Students, parents and teachers return By Rich Newman

It is with great anticipation and excitement that I welcome you to the 2018-19 school year. I am delighted to once again begin a new school year. I hope your summer was restful and filled with many fun family op­portunities.

The purpose of this letter is to update you on the great work our teaching staff and admin­istrators have been tackling during the summer recess. Continuous improvement will be our focus throughout the school year.

Our world is ever-changing, and providing an excellent edu­cation is the result of carefully crafted planning and the atten­tion to every detail that impacts teaching and learning.

Alpine Union is continuing our movement forward with as­pirations to be an even stronger school district for our students. This includes increasing the rigor of teaching in our class­rooms, adding personalized learning pathways for our stu­dents, and supporting the social and emotional well being of ev­ery student. The entire leader­ship team has been at work on planning for improvements.

There are a lot of exciting changes to inform you about as we start the school year:

• We are implementing a mathematics professional learning plan for all TK-8 grade teachers. Teachers will work with experienced math coaches throughout the year to receive math content and pedagogy workshops, grade level math content and classroom applica­tion workshops, including class­room coaching.

• We are increasing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engi­neering, Art, and Music) op­tions in all elementary schools through the expansion of our Wheel of Experts program sup­ported through the Alpine Edu­cation Foundation.

• We are continuing to expand our award-winning engineering and coding program at JMMS while providing more students the opportunity to participate in the program.

• We are expanding our Dual Language Spanish program to JMMS beginning this school year. Our first group of dual immersion sixth graders will begin next week.

• We are continuing our sec­ond year of implementing our new English Language Arts curriculum.

• We are implementing Col­laborative Teacher Planning Time.

These will be minimum days to support our vision of improv­ing learning outcomes for stu­dents by providing opportuni­ties for teacher collaboration and professional learning.

• Several of our schools will be offering one to one technol­ogy (one Chromebook for one student) this year in an effort to enhance learning opportuni­ties.

• We are increasing efforts to enhance the social and emo­tional support for our students. This includes partnering with the Sandy Hook Promise Foun­dation to educate our middle school students about the Say Something Anonymous Re­porting System, which teaches students how to look for warn­ing signs, signals and threats, especially in social media, and to say something to a trusted adult or use the Anonymous Reporting System to get help. We will be holding a parent ed­ucation evening in the coming months to introduce you to the program in advance of rolling it out to our students.

• We added a full-time Teach­er on special assignment at JMMS to specifically support the social and emotional needs of our students.

• We received a grant to im­plement and develop a Multi- Tiered System of Support to develop consistent district-wide systems of support to enhance the academic, social and emo­tional well being of our stu­dents, including intervention ef­forts for all students. We will be working throughout the year with the San Diego County Of­fice of Education to train staff and implement new ways to support our students.

• We will be identifying ways to enhance security on our cam­puses. Specifically, we are work­ing on securing the JMMS cam­pus including adding cameras. The proposed plans include enclosing the school with fenc­ing. The first stage of fencing enclosing the basketball courts has been completed and we are awaiting final architectural plans for perimeter fencing.

• We have added bus stops and changed some of our routes this year to ensure home to school transportation is safe and re­sponsive to the requests we have received from parents.

• We have resurfaced the cracks in the Creekside Early Learning Center playground to improve safety for our students. In the next few weeks, we will be seal coating and restriping the playground for our stu­dents. • We have replaced roofs on several rooms at SHES. • We have replaced, repaired or upgraded air conditioning sys­tems at JMMS and BOES. • We will be installing a new public announcement and bell system at BOES. • At our Professional Growth Day on August 15, each school identified behavioral expectations and recommenda­tions to develop district-wide behavioral norms. • All clas­sified staff were trained in re­storative and trauma-informed practices to support students at our schools. • We have hired a new Extended School Ser­vices Coordinator to oversee and build our before and after school program to ensure that it is an extension of the learning day at our schools. • All school services can now be paid for online, including using School Cafe to pay for your child’s lunches. The program allows you to monitor your child’s ac­tivity on their meal account, make automatic payments, and receive low balance notices. • Fi­nally, a Superintendent’s Task Force committee will be form­ing to analyze and recommend potentially reconfiguring our schools around the vision of creating personalized learning pathways for our students that are rigorous, focused on fully integrating STEAM experi­ences and technology into the curriculum, and effectively uti­lizing our school facilities. The Task Force will be comprised of a wide array of stakeholders, including parents, representa­tives from classified, certifi­cated and management staff, and community members to capture a range of thinking. If you are interested in being part of the Task Force please sub­mit your name to rnewman@al­pineschools.net by Wednesday, August 29.

In closing, as I enter my third year as your Superintendent, I am honored to serve this com­munity and continue to work to provide the finest educational system for the students of Al­pine. As you can see, we are hard at work improving all as­pects of our District. I believe with your support, thinking and engagement the best days of Alpine Union lie ahead of us.

Rich Newman is Superinten­dent of the Alpine Union School District.

Students, parents and teachers return By Rich Newman

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