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