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.

Teachers of Promise Announced for 2015-16

TOPToday, in addition to announcing the 2015-16 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 2015-16 Teachers of Promise, as shown above, are Kevin Bui, a social studies teacher at Venado Middle SchoolKatie Miller, a third-grade teacher at Portola Springs Elementary School; Kim Morgan, a special education teacher at Cypress Village Elementary School; and Kristen Motooka, a culinary teacher at Northwood High School.

Kevin was recognized in front of his colleagues during a staff meeting at Venado, while Katie and Kim were surprised during schoolwide assemblies. Kristen was surprised in front of her culinary class at Northwood.  All four will be formally honored in May at the 30th annual Excellence in Teaching Awards Dinner.

Once again, congratulations to this year’s Teachers of the Year and Teachers of Promise.

Board of Education to Hold Public Hearing March 1 on Facilities Measure

Dear IUSD Community,
I recently wrote to you about the Irvine Unified School District’s (IUSD) plans to update our aging schools to a similar standard as our newer schools, so that all of IUSD’s more than 32,000 students have access to 21st-century instructional technology and learning tools. To achieve this important goal, IUSD is considering placing a School Facility Improvement Measure on the June 7, 2016 ballot to provide a dedicated and locally-controlled funding source for the most urgent upgrades in our aging schools.SFIM Mailer Feb. 2016 Image_Page_2

Updating Aging Schools
More than half of IUSD schools are more than 30 years old and are in critical need of upgrades and modernization. While some of our more recently built schools have modern classrooms and science labs, others do not. IUSD has worked to develop a Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan for the improvement of our school facilities. This process included a thorough expert assessment of each of our school campuses and input from teachers, principals, parents and students to identify the highest priority needs.

Planning for the Future of Our Schools and Students
With the District’s school facility needs identified and prioritized, IUSD is now evaluating options for funding improvements to our schools. On March 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the IUSD Administration Center (5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine) the IUSD Board of Education will hold a public hearing about placing a School Facility Improvement Measure on the June 2016 ballot. The public is invited to attend this meeting and share their thoughts.

Continuing IUSD’s Standard of Excellence
IUSD is proud that our students continue to perform among the best in Orange County and in the state. We are fortunate to have outstanding teachers, challenging and innovative academic programs and a community that supports Irvine students and schools. These are all essential elements of maintaining the top quality education for which Irvine is known. If passed, a School Facilities Improvement Measure would help support outstanding student achievement by ensuring students have equal access to facilities that support 21st-century education and career opportunities.

Your Feedback Is Important
We asked for your priorities for updating our schools and by clicking here, you’ll find information about the school facility planning process and how we are using your comments and feedback.  If you would like more information, please click here for frequently asked questions or visit our website iusd.org/schoolimprovements.  Thank you for your interest in IUSD schools and your ongoing support for our students.


Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools, Irvine Unified School District

More than 230 IUSD Students to Participate in Student Invention Competition

On Saturday, January 30, more than 230 Irvine Unified School District students in kindergarten through eighth grade will participate in the Layout 1Astounding Inventions Competition at Irvine Valley College (5500 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine) from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.  The competition showcases innovative student inventions, spanning a wide range of topics, including:

Conservation of Natural Resources Safety
Smart Sprinkler
Recycling Shower
Ocean Trash Zapper
Solar Umbrella Tree
Bicyclist Collision Alert Helmet
Emergency Pet Collar
Convenience Entertainment
Ultimate Sticky Pencil
Auto-Height Chair
Lego Sorter Vacuum
Automatic Slow Feeding Dog Feeder
Virtual Swim Goggles
Wii Surfboard
Levitating Car
Health and Fitness  
Easy Sneezy
SmartShoe D300
Bacteria Pinpointer
Scrape Preventer Spray

Event Schedule:

  • 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Public Viewing of Student Inventions
  • 1:00 p.m. Awards Ceremony: Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8
  • 2:15 p.m. Awards Ceremony: Grades 4 and 5

Event Details:

IUSD to Host Free E-Waste Recycling Event

On Saturday, January 30 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., the Irvine Unified School District will host a free electronics recycling event at the District Office, located at 5050 Barranca Parkway in Irvine.  Flyer_Irvine Unified School District_01-30-2016_Front

IUSD staff will team up with All Green to collect e-waste, which can range from the dated laptop in your hall closet to that VCR you haven’t used since you got the new DVD player to the dust-covered monitor in your garage.  E-waste is basically anything with a plug that is unused, obsolete or non-working. All Green accepts the following:

  • Computers
  • Monitors
  • Printers
  • TVs
  • VCRs
  • Stereos
  • Miscellaneous electronic equipment (anything with a plug and circuit board)

Items not accepted include:

  • Furniture
  • Household hazardous waste
  • Kitchen appliances

E-waste contains heavy metals such as lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium and zinc that contaminate our soil and water, and is responsible for 70 percent of all heavy metals found in landfills today. A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency says E-waste in landfills will grow four-fold over the next five years.  Help do your part to protect our environment by safely recycling your old electronics at this free public event.

Open Enrollment January 11 – February 26


IUSD’s open enrollment begins Monday, January 11 at 8 a.m. and will remain open until noon on Friday, February 26.  This process provides parents, who reside in the District, the opportunity to enroll their child in any IUSD school, on a space available basis.  Once enrollment reaches
school capacity, that school or grade level will be closed to intradistrict enrollment.

Back view of a teacher walking her student to school as she turns around and smiles at the camera

Open enrollment criteria:

  • Approvals are for one year and are reviewed each year
  • Parents must provide transportation
  • Space must be available at the requested school

For more information, including the open enrollment application and boundary area for 2016-17, click here.  Please note, the open enrollment application will not be available until Monday, January 11 at 8 a.m.

Important IUSD Update: No Cause for Alarm

Dear IUSD Families,

I want to assure you that the news events this morning related to Los Angeles Unified School District’s shut down are not connected to the Irvine Unified School District.  We are working closely with the Irvine Police Department, which is monitoring the situation and confirmed there is no cause for alarm or concern.

Although these events are not related to IUSD, the Police Department has an increased police presence around our school sites.  We will continue to work closely with the Irvine Police Department and other agencies to monitor and ensure the safety of our schools.

We recognize that the events in Los Angeles are distressing and may generate strong emotional reactions, but we want to reiterate that there is no evidence to indicate that Irvine has reason for concern.  Our schools are open.  Should students need support or counseling, we have resources available at each school site.

If there are any updates, we will share them with you.  In the meantime, I encourage you to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.  In addition to regular updates about our District, we use these sites to provide real-time updates during emergencies.

Thank you for your support.


Terry L. Walker

IUSD FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/IrvineUnifiedSchoolDistrict
IUSD TWITTER: https://twitter.com/iusd


Northwood High School Dedicates Culinary Arts Facility

Northwood High School recently held a dedication ceremony for its new Culinary Arts facility, which serves nearly 180 Northwood students as part of the District’s Career Technical Education Pathways program.  The Culinary Arts program is one of several career pathways in the Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation Industry Sector Pathway, giving students real-world experiences and skills that are relevant to any career path.  Such programs create an opportunity for students to learn and explore their interests, while earning elective credits toward college and career readiness.Insturctor and Students

“We are excited about this culinary option for our students,” said Dr. Keith Tuominen, Director of Secondary Education.  “It was due to the tenacity of Northwood Principal Leslie Roach, school administrators and community members that this dream became a reality.”

In addition to securing District funds, Roach and her team diligently worked to secure state and local grant funding with the support of key community members, such as Venkata Renduchintala and his wife Aruan Renduchintala, who is a teacher at Northwood.

IUSD will further expand the program Districtwide by opening a second Culinary Arts facility after the first of the year.  The new facility will be located on the Creekside Education Center campus at Harvard and Barranca.

When asked why Career Technical Education is beneficial to students, Tuominen said, “It gives students the opportunity to develop a concept and to work through a collaborative planning and design process to deliver a fully realized product.  These kind of experiences are invaluable for students in both their academic and professional careers.”

The dedication event was attended by Board Clerk Ira Glasky, school administrators, IUSD administrators, students, parents and community supporters.  To read the County Register’s coverage of the event and IUSD’s Culinary Arts Program, click the following link http://bit.ly/1M5Np2o.

IUSD Board Elects New President and Clerk and Certifies ‘Positive’ District Budget

During the Irvine Unified School District’s annual organizational meeting on Tuesday, December 8 — the final session of 2015 — the Board unanimously voted to elect Paul Bokota to a one-year Board Organization Meeting 12.9.15

term as Board President and Ira Glasky to a one-year term as Board Clerk.  Lauren Brooks and Paul Bokota had served as 2015 Board President and Board Clerk, respectively.

After the election, the Board turned its attention to other matters including, the establishment of meeting dates through December 2016, certified the District’s First Interim Report of 2015-16 as ‘positive,’ approved a first and second reading of proposed revisions to the Board Immunization policy, and approved solar vehicle shade structures at the new Beacon Park School and Portola High School.

2016 Board Meeting Dates

The first two regular meetings of 2016 are scheduled for Jan. 12 and 26.  For a full list of meeting dates, click here.

District Budget Update is ‘Positive’

Later in the evening, Assistant Superintendent John Fogarty presented a brief budget update, and the Board voted unanimously to certify IUSD’s First Interim Report of 2015-16 as “positive,” meaning the District will meet its financial obligations for the current and two subsequent fiscal years.

Every school district in California is required to examine and certify its financial condition as positive, qualified or negative twice during each fiscal year. Positive is the ideal certification.  Qualified indicates a district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current year and two subsequent fiscal years.  A negative certification is rare and would indicate a district was unable to meet its financial obligations.

Recognizing the length of the current economic recovery and the volatility of the state economy, which is heavily reliant on income taxes, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has once again outlined three possible scenarios for California’s economy, ranging from slow, steady growth to a slowdown or worst case scenario, a recession. Fogarty, who oversees Business Services for the District, told the Board that the LAO’s main scenario projects moderate growth through 2019-20, which may lead to steady increases for K-12 schools.

California’s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), meanwhile, has increased the amount of base funding for school districts and allocated more dollars to serve English-language learners, low-income students and foster youth. Projected increases have also enabled IUSD to strategically invest the reserves it built up to weather the state’s fiscal crisis, Fogarty said.

That said, there are a number of potential challenges and uncertainties for school districts, which must take a multi-year approach to budgeting. The state’s plan to address the unfunded liability in the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, requires districts to contribute significant dollars to help close the gap, and temporary tax increases that went into effect under Proposition 30 will begin to expire in 2016, eliminating a dependable source of state revenue.

In addition, Fogarty highlighted the discrepancies in funding per school district, based on the LCFF, which is heavily weighted to support school districts with higher disadvantaged student populations.  In 2014-15, IUSD received approximately $1,500 less per student than the state average for unified school districts, making IUSD one of the lowest funded districts in California.

Board Immunization Policy

The Board also heard the first reading of changes to the Board Policy 5141.13: Immunization and moved to approve the second reading and amend the policy in accordance with state law.  The law mandates the only reason for immunization exemption is medical and it repealed the personal belief immunization exemption.

Solar Installations

The Board approved solar vehicle shade structures at the new Beacon Park School and Portola High School. This is a continuation of the District’s solar initiative, which was put in place in 2009 and to date has offset District energy costs by nearly $1 million.  Solar vehicle shade structures are installed at 22 District sites, totaling 5.3 megawatts of solar energy production.

Solar vehicle shade panels are scheduled to be installed at both new schools beginning in September 2016.

About the IUSD Board of Education

The IUSD Board of Education is a five member Board, elected from the school district at large, serving four year terms.  The role of the Board is to serve as a policy-making body for the District and is charged with providing the best possible education for the children of the Irvine Unified School District in accordance with the desires of the community, and federal and state laws. Among the Board’s duties is the adoption of the annual budget; approval of expenditures; approve the employment of personnel; approval of the curriculum, textbooks, and courses of study; approval of facility plans and construction contracts.

The twice monthly Board Meetings are typically scheduled on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. and are broadcast live on Channel 39.  Members of the public are also welcome to attend in person at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604.  For a list of the 2016 Board Meeting dates click here.

Board of Education Names IUSD’s Newest K-6 Elementary School

The IUSD Board of Education has unanimously approved the name for Irvine’s next K-6 elementary school.  In accordance with the district’s policy to assign names based on nearby landmarks, communities and historical references, the campus will be known as Eastwood Elementary and will serve the Eastwood Village community near Jeffrey and Irvine Boulevard in North Irvine.  The school will also be the long-term option for Woodbury families, who want a traditional calendar school. Eastwood Rendering 11.15

Additional name options for consideration during the November 17 Board Meeting included “Eastwood Village Elementary School,” “Meander Elementary School” and “Parkwood Elementary School.”  The Board, with the input from Student Board Members, selected the concise Eastwood Elementary.

Set to open in August 2017, Eastwood Elementary will be a state-of-the-art education facility and will continue IUSD’s tradition of excellence.  Click here to view the project description and education specifications for Eastwood Elementary.