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Superintendent's Message -- March 2019

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Superintendent Matthew Duffy Dear Community,

Welcome to March. Can you believe how quickly the school year has progressed? We are just under three months away from the end of the year, and I thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on the positive stories that have emanated throughout the District.

If you missed it, Middle College High School was named one of California’s Distinguished Schools in late February, marking the second straight year one of the District’s schools has earned the recognition (Kensington was honored in 2018). The Shannon Elementary School community was recently profiled for its work in improving student outcomes, especially for some of the most historically underserved students.

And, four of the District’s teachers were honored by the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund as the 2018-19 Teaching Excellence Award winners. Nystrom’s Fernanda Gonzalez Hausske, Pinole Valley High School’s Dan O’Shea, Richmond High School’s Madison Schmalz, and Helms Middle School’s Doug Silva were all surprised with the announcement in their classrooms in front of family, colleagues, and their students on Feb. 14. As a community, we can continue to celebrate the quartet and the Ed Fund’s scholarship winners at the Soaring to Excellence Celebration from 6:30 pm to 9 pm on Friday, May 10 at Bridge Storage and Artspace in Richmond.

Those are just a few of the fantastic things have occurred in the District over the past few weeks. I also have also been able to see other fantastic happenings that have not garnered as much public recognition but are equally as important.

The Friday before the Presidents’ Recess, Principal Megan Burnham and her team at Lincoln invited the community, United Teachers of Richmond President Demetrio Gonzalez, and myself to take part in the Lions’ weekly running of the halls to celebrate student growth goals.

Every Friday, students line the hallways just before the first recess break and wait for Principal Burnham to call out their math goal growth over the PA system. When the final name has been highlighted, the students dart down the hall while classmates line the hall and offer high fives to the goal getters, who make a dash to the office to receive their stickers from Office Manager Iris Sanchez, Full Service Schools Community Coordinator Jahmeer Reynolds, Assistant Principal Taylor Rainier, and Principal Burnham. I heard one third grader turn to his friend and say in a high pitched voice as he bounced up and down, "I get to run today!" The students were not just excited about the run, they were excited and engaged about learning, meeting their goals, and taking part in a schoolwide celebration to recognize the achievement.

Principal Burnham and her team have worked tirelessly over the past year and half since she became principal to create a climate and culture that extends beyond the school’s walls and into the south Richmond community. The Lions serve some of WCCUSD’s most underserved communities with a school population that includes two of the cities housing projects and one of the homeless shelters.

With a whole community approach and a learning every day mentality, the Lions have been able to go out and meet the community and provide the services that the students and their families need. The schools offers a food and clothes pantry, counseling support, and job training program connections.

Academically, the school has seen strong growth, especially in math. From the 2016-17 school year to the 2017-18 year, Lincoln moved its students in math by 13.8 points overall and within its subgroup its reclassified English Learners increased by 25.8 points and its English Learners by 14.4. Lincoln, like the rest of the District, is working to ensure that African American students also show the same growth.

The math growth is not limited to Lincoln. Across the District a number of schools have made significant strides in moving students. In the coming weeks, we will announce those achievements. In the interim, I would again like to give a huge congratulations to schools like Lincoln, Middle College, Shannon and others that have made so much growth for students.

We know that we have much more work to do and even bigger gains to make for students. They can’t wait and neither can their families. The gains we have made deserved to be highlighted and recognized. Thank you for time and enjoy the upcoming spring recess.

See you out there.

In community,

Matthew Duffy