnette Carey, Instructional Aide – Palo Verde, 17 years
  • Ginny Chu, Clerk – Nixon, 28 years
  • Kathy Durkin, Transportation Supervisor – MOT, 20 years
  • Scott Einfalt, Head Mechanic – MOT, 37 years
  • Ellen Feigenbaum, English Teacher – Gunn, 13 years
  • Terri Feinberg, 4th/5th Grade Teacher – Ohlone, 15 years
  • Darlene Feldstein, Academic Technology Specialist – Gunn, 22 years
  • Martha Gates, KN/1st Grade Teacher – Ohlone, 15 years
  • Meri Gyves, Work Experience & AAR Teacher – Gunn, Paly, and District Office, 17 years
  • Judy Haney, Data Secretary – Student Services, 29 years
  • Ginger Harkness, Instructional Aide – Children’s Hospital School, 6 years
  • Barbara Harris, Chief Academic Officer – Elementary Education, 5 years
  • John Hebert, Social Studies Teacher – Gunn, 18 years
  • Debbie Hilleary, Education Specialist – El Carmelo, 25 years
  • Otak Jump, 4th/5th Grade Teacher – Ohlone, 23 years
  • Esther Kamkar, Secretary to the Director – Facilities, 30 years
  • Tofia Kavapalu, Food Services Assistant & Custodian – Food Services & Greendell, 32 years
  • Duane Kester, Custodial Supervisor – MOT, 22 years
  • Chuck Merritt, Principal – Escondido, 25 years
  • Ken Plough, Independent Study Teacher – Gunn, 19 years
  • Virginia Quistad, 1st Grade Teacher – Hoover, 15 years
  • Gordon Smith, Custodian – Jordan, 8 years
  • Sari Spector, Student Attendant – Briones, 8 years
  • Mary Straight, Education Specialist – Escondido, 16 years
  • Josep Vericat, World Language Teacher – Paly, 23 years
  • Marianne Wilson, Budget Secretary – JLS, 13 years
  • Jack Younkin, Custodian – Briones, 38 years

Dr. Jeong Choe, Director of Advanced Authentic Research Department

I’m heading out shortly to our 2017-2018 Advanced Authentic Research & Innovation Celebratory Showcase.  Under the leadership of Jeong Choe, Ph.D (above), remarkable learning opportunities are taking place for our students.  Please see the Letter to the Community for more information.

Upcoming Events

We have a regular Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

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

  • Superintendent Contract - Dr. Donald Austin
  • Special Education Update
  • PAUSD PK-12 Computer Science Curriculum Design Advisory Committee Recommendations
  • Social Emotional Learning Implementation Update 2017-18
  • Consideration and Possible Adoption of Resolution No. 2017-18.15 The Increase in School Facilities Fees and Adoption of CEQA Notice of Exemption
  • Proposal to Open Negotiations with California School Employees Association Chapter 301 for the Successor Agreement to the 2014-2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement
  • Approval for First Amendment to Interim Assistant Superintendent Contract
  • Approval for Bond Manager Contract

Great Things Happening in PAUSD

Wellness & Support Services CalSchls Data Workshops

Over 70 students, staff, and community members attended, “Making Meaning of Data to Inform Meaningful Action” workshops on Thursday, May 17.

The workshops were designed to guide and engage stakeholders through a process of examining PAUSD’s district-wide California School Climate, Health and Learning Survey (CALSCHLS) data to identify and prioritize needs that can lead to future school climate improvement work and inform the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The workshop focused on climate and culture responses:

  • Student connection to trusted adult
  • Student perception of adults who believe in them
  • Meaningful student participation and decision-making
  • Academic motivation and growth mindset

Additional workshops and student focus groups are being planned for the fall based on the initial feedback and interest from the community. If you have any questions or are interested in more information, please contact PAUSD’s District Social Worker, Myrna Zendejas.


Juniors Owen Jenkins and  Jo (Elizabeth) Wu, and sophomores Yoon Jin Kim and Shannon Lin were accepted into the prestigious California State Summer School of the Arts at CalArts in Valencia.

Senior Lucas Evans was a winner of the Do Yewno High School Research Competition, creators of the Yewno Create platform giving K-12 students the ability to research, write, collaborate on, and publish research articles. His project was the iStudy Learning Engineer Moonshot, an artificial intelligence research platform “enabling schools to provide extreme personalization for students in secondary schools globally.”

Seniors Avery Lythcott-Haims, Haoning Jiang, Tiffany Shiu, Julia Cheunkarndee, and Gaya Gupta received English Book Awards from Dartmouth, George Washington University, Williams, Mount Holyoke, and Wellesley colleges respectively.

Sophomore Jenny Gao, Juniors Haoning Jiang, Allison Kwon, Daniel Qu, and Eric Ren, and Senior Shirley Zhang won Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Junior Audrey Li was invited by Secretary of Defense Mattis to the Memorial Day Observance at Arlington in Washington, D.C. for her work creating a non-profit organization called Students Partner with Veterans.

167 Gunn students participated in the French National Exam, with 31 winning gold medals, 34 silver, and 22 bronze. 453 students took the Spanish National Exam, with  43 winning gold, 87 silver, and 65 bronze.

These students were honored at the May 7 Focus on Success Awards Night:

  • Annalese McManigill
  • Brandon Contreras
  • Wendy Sakuma
  • Daniela Perez
  • Camila Besprosvan
  • Elexa James
  • Chloe Chang
  • Ofri Enav
  • Thomas Arensdorf
  • Dophia de Limas Cuevas
  • Sean Stephens
  • Andre Vega
  • Alvaro Hernandez
  • Paloma Gifford
  • Lola Robinson
  • Ilaisaane Taufelele
  • Isabel Flores
  • Valerie Ruelas
  • Mitzy Maias
  • Julie Froehlich
  • Alondra Marin
  • Giselle Bermudez-Poma
  • Arianna Morales
  • Eric Wei
  • Yuval Dolev
  • Roni Manor
  • Eric Wei
  • Jon Naranjo-Lugo
  • Jared Freeman
  • Nico Romero
  • Kyler Salameda
  • Mia Mosing

District AAR (Advanced Authentic Research) students showcased their projects in the Paly Media Arts Center on May 14.


Social-Emotional Learning

This spring, peer leaders from Paly’s Sources of Strength program reached out to their trusted adults on campus, inviting them to share their experiences with struggle and recovery.  Well over a dozen staff members gladly accepted and sat down to be interviewed by those students. Each shared a time in their life when they struggled with challenging circumstances, thoughts, and feelings, and the sources of strength they drew upon in their lives to help them grow - be it through healthy activities, family support, positive friends and mentors, mental and medical health access, or generosity and spirituality.  Their stories were then compiled by the students and printed on beautiful posters featuring pictures of each staff member and their story of hope, help, and strength. These posters were then placed around campus for all students and staff to benefit from - sending the message that none of us is alone in our struggles, and that there is hope, help, and strength to be drawn upon all around us! Thanks to the trusted and courageous adults on our campus, and to our students passionate about spreading strength! 


  • Paly Robotics won a grant from Western Digital -- kudos to the Paly Robotics Business Team.
  • The team is hosting a potluck with robotics teams around the Bay, on this Sunday, May 20, in the quad and the lab from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • The team will celebrate the season with an awards ceremony in the MAC Friday, May 25, at 6:30 p.m.
  • Paly Robotics will host a Lego robotics camp for elementary-aged students. The Lego Robotics Summer Program, one of the team's more long-term outreach initiatives, aims to teach East Palo Alto students the building and programming basics of Lego Mindstorms/FLL. Last year, we partnered with Lauren's House 4 Positive Change to host the camp, which was very successful. Here is a recap video. As a result, this year we're planning to reach out to more programs/schools who are interested in participating.
  • Paly Robotics has sold out its FRC robotics camp for middle school students July 23 - Aug 3. This is cause for celebration, as it means the team will raise substantial funds while offering the camp for free to those who need assistance.

AP Art History

AP Art History class had a fantastic field trip to SFMOMA yesterday. It has become an annual tradition celebrating students newfound knowledge of art.

AP Chemistry

Over Spring Break, a group of six AP chemistry students - Ayush Gupta, Soumya Jhaveri, Ellie Krugler, Robbie Selwyn, Kaushik Seshadri and Ujwal Srivastava - went to the Washington University Chemistry Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri. The team placed 16th overall out of 47 teams from all over the country and placed 8th in the “Breaking Bonds” speed round.

Rock 'n' Roll!

Willie and the Four Boys, a rock band consisting of five Paly Teachers (Steve Sabbag on lead vocals, Grant Blackburn on lead guitar, Brian Wilson on drums, Rod Satterthwaite on bass, and  Richard Rodriguez on rhythm guitar) entertained us at lunch today on the Quad for Field Day.

My best to you as your weekend begins,

Karen Hendricks