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District Newsletter: The Ed Fund Announces Teaching Excellence Winners; Middle College Named CA Distinguished School; School Community Game Night's and more


District Newsletter

The West Contra Costa Unified School District recognizes Women's History Month

We celebrate the contributions and achievements of women throughout history and their impact on society. It is a time to acknowledge and honor the women who have broken barriers, shattered glass ceilings, and paved the way for future generations. We encourage our students to learn about the remarkable women who have made a difference in the world and inspire them to follow in their footsteps. We are committed to providing our students with an inclusive, diverse, and equitable learning environment where they can thrive and reach their full potential.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, Hosts Panel Discussion at De Anza to Honor Irma Anderson's Legacy, Black History Month

On February 28, WCCUSD, in partnership with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, celebrated the legacy of former Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson and the contributions of various black leaders in Richmond.

The event took place at De Anza High School, and fellow Richmond dignitaries were welcomed to participate in a panel discussion to share their memories of Anderson and their experiences of activism and leadership in Richmond.

Among the panelists were Nathaniel “Nat” Bates, Audrey Miles, Myrtle Braxton, John Marquez, and Ahmad Anderson. Students across several school sites virtually tuned in to hear about their community-impactful leadership from our fellow community leaders. The panelists shared their wisdom and life lessons with our students, which was a valuable experience for them. Click here to watch the replay of the panel discussion.


Middle College High School Named 2024 California Distinguished School

The California Department of Education (CDE) recognized Middle College as a 2024 California Distinguished School. This recognition is given to schools that demonstrate exemplary achievements, and this year, the CDE recognized outstanding middle and high schools. Schools are identified based on performance and progress on state indicators listed on the California School Dashboard.

The Ed Fund Announces 2024 Teaching Excellence Winners!

The Teaching Excellence Award, presented by the West Contra Costa Education Fund, is designed to recognize teachers in the county who demonstrate a commitment to placing students at the center of the educational experience. Nominations for the award are submitted by students, colleagues, and members of the community who believe that a particular teacher deserves recognition. We congratulate the following teachers on winning this prestigious award:

  • Akinwale Sean Ajayi, Lincoln Elementary, General Ed. Pre-school
  • Pilar Alvarado, Lincoln Elementary, 6th grade English Language Arts (ELA)
  • Eth n Sorscher, Montalvin Manor K-8, 5th grade Science and Math
  • Isabel Gil-Garcia, Richmond High School, 12th Grade Government & Economics

All four teachers will represent West Contra Costa Unified School District in the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Competition. Congratulations!


WCCUSD Executive Director Named 2024 Julie Wright Changemaker Award Winner

We are thrilled to announce that Katherine Acosta-Verprauskus, former principal and current Executive Director of Montalvin Manor K-8, has been awarded the prestigious 2024 Julie Wright Changemaker Award by the Chamberlin Education Foundation West Contra Costa Schools.

The Julie Wright Changemaker Award is presented to courageous, equity-focused education advocates who work towards improving student success in West Contra Costa public schools. Launched in 2022, the award is a tribute to the life and legacy of Julie Wright, who served as Executive Director of the Chamberlin Family Foundation from 2012 to 2018, and passed away in 2020. Through this award, the Chamberlin Education Foundation recognizes those who embody Julie’s unwavering pursuit of education equity and access to high-quality public schools in West Contra Costa.

Katherine Acosta-Verprauskus was chosen as this year’s winner due to her exceptional leadership, commitment to equity, and dedication to improving student outcomes. Her outstanding contributions to the Montalvin Manor K-8 school community and beyond have been instrumental in creating a more inclusive and equitable educational environment for all students.

We congratulate Katherine Acosta-Verprauskus on this well-deserved recognition, and we are proud to have her as a leader in our community. Read her winner interview with the Chamberlain foundation here. Congratulations, Katherine Acosta-Verprauskus!

Pinole Valley High School Color Guard Places First in National Competition

The Pinole Valley High School Color Guard team has brought pride to the entire school district with their recent win at the Northern California Band Association (NCBA) National AAA competition. The team, led by Colorguard director and coordinator Veronica and Vanessa Sisneros, competed against 18 other winter guard teams at San Mateo High School on February 24, and emerged victorious in their division.

“In my three years on the team, I think this performance was the most lively and energetic, and I could tell we were all having such a fun time,” team captain Mikayla Lathan said. “This journey to achieving first place has been full of many ups and downs, and I’m so beyond happy that our work is finally starting to pay off.”

Their impressive win earned them a spot in the NCBA circuit at Armijo High School on March 1, 2024.

We congratulate the team on their tremendous accomplishment and wish them the best for their upcoming competition. The Pinole Valley High School Color Guard team has made us all proud, and we can’t wait to see what they will achieve next.


Hanna Ranch Elementary Hosts Community STEM Night

On March 7, Hanna Ranch Elementary School hosted a STEM Night for their school community, sponsored by the WCCUSD Fab Lab. Hanna Ranch students and families were invited to come out and explore the enjoyment of hands-on science. Family STEM Nights are an evening of hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math activities for students and families to complete together. The activities ranged from the 3-D printing station, puzzle stations, making lava lamps, and more.

If you’re interested in hosting a STEM night at your school, reach out to your principal. If you’re interested in learning about our Fablab offers or have any questions, contact John Iwawaki at


Madera Elementary Educator Named 2024 EDSAFE AI Alliance Women in AI Fellow

Madera Elementary School 3rd grade teacher Amanda Hund has been selected as a 2024 Women in AI Fellow. This one-year program is designed for women technologists and leaders, and provides a platform for them to learn about recent advances in AI research, discuss the potential impacts of AI on society, and learn from world-renowned experts in AI safety, ethics, and policy. We congratulate Amanda on this fellowship and look forward to the valuable insights and knowledge she will bring back to Madera.


Chavez Elementary School Hosts Community Game Night

Chavez Elementary held a Family Game Night on January 30. Students and their families were invited to the campus for a fun-filled evening featuring a pizza dinner, teacher-led games, and prizes.

After a long period of COVID restrictions, the school wanted to bring families back to the building to familiarize themselves with their children’s classrooms, connect with their teachers and staff, and remind them of their essential role in the Chavez family.

The success of the event surpassed all expectations, with over 250 Chavez families attending and achieving the event’s goals. The Vice Principal, Joseph Pickering, expressed gratitude to the teachers and staff who helped plan, promote, and execute a memorable night for the community.

“The success of the event went far beyond anything we could have ever imagined achieving the above goals while hosting over 250 Chavez families,” Vice Principal Pickering said. “All of which would not have been possible without the teachers and staff that helped plan, promote, and execute a memorable night for our community.”

West Contra Costa is a community school district, and we thank Chavez for emphasizing the importance of school and community partnership.


Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Seeks Members

The West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Education is soliciting applications from community members to serve on the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC). 

The CBOC oversees school construction using funding from the current WCCUSD bond measures. To learn more about the CBOC’s role and the responsibilities of its members, please visit the committee website. Prospective members must complete an application and submit supporting documents to apply.

Appointments to the CBOC are made by the Board of Education.