Skip to main content

All News

Dear Mt. Diablo Unified School District Families and Staff,
 
Welcome to the 2022-2023 academic year. I hope today was filled with excitement as we welcomed back students to our campuses. We are so fortunate to have the responsibility of educating your students this year. Please bookmark the MDUSD website as well as your student’s school website. A wealth of information is shared through the website as well as ParentSquare. 
 
Over the summer, many of our students moved out of the area and many moved in. Inevitably, we will need to adjust some of our class assignments for students and teachers. I know this can be daunting. The large majority of our students will not be impacted by these adjustments, but just in case it happens to your student, it will be OK!  
 
Although COVID-19 is still present in our school community, we are thrilled that our students will be physically in school engaging in deep learning activities. The guidelines continue to shift, just as they have for the past couple of years. That said, please see the protocols for when a positive test result is present. As always, our website has a wealth of information and resources on this topic. 
 
I wish you all the best as we embark on this exciting new year. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Dr. Adam Clark
Superintendent 

 

COVID-19 GUIDELINES


Positive Test Result & Return Guidelines

 

Students with a positive test result must stay home and isolate, regardless of vaccination status. The timeline to return is: 
Option 1: May return on day 11 with no testing necessary. 
Option 2: May return after a negative test on OR after day 5. May return as early as day 6. 

With Symptoms: 

  • Symptoms are improving 
  • No fever for 24 hours (without medicine) 
  • Negative test on day five or after (or) you have been isolated for 10 days, with test day as day 0

Without Symptoms: 

  • Negative test on day five or after (or) you have been isolated for 10 days, with test day as day 0

Test Results

  • All positive cases are confidential and will only be shared with necessary staff. 
  • Click here to view District testing sites. 

Case Reporting and Group Notification


1. Report Positive Case To School Site Administrator 

  • If the positive case has been on the campus within 48 hours of positive test or symptoms, Admin will report the positive case to District HR. 
  • Cases reported to HR will be posted on COVID Dashboard weekly. 

2. School Site Will Identify Close Contacts 

  • Anyone who has been in a shared airspace for longer than 15 minutes with the positive case over a 24 hour period.

3. School Site will send Group Tracing Contact Letter To Any Close Contact 

  • At the end of each school day, any close contacts will be notified using the Group Contact Tracing Letter.

4. School Staff Will Be Notified within 24 Hours Of A Positive Case On Campus. 


5. Each Friday, the COVID-19 Dashboard will be updated with the positive cases for that week.

Get tested for COVID-19 when symptoms are consistent with COVID-19. If not positive, may return after:

  • At least 24 hours have passed with no fever reducing medication. 
  • Other symptoms are improving.

Stay Home When Sick

Posted 8/11/22

Education Code Section 42127(h) calls for the public review, within 45 days, of any budget revisions that a school district decides to make based on the enactment of the State Budget.

 

When MDUSD approved its budget, the State of California had not completed its budget and the trailer bill language that specifies the rules of budget implementation for different programs.

 

As a result, MDUSD has to present a 45-day revision that responds to the changes the State made to its budget since mid-June 2022. The deadline to make the 45 Day Budget Revision available to the public is August 11, 2022, which is prior to the posting of the August 17th board agenda, so the presentation with the information required by the Contra Costa County Office of Education is being made available on the MDUSD website on August 11, 2022 and is also being shared on social media. A copy of the presentation is also being sent to the Contra Costa County Office of Education on August 11, 2022.

 

Click here for the presentation or see the attachment.

Posted 8/11/22

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District and Diablo View Middle School in Clayton are mourning the loss of student Braden Fahey, who died August 7th. 

 

Below are messages to the community and to the Fahey family from Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark and Diablo View MS Principal Peter Fong.

 

Message from Dr. Clark:

 

On behalf of the MDUSD Governing Board, I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the Fahey family. Please see the message from Diablo View Principal, Peter Fong (below).

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Adam Clark, Superintendent 

 

Message from Diablo View Principal Peter Fong (sent to the Diablo View MS community):
 

Dear Diablo View Middle School Community,

 

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I must sadly inform you that on August 7, 2022, one of our beloved Diablo View Middle School students, Braden Fahey, died suddenly and very unexpectedly. 

 

Braden was a great friend, a beloved son and brother, a great teammate,  an excellent student, and just an overall incredible person. He will be sorely missed and never forgotten. 

 

The death of a friend and loved one is tragic, and a sudden tragedy like this can have a profound effect on surviving students and the community at large, which is absolutely the case here.  It is important that we recognize this loss and offer help. This is a sensitive issue for children, and we suggest that you talk with your children about their feelings.

 

The school has arranged to have counselors available to talk with students over the next several days and will also be available on the first day of school on August 11th.  Students and families can reach out for support by contacting the school at (925) 672-0898.

 

On behalf of the Diablo View Middle School community,  I want to extend our sincerest  condolences to the Fahey family on this heartbreaking loss that no family should ever have to endure. 

 

In tribute to Braden, his friends are going to be wearing light/baby blue on the first day of school and have invited all those who loved Braden to do the same. As an ongoing tribute, Braden’s family and friends are encouraging people to wear sports jerseys on Mondays as a way of remembering him and paying tribute to his love of sports and our local teams.

 

I will reach out with more information at a later date on ways to help and support the family during this difficult time moving forward. I know that there are plans in place for meal and grocery deliveries as well as donations to help. Here is a link to the Go Fund Me that has been started for the family: https://www.gofundme.com/f/braden-fahey-fund

 

Thank you for your time and please join us in continuing to send  our positive thoughts, prayers and love to the Faheys.

Posted 8/10/22

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District will host a free 2022-23 Parent Conference for families of students in grades TK through high school from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13th at the Loma Vista Adult Center, 1266 San Carlos Ave. in Concord.

 

The event will include:

 

Keynote speaker: Dr. Lamont Francies discussing "Families, schools and communities working together for student success." This keynote will focus on equity and shared vision, setting students up for an amazing and rewarding 2022-23 school year.

 

More than two dozen workshops on topics including Early Childhood; Primary, Middle and High School; Special Education; General Parenting; English Learners; and Afghani-focused issues. Workshops will be offered in English, Spanish and Dari, with translation offered for some workshops into Spanish and Dari.

 

Workshops titles include: 

  • "Staying Connected: School to Home Connection"
  • "Learning through Play" (English and Spanish)
  • "Support your TK-5 Scholar in Math" 
  • "Growing Your Child as a Reader, K-5th grades" 
  • "Learning Styles" 
  • "Building Independent Learners"
  • "Becoming a More Effective Parent through Understanding Your Parenting Style and the Temperament of Your Child" 
  • "Supporting Healthy Behavior in School Age Children"
  • "How to Support Your Child in Following Directions"
  • "Tobacco and Teens: What Parents Need to Know" 
  • "Stress - Effects on Thinking and Health"
  • "Supporting our Kids in Managing Anxiety and Stress"
  • "Setting Rules and Boundaries" (Spanish)
  • "Character in our Children: The Best Way to Fight Bullying" (Spanish)
  • "Pathway to Graduation for English Learners" 
  • "Supporting Your Child at Home with English Language Development (ELD), the ELPAC Test and Reclassification" (English/Spanish)
  • "El Estres en los Adolescentes" (Spanish)
  • "Participation in the English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC) at schools/District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC)" (English and Spanish)
  • "Learning Disabilities Tips and Tricks"
  • "Serving Students with Disabilities 504 or IEP" 
  • "How to be an Effective IEP Team Member" (English and Spanish)
  • "Special Ed: Who You Gonna Call?" 
  • "Helping Your Children Succeed in School" (Dari)
  • "Orientation to Life in the U.S. - Employment and Cultural Tips" (Dari)

Free Lunch provided by the District's Food and Nutrition Services Department

 

Free On-site childcare for children ages 3-10 (no diapers, please)

Backpack and school supplies giveaway

 

Resources including: District and Community organizations

 

For questions, please contact:

Mt. Diablo Adult Education Parent Education Office

Phone: (925) 685-7340 ext. 6720

Email: parented@mdusd.org

 

 

Posted 7/30/22

As we look forward to welcoming students and staff back to our campuses on August 11th, we would like to take a look back at some of the exciting news that was featured in our Friday Letters throughout the 2021-22 School Year.

 

The Friday Letter excerpts included highlight numerous accomplishments of our students, staff, and alumni, as well as some of MDUSD's signature programs.

 

Thank you to all those who support the students and employees of MDUSD. We look forward to another great year!

 

You can read the 2021-22 Year in Review here.

 

collage

collage 2

Posted 7/29/22

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District's Governing Board has extended Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark's contract from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2025, after completing the evaluation of the Superintendent with a satisfactory rating for the 2021-22 school year.

 

The Board voted 4-0 on June 22, 2022 to extend the contract. Board President Debra Mason was absent.

 

"I’m very excited about what the next years can bring us," Dr. Clark said after the Board approved the contract extension. "Thank you to the Board for your leadership."

 

Dr. Clark was originally hired in July of 2020, with a 3-year contract through June 30, 2023 at an annual base salary of $298,000. Last October, the Board voted to extend that contract one year through June 30, 2024 at his original rate of pay.

 

The newly-approved contract extension increases Dr. Clark's base salary by $7,000 to $305,000 and issues supplemental benefits equivalent to the recent on-schedule salary increase of 10.5% negotiated with bargaining groups.

 

In 2021-22, Dr. Clark was named "2022 Superintendent of the Year" by the Association of School Administrators (ACSA), Region 6. He was also named "President-Elect" of the California Association of African American Superintendents (CAAASA). 

 

"He is held in high regard by his peers for being thoughtful and for his unique ability to build consensus among stakeholders with divergent interests during contentious issues," according to the CAAASA website. "Dr. Clark has a laser-like focus on positive outcomes for all stakeholders, which is evident by his commitment to address deeply rooted structural systems."

 

Adam

 

Posted 7/27/22

On Sunday, July 24 the District emailed approximately 17,000 families representing almost 29,000 students to confirm which students are returning to MDUSD in August.

 

Emails will continue to go out over the next few days as the district corrects some of the email addresses on file.

 

This is similar to what many of our school sites do at the end of each school year. This cross-departmental effort will ensure that we are able to assign the correct number of classes to each site and align the right level of resources for all of our students. 

 

If you have not received an email yet, or have not received an additional email/s that are connected to “all” of your students, you can click here to ask for help https://rebrand.ly/mdusd2022return

 

Thank you,

 

MDUSD

 

Posted 7/24/22

Message from Dr. John Rubio, MDUSD Chief of Human Resources:

 

Good Afternoon MDUSD School Communities,

As you may know, it is very difficult to find new employees during the months of June and July. MDUSD decided to move quickly as a District to complete interviews for multiple sites and positions, and we appreciate any feedback that parents and staff submitted to assist us in the process.

MDUSD remains committed to recruit and hire the most qualified candidates for every position within the District. The below new or existing employees have been hired and will also be formally appointed at the first Board meeting of the 2022-2023 school year on August 17, 2022.

We would like to welcome the below individuals into their new roles in Mt. Diablo Unified School District, and we look forward to their important work at each one of our school sites.

Principal Appointments
El Monte Elementary - Jeffrey Miles
Holbrook Language Academy - Silvia Orellana
Sequoia Elementary - Rebecca Vichiquis
Ygnacio Valley Elementary - Gilbert Armenta
El Dorado Middle School - Megan Gemma
Concord High School - Julene Mackinnon

Vice Principal Appointments
Hidden Valley Elementary - Jennifer Tosi
Oak Grove Middle School - Diane Fitzpatrick
Mt. Diablo High School - Josie Kirkland
Mt. Diablo High School - Ryan Murrow
Ygnacio Valley High School - Therron Adams
Mt. Diablo Adult Education - Maureen Campbell

The Human Resources team is still looking to hire an Administrator at our Crossroads site, and Vice Principals at El Dorado Middle School and Rio Vista Elementary. If you know anyone that you think would be amazing, or a teacher who would like to earn a hiring bonus for some of our specific positions, please ask them to apply at https://rebrand.ly/CERTHiring.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. John Rubio
Chief of Human Resources
Mt. Diablo Unified School District

 

Previously announced District and School Site administrative appointments for the 2022-23 School Year are here.

Posted 7/21/22

Mt. Diablo Unified School District leaders, staff, parents and community members are “thrilled” that the State Board of Education has unanimously voted to deny a petition to create a new unified school district in the Northgate area of Walnut Creek, said MDUSD Board Member Cherise Khaund. The State Board found that the petition failed to meet required legal criteria, there was no compelling reason to create a new district, and there were compelling reasons not to approve it.

 

“Settling this issue once and for all means that we can now unite in working together for an excellent education for all,” said Khaund, whose trustee area includes the Northgate territory and whose children attend District schools. During the District’s presentation to the State Board, Khaund stressed the many exemplary programs in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, which would have been split into two districts if the petition had been approved.

 

Such a split would have created a less diverse and more affluent Northgate Unified District and a Mt. Diablo Unified District with a greater percentage of socio-economically disadvantaged and minority students in the remaining cities of Concord, Pleasant Hill, Clayton, Pacheco and parts of Lafayette, Martinez and Pittsburg and unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County including Bay Point.

 

Northgate High teacher and District parent Meg Honey, who argued against the petition during the State Board meeting, said “the many perspectives, experiences, and identities that are present on our school campuses help foster rich learning experiences and create deeper levels of empathy and understanding, as well as ensure that our students are ready to thrive in a global society.”

 

Twenty-six parents, staff members, union representatives, teachers, MDUSD Board Members, a County Supervisor, community members, a former student, and Concord City Council members called into the State Board meeting in support of MDUSD and in opposition to the petition. There were no callers in support of the petition.

 

State Board members voted 10-0 to deny the petition, saying they were impressed by the public comments and did not hear any compelling arguments in favor of creating a new Northgate district. Instead, they said all students deserve the kind of education the petitioners were trying to carve out for their students.

 

“I personally found the public comment quite thunderous,” said State Board Member Kim Pattillo Brownson, noting that the Board heard from people whose lives and whose children’s lives would be impacted. “What I didn’t really hear was anything terribly specific as to what was not working.” She said the proposal would have created an isolated and less diverse smaller district and a larger district that would isolate “majority minority students and majority minority schools on the other side of that divide.”

 

After the hearing, Khaund said there are many ways that students, parents, teachers, staff and community members can get more involved in the District, such as by joining a parent or student advisory committee, joining a school site council, or volunteering for the nonprofit Mt. Diablo Education Foundation.

 

“Together,” she said, “we can build even stronger public schools and communities for everyone."

 

For more information about the petition and District’s response, please see: https://www.mdusd.org/northgatepetitionupdate

Posted 7/13/22

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) strongly opposes a petition to create a new school district in the Northgate area of Walnut Creek, which the State Board of Education plans to consider on Wednesday, July 13. MDUSD’s position is bolstered by the California Department of Education (CDE) staff recommendation that the State Board deny the petition because it fails to meet the conditions legally required to allow such a division of the District. Mt. Diablo Unified also includes Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill, Pacheco and portions of Lafayette, Martinez, Bay Point, Pittsburg and unincorporated areas in Contra Costa County.

 

Specifically, the CDE finds that:

  • The proposal will result in an inequitable division of property and facilities of the original district; and

  • Any increase in school facilities costs as a result of the proposed reorganization will be significant and not incidental to the reorganization.

“In addition to failing to meet all of the minimum conditions for approval, the CDE did not find any compelling local educational needs or concerns that would be addressed by the unification proposal,” according to the staff report. “Further, the proposed unification would remove the most affluent area of the Mt. Diablo USD in order to create a smaller, less diverse, more affluent school district.” Based on this analysis, the CDE recommends that the State Board “disapprove the petition to form a new unified school district from the Northgate portion of the Mt. Diablo USD.”

 

The Contra Costa County Committee on School District Reorganization previously denied the petition in 2017 after community members in the Northgate area of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) submitted it to the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools on February 23, 2017. The petitioners appealed the county decision, seeking to form a new school district that would include the following schools and their attendance areas: Bancroft Elementary, Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Foothill Middle, and Northgate High schools – all located in Walnut Creek. The new district would not include Eagle Peak Montessori, an MDUSD approved charter school within the proposed district, or Oak Grove Middle School and Ygnacio Valley High School, which are located within the new district’s proposed boundaries, but serve students who live outside of its boundaries.

The County Committee on School District Reorganization found that the petition failed to meet many criteria necessary for approval. Instead, the county committee found:

  • The petition would result in an inequitable division of property and facilities of the original district;
  • The reorganization of the districts would not preserve each affected district’s ability to educate students in an integrated environment and/or would promote racial or ethnic discrimination or segregation;
  • The proposed reorganization will not continue to promote sound education performance and/or would significantly disrupt the educational programs in the affected districts;
  • Any increase in school facilities costs as a result of the proposed reorganization would be significant and not incidental to the reorganization; and
  • The proposed reorganization would not continue to promote sound fiscal management and/or would cause a substantial negative effect on the fiscal status of each district affected by the proposed reorganization.

MDUSD values its ability to offer the best quality education to all its students in educational environments that center on inclusion and promote respect, collaboration and creativity. To that end, the MDUSD Governing Board, with the support of District employees, students and the greater Mt. Diablo community, passed a resolution formally opposing the petition on appeal, finding that the outlook on the underlying data make each of the failed criteria even less viable in 2022. In addition, the Mt. Diablo Education Association (MDEA) teachers’ union and Teamsters Union have each also passed resolutions in opposition to the petition.

 

"I am extremely proud and fortunate to lead the Mt. Diablo Unified School District," said Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark. "In 2017, the County Committee on School District Reorganization rejected the petition to create the Northgate Unified School District, finding it

failed to meet many key criteria necessary to approve such a petition. On July 13, 2022, the State Board of Education will hear the appeal on the 2017 decision. Just as in 2017, the petition

does not meet the criteria required to approve such a change. I want to thank the community members, employees and students who oppose this secession for their efforts to communicate

with the State Board of Education."

 

MDUSD Board Member Cherise Khaund, who represents the Northgate area of the District and is the parent of two District students, added:

 

"I agree with the California Department of Education (CDE) recommendation that the State Board of Education should disapprove the petition to form a new Northgate school district, and with their concerns about how this proposal would remove the most affluent area of the Mt. Diablo USD to create a less diverse school district. The diversity of Mt. Diablo school district is one of the things that drew us to enroll our children here, along with excellent programs such as Dual Language Immersion, International Baccalaureate, and Autism magnet programs. I don't want my own or other Northgate area students to lose access to all of this, nor do I want to see the Eagle Peak Montessori School lose its longstanding charter. Together we can continue to build excellent educational opportunities for all students."

 

Contra Costa County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who represents the MDUSD attendance area, submitted this statement to the State Board of Education in opposition to the petition:

 

"I am the County Supervisor who represents District IV in Contra Costa County, and this issue pertains to students living in the cities of Clayton, Concord, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek, all of which are in District IV, as well as students in other communities which are part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. I am also a product of this school district having attended grade, middle and high school in Pleasant Hill. I recall when Northgate High School was built and know many of my teachers moved to the new school once it opened.

 

I have long been opposed, and frankly appalled by the elitism shown by those who support this application, to carving out a special area from the MDUSD. I met with some of the proponents several years ago and let them know it was not the right thing to do and affected more than the students within the area proposed for this 'new' school district. The stated reasons by those seeking this are spurious at best and downright mean at worst.

 

Please uphold the decision of the Contra Costa County Committee on School District Reorganization and deny this appeal.”

 

Many MDUSD supporters plan to express their opposition to the petition via phone during the State Board of Education meeting live webcast, or via email before the meeting.

 

For more information, please see: https://www.mdusd.org/northgatepetitionupdate.

Posted 7/8/22

At its last four meetings, the Mt. Diablo Unified School Board approved several administrative appointments for the 2022-23 School Year. 

 

We are pleased to share these appointments below, along with links to more details about each administrator posted on the District's Facebook page and the school or District Department highlighted in bold

 

At its June 22nd meeting, the Board appointed:

At its June 8th meeting, the Board appointed:

At its May 11th meeting, the Board appointed:

At its April 27th meeting, the Board appointed:

  • Christopher Chenault as  Principal at Woodside Elementary, where he has served as Interim Principal since February
  • Alejandro Ramos as the  Principal at Oak Grove Middle School, where he has served as Interim Principal since December
  • Candace NgJoel Miner and Meghan Hines as a Special Education Districtwide Program Specialists
  • Patricia Hamachi as an Instructional Program Specialist, African American Student Achievement, in the District’s Equity Department
  • Amy Monaghan as an Operational Program Specialist, African American Student Achievement, in the District’s Equity Department
  • Lamont Francies as the Family Involvement and Community Engagement Programs Coordinator, African American Student Achievement, in the District’s Equity Department

Congratulations to all!

 

 

Posted 7/6/22

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is pleased to announce that MDUSD Governing Board Member Linda Mayo has received the Mt. Diablo Adult Education 2022 "Friend of Adult Education" Award from the California Council for Adult Education's Contra Costa Chapter.

 

Trustee Mayo received the award virtually during the group's annual awards event on May 26th. Vittoria Abbate, MDUSD's Director of College & Career and Adult Education, presented the award to Trustee Mayo on behalf of the Mt. Diablo Adult Education program in person on June 29th at the district's Loma Vista Adult Education Center.

 

Ms. Abbate, who nominated Trustee Mayo for the award, said that while serving on the School Board since 1997, Trustee Mayo "has become one of the leading advocates of the role of K-12 Adult Education through her state-level work in the California School Boards Association (CSBA) and Parent Teachers' Association (PTA), ensuring that in state-level discussions related to K-12 school districts, the importance and value of K-12 Adult Education programs are included."

 

Mayo regularly attends adult education events including graduations, Abbate added. "This visible sign of support does much to encourage staff about the value of their work and models the importance of building a strong relationship between K-12 Adult Education and K-12 district programs, services, and staff." 

 

Mayo awardMDUSD Governing Board member Linda Mayo (left) accepts the Mt. Diablo Adult Education 2022 California Council for Adult Education Contra Costa Chapter's "Friend of Adult Education" Award from Vittoria Abbate, MDUSD's Director of College & Career and Adult Education, (right) on June 29th at the district's Loma Vista Adult Education Center.

Posted 7/1/22

On February 23, 2017, community members in the Northgate area of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) submitted a petition to the Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools to form a new school district that would include the following schools and their attendance areas: Bancroft Elementary, Valle Verde Elementary, Walnut Acres Elementary, Foothill Middle, and Northgate High schools.

 

The petition was denied by the County Committee on School District Reorganization, finding that it failed to meet the many criteria necessary to approve such a petition, including: 

  • the petition would not result in an equitable division of property between the districts;
  • each affected district would not have the ability to educate its students in an integrated environment and would promote ethnic discrimination or segregation;
  • the petition would not promote sound educational performance and would significantly disrupt the educational programs in the affected districts;
  • the petition would increase school facilities costs in a significant way;
  • the petition would not promote sound fiscal management and would create negative effects on the fiscal statuses of each district.

The petition is scheduled to be appealed before the California State Board of Education on July 13 and/or July 14, 2022. 

 

MDUSD values its ability to offer the best quality education to all its students in educational environments that center on inclusion and promote respect, collaboration and creativity.  To that end, the MDUSD Governing Board, with the support of District employees, students and the greater Mt. Diablo community, passed a resolution formally opposing the petition on appeal, finding that the outlook on the underlying data make each of the failed criteria even less viable.  

 

For more information please see: https://www.mdusd.org/northgatepetitionupdate

 
 
Posted 6/29/22

Dear Mt. Diablo Unified School District Parents/Guardians, Families and Friends,

 

We have concluded the 2021-2022 academic year!  The entire MDUSD Team is thankful that we were able to provide an excellent educational experience for all students. That is not to say that this year was not challenging and difficult. The year definitely stretched all families, students and staff to the limits.  

 

This year was not easy for our families, with continuous COVID-19 protocols and fears that schools could close again. That said, I am proud that we were able to keep all of our classrooms and schools open without any closures. We still have lots of work to do in order to serve all parents, families and community members at the highest levels. I promise we will continue to improve our systems to increase our levels of service. 

 

On May 24, MDUSD began issuing high school diplomas or certificates of completion to over 1,700 students. There were 10 different graduation ceremonies where families, staff and friends could celebrate the graduates. The faculty and staff worked extremely hard to support these graduates in reaching their desired goals. 

 

We are thankful and grateful to the management as well as the staff at the Concord Pavilion for the use of their beautiful facility to host many of our graduations. 

 

We were also fortunate to witness many students who progressed into higher grade levels or transitioned to other schools. Kindergarten students moved into the number grades, fifth graders into middle school and eighth graders were promoted to high school. All of these events were full of excitement and celebration. 

 

In conclusion, I am so proud of our students who attend MDUSD schools. Hopefully, you have had the opportunity to visit our website https://mdusd.org/ and read our Friday Letters that highlight the numerous accomplishments of our students and signature programs.  Over the next two months, we will host summer school, continue to hire high quality staff, complete facility projects and plan for the 2022-2023 academic year.

 

Thank you to all those who support the students and employees of MDUSD. We are so thankful for your support. Have a great summer.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Adam Clark

 

Posted 6/9/22

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) was one of 121 California school districts to earn a "Pivotal Practices Award" that celebrates schools and districts that implemented "an innovative practice during the 2020–21 school year, when California required schools to offer distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic."

 

Below is a description of the innovative services implemented in MDUSD, based on the award application submitted to the California Department of Education.

 

When the pandemic closed schools beginning in March 2020, the district's Food & Nutrition Services Department designed and implemented a Curbside Food Distribution Program at 14 school sites located in five cities within the district communities serving 80,000 meals per week. Three pivotal practices emerged from the pandemic program: a Curbside Food Distribution Program, Bus Delivery Food Distribution Program, and Scratch Cooked Meals.


The Department implemented the Curbside Food Distribution Program in 72 hours. Area Supervisors and the Director of Food & Nutrition Services monitored the field of 14 Curbside Food
Distribution Centers on a daily basis. The Curbside Distribution system model became the most effective way to distribute classroom materials to students as well. When families would visit Curbside Food Distribution Centers, they also could pick up educational materials. School garden projects, science materials,  multilingual literacy activities, and other student supplies were distributed for continued instructional success during virtual learning, with the Department staff proud to take on a more
prominent role in ‘continuing the learning.’


The Department kept families and students engaged through the quality of food provided and special menu theme days. For example, the department set up a BBQ at a Curbside Food Distribution Center that had students and families pick up a BBQ meal and, in most cases, a USDA Produce Box as part of a USDA Grant that helped many families during the pandemic. This motivated many families and students to stay connected to their school because of the meals they received, and we learned that everyone loves the smell and ambiance of a great BBQ meal.

 

Although virtual learning was occurring, our students reported feeling emotionally connected to their schools. The love and ‘air hugs’ from Department staff when students and families walked or drove over to pick up meals was heartwarming.


From March 2020 thru June 2021, the Department collaborated with many community organizations, distributing donated food and USDA Grant Food programs to many families who were in need of
food during the pandemic, but particularly during the “shelter at home” period. The department distributed over 1,000,000 pounds of food in all five cities within district communities. Fresh
produce, organic beef, dairy, and many other commodities were delivered weekly.


In Fall 2020, the Department realized many families did not have the ability to leave their homes to pick up meals at Curbside Food Distribution Centers. The Food & Nutrition Services Department partnered with the MDUSD Transportation Department to implement a Bus Delivery Food Distribution Program that relied on district buses as delivery vehicles. Many joked that it felt like an MDUSD version of Instacart. The Transportation Department supported 18 routes throughout our district’s 150 square mile radius, with new bus stops identified and established according to a set route timeline based on family input. Thus, families could pick up meals right outside their homes, creating food access
locations for families that were having a difficult time picking up meals. This resulted in a new Food Distribution system that served 10,000 more meals per week.

 

Due to the successful distribution during the pandemic, MDUSD invested in a new fleet of refrigerated delivery trucks to continue more effective methods of distributing food to sites, neighborhoods when necessary, and the community in the event of future emergencies. These pandemic-related responses became best practices, an upside of an otherwise challenging pandemic. The opportunities were created for the Department to develop and implement an inter-district distribution program that currently supports 47 school sites.

 

This distribution model was further successful with the collaboration of the Contra Costa County Bus Connection that picked up meals at two school sites in the Bay Point area of the county. The County Connection Bus system delivered meals directly to 100 student/family homes that were having a difficult time with transportation to access meals.

 

Finally, during the pandemic-related closures, the Department produced 85% of the meals, made from scratch, in the district Central Kitchen and high school kitchens. Each kitchen was responsible for hand rolled burritos (including vegetarian to meet students' cultural needs) to a variety of homemade pizzas, including the Sicilian Scratch Pizza in the photo below. The success of the scratch cooking model continues to remain in place and on district menus because food was of higher quality and more cost effective. This specific pivotal practice is still used in MDUSD with the many scratch cooking menu entrees designed and perfected during the pandemic. This enabled the Department warehouse attendant drivers to gain experience using the new delivery trucks that have helped the program to be more efficient, more cost effective, and provide a higher quality of service to school sites. 

The Department learned from the pandemic and these new pivotal practices that the ability to scratch cook meals at multiple sites was more than possible moving forward, as were new ways to distribute meals. The Central Kitchen became the hub of the district for food distribution and a major food production kitchen, and the ability to distribute food through a New Inter-District Distribution system meets more needs than ever before. These pivotal practice helped develop new systems and processes that are still being used today in the Food & Nutrition Services program, allowing us to become more efficient and streamlined in our operations. 

 

The inter-distribution system continues, scratch made entrees continue to wow our students, and a newly completed centralized warehouse supports operations at over 47 school sites. The three pivotal practices put in place by the Department instilled confidence in the Food & Nutrition Services staff that it really could overcome any challenge; the learnings from the pandemic have allowed the teams to do more than just think outside the box: they threw away the box! Food production, distribution, community partnerships, distribution of food at a very high volume in a drive-through setting, and the Department becoming the epicenter for food for those families in need are all pivotal, game-changing outcomes of the pandemic. Students and families could count on support from their schools in their area. 

 

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District, led by the Food & Nutrition Department, became the core of services for so many in our community and provided immeasurable support for tens of thousands of families in need during the pandemic. 

 

Mt. Diablo Unified Food & Nutrition

Bel Air Elementary School - Curbside BBQ during the Pandemic (February 2021)

Posted 6/7/22

SB

Self portrait by Sarahbeth Maney as a photography student at College Park High School. She graduated in 2014 and is now a New York Times photography fellow. 

 

By Theresa Harrington, MDUSD Public Information Officer

 

As the Class of 2022 graduates from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, some may wonder how their education will prepare them for the next steps in their lives and how they should decide what paths to take. Sarahbeth Maney, who graduated from College Park High in 2014, has some words of advice to share.

 

She is an up-and-coming successful photography fellow for the New York Times who gained national attention for her work after a photo she took of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and her daughter went viral during the confirmation hearings.

Sarahbeth

 

Starting July 6, Sarahbeth will begin working as a staff photojournalist for the Detroit Free Press. 

 

In a poignant essay for "Today," Sarahbeth wrote about her photo of Brown Jackson's daughter beaming with pride as she looked admiringly at her mother, as well as her own experiences as one of few Black female photojournalists.

SB tweet

Sarahbeth said she hoped her photo would inspire more Black girls to follow in her footsteps.

 

"I want my visibility to show that Black women are fully capable of being photojournalists and achieving highs in their own careers, despite how much we have to fight for representation and respect," she wrote. "I also want my picture to inspire other Black girls to turn their own lens onto the world. There are not enough Black women in photojournalism and I hope to forge a path for more to join our industry. When you’re the only one it feels difficult and I’ve experienced that — but I hope it will be different for those who come after me."

 

While Sarahbeth was a student at CPHS, she studied photography in teacher Jen Kennedy's Photography classes, which are part of MDUSD's Career Pathways program.  

 

"I think Jen's class definitely impacted my decision to pursue photojournalism as a career," Sarahbeth said. "Having the opportunity to take photography class in high school and explore shooting with film, developing my own work and experimenting with studio lighting deepened my interest in photography. It taught me early on how I could use different formats of photography to tell stories. Recently, my mom actually dug up some of my earliest work (from Jen's class) that she held onto. I don't remember what the exact assignment was, but I remember telling my parents that I wanted to do portraits of people in San Francisco so they came with me. That was my first time approaching random strangers on the street and asking to take their photo. Now I do that (approach strangers) every day for work -- so little did I know that assignment would be formative to my development as a journalist. Another thing that was really memorable was being able to display and sell my photography work for the first time. There were multiple exhibits that Jen had pulled together for the photography students and I remember making my first business cards to hand out to people. It was a really exciting moment for me."

 

Below are some of the photos Sarahbeth's mom dug up from her high school years. Kennedy said Sarahbeth was always a tremendously talented student and she's not surprised by her success. These photos demonstrate that early talent.

CPHS photos

 

Sarahbeth said her high school counselor, Sheila Walsh, had a great impact on her decision to pursue higher education after graduation.

"I'm a first generation college student, so the thought of college didn't even cross my mind until my senior year in high school," she said. "When I realized I had the grades to apply for colleges, I applied for any California State school that offered photography. My parents didn't see how it would be possible for me to afford college, but the college counselor told us (students) 'Don't let money be the reason you don't go to college.' Being told that in high school truly changed my life because as a young person, you think money is not a situation you have any control over. After talking with the counselor, she gave me a flyer to invite my parents to her classes about financial resources and the prerequisites I needed to be admitted to college. In the end, I was able to graduate college debt-free with the help of FASFA, Cal Grant and scholarships."

 

Sarahbeth received a bachelor's degree in photojournalism from San Francisco State University in 2019, where she also served as The National Press Photographers Association chapter president. She worked as an intern at The San Francisco Chronicle, The Flint Journal in Michigan and the San Francisco Examiner, before landing her fellowship at the New York Times.

 

To seniors in the class of 2022, Sarahbeth offers this advice about sticking to your goals and not giving up:

"My words of advice would be for people to ask themselves what they care about the most," she said. "Whether it's storytelling, disability, policy, science – it's important to find that thing. I've found purpose by pursuing a career that makes me want to keep going no matter how hard it can be sometimes. I keep going because I care deeply about understanding, learning about others and sharing their stories. Journalism has forced me to be comfortable being uncomfortable, but it also taught me how to grow through rejection. I always knew I wanted to be a New York Times fellow so I didn't give up on that dream. I applied three times to the fellowship program, but instead of feeling like I failed each time I faced rejection – I used it as an opportunity to ask myself, 'What can I do better? How can I make my portfolio stronger?' I think being raised by my mother and grandmother had a huge impact on me as a young person because it taught me how to work hard for what I want in life and accept the sacrifices that come along with that. I watched my mom work three jobs growing up, so that always motivated me to keep going."

 

Before leaving her New York Times Fellowship, Sarahbeth was excited to meet Leila Jackson, and proudly displayed a photo of both of them holding her framed photo in a tweet, adding: "Such a gift!"

SB tweet

Posted 6/7/22

Project ACCESS

Mt. Diablo Adult Education Project ACCESS Award Winner Tanu Tiwari  speaks at the Class of 2022 Celebration of Achievement.

 

Through a partnership with Diablo Valley College (DVC), a Mt. Diablo Adult Education program is helping immigrants to learn English and prepare for careers in Early Childhood Education! Called "Project ACCESS" the program offers English as a Second Language courses that help adults become preschool teachers. Adult students learn early childhood content in their language courses as they prepare to transition to the Early Childhood Education Program at DVC. 

 

The program held its 13th annual Celebration of Achievement for the Class of 2022 on Thursday, recognizing about 13 students who earned Associate Teacher Certificates and 18 students who completed the Early Childhood Education/English as a Second Language "Bridge" program. All of the students were immigrants from countries including Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Mexico, the Philippines, and Syria.

 

Tanu Tiwari, who is from India, was awarded the Clara Sernaque "Unstoppable" Award in recognition of her perseverance, commitment and leadership by a vote of her classmates in the Associate Teacher program. Tiwari said the best part of the program was the study group, which included other women who all "lifted each other up" and helped each other succeed. "This is the best thing that has happened to me," she said, adding that she was happy to realize that her dream was achievable with the support of her program teachers and classmates through the pandemic.

 

Tiffany Angulo, who completed the ECE/ESL program, noted that many of the women students were mothers with young children. "For all the children here," she said, "congratulate your Moms and look at them and follow their examples. We can do the things we want with effort and commitment." 

 

Meena Voluspal, who was pregnant when she fled Afghanistan with her family before starting the ECE/ESL program, said she was grateful for the opportunities it has given her. "This class has been a light that has brightened my life," she said.

Similarly, Juvail Lalas said the ESL/ECE program will help her to achieve her childhood dream to be preschool teacher. "I dedicate this to my children so I can teach them better," she said.

 

For more information about the program, call 925-685-7340 ext. 6754 or email lenahane@mdusd.org.

 

DVC

 

 

Posted 6/6/22
Attachments:

pride flag

Rainbow Community Center Executive Director Kiku Johnson (l-r) joins Senior Executive Assistant to the Superintendent Laura Juranek, Board President Debra Mason, PFLAG of Clayton-Concord President Kathleen Krentz, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark, Board Member Cherise Khaund and Chief of Educational Services Jennifer Sachs for the Progress Pride Flag raising on June 1st outside the District Office. 

 

MDUSD is proud to recognize June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month and to fly the Progress Pride Flag above the District Office and at our schools! On June 1st, District officials were joined by representatives from the Rainbow Community Center and PFLAG of Clayton-Concord as Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark raised the District's first Progress Pride Flag. The School Board adopted a Resolution last month recognizing June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month, which includes an explanation of the symbolism of the Pride Progress flag. It was adapted from the original rainbow Pride flag, with the addition of black and brown lines to "represent marginalized people of color within the queer community, while the pink, blue and white arrow shape represents the transgender community."

Kathleen Krentz, President of PFLAG of Clayton Concord, said her organization was pleased to help organize the first Pride Prom in Contra Costa County at Concord High School earlier this year, which she expects to be held on that campus again next year on April 22, 2023. After COVID shut down schools last year, she said her organization is working to re-establish Genders and Sexualities Alliances, or GSA clubs on campuses, which are student-run organizations that unite LGBTQ+ and allied youth to build community and organize around issues impacting them in their schools and communities, according to the national website. Dr Clark said he encouraged schools to raise Progress Pride flags on their campuses to show that they are safe places for all students.

 

Kiku Johnson, Executive Director of the Rainbow Community Center said it matters to see the flag flying above the District office and at schools because it shows that we are all working in partnership to make LGBTQ+ students, staff and community members feel welcome and included. He and others at the flag raising also noted that local cities including Concord, Clayton and Pleasant Hill are also flying the Pride flag in recognition of LGBTQ+ Pride Month and that Clayton will host its first-ever Pride Parade on June 25th.

Gregory Gardens Elementary and Northgate HS are also flying Pride flags. 

 

NGHSA Progress Pride flag flies above Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. 

 

 

GGES PrideGregory Gardens Elementary in Pleasant Hill flies the Pride Flag.

Posted 6/6/22

This week's Friday Letter, which is the last District newsletter for the 2021-22 School Year, includes:

  • MDUSD recognizes LGBTQ+ Pride Month and flies Progress Pride flag; 
  • Adult Education program offers English language instruction and Early Childhood Ed training; 
  • Congrats to the MDUSD Class of 2022 and to District 5th-graders and 8th-graders celebrating promotions;
  • District news including School Board to meet on Wednesday;
  • Community news;
  • School spotlight on Mt. Diablo Elementary Odyssey of the Mind team;
  • Student Spotlight on Adult Education students' blood drive;
  • Staff Social Media Shout-outs;
  • Alumni spotlight on CPHS grad Sarahbeth Maney looking back at high school and offering advice to this year's Class of 2022;
  • important dates, and more!

You can read it here.

Posted 6/3/22

flyer

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is hosting a Middle School, High School, and Special Education Teacher Hiring Event from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 7th at the District Office, 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.

 

Please apply ahead of time and come in for an interview. Conditional Contracts may be offered at the event.

 

Join our team!

Posted 6/1/22

Mt. Diablo Unified School District is hiring for many different positions in our Food and Nutrition Services Department!

 

We offer great benefits, retirement, and so much more. Watch this video to find out about career opportunities.

 

To apply, visit https://rebrand.ly/ClassifiedApply

Posted 5/31/22

Mt. Diablo Unified School District is hiring many different positions in our Maintenance & Operations Department!

 

We offer great Benefits, retirement, and so much more.

 

Watch this video to find out about some of the career opportunities available in MDUSD:

 

To apply, visit https://rebrand.ly/ClassifiedApply.

Posted 5/31/22

Sequoia

Sequoia Elementary 3rd-grader Shaalin Batth works on his biography assignment focusing on IB learner traits.

 

Teachers and administrators at Sequoia Elementary in Pleasant Hill have been working for nearly four years to have the campus authorized as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme World School. The work paid off earlier this month, when they learned they had received the official authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization, making Sequoia Elementary one of nearly 1,500 schools throughout the world that focuses on building character traits identified in the "IB Learner Profile" while also making connections between different subjects by looking at larger themes. Monte Gardens Elementary and Oak Grove MS are also pursuing IB authorizations, while Ygnacio Valley HS has an established IB Diploma Programme on its campus.

Principal Patricia Kawahara said the IB programme provides Sequoia students with a world class education that promotes voice, choice, and ownership of their learning through inquiry. Teachers at each grade level work together to create lessons that encourage students to ask questions and help decide what they want to learn about. Classroom teachers also collaborate with the school's Mandarin teacher, STEAM lab teacher, music teacher and librarian to ensure that everyone is reinforcing the same themes each month. The programme requires students to learn another language and stresses deep, critical thinking through project-based learning across broad subject areas, as well as striving to meet personal and academic goals, she said.

Third-grade teacher Isabelle Torchia said the biography assignment requires students to focus on impactful people who have made a difference in our world, while thinking about the significance of their contributions to society, and appreciating their cultural perspectives. Students are also free to decide how they want to present their projects, such as via posters, written reports, google slides, graphic novels, paintings or videos using Padlet.

 

Students Shaalin Batth and Harini Sathish said they were enjoying their biography assignment. They planned to post a photos of their subjects, then write about one of their IB learner traits. Shaalin selected "principled" as the trait he wanted to stress regarding baseball player Jackie Robinson, saying Robinson kept practicing no matter what other people told him and made is possible for other Black people to play Major League Baseball. Harini chose the trait "caring" to describe Mother Teresa, because she was very caring toward those in need. Both students also described themselves as caring. "I like to help other people," Shaalin said. Harini added: "I'm nice and kind to other people."

 

Kawahara said the IB programme helps students learn to reflect on what they are learning, as well as on how they exemplify the IB learner profile traits: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective.

IB

Posted 5/31/22

Diplomas

Family members of former Japanese American Mt. Diablo High School students incarcerated in WWII Relocation Centers attend the Class of 2022 graduation.

 

The Mt. Diablo High School Class of 2022 made history on Tuesday night, when it invited the families of about 40 former Japanese American students to receive honorary diplomas 80 years after the students were incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers by order of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This momentous occasion came about due to the tireless work of Class of 1958 alumna Kimiyo Tahira Dowell and Ethnic Studies teacher Laura Valdez and her students, who lobbied the Mt. Diablo Unified School Board, which unanimously approved the idea in March.
 

Dowell, who was incarcerated with her parents as a toddler in a WWII Relocation Center, read the names of the former students during the graduation, noting that one - Misako Watanabe - passed away earlier this month. "Students, I am buoyed by your leadership - your intolerance for racial discrimination, your passion, your earnest study and work that have made tonight a reality for those 40 students and their families," Dowell said.

 

Seniors Arshpreet Garcha and Evelin Suarez Martinez explained the reasons they worked to include the Japanese American students enrolled in 1942, known as Nisei, as honorary members of their class. "Over 120,000 Japanese Americans including their immigrant parents were evacuated en masse without due process from their homes and placed in relocation centers," Arshpreet said. "This happened 80 years ago based on war hysteria, racial prejudice and bad leadership. As a result of my studies at Mt. Diablo High, I felt that this tragedy must be recognized, that restorative justice was called for and history must not repeat itself."

 

 

Evelin said she was touched to learn the compelling stories of male students who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army's segregated Japanese American 442 Regiment - one of the most highly decorated regiments in the US Army military intelligence service - while their families were in the relocation camps. "Such courage and resilience in the face of so much hardship," she said. "My participation in this project made me realize the importance of learning our history and our place in it, the responsibility that comes with freedom, and the power that we all have to counter the divisions in our society and racial violence that we are currently witnessing."

 

Family members of the honorees who attended the graduation said it was emotional for them to see their parents, aunts and uncles honored by the MDHS students. "I feel it's long overdue, but such a memorable occasion," said Gordon Kanada, who accepted an honorary diploma for his deceased uncle Tatsuki Kanada, who was known affectionately as "Tats." He noted that the occasion was very close to Memorial Day, when he would also be remembering his Uncle James Kanada, who died in World War II after serving alongside Tats and their brothers Harry and George in the U.S. Army's 442 Regimental Combat Team in Italy in 1945. Gordon brought James' Purple Heart to the graduation, along with photos of his uncles, to share with the students, District officials and other families during an informal "tailgate" style reception in the parking lot after the graduation. 

 

Purple Heart

Gordon Kanada displays the Purple Heart awarded to his Uncle James Kanada, who served alongside honorary diploma recipient Tatsuki Kanada and two of their brothers in the U.S. Army's segregated Japanese American 442 Regiment.

Posted 5/27/22

This week's Friday Letter includes:

  • Mt. Diablo HS grants retroactive diplomas for former Japanese American students incarcerated during WW II; 
  • Sequoia Elementary earns International Baccalaureate designation;
  • Congrats to the MDUSD Class of 2022;
  • District news including equity podcast project;
  • Student YVHS Robotics Club Spotlights;
  • Pleasant Hill School Spotlights;
  • District Staff Spotlights;
  • important dates, and more!

You can read it here

Posted 5/27/22

Mt. Diablo Unified School District is hiring Special Education Assistants!

 

We offer:

  • Great Benefits,
  • retirement, and
  • so much more.

 

To apply, visit https://rebrand.ly/ClassifiedApply

 

Check out this video for more information.

Posted 5/25/22

Dear Mt. Diablo School Community, 

In light of the recent school shooting in Texas, we would like to offer you resources for discussing this tragic event with your children and students.

Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Families and Educators - English

Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers - Spanish

School Violence Prevention: Tips for Parents and Educators - English

Talking to your Children about Gun Violence- infographic- Spanish

Talking to Children about Terrorist Attacks and Shootings in the News

Tips for Helping Students Recover from Traumatic Events- USDOE

Helping Children Cope with Frightening News (Child Mind Institute) 

Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting (American Counseling Association) 

Helping Children after Traumatic Events- Video

Responding to School Violence: Tips for Administrators

 

Please use these resources and reach out to school counselors for additional support, if needed.  Also, be assured that we continue to make student and staff safety a top priority in Mt. Diablo Unified and are committed to providing safe, healthy learning environments at our schools.

Sincerely,

Adam Clark, Ed.D
Superintendent, Mt. Diablo Unified School District

 

Posted 5/25/22

This week's Friday Letter includes:

  • Habitat for Humanity hosts high school construction students;
  • District news including MDUSD Growing Healthy Kids workshop Saturday at El Monte Elementary;
  • School spotlight on Special Education Mother's Day Tea at YVHS;
  • District Staff Spotlight on CBO Walks;
  • important dates, and more!

You can read it here.

Posted 5/20/22

SunvalleyMDUSD Board President Debra Mason (above) joins MDUSD administrators, teachers and students, along with Sunvalley Shopping Center, Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce and Concord officials, at a ribbon-cutting for the MDUSD Art Showcase.

 

More than two dozen MDUSD students, staff, business and community members turned out to kick off the MDUSD Art Showcase at Sunvalley Shopping Center in Concord on May 9th, featuring Art & Digital Media Pathways student work from College Park, Concord, Mt. Diablo and Northgate high schools.

Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark thanked the shopping center and Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce for its partnership with the school district to highlight student art in the community. “I think it’s very obvious that when you give our students an opportunity to express themselves and their experiences, you’re going to see some wonderful things,” he said, noting the “incredible" work on display.

The showcase includes four large screen monitors that display digital photos of art created at each of the high schools represented, including photography, animation and digital media. The monitors will be placed at different locations throughout the mall through May 25th and include Scavenger Hunt clues, which are also translated into Spanish.

Mt. Diablo High School Digital Safari Academy students Elaine Torres and Haidi De La Torre-Figueroa said they were excited to see their artwork on display. “It makes me feel proud of my work and my school,” said Elaine, a senior whose poster featuring food and drinks is in the showcase. Haidi de La Torre-Figueroa, a junior, pointed to a poster she designed showing rainbows and white, puffy clouds along with the inspirational quote: “Take one step at a time.” Haidi wants to be a professional artist after she graduates and said she appreciates the training she is receiving in high school, as well as the opportunity to show her work at the mall. Her mother, Anna Figueroa, said she was proud and happy to see Haidi's work at the mall. “I know that she will be successful,” she said. “Ever since she was a little girl, she always liked drawing.”

Northgate HS art and photography teacher Carolyn Moore said it was great to have the opportunity to display students’ art publicly and to hopefully connect with new business partners to show what MDUSD students can do. Northgate has about 260 pieces on display, giving every student the opportunity to participate in the showcase, she said. Mt. Diablo HS Graphic Design Teacher David Hevell said he appreciated the opportunity for students and teachers from different schools to see each other’s work, since each school’s program is slightly different. Northgate has the only animation program, while College Park and Concord High have strong photography programs and Mt. Diablo High emphasizes digital arts.  

 

MDHSMDHS student Haidi De La Torre-Figueroa points to her inspirational quote poster at MDUSD Digital Arts showcase.

Posted 5/18/22

This week's Friday Letter includes:

  • MDUSD Art Showcase kicks off at Sunvalley Shopping Center, and
  • Adult Education administrator and teacher earn state awards;
  • District news including MDUSD School Board Recognizes Classified Employees of the Year;
  • School news including Multicultural Week at MDHS;
  • School Staff Spotlight on YVHS Lunch Heroes;
  • Student Spotlight on YVHS IB Spanish student award;
  • important dates, and more!

You can read it here.

 

Posted 5/13/22

Awards

Olympic HS principal Lynsie Castellano (left, above) and teacher Danya Townsend pose with their awards on May 7, 2022.

 

 

Olympic HS Head Custodian Jorge Iniguez (below) received the CCEA Classified Employee of the Year award.

Jorge

 

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District is very proud of the remarkable work being done by staff at Olympic Continuation HIgh School in Concord, which was recognized by the California Continuation Education Association last Saturday! Principal Lynsie Castellano was honored as the organization's State Administrator of the Year, leadership and P.E. teacher Danya Townsend  received the Teacher of the Year award, and Head Custodian Jorge Iniguez was named the State Classified Employee of the Year by the organization, which presented the awards during a luncheon on Saturday, May 7th. Iniguez was unable to attend the ceremony.

All three award-winners said they were honored to be chosen to represent the District and their school, where they all work together with staff to support students in a caring, family-oriented environment.

 

Lynsie Castellano

Castellano became principal of Olympic seven years ago, after prevoiusly working as a vice principal at Valley View Middle School in Pleasant Hill and as a Vice Principal and Student Services Coordinator at Riverview Middle School in Bay Point.  She started her career as a Social Worker, which has helped her focus on students' families and support systems, as well as their academic needs. "I love home visits," she said. "I love being out in the community. When kids come here, they feel special. They feel loved. And most of them succeed. And that really is awesome."

 

She doesn’t know who nominated her for the award, but said she believes part of the reason she won may be her work guiding the school to win three-year “Model Continuation School” awards in 2018 and again in 2021. Previously, she said, the school had “kind of a stigma” attached to it, but she has worked to bring pride to the campus. “People recognize that this is an awesome place to go to school and to work,” she said. “It’s awesome that I’m being recognized for my leadership, but we’re a team. It’s really exciting.”

Both Townsend and Iniguez credited Castellano with keeping everyone at campus focused on what’s best for students. Townsend, who had previously worked with Castellano at Riverview Middle School, said she wanted to work for her again because of her leadership style. “I’ve been through a lot of administrators and I’ve realized that having a quality administrator means more than almost anything else in terms of being an effective teacher,” Townsend said. “I like to do a lot of non-traditional things, so I appreciate having someone who’s going to support me and trust me to do what’s best because she knows where my heart is."

Iniguez said as soon as Castellano arrived, she got involved in school activities, and started asking questions and making phone calls to fix the place up. “She saw that the campus was a little run down,” he said. “She got the district to paint classrooms, rip out the 30-year-old carpet in the main office and replace it, replace tiles, and she got new blinds for the classrooms. She goes around pulling weeds, cleaning up, picking up papers. She’s always on the go. She’s nonstop. She gets involved with the students and the teachers and always sees what needs to get done. I just love her. She’s not only a good administrator to me, but a good friend. I respect her a lot.” 

 

Danya Townsend

Townsend has known Castellano the entire time she has been a teacher, for 13 years. “She hired me to my first teaching job at Riverview Middle School,” Townsend recalled. “She was the VP. Immediately, we connected on the basis that she always wants to do what’s best for kids. If it’s what’s best for kids, she’s 100% supportive in anything you want to try, any effort you want to make. And that’s why I became a teacher - to do anything I could for kids.”
 
Castellano, who nominated Townsend for the award, said she tried for several years to persuade Townsend to come to Olympic. “She’s a culture game-changer for any school,” Castellano said. “She has built our P.E. and Leadership programs from nothing. I nominated her because she’s able to have a vision, but not just be visionary. She’s also task-oriented to get stuff done. All the kids love her. They will meet her expectations. They perform for her because they know she cares, but she has really high expectations, so she should be recognized for her awesomeness!”

Iniguez agreed that all the students love Townsend. “She’s an extremely good person,” he said. “She’s got a wonderful relationship with the kids and they love to be in her class. She’s got a great heart.” He was especially impressed, he said, when she showed up every Tuesday during the pandemic to hand out food to families from 4-6 p.m. And if they didn’t come to campus, she would deliver the food to them. “I know that’s not part of her job,” he said. “She’s always been on the go. She does so many things, it’s hard to name them all.”  

Ernesto Ponce, a senior, has known Townsend since they were both at Riverview Middle School. Although he has only had one class with her at Olympic, he loves to hang out in her classroom and pepper her with questions during breaks and lunchtime. “She’s very understanding and if she sees that you‘re trying, she helps you,” he said. “That motivates me. She encourages you do get your work done. She knows what classes you have and she helps you to plan what you need to get done, almost like a counselor.”

 

Jorge Iniguez

Iniguez has worked in the District for 31 years, including the past 13 years at Olympic High. He said he was surprised to be nominated for the award by teacher Yuri Buechler and counselor Keegan Pittman. “It was a big shock for me,” he said. “I’m really happy. It made me feel that people actually care for me. I’m not trying to do anything special, but I try to do what I can for the site. I am appreciative of the job.”

Castellano said Iniguez takes pride in “the feel of the campus, the way it looks.” Although she credited her entire staff for helping to create a welcoming atmosphere, she said that Iniguez is “so good at what he does -he expects Olympic to be a really nice place for kids to be, and it shows.  He’s just been an amazing part of Olympic and I was really proud that he got recognized as well,” she said, adding that “a bunch of staff” nominated him.

Townsend said she was also very happy that Iniguez won an award. “He deserves it,” she said. “He’s such a good person to have around. He’s really kind and patient with the kids. He’s very soft spoken, easy to get along with, very hard working, shows up early, stays late, and comes on days off. He’s just supportive in everything. It makes everyone else want to work hard for him because they know he’s going to do anything for you.”

Iniguez said everyone takes pride in working at Olympic and they help to lighten his load amid custodial staff shortages. “We all work together,” he said. “I haven’t had a regular night custodian for over a year. We’ve been having subs. All the teachers help me. Sometimes, when I have to stay late, they pull the garbage out of their rooms, so I don’t have to go into all their rooms. We work together. Everybody pitches in for everything.” He also likes the fact that students call him by his first name. “That makes me feel welcome,” he said, “that they care for me."

 

Posted 5/9/22

Students

Mt. Diablo HS teacher Natasha Paul stands with her 9th Grade English students after learning she is a County Teacher of the Year finalist.

 

Mt. Diablo High School teacher Natasha Paul got a big surprise last Tuesday - National Teacher Appreciation Day - when Contra Costa County Superintendent Lynn Mackey walked into her 9th Grade English class unexpectedly and announced that Paul has been selected as one of four County Teacher of the Year finalists! The county will select its two Teachers of the Year in September, who will go onto compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.

"It was quite the rigorous process," Mackey said, as she handed Paul a plaque recognizing her achievement. "She was selected by her peers, there were quite a few levels of screening, and speeches, and she was selected as one of the top educators in Contra Costa County." Paul said the announcement was "a huge surprise." She accepted flowers from her husband and two daughters, and was also congratulated by Principal Lorne Barbosa, School Board President Debra Mason and Board Members Cherise Khaund and Linda Mayo, along with Velma Wilson, the 32nd District PTA Vice President of Membership.

Mason pointed out that Paul is now teaching in her alma mater. "It has to be very gratifying for you to be back where you started, enriching the lives of families where you went to school," Mason said. "We’re very proud of you and we stand behind you all the way."

Paul said she is proud to be able to teach in her community. "It’s so important," she said. "When I go to the store, or I go to a restaurant with my family, and I run into my students, it’s a great source of pride for me." In an interview with KRON news, Paul said this has been her most challenging year of teaching due to the pandemic. "I’ve completely changed how I teach," she said. "I'm trying new ways of grading and new ways of delivering instruction. I think the only way to move forward is to do things differently because these kids are not the same kids as they were back in 7th grade." But Paul said teaching is definitely worth the effort. "I think it’s worth it because this is our future - and if you want to make a difference in how our world looks, then you need to be at the ground level, which is where I am."

 

More information about Paul is here.

 

Natasha

Posted 5/9/22

This week's Friday Letter includes: 

  • Mt. Diablo HS teacher is selected as a County Teacher of the Year finalist;
  • Olympic HS Dream Team earns Continuation Education Association Awards;
  • District news including Digital Art Showcase at Sunvalley Shopping Center;
  • School news including BMX assembly at Pine Hollow MS;
  • District and School Staff Spotlights;
  • Student Spotlights;
  • important dates, and more!

You can read it here

Posted 5/6/22

This week's Friday letter includes: 

  • MDUSD's "Allied Health Fair" is a success;
  • District news including the MDUSD School Board recognized Teacher of the Year finalists;
  • MDUSD in the News;
  • School news including Concord HS musicians take Disneyland by storm;
  • District and School Staff Spotlights;
  • Student Spotlights;
  • important dates, and more!

 

You can read it here.

 

Posted 4/29/22

ambulance

Students from Mt. Diablo High School's Medical Biotechology Academy pose in front of an ambulance during the MDUSD's first "Allied Health Fair" at the Loma Vista Adult Education Center.  

 

More than 150 students in health career pathways at three District high schools got hands-on experience exploring a variety of health-related occupations during Mt. Diablo Unified’s first “Allied Health Fair” on Thursday at the Loma Vista Adult Education Center in Concord.

 

Students from College Park High School’s Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences Pathway, Mt. Diablo High School’s Medical and Biotechology Academy (MBTA), and Ygnacio Valley High School’s Health Academy visited four health-career programs offered at the Adult Education Center and also heard presentations regarding Public Health careers and Professionalism in Health Care, including the importance of internships.

 

All students also spent time in an exhibit hall where they spoke to several professionals working in health-related fields including paramedics, veterinarians, pharmacists, helicopter medical transportation services providers, and a Mt. Diablo Unified School District Social Worker. Anna Ramos, the District’s Work Based Learning Coordinator who coordinated the event, said it was meant to introduce students to careers other than doctors or nurses.

 

“Allied health is the umbrella” term for these careers, she said.
Students and teachers were excited about the opportunity to learn about so many different career options in one place and were especially interested in trying out Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Surgical Technician and Medical Assistant equipment, as well as seeing how Dental Assistants make impressions of teeth and practice on life-sized mannequin heads in dental chairs. College Park High teacher Marcus Thomas said he was impressed by the adult school students who showed the high schoolers what they were learning and demonstrated how to use their equipment. 

 

He also appreciated the one-on-one opportunities his students had to ask questions directly to professionals working in healthcare careers. “I’m really glad we came,” he said. “It’s been very interactive.” College Park High student Devin Kosmakos said he appreciated the opportunity to meet so many people pursing different careers and finding out “what they had to do to get where they are.” 

 

Students in the Adult Education training programs acted as “ambassadors” to the high school students, leading them from one classroom to another, while the adult students working toward certifications in the medical and dental fields explained what they are learning and why they chose these careers.

 

Kaylee Sweet, an 18-year-old who graduated from Concord High last year, said she decided to enroll in the Adult Education’s medical assistant program because she decided she college was not the “right fit” for her. “I’m loving it so far,” she said. “It’s really great.”

 

Adult students in the surgical technologist program similarly praised their career choice, saying they will be paid well when they enter the field and they will have job security because of the high demand for health professionals. Dressed in operating gowns complete with gloves and head and shoe coverings, they showed high school students how to properly pass scissors to a surgeon – holding the sharp end backwards with the finger loops pointing toward the surgeon’s hand so the surgeon can begin using them quickly and easily without having to turn them around.

 

Although many of the adult students were not much older than the high school students, some had decided to go back to school later in life to be trained for second careers after their first jobs didn’t work out or they were returning to the workforce after staying home to care for children. Kelly Tardiff, who graduated from College Park High 18 years ago, said she researched surgical technologists online and was attracted by the reasonably priced one-year training program, as well as the knowledge that it will be easy to find a job after she completes it.

 

Showing a knee replacement surgery kit, she explained that surgical technologists must verify the patient information carefully to ensure that doctors are working on the right patients and limbs.

 

Similarly, Zachary Davila graduated from College Park High in 2017, then joined the Army and later worked in retail, but hadn’t found a career he wanted to stick with. As he demonstrated the proper way to draw blood from a prosthetic arm, Zachary said he’s enjoying the Medical Assistant program at the Adult School and knows this is a job he can pursue anywhere in the country or the world. Other adult medical assistant students took the high school students’ blood pressure, measured glucose levels in their blood, practiced bandaging them, and showed them how to administer injections.

 

In the Dental Assistant classroom, high school students stuck their fingers into small cups of alginate, a compound used to make dental impressions, to see how the substance hardened into the shape of their fingers. Dental impressions are used to create veneers, braces and implants, said Dental Assistant student Sadie Helberg, who showed the dental tray that is placed in a patient’s mouth next to a complete impression that is made afterward. “We’re all really enjoying it,” she said about the class, adding that she enjoys learning new skills and doing hands-on work.

 

DDS

 

In the Certified Nursing Assistant classroom, teachers explained that this is a great starting point for students who may want to pursue nursing or other related careers. The “health career pathway program” includes a professional development instructor and assistance with scholarships or grants for college. The career is a good fit for people who are reliable, dependable, are compassionate and care about helping others, and are willing to work long hours, said instructor Nicole Hall. It pays $22-$26 per hour, with travel nurses making $50-$62 per hour, she added. 

 

Likewise, the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training is a great stepping stone to becoming a paramedic, working for an ambulance company, said Jess Perri, who recruits paramedics for Falcon Ambulance, which brought an ambulance to the fair for students to explore. Students were able to touch puncture wounds in a prosthetic arm and see items in an emergency medical kit including Narcan to treat drug overdoses.

 

Mt. Diablo High students Ernesto Elias, Alejandro Sanchez and Grady Coffman enjoyed testing out the splints, while students Mariah Shah and Nilab Rezee practiced using an automated external defibrillator (AED) on a mannequin’s torso.

 

splints

Alejandro said he’s hoping to pursue a career in soccer after he graduates, but he would be interested in checking out medical fields if soccer doesn’t work out. He was especially impressed