May 28, 2019
A+ News
In this edition:
  • New Funding for Gardening and Cooking Program
  • 'Mama Washington's' Last Act: Spectacular Afro-Haitian Dance Performance
  • Mentor Teachers Key to New Teacher Induction
  • Oxford Teacher Jackie Omania Receives Prestigious US Environmental Award
  • Author Elizabeth Acevedo Speaks and Performs at BHS
  • King Teacher Richard Silberg Receives State Department Scholarship
  • Local Control and Accountability Plan - Your Feedback Please
  • BUSD Is Hiring
  • BSEP Planning & Oversight Committee, School Board Meeting, and more!
City Approves More Funding for Gardening and Cooking Program
The Berkeley City Council on May 14 unanimously agreed to increase its allocation to the Berkeley public schools from the City’s sugar-sweetened beverage tax.
The funding – $950,000 each year for FY 2020 and FY 2021 – is a 49% increase from the previous level provided by the City. The funding will support a variety of programs in our Gardening and Cooking Programs, including:
  • current work serving all kids at all sites in school gardens with our published curriculum that directly uplifts academic standards;
  • nutrition education after school at John Muir and Thousand Oaks; and
  • kitchen classrooms at Longfellow and Willard.

The increased funding will make it possible to expand this work in several areas:
1. Career Technical Education in Public Health at BHS and potentially at BTA/Independent Study,
2. Expansion of programming at two middle schools, 
3. Nutrition and cooking training for ECE educators to include programming in preschool,
4. Farm to cafeteria projects supporting increased participation in school meals,
5. Wellness policy implementation, and 
6. Building a community of practices, mentorship, and peer collaboration.
'Mama Washington' Directs Last Afro-Haitian Dance Performance; Honored with City of Berkeley Proclamation
Berkeley High’s Naomi Diouf, fondly known as “Mama Washington,” was lauded in a City of Berkeley Proclamation, “In Honor of Mama Washington,” issued on Thursday, May 16, by Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin.
The upcoming retirement of Ms. Diouf, teacher of African/Haitian dance and chair of the African American Studies Department, has prompted an outpouring of fond tributes recognizing her three decades of teaching and leadership making the school dance program what it is today.
The City Proclamation says in part, “Mama Washington has dedicated her life’s work to the preservation, education, and appreciation of traditional West African music, dance and theater, enriching the cultural fabric of our city, our community and our world.”
According to Mama Washington, the word “retirement” doesn’t accurately capture her plans. “I know I’m leaving a great part of my life,” she said, “But I’m not retiring, I’m transitioning into my next stage of life. That’s the African tradition — everyone goes through stages.”

Video of performances: Part 1 , Part 2
Mentor Teachers Key to New Teacher Induction Program
This year fifty-one first and second year teachers from BUSD participated in the district’s Teacher Induction Program. Designed to support the professional development of newly-credentialed teachers, participating teachers receive:
  • Weekly mentoring from a veteran teacher.
  • An opportunity to reflect upon their development as a teacher and strengthen their work with students.
  • A Clear California Teaching Credential upon successful completion of the two year program.

The thirty-two veteran teachers who mentor our newest teachers are the heart of the program. Their teaching expertise and caring guidance are the key to the thriving program. One new teacher wrote, “The successes I have experienced would not have been possible without the patient guidance of my mentor...I hope that someday I can serve as a mentor to someone else and help them realize their own success and fulfillment in this profession.” 
Under the coordination of Georgia Wood, the program serves new teachers who work in every grade level and subject area across the district. New teachers credit this early support and one-on-one mentoring with building their confidence, developing lesson plans, and strengthening student learning in their classrooms.

As the school year winds down, teachers and mentors from across the district gathered in celebration and appreciation for the important work shard together this year (photo above).
Oxford Teacher Jackie Omania Receives Prestigious US Environmental Award
Oxford teacher Jackie Omania has been awarded the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators .
Ms. Omania was chosen as the 2019 winner from Region 9 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which includes California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii.
“Ms. Omania has gone above and beyond in her teaching career to better her student’s understanding of our natural world and conservation of its precious resources,” said a May 22 notice from the EPA to Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office.
Ms. Omania is known for her successes working with students to strive for a zero-waste classroom and to safeguard the environment against global warming and plastic trash.

You can read the full EPA notice and an Oxford Newsletter report about the award online.
In this photo, Ms. Omania's third grade students proudly show their self-made cloth bags for snacks that help them reach their goal of creating a zero waste classroom.
Award-Winning Author Elizabeth Acevedo Speaks & Performs at BHS; Meets Students Willard and Longfellow
Poet and novelist Elizabeth Acevedo drew richly on her experience growing up as the Afro-Latina child of Dominican immigrants in New York City when she performed and spoke about her work to an enthralled audience of more than 1000 Berkeley High students, including the entire 9th grade, on May 14 in the Community Theater.

Acevedo – whose debut novel, The Poet X , won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature last year – told the students that her poem about rats, for example, was written in defiance of the graduate school professor who told her that rats aren’t noble enough for poetry. 

Although Acevedo was scheduled to leave for her next engagement in Los Angeles, upon learning about two unique programs at Willard and Longfellow she was enticed to stay and drop in to visit students at those schools.
You can read the full story about Acevedo's visit and the students she was so interested in meeting at Willard and Longfellow.
King Teacher Richard Silberg Honored with US State Department Scholarship
Kudos to King teacher Richard Silberg, who has been awarded a highly selective U.S. Department of State fellowship to work with teachers for three weeks in Cambodia.

“Proposal selection was highly competitive with only 10% of submitted projects accepted for funding,” the Department of State said in a May 13 press release about the award to Mr. Silberg.

The fellowship commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Department’s English Language Fellow Program and is designed for alumni of the program to return to the countries they served in. Mr. Silberg served as a Teaching Fellow for 10 months in Cambodia in 2015-16.

He will depart for Cambodia five days after his June retirement from 31 years with BUSD.
Your Feedback on the Local Control and Accountability Plan
The Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) is mandated by the state as the standardized vehicle for addressing state priorities and local goals. Each year the district’s LCAP is updated and directs the actions, services and expenditures funded to serve our high need students.

Associate Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi has invited community stakeholders to provide feedback on the District’s LCAP for 2019-2020. You can review the DRAFT changes and forthcoming 2019-2020 LCAP Executive Summary on our webpage.
You are welcome to submit feedback via email to  or in person at the Superintendent's Office on the 3rd Floor of 2020 Bonar Avenue.  
Berkeley Unified School District is Hiring
Do you know someone who might be looking for a rewarding opportunity to join our school district? If so, please tell them Berkeley Unified School District is hiring!

It takes a village to run our schools and serve our students and families!

You can find more information with links to the job listings  on our webpage .
Upcoming Events & Meetings
Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP) Planning & Oversight Committee
June 4, 2019 at 7:00pm
2020 Bonar Street, Room 126

The P&O Committee, mandated by the BSEP Measure and comprised of representatives from
every school, meets regularly to:
  • Review the implementation of the many aspects of the BSEP Measure, ranging from Class Size Reduction to Music & the Arts, from Technology to Professional Development for Teachers, and much more;
  • Ensure that BSEP funds are spent in compliance with the Measure;
  • Make annual recommendations to the School Board for the use of BSEP dollars.
The BSEP P&O meetings are open to the public and include an opportunity for public comment. More information is available on the BSEP webpage .
School Board Meetings
May 29 & June 12 at 7:30pm

All regular Board meetings are held in the Board Room, 1231 Addison St., and are streamed live and archived on the BUSD YouTube Channel .

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
School Calendar
2019-20 School Year Calendar Released; Changes Ahead in 2020-21
The first day of school for the 2019-20 school year in the Berkeley Unified School District will be Monday, August 26, 2019. Next year, the last day of school will be Friday, June 12, 2020.

Please note : In 2020, school will begin a week earlier than in 2019. The first day of school will be Monday, August 17, 2020. The school year will remain the same number of total days and students will be let out for Summer 2021 a week earlier (June 4, 2021) More information about this change is on our webpage .

The academic school year calendars for 19-20 and 20-21 are posted on the district calendar webpage.
Berkeley Unified School District | 2020 Bonar Street | 510-644-8764 |