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Google Intern Sierra Kaplan-Nelson on Changing the World Through Code

September 10, 2014
Sierra Kaplan-Nelson

Software Engineer Intern Sierra Kaplan-Nelson

Programmer. Coder. Software engineer. Computer scientist. What image pops into your mind when you hear these job descriptions? Have you been influenced by an unconscious bias or stereotype?

An increasing number of Silicon Valley companies, colleges and K-12 educators are acknowledging that a lack of diversity in the tech sector is a serious problem and are taking action to encourage more women and underrepresented minorities to pursue an education and careers in technology.

As part of its Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Series recently spoke with Stanford University computer science major and Google intern Sierra Kaplan-Nelson to learn more about her passion for coding and her advice to women seeking to make the world a better place through technology. What inspired you to pursue computer science at Stanford?

Sierra Kaplan-Nelson: “I had an amazing female AP Computer Science teacher, Helene Martin, who now works at the University of Washington. She has a blog focused on encouraging girls to pursue computer science.

“At the time, AP Computer Science was the only programming course offered at Garfield High School. The course was new, I needed a class to fill out my schedule, and it sounded interesting so I thought I’d try it!

“The stereotype is that you can’t become a computer scientist unless you were coding in your basement at age 10, or that you created a successful app before you hit your teens. That stereotype isn’t true; even taking my first computer science course as a junior in high school was early compared to most of the people I know who are majoring in computer science at Stanford.” When you first started coding what hooked you? What was it about coding that fascinated you?

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Dublin School District Nurse Alex Meadows on Why Healthy Kids Learn Better

September 8, 2014

Alex Meadows

Alex Meadows recently had the opportunity to meet with Dublin Unified School District nurse Alex Meadows. Ms. Meadows is a product of Dublin schools, attending Dublin Elementary School, Wells Middle School and graduating with the Dublin High School Class of 2009 before earning a nursing degree in 2013 through the 2+2 program at St. Mary’s College of California and Samuel Merritt University.

Ms. Meadows not only brings her expertise as a nurse to help keep over 9,000 students healthy in Dublin’s rapidly growing school district, but is also an active fitness instructor with a passion for health and nutrition. As Meadows notes below, “healthy kids learn better”. What role do school nurses play in keeping our kids healthy? Read on… What inspired you to pursue nursing?

Alex Meadows: “I started at San Diego State University undeclared. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted my major to be and at the end of the first semester I declared for a kinesiology, with an emphasis in fitness, health and nutrition, but I wasn’t 100% sure what I could do with that degree. My roommate was in the pre-nursing program at San Diego State and when she spoke about her classes it got me really interested in nursing. I’ve always been interested in healthcare, fitness and nutrition, and was already a group fitness instructor. I saw that through nursing I could both help people prevent becoming sick and help those that are sick.

“I decided to switch schools, transferring to St. Mary’s College of California, and it was the best choice that I’ve made. I love nursing and was exposed to many different forms of nursing during school. I did my clinical rotation for community health at the De Colores Head Start program in Oakland, which is a daycare and healthcare center for kids at the poverty level and below. We organized health screenings and preventative care for the kids and that sparked my interest in becoming a school nurse.

“At St. Mary’s I enrolled in the 2+2 Pre-Nursing program which is generally two years at St. Mary’s and two years at Samuel Merritt University. Samuel Merritt has relationships with St. Mary’s College and several other schools, and also accepts direct applicants, for their nursing program. From the schools that feed Samuel Merritt you are automatically accepted into the nursing program if you maintain the required GPA.” For high school or college students who are thinking of nursing as a profession, what advice do you have for them to achieve that goal?
Read more…’s Dev Tejwani Reinvents Hip-Hop: Online and Independent

September 5, 2014

“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” – President John F. Kennedy

TeamBackPack logoHow many of us have had the opportunity to truly pursue our creative and professional dreams? The cross-section of these two items is often burdened by the “purpose” of a college degree and the practicality of following a well-paved path to supposed success. Fortunately, we have numerous risk-takers and visionaries in our society that are constantly teaching us that there may be yet unfound paths to finding ultimate satisfaction. The way in which consume entertainment vehicles is changing at a dizzying pace. Less than ten years ago, it would be entirely common to rent a DVD at Blockbuster or similar retail outlet. Today, the content can be streamed onto any mobile device. Want to watch your favorite music video? No need to watch MTV for an hour as it can be pulled up on YouTube instantly. Brick and mortar businesses such as Tower Records no longer exist and have been replaced with iTunes and other services. As with all artistic content, access to it will continue to evolve rapidly over the next several years.

With this backdrop, recently had the opportunity to sit down with a Tri-Valley resident that is working to revolutionize not only how we consume the next generation of hip-hop music, but how he seeks to galvanize this specific community. This is the story of We became aware of this phenomenon through a very innocent avenue. In 2011, profiled Ms. Shobha Tejwani who was honored as the English Language Learner Educator by the Alameda County Board of Education. At the time, Shobha was largely based at Frederiksen Elementary School, but was also assisting students throughout the district. Today, she continues to support students at Murray Elementary School. However, she has taken on a larger role this year with respect to training and coaching ELD teachers throughout DUSD. During that conversation, Ms. Tejwani shared the progress of her three sons that were matriculating through California High School in San Ramon. Her oldest son, Dev, was completing his B.A in Business Administration/Marketing from Chapman University in Southern California. But, she also noted his pursuit of developing a musical platform for “Cyphers.”

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Dublin High School Senior Kendra Wilcox Experiences the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar

September 4, 2014

Kendra Wilcox

Kendra Wilcox

Dublin High School senior Kendra Wilcox was featured earlier this summer, after she learned that she had been accepted into the prestigious Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar. met with Ms. Wilcox to learn more about the experience, completed a few weeks ago, as she starts her senior year at Dublin High. How did you learn about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar and what inspired you to attend?

Kendra Wilcox: “My brother Ian attended the Seminar in 2011 and he had a ton of fun, met a lot of amazing people and said it was a terrific program.”

“The application included a series of written prompts on questions about who you are, what got you interested in acting, what inspires you to act and what theatre means to you. It’s a couple of months between applying and know if you have been accepted.” When did you first get interested in theatre and acting?

Wilcox: “I started acted when I was seven. I was raised around the theatre, it’s been a huge part of my life. I’ve gone to plays since I was young and understood Shakespeare when I was a little kid. My first experience with theatre was driving up to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and I found it really beautiful how actors can take complex, even confusing, material like Shakespeare and create something inspiring.

“I fell in love with being on stage, putting yourself into a role, and creating a totally different person from who you are.” One of the mysteries for those not in the theatre, who only see the finished product, is how actors memorize so much material. What is your strategy for learning lines?

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Dublin High School Outgoing ASB President Luke Legins Takes Leadership Lessons to College

September 2, 2014
Luke Legins

Luke Legins

Dublin High School Class of 2014 graduate and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo freshman Luke Legins sat down with to share his experiences as Dublin High School’s ASB President, and the leadership experience that will benefit him in college and beyond. Legins is planning to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business (“agribusiness“) at Cal Poly. Legins was the Dublin Rotary Student of the Month for May, the Dublin Lions Club Student of the Month for September and is a California Scholarship Federation Life Member. What was your approach as Dublin High School student body president last year?

Luke Legins: “I was on ASB for two years, as vice president in my junior year and president in my senior year. My main focus was trying to involve everyone in the Leadership class, rather than focusing on one person running the whole thing. I wanted to find the individual strengths of each person. For example, if one person is good at art have them make the posters, if another person is good at delegating, have them organize volunteers, or if someone is good at public speaking have them represent the ASB at events.” What role does the Dublin High School ASB play in student life?

Legins: “In the beginning of the year Leadership is focused on Homecoming. We put on everything, the parade, the carnival, setup for the dance, promotion of the event. We go to elementary schools and hand out flyers for the carnival and coordinate involvement of the Dublin High clubs. We also put on all of the dances throughout the year, and anything that is focused on the students including lunch time activities, rallies, and the powder puff fundraising event.

“ASB is also the voice of the students. The Dublin High Administration will come to the Leadership class to ask our opinion on different situations.” How did direct access to the administration change your view of running a high school?

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Amador Elementary School On Track to Welcome Dublin Students for 2015-16

August 30, 2014

Amador Elementary School Construction Site

Amador Elementary School Construction Site

E-4. It is not a new car model from Tesla, nor is it a spot on Bingo. Instead, E-4 is the code acronym for the newest school site in the Dublin Unified School District. Like its predecessor, E-3 was the term for Kolb Elementary School before it was granted its formal name. was granted an exclusive tour this week of the JM Amador Elementary School site by Senior Director of Facilities Kim McNeely and Project Manager John Hansen.

The explosive housing growth over the past several years in East Dublin prompted the need for another new elementary campus. The urgency was created based upon enrollment projections based upon the number of new housing units in this vicinity. Needless to say, the planning for this type of enterprise began many years earlier. When Kolb Elementary opened in 2011, it immediately served over 900 students. Fortunately, by then, the blueprints and general concepts for Amador were already in motion. Today, the overall project is well on its way towards completion. Most of the physical structures are standing and are awaiting finishing touches. The large Multi-Purpose structure will be the last to experience final framing and finishing. The elementary campus is slated to open in August, 2015 and will be capable of facilitating 950 students at completion.

In order to understand the scope and breadth of this type of project, reached out to DUSD Senior Director of Facilities, Kim McNeely to help us understand what it takes to build a brand new school site. Ms. McNeely attained a B.A. in Economics from California State University Hayward. Subsequently, she completed a Master in Public Administration from the same institution. While she began her career with a large retailer in inventory costing, she then shifted to the public sector with the Lodi Unified School District. After a stint in Livermore, she joined DUSD 11 years ago. The time invested in her MPA convinced her to support public education. Our visit was on Wednesday and it was a very enlightening.

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Meet New Dublin School District Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Keith Rogenski

August 20, 2014

Dublin Unified School District Keith RogenskiThe commencement of the 2014-15 academic school years is just around the corner. The explosion of enrollment growth has resulted in 80 new teaching hires for the Dublin Unified School District. Additionally, there are new employees in leadership roles. recently had the opportunity to sit down with the new Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Mr. Keith Rogenski.

Keith’s predecessor, Val Williams, recently accepted the role of Superintendent of the Albany Unified School District. With the aforementioned increase in student headcount in this district, this particular role has gained added importance. Keith is a Bay Area product and was educated in Pinole from primary through secondary education. He cited that at an early age, he was inspired by the subject of mathematics and envisioned that he would someday teach it – perhaps to high school students. Upon graduation from Pinole Valley High School, Mr. Rogenski enrolled at the University of California Berkeley for undergraduate studies. After 1.5 years, he was somewhat shocked and dismayed that the math major that he was pursuing was being dissolved due to lack of enrollment. He quickly shifted to the subject of Economics where math was still an essential element.

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