TUSD Weekly Update
"Every kid is just one caring adult away from being a success story." ~Josh Shipp
Voices on the Wall: A Few Voices to Know
Mary Asgill, TUSD Writing Instructional Coach
Richard Rodriquez, John Steinbeck, James Baldwin, Arthur Miller, and Frank McCourt lived on the wall of my Turlock High School classroom in L-9 alongside a few women, a few of my greatest teachers. Marti Knapp, a THS art teacher who retired a bit ago, gave her AP art students a summer assignment a few years ago: paint the spirit of these writers so that they live in plain sight of students who will be learning from their words. They did. In honor and celebration of Women’s History Month, here are the voices of the women on that wall that our students should know, a few who taught hundreds of my students to think and live and be.

Kamala Markandaya:  A novelist and journalist, who gave us the beautiful novel about a family in rural India, Nectar in a Sieve, reminded us that words have a life that they breathe into us – but for some words, we should hold our breath until they pass. “That is all you can think of: what people will say! One goes from one end of the world to the other to hear the same story. Does it matter what people say?” ― Kamala Markandaya,  Nectar in a Sieve

Toni Morrison: A Pulitzer Prize winning author of the novel, turned movie, Beloved , reminded us that the blank page already contained everything; we just needed to pick up the pen or press our fingers to the keys. “Writing is really a way of thinking – not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.” – Toni Morrison

Amy Tan: A proud alumna of San Jose State, musician in a band with Stephen King, and writer who introduced us to four mothers and daughters that told all of our stories, reminded us to balance our being. “Each person is made of five different elements, she told me. Too much fire and you had a bad temper…Too little wood and you bent too quickly to listen to other people's ideas, unable to stand on your own…Too much water and you flowed in too many different directions….” ―Amy Tan,  The Joy Luck Club

Sandra Cisneros: A former teacher at an alternative high school, MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant winner for The House on Mango Street , and woman who painted her historic house purple because it was the language of her people, reminded us to be true to ourselves. “I always tell my writing students that they need to write as if they were wearing their pajamas. To write as if they were talking to the one person they wouldn’t have to get dressed for. That’s their writing voice, and they should write from that place first.” – Sandra Cisneros

Maxine Hong Kingston: A writer who told her family secrets that were our family secrets in The Woman Warrior, a native of Stockton who taught English and wrote a book because she had to speak with the voice of her aunt who had no name and speak with the voice of the immigrant women who spoke with silence, reminded us that if we lifted our pens to raise our voices and think, it must be because we looked first so that we could see. “I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes.” ― Maxine Hong Kingston,  The Woman Warrior

During Women’s History Month and always, remember to introduce your students to some of the women who have fed you your food for thought, those who have birthed in you great ideas, those who have helped you think and live and be.
Women's History Month-Student Voices
Jillian McElroy, Julien Elementary School
“Phillis Wheatley” by Jillian McElroy

Poet that is
Honored by all because she is
Intelligent and wrote
Lines that many people
Loved so she was very
Important and showed much
Strength in her life

Writing poems that were
Heartfelt and quite
Enlightening with an
Authentic touch, she
Taught with each word as she
Listened to the people call for freedom, she
Experienced a hard life and
Yet she still showed love in her poems
Jillian McElroy is a 5th grade student at Julien Elementary. She is a former Rotary Club Student of the Month and multiple-time winner of Character Counts awards at Julien. She has been writing poems and stories since she was in about 3rd grade, and, with the recent release of the novel, The Sea, written by Jillian, her brother J.T., and her Dad, is officially a published author and illustrator. Jillian chose to celebrate National Women’s Month with a poem about a woman who she greatly admires.
Eric Hauck and Ryan Hollister, TUSD Science Instructional Coaches
We had a total of 65 entries into this month’s NGSS drawing! That means over 65 teachers in our district engaged in either NGSS based PD, support, or collaboration. Ryan and I are so thankful to be working with all of you wonderful teachers as we navigate the new science standards. We appreciate hearing about all of the meaningful conversations that are happening amongst you surrounding the importance of science education. Please know that we are here to support you.
HERE is our January winner accepting their prize. Thank you Rosalva Sanchez from Osborn Elementary for you hard work!
Now onto the February raffle drawing! We have completed the second drawing--video HERE . Congratulations to Bob Chandler from Dutcher Middle School! Bob received the ticket for his hard work participating in 6-8 science curriculum review that included 3 days of intense NGSS work.
Other teachers earned tickets by working one-on-one with a coach in their classroom, engaging in a grade level collaboration with a coach, or providing evidence of NGSS in action in their classroom.
If you are interested in obtaining a ticket yourself, you can obtain a raffle ticket by providing evidence of your implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. There is a variety of “evidence” that will be accepted for this. Here is a non-exhaustive list of ways to obtain a ticket:
  1. Work directly with a coach
  1. Film yourself teaching a lesson.
  2. Provide a copy of a lesson plan you did with student work.
  3. Provide a reflection on a lesson series w/ things you think went well and could have been better.
  4. Provide record of you and your team collaborating on a storyline and the phenomena that you are using.
Thank you for all of your hard work!
What Should Educators Know About Depression?
Jennifer Carlsen, Student Support Clinician
Although we all experience periods of sadness, these normal mood states are very different than the illness of Major Depression. Major Depression, sometimes just called ‘depression” is an illness which occurs episodically. Brain researchers are now aware that people who are dealing with Major Depression are experiencing physical and chemical changes in the brain including lower levels of serotonin.

Major Depression is diagnosed by mental health providers by identifying symptoms, and is defined in the diagnostic manual as a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

While the reasons why someone would develop depression are varied, we know that this illness is linked to genetics as well as environmental factors such as trauma and stress. It is important to know that anyone from any background can be diagnosed with depression.

Many adults are unaware that kids can also have Major Depression. Kids often display different symptoms than adults however, including being more likely to appear angry than sad. This is important for educators to know, as many students who are displaying angry behaviors are often treated as if they have behavioral problems, and the underlying issue may instead be depression. 
Science Olympiad
Turlock High School
The Turlock High School Science Olympiad team recently competed at the 33rd Annual Science Olympiad Regional Tournament at MJC West. They medaled in 14 out of the 23 events against 22 other teams in our region. THS placed 4th overall and qualified for the State Tournament on April 6th at CSU, Stanislaus. It has been over 10 years since THS competed at the State level! 

Biology/AP Environmental Science teacher and Coach Kevin Testo shared, “The students worked extremely hard this year and put in hundreds of hours of time outside of school to prepare for the competition.” Good luck, Bulldogs!

Astronomy: Sufia Birmingham & Nate Haynam (1st)
Boomilever: Israel Valdivia & Matt Haynam (5th)
Chem Lab: Matt Haynam & Nate Haynam (5th)
Circuit Lab: Mitchell Amos & Sufia Birmingham (3rd)
Designer Genes: Ashley Huh & Jair Torres (2nd)
Disease Detectives: Alondra Herrera & Stella Pak (2nd)
Disease Detectives: Alondra Herrera & Stella Pak (3rd)
Dynamic Planet: Mitchell Amos & Tony Davalos (5th)
Experimental Design: Matt Haynam, Ashley Huh, & Stella Pak (1st)
Fermi Questions: Victor Pak & Jair Torres (2nd)
GeoLogic Mapping: Audra Lawler & Alondra Herrera (5th)
Protein Modeling: Jacob Putnam, Lilyane Stessman, & Stella Pak (2nd)
Sounds of Music: Lilyane Stessman & Mitchell Amos (2nd)
Water Quality: Victor Pak & Jair Torres (4th)
Wright Stuff: Israel Valdivia & Sufia Birmingham (2nd)
Math Blast
Congratulations to our Math Blast participants at Cunningham, Julien, Medeiros, and Walnut! This is a fierce competition where about 25 students out of about 180 place. For Julien, on the First Stage Test, Jude Tecson placed first, Diego Cepeda placed 6th, and Emi Yee placed 7th. On the Binary Star Test, a partner test, Diego Cepeda and Jude Tecson placed 4th, Annabella Barajas and Guadalupe Gonzales placed 5th, and Emi Yee and Jonathan Ranario earned Honorable Mention. At Walnut, Ryan Njock received an Honorable Mention for the First Stage Test. Finally, at Medeiros, Chris Allerton finished 9 th and Ethan Hofsteen, Michael Lewis, and Tommy Pagola earned Honorable Mentions.
Walnut Biography Project
Irene Hales, 3rd Grade Teacher
Students in Walnut Elementary Education Center’s 3rd Grade Visual-Performing Arts magnet (Mrs. Chittim, Ms. McMillan and Mrs. Hales) recently worked together on a unique biography assignment. Students focused on writing a main idea and details. Their final product was a pamphlet made using technology to create the cover and type the paragraph in Google Docs. Students also delivered an oral report in which they dressed up and presented by acting as if they were the person in the biography. The most outstanding presentations went to the Walnut Broadcasting Studio to be filmed and added to a virtual set. All the students had their picture taken and put on the cover or Time , Life or another magazine. Be sure to click on link below to view some of these outstanding efforts!
Mistlin Gallery Awards
Amber Elstad, Photography Teacher
Turlock High School swept the photo category at the Mistlin Gallery Young@Art show in downtown Modesto, taking home 1 st , 2 nd , 3 rd , AND Honorable Mention. The show is up all month during March, with a reception on Saturday March 30th at 2 PM. The winning photos are pictured in order: Still Life with knife and Pomegranate by Shelby Haverson, Mystery by Carmen Gutierrez, Mayan Dancer by Vanessa Echevarria, and Hidden Beauty by Joan Miramontes. Congratulations, Bulldogs!
21st Century Skills Class
Future Ready Freshmen
Have you heard the good news? Both Pitman and Turlock High School will offer the 21st Century Skills class to incoming freshmen. Students will take both a College and Career Seminar as well as Health and Character Education course. The return of "Frosh Minis" has been a frequent request on the TUSD LCAP Survey. Be sure to check out the fun promo video we made for this year's Frosh Orientations.
Student Rep to the School Board Reports
Turlock High School
  • Julian Aguilar won the regional Journalism Award for Mock Trial and will be moving on to the State competition. He also qualified for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in World Schools Debate.
  • Journalism and Yearbook come back from a trip to LA where they were special guests of the LA Times. They toured the newspaper’s facilities and got a look at how the largest printing press in America works. Students also visited the J.P. Getty Center and viewed a new exhibit, “Unshuttered,” which focuses on teens chronicling the world they live in. Finally they toured Universal Studios and had an inside look at how practical camera effects are achieved. 
  • Turlock High Schools NJROTC Cyber Patriot, Cyber Network Security Team, placed 2nd at the 2019 California Mayor’s Cyber Cup Fresno/Central Valley Area. The team—Ramandeep Singh, Jaspreet Singh, Jeffrey Jensen, Chris Baerheim, and Seth Boice—advanced to the State Championship at Cal Poly, SLO in June 2019. This is the 2nd straight year the team has advanced to the State championship.
  • THS donors helped save lives through a busy Blood Drive with a waiting list. Thank you to the THS students, staff, and faculty for donating 66 units of blood from 69 donors!
Gabrielle Sotomayor, Pitman High School
  • All sophomores took the PSAT at no cost on March 4th.
  • The Ag Department is hosted their annual Steak & Oyster fundraiser on March 9th. Several students competed in events including Parliamentary Procedure, Milk Products, and Agronomy at the UC Davis Field Day, Merced College Field Day, and Modesto JC Field Day.
  • The Counseling Department is currently working on scheduling all current and incoming students.
  • Pitman FBLA attended a competition in Visalia on February 9. 40 competitors brought home 37 plaques and 24 competitors qualified to compete at the State level competition in April.
Athletic Director Weekly Sports Wrap-Up
Mike Brown, Turlock High School
The spring rain took its toll on this week’s sports!

Varsity played Friday night and beat Buhach Colony 8-3

Girls softball went to Rainbow Fields and won their first two games. Turlock 6 Liberty Ranch 0, Turlock 8 Los Banos 7. They played two more games on Saturday.

Track and Field
Friday night they held the Stanislaus County track meet and both the boys and girls finished in 1st place! Congratulations on the big win!
Top Finishers:
Boys—1st Place 4 x 400 Relay 3:32 Jackson Allen, Uriel Alvarez, Rios Rogers, Darian White; 1st Place Pole Vault Silas Fredeen 14’ 6”; 1st Place in Long Jump Jonah Kosakiewiez 21’ 1”; 1st Place in Triple Jump Nick Santos 40’; 1st Place High Jump Jazmyn Tubbs 5’ 2”; 1st Place Pole Vault    Sarah Romo  10’ 6”
Girls—1st Place 100 meters Katja Guerro 12.82; 1st Place 200 meters Katja Guerro 26.52; 1st 4 x 100 relay 50.12 Katja Guerro, Kylee Redman, Keisha Ashman, Catelyn Cummings

Coming up this week for the Bulldogs:
Monday: Baseball home game vs El Capitan at 3:30, Golf @ Diablo Tournament
Tues: Softball home against Enochs, Boys Tennis @ Pitman, Freshman Baseball @ Central Valley
Wed: Varsity/JV baseball home Central Catholic, Track Center meet # 1 @ THS, Boys Golf home vs Enochs
Thurs: Softball @ Modesto High, Boys Tennis Home Downey
Fri: Varsity Baseball @ Lincoln, JV/ F Baseball home vs Enochs, Swimming home vs Downey
Sat: Track @ Cordova High School
Dave Walls, Pitman High School
The Pride had two games rained out last week as they canceled games against Beyer on Monday and Tokay on Wednesday. The Pride look to get back in the swing of things this week with non-league games against Sierra on Tuesday, Los Banos on Wednesday and Thomas Downey on Friday – let’s hope Mother Nature is with us.
The Lady Pride's struggles with the rain continued as they had the first day of the Rainbow Classic canceled. The weather also forced the cancellation of a non-league game against Hughson on Friday. The Pride went 1-1 on Saturday in the Rainbow Classic with a 11-1 victory over Orestimba in the morning and a tough loss to Central Valley 9-8 in the nightcap. The Lady Pride are 2-3 on the year and travel to Thomas Downey on Tuesday and host Gregori on Thursday next week.
Boys Golf
The Pride were rained out this week. The Pride travel the Hilmar Invitational on Monday and travel to Dryden CC on Wednesday to play Gregori.
Boys Tennis
The Pride are still 5-1 on the year. The Pride suffered a rain shortened 3-2 match against Central Catholic and was forced to cancel and reschedule their first league match against Modesto. The Pride host Modesto on Monday, travel to Gregori on Tuesday, host Enochs on Thursday.
Pitman Aquatics traveled to Modesto for the second time this year to swim against Gregori. The Varsity Boys came away with the victory over the Jags and moved to 2-0 in CCAL. The boys continued their solid swims on Saturday by winning the 25th Annual Nor Cal Relays at Johansen HS.
Track & Field
Pitman Track hosted the Stanislaus County Championships on Friday - March 8th. Boys finished 2nd and girls finished 3rd. 
Stan. County Champions - 2019
Boys 400 Meters - Quincy Williams (51.95)
Boys 800/1600 Meters - Jayson Martin (2:04.07 / 4:40.61)
Girls Long Jump - Cierra Verdone (16-07.50 SR)
Notable Finishers - 2019
Boys 3200 Meters - Damian Garcia #5 All Time Pitman #1 Frosh (10:31.89)
Boys Discus - 2nd. Brandon Garcia (127-07.0SR)
Boys 110 Meters - 2nd. Donavyn Faria (16.88)
Girls 200 Meters - 2nd. Josalynn Ragland (27.34)
Girls 4 x 100 Relay 2nd - 51.57 Aman Kaur, Shelby Gill, Ximena Cesa, Josalynn Ragland (51.57)
Girls 1600 / 3200 Meters - Mavleen Mann #1 All Time Pitman (5:28.86SR / 12:17.98SR))
Girls 1600 Meters - Stefanie Rodriguez #7 All Time Pitman (5:46.14)
Girls Triple Jump - 3rd. Cierra Verdone (32-09.00SR)
Girls Shot Put - 3rd. Maddie King (33-03.00SR)
This is TUSD
Barbara Bjarnson
How long have you worked in TUSD?  I have worked for TUSD for 17 years as a Special Ed para-professional in an ED class.
Where did you work prior to TUSD? Before coming on with Turlock School District I worked for Stanislaus County as a para-professional in their ED program. I was introduced to the ED program when I lived in Virginia (which is where I grew up) and worked as an aide in the ED program which serviced Juvenile Hall students.
Any info you would like to share about your job? I love children and have felt that working in this population of students has blessed my life in so many ways. Learning to help these students achieve their goals, helping to mold and modify their behaviors, and striving to be a positive role model to them has given me a new purpose in my life. I love going to work each day.
Challenges? Yes, this job has its challenges, and not everyone can work in this environment but I have loved every minute I have spent with these students. I have worked in the same class for my 17 years at TUSD with Ms. Saenz. I am so proud to say that we have had students earn their way out of the ED program and return to their home schools.
Favorite memory/story? One of my favorite memories is when we got a new student who entered our class academically and emotionally very behind due to the instability of her home life. Working with her over a two year period and helping her learn to read, to develop self-esteem, see her smile and be happy is a joy I will always cherish. This past year I ran in to her after not seeing her for several years and she ran and embraced me and was so thrilled to see me. No words can really express how proud and happy this made me.
Anything about your personal life you’d like to share? Aside from work I love many things, the most important being my family. I had 5 children of my own who have been very successful in reaching their education goals. My oldest has a double master’s degree in finance and economics and will soon have his fellow in Acturarial Science. My oldest daughter was a kindergarten teacher and now stays home to raise her 7 children. My next son is an Endodontist getting out of the Navy soon and starting his own practice. My fourth is an accountant like her dad. My baby, who is 26, is in nursing school and has worked hard to get where she is. She is an example of not giving up and working on the classes that challenged her. I have 17 grandchildren that I am proud of. I love spending time with them and seeing their accomplishments.
Hobbies? Reading, sewing, cooking, hiking, riding my bike, gardening, listening to music, and dancing. I am an avid Survivor fan and have seen every season. My only regret is that I never auditioned to be on the show because I was afraid to leave my family for months. I also hate bugs!!! The past two years I had chickens that were so fun to raise and have organic eggs. These chickens were spoiled rotten. They had names and came to me when I called them. Unfortunately, I had to put them on a farm because it was hard to have them in my small yard and neighborhood. I have checked in on them and they love their new home.
Anything surprising we may not know about you? One thing that I do not advertise to others is that my husband and I ballroom dance and have won several competitions in our younger days. We still love to dance and love working with youth programs to teach them skills. We have helped run cotillions for many years where the youth learn social etiquette and manners, and how to dance. The last thing some of you may not know is that I am a 25 year breast cancer survivor. God has blessed me to have such a great life and I have been blessed to share part of my life and character with all the staff and students I have worked with for many years. I am grateful to be a part of TUSD.
Students of TUSD: Medeiros
Something new in communications . . . Last year we introduced you to our schools, this spring we are introducing you to our students—a little feature we’re calling ‘Students of TUSD.’ ‪Thank you to Medeiros Elementary School Principal Anna Ellerson for letting us visit with Trevor, Kloey, and Jesse. Go Stars! 
Kids' Art Corner
Medeiros Elementary School
Seen on Social Media
Every Student Succeeding
We are so proud of our TUSD nominees for the annual ACSA Region 7 and Stanislaus County Office of Education Every Student Succeeding Awards: Destinee Hernandez, Blake Bonander, and Cynthia Bermudez. Students were recognized at a breakfast on March 5 and will also be recognized on April 10, 2019, at the TUSD Student and Staff Recognition Event. 
Cunningham Elementary School
Shout out to Cunningham Elementary School Community Liaison Ana Orozco for securing a $500 grant from the Wal-Mart on Fulkerth Ave. The grant will be used to obtain incentives to improve school attendance. Great job, Eagles! 
Turlock High School
Congratulations to Turlock High School Speech and Debate member Ainslie Coughran for placing first and qualifying for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Informative Speaking! She will be attending the National Tournament in Dallas, Texas in June. Great job, Coach V. 
Roselawn Continuation High School
Roselawn Continuation High School recently held their annual College & Career Day. The purpose of this event is to help Roselawn students learn about a variety of careers and post-secondary options. This all day event, split into 25 minute sessions, allows students to attend six different presentations. Counselor Rachel Moran shared, “We want to empower Roselawn students to set goals and begin to dream and plan for their future with an understanding of what may be involved in the careers they are considering.” Thank you to all the local businesses, colleges, and armed forces for spending their day at Roselawn with our students and helping them prepare for their futures!
The 411
Share Your Awesome!

Marie Russell
Chief Communication Coordinator
We would love to have ALL staff help share our TUSD story to the world, but if that is not really your thing, just click on link below to download an opt-out form and return to "Marie Russell, D.O." via district mail.