On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the SVUSD staff, I want to extend a warm welcome to the 2016-17 school year! We look forward to continuing our work to provide quality educational program for all Sonoma Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) students.

We are excited to build on a number of notable achievements from the 2015-16 school year. These achievements include the addition of a preschool at Prestwood, the implementation of uniform descriptions of the material to be learned at every grade and ever subject, and the completion of a Graduate Profile, a Student Data Dashboard and a District Technology Plan (found on the SVUSD website at www.svusdca.org).

Our theme for this year is “It Takes a Valley!” In order to achieve our goals this school year we are once again going to need the tremendous ongoing support we receive from parents and the Sonoma Valley Community-at-large. In addition to the exciting teaching and learning taking place at all school sites, the SVUSD Board of Trustees recently voted to put a resolution on the November 2016 ballot asking the community to support a school improvement initiative. We look forward to sharing more information about our this initiative with our community in the weeks ahead!

As many of you are aware, our district vision includes a focus on all students being College and Career Ready upon graduation from high school. Our critical benchmarks along the way include:

  • Completing a 1-2 year quality pre-school experience
  • Reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade
  • Meeting and exceeding English and math standards by the beginning of sixth grade
  • Readiness to successfully complete college prep course work by ninth grade

Knowing that all students come with individual learning goals, we continue to reflect on and improve our teaching practices to bring the very best learning opportunities to each and every student.

This summer provided close to 1,200 students the opportunity to attend summer learning classes – that’s a lot of students! We hosted a new TK-2 Jump into Reading Program for students who need a boost in reading skills. With 75 students participating, this pilot program proved very successful both in student enthusiasm and student outcomes. We also offered our popular Summer Reading and Writing Academy to nearly 300 students who are on their way to reading but needing additional support.  Students in Grades 4-7 participated in our Accelerated Language and Technology Academy. In keeping with “It Takes a Valley,” all programs were made possible thanks in large part to generous donations from the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation.  Through the continuing support of local donors, we offered numerous support and enrichment classes for our students in Grades 8-12 including our Bridge to Algebra program as well as a number of original credit courses, which were very well received by students and families!

As always, educators participated in numerous professional learning opportunities during the summer.  Over 125 teachers and administrators participated in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math workshops, Advanced Placement trainings, Reading and Writing Institutes, Leadership classes and much, much more. Summer months do provide an opportunity for everyone to actually have thinking time to reflect on best practices for their classrooms and that’s a wonderful gift for educators. We thank all of our educators who were able to participate in these professional development opportunities!

Summer is also a time for the school district to take on complex construction and maintenance projects which would be challenging to complete during the school year. Maintenance, Operations, and Custodial Staffs as well our summer student workers (successfully completing Year 4 of this program!) have prepped our campuses with schools looking fresh and clean. The Information Technology Staff has been tackling multiple projects and we are excited to see our technology systems getting much needed upgrades for the start of school. As part of our Technology Plan we will also be rolling out 1 to 1 chromebooks to all of our students in Grades 10 and 11 as a pilot program for districtwide distribution of these devices in future years.

The beginning of the school year provides a fresh start for each of us: a new year of optimism, high expectations, and commitment. We have dedicated staff, talented administrators, and a special community that supports our schools. Please remember that your individual and collective involvement in your school makes an enormous difference, and we thank you in advance for your participation! Please remember that “It Takes a Valley” for our students to achieve at the highest levels, and I look forward to our continued collaboration with families and all our community partners.

 

Happy New Year!  Make your New Year’s Resolution one of volunteerism.  We have many, many opportunities for our parents and community members to volunteer at all our school sites.  Please check out the SVUSD website at www.svusdca.org for contact links to all our school campuses. We welcome your participation.  

A few weeks back a friend shared this video “Aaron Miller, the boy who met LeBron James, still in awe” with me and I was so touched. I was reminded yet again of the lasting impact a single person can have on another person’s life. Each of us is given that same opportunity every day and I’m more than thankful to see firsthand the many ways the SVUSD community of learners is reaching out to those in need. SVUSD students and educators spent a great deal of time during the months leading to the holidays helping out those in need in our community.  The best gifts are those of giving and I’m thankful to see the impact our schools are having on the betterment of our community.  

I love that we are all part of a school and local community which cares so deeply about one another and continues to look for ways to have a lasting impact.  The staff at SVUSD wishes you good health and great happiness in 2016 – Happy New Year!

Dear Sonoma Parents and Community Members,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and our staff, we want to extend a warm welcome to the 2015-16 school year!  We look forward to continuing our collaboration with parents and our dedicated community organizations to better provide a quality educational program for all Sonoma Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) students.

Over the summer I have had a bit of time to reflect on the great strides we have made throughout the district in addressing the range of priorities within the district’s Strategic Plan (found on the SVUSD website: www.svusdca.org). From my review of our work in the school district in 2014-15, it is evident that our collective efforts continue to focus on SVUSD’s Mission Statement:

Together, with the support of parents, teachers, and the community, students will graduate from the Sonoma Valley Unified School District prepared for success in college, career, and life.

I reflected on the word “Together” and the value our community places on it.  We would not be able to accomplish our goals without working closely with our parents and our community-at-large – we must do our work together in order to achieve success and without a doubt:

We’re Better Together!

We’re Better Together thanks in large part to our valued community partners bringing the best possible educational opportunities and enrichments to our students and staff.  As many of you are aware, our district vision includes a focus on all students being College and Career Ready upon graduation from high school. Our critical benchmarks along the way include:

  • Completing a 1-2 year quality pre-school experience
  • Reading at or above grade level by the end of third grade
  • Achieving and exceeding English and math proficiency by the beginning of sixth grade
  • Readiness to successfully complete college prep course work by ninth grade

Knowing that all students come with individual learning goals, we continue to reflect on and improve our teaching practices to bring the very best learning opportunities to each and every student.

Join us in the work ahead!

The beginning of the school year provides a fresh start for each of us; a new year of optimism, high expectations, and commitment. We have dedicated staff, talented administrators, and a special community that supports our schools.  Please remember that your individual and collective involvement in your school makes an enormous difference, and we thank you in advance for your participation!

The 2014-15 school year has come to a close, and I want to take this opportunity to share with you how grateful the staff and students of Sonoma Valley Unified School District are to have such incredible support from our community. I am also exceptionally proud of the work ethic and commitment of our incredible team of educators.

We celebrate our retirees and thank them for their dedicated service to our school district and community: Margie Mets, Toni Stephens, Juanita Miller (Prestwood); Melinda Beasley, Dave Fichman, Rick Browning, Penny Hamilton (SVHS); Dave Neubacher, Linda Galloway, Azzam Alsubaie (El Verano); Mary Ann Sacksteder, Kathy Witkowicki (Districtwide); Kathy Eschleman (Adele Harrison); Cyndi Potter (District Office); Eric Fessenden, Robert Rocha (Altimira); Irene Brusa (Sassarini); LeeAnn Knuthson, Margaret Eastwick, Lynn Ruebush (Dunbar); and Gaylen Page (Woodland Star). We wish our retirees great health and happiness and much gratitude for all their years of service to the children in our valley.

As I look back on all that has been accomplished this school year, I think about your youngest learners and their families. With the support of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation and generous donations from our community, we had over 70% of our kindergarten students starting school with a completed year of preschool – that’s amazing! We will also be celebrating our first class of graduating seniors who started their freshman year with the new A-G requirements in place. Over 47% of our students (nearly equal percentages of our Latino and non-Latino grads) met A-G requirements with a C- grade or better allowing them access to directly apply to 4-year universities. This is the second highest A-G rate in the county – second only to Roseland University Prep – very exciting news!

Across the district school sites have also received significant grant funding to support parent education, leadership opportunities, and academic programs. We know that empowering parents to support their children’s education at home is one of our most valuable tools in working towards our goal of ensuring all students are college and career ready.  We also appreciate the collective expertise of our staff as we navigate through successful Common Core implementation. At every turn our ongoing assessments and critiques of our academic programs continue to result in strong, more accessible curriculum for all our students. I’m proud of these efforts and we are all the beneficiaries of these exemplary programs.

I close by highlighting two events I attended the last week of school, that to me demonstrated what we are all about: the Flowery School promotion and the Creekside graduation. In both settings children were celebrated and sent on their ways to new adventures. Flowery students sang a song which Bob Gossett wrote 30 years ago – still a strong tradition at the school – as proud parents smiled and cried. At the Creekside graduation, personalized stories were shared about each and every Creekside student – stories of overcoming adversity and significant life challenges culminating in the receipt of a high school diploma. There was not a dry eye in the house. In attending both events, I was once again reminded of the incredible love and compassion we have for our students and their families. I’m proud and thankful.

At this time, as a district, we are mindful of the great loss we all experienced with the death of one of our students two weeks ago.  His death has saddened us all and renewed our commitment to providing safe, familiar, supportive school environments for all students.

I hope this summer brings you and your family time to rest, rejuvenate, and reflect on how fortunate we all are to live and learn in this community and that without question we rely on and support one another.  With deep gratitude, Louann

Dear Friends of Sonoma Valley Unified School District,

The following letter was sent to all district staff. Happy Holidays and a heartfelt thank you for all your efforts in supporting our schools –  we do indeed live in an amazing community.

Warm Regards,

Louann

Dear Educators,

This morning I headed out the door with a smile on my face after reading a wonderful e-mail from SVUSD elementary music teacher, Bob Gossett.  You see, Bob decided to put his musical talents to the test and created a “Kid Song” CD and it’s selling like wildfire!  Never a salesperson, Bob stepped out of his comfort zone and in conjunction with the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) began selling his CDs with profits going towards our SVUSD music programs.  Bob is close to making his first $1000 donation to SVEF. (Since writing this note, Bob donated $1,140 to SVEF!)

After reading Bob’s e-mail, I was reminded of a quote from JFK: “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” We see individuals each and every day in our community-at-large and within our schools seeing a need and choosing to make a difference.  Like you, I am thankful for their incredible generosity as many donate meals, warm coats, school supplies, and holiday gifts so that no family has to go without. Our students and their families, some with very little to give, continue to help others.

Sonoma valley students and educators are truly making a difference in a number of ways during this holiday season:

  • Participating in canned food drives for Friends in Sonoma Helping (FISH)
  • Making blankets for the Blanket Brigade organization with donations going to the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home, the YMCA Safe House in Santa Rosa and the homeless shelter in Sonoma Valley
  • Hosting coat, sock and clothes drives for families and community members
  • Writing letters to our military personnel overseas and thanking them for their service to our country
  • Cooking and serving meals in our community for those in need
  • Ringing the bell for FISH at local markets
  • Pledging to complete 500 Random Acts of Kindness in our community
  • Visiting local health care centers, making cards and singing songs
  • Decorating and volunteering to help at the Sonoma Valley Holiday Program Party

I love that we are all part of a school and local community that cares so deeply about one another and continues to look for ways to make a difference.

I wish you good health and happiness during this 2014 Holiday Season!

Louann

PS – I can’t sign off without encouraging you to think about buying a CD from Mr. Gossett!  You can purchase a CD at any elementary school office or by going to www.CDBABY.  His CD is titled “Bob Gossett’s Kid Songs.”

http://www.sonomanews.com/teachers-year-honored-saturdays-red-white-ball/#.VAXHtVJATPQ

I’m thrilled to be celebrating Dave Neubacher, Kathy Eschleman and Andy Gibson this coming weekend at the Red and White Ball. These educators define what it means to give your heart and soul to your profession. They are exemplars and I can say that I’ve had the privilege to have spent time with all three educators over the course of my 23 years in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District. Perhaps you are saying that there is no way that Andy Gibson could have taught with Louann all those years ago… and you’d be correct… I was Andy’s 9th grade science teacher! The Red and White Ball is sold out (this coming Sat. Sept. 6th) – yet again, but you can still purchase dance tickets at http://svgreatschools.org/. I can guarantee you a great time!

Trading Places in the very best way!

Principal Maite Iturri and FSMI General Manager Rick Corcoran trades job for a day – we love our community partners! 

Published Tuesday, December 3, 2013 in the Sonoma Index Tribune

By Kathleen Hawing

On Friday afternoon, Nov. 22, just an hour before the school bell would ring dismissing students for the week-long Thanksgiving break, I arrived at my office to greet an older gentleman who sat patiently waiting to see me. James Tobler, SVHS Class of 1964, was hoping that I would allow him to visit the classroom, K11, where he sat 50 years ago to the day, when he heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

He asked if he could speak with the students for a few minutes to present a “time capsule,” a living story of what happened and what it felt like on that day.

He wanted to share with the students some life experiences and words of encouragement.

Although my first inclination was doubt, I decided to see if we could accommodate Mr. Tobler’s request. So, 15 minutes later, after a few phone calls, a quick visit to the class and an accommodating classroom teacher’s acceptance, Mr. Tobler was riding in our molasses-slow electric custodial cart across the campus to the K Building, the original, main building off Broadway. He said he could walk, and truthfully our cart is just about on its last leg, but we wanted to give him the VIP treatment, and so we did.

The class assigned to room K11 wasn’t present, but we did have an opportunity to share with the junior AVID class next door. On Nov. 22, 1963, Mr. Tobler sat in the back of K11, in what was then a biology class. The student office aide brought the note and instantly, there were tears. Everyone, young and old, was affected by the tragic news.

Mr. Tobler continued telling his high school story, saying that he didn’t achieve strong marks in high school so he joined the Navy and traveled the world. He visited the island where Lt. John F. Kennedy had been stranded with his crew after his motor torpedo boat, or PT boat, had been rammed by a Japanese destroyer in 1943 during World War II. Kennedy received the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in saving his crew.  During his travels, Mr. Tobler, an entomologist by hobby, visited that same island where Kennedy had been and discovered the insect species, Lestica toberi.

After the Navy, James Tobler attended Santa Rosa Junior College. His message to the students was that they should work hard and be good students. We stopped into the empty K11 classroom as we said goodbye to the AVID class. I think Mr. Tobler appreciated the moment to remember and reflect. John F. Kennedy had been an important part of his life.

We didn’t exchange telephone numbers or business cards. And, I suspect that I won’t have the pleasure of speaking with him anytime soon since he was visiting Sonoma to attend a memorial for a friend. He hadn’t been to the campus for many years. For a few moments, history was brought to the 11th grade-AVID class at SVHS. The visit reminded me that we need to take the time to talk to and really listen to people. Thank you, Mr. Tobler, for taking the time to share with us.

• • •

Kathleen Hawing is principal of Sonoma Valley High School.

Giving Thanks

SVUSD is very thankful for many reasons.  Please read this article from the Sonoma Index Tribune to learn more!

Meet Kathleen Hawing!

Love this article about our dedicated high school principal, Kathleen Hawing.  Please take a moment to read about how she is making such a difference at SVHS.  Enjoy!

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