It's hard to believe we are already at the end of another school year. Last week was a whirlwind of promotions and graduations and final farewells. I couldn't help but feel emotional as I watched so many of our students proudly walk across the stage, ready for the next chapter of their lives. Congratulations to all of our students as they achieve these milestones. We have students leaving Poway Unified, headed out into the real world for colleges, jobs, military, and more. We have staff retiring after long careers serving our District. We have families packing up for vacations or packing up to move to another neighborhood, city, state, or country! Throughout this time of change, I just wanted to express my appreciation for one thing that has remained the same: our community's commitment to making Poway Unified one of the best educational experiences a child could have in a public school system.
This year, as I reflect on our work as a District, I am so proud of all that we've accomplished together as a team. Here are some highlights, to name a few:
-We addressed nearly all financial audit findings by implementing new policies and procedures to ensure fiscal stability and transparency.
- We selected model schools and provided ongoing training to implement Specialized Academic Instruction for special education students, to provide education in the least restrictive environment.
- We conducted universal reading screenings of all 1st graders, to ensure early intervention for struggling students.
- We expanded the number of No Place for Hate campuses across PUSD, to continue our work to make our schools free from bias and discrimination.
- We brought additional visual and performing arts curriculum to all elementary schools through our Xploration program.
- We launched our first Mandarin Dual Language Immersion program, in addition to our existing Spanish Immersion program.
- We increased the number and variety of career technical education pathways, and started career exploration in elementary school.
- We empowered teachers to bring technology into their classrooms and curriculum through the Voyager Program, with embedded coaching and professional development.
- We trained all staff in options based response to school threats and trained counselors in suicide awareness.
- We installed security cameras at all secondary sites, completed safety assessments at all sites, and worked with the District Safety Committee to identify key safety priorities.
- We installed child detection alert systems on all PUSD buses to increase student safety.
- We established a partnership with Palomar College to create a Middle College in 2020 so that students can take college courses for free while they're still in high school.
This is just a glimpse of a long list of initiatives and innovative work that we have accomplished to move Poway Unified forward into the 2019-2020 school year and beyond.
This work is being noticed. This year, Poway Unified was named a California Exemplary School District, one of only 18 school districts selected out of thousands of districts in California. Meadowbrook Middle School and Mt. Carmel High School were named California Distinguished Schools. And 16 of our schools: Creekside, Deer Canyon, Del Sur, Los Penasquitos, Monterey Ridge, Park Village, Pomerado, Stone Ranch, and Willow Grove Elementary Schools, with Design 39 Campus and Mesa Verde and Oak Valley Middle Schools, and Del Norte, Mt. Carmel, Rancho Bernardo, and Westview High Schools were named to the California Honor Roll. All five of our comprehensive high schools made the list of top high schools named by U.S. News & World Report. Adobe Bluffs Elementary School's Mandarin Immersion program was named the Classroom of the Year by the Global Confucius Institute. Our staff and students brought in countless recognitions and awards at the local, state, and national levels as well. PUSD's tradition of excellence continues.
Over the summer, we have many summer facilities projects underway, from more secure fencing as recommended by our District Safety Committee and more energy efficient LED lighting installation, to new carpeting and flooring in many of our classrooms. Speaking of facilities, recently about 40 individuals, including parents, staff, District leadership, and business and community leaders came together to form the Community Facilities Committee. They have been tasked with assisting us in creating a Facilities Master Plan to ensure we are designing classrooms and schools that are safe, equitable, inclusive, and innovative. We need to ensure our schools are ready for the future, as we work to create culture and conditions to support our world class learners.
Thank you for your partnership and support on behalf of our schools and students. I hope you have a wonderful summer!
Marian Kim Phelps, Ed.D.