Click here for Zoom meeting: https://sonomaschools-org.zoom.us/j/94923561182?pwd=QnYvOUFpR2paOCsrQ2ZEQzlDanMxUT09
Meeting ID: 949 2356 1182
Meet SVUSD's Interim Superintendent Esmeralda Mondragón & Bilingual Family Tech Support Specialist Heather Harrison
Dr. Esmeralda Mondragón, interim superintendent for SVUSD
We recently caught up with Dr. Esmeralda Mondragón, interim superintendent for Sonoma Valley Unified School District. She brings a wealth of experience to this role, which she will hold through June 2021 while the district completes the search process for a new superintendent.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to fill the interim position?
A: I retired as superintendent of the Calistoga School District in 2017. Since then, I have been consulting with districts in Sonoma County, coaching and mentoring new administrators and supporting district staff in the completion of specific projects.
Q: What are your major tasks as interim superintendent?
A: My responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of the functions and operations of the school district–the same tasks that are expected of the sitting superintendent. I am particularly passionate about focusing on decisions that are in the best interest of students, as well as understanding and valuing who our students are and what they bring to us when they step into our schools.
Q: What are you most optimistic about for our students?
A: Our students live in a disruptive and rapidly changing world! The pandemic disrupted the traditional classroom setting and pushed students to engage and learn in new and different ways. For example, they are learning time management and becoming independent learners. I believe that this is an opportunity to break down the classroom walls and provide more choices for our students to learn from anywhere and at any time.
Q: How do you stay positive during these challenging times?
A: I am optimistic and have faith that the pandemic too shall pass! I strongly believe that each child/student has the potential to succeed. Working on their behalf brings out the best in all of us.
Q: Do you have a message you would like to give our community?
A: I thank the community partners for their commitment and generosity to the children and youth attending our schools. They are the future of tomorrow so we must support them in their journey to adulthood. We are grateful for your support.
Heather Harrison, Bilingual Family Tech Support Specialist at SVUSD
Thanks to a generous grant from the Sonoma Valley Catalyst Fund, we have been able to help the school district provide a family technology support helpline so families can receive personalized assistance with their Chromebooks, hotspots, and more. We spoke with Heather Harrison, the new bilingual technician, about how this program is making an impact.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your history with the school district.
A: I moved to Sonoma at a young age, and attended El Verano, Altimira, and SVHS. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, I studied and lived in Chile for three years. Later I received my bilingual teacher’s credential from SSU.
I first started working for SVUSD in 2015, first as an instructional assistant, and later as a library media specialist. The new family technical support position is a perfect opportunity for me to continue supporting students and families during distance learning and beyond.
Q: What are some of the ways you've helped students already?
A: I help students understand it is normal to feel frustrated and upset when experiencing technical problems with their devices. I also give them simple steps to resolve some technical problems on their own, which gives students a sense of empowerment and independence.
Q: What do you hope to do for/with students in this role?
A: Technology is ever changing and there is always something new to learn everyday. My hope is to help students and families build confidence and give them tools they can use when common technical issues arise.
Q: How can parents and students contact you if they need help?
A: Please call our hotline at (707) 385-9408, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read Anna Pier's Q & A with Angela: https://tinyurl.com/y6clyc97
For the past 10 years, Readers' Books has held a holiday book drive asking their customers to buy new children's books and donate them back to children in the community. This year, Sonoma Valley elementary school students will be a recipient of your book donations.
This is a terrific opportunity to support not only local students, but also one of our beloved local businesses during the pandemic.
Through your donations, teachers at our five elementary schools, serving students in TK through 5th grade, will receive read-aloud books to share with their students during distance learning. The teachers have created a great book list, including both English and Spanish-language books, focusing on diverse populations. You can see the book list below.
It’s easy to participate! Shop in person or online at Readers' Books (on the Sonoma Plaza) (www.readersbooks.com) and tell them you’d like to donate a brand new book to your local elementary school. Or you can donate funds directly through the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation website (www.svgreatschools.org) and we will apply 100% of your donation to purchasing these read-aloud books for our students.
As always, thank you for your incredible support of our Sonoma Valley students!
TEACHERS' BOOK LIST
Our hard-working PTO parent volunteers want you to know that PTOs are still active during this pandemic, working behind the scenes and looking for your support. Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is proud to support our PTOs this year with $500 matching grant opportunities to aid their fundraising efforts!
Last week, PTO volunteer representatives (pictured below) from every school in Sonoma Valley came together to share their challenges, their projects, their ideas, to collaborate and support each other.
Vote - Vote - Vote! Check out the SVUSD Board candidate forum hosted by SVHS juniors, as well as interviews held by Prestwood and Sassarini students!
The forum provides a comparison to the four candidates running for the SVUSD board. Local activist Anne Ching and Incumbent Britta Johnson are running for Trustee Area 5; Troy Knox and Adam Lobsinger, both new candidates, are vying for Trustee Area 4. And, Prestwood students interviewed their area candidates Anne Ching and Britta Johnson. Gio and Evelyn, students at Sassarini, interviewed their area candidates Troy Knox and Adam Lobsinger.
SVHS Juniors Caroline Studdert and Jimena Echeverria, the hosts of the forum, are the founders of Sonoma Valley Youth Rising, a new SVHS club whose mission is to reach out to a diverse student population and encourage all students, especially those of marginalized groups, in decisions that affect the student body.
Based on the positive response to these interviews and with the support of Principal Stefanie Jordan, Sassarini is piloting a Student Voices series featuring a COVID Q&A session with Chris Kutza, PharmD at Sonoma Valley Hospital. Stefani and her students will also interview a senior Google executive next week.
Distance Learning won't prevent SVHS engineering students from experiencing hands-on learning. The engineering department recently purchased Arduino kits for each of the students in the program to use at home. Nearly $12,000 in Distance Learning grants were provided to SVHS career technical education teachers in September and October by the Sonoma County CTE Foundation. The Arduino kits were purchased with this funding.
"These small but powerful kits actually have many of the components they would have access to in our engineering lab," said Engineering Teacher Drue Jacobs. "They're obviously to a smaller scale, but it still allows students a hands-on experience."
These kits allow students to effectively demonstrate certain types of circuits, why they need capacitors, and what they accomplish. They also give students a working knowledge of Ohm's law and how to wire LED lighting in series versus parallel. Adding in the Arduino portion allows them to explore some object based coding.
The TinkerCad website has a virtual Arduino kit, allowing the students to digitally build and debug before physically building their projects.
"I love the virtual space and what it allows us to accomplish," says Mr. Jacobs, "but I strongly believe understanding how things fit, function, and interact is better understood by holding it directly in one's hand."
There's some exciting news coming out of the SVHS Video Arts Department!
Funding from the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation via the Manitou Fund has allowed Peter Hansen, who's been teaching Video Arts at SVHS for 18 years, to set up sophisticated Distance Learning for 140 students in four beginning video classes and one advanced video class.
Former SVHS media students helped build what is essentially a mini TV studio that allows an engaging, interactive instructional atmosphere. SVUSD purchased a district license for WeVideo, editing software that is specific and a game changer for Chromebook use.
Distance Learning technology allows full screen, one-to-one, multi-camera tutorials of advanced level software and other presentations similar to a Ted Talk presentation.
Kids videos can be seen on www.svhsvideo.com. Video projects are short and cover pertinent themes like voting rights, wearing masks, isolation, friendships and family etc.
An update from Lisa Conner, SVHS College & Career Center Coordinator::
We are still supporting our fabulous seniors, but a bit differently this year. Colleges are visiting us from all over the US as college representatives can visit us via Zoom. We had a great turnout for our virtual 4-year College Night for Seniors, presented in English and Spanish simultaneously last week. Next week we are looking forward to pairing up with 10,000 Degrees and SRJC to host Financial Aid night on Thursday, October 22nd from 6-8 pm. Finally, instead of our fall college application work sessions in the CCC, we are meeting virtually. These work sessions will ramp up as deadlines approach. We've also had to be creative with dispersing information - please take a peek at our College & Career Center newsletters in English and Spanish. As always, keep an eye on the school bulletin for all the latest and greatest CCC news!