There’s still time to enroll your child in IUSD’s preschool program for 2015-16

Irvine Unified’s preschool program still has space available for the 2015-16 school year.  The program, open to children ages 3 and 4 who live within the district’s attendance boundaries, is run by the staff of professional educators at IUSD’s Early Childhood Learning Center.  A variety of options are available, including subsidized funding for income-eligible families.  ECLC-cub

Established in 2002, the Early Childhood Learning Center has worked collaboratively with local families to build a world-class learning community that supports each child’s social, emotional and pre-academic needs.

The ECLC campus is located at 1 Smoketree in Irvine. To learn more about registration and enrollment, visit the center’s website, or call 949-936-5890.

Rancho Students Competed in Finals of the National History Bee

After winning competitions at the local and regional levels, Rancho students advanced to the finals in Louisville, Kentucky from May 22-24.  2015 history bee (2)

“It was a great experience and I am very proud of the Rancho team,” states History Bee Coach Aghassi Gharadaghian.  “The team did well, 3 of the 5 made it to Nationals.  Studying, determination, and quick thinking are all traits that served them well.  Of course a love of history helps too!”

Prior to the nationals, students at Rancho competed at the local level in the National History Bee with amazing results.  Only five students can represent a site, all of which must score above a certain level in order to be considered for Regionals, which were held on March 9.   Rancho sent a full roster to compete against other schools from all over Southern California and each other in the buzzer- based question rounds.  The students who gained the most points through the four rounds were then qualified to go on to Nationals held in Louisville, Kentucky, where they competed against the best from every state.

Irvine Sent Only OC Student to Compete in National Spelling Bee

Sierra Vista Middle School Student Sarika Rau was the only Orange County student to qualify for the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland.  Sarika participated in a written vocabulary test and two rounds of preliminary oral examination.  She was one of only 285 students nationwide to participate in this prestigious competition.  Spelling Bee

While Sarika did not advance to the semifinals, she has received a great deal of local attention for her incredible accomplishment.  She has been featured in two Orange County Register articles and her class was able to watch her compete live on ESPN.

Congratulations to Sarika for job well done!

Northwood and University Receive 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools Award

Northwood and University high schools have been named 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools, the State’s highest recognition for public schools.  Both schools were among 180 high schools to receive this prestigious designation.   Instagram-logo

The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment and accountability systems.  Schools applied for the award based on a model program their school has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies.

“These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.  “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.”

In addition to being chosen as a Gold Ribbon School, Northwood was given an additional honor of being selected as having an Exemplary Program in Arts Education.

“We are proud of Northwood and University teachers, staff, students and parents, who exemplify our mission to provide the highest quality educational experience we can envision,” said Irvine Superintendent of Schools Terry Walker.

IUSD Receives Prestigious National History Day Recognition

Four Irvine schools will send two team and three individual student projects to the national Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at University of Maryland at College Park, from June 14-18.  National History Day, is a non-profit education organization dedicated to engaging middle- and high-school students around the world in conducting original research on historical topics of interest.  The National History Day Contest in Maryland is the final stage in a series of contests at the county and state levels.  Guo Project NHD State 2015

To qualify for the national competition, Irvine students competed against more than 1,000 students from 25 counties at the state competition in early May.  Irvine projects moving on to the national competition are:

Junior Individual Exhibit

  • Augustus Caesar: His Leadership Through an Empire and Legacy of its Fall
    • Lakeside Middle School
    • Alina Guo
  • Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    • Lakeside Middle School
    • Morgan Kopecky 

Junior Group Documentary

  • Henry Ford
    • Sierra Vista Middle School
    • Michelle Kroll and Frances Kroll

 Junior Individual Website

  • Florence Nightingale: The Lady with the Lamp
    • Jeffrey Trail Middle School
    • Mulan Homo

 Junior Historical Paper

  • Harry Truman: A Leadership and Legacy in the Truman Doctrine
    • Sierra Vista Middle School
    • Miranda Wu

Senior Group Documentary

  • The Legacy of Ed Sullivan: Bringing the Civil Rights Movement into America’s Living Room
    • Woodbridge High School
    • Cullen Darius, Garrett Moore, Josh Morrison, Mitchell Cronin and Scott Armstrong

National History Day has also recognized two Irvine teachers.  University High School teacher Judy Richonne, was one of only two winners from California to receive the National History Day Teacher of the Year for her outstanding creativity, commitment and inspiration in developing student interest in history.  She is eligible for the national Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year award, which will be announced on June 18 at the competition in Maryland.

In April, Judy also received the Outstanding Contributions to Education award from the Orange County Board of Education.

Additionally, Sierra Vista teacher Jonathan Millers was named runner up for the State of California as the National History Day Teacher of the Year.

District Announces 2015 Classified Employees of the Year

Today, IUSD announced its five Classified Employees of the Year – Jody Butte, Alex Cruz, Julie Hicks, Rose Magda and Gerry Ruiz.  Classified employees include the men and women who work hard every day to ensure the District runs efficiently to serve our students and their families.  They include secretaries, custodians, paraeducators, bus drivers, maintenance technicians, clerks, food services staff members and all the other non-certificated workers.  Most are represented by the California School Employees Association (CSEA).

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 in some cases their school sites.  This year’s well-wishers included Board Members Lauren Brooks and Sharon Wallin, Superintendent Terry Walker, district staff, CSEA President Janelle Cranch and the five 2014 Classified Employee of the Year winners.

Alex Cruz

IMG_8525The day started at 8:20 a.m., with the first stop at the District’s Maintenance and Operations facility to award Alex Cruz, Maintenance VI Plumber, with Classified Employee of the Year.  Alex has been with IUSD for 17 years and received this award for his positive “get it done” attitude, strong work ethic and his commitment to the District.


For several months, Alex was the District’s only plumber, responsible for all 40 District sites.  Previously, Alex had shared this role with a colleague who retired last year.  During a months-long period, Alex took on the increased workload with the utmost professionalism.  He worked with maintenance staff to ensure each site was well-maintained and functioning.

“IUSD is a great environment to work in,” said Alex.  “I enjoy doing what it takes to get the job done but it’s also a team effort.  I work with great and dedicated people.”

Jody Butte

IMG_8538Jody Butte, Supervisor of Nutrition Services at Northwood High School, was the next stop at 9:15 a.m. Jody has been with IUSD for 20 years and received the Classified Employee of the Year award for her leadership and outstanding customer service to Northwood students.

IMG_8531Jody is known for caring for her students, nurturing staff and creating an environment of inclusion through her leadership.  Since she moved to Northwood High School during the 2012-13 school year, students who utilize the cafeteria for breakfast have quadrupled and students who purchase lunches have tripled. She goes out of her way to accommodate students’ requests for healthy snack and food items and talks with students daily to ensure she is meeting their needs.

“I love what I do,” said Jody.  “I love our students, IUSD and the people I work with.  This is so unexpected…I am honored.”

Rose Magda

IMG_8554The third stop was to Greentree Elementary where Rose Magda, Instructional Assistant Special Education, was awarded the Classified Employee of the Year in front of school staff and students at 10 a.m.  Rose has been with IUSD for four years and received the award for her compassion, unparalleled creative approach to serving students and for her extraordinary efforts to ensure every student is included.

IMG_8540Rose, known for her trademark phrase “Stop it!”, makes learning fun for students with profound disabilities.  In a typical day, she goes above and beyond to communicate to students that they are smart, kind, appreciated and most importantly, loved.  An example of her care is when she dressed up like a tree so she could help her student participate in the school play.  She dressed up so she would not be noticed while holding the student’s head up so the child could sing.

“Greentree students are so wonderful, they make me want to be better,” said Rose.  “I love the people I work with and feel honored.”  She concluded her remarks with, “Stop it!” and a smile.

Gerry Ruiz

IMG_8564Next up at 10:40 a.m. was Gerry Ruiz, PE Equipment Custodian at Irvine High School.  Gerry has been with IUSD for 14 years and received the Classified Employee of the Year award for his dedication, responsiveness and integrity.

IMG_8559Gerry is often proactive and demonstrates great leadership skills.  When one of Gerry’s colleague’s wife went into labor, he stepped up without hesitation to take on the workload so his colleague could be there for the birth.  The football team heavily relies on him during football season.  On Fridays, he will often work a 20-hour day.  A lot is requested of Gerry and he does it with a positive attitude and professionalism.

“I consider the people I work with to be family,” said Gerry.  “I like to help when I can and love working here with you all.”

Julie Hicks

IMG_8578The final stop at 11:25 a.m. was to College Park Elementary to award Julie Hicks, Media Tech I with Classified Employee of the Year in front of school staff and students.  Julie has been with IUSD for 10 years and received the award for her passion, creativity and dedication to helping develop students’ skills and love of reading.

IMG_8570Each week, Julie works with sixth-grade student council members to make video announcements on a variety of important school topics.  She helps the students write the scripts and edit the videos, which are shown during weekly library time.  She often works after school or on the weekends to ensure the production of the videos is perfect.  Many of Julie’s former students have taken these valuable skills and experience and pursued video production.

“The students inspire me each and every day,” said Julie.  “I love working here and with such wonderful people.  This is so surprising!”

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 June 2 IUSD Board meeting.

IUSD’s Janelle Cranch Named State Classified School Employee of the Year!

IUSD’s Janelle Cranch, Buyer Technician and President of California School Employees Association, Chapter 517, has been named by the Department of Education as a California Classified School Employee of the Year.  Janelle, who also received the county’s Classified Employee of the Year award earlier this year, is being recognized for her many contributions to our students, schools, and the entire Irvine community.  Janelle Cranch4191-4x5

This annual, state-wide award program recognizes six outstanding classified school employees, each representing one of the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominees.

For 26 years, Janelle has been a tenacious advocate, who is unwavering in her commitment to serving the students in our district and the people who work here.  Her commitment, compassion and work ethic have earned her a reputation as one of the most beloved and respected members of the school community.

She is an invaluable asset and resource in supporting the District’s vision and mission.  She advocates for classified personnel as well as the education of students and has occupied several leadership roles on prominent committees at the state and local levels.

In sighting her accomplishments, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson noted, “Her conduct serves as a model of the core values of the Irvine Unified School District, which is one of the most high-performing districts in the nation.  During the state’s budget crisis, Mrs. Cranch’s leadership, calm communication style and comprehensive understanding of District finances greatly contributed to the continued and ongoing success of its instructional programs.”

Classified employees are a vital part of the success of our education system.  They help ensure students arrive to school on time, receive nutritious meals, and are able to learn in a clean, safe, and well-ordered environment. They are instrumental in helping to build and strengthen an overall positive school climate and culture.

Please join IUSD in congratulating Janelle on this prestigious award.


Reminder: School Funding Survey Closes Friday – Student Participation Encouraged

Thank you to those who have participated in IUSD’s school funding survey [Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)].  If you have not taken the survey, please spend a few minutes to provide your feedback by the closing date, Friday, May 15.  survey2

IUSD is also seeking student input.  If you have a student who is able to take the survey, please encourage his/her participation.

California’s new funding model for K-12 education, requires every school district and county office of education to develop, adopt and annually update a three-year LCAP with input from parents, students and other key stakeholders.

As part of this comprehensive process, IUSD has launched the second of two school funding surveys.  This second survey will be used to further help identify District goals and budget priorities.  See below to review the proposed actions, which are inclusive of key stakeholder feedback from the first survey earlier this year.

Take the survey now by clicking here. 

Click here to view the proposed amendments to the 2015-16 LCAP.

This brief survey is an important part of the LCAP process. Please take the time to share your thoughts.

IUSD Student Jazz Ensembles to Perform May 9

Irvine Unified School District and the City of Irvine will host a collaboration of student jazz ensembles at the Orange County Great Park Palm Court Arts Complex on Saturday, May 9, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.  Jazz at the Palm Court (2)

11 a.m.  – Plaza Vista Middle School

11:30 a.m.  – South Lake Middle School

12 p.m. – Sierra Vista Middle School

12:30 p.m. – Venado Middle School

1 p.m. – Woodbridge High School

1:30 p.m. – University High School

2 p.m.  – Irvine High School

2:30 p.m. – Northwood High School

Special guest artists will perform with the student musicians. Bring folding chairs and picnic blankets.  Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind music experience!

Admission and parking are free. The Orange County Great Park is located off the 5 or 405 freeway at Sand Canyon and Marine Way in Irvine. For more information, visit or call 949-724-OCGP (6247).

Northwood Teacher is Quarter Finalist for Prestigious Music Award

Congratulations to Ben Case, music teacher at Northwood High School, for his designation as a quarter finalist for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation.  Ben was selected out of 4,500 nominations from all 50 states.  His nomination and the recent gold award presented to Northwood High School as a Grammy Signature School is a testament to Northwood’s outstanding music program and Ben’s skill and dedication as a teacher. Ben Case and Students

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 flown to the host city of the GRAMMY Awards 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.