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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 –

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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DUSD Graduate Returns to Help Preserve Music Traditions at Wells Middle School

January 26, 2021

In addition to critical health concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on school communities throughout the country. In Dublin, graduating seniors have lost commencements and those in elementary school are learning virtually without the ability to enjoy recess with their peers. Students at our middle schools have learned to navigate a six-period day without actually walking through the hallways.

Despite so much that has been sacrificed, there have also been many ingenious ways to maintain “normalcy” demonstrated by teachers, staff members and students. One such legacy experience was maintained by 2016 Dublin High School graduate, Davis Zamboanga. Davis performed with the Wells Middle School Roadrunner Marching Band and was a featured member of their Jazz Band. During his tenure, he earned the position of Drum Major and repeated this distinction with the Dublin High School Irish Guard. Upon graduating from DHS, he pursued his passions and matriculated at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (“SLO”) with a B.A. in Music. At SLO, their slogan is “Learn by Doing.”

Davis Zamboanga, 2016 DHS Graduate and 2020 Graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Photo credit: Christian Cueto
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Fallon Middle School’s Nicole Meyer Recognized as DUSD Teacher of the Year

December 22, 2020

As 2020 draws to a close, there is really no need to itemize all the significant family, professional and personal events that have we have been forced to surrender due to the global health threat. All that has been taken for granted, such as the “normal” act of students learning in classrooms, will have to be suspended until sometime in 2021. However, the combination of technology and the enduring human spirit has allowed us the ability to maintain some sense of normalcy by maintaining or creating new traditions.

Ms. Nicole Meyer, DUSD Teacher of the Year (Photo provided by: Nicole Meyer)

A case in point is the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) annual Teacher of the Year Recognition. 12 district-level honorees were selected by the 10 districts that have chosen to participate this year. For the Dublin Unified School District, the honor was bestowed upon Fallon Middle School’s Nicole Meyer. In her ninth year at FMS, Nicole is both an 8th grade English and AVID teacher. The ACOE recognition event is customarily held at Castro Valley High School in late October. Due to social distancing guidelines, the event was streamed live on December 9th. had the extreme pleasure to have an expansive discussion with Nicole and to gain her perspective on both this honor and delivering a positive learning experience for her students.

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Dublin High Junior Inspires Community Through Diversity and Unity Project

October 10, 2020

DUBLIN, CA – The year of 2020 will be remembered for many things – unfortunately, many of them range from uncomfortable, to challenging to downright tragic. Our world has been confronted by a global pandemic. The country slid down the path of an economic recession. And our streets from towns both large and small were filled with people outraged over racial inequities and the depravation of human rights. As casualties from COVID-19 continued to pile up through the spring and summer, it was frequently difficult to find positive news. However, far before October, a Dublin High School student was determined to make this a moment of bonding. Her name is Acacia Tripplett and she elected to “be one of the roses that grow in the concrete.”

Acacia Tripplett with her mom, Natasha.

As a junior and active member of Leadership at DHS, Ms. Tripplett has earned the mantle of Diversity Ambassador. Following the proper protocols, she announced to her peers that she would engineer and execute the Our Dublin Diversity & Unity Shirts Project. In order to fulfill her plan of providing a t-shirt for every student and staff member at both Dublin and Valley High Schools, the task would require obtaining donations. In addition, she needed to identify a shirt vendor and to design a plan for distribution. All of this came to pass as distribution began this week on Wednesday as seniors returned to campus and drove through a car maze to receive their Our Dublin shirt.

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Online 2020 Junior Science Fair Launched for Pandemic Impacted Students

September 3, 2020

Crash Test World host and former MythBusters star Kari Byron recently announced the launch of the 2020 Junior Science Fair – the world’s largest online science fair for kids. The virtual event, which is accepting submissions through September 30, showcases kids submitting videos of themselves running science experiments at home. The fair is free to enter and open to anyone between the ages of 4 and 12.

Kari Byron will announce the winners in early October and the sponsor of the fair, science education app creator Tappity, is awarding $20,000 in prizes. “I know a lot of families are spending time at home these days but keeping kids curious and learning about the world around them is as important as ever,” says Byron.

Tappity founder Chadwick Swenson: “I created the Junior Science Fair so that kids around the world who are missing out on important school activities during COVID still have a chance to participate in something fun and educational.  And because the science fair was my absolute favorite part of elementary school. 

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