Campus Connections
July 21, 2017 
Volume 1, Issue 11

Superintendent's Message: Deepening community connections strengthens a Culture of We for MUSD students

This month I’ve had the privilege of talking with several different community members in local forums, from one-on-one conversations to city commissions, service and business groups, cultural groups, and at our India Center Table Tennis Club (ICC/TTC). While I heard perspectives from our community members who were Muslim, Hindu, Christian, immigrants from India, China, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East, or native Milpitas residents, two common themes were expressed: building community and cultural understanding. These conversations speak to the imperative we have set for ourselves in Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) that we call a Culture of We. What I love about our MUSD and greater Milpitas community is that we are conversing about how to deepen our connections to one another so that we can realize the society we want for our children.

How do we overcome the barriers that prevent us from developing an authentic Culture of We within Milpitas? We need to connect with personal stories so that we can dispel myths about “the other,” and develop empathy for the experiences that have made each of us unique. As we interact with our youth, and sometimes even one another, it is important for us to call attention to word that carry the pain of oppression. While we might soften that pain by calling the words examples of “bullying” or allowing them to remain in our conversation because they have become commonplace, we need to recognize their roots and educate so that we do not perpetuate their use.

Through shared experiences we can create cultural understanding. For example, when I visited our
ICC/TTC, I saw youth of Chinese, Indian, Latino, and European descent practicing together. These students practice every weekend, and throughout their time they have an opportunity to share interests, customs, and food. I spoke with members of one of our mosques who shared with me an effort they are embarking on called “Meet a Muslim.” Through café chats and sharing a meal together, ignorance is dispelled to make way for relationship and appreciation.

Throughout the upcoming school year, we will have many opportunities to share and connect so that together we can ensure that every student and every community member feels engaged and supported. In the meantime, take your family to one of the many cultural events that are happening
in our community, or take a moment to get to know the neighbor you pass by every day; it starts with a smile. If we are to value one another and recognize the dignity of each, we must cultivate an open mind and a listening heart, we must establish a Culture of We.
Giuliana Brahim promoted to Milpitas Adult Education principal
By Shannon Carr
Board Support & Communications Specialist 

Giuliana Brahim was promoted to Principal of Milpitas Adult Education (MAE)  after more than 15 years of work focused on empowering adult learners and promoting restorative education to incarcerated adults.

“I am truly honored to accept the nomination of Principal for Adult Education and Corrections Division,” Brahim said. “I am humbled by the trust that the Milpitas Board Members and Superintendent Cheryl Jordan have placed in me. Each of them understands and knows the importance of the Adult Education programs in the community and in the correctional facilities. I want to extend my commitment and support to all staff and to the community. Together I am confident that we will continue to move Adult Education forward. I am grateful and excited for this amazing opportunity!”

In her role as MAE’s Assistant Principal the last two years, Brahim has worked diligently to ensure that the Adult Education vision, plans, and actions align with the core values of the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) vision to “prepare students to go out into the world and make a difference as responsible citizens who are passionate about life and learning.”

Giuliana has shown me since she first applied for the AP position in 2015 that she is one who can accept a challenge and live up to it,” Superintendent Jordan said. “Giuliana knows that education is hope, it is the key to equity, and has empowered many of our students in the Corrections and Ayer sites with the opportunity to better their lives. Giuliana demonstrates perseverance and grit, and I am proud to support her as she steps into this new leadership role.”

Superintendent Jordan announced Brahim’s new position during a July 12 staff meeting at Elmwood Correctional Facility, one of two locations for the Milpitas program, also housed at the Ayer Adult School at the District Office.

Read more >

Hanna Asrat of Partners in School Innovation appointed Assistant Principal of Burnett Elementary School
By Shannon Carr
Board Support & Communications Specialist 

Hanna Asrat will become Assistant Principal of Burnett Elementary School after an 11-year career in education.  

“I am thrilled to join the Burnett and MUSD communities and am anxious to begin serving the students in Milpitas!” she said.

Asrat began her career teaching both second and third grades at Briarwood and Pomeroy, two kindergarten through fifth-grade schools in Santa Clara Unified School District. As she grew as an educator, Asrat “learned the art of teaching, the skills necessary to plan and deliver lessons and units intentionally developed to support the learning of all students, and the value of collaboration,” she said.

“I’m thrilled that we have hired Hana Asrat as our Assistant Principal for Burnett,” Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said. “Even knowing the potential for budget reductions and savings through a return to the shared elementary AP model that we had, Hana still said, ‘YES!’ to our offer for employment.”

Asrat served as a mentor teacher for three student teachers and served as a member of her school’s leadership, School Site Council, and PTA teams.

“My work with student teachers is when I discovered that I truly enjoy facilitating adult learning,” she said. “That, coupled with a desire to contribute to systemic change for the students most in need, is why I began working at Partners in School Innovation in 2014.”

Asrat has worked at San Jose-based Partners for three years, supporting teachers, instructional coaches, and principals to implement research-based practices that transform schools. She has also honed her skills as a facilitator of adult learning, coach, and leader, bettering her abilities in speaking about race, culture, and identity, and how these factors influence educational outcomes for students.

Read more >

Cal Hills teacher teacher Sridaya Mandyam-Komar one of three Santa Clara County winners announced for the Texas Instruments STEM Teaching Awards
By Shannon Carr
Board Support & Communications Specialist 

Carlton Stice, Principal of Calaveras Hills High School (commonly referred to as Cal Hills), says math and engineering teacher Sridaya Mandyam-Komar has been a strong advocate for building student pathways since joining the continuation school in fall 2015.  

“Sridaya works so hard and is open to bringing our students great, out-of-the-box types of opportunities,” he said. “She has developed a course in engineering that now has approximately 60 alternative education students turned on to engineering in a powerful way that could change the trajectory of their lives.”

Because of Mandyam-Komar’s ongoing dedication, Stice said it came as no surprise when the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) recently selected her as one of three winners in its Texas Instruments Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards.

“When I was selected as a winner, I felt genuinely happy for Cal Hills and what we represent,” Mandyam-Komar said. “Seeing that my students were curious about STEM and how some of them had started to map out their future in STEM careers was reward enough for me. This award makes this reward even sweeter.”

Mandyam-Komar will be honored at the 48th annual Teacher Recognition Celebration, presented by the SCCOE, at 7 p.m. on September 14 at the Heritage Theatre in Campbell. Along with the STEM honorees, the event will also recognize 32 accomplished educators, selected from their respective districts.

“One of the great pleasures of hosting the Teacher Recognition Celebration is having an opportunity to learn about all of the excellent teachers within Santa Clara County, including Milpitas Unified School District’s teacher Sridaya Mandyam-Komar,” said Summer Reeves, Communications/Public Relations Specialist with the SCCOE.

Mandyam-Komar credited the vision of Principal Stice and dedication and persistence on her end to create an engineering course at Cal Hills, which has gained her the recognition.

“As our students are primarily here to recover credits, it was not very clear how this would pan out,” she admits. “It is gratifying to see that our students rose to the occasion and persevered to finish the course with success.”

She added her students have benefit immensely from the generous funding for the engineering program. Mandyam-Komar has been able take them on field trips to The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose and local universities, along with bring in a guest speaker, all of which has provided access to career and college options. The support has also allowed them to have a fully equipped computer lab and 3D printer, to enrich their everyday coursework.

“I have been fortunate to teach at a school and district that value risk taking and innovation,” she said. “​​Bringing the engineering course to Cal Hills has definitely made me see myself as a powerful catalyst in sparking student interest.”

Read more >

Zanker instructor Laura Polden named
MUSD's 2016-17 Teacher of the Year
By Shannon Carr
Board Support & Communications Specialist 

Growing up, Laura Polden never imagined a life that didn’t involve working with children.

“My earliest memory ever is the day my sister was born, and I picked out a book that I was going to read to her when she came from the hospital,” recalls Polden, who was 2 at the time. “I was ready to take on that role from a very young age.”

Over the years, Polden’s maternal instinct grew to foster jobs ranging from a camp counselor to a nanny, swimming instructor, and teacher for a special education program and private school. She was even known as the potty trainer for the local neighborhood kids. 

“There’s never been anything else that I wanted to do,” Polden readily admits.

This passion and relentless dedication is obvious to her colleagues and school district leadership alike, which is why the fourth grade teacher at Pearl Zanker Elementary School was announced as Milpitas Unified’s 2016-17 Teacher of the Year during the Employee Recognition Celebration on May 24. Polden will be one of  32 accomplished educators honored at the 48th annual  Teacher Recognition Celebration, presented by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, 7 p.m. on September 14 at the Heritage Theatre in Campbell.
“I was very surprised and humbled,” Polden said of the announcement. “...It makes me feel very emotional.”

Zanker Principal Trisha Lee said Polden was nominated by at least four colleagues, who helped pen the submission form collaboratively. She was first chosen as Zanker’s Teacher of the Year, before going on to earn the school district award.

Among the nomination highlights, Polden was noted for being a “dynamic instructor who has a natural ability to read her students needs through explicitly implemented informal formative feedback as well as through her ability to sense their non-verbal feedback.”

They cited her work as data driven and highly engaging -- for students and staff alike -- and said Polden has amazing communication skills, relationships with students and families, and engagement in the Zanker community, attending almost every school event. 

“I think she is extremely deserving,” Lee said of Polden being selected for the award. “She has this zest for life. She finds a way to connect with all colleagues, and invites parents to be a part of her classroom. She is truly a lifelong learner.”
Rancho Middle School receives national recognition for being 'School to Watch'
Staff from Rancho Milpitas Middle School, including teacher Victoria Salcedo, Assistant Principal Sean Anglon, Principal Casey McMurray, and teacher Karen Hengst (pictured, from left), were among those recognized during the National Forum's 13th annual Schools to Watch Conference on June 24 in Washington, D.C.

The honor was received because Rancho earned its fourth redesignation as a  model middle grade school in the 2016-17 Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage program. 

Honored middle grade schools are high-performing model schools that demonstrate academic excellence, responsiveness to the needs of young adolescents, and social equity, according to an official statement from the California League of Schools and Schools to Watch-Taking Center Stage office. These schools host visitors from California and around the world who are looking to learn practices they can use to improve their middle grades schools and close the achievement gap.

To earn this designation, schools must complete an extensive application that is reviewed by middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years. 

Weller hosts 'Jumpstart Kindergarten'
to prepare students for new school year
By Alicia Padilla
Principal, Weller Elementary School

Some of our future kindergartners arrived early in June to start school. Over 30 incoming kindergartners finished Weller’s Jumpstart Kindergarten two-week summer program on June 19.

Kindergarten teachers Sue Von Tersch and Kristi Hirano started the summer program over seven years ago in an effort to help close the achievement gap. The program allows students to transition to their new school, meet new classmates, begin learning the class rules and expectations, and begin assessments in reading and in math - to help guide their instruction when school begins in August.

We are thankful for the wonderful buddy volunteers from Milpitas High School and the community volunteers for coming everyday to help make Jumpstart a success. 
Upcoming Events
MUSD "State of the Art with Heart"
Visioning Workshop August 7
The educational landscape is constantly changing around us in the blink of an eye. From student demographics to teaching techniques, increases in the use of technology, school culture, and local industry, Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) is ever-evolving in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Join approximately 100 participants -- ranging from city leaders, students, community members, businesses, and regional Fortune 1000 corporations -- in a discussion about how to embrace these changes and break through the traditional school climate to better the lives of  every student we serve during MUSD's "State of the Art with Heart" Visioning Workshop from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Monday, August 7 in the Community Room at the Milpitas San Jose Evergreen Community College Extension at Ben Gross Education Park, located at 1450 Escuela Parkway in Milpitas. 

Together, we can ensure our educational system embraces its responsibility to our youth, city, and future community of Silicon Valley.

Please email Lori Porter at if you are interested in attending.

Town Hall meetings for input on future facilities needs scheduled August 9, 15
With the passing of Measure E in 2012, the community support enabled MUSD to create a learning center at every school in which the physical environment is inviting, flexible, and inspiring. The funds from Measure E provided our students with school improvements and enabled us to address many projects in need of repair or renovation. Additionally, Measure E allowed us to secure land and build Phase I of our 10th elementary school, Mabel Mattos Elementary, scheduled for opening the fall of 2018. View our  public service announcement at this link for an overview of all the work we completed with Bond 2012 funding.

There are many areas of need for the future, and additional infrastructure improvements must be made to maintain our capacity for growth. Join District leaders for a Town Hall meeting on  Wednesday, August 9 from  6:30-8 p.m.  at the Milpitas San Jose Evergreen Community College Extension at Ben Gross Education Park, 1450 Escuela Parkway, to discuss future facilities plans. An event will also be held on Tuesday, August 15 from 5-6:30 p.m. at Zanker Elementary School, 1585 Fallen Leaf Drive.
Groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Mabel Mattos Elementary School on August 24
Join Milpitas Unified School District in celebrating the groundbreaking of its 10th elementary school, Mabel Mattos, from 4-5 p.m. (program starts at 4:15 p.m.) on Tuesday, August 24 at 1750 McCandless Drive. If street parking is not available, you can park in the open lot. Please RSVP to by Monday, August 21.

Located in the Milpitas Transit area, the first phase of Mabel Mattos Elementary School is on track to open its doors in August 2018 to 238 students. For more information about the school, visit the District webpage.
Successful summer school programs expand educational opportunities for MUSD students
By Gregory Barnes
Director, Secondary Education

Summer school 2017 continued to expand educational opportunities for Milpitas Unified School District students. In total, MUSD housed nine unique programs for a variety of students this summer. Programs ended this week.

Traditional classes for high school students were offered to students in need of fulfilling graduation requirements. This six-week program was separated into two three-week semester classes, allowing students to take a full year of credit if desired. The middle school program supported the math and English needs of current seventh and eight graders. Both of these programs offered classes for second language learners as well as extended school year opportunities for students in special education. Both of these programs combined housed over 600 students.
Over the last two summers, MUSD has offered the SEAL summer bridge enrichment and teacher professional development summer session. This two-week enrichment/professional development extended the learning of our adult teachers while providing a thematic enrichment opportunity for elementary students. 

The Elementary Reading Program, also in its second year, was designed to offer reading enrichment and skill development to incoming third grade students. This five-week intervention worked with our most at-risk readers from our school sites.

New to summer offerings this year were the Elevate math program and Summit Extended Learning Opportunities. The Elevate math program was offered to incoming ninth grade students in an effort to increase their math proficiency in high school. The Summit Extended session provided students with an opportunity to complete focus areas by completing associated content assessments. Finally, MUSD once again offered an enrichment program for Elementary school children this summer.

Graduation for high school students will be held on Wednesday, August 2 at 4:30 p.m. in Board Room 500 at the District Office, located at 1331 E. Calaveras Blvd. The summer school presentation to the Board will be held on Tuesday, August 22 in the same location.

More pictures >

Enroll in MUSD schools during Elementary
Enrollment Month through July 27
Get an early start on the first day of school, and enroll your child for the 2017-18 school year during Elementary Enrollment Month through July 27. ​After enrolling your  new student online, bring a copy of your online confirmation page and the additional required documents listed online for verification and MUSD will complete your child's enrollment into Milpitas Unified School District.

Location: MUSD District Office, Room 206 (Building 200), 1331 E. Calaveras Blvd.
Date: July 5-27 (Closed on Fridays)
Time: 8 a.m. -12 p.m.

For more information, click on the flier.
Registration open for after school program
at Burnett, Curtner, Pomeroy, Spangler, Weller, Zanker elementary for the 2017-18 school year
Milpitas Recreation and Community Services is offering its after school program, After the Bell (ATB), to students in first- through sixth-grade at Burnett, Curtner, Pomeroy, Spangler, Weller and Zanker elementary schools August 17, 2017 through June 7, 2018 for the 2017-18 school year. The program runs from school dismissal until 6 p.m., including minimum days. 

ATB is a youth enrichment program where specifically trained and energetic staff stimulate the childens' minds through fun and exciting learning activities. Children will receive homework help, participate in teambuilding games, enjoy creative activities, and experience new recreational opportunities. 

Registration begins the week of July 23, 2017, online or in person at the Milpitas Sports Center, located at 1325 E. Calaveras Blvd. For more information, view the flier.
Community Recognition
Milpitas Adult Education thanks
Captain April McHugh
Captain April McHugh, who is retiring at the end of July, has been the driving force of the Sheriff’s Programs for many years. Milpitas Adult Education  -- which operates a site at the Ayer Adult School at the District Office and classes at Elmwood Correctional Facility -- thanked her for a long and successful career in its Monday Memo, stating she has carried the mission and the vision of the Department with professionalism.

"Captain McHugh has stood out as very loyal with a genuine interest in the restorative of justice for the incarcerated population," the memo states. "Captain McHugh has been an amazing working partner to MAE, a great listener that always provided sound advice and guidance to our work. On behalf of Milpitas Adult Education Corrections, Thank You Captain McHugh, you are a true inspiration, You have made a difference!"