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February 21, 2020 Friday Letter Volume 1, No. 24
Posted 2/21/20

#TogetherWeGrow. . . #JuntosAprendemos…#TogetherWeLead. . .





Systemic Instructional Review:

     On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, a number of our site administrators and teacher leaders, myself and members of my Executive Cabinet, met with representatives from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) to initiate a Systemic Instructional Review (SIR) process for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. The California Department of Education has identified Mt. Diablo Unified School District as being one of four districts statewide where academic success as measured by the California Dashboard has been a challenge for several specific groups as categorized by the state. Based upon a review of the data gathered by the California Department of Education regarding our District’s struggles to demonstrate significant academic progress for our students identified as being considered Homeless, part of the Foster Youth Programs, or African American, we have been provided assistance to undergo a thorough review of our entire instructional program districtwide.

     This review will focus on twelve primary areas, and will occur over the next few months to complete. As part of the process our District team will work with both the CCEE and CCCOE to hold interviews with educators from across the District, will visit a number of classrooms, and will conduct a deep review of all current instructional components. By design, the process will identify specific action steps that the District will undertake without haste. While some actions must be more fully planned to ensure that we are fully able to implement the required changes, some actions will occur more quickly in order to ensure that we are striving as a District to meet the needs of these identified groups, and to a broader degree all of our MDUSD students.

     The twelve primary areas of the SIR process will include a deep examination of the following components:

  1. Culture, Practice and Planning Processes
  2. Curriculum Development and Support
  3. Instructional Practice & Strategies
  4. Social Emotional Learning and Health Development 
  5. Assessment & Accountability
  6. Family and Student Engagement
  7. Instructional Leadership Team
  8. Administrative Coaching and Leadership
  9. Professional Learning and Coaching
  10. Data Management and Student Information Systems
  11. District and Leadership Capacity
  12. Governance

     The SIR process will assist us in identifying the unifying District principles that are needed to ensure alignment of all of our instructional strategies, practices, and programs, so that we are collectively focused as a District. While one of the primary focus areas will be to improve the outcomes for the students identified as not finding significant progress on the California dashboard, it is our intention to find benefit for all of our students through the implementation of a redesign of our work and by ensuring alignment of our academic goals for all students to become college, career, community, and life ready.


Diamante Scholars Evening:

     On Wednesday, February 19, 2020, students from across the District who have been selected to participate in the initial Diamante Scholars program were recognized for their commitment to their personal education journeys. MDUSD has worked closely with Diablo Valley College (DVC) to help develop the Diamante Scholars program.  This program targets 12th grade students who intended to go to DVC and are interested in STEM.  Students started their college careers on Wednesday via a dual enrollment class, Career 101. The class is being held at Mt. Diablo High School. 

 In the summer these students will be in a paid summer internship and take a work experience class through DVC.  They will then enroll in fall classes and be supported by DVC as a cohort group. Students participating in the program are from Mt. Diablo High School, Ygnacio Valley High School, and Olympic High School.  The program is sponsored by Peter and Kristine Zaballos, Mr. Zaballos attended DVC in the late 70’s, and told the group that he was not a fantastic student, however, he kept going, sustained his commitment to his education, and became successful in his pursuits. He and Kristine believe that by working to support MDUSD students through their careers at DVC they are truly able to give back to the community where he found his passion for his own education.


Budget Forum Meetings:

     This week we held ten public/staff outreach events focused on providing information about the District budget, sharing information about the process of engagement we have used with our community and stakeholders, and asking for additional input about the interest and thoughts of our staff and community. These events were held at Riverview Middle School, Pleasant Hill Middle School, Ygnacio Valley High School and the Willow Creek Center with the District English Language Advisory Committee.  Our primary intent was to share information about the manner in which our District is funded, share some of the challenges that we face due to increased expenses, some of which are dictated for us by the state. We also wanted to share some of the work that we have done, and will continue to accomplish in addressing the projected budget short fall for next year.

     It is important for us to remember that as we work towards implementing solutions that are sustainable through next year, that we actually improve our budget for the next two years, which is one of the expectations of our work.  Our Governing Board will continue to be provided data and information about programs and services that create our projected budget for next year, and will continue to be provided information about how we are curtailing spending this year, which improves our overall budget structure. 

     The link to the presentation can be found here.


Marathon Petroleum Visits Valley View Middle School to Discuss Our Partnerships:

     On Friday afternoon, representatives from Marathon Petroleum came to Valley View Middle School to meet with teacher extraordinaire Shauna Hawes, and students from both Valley View Middle School and College Park High School. Marathon has invested in Mt. Diablo students and programs for a number of years, and this was an opportunity for them to hear from several educators and students about the positive impacts that their financial support has had on a large number of students. Members of both the middle school and high schools robotics clubs shared that while working to code and build robots is really fun, the teamwork, communication skills, and camaraderie that they have found being included in these clubs has been life changing. With the support of Marathon the District has been able to run STEM camps for students during the summer, and support the development of robotics clubs at several high schools. On Saturday, February 22, 2020, Marathon is also sponsoring a symposium for teachers in conjunction with East Bay CUE, and the District at Valley View Middle School. I’m sure that there will be a buzz of excitement and learning going on at Valley View Middle School tomorrow, which just might compete with the energy that we felt in the robotics room this Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm. 


Several Activities in My Calendar This Week


Monday, February 17, 2020

  • President’s Day (Holiday)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

  • Held a meeting with my Cabinet
  • Met with Board President Brian Lawrence (by phone)
  • Held a meeting with my Executive Cabinet
  • Met with representatives from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence and the Contra Costa County Office of Education to Initiate the Systemic Instructional Review Process

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

  • Met with Board Member Linda Mayo
  • Met with Board Member Joanne Durkee (by phone)
  • Attended the District Librarian’s meeting
  • Met with leadership from Mount Diablo Education Association
  • Attended the Diamante Scholars Welcome Dinner at Serendipity Café
  • Attended the Westwood Elementary STEM Fair

Thursday, February 20, 2020

  • Met with Associate General Counsel Cesar Alvarado, Executive Director Human Resources, Lisa Murphy-Oates, and Assistant Director Human Resources, Karen White.
  • Visited Crossroads High School with Contra Costa County Superintendent Dr. Lynn Mackey
  • Met with the Concord City Manager Valerie Barone, Concord Transportation Manager, Abhishek Parikh, T.T., Director of Maintenance and Operations, Richard Jackson, and Assistant Superintendent of Elementary, Jose Espinoza
  • Attended and presented at the Staff and Community Forums for Budget Solutions at Riverview Middle School

Friday, February 21, 2020

  • Met with Board Member Debra Mason
  • Met with Associate General Counsel, Cesar Alvarado and Chief Business Officer, Lisa Marie Gonzales
  • Toured the Valley View Middle School STEM program with guests from Marathon Petroleum


-Superintendent Dr. Rob Martinez-