January 16, 2021
A+ News
Franklin Preschool Students Learn About Martin Luther King Jr. and Share Their Dreams for a Better World
Each year, Karen Sudjian’s Pre-K class studies Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) because Sudjian believes it is important for young children to understand the Civil Rights movement. This week her students recited the poem “Martin Luther King said, I Have a Dream.” Next they drew pictures of their own dreams for a better world, while listening to MLK's famous, “I Have a Dream” speech, Numberock's “Martin Luther King Jr.” rap for children, and Stevie Wonder's song “Happy Birthday,” which helped make MLK’s birthday a national holiday.

Several students shared dreams about stopping the coronavirus, one aspiring to become a doctor to do so, while others dreamed about bringing peace to the world. One student dreamed of protecting our environment by becoming an ‘earth cleaner.” Sudjian’s students were engaged in the curriculum and class discussions about fairness and equality. “I found it inspiring that the kids were passionate and committed to having a peaceful, clean and healthy planet where everyone gets fair treatment,” said Sudjian.
How to Celebrate MLK Day
From bideninaugural.org: 

The National Day of Service for the Inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will celebrate and honor the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 18, 2021. The National Day of Service is an opportunity for all Americans to unite and serve at a time when the global pandemic calls on all of us to work together and support our communities. No matter where you are, you have an opportunity to give back and the agency to do so. Most volunteer activities only require an hour or two of your time, and all events will be virtual or socially distanced, in accordance with CDC protocol

Martin Luther King Jr delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington D.C.
Click here to read the SF Chronicle article by Ann Schrager to learn about the many safe opportunities to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
State of the District is Wednesday, January 27
Emerging Stronger. Together.
January 15, 2021

Dear Berkeley Community, Families and Colleagues,

Even though only two weeks have passed since New Year’s Day, it feels much longer, given all that has happened. We’re all contending with “pandemic fatigue,” even with vaccines on the horizon. We miss being with each other, we miss school, and on top of it all, we are haunted by the horrifying assault on the Capitol and continued threats to safety, to racial justice, and to our democracy.

I am hoping we can take the next few days ahead, with the commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, and the inauguration of new leadership, to take a deep breath, remember Dr. King’s words about our “inescapable network of mutuality,” and recommit ourselves to the well-being of our beloved community. 

Here at the District Office we continue working toward opening our schools for in-person learning, incorporating the Governor’s new Safe Schools for All Plan, while also working to build the budget and plans for the 2021-2022 school year.

I will be sharing some of my thoughts about the path ahead at the annual community meeting known as the Superintendent’s State of the District on Wednesday, January 27 at 6:00 pm. Please join me at this Zoom Webinar link. We will also record the meeting to upload to our District YouTube channel.

I hope we can spend this weekend being gentle with ourselves and those around us, connecting in meaningful but safe ways with friends and loved ones, grounding ourselves in the beauty of the natural world, and finding further reservoirs of hope.

It is uplifting to know that on Tuesday, January 20, a former Thousand Oaks Elementary School student will be sworn in as the first woman, and the first Black and South Asian Vice President of the United States. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris is a reminder of why we collectively do the work we do to educate BUSD students. I hope this moment is inspiring to you and your family.  


Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Berkeley Public Schools Fund
COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Campaign
The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Campaign was established to assist in the growing needs that Berkeley students and families were experiencing with the complications of the pandemic.

BUSD's Office of Family Engagement & Equity (OFEE) receives requests from families in the schools, and your contributions to the Berkeley Public Schools Fund provides assistance to them.

With your help, we can reach all of our students and families in need. Your donation will ensure that students can access distance learning and families are connected with resources. Help us meet the needs of our community during this crisis.

Please click here to make a donation. Thank you!
BHS Physics Club Hosts Leading Scientists
in Video Presentation Series
Students Alessandra Ionescu-Zanetti and Anoushka Chitnis have been busy sharing the role of Founder and Co-President of the Physics Club at Berkeley High School. Each month they arrange a speaker for the club--generally a scientist. Students then come up with questions for the speaker and design an experiment related to the subject matter. During distance learning, they shoot videos of their experiments so club members can analyze the experiments together. 
Both students are avid scientists. Chitnis is fascinated by how trivial humans are in the grand scale of the universe.  “I want to become an astronaut one day,” she said. “Based on my love of physics, I might specialize in mechanical engineering in college.” Ionescu-Zanetti became interested in science when learning about the water cycle in 5th grade. “I was interested in how things we see in everyday life can be explained at a deep level and how they happen for a specific reason,” she said.
Recent speakers include Marta Volonteri, who studies the astrophysical aspects behind supermassive black holes and how they evolved with galaxies, and Peggy Norris, who spoke to the students about nuclear physics and particle accelerators.
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"It’s fascinating how little we actually know about the universe, even simple things, like the way we see colors--there's such a deep meaning behind it that we can’t explain without physics," concluded Chitnis.
Co-President of the Berkeley High School Physics Club Anoushka Chitnis introduces guest speaker Peggy Norris to students.
Alessandra Ionescu-Zanetti is Co-President of Berkeley High School's Physics Club (Photo: Alessandra Ionescu-Zanetti)
Berkeley Schools Volunteer Spotlight

Click HERE to learn how you can become a Berkeley Schools Volunteer.
Berkeley Schools Volunteer Virginia Gonzales
Virginia Gonzalez (pictured left) joined Berkeley Schools Volunteers (BSV) last spring to pitch in during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. A native of Argentina, a biotechnologist, and a Berkeley High mom, Gonzalez has has become one of BSV’s most dependable Spanish language translators. “I am so happy to help in these difficult times. It is a way to express my gratitude for this beautiful community,” she said. Over the past 6 months, Gonzalez helped translate take-home curricula for the district as well as BSV communications to BUSD students & their families.

To express her commitment to this work, she quoted Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano, "Mucha gente pequeña, en lugares pequeños, haciendo cosas pequeñas, puede cambiar el mundo." In English, this means, “A lot of everyday people, in everyday places, doing everyday things, can change the world.”

Thank you for helping BSV break down language barriers right here in the Berkeley community, and building bridges with heart and word.
You Can't Be What You Can't See:
A Conversation With the BUSD Teachers of Color Network
Civil Rights and Children's Rights activist Marian Wright Edelman’s simple yet profound statement spells out clearly the core mission of the BUSD Teachers of Color Network. What started out as a grassroots group for teachers to seek community and provide insight on ways to increase diverse representation in our schools has become a central leadership team, with a systems vision for institutional growth in these areas. 

This dynamic and committed group is facilitated by Gloria Muñoz, who also leads English learner support and systems in the district, and Monique Duncan-Harris, math department leader and teacher at Berkeley High School. The other members include Sarah Moreno, of Thousand Oaks Elementary School, and Kesha Jenkins, teacher at Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School. 

Together, the Teachers of Color Network wear many leadership hats. They partner with our teacher mentor teams to offer a support system for all new teachers of color to BUSD. They consult with district leadership to ensure that our systems of hiring and retaining diverse faculty, staff, and leaders who represent our community remain strong and continue to grow. They work with the members of Berkeley Pathway to Achieve Credentialed Teachers (BPACT) program, who already work with students and seek to obtain their teaching credentials and stay in our community serving the students they know and have built relationships with. They work closely with the many student groups who have voiced the need for all students to be seen and represented in their classrooms, curriculum, and teaching staff. 

This work, as one can imagine, is challenging, personal, and rooted in love. The path to positive change begins with a critical look at all levels of the system, and this courageous and mission-driven group welcomes each step. Through the many avenues they support, this team of leaders has a keen pulse on the entire BUSD community and a wealth of knowledge they provide to each stakeholder group.  

While this transformative work continues, it is important to honor the tireless work of the Teachers of Color Network for the growth that has been, and to recognize the connection between this team and the ultimate purpose of providing every BUSD student with the representation and education everyone deserves to thrive, to know they belong, in school and in life.

Thank you, Gloria, Monique, Sarah, and Kesha, for leading the charge, and making BUSD a better place, every day.
Gloria Muñoz
BUSD English Learner Systems & Support
Monique Duncan-Harris
Berkeley High School
Sarah Moreno
Thousand Oaks Elementary

Kesha Jenkins
Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary
Berkeley Alumna Kamala Harris to be Sworn in as
Vice President of the United States January 20
A CNN documentary about Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, which includes footage from
Thousand Oaks Elementary School, will air this Sunday, January 17, at 10 pm.
On Tuesday, January 20, just prior to the swearing in of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, BUSD alumna Kamala Harris will make history as she takes the Oath of Office to become the first woman Vice President as well as the first Black and South-Asian Vice President.

Harris began attending Thousand Oaks Elementary School for first grade in 1969, the District's second year of its pioneering voluntary busing plan for school integration. She caught a bus to Thousand Oaks each morning from the corner of Bancroft and Browning in West Berkeley. Also on that bus was Carole Porter, schoolmate and now long-time friend of the Vice President-elect. "We played a lot of games on that bus, like Cat's Cradle, and we sang songs, read books and then we talked about books we read," said Porter.

Porter describes our next Vice President as someone who was comfortable with herself at a young age. "Kamala was very confident and very serious about doing well in school, but she was also very caring about her friends and friendships," says Porter. "Going to Thousand Oaks gave us such an opportunity to expand our friend group--including children of UC Berkeley professors and friends from different countries." Porter remembered teachers holding potluck dinners at the school. "Families would come, bring a dish, and there was always a lot of talking and conversation and play--expanding our minds and being creative," she said. Porter noted that the presence of Black teachers and administrators created a welcoming environment for her and the Vice President-elect.

On Sunday, January 17 at 10:00 pm, CNN will air a one-hour documentary about the life of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, including footage taken at Thousand Oaks.

Carole Porter (on the right), schoolmate of Vice President-elect Kamal Harris, tells CNN's Abby Phillip about Harris' early life during an interviiew held in a Thousand Oaks classroom.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harrs (left) and schoolmate Carole Porter (right) rode the bus together from West Oakland to Thousand Oaks Elementary School. (Photo: Carole Porter)
MLK Breakfast January 18
Last year, hundreds of community members paid tribute to the life, work, and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Please consider participating this year as the community joins together virtually to celebrate the unfinished work of Dr. King. This year's theme is 
Black Lives Matter.

2020 was a year of major upheaval and change. It has asked us to question some of our basic assumptions about ourselves, our communities, and the future. COVID-19, the ever-urgent call for racial justice, economic instability, political insecurity, climate change, fires along the West Coast, the list goes on and on. In such moments, the importance of community and connection is made ever more present.

The annual Berkeley MLK Breakfast is a way for the community to come together in a joyful, moving, and meaningful way. Consider attending, and in the spirit of community, please feel free to invite your family, friends, and neighbors.

This year, you will have the option to make a donation or register for a free ticket. All donations will be used to make small gifts to community organizations working to fight against food insecurity exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

No School for Students Monday, January 18 and Monday, January 25
There is no school on Monday, January 18, as we honor and celebrate the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. School is also closed for students on Monday, January 25, for staff professional development day.
Keeping Up with District News
Ed Hub Winter Hours Tuesday and Thursday, 3:00-5:00 pm.
The Ed Hub, which is located at the Berkeley Adult School on Curtis St., between Virginia and Francisco Street, is a one-stop distribution site for all things teaching and learning while school campuses are closed for in-person instruction. During the winter, the Ed Hub is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 - 5:00 pm.
Community Advisory Committee (CAC) 2020-21 Planning Meeting Monday, January 25 
The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) is a parent-driven group formed to advise the Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA) on issues which affect children with special needs. The Special Education process can feel overwhelming and isolating. Many parents often feel voiceless when seeking better outcomes for their children. Through the education, advocacy, and community provided by joining the CAC, parents find their voices and become more informed and empowered, asking the tough questions parent/caregivers may not feel comfortable asking on their own, and speaking on behalf of families and students with IEPs. As a group, the CAC prioritizes and champion effective Special Education programs and services within our SELPA to improve outcomes at the District-level. Family members, teachers, administrators, community representatives, and others are welcome to attend.

Date: Monday January 25, 2021
Time: 6:00pm-7:30 pm

To call in: 1 (669) 900 6833; Meeting ID: 874 8469 0761

Recent School Board Meetings
Recent Town Hall Meetings
Events and Meetings Online
School Board Meeting
January 20, 2021

All Board meetings are now held via Zoom. Details can be found on our webpage.

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
EAC/SBAC Budget Update | Details
January 19, 4:00 - 5:30 pm

DELAC Meeting  Details
January 21, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

PAC Meeting Details
January 21, 6:00 - 7:30 pm
Planning and Oversight Committee Meeting (BSEP and BERRA)Details
January 26, 6:15 - 8:45 pm

School Board Facilities Subcommittee Meeting Details
January 28, 5:30 - 7:00 pm