NUSD Spotlight
 Community Newsletter
  -- December 3,  2018  

Hope you enjoy this edition of "NUSD Spotlight," the district's community newsletter. Contact Director of Communications Jim Sanders, (916) 561-5267, if you have comments, concerns or story suggestions. Thank you for your support of Natomas schools.
Delivery to NUSD classrooms begins
for largest-ever infusion of Chromebooks
Delivery of the largest one-time infusion of Chromebooks into Natomas Unified classrooms in district history began last week, more than 2,400 computers, enhancing 21st century learning by expanding use of technology for critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and innovative learning.

The Chromebooks are a key part of a $1.2 million technology plan approved recently by the Board of Trustees that will, among other things, provide a classroom computer cart for every two teachers district-wide to ensure that all students have access to the Internet nearly every day.

Inderkum High more than doubled its supply of Chromebooks with delivery of 1,000 on Nov. 26. American Lakes School received 260 computers, jumping from 9 classroom carts to 16. Each cart contains 30 to 40 computers. Delivery to district schools will continue through December.

Dana Jones, Inderkum chemistry teacher, characterized the new Chromebooks as "a huge deal," adding, "We'll be able to do research, we'll be able to do more graphing, more data tables, more charting, we'll be able to do more practice, have more access to video instruction, all those things." Read the full story here.
EDITOR'S NOTE:  Length of a newsletter can cause stories at the bottom to be clipped from display. If that happens to this newsletter, click " View Entire Message " prompt at the bottom of the page. Thank you very much.
Board says goodbye to colleague Teri Burns
after 33 years of leading Natomas schools  
Teri Burns became a Natomas school board member when Ronald Reagan was U.S. President, Whitney Houston released her debut album, and "Amadeus" was Best Picture at the Academy Awards. So saying goodbye was like saluting a huge slice of history.

Board colleagues gave Burns an emotional sendoff at their public meeting recently, praising her passion, dedication, commitment, grace, civility, kindness, and tireless advocacy over a 33-year career. Burns' successor will be decided by results of the Nov. 6 election, which will be certified Dec. 5. 

"You have left an indelible mark on this district," President Scott Dosick told Burns. "You have been a tireless advocate for the students and families of Natomas; persistently advocating for that which you know is right. There's a reason the B. Teri Burns Health Clinic bears your name and why Mandarin has been added as a second language option at many of our schools."

Burns cited some of Natomas' most significant educational accomplishments during her tenure. She said she has appreciated serving with colleagues who put students first in their decisions. She vowed to continue serving the district in new ways after leaving office. "Thank you one and all," she said. "The pleasure has been all mine." Read the full story here.
 Signup event Dec. 8
Have you heard about free Internet & WiFI?
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Eligible families can sign up for free Internet and WiFi service this Saturday, Dec. 8!

We'll throw in a free pancake breakfast, too.

NUSD is thinking outside the box to narrow the digital divide: We think that home Internet and WiFi access are so vital to a 21st-century education that we'll pay the bill, for one year, for students who lack it. Our program will serve up to 1,000 NUSD families.

A signup event is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in the Natomas Middle School multipurpose room, 3200 North Park Dr. To be eligible, you must have lacked online service for at least 90 days, you must not have had debt with an internet provider within the past year, and you must bring an official form of ID to the signup event. Families also can sign up for a chance to win a Chromebook donated for that purpose. To RSVP or for additional details about the program or eligibility for it, click here. 
Headed to Texas Tech
Hoop star Nailah Dillard signs scholarship 
And that makes it official!

Inderkum High's Nailah Dillard, high-scoring girls basketball captain, was applauded at a brief campus ceremony recently as she signed an athletic scholarship to play for Texas Tech's Red Raiders next year.

Surrounded by family, friends, teammates and coaches, Nailah put an exclamation point to a Tiger career that saw her average 21.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game as a sophomore and junior. She'll add to her career totals as a senior this year.

"Nailah is the definition of a student-athlete," Inderkum Athletic Director Matt Hinton said in acknowledging her accomplishments, which include a 3.56 grade point average.

Congratulations, Nailah, not only for your basketball prowess but for your academic achievements, too. We wish you a bright future, captain.
SELPA -- second in a series
Students with disabilities improve test scores 
(As NUSD moves toward becoming its own Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA), we want staff and families to know about progress we've made in recent years to enhance services and supports to students with disabilities. This communication focuses  on how academic performance of students with disabilities has improved the past two years.)

Our students with disabilities improved in both English and Math over the past two years in California's statewide testing program, known as CAASPP. Their academic progress is consistent with NUSD's efforts to enhance services and supports to special-needs students, consistent with our Board-approved Core Belief that, "Every Student Can Learn and Succeed."

By creating our own SELPA, the future looks even brighter. Federal and state funds are allocated through a SELPA, so school districts must either belong to a multi-district SELPA, where funding is not distributed equitably, or form its own. By leaving Sacramento County's SELPA next year, we can continue placing a high priority on Special Education services while having more funding to do so.

Here are some academic highlights of NUSD's students with disabilities over the past two years:
* Their English test scores increased by 9 percentage points
* Their Math test scores rose by 6 percentage points
* Their completion rate for courses required for college admission, called "a-g" classes, increased by 17 percentage points among 12th-graders and by 9 points among 11th-graders
* Their percentage of 11th-graders who took a college admissions tests offered by the district - the ACT -- rose by 17 points
* Their percentage of English Learner students with disabilities who showed progress in the state's California English Language Development Test (CELDT) rose by 14 percentage points between 2016-17. A different test was administered last year, so comparisons are not available. Read more here.
Help spread holiday cheer 
NUSD Toy Drive to benefit families in need 
Hundreds of families in need were helped by last year's NUSD Holiday Toy Drive, including 4-year-old Annalise, whose mother suffered a leg injury, was on crutches, and lost hours at work, cutting into her income. Young Annalise hoped for a toy microphone at Christmas -- and she got one at our toy drive. Smiles galore!

Now we're appealing to the Natomas community again to help us provide a gift to kids who otherwise might not get one this holiday season. New, unwrapped toys for children of all ages can be dropped off beginning Monday at all NUSD schools and at the Ed Center, 1901 Arena Blvd. Collection will continue through Wednesday, Dec. 19. For more information, check out this flyer. Questions? Call NUSD's Rosa Rijo at (916) 561-5287. Thanks for your kindness -- and happy holidays!
Paso Verde International Festival
Celebrating how diversity makes us stronger 
Paso Verde School -- International Festival 2018
Paso Verde School -- International Festival 2018
Multicultural dancing, singing, foods, crafts, exhibits - there was something for everyone at Paso Verde School's International Festival, held Nov. 30 at Inderkum High to celebrate diversity and cultural differences that make us stronger. Huge crowd. Great vibe. Perfect event for a school that is pushing to become IB-authorized & stresses multicultural understanding and harmony to its kids, many of whom took the stage to perform. Some wore garb reflecting their own cultural heritage. Proof positive that learning can be fun! Check out some of the fun here ...
Democracy in action? Meet Bulldog Benji 
Democracy in action? Look no farther than the newest member of NUSD's family - Bulldog Benjamin of Discovery High.

The all-bark, no-bite school mascot began as a figment of the imagination of senior Nayelli Medina, who attended an NUSD event, saw costumed mascots from other schools, and decided that Discovery needed one, too.

Nayelli began "hounding" Principal Keven MacDonald every day to "fetch" a Bulldog costume, but he wouldn't be "collared." She was "barking" up the wrong tree.  "Ruff" going, "fur" sure, he wouldn't lift a "paw." So Nayelli "unleashed" an ace in the hole.

Consistent with Discovery's push for students to use statements, claims and evidence in schoolwork, Nayelli argued that a living mascot was vital. She claimed it would enhance school spirit. And her evidence was a petition signed by dozens of students.

That did the trick, apparently, so here's the end of the "tail" - I mean, tale. The photo above shows Discovery High's new costumed critter introducing itself on campus last week ... And yep, you guessed it: Under all that fur is Principal "Bulldog Benji" MacDonald ... o)
Thanksgiving highlights
More proof this community is very special ...
Generosity talks. Kindness matters. Helping others never gets old. So it's an honor to announce how many people benefited at Thanksgiving from contributions by NUSD staff, families and stakeholders.

Joey's Food Locker at Natomas High distributed turkeys and groceries this Thanksgiving to 437 local families in need, many of which had children, so perhaps a couple thousand people enjoyed a holiday feast through the food locker. Nearly all the turkeys were donated by Keller Williams Realty. NUSD families supplied much of the groceries, which ranged from cranberries to beans to corn. The outpouring was heartwarming.

Separately, NUSD launched a helping-hand campaign that encouraged staff to buy and donate a coat that would keep a foster student a little warmer during the cold holiday season. Every NUSD foster student, 73 in all, received a coat through the drive. One principal who presented a coat to a student said she was hugged by the child, who "said at least three times how warm and comfortable the jacket was. It was incredibly moving."

Thank you, NUSD community, for making this such a special place to live, work, and go to school. Happy holidays to all of you!
Tiger football season for the record books 
Inderkum High's football season ended recently when it lost by a single point to the Central Catholic Raiders, 31-30, in the final two minutes of the Sac-Joaquin Section's D-II semifinal playoff battle.

But the Tigers had an unforgettable season:

1) They were league champions and unbeaten, 11-0, before squaring off against the Raiders, a Modesto powerhouse whose only loss this season had been to Northern California's top-ranked team, De La Salle.

2) Nine of the Tigers' 11 straight victories were by 30 points or more -- in fact, seven of those wins were by 40 points or more.

3) Inderkum had outscored opponents 594-111 entering the section semifinal. In seven of those 11 games, opponents were held to one touchdown or less, including three shutouts.

4) Before the Central Catholic showdown, no opponent had come within a touchdown of beating the Tigers. Put simply, if each of those 11 teams had been given 8 points as a handicap before kickoff, the Tigers' would have won every game anyhow.

Thank you, Tigers, for pedal-to-the-metal, thrill-a-minute football. This truly was a season for the record books. 
Student & parent opportunities and info 
GATE parent information workshop Thursday (Dec. 6) 
Join NUSD for workshops on Gifted Education featuring national presenters and authors Dina Brulles and Karen Brown from Gifted Education Consultants. Learn about the characteristics of gifted learners and what Natomas Unified is doing to serve them.

The next workshop, "Addressing the Learning Needs of Gifted Students," will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the NUSD Staff Development Center, 1931 Arena Blvd.

Online registration is available at Walk-in registration will be available as space allows. Light refreshments and child care will be provided. Spanish translation will be available - and other languages upon advance request. For more information, call (916) 597-5084, or check out this flyer.
You can help deserving kids at no extra cost to you!
Holiday shopping season is a perfect time to remind NUSD families that there's a simple way to contribute to college scholarships and Chromebook computers for deserving students -- at no cost to you!

AMAZON SMILE : This e-commerce website operated by Amazon will donate a half-percent of your purchase price to a charitable organization. Simply start your shopping at and designate Natomas Schools Foundation as your charity of choice. Eligible merchandise you buy will not cost extra - and you will receive the same product choices and shopping features as on Amazon-dot-com.

The Natomas Schools Foundation is an all-volunteer, nonprofit charity organized solely for the purpose of helping students within NUSD boundaries. Not a penny of its money is spent on salaries or administration. Over the past two years, the foundation has awarded $16,000 in scholarships and 33 Chromebooks to deserving students.

Thank you for considering this worthy cause.
Your opinion sought on H istory-Social Science books
We're holding a series of information nights to give parents and stakeholders a chance to review and provide input about History-Social Science textbooks that may be used at all grade levels next year.

Your opinions will help guide decisions that can impact classrooms for years to come.  The next review and feedback session is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the Jefferson School library, 2001 Pebblewood Dr. 

The final session is Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Natomas Park Elementary School library, 4700 Crest Dr.

Parents and guardians can examine competing textbooks at three grade spans - K-5, 6-8, High School -- and tell us what you think. For information, click here. Questions? Call (916) 567-5828.  
One-stop shopping webpage for college & career info
Now is the time of year when many seniors are focusing on where they'll attend college next year -- and how to pay for it.

Younger students, too, should be thinking about what lies ahead for them after high school.  

So NUSD created a new College and Career Readiness (CCR) webpage this year, meant to be easy-to-read, one-stop shopping for information every family can use. Check it out by clicking here

We tried to address key questions on the CCR webpage:  How can we help families navigate through the college admissions process? Avoid mistakes? Identify potential grants or scholarships? Apply for college aid? How can we share do's and don'ts for scholarship writing?

Beyond that, how can we help students in lower grades prepare year-by-year for college and career? What can students do in elementary and middle school to pursue a bright future? What can their parents do? What is NUSD doing? How do families monitor that their child is on track?

We hope you find our college readiness webpage useful. Thanks for taking a look.
Beauty is everywhere --  
here's what we spotted
at NUSD's Ed Center 
Spotted outside NUSD's Ed Center recently -- a colorful reminder that Natomas has stunningly beautiful sights to see in places you might not expect and pass by every day, perhaps ... Thank you, Mother Nature!
Please 'Like' us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter 

Let's work together to educate your child. We urge parents to get to know our district. We provide multiple opportunities to learn about NUSD successes, plans and events throughout the school year. 

Two key sources are Facebook -- we're listed as "Natomas Unified School District" -- and Twitter, under @NatomasUSD.  District and school websites also are a good source of information ranging from lunch menus to parent opportunities. Thanks for taking a look. We're honored to serve you.
NUSD Spotlight 
Brought to you by NUSD communications team of Jim Sanders, Lauren Schnitzler and Jeff McPhee. If you have questions, comments or story tips, please call (916) 561-5267.