May 8, 2018
A+ News

In this Edition:
  • Mental Health Peer Education Program
  • Read Aloud & Cragmont Author Visit
  • Teaching with Technology
  • BUSD Sustainability Plan Survey
  • Independent Study Orientation Sessions
  • Upcoming Events/Meetings
  • 2018-19 School Calendar, and more.
BHS Students Launch MEET, a Peer Educator Program for Mental Health
Ruby Spies and Abigail Steckel, graduating seniors at Berkeley High School, are leaving a legacy behind. They spearheaded the creation of the Mental and Emotional Education Team (MEET), a peer mental health education program to inform students of mental health issues and resources, reduce stigma and barriers to access, and improve health equity for students.

Last year Spies and Steckel conducted a survey of 242 students at BHS, and found that 60.4% of students reported struggling with mental health, and only 42% of those students had accessed services. 51% of all students surveyed said that if they were experiencing mental health challenges and that they would prefer their first point of contact be a fellow student, and yet only 22% indicated they were comfortable talking about mental health.

Spies and Steckel realized that mental health peer educators would be an effective solution to both increase awareness about mental health challenges and create more opportunities for peer support around mental health. A month after conducting the survey, they sent their proposal to the School Board and the City Council, and after a year of leadership and advocacy have recently secured joint funding from the city and school district to implement the program next year. The funding will cover compensation for a half-time supervising clinician and stipends for student presenters.
Peer educators will be trained to give presentations in freshman Social Living classes on symptom identification, coping skills, stigma reduction, and how to access existing resources.

Spies said that the idea behind the curriculum is to make mental health a universal concept rather than focusing only on mental illness, and to talk about mental health in the context of everyday experiences.

“Students need to be able to differentiate a sad day from mental illness,” Steckel said. “And it’s a topic that everyone needs to gain skills on in some way.”

Taking the students' lead in building awareness about teen mental health, the BHS PTSA has invited Ruby, Abby, Jasdeep Mahli, and therapists working at BHS in the Health Center to talk about the issues with parents at their meeting on May 16 at 6:30pm.

The full story is on our webpage .
Reading Aloud and Author's Visit Enthrall Cragmont Students
Cragmont librarian Jackie Overlid has been reading award-winning author/illustrator Kathryn Otoshi's books Zero, One and Two to all K-5 students at Cragmont. The students have come to love her books and so it was no surprise that Ms. Otoshi received a celebrity's welcome when she recently came to campus to speak with students.

During her visit, Ms. Otoshi led two assemblies focused on being an ally, positive self-esteem and spreading kindness -- all part of her community building and anti-bullying message. She explored these themes also in a later staff workshop that included a collaborative, hands-on art installation.

“It was a great day that supported Cragmont's work around positive school climate, the Welcoming Schools curriculum and The Mosaic Project for both students and staff,” said Jenn Pfotenhauer, literacy coach at Cragmont.
Studies have shown that reading to children helps them to listen better and longer, to build bigger vocabularies, to understand concepts better, to feel positive about both books and learning – and much more. These positive affects of reading aloud together carry on well into the teen years!
Teaching with Technology
Our DigiTechTeach blog is a testament to the many and varied ways teachers are creatively incorporating technology in their classes. It is a glimpse at the larger landscape of teaching and learning happening all around us. To capture a larger snapshot and broaden our view, Tech Teacher Leaders (TTLs) recently asked teachers at their schools to share examples of their work with technology. Then TTLs came together and checked out the collection by experiencing a virtual gallery walk.
There is now a small sampling on the blog of recent teaching and learning happening with the integration of technology in our classrooms.
Berkeley Unified is Hiring!
Do you know someone who might be looking for a rewarding opportunity to join our school district? If so, please tell them Berkeley Unified School District is hiring!

It takes a village to run our schools and serve our students and families!

You can find more information with links to the job listings on our webpage .
Earth Day Everyday Sustainability Plan - Actions for Everyone
BUSD’s Sustainability Plan process is expected to take a year, and is intended to produce a comprehensive plan for reducing the environmental footprint of schools and promoting environmental literacy,
The success of the effort depends on input from the entire BUSD community. One way to get involved is by joining a Sustainability Plan Work Group.

Actions You Can Take
You are invited to take a survey to help us gather ideas about how we can together make every day Earth Day in our schools!
If you are able to take a step further for sustainability, please join environmental professionals and the BUSD Sustainability Plan team to delve into the goals and activities about specific topics that will eventually become part of the Earth Day Everyday Plan. Meeting schedule
Independent Study Orientation Sessions Start in May
Berkeley Independent Study serves both high school and K-8 students – providing an alternative teaching and learning format in ways that acknowledge and welcome each student’s personal, cultural and academic background.

Information on orientation sessions scheduled for May and June
Upcoming Meetings and Events
BSEP Planning & Oversight Committee
Tues., May 8, 7:00pm

Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) P&O Meetings are held at 2020 Bonar Street on the first floor of the district offices in Room 126.

This is a Brown Act Committee and meeting agendas and minutes are posted on this webpage.
The BSEP Planning and Oversight (P&O) Committee, comprised of representatives from each school, meets regularly to review the implementation of Measure E1 of 2016, and to ensure that the annual BSEP funds ($29 million) are spent in compliance with the Measure.

Upcoming School Board Meetings
Wed., May 9, 7:30 pm

Board Meetings are held in the Board Room, 1231 Addison St, unless otherwise noted.

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
School Board Members hold office hours at convenient cafe locations in the city.

2018-19 School Year Calendar
First Day of School is MONDAY, August 27, 2018
Berkeley Unified School District | 2020 Bonar Street | 510-644-8764 |