August 12, 2020
Dear Orinda USD Families,

Welcome Back to School! David Schrag, our Director of Curriculum, and I shared the following welcome back message with teachers on Monday. I thought it might resonate with you as well.

Welcome to what promises to be an extraordinary 2020-21 school year! Many of us have been through the process of building a new house or remodeling a house while living in it. Both projects have their challenges, but building a new house while living elsewhere is a whole lot easier. I bring this up because the normal beginning of a school year is like building a new house. Lots of prep work gets done in the spring, then teachers, staff, and administrators have time in the summer to get things ready before the big move-in date, while no one is there.

Getting prepared for the 2020-21 school year has looked very different from years past. Instead of getting classrooms ready to welcome our students, teachers have been focused on learning best practices for distance learning and developing their online lessons with colleagues. Custodians and maintenance staff have deep cleaned classrooms, added plexiglass barriers to school offices, ordered extra hand-washing stations, and prepared PPE to be ready for distribution when we are able to return to school sites. Principals have been immersed in dividing class lists into AM/PM cohorts, hiring staff, and supporting all site staff, students, and parents during a pandemic. All Orinda USD staff, regardless of their specific roles, have worked tirelessly to provide the best possible start to the new school year.

Board Virtual Coffees in August - One Tomorrow Morning!
The School Board wants to hear from you! Meet virtually with two Board members from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. each Thursday morning following our monthly regular Board meetings. Our Board members want to answer any questions you may have, hear your concerns and ideas, and share new information as it arises. The next virtual Board Coffee is:

This month the Board is offering one additional virtual Board Coffee. Here are the details:

The Board looks forward to meeting with you virtually for the coffees until COVID-19 conditions improve.
Welcome to Our New Orinda USD Employees!
Over the summer, the District hired 16 new teachers and three support staff. Please join me in warmly welcoming these outstanding new Orinda USD employees.
Del Rey
Teachers: DeEtte Baise (Kindergarten) and Nicole Dillman (P.E.)
Teachers: Allison Christensen (3rd grade), Kelly DeTorres (3rd grade), and Taylor Rosa (Kindergarten)
Support Staff: Sarah Endsley (School Clerk)
Sleepy Hollow
Teachers: Kate Clarke (3rd grade), Hana Lindberg (4th grade), and Elizabeth Sarica (1st grade)
Wagner Ranch
Teachers: Olivia Brown (3rd grade), Michelle Jackson (Kindergarten), and Taylor Nielsen (Kindergarten)
Teachers: Renee Bertenthal (Math), Amanda Catanesi (Math), Wesley Guergah (Math), Julia McKaskey (Core/Digital Media Arts), and Jennifer McKenzie (Math)
Support Staff: Jaime Giacomi (Technology Support Technician) and Matthew Helder (Technology Systems Administrator)

City of Orinda Parks and Recreation Childcare During Distance Learning
Our partners with the City of Orinda Parks and Recreation Department are offering Distance Learning Support and Enrichment for Orinda residents with Skyhawks Orinda School & Sports Club. Session 1 is limited to 36 students and there are only a few spots left, so please register now before it’s too late.

As always, I welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions on any topic related to our Orinda USD schools.


Dr. Carolyn Seaton
Superintendent of Schools
District Calendar
  • August 13: First Day of School
  • August 19: Virtual Back to School Night at OIS
  • August 24-27: Virtual Back to School Nights at Orinda USD Elementary Schools
  • September 2: Student Minimum Day; Teacher Professional Development
  • September 7: Labor Day Holiday
  • September 14: Regular School Board Meeting, 6:00 p.m.
Board Shorts
2020-21 Orinda USD Board School Assignments:
OIS: Liz Daoust
Del Rey: Cara Hoxie
Glorietta: Hillary Weiner
Sleepy Hollow: Jason Kaune
Wagner Ranch: Carol Brown
The Board of Trustees took the following actions at their August 10, 2020, regularly scheduled monthly meeting:

  • The Board approved the architectural design for the new Sleepy Hollow Multipurpose Room.  
  • The Board approved the appointment of the Interim Director of Business Services and Resolution #21-01.
  • The Board approved the 45-Day Budget Update.
  • The Board approved Resolution #20-02 for Authorized Signatures
  • The Board approved modifications to the following Board Policies and Administrative Regulations:
  • BP 1312.3: Uniform Complaint Procedures
  • BP 4119.42, 4219.42, 4319.41: Exposure Control for Bloodborne Pathogens

Upcoming Events
  • Aug 13: Virtual Board Coffee (8:15-9:15 a.m.)
  • Aug 27: Board Retreat, Wagner Ranch Nature Area (9 a.m.-1 p.m.)
  • Aug 28: Virtual Board Coffee (8:15-9:15 a.m.)
Curriculum Update
Wellness, Inclusion, Student and Staff Equity (WISSE) Committee
The Orinda USD WISSE Committee is proud to have featured an inclusion and empowerment pledge as part of this year's student enrollment/re-enrollment process. This pledge particularly addresses one of our District's Strategic Directions - to Cultivate Ethical and Respectful Citizens. "Students will" statements for that Strategic Direction include:
  • Students will develop and defend values and viewpoints that respect diversity and inclusion.
  • Students will respect differences in learning styles, talents, and abilities of all people.
We look forward to sharing the WISSE committee's continuing work throughout this school year.

Professional Development for Teachers and Staff
Orinda Union School District continues to support our teachers as lifelong learners and reflective practitioners. Highlights from recent trainings include:
  • New teacher “Boot Camp” led by our Teachers on Special Assignment: Ashley Appel (Math), Betsy Howe (Literacy), and Kevin Cutler (Technology)
  • Four online courses on effective instruction in a distance learning environment offered by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
  • Online badging courses on effective teaching using Zoom by Orinda USD's Kevin Cutler
  • Two days of professional development on August 10 and 11 that included time for teachers to meet with their grade level or departmental teams
  • Six teachers attended online institutes in reading or writing instruction offered by Columbia University's Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
  • Eight Orinda USD teachers attended a virtual Silicon Valley Math Initiative training

Upcoming Parent Education
We are committed to supporting parents/guardians during Distance Learning and beyond. To that end, we are excited to offer several one-hour, virtual parent education sessions for parents/guardians in the near future that will be recorded for those who are unable to participate in real time. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions via a Google Form prior to each session.

Sessions will be presented by our own Orinda USD teachers, specialists, and parents, and topics will include:
  • How to Navigate Orinda USD’s Distance Learning Platforms with Your Child
  • Strategies for Helping Your Child Have a Successful Distance Learning Experience (TK-K, 1-2, 3-5, and 6-8)
  • Strategies to Support Your Elementary/OIS Student’s Social/Emotional Wellness During Distance Learning
  • Put Your Oxygen Mask on First: Strategies for Parents to Support Their Own Social/Emotional Wellness
  • Tips for Coping with Anxiety - Elementary/OIS
  • How to Keep Your Child Engaged in Distance Learning

More information including specific dates, times, session descriptions, and Zoom links will be forthcoming soon!
All Orinda Parents Clubs have joined with the Educational Foundation of Orinda to form the Orinda Network for Education ("ONE"), a new collaborative fundraising foundation. Your donations to ONE are even more critical now as we work together to provide the best educational experience for our Orinda students. Please visit ONEOrinda.org for more information, and thank you for supporting our children: https://www.oneorinda.org/ways-to-give.