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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Summer


Has it really been a year? Although it went by way too quickly, it’s another year in the books for National School District, and my first year as Superintendent. What an incredible year it has been.

I think of how much our team accomplished, and all that is currently underway. Although there is too much to list, I feel compelled to mention a few highlights:

·      With the use of our LCAP funding NSD students benefited from daily use of personal laptops in third through sixth grades, as well as increased access in primary grades. We’re excited to see our students utilize these devices to become more deeply engaged in learning through collaboration, teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.

·      Behind the scenes, we’ve made substantial upgrades to our technology infrastructure to support this new way of learning including new filters, cloud-based servers, and single sign-on capability. For department and site efficiency, we have also updated our phone system to send voice data through the Internet, switched over our email servers, and purchased a more robust call-out system to keep our community informed and updated.

·      We are proud to announce that all ten schools implemented PTAs. We look forward to continue to grow this partnership in support of our NSD students.

·      Twitter has become a growing tool for sharing the wonderful updates of our sites. Follow our hashtag at #NSDnow for exciting news regarding innovative teaching and learning happening daily.

·      Almost all of the construction projects from Bond Measure N have been completed, with a highlight being that all of our schools now have air conditioning. In addition, our community overwhelmingly passed Measure HH, which we will use to continue to upgrade our aging facilities.

·      Half of our schools have built learning gardens, to help us emphasize healthy eating, as well as explore outdoor science education. These are an advantageous complement to existing District wellness efforts of daily salad bars, super salad bars, and growing school-based farmer’s markets.

·      Hydration stations are currently being installed on each of our campuses to provide daily access to filtered drinking water. In coming months, these stations, along with other lead filtering systems, will replace and upgrade all existing systems.

·      We have finished our re-visioning process for the Family Resource Center, and are in the process of planning for an August workshop to re-engage our community partners in serving NSD and Sweetwater families. 

All of this compounded with the ongoing efforts such as K-2 bilingual education and Dual Language options; swim lessons for all third graders; band, orchestra, and Mariachi music programs; enrichment wheel classes; partnerships with Ocean Connectors, Olivewood Gardens, San Diego Youth Symphony, and Stein Farm make National School District a magical place to learn and work.

Heading into summer, I want to personally thank the Governing Board for promoting a culture of excellence, and the staff for striving to achieve that excellence for our students.

Have a wonderful summer break!      




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Celebrate!


The end of the school year is a time full of celebrations for the dedicated work of our students and staff. These recognitions exemplify the contributions of those that make our District the special place it is, and why I am compelled to share them again here in my blog.

On May 10, 2017, the NSD Governing Board celebrated Kiwanis student scholars from each of our schools, students with seven years of perfect attendance, and authors of the first annual Read Across America writing contest. One student from Lincoln Acres Elementary School, Jonathan Jimenez, was recognized for all three recognitions. His book will be the Read Across America book donated to our school libraries next year. Jonathan is a model example of the type of student we work to cultivate each day in NSD.



On May 24, 2017, the Governing Board continued its celebrations by recognizing employees for 20 and 25 years of service as well as our teacher of the year, Evy Baca, and classified of the year Evelyn Sanchez.  Our Board also wished our retirees well in their new adventures. Although I only had a short time to get to know them, most moving for me were the sentiments that each person shared about their experience in NSD. While we will miss them greatly, we thank each of them for the legacy they leave behind.


















Finally, I want to congratulate a few exceptional recognitions received outside of NSD:

·      On February 23, 2017 Rachael Hallett was recognized by the Community Advisory Committee

·      On April 28, 2017, PJ Whitney was named Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators

·      In May 2017, The California Association for Bilingual Education, San Diego Padres, and National City Freemasons celebrated sixth grade students across the District

·      On May 6, 2017, The Greater San Diego Reading Association recognized Rosie (Rosario) Espinoza

·      On May 11, 2017, Martha Garcia-Gallega, and Patricia Carillo were celebrated at the SDCOE Biliteracy Awards




These recognitions are well deserved, and remind us of the achievements our outstanding students and staff make on a daily basis. Therefore, I wish to extend another congratulations to our award recipients, and a big thank you to all who contribute to the success of NSD!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tracking Innovative Learning

There is a time during the school year when the pace picks up and you inevitably find yourself asking, "where did the time go?" As we enter the last month and a half of 2016-17, I find myself not wanting the school year to end.

So much is happening in National School District. From dissecting squid and harvesting vegetables to shadow predictions and replications of cold fronts, learning is taking on a whole new look. The buzz in our classrooms is contagious, and teachers are releasing the reigns of learning- putting students in charge.

If you're not a teacher, you may be asking yourself what does it look and sound like when kids are excited about learning? Visit our classrooms, and you will see our teachers engaging and empowering students through hands-on, innovative activities. If you can't visit, take a virtual tour through Twitter. Here is a peek at a few learning spotlights captured by our schools during the month of April:

If you are not already following our Twitter hashtag, I invite you to follow our journey at #NSDnow. I'm sure you'll enjoy tracking our innovative learning as much as me! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Advocating for Students of National School District


Dear National School District Families, 

I am writing to you to acknowledge a growing feeling of unrest in response to recent immigration actions being taken in our community. 

On January 25, 2017, our School Board passed the attached resolution advocating for and protecting each of the students of National School District. In this document, the Board reaffirms that safe, inclusive and equitable learning environments are essential to the success of each student. In addition, the Board directs the Superintendent and staff to diligently safeguard the educational rights and protections afforded to ALL students, regardless of immigration status. 

Please be assured that our schools do not request or maintain any records that specify the citizenship status of any students or members of their families. Proof of legal residency is not required to enroll children in school. Birth certificates are used solely to determine age appropriateness for attending school, however are never shared with other governmental agencies without a warrant or court order. Confidentiality of our students is paramount. We collect information for meal applications but only to determine qualification in the free/reduced meal program. 

Our Mission in National School District is that ‘Each student in the National School District receives an exemplary, world-class education in a safe and nurturing environment. By collaborating with educators, staff, parents and our diverse community, all students attain the skills essential to succeed and thrive in a competitive, global society.’ We value the diversity in our community, and encourage all parents and guardians to continue to engage in the activities at your school sites to support the academic achievements of your children. In addition, we want to emphasize that parents are welcome on our school campuses, regardless of immigration status. 

Finally, we recognize that we all may know someone affected by the recent instability, and want parents to know that our local Family Resource Center (FRC) can provide more information regarding legal rights and resources available. Parents can contact the FRC at https://iservenccfrc.org/ or by calling Director Sergio Rosas at 619-336-8659. In addition, there are many online resources available through the American Civil Liberties Union at https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights.

Please know that in National School District, we are all family. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your principal or my office. 
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------
Estimadas Familias del Distrito Escolar National: 

Les escribo para reconocer un creciente sentimiento de inquietud en respuesta a las recientes acciones de inmigración siendo tomadas en nuestra comunidad. 

El 25 de enero de 2017, nuestra Mesa Directiva aprobó la resolución adjunta abogando por y protegiendo a cada uno de nuestros estudiantes del Distrito Escolar National. En este documento, la Mesa Directiva reafirma que la seguridad, inclusiva y equitativa a ambientes de aprendizaje son esencial para el logro de cada estudiante. Adicionalmente, la Mesa Directiva dirige al Superintendente y al personal de diligentemente salvaguardar los derechos educativos y las protecciones otorgadas a TODOS los estudiantes, independientemente de su estado migratorio. 

Por favor tengan la seguridad de que nuestras escuelas no hacen petición o mantienen ningún registro que especifican el estado de ciudadanía de cualquier estudiante o miembro de su familia. La prueba de residencia legal no es requerida para inscribir un niño/a en la escuela. Los certificados de nacimiento se utilizan solamente para determinar la edad apropiada para asistir a la escuela, sin embargo nunca se comparten con otras agencias gubernamentales sin una orden judicial. La confidencialidad de nuestros estudiantes es primordial. Recolectamos información para aplicaciones de almuerzo solamente para determinar calificación en el programa de almuerzo gratis o precio reducido. 

Nuestra Misión en el Distrito Escolar National es que ‘cada estudiante en el Distrito Escolar National recibe una educación ejemplar, de clase mundial en un ambiente seguro y favorable. Colaborando con maestros, personal, padres y nuestra comunidad diversa, todos los estudiantes alcanzan las habilidades esenciales para ser sobresalientes y tener éxito en una sociedad competitiva y global.’ Nosotros valoramos la diversidad en nuestra comunidad y animamos a todos los padres y tutores en continuar comprometiéndose en las actividades en nuestras escuelas para apoyar nuestros niños/as. Adicionalmente, nosotros queremos enfatizar que los padres son bienvenidos a nuestras escuelas, independientemente de su estado migratorio. 

Por último, reconocemos que todos posiblemente conocemos a alguien afectado por la reciente inestabilidad, y deseamos que los padres sepan que nuestro Centro Regional Familiar (FRC) puede proporcionar más información sobre los derechos legales y recursos disponibles. Los padres pueden contactar al FRC en https://iservenccfrc.org/ o llamando al director, Sergio Rosas al 619-336-8659. Además, hay muchos recursos en línea disponible por medio de American Civil Liberties Union en https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights.

Por favor sepa que en el Distrito Escolar National, todos nosotros somos una familia. Si tiene cualquier pregunta, por favor de no titubear en comunicarse con su director de escuela o mi oficina. 



Sinceramente,
Leighangela Brady Superintendente

National School District Resolution
#16-17.21
RESOLUTION ADVOCATING FOR AND PROTECTING EACH OF THE STUDENTS OF NATIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT 

ON THE MOTION OF Member Clapper, seconded by Member Sarmiento, the following resolution is adopted: 

WHEREAS, the National School District enrolls over 5,800 elementary school students, that come from a variety of cultural, linguistic and economic backgrounds that reflect California’s cultural richness and diversity; and 

WHEREAS, the Governing Board of the National School District is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment by building a culture of equity and a positive climate that promotes excellence throughout the district; and 

WHEREAS, the National School District has been steadfast in its pledge to promote inclusion and provide a safe and secure environment for each student and each employee; and 

WHEREAS, the National School District is determined to provide students, parents, employees, and community members a safe, positive environment where they are assured of full access and opportunities, protection from harassment or intimidation, and freedom from any fear of retaliation for asserting their rights in accordance with law; and 

WHEREAS, our country is grappling with a recently developing climate of uncertainty about discriminatory practices; and 

WHEREAS, the School Superintendents Association (AASA), the American School Counselor Association, the Gay-Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the Human Rights Campaign, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the National School Boards Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists, have urged school districts across the nation to actively proclaim and reaffirm that safe, inclusive and equitable learning environments are essential to the success of each student.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Governing Board of the National School District is boldly declaring its on-going commitment to ensuring all schools and district offices are safe and positive environments wherein each student and each employee is protected from all forms of discrimination, harassment or intimidation of any kind, be it based on age, gender, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sex, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, ethnic group identification, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, immigration status, or the perception of one or more of these characteristics; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board directs the superintendent, with the cabinet, administrators, teachers, counselors, and staff, to take all necessary steps to maintain the safety, inclusion and equity with the school community; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board directs the superintendent to provide the necessary outlets for expression, learning, communication and information to the district community, including encouraging students, families, staff, and community partners to explore student and individual rights, the history of civics and coalition building, as well as the struggle to make progress in light of adversity, empowering and recognizing the importance of student leadership and activism; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board directs the superintendent and general counsel to ensure that District policies, regulations and practices will safeguard the educational rights and protections afforded to students, including, but not limited to, those found under the 2011 Memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security classifying schools as sensitive locations where immigration enforcement actions are prohibited, the State of California’s compliance with the California Trust Act of 2014, and to immigrant students and their families under the 1982 Supreme Court decision in the matter of Plyler v. Doe; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board will continue its advocacy and urge the superintendent to continue working collaboratively with federal, state, regional and local government officials, as well as community agencies and community members, and support forthcoming legislative efforts that affirm the clearly stated values of safety, inclusion and equity including, 1) continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, 2) clearly articulate the rights of all students to attend school without the fear of detention and deportation and 3) to urge the Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency as well as the U.S. Border Patrol to affirm that schools are now and will forever be sensitive locations where they will not seek to detain and deport immigrant families who pose no threat to community safety.

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the National District Governing Board, County of San Diego, State of California, this 25th day of January, 2017, by the following vote: 

AYES:
Clapper, Dalla, Sarmiento, Avalos, Betancourt-Castañeda

Sunday, February 12, 2017

READING TOUR ACROSS AMERICA

At the end of this month, schools across #NSDnow will join their colleagues across the United States in an event called Read Across America. Check out my recent press release outlining how I plan to join the festivities:

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN 10 CITIES TO TAKE READING TOUR ACROSS AMERICA

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. – Elementary school students from National City and nine other cities throughout the U.S. will take a five-day journey in reading across America beginning Feb. 27 without having to leave their classroom seats.

Dr. Leighangela Brady, superintendent of San Diego County’s National School District, will read a children’s book to two classes of sixth-grade students a day in her 10-school district as well as concurrently to students at other schools throughout the country, using Face Time or Google Hangout video telephony technologies.

The book, “Last Stop on Market Street,” is by Matthew de la Peña, an award-winning children’s book author who attended elementary school in Brady’s district.

The first participating school will be in New York; after which the tour will move south and westward to other schools, ending March 3 in San Diego. At that time, Brady will challenge her district’s sixth-grade students to write their own picture books. Each school will then select its winning entry to be submitted to the district’s Governing Board for final selection.  The winning entry will have an opportunity to be published. 

The virtual reading tour is inspired by the nationwide one-day “Read Across America” reading motivation and awareness program scheduled for March 2, the birth date of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

“This program connects both reading and writing skills for our sixth graders which will contribute greatly to their future success as they progress through their education and into adulthood,” Brady said. “At the same time, our students will be interacting with and learning from their counterparts at the other participating schools all across the country.”

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why I like Common Core

Parents always ask me if I like Common Core, and they are always surprised when I say yes. In fact, it happened to me even here in our district when I started this past fall.

Unfortunately, there is so much public rhetoric and "spin" around Common Core, that it is almost impossible to know what is true and what is propaganda. Parents often see ridiculous examples of math problems called "Common Core" and they worry about the future of education for their children.

The reality is, however, that we see bad implementation of new initiatives all the time. The good news is that Common Core are merely standards, and how we implement them is solely within our own control. Our old California Standards resembled school as most adults would remember it: knowledge building, skill practice, and content memorization. Common Core is taking learning to the level of applying those skills. To illustrate this, I will tell you a story of my own son's epiphany around Common Core.

Noa was in middle school. I can remember vividly Noa's constant questions of when he would ever need to use the skills he was being taught. Then, one day, Noa and his dad set out to build a simple half pipe skate ramp in the back yard. Quickly, Noa realized the value of solving simple equations, calculating slope, and plotting on a coordinate plane. He and his dad designed, planned, and constructed what would become a favored spot for Noa and his friends. "That," I told him, "is the promise of Common Core."



Of course, teachers cannot build half pipes in their classrooms, however we can strive to bridge learning to authentic application. In #NSDnow, we are doing this through the teaching of rigorous curriculum design units and engaging learning experiences. These approaches to Common Core implementation are critical to connecting standards with real life. To learn more about these units or experiences, I encourage you to reach out to your classroom teachers or even ask your kids!



When I ask a fourth grader, "why are you learning this?" I don't expect them to say, "I need to know this for fifth grade." Instead, if we implement Common Core correctly, they'll be able to express the relevancy of what they're learning... and that is why I like Common Core.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stay Informed in NSD


Do you suffer from too much information overload? Do you wonder where to find information about our district and schools? What is happening in the National School District (NSD) now?

In this two-minute video clip, I talk to Yvette Olea from our Administration Office and ask her these exact questions:


https://youtu.be/lHKEX0YXxgc

First, I ask Yvette where the best place to get information about the National School District. Yvette tells me that our best resource is our website at nsd.us because it has many helpful links for parents and students, information about our schools, our child nutrition program, our Superintendent blog, and information about our Governing Board.

For information specific to schools, Yvette mentions a system we use called Peachjar. Anyone can sign up for Peachjar to receive electronic flyers about school events, breaks, and community information via email.

Finally, I ask Yvette how to find daily updates about what is happening in NSD. Of course, Yvette mentions our Twitter handle @NationalSD, our Instagram @NSDnow and my Facebook Page, Leighangela Brady–Superintendent (I follow back!). Yvette also encourages you to call our main number at (619) 336-7500 if you ever need anything and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

These tools can help you not only stay informed, but also follow our NSD story in real time.