Well here we find ourselves in the middle of winter and while the rest of the country is battling the elements, Californians’ are hoping that we receive much needed moisture soon.
Lately, and as I approach my 27th anniversary with Sunnyvale School District and 5th year as Superintendent, I find myself reflecting on the qualities of public education offerings in our community. I am proud of the steady improvements and accomplishments achieved over the years that directly benefit students we serve. District and school improvements require steady, aligned efforts, high expectations and teamwork by the hard work of dedicated and talented teachers, administrators and staff. I am proud that this has occurred in Sunnyvale School District.
I would like to highlight three areas of success supporting student learning and options for parents:
1) Knocking down the barriers to learning for struggling students
2) Challenging all students, including our most gifted
3) Providing program of choice options for parents and students
Sunnyvale School District has a rich array of safety net and enrichment programs that support learning for all students, including those with the greatest challenges. All of our schools provide rich curricular and instructional materials and we are rapidly deploying the newest instructional technology for interventions and differentiated instruction with the One-to-One: Technology to Support Learning initiative. This is an aggressive plan to provide access to technology in the classroom for all students. And we have provided professional development to principals and teachers to increase the rigor of instruction for high achieving students
We know that a troubled child cannot learn. We are fortunate to be able to provide socio-emotional counseling for students requiring this support through our partnership with the Community Health Awareness Council and financial support from the El Camino Hospital District. With these resources we have provided a clear, well-defined system of support for students requiring individualized interventions.
We also know that a hungry child cannot learn. I have been surprised that many in our community are not aware of the extensive child nutrition program we provide. We know that 57 percent of the families we serve are economically disadvantaged. So as a school district, we offer a comprehensive program of breakfast, second chance for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner at selected schools. And with the help of community support we have offered a lunch program throughout the summer weeks as well.
This fall we launched the new University Partnership Program at Columbia Middle School. This is a partnership program between Stanford University and Columbia Middle School. This partnership is bringing research-based, best practices to Columbia Middle School and will eventually provide an option for students in grades 6, 7 and 8. This is the second program of choice established by the Sunnyvale School District in the past four years with the first being the highly successful Fairwood Explorer School, which continues to thrive and expand. Planning is underway to launch another program of choice in the relatively near future…stay tuned!
I look forward to our continued success in 2014 as we move through winter and head into spring. Thank you all for your continued interest and support of Sunnyvale School District.
Benjamin H. Picard, ED.D.
Superintendent of Schools