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Arrival of Superintendent Chris Funk Marks a Pivotal Moment for DUSD

July 22, 2021

After a comprehensive search process, the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees confirmed the appointment of Chris Funk as its new Superintendent. While his actual employment commenced on July 1, 2021, he invested time in June to meet with key personnel and stakeholders to facilitate his transition. This hire could not be more critical as DUSD is entering into both a dynamic phase and one that could benefit from greater stability from the superintendent’s office.

Dublin Unified School District Superintendent, Chris Funk. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

To be frank, the district has experienced a fair amount of turmoil in leadership over the past few years. After the abrogated tenure of Dr. Leslie Boozer in 2019, DUSD was fortunate to tap into a known quantity in Dr. Dave Marken. He came out of retirement after serving as superintendent of schools in Newark Unified. However, he elected to depart suddenly and Dr. Daniel Moirao agreed to serve as the interim superintendent for the 2020-21 academic year. To gain some perspective, it is interesting to consider some employment data from the academic world. As two references, we cite a study conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools and a post from the American Association of School Administrators. Between the two sources, the average tenure of a superintendent varies from 3.2 to 5.5 years. One of the explanations for the variance is that some surveys only account for large/urban school districts vs. treating all of them in the same manner. Regardless, the district has been led by three different leaders over the past three years.

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Inaugural Poetry and Pizza Open Mic to be Held at Patxi’s Pizza (Dublin)

July 8, 2021

DUBLIN, CA–In his first event as Dublin, California’s new Poet Laureate, James Morehead is teaming up with Patxi’s Pizza (Dublin) for the inaugural Poetry and Pizza Open Mic, to take place on Wednesday, Aug 18 6pm – 8pm, with the intent of creating a monthly space for East Bay poets to share their original work. The free event will be hosted by Morehead, feature local poets (adults and students, sign-up details below) including Poet Laureates from the Tri-Valley area.

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Superintendent Dr. Daniel Moirao Bids Farewell After Weathering Challenging School Year

June 29, 2021

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” – Walt Disney

The conclusion of this academic calendar will include changes at the Dublin Unified School District (“DUSD”) Office. Dr. Daniel Moirao has successfully concluded his interim contract and helped the district to navigate its most challenging year in recent memory. After the unexpected departure by Interim Superintendent Dave Marken in June,2020, the district sought out an interim replacement. The second interim would serve the 2020/21 year while a concurrent process would continue through a search firm to identify a permanent superintendent.

For anyone familiar with Dr. Moirao, they know that he is both fascinated and inspired by all things Disney. In June, he led the process of recognizing “Imagineers” throughout the district for staff members that led beyond expectations. However, the aforementioned quote becomes far more relevant when we consider what has actually occurred during his tenure. First, DUSD was facing the prospect of a full year of distance learning while COVID-19 remained the nation’s primary health threat. Second, a set of unforeseen and tragic circumstances within three months could have derailed all the progress that had been made. We recently sat down with Daniel and he graced us with an enlightening and very candid visit.

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James Morehead’s Debut Book “canvas: poems” Featuring Art by Kari Byron On Sale Now

June 15, 2021

DUBLIN, CA–City of Dublin Poet Laureate and OneDublin.org Founder James Morehead’s debut book canvas: poems, featuring original art by Kari Byron (EXPLR Media, MythBusters, Crash Test World) and Alla Tsank, and photographs by the author, went on sale today in hardcover, paperback and eBook formats, through retail booksellers and Ingram Content Group. Morehead documented his experience as a first-time author in a series of articles published on viewlesswingspress.com.

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English Language Development Teacher Lilia Tsui Honored by DUSD as Teacher of the Year

June 9, 2021

Pedagogy – noun: The study of teaching methods, including the aims of education and the ways in which such goals may be achieved. Source – Britannica.com

A decade ago, we had the pleasure to sit down with a DUSD English Language Development teacher after her recognition from the Alameda County Board of Education. She shared an anecdote that I found fascinating. The tale begins with a 3rd grader arriving in October from Vietnam. She did not speak a word of English. However, utilizing the proper techniques and tools, the young student had literally caught up to her peers in terms of English fluency by the end of the school year. It was then that I was introduced to pedagogy.

Ms. Lilia Tsui, DUSD Teacher of the Year. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

During the May 25, 2021 Board meeting, the district announced multiple staff recognitions. The 2020-21 Teacher of the Year is Lilia Tsui. After working for the Newark Unified School District for 10 years, she joined DUSD in 2012. Starting as a classroom teacher, she then transitioned as an English Language Development Specialist in 2015. She has supported students at both Dublin and Frederiksen Elementary Schools. In addition to her work with students, she has also trained her colleagues in Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) strategies. We met recently so that she could share her journey and to provide Lilia a platform to speak to her colleagues after such a challenging year.

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Dublin High School Well Represented Through City-Wide Recognition Program

May 11, 2021

While some of the neighboring cities in the Tri-Valley were established nearly 150 years ago, it is remarkable to note that the city of Dublin was incorporated in 1982. However, one of the enduring traditions that exists is recognizing a Citizen, Young Citizen and Organization of the Year. Annually, the community is encouraged to nominate those that embody the Dublin Integrity in Action Program’s 10 Characteristics: Responsibility, Caring, Respectfulness, Giving, Positive Attitude, Trustworthiness, Cooperation, Doing One’s Best, Honesty, and Self-Discipline. To encourage transparency, the evaluation and judging of these nominations are performed outside of Dublin. Historically, the event has been celebrated at the Shannon Center during an early evening presentation. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the winners were announced on April 28th on Tri-Valley Community Television. Award recipients will be recognized at the Dublin City Council Meeting scheduled on May 18th.

While past awardees have crossed a wide spectrum across the city, the 2020 winners had a distinct Dublin High School flavor. We recently had the great fortune to interview both the Young Citizen and Citizen of the Year. While their accomplishments would be notable in any year, it is even more amazing that they stepped forward during one of the most consequential periods of time that our community has experienced in recent memory.

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EXPLR Education Streaming Service from Kari Byron and Jenny Buccos Promises to Reinvent TV for Teens and Tweens

May 9, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–As families around the world gather to celebrate Mother’s Day 2021, many educators, parents, and students are struggling to adapt to the most significant disruption to education in a generation. Even as classrooms begin to welcome back students, changes to how education is delivered are here to stay.

That’s why I chose to be a backer of the EXPLR Kickstarter campaign (which recently raised it’s funding target after a successful start). EXPLR is a new, ad-free, subscription-based education streaming service from Jenny Buccos and Kari Byron targeted at tweens and teens. You can think of EXPLR as Netflix for high quality educational video content.

Scene from the EXPLR Series Girl Rising
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Adopt A Senior Program Makes 2021 Special for Graduating Students in a Virtual World

April 13, 2021

We have devoted our most recent posts to how DUSD school communities have worked diligently to enhance the distance learning process through the preservation or alteration of legacy events at their respective sites. With the recent return from spring break, students can see the completion of the 2020-21 academic calendar on the horizon. To compound matters, the need to place health and safety first will deprive graduating seniors of many of the “perks” from their last year in high school. However, as we have witnessed, there is no shortage of steadfast supporters that elect to “think outside of the box” and work to optimize the circumstance – oftentimes with no road map.

A Facebook page was established on January 10, 2021 called “DHS Adopt a 2021 Senior.” The purpose of the group was to uplift and celebrate this year’s seniors and to provide an avenue for virtually anyone to support. The group is not associated with DUSD, so membership remains “private.” That said, no one would be restricted from “adopting” a senior. As a non-competitive activity, the concept was to have families identify their senior as available for adoption and include what their students like relevant to food, games, interests etc. Ultimately, the objective was to create opportunities to gift low cost/no cost items that would resonate with the student. In addition, this FB page also includes the graduating class from Valley High School.

Ms. Diana Hernandez, Adopt a Senior Organizer and Parent of a Senior and Sophomore at Dublin High School. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

Apparently, this adoption concept has gained traction at other high schools throughout the Bay Area. Though they have taken many different forms with various goals, one key item is necessary – a volunteer that will ensure that the venture gets off the ground and ultimately succeeds. She is not a stranger to DUSD community. Diana Hernandez is a mother of two: Samantha is a senior and Vivian is a sophomore at Dublin High School. Ms. Hernandez is also a Parent Representative for the Class of 2023. We recently sat down with Diana in front of the new Science & Engineering Building and discussed the inception and impact of this adoption effort.

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Amador Elementary School Delivers Virtual “Read Across America Day” during COVID Era

March 9, 2021

Starting in 1997, the National Education Association (NEA) began a push to establish a special day to celebrate reading throughout the United States. The concept quickly gained traction and a year later, the event known as “Read Across America” was established on March 2nd – which coincided with the birthdate of Dr. Seuss. Among some of the tangible goals were to have students pledge to read a certain number of books or to seek out new authors and book series.

At the elementary school level, the logistics were relatively easy as teachers could seamlessly rotate throughout different classrooms and grade levels. The immediate benefit to students was to experience a different approach and voice. It wasn’t long before parent volunteers and community members were invited to join and participate. Over the years, each school site has developed its own methodology and schedule. As many of our school norms were temporarily dismantled in 2020, the question lingering in the air was how to effectively maintain and delivery some of these legacy programs.

Amador Elementary School Media Technician, Ms. Traci Kaatmann, and Principal’s Secretary, Ms. Lori Godwin. Photo by: Michael Utsumi

Amador Elementary School developed a creative solution that would retain their traditions with the event and provide some added flexibility to the teaching staff. Our story begins with a discussion with Principal’s Secretary Lori Godwin. Ms. Godwin is an 18-year employee of DUSD – spending her first 12 at Murray Elementary then moving to Amador to open that site. Lori acted as a coordinator for this year’s event and collaborated with Media Technician Traci Kaatmann. They decided to solicit pre-recorded passages from a variety of community members to create a “video library” that teachers could access throughout the week.

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Cottonwood Creek School Adapts with First Virtual Science Fair

February 16, 2021

As our society churns through the eleventh month of a global pandemic, a huge burden has been placed upon our schools, staffs, and families. However, most are responding in ways that we would expect – with resilience, creativity, and resourcefulness. One example of this adaptability was recently demonstrated by the Science Fair recently conducted at Cottonwood Creek School. Given the challenges of distance learning and the discouragement of large indoor gatherings, the decision to go virtual was automatic.

However, the standard for decades included a visual display on a 36” x 48” trifold poster board. Experiment rationale, process and conclusions would need to be illustrated on a three- dimensional piece of media. But as we have learned in 2020 and continue to do so now, we reconsider how to accomplish things in new ways. We recently visited with CCS PFC President Eman Tai Ahmad. Our mission was to discuss both the reengineering of the Science Fair and to gain her perspective as an active volunteer leader.

Eman Tai Ahmad, Cottonwood Creek School, PFC President. Photo provided by: Eman Tai Ahmad
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