Keeping All Staff
       In the Loop   
NUSD Honors Two Top Leaders  
Leslie Sargent -- 'Site Administrator of the Year'  

Surprised with Bouquet 
by Supt. Chris Evans 

Principal Leslie Sargent said that when staff saw Supt. Chris Evans and two of his key lieutenants standing outside her school with a bouquet of flowers, she knew the news was real good or real bad.

She can smile now. The dynamic Leroy Greene Academy leader is NUSD's Site Administrator of the Year. Read the full story here.

deanLaura Dean is 'Classified Manager of the Year'  

Her work affects all NUSD families, but few know her. Laura Dean is appreciated so much by colleagues, however,that she was named the District's "Classified Manager of the Year."

Over the past year, Dean has overseen student testing, helped to expand high school students' access to college admissions tests, and supervised employee training for NUSD's new student information system, among other things. Read her story here.

In This Issue

Supt's Message 

supemessageThanksgiving? ... Indeed! n?  
I w ant to wish all Natomas Unified staff a safe and happy Thanksgiving week with family and friends.

With schools closed next week, it's a good time for most staff to rest and to reflect on the positive things in our lives.  For me, that includes not only my wife and three children, but also NUSD's students, teachers, parents, staff and Trustees. I'm fortunate to work with such caring people who impact lives every day.

Personally, I look forward next week to spending quality time and enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving meal with family and loved ones. Those are the kind of holiday memories I value most. I wish you similar joy with loved ones.

In Natomas Unified, this holiday season is a little different because it marks the first in which the district has operated a free food locker for those in need. It's located at Natomas High School, it's staffed by students in the District's Adult Transitions Program, and it provides bags of groceries to any family who shows up.

Open once a month, the food locker's next date for distributing food is Friday, Dec. 18, one week before Christmas. Before or after your Thanksgiving break, please consider helping this nonprofit program by donating canned or dried goods at the Ed Center or at any campus during regular school hours.

Thank you for helping to make the holiday season joyous for others - and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
TV Newscaster to Teach at NUSD Next Fall

Melissa Crowley to create and lead new program in broadcasting arts and media crowley

Television newscaster Melissa May Crowley is bringing her nearly two decades of journalism experience to Natomas Unified, where she will create and teach a new academic pathway next fall for students interested in pursuing broadcasting arts or media in college or career.

Mrs. May will launch an academic pathway at Inderkum High School next year that will focus on all aspects of video production, from developing a story idea to writing, filming, editing, graphic arts, producing, directing and broadcasting. Students will learn skills in time management, public speaking, concise writing and creation of video resumes, all of which are vital in numerous professions besides broadcasting.

Known on TV by her maiden name, Melissa Crowley, she and husband Bryan May -- also an ABC journalist -- are the parents of two daughters, in 2nd and 6th grades. The family has lived in Natomas since 2001, and Mrs. May has been active in local activities ranging from volunteer art docent to high school career days to Friday Night Live events.

"Not only is she a true broadcast professional, she's passionate about kids, about teaching, and about the Natomas community," Supt. Chris Evans said. "She lives here. Her kids go to school here. We're thrilled to have her on our team. She exemplifies what we're trying to do, provide first-class learning opportunities that set students up for lifetime success."

Read the full story here.
Focus on College & Career: Campus Tours 

collegetour Proving to kids that college isn't pie-in-the-sky

What books do you have?

Is there a reading class?

Do aeronautics students do algebra?

Does the football team have cheerleaders?

Third-graders from American Lakes Elementary School peppered their tour guide with questions while visiting Sacramento City College recently as part of a district-wide push to show students that college is not a pie-in-the-sky dream, it's attainable, and college students are just like them - only older.

Mikael Cha, 23, patiently pointed out one SCC attraction after another, the bookstore, tutoring program, child care, aeronautics, fine arts, cafeteria, performing arts center, Student Services building, cosmetology classrooms, Health Services, library, mathematics laboratory, baseball field, football stadium, gym.

What classes are you taking? one student asked. Precalculus, two philosophy classes, political science, and a how-to-tutor course, Cha replied.

NUSD Asst. Superintendent Cecil Duke said the visits will inspire students, demystify college, and familiarize kids with two- and four-year college requirements. Third-graders are visiting SCC; 6th graders, UC Davis, and 11th graders, CSU Sacramento. For students interested in trade schools, tours are being arranged at facilities ranging from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts to the Mixed Institute of Cosmetology.

ALE teacher Anthony Ferraro said that 3rd grade is a year of transition for students. "It's good to get them starting to think about college," he said. "It's a key grade."

Anna Williams said a lot of 3rd graders can't imagine themselves attending college until they visit a campus. "It gives them something to look forward to," she said. "It's a goal."

College tours  are consistent with NUSD's Board-approved Vision that, "All NUSD students graduate as college and career ready, productive, responsible, and engaged global citizens."

Asked what they learned at SCC, ALE 3rd graders had quick answers.

"That you can learn almost anything here," said Maalik.

"That they have a science lab and a math lab," said Kimari.

"Colleges have a lot of stuff that normal schools don't," said Carson.

"I learned that you have to pay to get lunch," said Trinity.

ALE's 3rd graders very widely in their career aspirations: president, veterinarian, doctor, teacher, crime scene investigator, NFL football player, singer, cheerleader, artist, the list goes on and on. Dereon wants three careers: engineer, scientist and astrologist.

But all 13 ALE students interviewed after the tour said they plan to attend college.
And six of the students, nearly half, said their goal is to enroll at Sacramento City College - the campus they just finished visiting.

hugsRandom act of kindness:
Free hugs and compliments

 At a time of world sorrow, here's a ray of local light ... Meet Christopher Mays, 17, who offered a random act of kindness last week -- lunchtime hugs and compliments to any classmates who wanted one. No strings attached. He manned his table day after day in Inderkum's campus courtyard. "I just want to brighten people's day," he said. "Everyone needs a hug and a compliment sometimes.
Around the Horn

hornKey information from Ed Center to Staff 

Environmental Support Manager Lori Lewis has created a flyer listing simple-energy-saving steps to be taken before staff leaves for the week-long Thanksgiving break. Cost-saving measures include turning off computers, unplugging small refrigerators, drawing shades or curtains, and turning off the programmable thermostat in classrooms that have one. Read the complete flyer here.
Happy Holidays -- Ed Center to Close Along with Schools 

NUSD campuses and the District's Ed Center will be closed throughout Thanksgiving Week, from Nov. 23-27. Classes and administrative operations will resume Monday, Nov. 30.

Next month, schools and District offices will shut down from Dec. 21 through New Year's Day for the annual Winter Break. Business will resume as usual on Monday, Jan. 4.

Questions? Call Constituent and Customer Services at 561-5253.
Jefferson site 'Teacher of the Year' 

asimosPE teacher Sandra Asimos knows personally what it's like to struggle just to stand & walk 
When Coach talks, kids listen.

At Jefferson Elementary School, Sandra Asimos is known simply as "Coach," a physical education teacher with a commanding personality, a forceful tongue, a can-do attitude, and more pep and zip than the Energizer Bunny. Only in her second year at Jefferson, she is the school's reigning "Teacher of the Year."

Passionate about physical fitness, Asimos has been to its mountaintop and to the depths of its despair: She was an elite multisports youth star, a three-time college All-American in soccer who made the Women's National Soccer Team in 1984 but later nearly lost it all, struggling for months to regain use of her legs after getting struck by a drunken driver.

By teaching physical education and by coaching after-school sports teams, Asimos said she is teaching kids about life, too: The importance of staying healthy, nutrition, exercising, setting goals, dedication, time management, collaboration, communication, teamwork, and other life skills.

"I try to make my activities or sports fun and challenging for all my students so they might continue to move their bodies as they grow up and make it a lifetime habit," she said.

Not only does she teach physical education classes, Asimos coached Jefferson's after-school flag football team and Leroy Greene Academy's soccer team this fall. She's preparing for Jefferson's upcoming basketball season. She also coordinates an after-school fitness club and a running program that includes competing against two other schools in long-distance races - up to 3 miles long - and participating in a local "Runnin' for Rhett" charity fundraiser.

Asimos said she only has three rules in physical education: Listen, follow directions, and try, always try. Don't tell Coach you don't have time to exercise. Where there's a will, there's a way: If you're watching TV, do pushups when a commercial comes on. If you're playing a video game, do situps when you lose a virtual life. ""Do something instead of just sitting the whole time," she said.

Once Sacramento State University's women's soccer coach, Asimos joined the Natomas Unified School District in 2007 and served at Natomas High, Two Rivers Elementary, and Witter Ranch Elementary before coming to Jefferson last year.

Jefferson Principal Danisha Keeler described Asimos as an exemplary teacher with "an undying and admirable ability to work with all students and motivate them to achieve success."

"Coach has a contagiously positive attitude each day that she comes to work, which transcends across the Jefferson campus," Keeler said in Teacher of the Year documents. "She knows how to hold students accountable with a smile and gets the desired outcomes. Staff members always walk away from a conversation with her feeling good. She is an asset to the team, school and district."
nweaUsing NWEA for Progress Over Tim  
Dozens attend NUSD workshop on using key data   

What's in a test score?

Plenty, it turns out. Dozens of teachers, principals, data directors and other school officials from as far away as Chico and Stockton came to NUSD last week to discuss ways of using NWEA results to identify learning gaps, set growth targets, guide instruction, reinforce or supplement teaching strategies, evaluate programs, identify professional development needs, push student progress, predict achievement, inform parents, and chart growth in schools, districts, and individual students. 
Read the full story here.

Let's Rewind the Tape

NUSDhighlights  Recent NUSD Highlights and Milestones 

District achievements or developments since last month's edition of 'In the Loop' include:
1) Inderkum High School's football team finished the regular season  undefeated , 10-0, and breezed through the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs by beating Lincoln High School of Lincoln, 82-32. 

2). Natomas High School's star linebacker Terrance March was named Golden Empire League Defensive Player of the Year. Nine other Nighthawks won all-league honors: Elijah Montue, William Brown and Dealize Collier Chappel, first team, defense; Alex Daviila, Adrian Leyva, Terrance Witherspoon and Keyshawn Strickland, first team, offense; Ali El-Badry, second team. defense; and Xavier Archie, second team, offense.

3) Natomas High senior Mahnoor Chaudhary was selected to be a voice for Natomas youth on the Sacramento Youth Commission, which advises the Mayor and City Council on youth policies, programs and opportunities. Each council member can appoint two teens between the ages of 14 and 19. Mahnoor, 17, was selected by Councilman Jeff Harris.

4) Natomas High School's amazing soccer season ended in a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime playoff loss to Liberty Ranch. The team captured the Golden Empire League championship, however, with a perfect 12-0 league record. Here's a measure of the team's dominance during the regular season: The Nighthawks scored 64 goals and allowed only two.

5) Kaliya Griffin has earned a college scholarship to keep playing the game she loves while pursuing the career of her dreams. The Inderkum basketball star will play for Tennessee State University next year. She earned the scholarship by averaging 17.5 points, four steals, and more than three assists per game last year. She'll take a grade point average 3.0 to TSU, where she plans to pursue a career in kinesiology or criminal forensics.

6) Both Inderkum and Natomas High have good reason to be proud of their cross country teams. For the first time in four years, NHS fielded a full varsity cross country team this spring - and both its boys and girls teams qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Sub-Section Meet. Inderkum's boys varsity team won its league championship, qualified for the Section meet, and 
nearly qualified for the state meet. Caitlyn Butler finished third in the Section's girls frosh/soph race.

7) Inderkum's music program is flying high this month. Its Marching Band and Color Guard captured four trophies, including best overall, at Lodi's Grape Bowl Classic band review this. Another honor came with the selection of 12 Tigers to the 2015 Sacramento County Honor Band: Jordan Whitfield, Angus McEvoy, Jerren Dollesin, Brenden Gonzalez, Desmond Moreno-Livingston,  Kenneth Aquino, Asia Taylor, Noah Lantsberger, Daramis Thompson, Miguel Recendez, Jared Guzman and Dean Lagazo.
To Ramandeep Kaur Dhillon, it's particularly significant that the Natomas Unified Board of Trustees honored November as Sikh American Awareness and Appreciation Month in keeping with an annual resolution by the California Legislature.

Dhillon, mother of three Heron School students, is a proud Sikh practitioner who believes that public awareness of the peace-loving religion will make it less likely that Sikhs will be targeted nationwide for hate crimes by people who mistake them for Middle Eastern terrorists because they traditionally have long beards and wear a turban.

"Our three core values are devotion to God, truthful living and serving humanity," Dhillon said of Sikhism, whose followers are estimated to exceed 25 million, making it the world's fifth largest religion. "We're willing to help, anywhere we can."

Natomas is located between the site of the first Sikh temple in the United States, in Stockton, and the city believed to have the largest population of Sikhs in the nation, Yuba City. The latter hosts an annual Sikh parade each November that attracts tens of thousands of people to commemorate holy Sikh scriptions. This year's parade was held Nov. 1.

Music, food, dancing, costumes and old-fashioned family fun
at Leroy Greene Academy's Dia De Los Muertos Celebration

NPE Secretary Erin Gertz

gertz'Who doesn't love being around kids?'    

Have any kids, Erin Gertz?

Yeah - 950.

She laughs as she answers the question, but the first-year secretary at Natomas Park Elementary School is serious about sending the message that she cares for every child enrolled - they're part of her "family."

"Who doesn't love being around kids?" Gertz said, smiling -- which she seems to do a lot. "You get the kids who come up with bumps and bruises and you get to make them feel better and send them on their way."

For Gertz, a Kodak moment came on the first day of school this year, during the early morning rush when kids were scrambling to find their classes and the line of parents with questions stretched out the office door. Suddenly a young child appeared, Mason, with a scraped knee.

Gertz took Mason aside to provide a little Band Aid and a little comfort. "You'll have to bear with me because I'm new at this," she told him. "It's my first day here."

"Oh," he replied. "Well how is your day going?"

"My gosh," she said. "Mason, you know what? I was a little bit scared but you just made my day. I feel so much better."

Recalling the moment, Gertz smiled - again. "It was so sweet," she said.

A school secretary's job is a whirlwind of motion - answering phones, handling paperwork, applying Band Aids, assisting kids, responding to parent concerns, completing whatever daily tasks needed by the principal. It can get hectic, harried, but never boring.

"You've got to be able to multitask and juggle," Gertz said, adding that she tries to remember that a secretary often is the first person someone sees when they enter NPE. "You want to have good energy and be positive."

Her advice to any new school secretary? "Love your team, ask a lot of questions, and don't be hard on yourself."

Principal Kendra Shelton said Gertz is "an amazing addition to our office team."

"She embodies our District Vision as a staff member who is caring, collaborative and committed to students," Shelton said. "Our staff loves her! Within a few days of arriving, she was answering questions and helping families like she had been here for years. We are so fortunate to have her as part of our school family."

Gertz is a Florida native who grew up in the Sacramento area, attending Casa Roble High School. She came to Natomas Unified after a longtime stint as an administrator at a private school serving autistic students of all ages. As a youth, Gertz spent many years playing competitive soccer and swimming. She loves the outdoors now, camping and hiking when time allows.

Asked to describe herself, Gertz said: "Passionate, organized and reliable. And I take a lot of initiative to do things."

She also admits to having a bubbly, outgoing, Type A personality.

"That's why kids and I get along so well," she quipped.

         In the Loop


             Brought to you by:

             Jim Sanders

             Director of Communications