NUSD Spotlight
Community Newsletter
 -- May 2016  

Hope you enjoy this edition of "NUSD Spotlight," the district's monthly 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.
New state data about NUSD

More grads, fewer dropouts, more college prep --
and big progress by English Learner students 

Record numbers of Natomas Unified students are graduating, fewer are dropping out, measurable progress is being made toward closing the achievement gap, and more high school students than ever before are completing admission requirements for colleges or universities, newly released state data shows.

Highlights of the new results include:

1). NUSD's Graduation Rate rose by 5% -- to 92%
2). Dropout rate fell below 1% (0.8%) in a one-year snapshot of dropouts
3). Students completing college admission requirements, known as a-g, rose by 4 percentage points -- from 47% to 51%, making NUSD the the 2nd district in Sacramento County to top 50%.
4). The redesignation rate nearly doubled for English Learners who tested proficient in English, a milestone accomplishment that takes years to attain. NUSD redesignated 18.3% of its English Learner students last year, up from 9.8% the previous year.

Significantly, NUSD's Hispanic and African American student groups improved in each of the categories released by the California Department of Education: graduation rate, dropout rate, and completion of a-to-g college admissions requirements.

Natomas Unified exceeds state and county averages in its percentage of graduates, its falling dropout rate, and its percentage of students completing a-to-g college admission requirements, the new state data shows.  In all three categories, NUSD's one-year improvement ranked among the highest of any school district in Sacramento County. 

Read the full story here.
Nothing says readiness quite like ... 

Nearly 230 seniors pack their bags for college
Goodbye NUSD -- hello college!

Inderkum and Natomas high schools celebrated nearly 230 graduating seniors who have been accepted into colleges or universities.

The list of higher education facilities that have accepted one or more NUSD graduate reads like a Who's Who of postsecondary education, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of Oregon, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU campuses, and a host of others.

At Inderkum, each college-bound Tiger signed a campus banner that read, "4 Down, 4 to Go."
Invitational Field Day Focuses on Ability -- not Disability

The second annual "Invitational Field Day" at Natomas High offered special-needs students a day of friendly competition in events ranging from running to jumping, putting golf balls, and tossing softballs for distance.

The feel-good event paired special-needs students with volunteer Nighthawk "buddies." Last year, Invitational Field Day helped Natomas High win a statewide award in civics learning. Top finishers were recognized in the competition, but nobody went home a loser. All participating special-needs athletes won an award. This video captures the spirit of the day.
Multi-Tiered  System of Supports 

Expanding Response to Individual Student Needs 
NUSD is boosting resources at all schools for responding to individual student 
academic and social-emotional needs. Starting in August:

1) All schools will have a full-time psychologist
2) All elementary, middle and comprehensive high schools will have a full-time health assistant
3) Bannon Creek, Two Rivers and Witter Ranch elementary schools also will add a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) focusing on social-emotional support as well as curriculum assessment and instruction
4) All other elementary schools already have a TOSA or Assistant Principal
5) In addition to these supports, Inderkum was provided an additional full-time counselor a few weeks ago

These extra academic and social-emotional supports are tied to a process called a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) that creates a school-based framework involving the principal, teachers, psychologist and a classified employee to best meet students' individual needs.

This new investment in our students and schools is possible through reallocation of existing resources in the 2015-16 budget and by reducing two Ed Center management positions. Read the full story here.
Meet ABC 10 'Teacher of the Month' -- Vanessa Dauterive  

NUSD's  third  winner in five months

After a career spanning three decades, Vanessa Dauterive is going out to loud applause, winning ABC 10's Teacher of the Month Award only weeks before she retires from H. Allen Hight Elementary School.

"It was very unexpected, and it was just a nice way to end my career," she said of the award. ABC 10 aired its segment May 10 on Dauterive, who was presented with a $1,000 check and becomes a contender for the station's $5,000 Teacher of the Year Award.

Dauterive, a kindergarten teacher at H. Allen Hight, is the third NUSD instructor to win ABC 10 monthly honors since December, when Courtnay Kaump of Two Rivers Elementary School was selected. Joel Schwieger of Natomas High School won the award in April.

Dauterive said she tries to make learning fun, incorporating poems, music and song into her teaching. "Not every kid can listen intently, but if you mix it up with song and movement and academics, then it's fun -- and it serves a purpose."

  Read more about Dauterive here.   Watch ABC 10's report on Dauterive here .
'May I Have the Ring, Please?'

A Kindergarten Wedding? ... Yes! ... When 5-year-olds learn to read, they discover that the letters "Q" and "U" are inseparable, they go everywhere together, they must love each other.

 So why not marry them? 

That's exactly what Heron School kindergarteners did last week in a bridal-gown-and-suit-coat ceremony you just have to see to believe ... Want a smile? ... Check it out ... :o) 
Student Spotlight: Devon Angle

Never-say-die attitude wins Heron 'Perseverance Award' 
Devon Angle is a Heron School 8th-grader who jogs long distances - and from that he's learned life lessons we can all take to heart.

Devon was chosen for this month's "Student Spotlight" because he is an example of success through grit and determination.

School has not always been easy for him, but Devon will finish his stint at Heron School this week as the winner of Heron's 8 th-grade Perseverance Award for a positive, never-say-die attitude.

Devon's jogging is a metaphor to his life.

"I think there's one thing for everybody, that once they start doing it, it helps them in their life and they like doing it," Devon said. "It really helps make their lives better."

For Devon, running has been that niche.  He was not born with a special gift for endurance running: He remembers races in which he stopped along the way, wheezed, struggled to finish.

But Devon learned that the key to success in running - and in school - is to keep taking one more step, no matter the distance, no matter the obstacle.  He learned that victory doesn't always mean crossing the finish line first.

He learned the satisfaction of challenging himself, pushing his limits, setting goals, working to attain them. That carries over into school, too.

"Devon has really grown this year as an 8th-grader, and his teachers and I have all noticed it," Principal Amy Whitten said. "He is more confident in himself and seems to have found a new determination to work hard in school and ensure that he is really learning the concepts he needs in order to keep moving forward academically." Read the full story here.
Heron and Witter Ranch Honored 
NUSD campuses named to 'Honor Roll' by business coalition 

Heron and Witter Ranch were named "Honor Roll" schools this month by a California business coalition f or demonstrating consistently high academic achievement and improvement over time while reducing achievement gaps.

The Honor Roll was created by analyzing achievement data to identify higher-performing schools and highlight successful practices, according to the nonprofit business coalition, which began its annual award program more than a decade ago.

Heron and Witter Ranch were among 1,714 California public schools that were named to this year's Honor Roll by the coalition, consisting of the Educational Results Partnership (ERP) and the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE). Two NUSD charter schools also were selected - Natomas Charter and NP3 middle and high school.

"These Honor Roll schools are setting their students on the path to a college degree and the financial security of a living-wage job," said Lee Blitch, ERP Board chairman, whose resume includes service as president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and a vice president of San Francisco State University.

Supt. Chris Evans said the selection of Heron and Witter Ranch to this year's Honor Roll is a tribute to staff at both schools and celebrates what Natomas Unified is committed to achieving  district-wide - high academic performance, progress over time, and cutting the achievement gap. Read the full story here.
NUSD Trustee Sue Heredia Awards $1,000 scholarships in honor of her son, Salvador 

NUSD Trustee Sue Heredia said this was what her son would have wanted -- reaching out, giving back, helping others get an education.

Dr. Heredia awarded $1,000 scholarships to Natomas High School seniors Terrance March and William Brown this month in honor of her late son, Salvador Heredia-Arriaga, a Natomas HIgh School junior varsity football coach who died an untimely death six years ago at age 26.

Consistent with Salvador's legacy, the scholarships go each year to Nighthawk football players who perform well in the classroom, value a college education, exhibit good citizenship, and help to make Natomas a better place to live. Both Brown and March plan to play college football next year -- Brown for the University of Southern Oregon, March for Yuba College.

"This is about giving back to the community," Heredia said of the scholarships. "Giving back to a community that nurtured my children at this high school -- and that believed in them. We always said in our family that when you graduate from college you have a responsibility to give back to the community." Read the  full story here.
Thanks for your service -- all 422 years  
Twenty-four staff members totaling 422 years of service to Natomas Unified are retiring this year. Trustees honored, thanked, and presented them with a Golden Bell at the Board's May 11 public meeting. 

Retirees who could make it to the ceremony were photographed, above, with the Board, Supt. Chris Evans, and union leaders.

Ten certificated employees are retiring: Sandra Brodrick, Vanessa Dauterive, Helen McAuliffe, Dave Contreras, Dino Gay, Beverly Drew, Linda Hardenburgh, Emilio Martinez, Kristin Nanry and Sally West.

Thirteen classified employees are retiring: Stephen Crumm, Pam Edwards, Carlos Jaime, Shirley Lacey, Rigo Magallanes, Tuan Nguyen, Nancy Bjerkhoel, Brian Buchman, Astrid Graham, Lawrence Kishore, Beverly Netherton, Pamela Piccione and Billy Wroe.

A district administrator, Brent Johnson, recently retired from his Ed Center position as Coordinator of Foster Youth and Homeless Education.

Natomas Unified is grateful for their many years of service to local students and schools. 
Let's Rewind the Tape

NUSD news, notes, highlights for May    
Inderkum Friday Night Live wins County Award -- Again!  
Ind erkum High's Friday Night Live chapter was named the best of its kind locally at trying to save lives. Here's the kicker -- it has won the county "Chapter Challenge Award" for three straight years. Students in the group, including leaders Melanie Manuel and Aaron Hunziker, have spent countless hours this year advocating against drunken driving, distracted driving, and teen use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

 "I'm proud of how much heart and soul they've put into wanting to change our campus and our community," said Eric Fong, FNL adviser.

Supt. Chris Evans Honored by State School Administrators 

Congratulations to our superintendent, Chris Evans, who received a coveted Silver Star award for educational leadership this month from the Association of California School Administrators for Region 3. 

The honor is consistent with NUSD's Core Belief that "staff must be committed, collaborative, caring and exemplary."

Four Nighthawks win Awards in NorCal MESA Competition
Four Natomas High School students won awards recently in high-level MESA Day competition against schools from throughout Northern California in categories involving math, engineering and science. Nighthawks Daniel Ledesma and Dylan Chima Sanchez won first-place honors for 10th and 11th grades, respectively, in a category involving answering tough math questions. Sadia Zanib and Fiza Zanib won second place in designing a structure to protect eggs from breaking in a fall. 

Ten other Nighthawks won awards in regional, Pre-MESA Day competition. ... Awesome!
Leroy Greene Academy
Student Art Exhibition

Talent was on full display this month at Leroy Greene Academy's student art exhibition, an annual event open to parents and the community.

Created by middle and high school students, hundreds of works of art were on display. They ranged from paintings, pencil and chalk art to digital photography and graphic arts.

LGA offers an academic pathway for students interested in Visual Arts and Technology. It also offers a pathway in Business and Marketing.

Did You Know? 

Pushing for positive change --
Natomas High civic engagement 
Dozens of Natomas High School students are learning how to make their voices heard at City Hall.

They're identifying local problems, conducting surveys, analyzing data, asking questions of authorities, and pushing for change.

"It's really the idea that you have a voice -- and you can use it," said Janet Mann, who is leading the charge as part of a yearlong, 12th-grade focus on civic engagement in American Government classes.

The wide-ranging project culminated this month with a campus forum in which Nighthawk seniors outlined concerns, presented data, and discussed potential solutions with Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris, Sacramento Police Lt. Zachary Bales, NUSD Assistant Supt. Cecil Duke, and representatives of the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

Can safer routes be mapped for biking and walking to school?
Can bike lanes be painted green to give them more visibility?
Can police do more to control traffic at San Juan and Truxel roads?

Read the full story here.
Programs, notes and opportunities

Reaching Out to Parents and Guardians 
  Want to be a Substitute Teacher?

Interested in earning $120 to $160 a day as an NUSD substitute teacher? College graduates with a bachelor's degree can become full- or half-day substitute teachers in three easy steps. Click here for details. Questions? Call NUSD Human Resources at (916) 561-5299.

Free Summer Classes for NUSD Parents

NUSD wants to make this a summer you'll never forget. So our Parent University is offering free summer classes to benefit your fitness, health, lifestyle and learning. Classes include nutrition, weight management, parenting, goal setting, using a computer, responding to bullies, and learning to speak English. Spanish translation will be provided. Class dates, times and locations are available here.  We hope to see you in class very soon. Questions? Call us at 567-5516.   

Parent Input Sought on Design of New School 

NUSD is a growing district needing to build a new elementary school soon - and we want your input as we design it. Please attend our parent engagement meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 2, in the Staff Development Center at 1931 Arena Blvd. We want your opinion about location and key programs for the new elementary school. Your ideas are important as we design a school to reflect our District Vision's that all students graduate as college and career ready, productive, responsible, and engaged global citizens. So we hope to see you from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2, in the Staff Development Center at 1931 Arena Blvd.  If you have questions, call us at 916-567-5430. Thank you very much.

Reminder: One-Stop Shop
 for Parent Resources 

After-school programs? Bus schedules? Lunch  menus? Community resources ? District news?  Bullying prevention? Parent workshops?

You've come to the right place.

 NUSD now offers a one-stop  shopping list of parent  resources, accessible by clicking on  the purple  rectangle titled "Family" in the center of  the District website, The page also is  available  here. 
Show Me the Money? ... OK   
Twelve scholarships totaling $7,500 were awarded by the Natomas Schools Foundation this month to help local students attend college or trade school. Winners received $1,000 or $500 apiece. Recipients were Sarah Allen, Nomin Oyunbileg, Matthew Paterno, Rachelle Relador, Erica Wei, Joshua Hoong, Aliza Siddiqui, Ela Manois, William Robers, Jzov Stith-Gambles, Mikaela Carrillo and Andrew Karperos. Photos below show NSF scholarships being awarded.

Nearing 25: Better Than Ever 
NUSD's Silver Anniversary is fast approaching, July 2017, marking 25 years since we expanded from operating elementary and middle schools to a unified district with high schools, too. To help set the stage for our Silver Anniversary, we have launched a series of stories spotlighting the district and key changes it has made to serve students. Posted below are recent stories in that series. 
Nutrition Services:
Student Support by the mouthful 

Natomas Unified now serves about three times more meals each day than the total number of its students when the District was created in 1992. But numbers alone don't tell the story. NUSD is meeting stricter nutrition guidelines, offers salad bars at every school, serves three meals a day, buys more food from local farms, and feeds kids even during summer recess. Staff are teaching kids about nutrition and partnering with high school culinary programs, too. Read the  full story here. 

B. Teri Burns Health Clinic:
Healthy students learn better 
Trustee B. Teri Burns was a key cog in Natomas Unified's Board when the District was formed in 1992, but the heatlh clinic bearing her name did not exist until 23 years later, fulfilling her dream of supporting student success in a new and different way.

Looking back as NUSD nears its Silver Anniversary, the B. Teri Burns Health Clinic is one of many key ways the District has expanded services through the years. It is open every weekday now, two or three hours per day, offering a full range of state-required vaccinations at no charge through a nonprofit organization. Over time, NUSD officials hope to expand both the clinic's hours of operation and the services it provides. Read the full story here.
Full-day Kinder with computers:
Getting kids off to a good start 

The Chromebook laptops used twice a week, the handful of desktop computers in a corner of the room, and the technology used by teachers to project lessons onto classrooms screens make it abundantly clear: This isn't kindergarten of decades past.

In looking for changes in Natomas Unified since voters made it a unified district in 1992, kindergarten is a good place to start.

NUSD replaced half-day kindergarten with full-day kindergarten about four years ago, providing more time for learning, more time for students and teachers to interact, more time to identify and chip away at learning gaps, and more time for children to practice social skills like making friends and sharing. Read the full story here.
 Science focus helps Heron
win state Gold Ribbon award  

Remember the old adage, "There's nothing new under the sun?" Testing that would require scientific inquiry and experimentation -- and there's plenty new about how science skills are taught these days at Heron School.

At Heron, let's start with Scott MacMillan, who was assigned to the campus this year as a science expert, officially a "Teacher on Special Assignment," to expand the science culture in ways ranging from consulting with teachers to leading hands-on student projects and crafting "Scie-Bites" for daily school announcements.

MacMillan uses a temporary science lab added to Heron this year. Soon larger, permanent facility improvements are planned -- two science labs, a technology class, and six classrooms to replace relocatable buildings. Ground is expected to be broken this summer and completion is scheduled for the 2017-18 school year.

Meanwhile, Heron won a state Gold Ribbon Award for excellence this year, partly because of its focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, commonly referred to by the acronym STEAM. Read the full story here.