Uni High Student/Teacher Only Calf. Team Selected to Study D-Day in France

University High School is the only California high school to have a student/teacher team selected to Picture Judy Richonne Sonia Kellyparticipate in the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom® Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute.  In addition, this student/teacher team is only one of 15 teams, nationwide, to be selected to participate in this prestigious program by the nonprofit education organization National History Day.

As part of the program, University High student Sonia Kelly and social science teacher Judy Richonne will tell the story of a fallen World War II hero.  After a year of research, Kelly and Richonne will first travel to Washington, D.C. this June to finish their research with help from the National Archives, historians and college professors. While in D.C. the teams will tour the World War II Memorial, attend a dinner hosted by the White House Historical Association and prepare for the voyage of a lifetime to Normandy, France.  Once in France, the teams will visit the D-Day beaches, walking in the footsteps of their Silent Heroes. After seeing museums, historic sites and churches that were used as field hospitals, the teams will visit the Normandy American Cemetery. There, each student will deliver a powerful graveside eulogy for the Silent Hero he or she spent the year researching.

“Throughout their research these students and teachers have become incredibly connected to their Silent Heroes,” said National History Day Executive Director Dr. Cathy Gorn. “When they read their eulogies they are reading a eulogy for someone they know, someone whose story they are responsible for telling. It results in a powerful, and often tearful, understanding of the sacrifice these Silent Heroes made in World War II.”

During the program, teachers and students will also create a memorial webpage about their Silent Hero. After the conclusion of their travels, teams use these websites in presentations to local community groups, schools and classes, and veterans’ organizations.  The overall goal of the program is to teach a new generation or students about the sacrifices and challenges faced during World War II.

The program is coordinated by National History Day® and is funded by Mr. Albert H. Small, a veteran himself.  Mr. Small’s generous donation includes overseas travel, courses, and room and board for each student/teacher team.

Sierra Vista’s Henry Miller Named 2017 GRAMMY Music Educator Finalist

IUSD is proud to announce Sierra Vista’s Music Teacher Henry Miller has been named, by the GRAMMY Foundation, one of 10 finalists for henry-miller-2016-2the 2017 Music Educator Award.  This prestigious honor is particularly impressive, given that there were more than 3,300 nominees from all 50 states.  The winner will be announced in Los Angeles during GRAMMY week and will attend the GRAMMY Awards.

The Music Educator award recognizes teachers who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in schools.

Below is a link to CBS This Morning’s national coverage of the 10 finalists.

Congratulations and best wishes to Henry!

Related News:
Sierra Vista’s Henry Miller Named a GRAMMY Music Educator Semifinalist
Woodbridge High School Named Top GRAMMY School in the Nation
All Four IUSD High Schools Named 2016 GRAMMY Signature School Semifinalists

IUSD This Week – November 18, 2016

IUSD THIS WEEK – November 14-18

Each week, so many great things happen throughout IUSD, we’ve provided the following “snapshot” to keep you informed!  Click here to view a photo gallery of this week’s events.

iusd-thisweek-11-18-16Canyon View Elementary Principal Christina Giguiere kissed a pig on Monday, November 14 as part of a PTA fundraising initiative.  The school met its goal and raised more than $52,000, so Principal Giguiere puckered up and the kids loved it!

Meadow Park Elementary fifth and sixth grade students, in the Specialized Academic Instruction program, organized and hosted a Thanksgiving meal for about 40 teachers, staff and administrators.  To prepare for the feast, students took part in grocery shopping, cooking, decorating and hosting the event, all part of their life skills lessons.  This is the second year this wonderful event has been held – it has become a tradition that Meadow Park students and staff look forward to each year.

Rancho San Joaquin Middle School students participated in a Student Investment Workshop put on by the Irvine Chamber of Commerce.  The more than 100 students, who participated, learned about the basics of investing and then managed a portfolio of $25,000 for four weeks.  As part of the conclusion of the program, a final meeting was held in which the winning teams were recognized and awarded prizes.

Woodbury Elementary students were visited by Gabrielino Indian Chief, Ernie Salas, who shared information about his tribe’s culture and history during a third-grade assembly.

Woodbury Elementary second-grade students also participated in a concert for parents in which they sang patriotic songs.

Greentree Elementary students have been and will continue performing the school’s annual play, Disney’s Peter Pan Jr., through Saturday.  This special event is sponsored by IPSF.  Students are performing to sold out crowds of families and friends.

For more information about exciting events and news related to your school, visit your school’s website and social media pages, where available.

Sierra Vista’s Henry Miller Named a GRAMMY Music Educator Semifinalist

henry-miller-2016Congratulations to Henry Miller, Sierra Vista Middle School music teacher, for his designation as semifinalist for the national GRAMMY Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.  Henry is one of 25 semifinalists selected from 3,300 nominations from all U.S. states.  His nomination represents Sierra Vista’s and IUSD’s outstanding music program and his dedication as a teacher.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (K through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.  A joint partnership and presentation of the Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation, this special award will be presented at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception.

In December, one recipient will be selected from 10 finalists, and will be recognized for his/her remarkable impact on students’ lives. The winner will be in Los Angeles during GRAMMY week to accept the award, attend the GRAMMY Awards ceremony and receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine other finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

Click here to read CBS’ coverage of this prestigious honor.  To learn more, visit the GRAMMY Foundation website.

Related News:
All Four IUSD High Schools Named 2016 GRAMMY Signature School Semifinalists
Northwood’s Ben Case Named a Grammy Music Educator Semifinalist
Woodbridge High School Named Top GRAMMY School in the Nation

Sierra Vista Teacher Named Top Middle School History Teacher in the Nation

Jon MillersSierra Vista Middle School History teacher Jonathan Millers received the prestigious Junior Division Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award, worth $10,000, at this year’s Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest in Washington, D.C. This honor is bestowed upon one junior division (middle school) and one senior division (high school) teacher annually. The recipient of the national award is selected from the affiliate winners of the prize. National History Day has affiliates in all fifty states, Washington, D.C., China, Korea, Guam, South Asia, Central America, and American Samoa. Millers became eligible for the prize after winning California’s Junior Division Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award.

Millers has participated in National History Day – California (NHD-CA) for nine years. NHD-CA, sponsored by the Sacramento County Office of Education, is one of the largest state history competitions in the nation. Each year more than 40,000 students from 28 counties explore historical topics and create projects that are entered in school, district, and county competitions. County champions advance to the annual state wide contest which includes more than 1,200 participants.

“Mr. Millers has a love for history and seeing students engaged in learning,” said NHD-CA State Coordinator Craig Irish. “His passion is evidenced by the students who pack his classroom each day during lunch and before and after school to work on their history projects. We are proud to have Mr. Millers represent California as the Junior Division Behring Teacher of the Year.”

As an 8th grade History teacher, Millers engages his students with hands on activities such as historical court case reenactments, or encouraging students to adopt the persona of a historical figure. Sierra Vista began participating in the National History Day Contest as an extracurricular activity. However, after seeing its effectiveness to improve student skills in research, use of technology, reading, and writing, it was decided to expand the program. It is now a key component in the school curriculum. The annual school presentation of these projects draws more than 300 attendees, including former students who offer advice to the next generation of National History Day Contest participants.

Aaron Jetzer Named Principal of Eastwood Elementary

Aaron Jetzer-GroundbreakingIUSD is pleased to announce that Aaron Jetzer has been named Principal of Eastwood Elementary School, which is scheduled to open in August 2017 to serve the new community of Eastwood Village. However, Mr. Jetzer will continue in his current role as Principal of Culverdale Elementary and begin the transition to Eastwood in January, 2017.

Mr. Jetzer has 16 years of education experience and is recognized as an outstanding leader in IUSD.  He currently serves as Principal of Culverdale Elementary, where for six years he has developed an excellent reputation as a site leader who works collaboratively with students, staff, and the parent community, including the PTA and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation.  Innovation and continuous improvement are the hallmarks of Mr. Jetzer’s leadership, including the piloting of math and reading programs at Culverdale before they became standardized across the District. He continues to revamp the school’s technology and wireless infrastructure and in 2012, Culverdale was recognized as a California Distinguished school.

Mr. Jetzer is looking forward to the challenge of opening IUSD’s newest K-6 school and will work closely with students, staff and parents to develop an environment that personalizes learning to ensure that all students develop the knowledge, skills and abilities to connect to the world around them.  He is experienced at working with diverse student populations, has high expectations for academic achievement, and will offer a broad range of extracurricular programs.

Mr. Jetzer lives in Laguna Niguel with his wife and two kids.  In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching his kids play soccer, working on home projects, cooking, biking, running and yoga.

District Announces 2016 Classified Employees of the Year

Today, IUSD announced its five Classified Employees of the Year – Kitty Fyfe, Manny Lupercio, Kathy McCoy, Lorianne Randell and Meleah Shank. Classified employees are individuals who work hard every day to ensure the District runs efficiently to serve our students and their families. They include custodians, paraeducators, media technicians, food services staff members, analysts, secretaries, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, clerks, and all the other non-certificated staff members. Most are represented by the California School Employees Association (CSEA). This year’s five employees were selected from more than 1,500 classified employees districtwide.

Similar to previous years, a caravan of District employees and Board Members traveled to each winner’s site to surprise them in front of their colleagues and/or their school sites. This year’s well-wishers included Board Member Lauren Brooks, Superintendent Terry Walker, district staff, CSEA President Janelle Cranch and the five 2015 Classified Employee of the Year winners.

Meleah Shank

maleahThe day started at 8:50 a.m., with the first stop at Stonegate Elementary to award Meleah Shank, P.E. Paraprofessional, with the first of five Classified Employee of the Year awards. Meleah has been with IUSD for four years.

She was recognized for commitment to student’s health and wellbeing. Through her yoga instruction, she has provided students the unique opportunity to benefit from not only strength training but also from relaxation and breathing techniques. Her instruction has enabled students to become more aware of their environment and better equipped to manage obstacles and challenges by utilizing techniques they are learning.

“Meleah is a dedicated professional who consistently searches for ways to improve her instruction,” said Stonegate Principal Harmony Briscoe. “She is an enthusiastic and inspirational team member who has made a
difference for our kids.”


Manny Lupercio

mannyManny Lupercio, Head Custodian of Brywood Elementary was the next stop at 9:30 a.m. Manny has been with IUSD for 15 years and received the Classified Employee of the Year for his high standard of professionalism and dedication.

Manny is loved by students and staff because of his compassion, integrity and his commitment to Brywood. He knows students by name and gives endless high-fives. Manny is a leader on campus and for his colleagues throughout the district – he is a role model for students and staff alike.

“Manny is an unsung hero who gives of himself to students, staff and our school,” said Principal Astrid Ramirez. “He lets all students know he cares about them and sets a great example with his positive attitude.”


Kathy McCoy

kathyThe third stop was to College Park Elementary at 10:15 a.m., where for the first time in IUSD history, two employees from the same school received Classified Employee of the Year awards. The first was Kathy

McCoy, Nutrition Services. Kathy has been with IUSD for 11 years and received this honor for her customer service and commitment to student nutrition.

Kathy’s recognition is particularly special, since College Park’s kitchen and serving room is one of the smallest in the District. She stepped up to pilot the first elementary “outdoor café” and was heavily involved in the process from planning and design to implementation. Prior to implementing the outdoor café, Kathy could only have five kids in the tiny kitchen at a time. What used to take up to 12-15 minutes in line for students, now takes five to eight minutes. Her vision and work has enabled students to get healthy food in less time.

“Kathy is considered the heart and soul of our school,” said College Park Principal Meg Gwyn. “She goes above and beyond to connect with the kids. She knows every child’s name and takes the time to make sure students know the rules of the café and have access to healthy food choices.”


Lorianne Randell

lorlor2Lorianne Randell, Media Tech was the second Classified Employee of the Year to be recognized from College Park Elementary. Lorianne has been with IUSD for nearly 10 years and received this recognition for helping students develop their technology skills and for supporting both students and teachers in the school’s technology lab.

Lorianne monitors the College Park’s First in Math programs, SBAC testing and works with students on everything from typing to coding. Teachers rely on her with the utmost confidence to ensure the computer lab and related testing and activities are running smoothly. Her knowledge and skills have benefited both College Park students and staff.

“If you have a question, you don’t search Google, you ask Lorianne,” said College Park Principal Meg Gywn. “She knows everything about our school and students and will assist our students on everything from a
paper jam to nose bleed.”


Kitty Fyfe

kittyThe final stop at 11 a.m. was to the District Office to award Kitty Fyfe, Special Education Analyst, with Classified Employee of the Year. Kitty has been with IUSD for 22 years and received this recognition for her dedication to the critical work of the Special Education department.

Kitty, fondly nicknamed “Ninja Kitty” has the ability to remember the history and important details of students and is able to provide background knowledge that is helpful to staff. In addition, she is responsible for a wide-range of duties, including budgeting, staffing, data analysis and information management.

“Kitty is very caring and compassionate for the students we serve,” said Melanie Hertig, Executive Director of Special Programs. “Her ability to support and have answers for those she serves, both in and out of the office is unsurpassed. She is proactive and hardworking, while maintaining a great sense of humor.”

Congratulations again to each winner, who will receive $1,000 courtesy of CSEA Chapter 517, as well as a jacket and commemorative plaque. They’ll also be honored at the May 24 IUSD Board Meeting.

Michael Georgino Named Jeffrey Trail Principal

Dear IUSD Community,

 We are pleased to announce that Michael Georgino has been named Principal of Jeffrey Trail Middle School.  After an extensive recruitment process, which included staff and community input and participation, Mr. Georgino has been selected from a talented candidate pool as the new leader for Jeffrey Trail.  His start date is July 1, 2016.

Mr. Georgino has 15 years of experience in education as a teacher and administrator.  He currently serves with distinction as Assistant Principal at University High School, where he is responsible for a wide range of leadership duties, including oversight of Career Technical Education, Advanced Placement, and English Language Development programs.  In the past two years, he has worked with faculty and staff to create and support a vision for the effective use of technology for teaching and learning.

Mr. Georgino has extensive teaching experience. He was a history, economics, and forensics teacher at University High for five years.  He began his teaching career at Brookhurst Junior High in the Anaheim Union High School District, where he served as a history teacher, GATE teacher, yearbook advisor, and athletic coach.

Mr. Georgino is honored to join the Jeffrey Trail team.  He is adept at working with diverse student populations and has experience serving in communities with high standards for academic achievement. He is excited to continue the commitment at Jeffrey Trail to a broad range of extracurricular programs for students.  He is eager to begin building strong and collaborative relationships with staff, students and parents.

Please join IUSD in congratulating Mr. Georgino on his new role and in welcoming him to Jeffrey Trail.


Eamonn eSignature

Eamonn O’Donovan
Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources
Irvine Unified School District

Corey Pace Named New Principal of Bonita Canyon Elementary

Dear IUSD Community,

We are pleased to announce that Corey Pace has been named as the new Principal of Bonita Canyon Elementary School. After an extensive recruitment process, which included staff and community input and participation, Mr. Pace was selected from a talented candidate pool as the best fit for Bonita Canyon. He is a successful IUSD principal, who has served with distinction for the past five years at Santiago Hills Elementary School. His official start date is on July 1, 2016.

Mr. Pace is familiar with the Bonita Canyon community and is a true product of IUSD. He served as an assistant principal at Rancho San Joaquin Middle School and graduated from University High School. He has seventeen years of experience in education as a teacher and administrator. He lives in Irvine with his wife and two children.

Mr. Pace is excited to work with the Bonita Canyon students, staff and community. He will visit with current principal Bob Curley to transition to his new role and looks forward to meeting with students, staff, and the parent community in the coming weeks.

Mr. Curley has been named principal of IUSD’s newest K-8 school, Beacon Park, which is set to open this August.

Please join IUSD in congratulating Mr. Pace on his new role and in welcoming him to Bonita Canyon.

Eamonn eSignature


Eamonn O’Donovan
Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources
Irvine Unified School District

Teacher of the Year Announced for 2015-2016

Elementary Teacher of the YearTOY-TOP2

This year’s Elementary School Teacher of the Year is Stacie Grooters, a Science Specialist at Culverdale Elementary School.  She has worked for IUSD for more than three years.

Stacie loves teaching students and brings passion and commitment to hands-on lessons to get students excited about science.  She makes rigorous science curriculum accessible to all students by weaving in personal stories and humor.

“Students think they’re playing, not realizing they’re learning, being held accountable to work collaboratively and engaging in critical thinking,” said Culverdale Principal Aaron Jetzer.  “She has a wealth of information and stays current on new scientific discoveries, which she shares with students daily.”

Stacie infuses technology into her lessons to enhance the learning experiences for students.  She is one of a handful of teachers in California who uses augmented reality computers that feature sound, video, graphics and other data to develop engaging instruction for students.  She continually strives to create experiences for her students that will deepen their love of learning.



TOY-TOP5Middle School Teacher of the Year

Middle School Teacher of the Year is Henry Miller, an Music teacher at Sierra Vista Middle School.  He has been with IUSD for 26 years.

Henry strives to get the best out of every student in his music classes, whether it is a beginner or a highly experienced musician.  He is dedication and constructive teaching style have made him a well-liked and respected teacher by students, staff and parents alike.

“I have seen Henry teach for 12 years and have seen his program at Sierra Vista evolve into a program where students not only excel but love making music,” said fellow Sierra Vista Teacher Eric Zuercher.  “The students are learning, having fun and making music at a very accelerated level.”

In addition to Henry’s tremendous work in the classroom, he began volunteer charitable field trips to elementary schools to bring music to students with special needs, called “Giving Bach.”  Under his leadership, his students have formed an award-winning, extra-curricular jazz band.

Through Henry’s leadership, he is inspiring a lifelong love of music in his students and his passion for teaching has had a positive impact on all.




High School Teacher of the YearTOY-TOP3

The High School Teacher of the Year is Steve Sewell, a Social Science Teacher at Irvine High School.

He has worked for IUSD for 33 years.

Steve exemplifies dedication, commitment and collaboration inside and outside of the classroom. Under his leadership, Irvine High School involved more students in National History Day than any other high school in Orange County for the past two years.  Twelve of the projects became finalists and seven projects advanced to the state competition.  He has also organized an all-school canned food drive for a local homeless shelter, raised money for clean water in developing countries and lead or participated in a variety of school spirit initiatives.

“Steve’s dedication to the teaching profession and the District needs to be recognized,” said fellow Irvine High School teacher Jerry Judd.  “Steve’s contributions to our students and community each year make him an invaluable leader and an inspiration to his students and those who work alongside him.”

He continually looks for professional learning opportunities to enhance how he teaches students.  Steve has participated in the UCI Writing Project Summer Institute, the UCI Critical Thinking Project and a reading apprenticeship in History.

Steve continually strives to be the best teacher he can be and in the process has positively influenced those who work with him and those he teaches.

About the Teacher of the Year Program

Now in its 30th year, IUSD’s Teacher of the Year program recognizes exceptional instructors at the elementary, middle and high school levels. 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.

IUSD also recognizes a handful of standout first- and second-year teachers, who are announced as “Teachers of Promise.”  Click here for the 2015-16 Teachers of Promise.

All of this year’s honorees will be formally honored in May at the Excellence in Teaching Awards Banquet, which is organized each year by the Exchange Club of Irvine and ITA.