Sunday, August 28, 2016

Your Message is Powerful

This year has gotten off to a great start. However, over the weekend our community suffered yet again from violence at the hands of our youth towards our youth. I have been asking myself what can be done? What can we do to stop this?  My answer may seem too simple, but I believe it is a start in the right direction. We MUST commit to spreading the message of self worth and importance. As every child walks across the threshold of our classrooms each and every day we MUST tell our students they are valued, they are important, they are needed. We must use our positive words to overcome any existing self doubt. WE must help them handle negative thoughts and in turn it will help them gain more confidence in who they are.

Take a moment to watch and LISTEN to the words in this video. If you are moved, then take that energy and share with others. 

We MUST not give up on any of our students!! We must empower! We must BELIEVE that anything is possible. We MUST NOT make any excuses. 

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sharing Ideas...

We have one remarkable week under our belts. Way to go!! The #energy and #positivity has been high on all of the campuses. The key to maintaining that positivity is staying #connected and #supporting each other. I am very excited to share some blogs and presenations that your colleagues have put together so far. We are going to get one step closer to our BHAG each and every day if we maintain our #clarity and #focus. #PBIS, #RTI, and #Academic Discourse.  We can make it easier by sharing what we are doing on each of our campuses to support our students and staff. Take a look at what some of your colleagues are doing and feel free to implement or morph for your school site.

Public Safety Academy Staff Blog

Public Safety Academy Family Blog

Green Valley Middle School Staff Blog

Green Valley Middle School's Welcome Slide Presentation

Grange Middle School's Presentation on Academic Discourse/Academic Conversations

Matt Garcia College and Career Academy: Message from Principal Kearns to her staff, "Wanted to take a minute and say a big THANK YOU to everyone!! We had an incredible first week. Students were smiling, engaged and genuinely happy to be back at school. I'm beyond amazed at how much the culture has shifted from when I began last October. Your dedication to building positive relationships with the students while providing a rigorous academic program is evident - I couldn't ask for a better team to work with. AND, what amazed me a ton, is how kids are speaking the A-G language! Several students wanted to adjust their schedules based on their college plans!! How cool is that?!! It truly takes a team to make the gains we have seen in such a short amount of time, so a genuine 'thank you' for your passion to see all of our students succeed. This is going to be an amazing year!"

Crystal Middle School's Barbara MacFarlane tech integration ideas.  Barb is sharing ideas that she finds using Twitter and following amazing teachers who generously give their lessons and hyperdocs, or on 

Continue to be innovativecreative, and a model of excellence!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

#Hope #Passion #Strength #Love

As you welcome your staff back to work tomorrow think about the message you are sending them when you first see one another. How about starting positive chain reaction? For those of you that were not able to make it to Great Beginnings on Friday, let me explain how we welcomed the new teachers to FSUSD. All district and site admin lined the front breezeway and created a cheering line. As each employee walked through the doors they were greeted with cheers, claps, and high fives. They walked down the line and were showered with appreciation. The Welcome Line The smiles were bright and some people were unsure of what to do or how to react. They were not expecting a welcome of this kind. The board room filled quickly with the hundreds of new teachers. What had the enthusiastic welcome done? It had created an environment where people felt wanted, appreciated, and yes, loved. That feeling propelled the individuals to be more in the moment and let down their guard. It set the stage for a very productive day. What if we did this with our students?

Take a moment to think about a positive chain reaction. Engaging in one positive action for another can cause a ripple effect. What if all of our #FSUSD students were greeted on Wednesday to cheers of appreciation that they were on campus? What if we showered them with HOPE and LOVE?  What if we focused on the HEART before the HEAD every day with ALL of our students? People want and need to be loved. Dr. Jeff Andrade, keynote speaker of "Growing Roses in Concrete" and now the Growing Roses in Concrete Community School has said that having just one caring adult in a child's life can be the difference between a child finding success or not. If you have never heard Dr. Andrade speak, you must. Below is a Youtube link to one of Dr. Andrade's presentations from 2015.

The community came out on Saturday and created a positive chain reaction at the Back to School Resource Fair. The smiles and excitement on the children's faces when they received their wristband for a backpack filled my heart. The first student in line had been waiting since 3:00 AM!! The 1300 students that received backpacks can now begin school Wednesday with confidence that they have the needed supplies. Families were able to visit the mobile health clinic at the fair and find out about the many, many other available resources in the county. The resource fair is just one example of giving individuals #Hope and #Love. Once they are empowered with hope and love they can begin to pass that on, and there begins the positive chain reaction. 


The FIRST student in line!! Arrived at 3:00 AM. 

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG

For anyone that has ever heard, Damen Lopez, the co-founder of the No Excuses University Network of Schools speak you know what I mean when I say Big Hairy Audacious Goal, or BHAG. Damen always challenges those he speaks to to set a BHAG, something that seems unreachable but that you truly ultimately want to accomplish. Set it and make an action plan to reach it.

I have had the pleasure of being part of the No Excuses University Network of Schools for several years both as a middle school principal and a high school principal. At the core of NEU is the belief that it our responsibility as educators to educate our students in such a way that they leave our schooling system fully prepared to enter college right out of high school if they so choose. It does not state that every child must attend college. It is a mindset that puts into action systems that ensure EVERY child can be educated and that EVERY child will be educated with EQUITY.

Elementary Ed and Secondary Ed have joined forces and are committed to this BHAG:

ALL Fairfield-Suisun Unified students WILL graduate high school and WILL be A-G eligible upon graduation. 

Our three focus areas this year will help support all schools in making this a reality. Think about how your are working to create systems at your school that will develop a Culture of Universal Achievement. Your PBIS site team will be at the core in working to establish and maintain these efforts.  As a unified district we will use RTI to establish and maintain district and site systems that align and support assessment, data management and interventions. Our district wide focus on T4S and specifically Academic Discourse will align and support all of our efforts in the areas of collaboration and standards alignment. 

Don't forget the WHY of what drives our work. We are doing this for EVERY one of our students in our district. We are doing this to engage our students so that they are empowered to be the change agents of the future. We are doing this so that students are excited to go to school. It is a sad moment when  your own child cries at the prospect of having a particular teacher for the new year. Yes, that really happened just two days ago. We CANNOT allow mediocrity. We must not make EXCUSES! Don't let your budget constraints get in your way. Think of ways to maximize the dollars that you have. Don't let negative staff get in your way. Think of ways to tap into everyone's strengths and have them be a part of the process and ensure they understand the WHY. We CANNOT be complacent. If you see something going well then share it and encourage others to see the benefits. If something is going wrong then address it and determine an action plan to make corrections, don't allow it to fester. 

We can use our challenges and struggles to develop our passions and to push us to improve. What I am about to write about is not easy for me at all.  I have a personal demon that has been with me since birth. Even though I am in my forties I have never shared it with anyone outside of my family. But, I feel that it is now the time to Break the Silence. I suffer with a neurological disability. I have and deal with my Tourette's Syndrome on a daily basis. Since a young age I developed ways to cover and compensate for my ticks to HIDE them from the world. I wanted to hide my ticks so that I would appear to be NORMAL. I often have felt that I didn't fit with others that were NORMAL. I always wanted to know for just a moment what it would feel like to not be dealing with this "demon." The reality is that I will never be able to experience that moment and that is okay. I have never used it as an EXCUSE! I have actually channeled the anger that comes from having it and used that to propel me to push myself harder. For those of you that know me well know that I am rarely satisfied and always feel that something can be better or we can do more.....well that is partly where that comes from. 

I commend my parents, siblings, and my husband for being truly understanding. When you are surrounded by people that see you for who you are at the core and not what is outwardly shown then you are empowered. I break the silence today for our students. We have thousands of students that walk onto our campuses daily. Each and every student comes with a story. That story has been written up to that point and has been pivotal in who they are. That story drives their actions and it is our responsibility to hear their story and to support every student to be successful. Our stories continue to be written each and every day. We take our past experiences and then either make excuses and give up or are propelled to push and find new ways of doing things. It is our RESPONSIBILITY to support, encourage, and support our students and our staff so that they never give up.

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Let's Start The Year!

While watching the Teen Choice Awards tonight I was taken in by Justin Timberlake's speech. He did not just give a thank you speech; he sent a message to the teens of today.  A pivotal moment in his speech was when he quoted the amazing Muhammad Ali.

"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing." --Muhammad Ali

After a summer to relax and rejuvenate we are in a prime position to look deep into ourselves and reflect on our individual "why" for being in education. There are many reasons that I got into education and many of those are the same reasons I remain in education.

1) To make things better for our world.....
2) To support students to find their inner genius....
3) To help build capacity...
4) To be a part of the most fundamental element to our society's success....

Without education we can not have our innovators, our designers, our doctors, our lawyers, our presidents, our FUTURE.

I am as passionate as ever about all of our secondary schools working on thinking out of the box and empowering our students. I want us to prepare our students for graduation and post secondary success every minute of every day. I also want to encourage each and every one of you to take risks and to push yourself and your school to try something new this year. You don't have to rush and feel pressure, but instead take time to really listen to your staff and students. See what they need and what they haven't been exposed to yet. Then, take off on your creative journey as their leader. Don't become complacent. When you find yourself having struggles or fears, reach out and find support. We are an unbelievable team with an amazing staff; we are a united force. 

Let's Start the Year!!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!