Pathways to Possibilities and Student Success              May 2, 2019
A Message from the Superintendent


Dear Parents and Community Members,
We had a full agenda at last night's board meeting and I'd like to share a few important updates from the meeting.

An update and recommendation for the TTUSD Committee to Consider Later Starts for Secondary Schools 

The TTUSD Committee to Consider Later Starts for Secondary Schools was formed in late December of 2018 and consisted of 26 stakeholders. The stakeholders include parents, students, teachers, community members, a DELAC (District English Language Advisory Committee) representative, and administrators, all of whom represent a variety of viewpoints. This balanced committee was tasked with evaluating the potential of changing school start times and to ultimately make a recommendation to the board. Part of their work included surveying parents, middle and high school students, and staff. Thanks to all of you who participated in our survey. At the board meeting, the committee presented a recap of the work their committee completed, including results of their survey, and their comprehensive evaluation.

Over 2,500 responses were received (1,118 parents responded, 1,189 middle and high school students responded, and 248 of our staff responded). In summary, they found that while many supported a change in school schedules, the responses were very divided. After careful evaluation of the benefits and impacts identified for students and families, the committee felt that the magnitude of the negative impacts were too significant and their recommendation was that no changes to the bell schedules be made at this time.

The majority of the respondents felt that sleep was a concern for adolescents and the district will look at alternative strategies to address sleep concerns to support parents, including what can be done at home to increase the amount of sleep our adolescents get.

Following the presentation and board discussion, the board approved the committee's recommendation and thanked the committee members and the co-chairs for all their time, energy, and hard work in their evaluation process. I too would like to express my gratitude to the committee for all the work they undertook before, during and after the eight meetings they held! Thank you for serving on the committee.

Click here to view the committee's presentation to the board.

2019 Teachers of the Year and Employees of the Year announced

Our 2019-2020 Teachers of the Year are:

Jamie Schwartz, Kings Beach Elementary, Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Jill Zapata, Sierra High School, High School Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020.

Our 2019-2020 Employees of the Year are:
Laurie Stefanelli, Child Nutrition, Alder Creek Middle School
Leo Guerrero, Maintenance, Operations, &Facilities, Truckee Elementary
Rob Williams, Office & Technical, Technology & Information Services
Peter Siebelink, School Bus Driver, Transportation Services

Please see the article below for the details. 

We have some other celebrations I'd like to share with you:

Congratulations to North Tahoe School's Eco-Action Club for earning second place in the Shane McConkey Eco-challenge for implementing the "McConkey Eco-Energy Hour." We are so proud of their passion and commitment to the environment and want to extend a special thanks to SWEP for all they do to make the Sustainability Clubs possible!


Congratulations to our TTUSD Road-eo Team. Four members of our transportation team competed in the CASTO Northern Section Roadeo on April 27, 2019. All four of our team members placed in the top 10 of their class out of 103 contestants entered from across Northern California. Our team came in first place in the team category! In the elite category, Derek Bosserman came in first place, Laura Brochu came in fourth place, and Hugo Najera-Rivas came in eighth place. In the open division, Angela Lumbreras came in third place! Congratulations to our team. We are so proud of the commitment to safety and all of the hours of practice our Roadeo Team puts in to continually place high in these events. On Memorial Day weekend they head to Galt for the CASTO State Championships!


Two of our Truckee High School students, twins Ben and Evan Anderson, won the 2019 TRPA SPIRIT award! They were among five individuals recognized for their commitment to protecting and enhancing Lake Tahoe's unique natural environment. Ben and Evan have both put in countless hours toward every aspect of our local environment - the wildlife, water quality and conservation, waste management practices, watershed protection, protection of native species, energy conservation, climate change education, and environmental advocacy. Way to go Ben and Evan!


That's it for this edition of our Education Connection. Thank you for being our partner in your child's education.


Robert J. Leri, Ed.D.
Superintendent Chief Learning Officer
Why they love working with kids      
Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world. Their work and impact extend far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. They educate and shape our youth. They teach them life skills. Their job takes passion, heart, and commitment. In each Education Connection, teachers across the district will share why they love teaching. We'll also hear from a classified employee. These are our front-line employees who make a huge difference in a positive school and district environment. From transporting and feeding students to teaching them vital skills and ensuring that schools are operating smoothly, classified employees are integral to the success of TTUSD.

Jennifer Kavanagh, First-Grade Teacher, Kings Beach Elementary
My favorite part of teaching is witnessing the moment when students realize what they truly are capable of. Sometimes students arrive in my room at the beginning of the year thinking they can't read or are "bad" at math or art. I make sure they know that it's okay to make mistakes and that trying to solve a single problem eight times is, commendable, not a failure. I get such joy when I see a smile slowly spread across a child's face, becoming a huge grin, as they read what's written on the whiteboard without my help for the first time.

Patty Cardoza, Registrar, Truckee High School
What I love most about my job is the people! We have a great team of people and I work with them all - students, parents, counselors, and teachers. It is very rewarding to be able to help students maneuver through high school and on to their next step - whatever that may be. I sit behind the scenes each year at our Evening of Excellence ceremony and am literally in tears over the amazing accomplishments of our students.
  Teachers of the Year announced
Jamie Schwartz, of Kings Beach Elementary, was named the Elementary School Teacher of the Year, and Jill Zapata of Sierra High School, was named the 2019 High School Teacher of the Year.

Jamie Schwartz
is an exceptional teacher. She follows all the best practices for teaching and adds her own personality and flare. She cares deeply about her students and does whatever it takes to support them so that they can learn at their maximum capability. Jamie is an incredible teammate and school leader that is not afraid to stand up for the needs of all students. She connects with her students in ways that build powerful relationships while maintaining high expectations, and she engages students in her lessons through multiple different instructional strategies.  

Jamie is also a teacher leader. She has been a mentor to new teachers, as well as her grade level leadership representative and a district level leader in grade level team meetings. Jamie can always be counted on to have a fresh perspective that helps focus on the improvement efforts of the school.

Jamie is an amazing teacher and person.  She is great to work with and the type of teacher that any school would be incredibly lucky to have.

Sierra High School's
Jill Zapata not only teaches 9-12 English simultaneously, but also covers U.S. History, Government, and Economics, all out of one classroom. Jill mentors our scholars to help them reach their ever-changing goals and supports their skill sets. She helps push Sierra High's academic rigor and expectations to a higher level that becomes the constant level of high performance that we expect of each other and our scholars. Sierra High has been named a Model Continuation High School and a WASC accredited school for many years, and there is no doubt that her contributions to Sierra High have played a role in this.

In addition to her outstanding work at Sierra High School, Jill is active at the district level as well. She has been a member of the Superintendent's Teaching and Learning Committee since its inception in the summer of 2013, and she actively participated in the development of the district strategic plan. Jill was an integral part of the work to identify effective teaching strategies and was part of the decision to adopt the Robert Marzano High Reliability Schools Framework (HRS). She's also provided a series of district-wide staff development on Reading Apprenticeship and has been a leader during various training related to HRS.

The Board of Education recognized Jamie and Jill at last night's board meeting. They will also be recognized as Teachers of the Year at the Placer County Awards Reception and at our TTUSD Welcome Back Convocation Event in August.
  Employees of the Year announced
Our outstanding support staff is extremely committed the youth of our community and make a tremendous impact on their educational experience. This year's Classified Employees of the Year are excellent representatives of the high-quality employees we have in our district. The following individuals were recognized at last night's board meeting:

Leo Guerrero - Operations Employee of the Year
Leo has worked for the district for over 23 years. "Mr. Leo," as he is endearingly called, takes great pride in everything he does at Truckee Elementary. He is passionate about the safety of the students and staff and is diligent in his work to ensure students and staff have a working environment that allows for their best learning. Leo's genuine care and empathy for students is evident each and every day. He is quick to greet students and teachers alike with a smile and "hello." To sum up Leo in the words of a kindergartener, "He's amazing!"

Peter Siebelink - Transportation Employee of the Year
Peter has demonstrated his commitment to safety from day one, and he is a respected and appreciated member of the transportation team. Peter is always willing to assist his co-workers, going above and beyond to support the transportation team. Peter's special qualities include flexibility, consistency and dependability, all delivered with a positive and friendly attitude. Peter is an exemplary employee and his performance continues to excel in all areas as he has a willingness to do whatever it takes to support home to school transportation for our students. His positive attitude extends not only to his co-workers but to the students he serves.  His students love him!

Laurie Stefanelli - Child Nutrition Employee of the Year
Laurie's commitment to school nutrition in our district spans 14 years of healthy, nutritious meals for all! She works tirelessly to ensure that our students are provided with delicious and nutritious meals on time and with a smile. Laurie is dependable, hardworking and invests time and care in developing and maintaining relationships with site staff, students, parents, and her colleagues. Despite the scope of State, Federal and local health department regulations and mandates, Laurie's ability to implement each one is effortless in keeping food safe and maintaining operational integrity.  Other school site kitchen staff call on Laurie for guidance and advice. Her dedication to students and food service is exemplary.

Rob Williams - Technical Employee of the Year
Rob has worked for our district as a Technology Service Specialist for the past six years. When Rob joined our tech team, our district was operating on a home-grade network that could barely keep up with staff devices and a next generation network infrastructure was needed. Rob shared his expertise and stepped into a leadership role in planning what this new network could be, going above and beyond the scope of his job description. With his guidance and the financial support of our board and superintendent, our students, and staff now can bring any device and access a high speed and stable network that has grown from 100 Mbps to 10Gbps over his tenure. His leadership has positioned us well for what the future of technology will bring our scholars so TTUSD can stay on the leading edge of innovation in digital learning environments.
Construction Updates                                              
A great deal of work has been underway the past few years on facility improvement projects funded by Measures E and U. Construction is currently underway at Truckee High School and at three of our elementary schools.

Truckee High School
Following the completion and opening of the new West Wing this past fall, the upgrades currently underway include the construction of a new library, the modernization of the girls' locker room, upgrades to existing classrooms, enhancing the front facade, reconfiguring and expanding the band area, improving and expanding student gathering areas, improving bus and student drop-off areas, and improving the parking layout. The estimated completion date is December 2020.

Kings Beach Elementary School
This project involves a major renovation of the school building and site including upgrades to the existing school building infrastructure, modernization of the existing buildings including technology infrastructure, construction of new classrooms, and security upgrades. The estimated completion date is August 2019.

Truckee Elementary School
This project involves a major renovation of the school building and site including upgrades to the existing school building infrastructure, modernization of the existing buildings including technology infrastructure, construction of new classrooms including a new hands-on science lab, expansion and relocation of the school library, construction of a new cafeteria and kitchen, and security upgrades. The estimated completion date is October 2020.

Tahoe Lake Elementary
  This project involves a major renovation of the school which was originally constructed in 1934. The historic core is being preserved while classrooms are modernized, and new classrooms are built to replace existing modulars. Unfortunately, the construction timeline on this project has been significantly delayed.We will be hosting a parent community meeting on May 7, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. at Rideout to update everyone on the new construction timeline.