IUSD Elementary Schools Celebrate Read Across America Day


During the first week of March, IUSD elementary schools invited a cast of special guests to read their favorite children’s books to officially celebrate Read Across America Day.  Established by the National Education Association, Read Across America Day is an annual literacy campaign that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel — better known to kids as Dr. Seuss.

Local guest readers included Board of Education members Paul Bokota (pictured), Betty Carroll, Superintendent Terry Walker and IUSD staff.


IUSD Participates in 10th Annual ACE Day


This month, IUSD Board Members and administrators shadowed custodians, electricians, painters, clerks and other classified employees to learn more about their jobs and responsibilities as part of IUSD’s 10th annual ACE Day.  ACE, which stands for Appreciating Classified Employees, was established in 2007 by the California Schools Employee Association’s (CSEA) to recognize and celebrate classified employees, while building understanding and relationships between administrative and classified staff.

IUSD Board President Ira Glasky worked with Plaza Vista Health Clerk Janice McNeil.  At Culverdale Elementary, Board Member Paul Bokota shadowed English Language Development Instructional Assistant Nahid Sanaiha, while Superintendent Terry Walker assisted Media Tech Charles Anantavara in the school’s innovation lab.  Board Member Lauren Brooks joined PE Paraprofessional Meleah Shank at Stonegate Elementary.  IUSD’s newest Board Member Betty Carroll worked with Media Tech Carrie Finley-Bajak in the University Park Elementary Library and Board Member Sharon Wallin shadowed District Network Specialist Ray Perez at the District Office.

This year was particularly special for IUSD, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of ACE Day and was joined by Ben Valdepena, CSEA Association President; Kerry Woods is, CSEA Association Secretary; Bill Hagar, CSEA Area H Director, who recognized IUSD for the longest running ACE program in the state.

Participants joined a group luncheon after the event to share what they did and learned.

This unique program reinforces what IUSD knows and believes, which is that a school district requires the efforts of everyone – classified staff, community members, teachers and administrators to be successful. A healthy school district is built on teamwork! ACE recognizes and encourages this collaborative concept.


IUSD Officially Dedicated Portola High School


 

IUSD hosted two Portola High School dedication ceremonies to celebrate the District’s fifth comprehensive high school, which opened last August.  Participants of both ceremonies learned about the features of this state-of-the-art educational facility, which was designed to leverage learning at the highest levels.

Community Dedication
The first dedication ceremony, on Thursday, March 2, was led by IUSD Superintendent Terry L. Walker, Board President Ira Glasky and Principal John Pehrson.  The community event included the Board of Education, parents, students, teachers, staff, the District’s development partners FivePoint and the Irvine Company, City of Irvine officials, community partners, and other state and local dignitaries.  All participants had the opportunity to tour the school site and experience innovative features such as design and science labs, high-tech and flexible-design classrooms, dedicated music and performing arts spaces, collaborative workspaces, top-level sports facilities, and a world-class performing arts center.

“Today’s celebration is not a beginning, nor is it a finish line but rather the dedication of this amazing facility is an important milestone in providing a world-class educational environment,” said Ira Glasky, Irvine Unified School District Board of Education President.  “Portola is our first high school built in accordance with IUSD’s award winning Education Specifications.   The result of countless hours spent by our teachers, administrators and architects, these ed specs detail the features needed to support instruction and 21st century learning at the highest levels.”

IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker echoed similar sentiments, “This school is more than a beautiful environment, it has been developed to create innovative spaces for learning.  Most importantly, it is a symbol of our sincere promise to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision.”

Principal John Pehrson concluded the official dedication by discussing the importance of preparing students for college and careers.  “We’re so excited to take on this monumental task of preparing our students for 21st century college and careers.  We have and will continue to assemble a world-class staff to meet this challenge with fervor and complete dedication.”

He then went on to thank the many people in attendance, who had active roles in the development and opening of the school site.  “Thank you for your partnership in this journey  and we’re so glad you are here to celebrate with us.  Go Bull Dogs!”

To view the official dedication video, click here.

Student Dedication
The following day, Portola High School students held a special dedication ceremony during their first-ever spring pep rally.  It was a unique opportunity for students to come together and celebrate their school and their positive school culture.

Students representing the inaugural freshman class joined by Superintendent Terry Walker and Principal Pehrson for student ribbon cutting.  During the rally, each of Portola’s spring sports teams ran through balloon arches, while the band performed with the flag and cheer teams.  Students organized and ran the rally demonstrating their tremendous leadership as the school’s first-ever class.

Portola High School serves parts of North Irvine and in the years to come, the campus will accommodate approximately 2,400 Irvine students.  Below is school information and features

Portola High School Vision
“Where every learner belongs, contributes and thrives.”

Portola High School Motto
PRIDE (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Drive, Empathy)

Portola High School Stats

  • Principal John Pehrson (previously served as principal at University High School for 10 years)
  • More than 450 students are enrolled for the 2016-17 school year. (IUSD estimates the school will have more than 900 students for the 2017-18 school year.)
  • The school opened with only freshmen in 2016-2017 and will add an additional class each subsequent year, resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by the 2019-2020 school year.
  • The inaugural school staff for the 2016-17 school year is comprised of 65 employees, both certified and classified employees:
    • 25 Teachers
    • 12 Certified Staff
    • 9 Special Education Employees
    • 10 Custodial Staff
    • 4 Food Service Staff
    • 5 Administrative Staff

Portola High School Design and Features
Portola High School is a state-of-the-art education facility designed to meet the criteria developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which helps establish campuses that are healthy, comfortable, energy efficient and aligned with modern teaching and learning.

The school’s educational technologies and amenities include:

  • A performing arts building with a 720-seat theater, black box and dance studio
  • An elective building that will house video production, 2D and 3D art, music rooms and more
  • A student center featuring collaborative learning environment, a library with dedicated quiet rooms and an Innovation Lab
  • Makers space
  • 21st-Century classrooms with common areas and flexible furniture for collaborative learning
  • Dedicated science labs
  • A special education facility to facilitate essential life skills
  • A green roof that will enable hands-on, sustainable learning
  • A 2,044 seat gymnasium that includes training facilities and dedicated team rooms
  • A 2,940 seat stadium with rubberized track and artificial turf
  • An aquatics center with a 50-meter pool
  • Eight tennis courts
  • Varsity and JV baseball and softball fields
  • Track and field facilities
  • Two full soccer fields

High School Textbook Adoption Timeline


Textbooks recommended for the 2017-18 school year will be available for review. March 6, 2017

High school textbooks recommended for adoption in IUSD will be available for public review beginning Monday, March 13.

These would be the instructional materials under consideration for 2017-18, covering the content areas of English/Language Arts, foreign language, mathematics, visual and performing arts, health, science, career/technical education, and history/social science.

The books are set to remain on display at each of IUSD’s five comprehensive high schools and the district office throughout the adoption process, which is expected to conclude with a vote by the Board of Education on May 2.


IUSD Board of Education Passes Resolution in Support of Public Schools


On February 21, 2017, during the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education meeting, the Board of Education passed Resolution No. 16-17-42 to affirm the District’s commitment and support for public education.  The resolution is being sent to local, state and federal officials.  To view the entire resolution,  click here or see below.

IRVINE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
RESOLUTION NO.  16-17-42

A RESOLUTION OF THE IRVINE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION’S AFFIRMATION, COMMITMENT, AND SUPPORT OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM

WHEREAS, The Irvine Unified School District’s core values include, but are not limited to: nurturing the diverse gifts and capabilities within each individual; challenging every student and adult learner to persevere for excellence; developing competent, resourceful, resilient, and empowered learners prepared to meet the challenges of a complex future; and enhancing the human capability for courage, compassion, and contribution; and

WHEREAS, the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education believes that a system of quality public education is one of the essential foundations to make a meaningful difference in today’s and tomorrow’s world; and

WHEREAS, the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education believes that education is the most important asset in maximizing the opportunities of an individual and a community; and

WHEREAS, the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education believes that without quality public education a great divide will exist between the educated and the uneducated, corresponding to a divide between the prosperous and the impoverished; and

WHEREAS, the Irvine Unified School District Board of Education believes that well-funded, effective public schools are essential to developing empowered learners prepared to meet the challenges of a complex future; and

WHEREAS, public schools have a positive impact every day on the lives of countless students; dedicated school board members and school district employees who work countless hours to provide for the needs of learners of all ages, and

WHEREAS, quality public education for every child is integral to the democratic viability and economic future of our nation, by directly and indirectly contributing to the intellectual and physical development of all learners, regardless of heritage or circumstance; and

WHEREAS, all human beings have the capacity to learn at high levels and quality public education is the key to every learner having boundless opportunities to reach his or her dreams regardless of heritage or circumstance; and

WHEREAS, the potential for erosion of financial support for public education serves to deepen the inequalities and diminish the opportunities for every child; and

WHEREAS, as a student’s first model of civic engagement, public education is both a product of, and a tribute to, our democratic principles.  As always, we will defend those principles, students, and the integrity of our public schools.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the commitment to excellence is the hallmark of the Irvine Unified School District.  As a school and community partnership, our promise is to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Irvine Unified School District is committed to ensuring students have access to a free, high-quality education that addresses the needs of the whole child, a commitment to anti-discriminatory policies and practices, and support for a safe and welcoming school environment for every student, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic background;

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education does hereby affirm its support for the public education system.


IUSD High School Students Arrive in Sacramento to Meet with State Lawmakers and Others


IUSD high school students, accompanied by teachers, District staff and IUSD Board Members, are in Sacramento today to meet with state lawmakers, journalists, government experts and staffers to discuss issues impacting education.  Below is are photos of the group, which just recently arrived to the state capital.  They have a full day ahead, including meetings with State Senator John Moorlach; Assembly Member Steven Choi; veteran journalists Jim Miller and Sam Stanton; representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California School Boards Association, the Public Policy Institute of California, and the California School Employees Association; and staffers from various representatives’ offices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top photo: IUSD students for visit to Sacramento
Left to right: Assembly Member Choi, IUSD students, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Assembly Speaker Rick Simpson, Senator Moorlach 

 


IUSD Announces 2016-17 Teachers of the Year


Early this morning, a caravan of District staff and IUSD Board Members traveled to seven schools to announce the three Teachers of the Year and the four Teachers of Promise.  Click here for the 2016-17 Teachers of Promise.

Now in its 31st year, IUSD’s Teacher of the Year program recognizes exceptional instructors at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  Below are this year’s honorees.

Elementary School Teacher of the Year

Mary Thomas-Vallens
Fifth Grade APAAS (Alternative Program for Academically Advanced Students) Teacher
Brywood Elementary

Mary Thomas-Vallens has been an educator since 1977.  Her passion for teaching is as strong today as it was when she first began 39 years ago.  Thomas-Vallens empowers students to strive for academic excellence in a supportive and empowering environment.  In addition to a focus on academic rigors, she encourages students to think beyond themselves and offers a range of service learning projects, such as Families Forward, Team Kids and more!

Her expertise extends beyond the classroom.  Thomas-Vallens has elevated the teaching of thousands of IUSD teachers through her Launch Point Professional Development training by teaching instructional strategies that support higher level thinking skills.  College students just beginning their careers benefit from her support through her coordination of field-study work for UCI students.

As best stated by Brywood Principal Astrid Ramirez, “She does more than teach…she touches lives.”

Middle School Teacher of the Year

Lauren Morrison
Education Specialist – Special Education
Jeffrey Trail Middle School

Lauren Morrison is a devoted and knowledgeable team player who has an excellent relationship with both her students and school staff.  She works tirelessly with her students to ensure they are supported and have every opportunity to be successful.

A typical day for Morrison starts before school with an IEP meeting, followed by a Special Education meeting; she then teaches a full class schedule.  Any free time is usually filled with principal, school psychologist or PBIS team meetings.  After school, she provides academic support to students.  This is only a snapshot of her day and does not fully capture her incredible work to serve our students each and every day.

Jeffrey Trail Principal Mike Georgino said, “Lauren is not only an enormous asset for JTMS but also to the teaching profession in general.  She deserves this recognition for being an outstanding teacher.”

High School Teacher of the Year

Christina Banagas-Engelerdt
English Teacher
Northwood High School

Christina Banagas-Engelerdt has been a member of Northwood High School’s staff since the school opened in 1999 and has established herself as a leader on campus.  From crating English curriculum in the school’s early days to her current role as WASC Chairperson, Banagas-Engelerdt embodies the Northwood core values of Compassion, Mutual Respect and Integrity.

As a compassionate teacher, Banagas-Engelerdt has served as the school’s intervention lead for several years and has had oversight of the creation of countless support classes – teaching several of these classes herself.  As a result, students know they can always come to her for guidance and support.  She is reflective in her teaching and strives to create a challenging yet supportive environment for her students.

Banagas-Engelerdt is held in the highest regard by her colleagues for her tremendous work ethic and her constant willingness to help others.  She has mentored numerous student teachers, helped innumerable students through many obstacles and has been a key player in the school’s evolution.

Principal Leslie Roach stated, “Christina is everything we could ask for in a Timberwolf and we are honored to have her here and Northwood High School.”

More information about the Teacher of the Year program
Nominations are submitted by District employees and candidates are later interviewed by a committee that includes teachers, principals and administrators.  That panel ultimately narrows the field to three, using the following criteria: Evidence of a wide range of instructional strategies used effectively; commitment to the teaching profession; and demonstration of Irvine teachers’ values of integrity, empowerment, learning, collaboration and trust.

Teachers of Promise
IUSD also recognizes a handful of standout first- and second-year teachers, who are announced as “Teachers of Promise.” Click here for the 2016-17 Teachers of Promise.

Excellence in Teaching Awards Banquet
All of this year’s honorees will be formally recognized on Friday, April 21 at the Excellence in Teaching Awards Banquet, which is organized each year by the Exchange Club of Irvine and the Irvine Teachers Association.


2016-17 Teachers of Promise Announced


Today, in addition to announcing the 2016-17 Teachers of the Year, IUSD announced four “Teachers of Promise.” This annual honor goes to first- or second-year instructors who go above and beyond, while demonstrating professional curiosity and an unbridled enthusiasm for teaching.

The 2016-17 Teachers of Promise, as shown above, are Quyen Ly, humanities/social science teacher from Southlake Middle School; Jared Gray, sixth grade teacher from Woodbury Elementary School; Kevin Miller, second grade teacher from Beacon Park K-8 School; and Lauren Hoffman, education specialist – special education from Legacy Education Center.

Ly was recognized in front of colleagues during an early morning meeting.  Gray was surprised in his classroom in front of students.  Miller was recognized during a surprise fire drill in front of the entire school.  Finally, Hoffman was honored in front of her students during a meeting at the Legacy Education Center.

All four Teachers of Promise will be formally honored Friday, April 21 at the 31st annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Dinner.

Once again, congratulations to this year’s Teachers of Promise!

Click here for the 2016-17 Teachers of the Year honorees.

(Photo caption from left to right: Quyen Ly, Jared Gray, Kevin Miller and Lauren Hoffman.)


Superintendent Walker Delivers State of the District in New Video


Superintendent Terry Walker delivered the State of the Irvine Unified School District in a new video, which can be viewed by clicking here

State of the District topics include:

  • An overview of IUSD’s vision to prepare students for 21st century college and careers.
  • District funding realities, as one of the lowest funded school districts in California, and how IUSD is maximizing investments to best serve our students.
  • New State Standards and IUSD’s instructional strategies.
  • How the District is using technology to enhance and empower students and teachers.
  • IUSD’s facilities, which are designed to foster flexibility, innovation and collaboration.
  • Important District’s partnerships with parents, students and the community, which are critical components of IUSD’s success.

Thank you for taking the time to watch this important video and for your continued investments, engagement, partnership and support of IUSD.


Irvine Company Issued Latest Installment of $45M Commitment to Art, Music and Science


During the first Board Meeting of 2017, the Irvine Company presented IUSD with a check for $2.15 million as part of the Excellence in TIC PhotoEducation Enrichment Fund grant, which supports art, music and science education for Irvine Unified School District students in grades four through six.

In September 2016, Mr. Donald Bren and the Irvine Company announced that they would renew the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund grant with an additional $20 million over the next 10 years, bringing the Irvine Company’s commitment to IUSD students and families to more than $45 million.  Each year, more than 7,000 students are positively impacted by the Enrichment Fund.  To date, this unprecedented support has benefited more than 70,000 IUSD students.

Robin Leftwich, Vice President of Community Affairs for the Irvine Company, presented this year’s check to the IUSD Board of Education and IUSD students.  Board President Ira Glasky expressed the District’s gratitude for the generous donation, which has sustained critical educational opportunities in IUSD.

Superintendent Terry Walker stated that the Enrichment Fund has had a lasting and positive impact for IUSD students, before introducing IUSD Student Board Member Allie Hunter, who performed “Always Starting Over” from the musical If/Then.  Hunter, who is a Senior at Woodbridge High School, delivered a pitch perfect performance and was an excellent example of how the Enrichment Fund has benefited so many IUSD students.

Established in 2006, the Excellence in Education Enrichment Fund pays for specialists to work in IUSD’s fourth through sixth-grade classrooms. Students receive two 60-minute science lessons per week, two 40-minute music lessons per week and six hour-long art lessons per year, all taught by highly qualified instructors.

The program has been extremely popular in IUSD, enabling schools to preserve and continue hands-on courses that may have been lost due to budget cuts.

Related:
Irvine Company Renews Enrichment Fund with $20M Commitment to IUSD Students