NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- Feb. 26,  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.
Superintendent's message
Lower K-3 class sizes planned next year
-- and other investments to benefit schools
In a message to the community, Supt. Chris Evans announced last week that NUSD will reduce class sizes in Kindergarten through 3rd grades next year. The district also has set aside money for proposed staff increases and plans other investments to strengthen schools, including:

1) Launching Heron School's first-ever Transitional Kindergarten program.
2) Providing fiscal support to strengthen American Lakes, Jefferson and Bannon Creek schools next year as they add 7th grade in preparation for full conversion to K-8 in 2019-20.
3) Adding four Special Education teachers, at least one Speech and Language Pathologist, and 1.25 more school psychologists to NUSD staffing.

Supt. Evans wrote: "Shrinking class sizes, providing increased compensation for staff, strengthening school programs, adding more resources for our students with social-emotional needs, and increasing our support for students with disabilities - that's continued strong investment in our schools by Natomas Unified. Thank your for your continued support as we keep striving to meet our Vision that, "All NUSD students graduate as college and career ready, productive, responsible, and engaged global citizens." Read his community message here.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Length of a newsletter can cause stories at the bottom to be clipped from display. If that happens, click "View Entire Message" prompt at the bottom of this page. Thanks!
Every Student Succeeding

When the going got tough, they got tougher
Students honored for overcoming challenges
They're winners in life already -- gritty, determined, resilient, when the going got tough, they got tougher. Fifteen students were honored Feb. 23 in NUSD's "Every Student Succeeding" ceremony for overcoming physical, emotional or behavioral challenges to succeed in school, including:

  • A 4th-grade student who lost her limbs to a staph infection but remains optimistic, has a positive attitude, is well liked and respected by peers, and can't be stopped when she sets her mind on something.
  •  A 12th-grader who was diagnosed with cancer as a freshman and received treatment, including chemotherapy, over the next two years. He's an honor student now, a varsity athlete, and he's on track to attend college.
  •  A 5th-grader who struggled with brain injury, autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). With help from his adopted parents, outside tutoring and a caring educator, he began flourishing in the classroom and he's building on that success now.
"Their success is our success, their powerful stories our inspiration," Associate Supt. Doug Orr said.  Read more here.
Message from Supt. Chris Evans:
NUSD services and supports
for students with special needs 

The following is a summary of and a link to a message emailed to NUSD staff, stakeholders and families last week:
This is Superintendent Chris Evans with a message about something that's a very high priority - our services and supports for students with disabilities or any child needing social-emotional help, grief counseling, crisis intervention or bullying prevention. After five years of outstanding leadership in these key services, the assistant superintendent that many of you know as Carol Williams is leaving the Sacramento area to be with the man she married almost a year ago. She is Carol Swanson now. We'll truly miss her. 
She leaves big shoes to fill, but we're pleased to welcome Josh Harris, with 19 years of experience in Special Education, as our new Assistant Superintendent of Student Services and Support. Mr. Harris is very familiar with our program because he served the past two years as executive director of SELPA - the Special Education Local Plan Area - which is a regional consortium that facilitates Special Education services within member districts, including Natomas Unified. Mr. Harris also is a licensed attorney who has been a county Superintendent of Schools as well as a longtime Special Education teacher, principal and administrator. 
We're happy to announce that our program for students with special needs will be in such experienced and capable hands. We look forward to continued progress under Mr. Harris' leadership. Thank you very much. Read more here.
Ladies making waves -- and plenty of other things
in Natomas High School's Engineering Pathway
Vanessa and Alejandra are building a huge wooden dollhouse, 3 feet wide, with four rooms, furniture, wallpaper, and lights that turn on and off.

Alyssa Mae and Melina are creating a miniature balsa-wood bridge, connecting and supporting the span at key angles to carry substantial weight.

The teen ladies are participants in Natomas High School's Engineering Pathway for students drawn to a STEM education, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.

"I like to be creative," Alyssa Mae said. "I already have imagination to build things out of the blue - now all I need is this class (to learn how.)"

The Natomas High pathway has a welcome mat out for ladies, currently a minority in the three-year engineering program that teaches students to plan, design and build projects using physics, woodworking, computer software, electronics, microprocessors, and whatever else is necessary. 

The pathway emphasizes teamwork, collaboration, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. Students  learn to make assembly drawings and use online software to create three-dimensional models. They learn how to write a proposal, and to document their progress.

One project that Alyssa Mae and Melina tackled was to build a crystal radio - a simple radio receiver - from scratch.

Last year, Nighthawk engineering students designed and built wooden planter boxes for the Folsom Zoo.

Later this year, teacher Bert Pinsky hopes to introduce students to robotics.

Teacher Bert Pinsky said that females are in demand in college engineering programs and in the engineering profession itself. Learning basic skills and becoming adept at designing and using tools of the trade "opens the whole world for them," he said. Read more here.
Tiger senior wins silver in 'Poetry Out Loud' 
Congratulations to Inderkum Tiger Sophie Getahoun for capturing second place in Sacramento County's Poetry Out Loud competition. 

Thirteen students squared off in the county finals Feb. 15 at Rosemont High School in Sacramento. The annual poetic showdown hopes to inspire students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. In that respect, everyone wins.

Well done, Sophie, who is second from left in photo. Holding the banner with her is county winner Sage Innerarity of Pleasant Grove High in Elk Grove.
B. Teri Burns Health Clinic
How a trip to NHS can be good for your health 
Vision has become reality: Natomas High is home now to a community health clinic offering low-income residents a wide range of medical services, thanks to a partnership of the Natomas Unified School District and a local health-care group, Health and Life Organization (HALO).

The new venture, which began this month, expands services of the B. Teri Burns Health Clinic without changing its name or its original location, a converted Natomas High classroom building not far from the school's tennis courts.

Most patient care will be provided by nurse practitioner Coral Roper, who can consult with a supervising physician as necessary.  The clinic is named after NUSD Trustee B. Teri Burns, who has served on the Board of Trustees for 33 years. The clinic is located outside the school's secured perimeter, so patients should access it directly, without entering Natomas High's main office or interior grounds.

By partnering with HALO, the B. Teri Burns Health Clinic has expanded its services to include preventive care, family care, general medical care, diabetic management, well-baby exams (Child Health and Disability Prevention) and other health-care assistance.

Put simply, patients can receive checkups, physical exams, treatment of cough, flu, aches, pains, urinary tract infections, diabetes, or high blood pressure. They can obtain immunizations, tuberculosis tests, hearing screening, vision screening, stitches for lacerations, and other such health care. Non-narcotic medication can be prescribed. Electrocardiograms can be given to identify heart issues.

In addition to health-care, plans envision collaboration in offering educational and career training opportunities.  NUSD's Health Pathway is located at Natomas High, too, so the goal is to create ways for students to receive basic training, obtain internships, or explore potential health-care careers at the new facility. Read more here.
Heron students reach out to the homeless
-- gathering blankets to fight winter's cold

Students came up with this idea -- and they're making it happen. Heron School's National Junior Honor Society of 8th-graders is soliciting new and gently used blankets to help the homeless fight winter's cold. 

They've set a goal of 50 blankets by the end of February, according to Audra Short, their staff adviser. The kids are advertising their helping-hand project through school announcements, newsletters, and a student-produced video news show.  A collection box is available in Heron's main office. 

There's plenty of education and growth in performing community service, which reflects leadership, citizenship, character, and empathy. You make us proud, Heron Flyers!
NUSD Transportation Pathway 
students win UTI scholarships
in test of big-rig mechanical skills 

Sergio Raymundo and David Lopez Garcia, two seniors in Natomas High's Transportation Pathway, won scholarships to Universal Technical Institute this month by capturing fifth place in UTI's Diesel Tech Challenge.

Twelve West Coast high school teams squared off in this rigorous test of big-rig mechanical skills, which included two written exams and hands-on challenges involving electrical systems, hydraulics, and preventive maintenance.

For Natomas High, a great way to end February, which is Career Technical Education Month nationwide.
Student & Parent Opportunities & Info   
Apply now for NSF Scholarships

Applications are available now for $6,000 in scholarships to be awarded to deserving high school seniors or former NUSD students who plan to further their education in college or trade school. Entries are due April 13. Winners will be announced in May.

Three $1,000 scholarships will be awarded specifically to current high school seniors, while college students can compete for six additional scholarships of $500 apiece.

Applicants must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher and, during the past two years, have served 50 hours or more in formal employment or volunteer service, which can include school clubs. A short essay is required about lessons learned from that service. Read more here.
IC Parent Portal easy to get and use 

We're making it easier for parents to use the Infinite Campus Parent Portal for monitoring attendance, grades and upcoming assignments. Updating your address or phone number is simple, too. Visit NUSD's new webpage to get the Portal or to use our new online tool to contact the portal Help Desk or reset your password. 
Final Reminder: UCD Cesar Chavez conference March 10
Mark your calendar now! The Cesar Chavez Youth Leadership Conference and Celebration, a college and career readiness and motivational event, will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 10 at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) Pavilion.

An annual event, the free conference is designed for middle school, high school, and community college students, as well as for their parents or guardians. Workshops will be held on college admission, financial aid, scholarships, health and STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Other attractions include cultural entertainment, music, performances, a college resource fair, and UC Davis campus tours. For more information, click here.
What can college freshmen expect?

To help prepare families for college success, Parent University will hold a free, one-hour workshop discussing what freshmen can expect in their first year at college and how they can get involved on campus.

The session will be held from 6-7 p.m. at the NUSD Staff Development Center, 1931 Arena Blvd. Parents and students are welcome. Child care will be available for ages 2-10, and transportation will be available for families that pre-register. Spanish translation and other languages will be available upon request. For more information, click here.
LGA Boys Soccer Team: From rookie
to Section champ contender in 4 years

Only four years after launching its sports program, Leroy Greene Academy has climbed nearly to the mountaintop in boys soccer. The Lions qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section championship game Feb. 22 by beating Stone Ridge Christian High School of Merced, 3-2. They'll square off against Millennium High School of Tracy on Tuesday for all the marbles in Division VII. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at a neutral site, Elk Grove HIgh. The Lions' record is 13-4-4, amazing for such a young program. Even better, NUSD has a second boys soccer team in the hunt for a Sac-Joaquin Section championship. Natomas High, 17-3, competes in the Division IV semifinals Tuesday. Good luck!
Featured Parent University video
'Why does my student take tests in school?'
's not unusual for parents to ask questions about student testing: Why is it done? When is it done? How are test scores used? How do assessments help my child? To answer these and other questions, please click on this NUSD Parent University video.

To help answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on a wide range of other subjects, Parent University has prepared and posted numerous other videos on its website, including:
  • Why should my student attend Prekindergarten (Pre-K) or Transitional Kindergarten (TK)?
  • Why does attendance matter?
  • Why is reading at grade level by 3rd grade so important?
  • What kind of technology is used in the classroom?
  • How do I select the best middle school for my student?
  • How do I support my English language learner at home?
  • Is your student on track to complete all college entrance requirements?
  • How can I support my student when applying for financial aid?
To view any of these videos, or select from many more, click here. Each "Spotlight" community newsletter will feature one Parent University video through the end of this school year.

NUSD Spotlight 
             Brought to you by:
             Jim Sanders
   Director of  Communications
             (916) 561-5267