At the start of the 2012-13 school year, American Institutes for Research (AIR), a partner in the California Comprehensive Center at WestEd, identified six high-performing districts in California. The districts’ success is a model from which others across the state can learn. Coast Unified was one of the six.
Recently, Sue Nash, a district trustee, issued a report on a sampling of programs incorporated throughout the district. Arguably, CUSD’s success stems in part from these programs. Following are excerpts from Nash’s report.
• The November school board meeting highlighted the Peace Leaders from Cambria Grammar School. They led us in reciting the Peacemakers’ Pledge, a statement of philosophy so strong that our Grammar School alumni report that as adults, they “make amends and get back in the game.”
• Santa Lucia Middle School students described achievements in the afterschool YMCA program. The YMCA’s award-winning documentaries and technical skills landed them an
invitation to film the Q&A for the SLO Film Festival. They have taught Cal Poly students and teachers how to better use technology in the classroom.
• The Lions Club, the Salvation Army and the Slabtown Rollers (a local bicycle club) presented Santa Lucia Principal Kyle Martin with checks to fund two new classes already being taught: eighth-grade algebra and environmental education, a new science class.
• Psychologist and Special Education Director Adam Helfand thanked the team that gives the compassionate help that students need. From providing speech therapy and occupational therapy to crafting individual educational plans, these educators, aides and health professionals give their all to those in need.
• Superintendent Victoria Schumacher and trustees enjoyed a tremendous Thanksgiving feast put on annually by the students and staff at Leffingwell High School.
• Grant Phillips is leading students on kayak expeditions at San Simeon Cove; a “schoolroom” where you might see an otter enjoying a snack or a humpback breaching. Students experience the magic of San Simeon Cove through scientific information provided by the Ocean Discovery Center’s director, Dr. Carolyn Skinder. Skinder’s programs, aligned with the new Common Core standards, provide a learning environment unique to the Central Coast.
• High school Principal Dr. Jonathan Sisson expressed his gratitude to Cuesta College for a successful College Night that introduced students to available higher education. Students are being advised by high school counselor Cheryl Seay about the Cuesta Promise, a scholarship that guarantees each high school graduate in the county the full year of tuition for their first year at Cuesta.
• The tech team, led by Henry Danielson and Dr. Sisson, reported on plans to update students’ iPads in the most prudent way. They continue a commitment to have each student gain experience on PCs and Macs, too.
• We also applauded school libraries and the dedicated librarians and library technicians. They help create avid readers by suggesting just the right books for each student.
Nash expressed thanks to the trustees — president Del Clegg, Judith Hillen, Cindy Fratto, newly elected trustee Lesli Murdoch, and retiring trustee Dianne Brooke — as well as Shumacher and student trustee Courtney Castle for their leadership. This group sets policy and is responsible for the rich offerings in our small district. The result of their efforts is a district recognized for excellence, directly benefitting the young people in their charge.