Irvine and Japanese Students Conclude E-Pal Program

This school year, 35 Venado Middle School students participated in the Irvine -Tsukuba Sister City Student E-Pal Project, an electronic pen-pal project with middle school students in Japan.  Over the course of the program, participating students in Irvine and Tsukuba, Japan were able to connect face-to-face through video conferencing and through emails to share information about their interests and backgrounds.  Topics included information about each country, school, culture and lifestyle.
Epal 3

“This exchange provided an opportunity to expand cultural understanding while creating lasting friendships between Irvine and Tsukuba middle school students,” said Keith Tuominen, IUSD Director of Secondary Education.

The 8th grade GATE students who took part in the program were eager and excited to get to know kids from another country.  “For Venado students, it was very enriching and for the Tsukuba students, it gave them a chance to practice English,” said Teacher Julie Campbell.  “Hopefully, some of these connections will be long-lasting.”

This culturally enriching program was part of the City of Irvine’s Sister City Program.  For more information about the E-Pal Project or the Sister City Program, visit


Summer School Opportunities – Registration Ends Soon

There are three summer program opportunities available directly to IUSD students.  Registration deadlines are fast approaching.  One might be a good fit for you or your student.

IUSD Summer School – Students at the middle and high school levels can access courses to help remediate or enhance the academic experience.  Please visit for additional information.  Enrollment closes on Wednesday, May 6th.  Instagram-logo

IPSF Summer Enrichment Academies – Opportunities exist for all ages, elementary through high school, to enrich their educational experience.  Please visit  for more information.

IVC/IUSD Summer College Program – Courses offered at Irvine Valley College are available for IUSD students in current grades 9-11.  Some courses still have space available.  More information can be found at

8th Annual ACE Day!

Check out the IUSD video of ACE Day (Appreciating Classified Employees)  Members of our District team recently shadowed classified employees to learn more about their jobs and responsibilities.  Participants joined a group luncheon after the event to share what they did and learned. ACE Day 1

This 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.

Superintendent Terry Walker worked with our Grounds team to help install drought resistant landscaping at the District Office!

New South Lake Middle School Principal Selected

We are pleased to announce that Belinda Averill has been named Principal for South Lake Middle School.  After an extensive recruitment process, which included staff and community input, Belinda was selected, from a talented candidate pool, as the best fit for South Lake.  She is a recognized leader in IUSD and is familiar with learning programs at South Lake and the transitions that students there make to high school in our district. Her start date is July 1, 2015.

Belinda will transition from her current role as Assistant Principal at Woodbridge High School, where she has served with a collaborative team of teachers and staff.  Belinda is highly student centered, responsive to the diverse needs of her stakeholder groups, and has extensive knowledge in the development of curriculum and instruction that meet the learning needs of all students. She has been with IUSD since 2010 and has served in a variety of roles as a special education teacher, summer school principal, and assistant principal. Prior to joining IUSD, Belinda worked as a Special Day Teacher (9-12) and Resource Teacher (K-8).

She resides in Irvine with her husband Steve and two children. Belinda is looking forward to bringing her skills and experience to South Lake to have a positive impact on student learning and to forming collaborative relationships with staff, students, parents and the community.

As a Woodbridge graduate and long-time Irvine resident, Belinda understands the Irvine community and IUSD culture from a unique perspective.  She is experienced working with a diverse student body, high academic achievement and a broad range of extracurricular programs for students.  Belinda will continue as assistant principal at Woodbridge until the end of June, but will spend time in the interim meeting with staff, students and the parent community.

IUSD’s Erica Hawkes Races in the Boston Marathon

Congratulations to Erica Hawkes, IUSD Director of Special Education, who raced in the Boston Marathon earlier this week.  She finished the 26.2 mile race in only 3:33:55, which equates to a 8:09
Erica Hawkes (3) mile.   Erica’s time was even more impressive given the extreme weather conditions.  It rained nearly the entire race, with 20 mph headwinds at various points throughout the course.

“It pretty much rained, and at times poured, all the way from Hopkinton to Boston but it was one of the most amazing experiences ever,” said Erica.  “The crowds were incredible and really kept me going.”

This was Erica’s fifth road marathon and she has run one trail marathon.  Her Boston qualifier was the St. George Marathon, five hours south of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Erica’s Boston Marathon time qualified her for next year’s race.

LCAP Survey #2: Tell Us What You Think

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 Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) with input from parents, students and other key stakeholders. survey2

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, budget priorities and allocate additional funding.   Please 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.

For more detailed information about the LCAP, including the most recent draft of the plan, click here.


Are You Prepared for an Earthquake?

April is Earthquake Preparedness Month and IUSD would like to take this opportunity to encourage families and students to be prepared.  Taking the following simple steps will go a long way helping to keep you and your family safe during an earthquake or other emergency.


Know the emergency plan at your child’s school Emergency Supplies

We maintain responsibility for our students. Campuses in the Irvine Unified School District will be secured and students will be kept at school until they can safely be released to parents or authorized guardians through an established reunification process.

We prepare to be self-sufficient. Though IUSD works closely with the Irvine Police Department, the Orange County Fire Authority and other agencies, it may be necessary to coordinate our own response efforts if emergency personnel are tending to more immediate needs. IUSD staff members have therefore been assigned specific roles and responsibilities, which are practiced during drills throughout the year.

Make sure we have your most up-to-date contact information.  Be sure that your school has updated information about how to reach parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pick-up. During times of emergency the school telephones may be overwhelmed with calls, so it is important your school knows how to reach you.

Ways to Stay Connected to IUSD

School Messenger.  In 2013, IUSD introduced a brand new notification system, School Messenger, which enables near-instantaneous communication with District families via phone calls and emails. This web-based system enables IUSD to send out emails and pre-recorded calls to families in just minutes.  During an emergency, check your phones, voicemails and emails for the most up-to-date information from the District.

Social Media.  Stay connected to the District on Facebook and Twitter.  During recent disasters throughout the U.S. social media has proven to be a very effective and real-time way to communicate, especially when phone lines are jammed.  To connect with IUSD on Facebook, visit  To connect with us on Twitter, visit


The following is important information from the Irvine Police Department Office of Emergency Management about earthquake preparedness.  The Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to be prepared by making a family plan, stockpiling emergency supplies and knowing how to stay connected to the City for important updates.

Where to Start

Start by assembling a supply kit that is tailored to your family’s needs; develop a plan of action for meeting up with and communicating with family members; register your home and cell phones with the City’s iAlert system to receive emergency alerts and information; listen to 1640AM during an emergency for live updates, follow the City on Twitter and Facebook; and take a Community Emergency Response Team course offered by the City.

For more emergency preparedness information, visit

Emergency Supply List 

It is important for residents to be prepared at home and work. Below is a starter emergency preparedness checklist. Customize your checklist to meet your family’s individual needs.

  • Water (one gallon per day, per person)
  • Non-perishable food (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • A plan to communicate with your family
  • A designated meeting location for your family/loved ones
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit and medications (2-week supply)
  • Cell phones with chargers
  • Multipurpose tool, duct tape, tool kit and scissors
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents
  • Family and emergency contact information/card
  • Emergency blankets
  • Extra cash in $1 and $5 denominations
  • Baby supplies; games/activities for children
  • Pet supplies
  • Miscellaneous: two-way radios, extra keys to car and house and a manual can opener

Emergency Preparedness for Pets (
If you have pets, be sure to include them in your preparations and provide supplies for them as well.

Stay connected with the City when disaster strikes:

iAlert (
iAlert is the City’s mass notification system to provide residents with time-sensitive information during a disaster. Go online to register your home, cell and work phones and to customize your account to receive phone, text or email messages or messages through hearing impaired receiving devices. iAlert is a critical component of Irvine’s emergency communications.

1640AM is the City’s radio station, which is used to provide information to those in and around the Irvine area. Be sure to have your car radio and emergency radio pre-programmed to this station.

City of Irvine Website (
The City will post updates as soon as possible in the event of an emergency.

Social Media
Many times when a disaster causes phone service to be disrupted, the Internet is still working. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive updates and information.

Facebook (

Twitter (

ICTV Cox Channel 30
ICTV is the City’s television station that allows us to provide information to residents with Cox Cable (Channel 30) and U-verse (Channel 99) subscribers in and around the Irvine area.

Presentation: All Roads Lead to Calculus/Statistics

Dr. Patrick Callahan, a nationally recognized mathematician and education specialist, will give a presentation entitled “All Roads Lead to Calculus/Statistics” on Tuesday, April 21, 6-8 p.m. at University High School in the theater.  Please join us to hear Dr. Callahan provide information on mathematics education and college readiness as IUSD transitions to new state standards for instruction and an Integrated Mathematics Pathway.


“All Roads Lead to Calculus/Statistics”
Dr. Patrick Callahan
Tuesday, April 21, 6-8 p.m.
University High School, Theater


Outstanding IUSD Staff Honored by County

Wednesday, April 15, the Orange County Board of Education and County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares presented awards to two IUSD staff members for their dedicated and exceptional service.Janelle Photo

Janelle Cranch was one of six recipients of the County’s Classified Employees of the Year award for 2015.  The California Department of Education’s Classified School Employees of the Year
program annually highlights the contributions of employees who have performed exceptionally in support of public school students, from preschool through grade 12.

Janelle, a Buyer Technician – Fixed Assets, works in the District Office and is known for her customer service, leadership, expertise and for her service on a variety of committees with IUSD.  She is described as a tenacious advocate for staff and students and as an iconic leader.  Janelle serves as President of California School Employees Association, Chapter 517. Her commitment, compassion and work ethic have earned her a reputation as one of the most beloved and respected members of the school community.

Judy Richonne, a social science teacher at University High School, received the Outstanding Contributions to Education (OCTE) award. The OCTE program honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to education.Judy Photo

Judy’s accomplishments include her work as an advisor for History Day and the Holocaust Art and Writing Contest through Chapman University.  Judy has taught five different Advanced Placement courses in the past eight years and was an AP Exam Reader for the College Board from 2010 to 2014. In 2013, Ms. Richonne published “The Human Cost of War: Beyond the Statistics” in the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies. She also presented at a teaching conference at California State University, Fullerton in 2013 on using human stories from the war in Iraq in the classroom.

“Ms. Richonne uses her knowledge and experience to engender a love for history in others,” said Orange County Board of Education President Dr. Ken L. Williams. “She has a unique appreciation for the powerful foundation of critical thinking and complex problem-solving the human story provides, as well as an appreciation of the simple beauty of the tale that is ours to share.”

Congratulations to both Janelle and Judy.

Pictured above:
-Janelle Cranch with IUSD Superintendent Terry Walker and Orange County Board of Education President Dr. Ken L. Williams
Judy Richonne with Orange County Board of Education President Dr. Ken L. Williams

New University High School Principal Selected

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Kevin E. Astor has been selected as the new University High School Principal.  After engaging in an extensive recruitment and selection process, which included staff and community input, Dr. Astor emerged from a highly-qualified candidate pool as the best fit for University High School.  His expected start date is July 1, 2015.

Dr. Astor joins IUSD from Capistrano Valley High School, where he has served as Principal for the past four years.  He has extensive secondary education experience, and has provided leadership for programs such as International Baccalaureate (IB); an Academy of Math, Technology, and Science; and extensive Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  He is well-versed in instruction and Common Core standards.  Dr. Astor has a history of working at schools with diverse student populations, high academic achievement, and a broad range of extracurricular and athletic opportunities for students.  Above all, he is deeply committed to the success of University High School and is eager to begin building strong relationships with staff, students and parents.

Dr. Astor has also served as Principal for Orangeview Junior High School and Assistant Principal at both Cypress High School and Walker Junior High School in the Anaheim Union High School District.  He taught Spanish 1-4 and AP at the secondary level in several Anaheim-area schools.   

Dr. Astor holds a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California; a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the United States International University, San Diego; and Bachelor’s degrees in Modern Foreign Language Education and Hispanic Language and Literature, from Boston University.  

He currently resides in Tustin with his wife Diane and their four children.  The Astors enjoy a rich home life filled with sports, school functions, and church.  Having grown up in Tustin, Dr. Astor has a keen appreciation and respect for the Irvine Unified School District and the exemplary reputation of University High School.  He is honored to have the opportunity to build partnerships with the community and serve alongside so many talented and dedicated staff members.

Dr. Astor is a passionate and talented leader who will be a great fit for University High School.  He is looking forward to meeting staff, students and parents as he begins his transition to University High in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we want to thank those who assisted in the selection process.