Graduation season is here, and Santa Clara Unified School District is bustling with activity. During this busy time, the Board of Trustees took the opportunity to recognize some stars in the community.
At the Board meeting on Thursday, May 25, Superintendent Dr. Gary Waddell took the time to recognize many of their outstanding students, staff and community. Starting with the quarter’s Difference Makers, they honored certificated staff member Amy Magagna from Wilcox High School and classified staff member Jessica Gonzalez from Westwood Elementary School. They also recognized community member Walt van Zant from Wilcox as well as Wilcox high schooler Andrea Garcia-Talavera. And lastly, they recognized the Wilcox National Art Honors Society (NAHS) Student Club.
Public Information Officer Jennifer Dericco and Dr. Waddell’s SCUSD Student Senate had its first run this year and Dericco presented the Senate with gifts and certificates. They recognized Student Senator and Student Trustee Anika Bose of Wilcox High School as well as Student Senators Tania Zaragoza Atayde from New Valley High School, Skarlette Smillie from Mission Early College High School, Monique Jones from Wilson High School, Jason Liu from MacDonald High School and Mateo Moyoli from Santa Clara High School.
Dr. Waddell also thanked the Santa Clara Police Department for their safety partnership. He specifically recognized Probation Officer Alejandra Lopez, Community Service Officer Taylor Carpenter, Officer Scott Savage, Sergeant John Terry, Lieutenant Cuong Phan, Assistant Chief Wahid Kazem and Police Chief Pat Nikolai.
Digital Classroom Innovation
Joe Ayala, Director of Technology, and Stephanie Rothstein, Innovation TOSA, had an update to share on the first cohort of the Digital Classroom Innovation program. This year they tested out new classroom technology with a small group of 6th-grade classes and introduced new tech-focused professional learning and coaching. This year, because replacing all the technology in every Santa Clara Unified classroom would be very costly, they wanted to focus more on a small group of teachers and students to work with the technology and implement it in impactful ways for learning, said Ayala.
The cohort’s classrooms were decked out with new technology including an 86” ViewSonic Television, AppleTV and an iPad. They also installed classroom speakers and provided the teachers with a microphone.
“It’s not just about technology replacement,” said Chief Academic and Innovation Officer Brad Stam. “You can have very expensive tools that are being used, just like the previous tools. If it’s not teachers innovating with each other and challenging each other to come up with new and exciting ways to use these tools, that’s what going to transform education, not just the technology itself.”
Rothstein led professional learning and coaching. The cohort of teachers learned more about teaching with tools like Google Workspace and Canva. The teachers also collaborated on lesson plans and provided feedback on what was working for them and impacts on student learning, said Rothstein.
Teachers Amber Wacht from Peterson Middle School and Dani Corso from Don Callejon K-8 School shared their successes with the cohorts. Corso pointed out that the speakers and microphone were great at helping those who are hard of hearing. Wacht shared the progress her ELA students made with vocabulary.
Through these cohorts, the Digital Classroom Innovation program is hoping to build examples of what a Santa Clara Unified classroom looks like. Then, they can make a replacement cycle for technology and build the infrastructure for classrooms like the one the cohorts are learning in, said Ayala. He is working on a hardware device replacement system so they can be purposeful when replacing and upgrading equipment to keep the cost low. They want to continue with the cohorts so they can get feedback from teachers on what technology is the right fit and can be used for multiple functions in a learning environment.
Board Member Jodi Muirhead was concerned about teachers outside their cohort and when they may see technology upgrades in their own classrooms. Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Chief Business Official Mark Schiel emphasized that they want to be intentional when it comes to technology upgrades. He said that starts with identifying what technology they already have and its life cycle for replacement so they can budget for replacing that technology and then also build the schedule for onboarding more schools and grade levels.
Board Member Albert Gonzalez inquired about implementation for younger grades and Ayala said there are some tests they are doing at Central Park that can be used to create a model for elementary schools which will be useful for bringing the New Laurelwood Elementary School to life and for upgrades at other elementary schools.
Moving forward, Ayala says they are still developing the program and will start with expanding the cohorts to 7th grade in the 2023 – 2024 school year and then to 8th grade in the 2024 – 2025 school year and provide the classroom technology makeovers and well as professional learning and coaching. In future cohort cycles they hope to deepen the learning students can do with technology as well as work on classroom design with the technology in mind. They want to continue working on leadership development so the current cohorts can mentor new cohort members.
Santa Clara Unified Staff
The Board approved hiring Teresa Posas as the new Vice-Principal for Santa Clara High School. They also approved hiring Danielle Metz as the new Principal of Braly Elementary.
The new job description for the Student and Family Engagement Liaison was up for discussion. Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Jose Gonzalez said the new job description replaces the Community Liaison job description. The goal is to provide a more comprehensive approach to student and family support than the previous job description described, according to the agenda.
Director of Professional Learning Karen Allard recognized the first cohort of the Educator Preparation for Inclusive Classroom (EPIC) Program. Sharmistha Bhattacharyya, Anuradha Kumar, Michelle Le, Leila Mehr, Byron Myers, Gilbert Ortiz, Lopamudra Patanbaik and Jay Yin are Paraeducators who completed all their coursework.
Additionally, the Board officially affirmed June 2023 as LGBTQQIA+ Pride Month.
The Santa Clara Unified Board meets next Thursday, June 8. Meetings are live-streamed on the District’s YouTube page and agendas are posted on their website.