NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- Jan. 30,  2018  

Hope you enjoy this edition of "NUSD Spotlight," the district's community newsletter. Contact Director of Communications Jim Sanders, 561-5267, if you have comments, concerns or story suggestions. Thank you for your support of Natomas schools.
Top honors for Inderkum's IB program:
student and teacher of the year (MYP)  
Isabel Gatdula wins $1,000 
as NorCal's top MYP student

Inderkum High 10th-grader Isabel Gatdula got the amazing news Jan. 19 that she's Northern California's top IB student this year in the Middle Years Programme covering 6th through 10th grades.  The straight-A student wins $1,000 -- and her school wins $500. The award was offered by the California Association of IB World Schools. This video shows Principal Dan Motherspaw delivering
the good news. 
Principal Dan Motherspaw surprises Isabel Gatdula in her classroom.

Karen Taylor is state teacher of the year for MYP
If you won a statewide award for IB excellence, you'd smile, too. ... Here's Inderkum English teacher Karen Taylor, moments after learning that she's California teacher of the year for the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP).

She teaches seniors, too, and last year every one of her 12th-graders passed IB's rigorous end-of-course English exam. Asked how she felt after winning the Exemplary IB Educator Award, which comes with a $1,000 prize, Ms. Taylor smiled again. "Overwhelmed," she said.
Danielle Black wins IB teacher training award 
Inderkum teacher Danielle Black was honored for her dedication to Inderkum's IB program by winning the Middle Years Programme Teacher Training Award from the California Association of IB World Schools.

Only one such award is presented statewide each year to an MYP instructor. It will pay up to $2,500 of Ms. Black's costs for additional IB training this summer at Lake Tahoe.
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!
NUSD's new program to recruit diverse future teachers
attracts 101 applicants -- selections planned next month
Off to a roaring start -- 101 applicants!

We're responding to California's teacher shortage with an innovative offer to attract future teachers with solid ties to the Natomas community. We'll provide financial supports to help exemplary candidates get their teaching credential in return for a three-year commitment to help meet the diverse needs of our students and to serve as a pipeline for hard-to-fill positions.

The program is open to current district employees in non-teaching positions and to college graduates pursuing a teaching credential next year. Past NUSD graduates are a priority. Our  101 applicants were scheduled to be interviewed by panels totaling 53 NUSD teachers, site leaders and administrators. We plan to select our first cohort of recruits, perhaps 20 members, by mid-February. The recruitment program is expected to continue for three years, supporting about 45 candidates overall.  Read more here .
Our new Classified Employee of the Year is ...
Norma Tapia is Natomas Unified's new Classified Employee of the Year, an honor made official Monday when Supt. Chris Evans surprised her at American Lakes School with a congratulatory bouquet of flowers.

Tapia's eyes welled with tears upon learning of the honor. She said it tug at her heartstrings to be recognized for service to American Lakes, a school and campus community she loves.

"This school feels like my family," she said.

Tapia is a Child Development Assistant (Biligual) who speaks both Spanish and English. In addition to her work at American Lakes with children, she also runs a multiweek series of classes designed to strengthen families.

"She is amazing," her nomination by a co-worker read. "Never complains. ... She is constantly moving and getting the children to be active. It is also a plus that she is bilingual and can make connections with many families on a personal level."

Another colleague praised Tapia as an "amazing, caring, friendly, trusting leader," adding, "she just rocks!" 

Principal Ann Veu said Tapia reflects the culture of American Lakes. "Everyone helps out, wherever they can," she said.
Natomas High engineering team wins $1,500  
Natomas High seniors Muhammad Matloob, Carlos Ortega and Andres Gomez teamed up to win the $1,500 top prize in this year's California Bridge Building Competition.

The Nighthawk trio earned the divisional crown for 11th- and 12th-graders in the annual competition that challenges student engineering teams to construct lightweight balsa wood bridges capable of supporting many pounds. 

Natomas High's entry was 20 inches long, weighed about an ounce, and proved capable of holding 27 pounds. Constructing the wooden span required consideration of compression forces, tension forces, stress analysis and vector analysis, according to Bert Pinsky, Natomas High engineering teacher.

To qualify for the finals, the three Nighthawk students had to use computer software to design their bridge, submit scaled design drawings and data tables, and explain scientific principales behind their design, challenges encountered, solutions reached, and lessons learned. They fielded questions from industry professionals in the final round of competition, held Jan. 20 at Sacramento State. Read more here.
Natomas Middle School
S tudents helping students find common ground
Students helping students before little rifts become big ones.

That's the concept behind Peer Mediation at Natomas Middle School. About 25 leadership students have been trained this year to serve as neutral facilitators. They are available to help resolve student-to-student conflicts by having the two sides talk it out and find common ground.

The program is meant to resolve minor conflicts or disputes, not as a substitute for staff intervention or discipline in cases of violence, bullying, or misbehavior.

One Peer Mediation case involved a rift between two former friends who no longer were talking to each other. Rumors were flying. Bad blood was growing. Peer Mediation helped thaw the ice and get them interacting again.

Other mediations over the past few years included complaints about a student spreading rumors, or stealing, or breaking property.

"You're always neutral," Ben, 13, said of his role as a mediator. "You've got to listen to both sides and find a compromise."

Peer Mediation is consistent with NUSD's Goal to "create safe and welcoming learning environments where students attend and are connected to their schools." Read more here.
Student & Parent Opportunities & Info   
Parent workshops planned to support college readiness 
Let's work together, parents, to prepare your college-bound student for success. NUSD is offering a series of parent workshops, beginning Feb. 7, to explore what college campuses are like, what freshmen can expect, and what support systems exist at community college, CSU and UC campuses.

The first workshop,  "A Home Away from Home: Student Support Programs in the Campus Community," will be held from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, in NUSD's Staff Development Center, 1931 Arena Blvd.

The second workshop, "A Complete Guide to the First Year of College," will be held from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, in the Staff Development Center.

The series will conclude with a Saturday visit to Sacramento State. Details are pending. 

A flyer about the workshops is available here. For more information, call (916) 473-0053.
NUSD schedules school Open House events 

Please mark your calendar now for the Open House at your child's school. This event provides an opportunity for parents and staff to get to know each other better. It also spotlights classroom curriculum and schoolwork. Here is the school-by-school schedule:

Feb 6  --  6-7:30 p.m. -- Inderkum High, Natomas High, and Natomas Gateways Middle School
March 7  -- 6-7:30 p.m. -- Natomas Middle School, Discovery High School
April 18  -- 6-7:30 p.m. -- Natomas Park Elementary, and Bannon Creek, Jefferson and Heron Schools
April 19  -- 6-7:30 p.m. -- American Lakes School, Paso Verde School, and H. Allen Hight, Two Rivers and Witter Ranch elementary schools

Leroy Greene Academy plans an Art & Business Expo Night from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, May 10.
Want to enroll in an NUSD school for next year? 
Facebook Join My List Logo
Do you know someone who wants to attend one of our college- and career-focused schools next year? Please spread the word: Enroll now! 

Best chance of getting accepted into a favorite NUSD campus is to enroll in the district by Wednesday (Jan. 31), which marks the end of our 1st Enrollment Period. We offer Preschool through 12th grade. For more information, click here .
$500 Top Prize in Essay Contest Honoring Military Vets 
Know a high school junior or senior who could use a $500 scholarship?

That's the top prize in a 400- to 500-word essay contest by the Sacramento County Office of Education to honor local military veterans. The theme is, "How a Veteran's Courage Contributes to My Freedom." 

The competition is open to 11 th - and 12 th -graders attending public high schools in Sacramento County.  Essays will be judged on how well contestants understand, develop, and present the theme. Scores will be based on knowledge of the theme, clarity of ideas, theme development, and spelling, structure, and grammar. Entries are due by April 17.

SCOE is offering the essay contest in conjunction with Operation Recognition, a program of the Sacramento County Board of Education that honors local veterans who left high school to serve in the U.S military during World War II, the Korean War, sor the Vietnam War.
Prize money for the essay contest will be provided by SAFE Credit Union.

For more information about the contest, click here.
Heron student hailed as hero by police

H eron School student DJ Simmons Jr. was hailed as a hero by Sacramento police in this CBS 13 news report. The 12-year-old acted quickly to protect his younger brothers and call 9-1-1 after hearing someone running through his family's garage. The Sacramento Kings honored DJ recently. Check out the  video here
  Big boost for NMS Mandarin Chinese program 
Kobe Bryant helping to teach kids Chinese at Natomas Middle School? Yes!
A book featuring quotes from the basketball star was among 81 different Mandarin books presented to the Panthers by California State Librarian Greg Lucas this month.
The books were a free gift from China's Jiangsu province, one of California's sister states worldwide. 
The gift is particularly exciting because of Natomas Middle School's ties to the Chinese language. Every Panther can take Mandarin or Spanish to fulfill their International Baccalaureate requirement in world language. The new books -- on topics from architecture to calligraphy to "Gone With the Wind" -- allow Mandarin students to extend their studies far beyond textbooks.
Principal Shea Borges called it a "wonderful opportunity" for the school, its students, and its IB program.

ACT Testing on Feb. 27
What college-bound students need to know... 

Performing well on a college entrance test is vital to getting accepted into the campus of your choice. So NUSD is providing opportunities for college-bound students to understand the process and, for students taking the ACT test next month, to prepare online at no cost.

The ACT will be given free, during the school day, to all 11th-grade students at Inderkum High, Natomas High, Leroy Greene Academy, and Discovery High on Tuesday, Feb. 27. ACT is used by many colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. so students should prepare now to score as high as possible.

Students should look for an email from ACT to activate their online test preparation account. They and their parents also should check out the video above, which was created by NUSD's Parent University to help students and parents understand college entrance tests and the differences between ACT and SAT. 
Got a question? Your answer may be a click away 
NUSD's Parent University offers videos addressing Frequently Asked Questions on a variety of key subjects covering all levels of K-12 education: Early Learning, Elementary School, Middle School and High School. Titles include:
  • Why should my student attend Prekindergarten (Pre-K) or Transitional Kindergarten (TK)?
  • What important milestones should my student have accomplished in PreK/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 graduation ready?
  • Is your student on track to complete all a-g (college entrance) requirements?
  • How can I support my student when applying for financial aid?
To view these videos or select from many more, click here.
Honoring the memory of MLK 

To honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 4th-graders at Natomas Park Elementary created this artwork of the civil rights leader. The students, in Betsy Mitchell's class, also wrote personal pledges reflecting the spirit of Dr. King. One student pledged not to give up on dreams, another pledged not to judge someone by skin color, yet another pledged to be honest and kind. Other pledges included not hurting anyone, not bullying, and not saying bad things. The pledges were posted in a busy hallway for other students to see.

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