Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Message from Superintendent Swenson

GUHSD Culinary students prepared and served delicious treats for guests at Senator Joel Anderson’s (center) Holiday Legislative Open House
The culinary skills of GUHSD students from Chaparral, Granite Hills, Santana, Valhalla and El Cajon Valley High Schools delighted guests at CA State Senator Joel Anderson’s Annual Holiday Legislative Open House on Wednesday, December 10, at Toyota of El Cajon. Over 2,500 people attended the event and were able to see our students shine as they represented GUHSD and offered hors d’oeuvres and refreshments to guests. In addition, the beautiful floral arrangements made by the floral design students at Chaparral made the event more festive.

The culinary arts program is part of the Hospitality Pathway offered at El Cajon Valley, Granite Hills, Santana, Chaparral and Valhalla High Schools.

Teachers Christine May (El Cajon Valley), Jill Enright (Granite Hills), Donna Small (Santana) and Eugenie King (Valhalla/Chaparral), did an exemplary job of guiding their students as they prepared for this event.

District Office Holiday Luncheon

Under the direction of Dr. Ed Basilio, Grossmont High School’s Red Robe Choir performs at the District Office Holiday Luncheon
The staff in the district office held their annual holiday party on December 18. It was a fun event, made even more meaningful by the generous donations of our staff. This year, eight families in need were selected from within our GUHSD family of schools and staff purchased clothing, gift cards and toys. After the holiday luncheon, the gifts were delivered to the families.

The luncheon itself was overseen by our talented Food Services Director, Vince Scimone and his staff. The meal was underwritten by District Cabinet members.

This act of combined generosity, along with all the many wonderful donation programs occurring at our school sites, embodies the true holiday spirit.I’m proud to be part of this amazing, dedicated and compassionate team.

As we begin our long-awaited holiday this weekend, I wish each and every one of you the very merriest holiday season. Please enjoy a safe and joyous time with your family and friends over the next couple of weeks. Classes resume on Monday, January 5.

Superintendent Ralf Swenson

Friday, December 12, 2014

What's New in GUHSD

Swearing In

Trustees Gary Woods, Rob Shield and Jim Kelly were sworn in at the December 11 Board Meeting
The recent GUHSD school board election resulted in the re-election of incumbent board members Jim Kelly and Robert Shield, as well as the return of former GUHSD trustee, Dr. Gary Woods. They were sworn in for a new term at our Governing Board Meeting last night.

At the December organizational meeting, the GUHSD school board re-elected Robert Shield to serve as President. President Shield reaffirmed his continued commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of students as he leads the Board through 2015. The Board also elected Dr. Gary Woods as Vice President and re-elected Jim Kelly as Clerk for the next year.

Jim Stieringer, who joined the Board in 2012, and Priscilla Schreiber, who began serving in 2000, are the district’s other trustees.

Saul Hernandez Named Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee

Board recognition of Saul Hernandez as Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee
At the Governing Board meeting on December 11, Saul Hernandez was recognized as the Second Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee of 2014-2015.

Saul has served the Grossmont District as a Guidance Information Specialist at Monte Vista High School since 1998. He is known for his professionalism, careful attention to detail and genuine care for students and families.

Saul serves the District above and beyond the duties of his position with professionalism, positivity and dedication, and he is well deserving of being recognized as Classified Employee of the Quarter.

GUHSD Students Tour Two Local Manufacturers

Bob Grande, Founder & CEO of QCMI talks with civil engineering students from Santana
On Wednesday, December 3, Career and Technical Education (CTE) students from West Hills, Santana and El Capitan High Schools received an insiders’ tour of two local manufacturing plants. The tour was offered by the East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) and was open to Civil Engineering and Building and Construction Trades Pathway students.

The tour was a product of the ECEDC’s Manufacturing, Education, and Workforce Subcommittee and was spearheaded by Rick Urban of Quality Controlled Manufacturing, Inc. (QCMI), which manufactures complex machined components and assemblies. The tour engaged our high school students in the manufacturing industry and helped them discover the many career opportunities in that field.

In addition to touring the facility at Quality Controlled Manufacturing, Inc. in Santee, students also visited the factory at Deering Banjo Company in Spring Valley.

During the tours, students were guided through facilities and developed an understanding of what it takes to produce products that are made to exact tolerances for the aerospace, oil and gas, and music industries. The tours concluded with a luncheon panel discussion at Cuyamaca College.

We extend our deepest appreciation to the ECEDC and our many partners and industry leaders for making this successful event possible. Special thanks to event sponsors Wells Fargo, SDG&E, and Cuyamaca College for underwriting the event.


The CIF San Diego Section Champion El Capitan football team is the top-ranked DIII football team in the State of California. They are hosting the Southern California Regional Championship game tomorrow night at El Capitan Stadium at 7:30 p.m. They are facing the Paso Robles Bearcats who will make the 700-mile journey to Lakeside after winning the CIF Southern Section Championship. 

Come on out and support the Vaqueros on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. If you can’t make it, the game will also be aired live on TWC SportsNet and live-streamed at

As the year draws to a close and you look for ideas to get into the holiday spirit, please consider attending one of our schools’ winter choral and band concerts. The dates and times of performances are available here.

GUHSD Student Art Exhibit Opens this Weekend

Nightscape San Diego, a photography submission from Grossmont student Alex Harris
The Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation is pleased to present an exhibition featuring art from students of the Grossmont Union High School District. GUHSD teachers selected five to seven pieces of student art to send to the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitors Center Gallery.

This exhibit will be on display in the Mission Trails Regional Park (MTRP) Visitor Center Art Gallery December 6, 2014 – January 2, 2015. The public is invited to an opening reception in honor of the artists on Saturday, December 13, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

The MTRP Visitor and Interpretive Center is located at One Father Junipero Serra Trail in San Diego and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free.

We thank Mission Trails Regional Park for recognizing the quality art produced in our East County high schools.

Save the Date: 10th Annual East County Young Men’s Leadership Conference on 1/24

Mount Miguel High School will host its 10th Annual East County Young Men’s Leadership Conference on Saturday, January 24, 2015, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This year’s theme is: Protect and Defend Your Dreams. Presenters will include esteemed educators, professionals, college students and community activists who spend a day sharing their expertise. Workshops and breakout sessions by prominent educators and professionals will provide an innovative and engaging atmosphere for those in attendance.

The conference is open to all young men in grades 6 – 12 throughout San Diego County. The goal is to motivate, support and encourage them to effect positive change in their lives through self-empowerment and wise decision-making.

For more information on how to sponsor or attend the free conference, please contact Mike Love at

Friday, December 5, 2014

El Cajon Valley Dedicates New P.E. Facility

A ribbon cutting ceremony marks the completion of the new physical education building
On Thursday, December 4, the District celebrated the completion of the new physical education building at El Cajon Valley High School with a ribbon cutting and building dedication ceremony.

The new 22,780-square foot facility was built to replace two outdated locker room buildings, originally built 60 years ago, that did not meet current seismic safety standards. It will accommodate physical education instruction and campus sports conditioning programs.

The new ADA- and Title IX-compliant building features a weight room, comparable team rooms for boys’ and girls’ sports, coaches’ quarters, athletic trainers’ workroom, secure lockers, restrooms, showers, accessible outdoor restrooms for pool and stadium users, and a large general purpose/great room for gymnastics, wrestling and large-group assemblies. The last phase of construction will include restoration of the adjacent multi-purpose physical education courts.  

The dedication event included remarks by GUHSD Trustee Jim Kelly, Superintendent Ralf Swenson, El Cajon Valley High School Principal Erin Richison, student athletes Ninwey Esho and Michael Shearin, and Jerry Schniepp, Commissioner of the CIF San Diego Section.

Master Chefs in Training Whip up a Win

Santana students prepping their winning creation
High school teams from all over San Diego County participated in the second annual Master Chef competition at Orange Glen High School in Escondido on Tuesday, November 18. In a high pressure battle of culinary prowess, each team had $40 of shopping money and 60 minutes to prepare a winning dish for a panel of distinguished judges. 

Without any coaching from their culinary teachers, student teams were on their own to prepare, cook, and plate their masterpieces while judges roamed the kitchen areas watching techniques and asking questions. The Master Chef competition provides Career Technical Education students with an opportunity to bring their learning to life outside of their classroom.  In addition to applying math, science, and technical skills, teams needed critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and communication skills to get the job done in the kitchen and presented to the panel of judges.

At the end of a long day of cooking and fierce competition, the Santana High School team from Donna Small’s CTE Culinary Arts program brought home second place with their creation:  Chicken Schnitzel with parsley, pine nuts, and golden raisin Gremolata sauce served with creamy orzo and sauteed asparagus, peas, and basil.

Congratulations to our Culinary Arts teams:


Teacher – Donna Small
Students: Stephen Cliff, Noah Dotterman, Trystan Patron, Melanie Polonio, Griffin Rodvold


Dish - Seared salmon fillet lightly seasoned with olive oil and a hint of lemon on a bed of Basmati rice, drizzled with a pomegranate white wine reduction and served with a medley of seasonal vegetables.

Teacher – Eugenie King
Students: Matthew Hagen, Mayumi Booker, Isabella Busalacchi, Andrew Watkins, Andrew De Large

Granite Hills: 

Dish - Pan-seared salmon with chili cilantro couscous, sauteed asparagus and zucchini with Lemon Buerre Blanc Sauce

Teacher – Jill Enright
Students: Michelle Ramirez, Kyler Gilliland, Carlie Valdes, Jessica Garcia

GUHSD Innovators Share and Learn New Digital Strategies

Teacher April Baker and her students from Grossmont Middle College
On Saturday, November 15, over 30 GUHSD teachers and administrators actively participated in the annual San Diego CUE Tech Fair at La Costa Canyon High School.

Eight GUHSD teachers and administrators presented at the educational technology event, including April Baker (Grossmont Middle College), John Berray (West Hills), Jarrod Carman (West Hills), Mike Falconer (Santana), Dan McDowell (District), Matt Norris (West Hills), Josh Reyes (West Hills), and Mike Skocko (Valhalla). Our own Reuben Hoffman (West Hills) serves as the SDCUE Vice President and oversaw the organization of the entire event.

Additionally April Baker and Mike Skocko brought students and participated in the Student Showcase. Mrs. Baker’s students shared their Literature blog and Mr. Skocko’s students demonstrated the student built and supported gamification plug-in that is redefining classrooms across the country.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Winning Streak Continues as a Record Three GUHSD Schools are Awarded Jimmie Johnson Foundation Grants!

Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson and his wife Chandra, announced on Thursday, that three GUHSD schools were among those selected as recipients of more than $550,000 in education grants.

The GUHSD schools awarded a Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Champions Grant include:
Chaparral High School - $29,482 to create a computer lab that will augment the program at Chaparral through the use of online learning and digital arts instruction.
El Capitan High School - $23,000 to purchase new laptops for teachers so they can be better equipped to use digital/paperless resources and to teach students how to use the online resources and apps available to them.
Grossmont High School - $80,458 to integrate technology and foster collaboration and connections between the arts and core academic classes.
Prior Champions Grants awarded to GUHSD schools include:
2012: $77,195 to Santana High School to fund the Digital Fabrication Laboratory project, which included equipment for the engineering and architecture programs to assist in fabrication, model making, prototyping and much more.
2011: $71,505 to Granite Hills High School to equip 49 classrooms with document cameras and projection units, ensuring that all teachers can utilize fundamental technology in the classroom.

2010: $72,000 to Grossmont High School to equip the “Old Gym” with new risers for the stage, sound equipment for Performing Arts classes, and additional equipment for a high tech recording studio.

2009: $31,155 to Granite Hills High School to assist with stadium renovations and landscape upgrades.

We are grateful to Granite Hills’ alumnus Jimmie Johnson for giving back to our schools in such a significant way. He is a true champion!

Grossmont NJROTC Hosts Sixth Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot

The winners of Grossmont NJROTC's Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot
The Grossmont High School NJROTC program hosted its Sixth Annual Turkey Shoot on Friday, November 21. The lines were long and the tension high as Grossmont students, parents, staff and district officials gathered to test their aim and the chance to win a big turkey or ham for the holidays.

Participants donated $1.00 for three shots with marksmanship air rifles. The goal was to register three bulls’ eyes by hitting a target in the center from ten meters away.

First place was awarded to Grossmont Cadet James Brogan, with a score of twenty-two points. Grossmont teacher Michael Holcomb shot the highest score of twenty-five points. Grossmont parent, Becky Armour was the highest scoring female in the adult category with twenty points.

In all, thirteen winners took home turkeys and hams for the holidays, including Grossmont teacher Paul Hedberg and Band Director James Llamas. Special thanks to Fresh & Easy, Grossmont parent Jim Brogan and Booster President Kathy Flores for the turkey and ham donations.

26th Annual Thanksgiving Feast at Chaparral

Students enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Chaparral
Chaparral High School held its 26th Annual Thanksgiving Feast on Friday, November 21, at 11 a.m. as students and staff were treated to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

The annual tradition is a fitting close to the week before break. Sponsored by Chaparral’s ASB, the event has its origins in the staff wanting to ensure that students at the continuation school received a Thanksgiving dinner and that this time-honored tradition enjoyed by so many is not taken for granted.

I end this issue by wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. It is my hope that each of you has an opportunity to spend time with your loved ones next week and that your holiday is safe and enjoyable.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What's New in GUHSD

Outgoing Trustee Richard "Dick" Hoy (center) is honored for his service by the Governing Board and Santana High School
The recent GUHSD school board election resulted in the re-election of incumbent board members Jim Kelly and Robert Shield, and ushered in the return of former board member Dr. Gary Woods, who previously served from 2008 - 2012. They will be sworn in for a new term at our next Governing Board Meeting on Thursday, December 11.

At last night's Governing Board meeting we also thanked outgoing Trustee Richard "Dick" Hoy for his service on the Board. Dick Hoy was elected to the Grossmont Union High School District Governing Board in 2006 and most recently served as Vice President. He has been an invaluable contributor to many complex decisions that took place during the past several years, and I know that his passion for providing a quality education for all students will continue far into the future.

As our Board of Trustees and staff thanked Dick for his past eight years of dedicated service to the District, he was presented with a clock, and a reception with refreshments in the lobby followed.

The highlight of the recognition included a special presentation by Santana ASB President Hayley Simpson and a group of her fellow classmates who informed their beloved Sultan football announcer that the press box would be rededicated in his honor. Dick Hoy has been a fixture at the school, where he taught for 31 years and continues to give back by announcing the football games from the “Santana Super Sultan Dome.” 

Board Recognition of West Hills' Teacher John Berray, San Diego County Teacher of the Year
2014-15 San Diego County Teacher of the Year John Berray is recognized by the Governing Board
As I reported to you earlier, West Hills' teacher John Berray was named a 2014-15 San Diego County Teacher of the Year in October. Last night, the Governing Board of the Grossmont Union High School District honored him for this high achievement.

John teaches Mathematics at West Hills, where he has been since 1995.  He also serves on the school’s Literacy Team and Technology Committee and has the distinction of being a Noyce Master Teacher Fellow through UCSD.

The San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards program is the official stepping-stone to California and National Teacher of the Year events. John now advances to the California Teacher of the Year program, which will be announced later this year. Nominees for San Diego County Teacher of the Year were selected based on student achievement, teaching philosophy, familiarity with current issues in education and community involvement.

John will be involved with many exciting events over the course of the next year including throwing out the first pitch at a Padres Game. Congratulations, John Berray!

El Capitan Alumni Shine at National FFA Convention & Expo
Gabriella Dodson and Austin Rogers are finalists at the 87th Annual FFA National Convention
The El Capitan High School FFA program had two graduates compete as national finalists in their respective categories during the 87th National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY on October 29 - November 2.  Gabriella Dodson was one of only four chosen to compete for the National FFA Proficiency Award in Equine Science Placement, and Austin Rogers was also one of only four selected to compete for the National FFA Proficiency Award in Swine Production Entrepreneurship. 

The proficiency awards recognize outstanding student achievement of a new business, working for an existing company, or otherwise gaining hands-on career experience.  The Swine Production Entrepreneurship and Equine Science Placement awards are two of the 45 program proficiency areas FFA members can participate in.  These areas help develop valuable experience and leadership skills at the local, state, and national levels.  Rogers and Dodson became eligible for the national award after winning the California State FFA competition earlier this year. 

We are very proud of these two alumni members for all of their hard work in reaching this level of competition as well as the outstanding program at El Capitan High School.

El Cajon Valley CTE Students Showcase Employable Skills

Welding students practice using angle grinders, a common industry tool
On Monday, November 3, a team from the National Academy Foundation (NAF) Planning Council and the San Diego Linked Learning Consortium visited the Manufacturing and Product Development Pathway and the Culinary Arts Pathway at El Cajon Valley High School. They came to observe Career Technical Education (CTE) students learning employable skills and witness authentic, work-based learning activities.

The National Academy Foundation (NAF) is a leader in the movement to prepare young people for college and career success with a proven educational model that includes industry-focused curricula, work-based learning experiences, and business partners with expertise from five areas: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, Information Technology, Engineering, and Health Sciences.

The students in the Metal Design, Fabrication and Welding class, taught by Nick Williams and Ashley Wolters, were finishing the dismantling of their school’s Haunted House from the previous week, as well as practicing their welds and new product designs. The students in Chef Christine May’s Restaurant Management class planned, prepared, and served a delicious lunch that included a house salad, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, sautéed Brussel sprouts and an apple tart for dessert. Everything, including the ranch dressing, was made from scratch. 

Superintendent Ralf Swenson and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Theresa Kemper, joined the group for lunch as well as an open discussion on how the Linked Learning approach is building an academic and social support system for the students enrolled in the Metal Design, Fabrication and Welding pathway. The core teachers on the team include Jim McLaughlin (World History), James Mitchell (Technology) and Anthony Devine (English).

The visiting team was impressed with the CTE facilities, the teachers, and the quality of work-based learning occurring at El Cajon Valley High School.

Friday, November 7, 2014

JROTC Cadets at Mount Miguel & Grossmont High Schools Honor Veterans

The Alpha Company, led by JROTC Cadet Yadira Silva, renders honor to those who have served at Mount Miguel High School on November 3
Veterans were remembered with honor on the morning of Monday, November 3, as the JROTC Program at Mount Miguel High School held its 25th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony. Principal Steve Coover was joined by parents and staff who witnessed the ceremony as more than 200 JROTC Cadets honored military personnel who have served our country throughout history.

The morning ceremony began with Cadet Battalion Executive Officer Karlyle Laraya introducing the key leaders of the battalion and their companies, and she delivered a brief message on the significance of this important day.

She addressed the crowd with a message that from the first battle of the American Revolution to our ongoing war against terrorism in conflicts around the globe, and in humanitarian missions at home and abroad, our veterans have saved countless lives. Their determination and readiness to go where they are needed are compelling symbols of liberty, justice and hope for freedom all over the world.

The program also included the Corps of Cadets conducting ceremonial procedures and marching in formation. The Flag Detail raised the flag in conjunction with the playing of Reveille, which was followed by the National Anthem.

To all our service members, past and present, whether far from home or here in the United States, we thank you for your countless contributions and selfless sacrifices.

In further JROTC news, the Grossmont High School NJROTC program is also actively involved in a local event to honor our veterans this weekend. On November 8, a Grossmont Color Guard Team will participate in honoring the United States Marine Corps in a celebration of the 238th birthday of the Marine Corps at the El Cajon VFW Post. Also, on Sunday, November 16, Grossmont Cadets will volunteer in support of the Silver Strand Half Marathon, in which many veterans participate annually.

Thank you to our students for honoring our veterans’ service to this great country.

Please enjoy your time off in commemoration of Veterans Day. Classes will resume on Wednesday, November 12.

Upcoming Annual Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase

The District Fall Showcase is an annual hit with crowds.
On Thursday, November 20, 2014, Helix Charter High School will host GUHSD’s Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase at 6:00 p.m. in their stadium. More information is available here.

Please come out and support our music programs. This annual fundraiser features musical performances by our schools. For the third year in a row, your Superintendent will serve as Guest Conductor for the combined band performance of Carry On Wayward Son in the grand finale. Tickets are $8 at the gate. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

GUHSD and Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District form Alliance to Benefit East County High School Students

The East County Education Alliance is launched as Superintendent Swenson and GUHSD Board President Robert Shield are joined by GCCCD Chancellor Cindy Miles and President Garrett in a signing ceremony with students.
A unique partnership designed to provide East County high school students with a smoother path to college and a career was announced on Wednesday by the Grossmont Union High School District and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. 

An agreement formalizing the East County Education Alliance was signed on Wednesday at Cuyamaca College by Robert Shield, president of the Grossmont Union High School District Governing Board; Ralf Swenson, superintendent of the high school district; Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board; and Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the college district.

The alliance was formed to increase collaboration between the two districts so that the curriculum students are taught in high school aligns with the material they are expected to know when they arrive at college. The partnership has also set goals of increasing the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for college, along with increasing the numbers of students who graduate from college ready to enter the workforce.

Following more than a year of planning, the Alliance kicked off with a four-hour summit involving 120 college and high school educators designing joint goals and activities to improve student readiness for college and careers. Action councils focused on curriculum alignment (with teams for math, English, ESL, counseling, science, and career/technical education); student engagement and readiness; parent, community and workforce engagement; and fundraising and communication.

Within the next year, Alliance members plan to

·   align curriculum so that the lessons students are taught in high school better matches the knowledge and skills they are expected to have at college,

·   provide communications to high school students, parents and counselors about how best to prepare for college or a career,

·       increase programs allowing high school students to take college classes,

·    raise scholarships funds for students who commit to goals that prepare them for college or a career,

·  launch a website and communications to keep students, educators, and community members informed about resources, progress, and how to get involved. 

The summit is just the beginning of increased collaborations between the high school and college districts. The East County Education Alliance represents our commitment to help every student be successful. It will improve education in East County and make it a better place to work and live.

A joint meeting between the college district and high school district governing boards is being scheduled for March to review progress toward the Alliance goals.

Academic League Season Schedule

The 32nd Academic League season schedule is here. All schools play each other at least once during the ten-game season.  The team with the best record will advance to the County Championship in May. I hope you will find an opportunity to view a Wednesday afternoon match at your school before the season draws to a close.

Save the Date: GUHSD Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase on 11/20

I’d like to inform you of an upcoming student performance you won’t want to miss: the GUHSD Marching Band and Color Guard District Fall Showcase on Thursday, November 20, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. at the Helix Charter High School Stadium. This annual fundraiser features musical performances by our schools. Tickets are $8 at the gate. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

What's New in GUHSD

L: West Hills Teacher John Berray is named a San Diego County Teacher of the Year at the 41st Annual San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards on October 11

On Saturday, October 11, I had the pleasure of watching two of Grossmont’s finest educators being honored at “A Salute to Teachers,” the San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards. Representing GUHSD in the competition were this year’s nominees, West Hills teacher John Berray and Granite Hills teacher Debbie Burton, who competed against many outstanding teachers countywide. Also present was 2013-2014 San Diego County Teacher of the Year from Santana High School, Eileen Bagg-Rizzo.

The annual event honors San Diego County’s public school teachers and was televised live on Channel 4 San Diego from the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego. This year’s telecast marks 41 years of honoring teachers in San Diego County. 

L: GUHSD Teachers of the Year
John Berray (West Hills),
Debbie Burton (Granite Hills)
and Eileen Bagg-Rizzo (Santana)
 with Superintendent Swenson
The culminating event of the evening was the naming of the five San Diego County Teachers of the Year, which included West Hill’s own John Berray!

John teaches Mathematics at West Hills, where he has been teaching since 1995.  He also serves on the school’s Literacy Team and Technology Committee and has the distinction of being a Noyce Master Teacher Fellow through UCSD.

West Hills Principal Paul Dautremont remarked that, “John has proven himself to be a strong math teacher and advocate for his students. He has also shown an ability to lead his colleagues to improve math instruction and make West Hills the best school it can be.”

West Hills’ graduate Connor Richards noted, “I vividly recall the impression that Mr. Berray made upon me. No instructor that I have had before or since has displayed the passion that he showed each day in class. His enthusiasm for mathematics and learning in general was absolutely contagious.”

The mantra in John’s classes is that his classroom is a safe place for mistakes to happen and for second chances to occur. He makes his math class a lively, enjoyable experience by turning the mundane on its ear to motivate students to see the beauty of mathematics and its omnipresence and to understand the important connection between their education and the rest of their lives.

The San Diego County Teacher of the Year Awards program is the official stepping-stone to the California Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year events. The five Teachers of the Year selected last week will represent San Diego County in the California Teacher of the Year program, which will be announced later this year. Nominees for San Diego County Teacher of the Year were selected based on student achievement, teaching philosophy, familiarity with current issues in education and community involvement.

John will be involved with many exciting events over the course of the next year including throwing out the first pitch at a Padres Game. He'll also help select next year's winners. Congratulations to John Berray!

Monday, October 13, 2014

West Hills' Teacher John Berray Named San Diego County Teacher of the Year

West Hills' teacher John Berray was named a 2014-15 San Diego County Teacher of the Year during the "Cox Presents: A Salute to Teachers" event on Saturday, October 11, 2014. 

The annual event honors San Diego County's public school teachers and was televised live on Channel 4 San Diego from the Balboa Theatre in downtown San Diego. Congratulations to John Berray and Granite Hills' teacher Debbie Burton, who represented our district at the event this year as well as Santana's Eileen Bagg-Rizzo, a 2013-14 San Diego County Teacher of the Year. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

What's New in GUHSD

CTE Works for High School Students

Welding in a Transportation Pathway Class
Today’s rigorous and relevant Career Technical Education (CTE) prepares youth and adults for a wide range of high-wage, high-skill, high-demand careers. The Grossmont Union High School District Career and Technical Education program is a major focus of our overall instructional program. That focus transforms high schools from solely a classroom-based, textbook centered instructional program, to project-based programs tailored to student interests. For thousands of students, CTE provides motivation for attending and staying in school.

According to the US Department of Education, high school students involved in CTE are more engaged, perform better and graduate at higher rates, including:
  • 81 percent of dropouts say relevant, real-world learning opportunities would have kept them in high school.
  • The average high school graduation rate for students concentrating in CTE programs is 90.18 percent, compared to an average national freshman graduation rate of 74.9 percent.
  • More than 70 percent of secondary CTE concentrators pursued postsecondary education shortly after high school.

The Grossmont Union High School District continues to support and expand quality programs to ensure that students are both college and career ready when they graduate. Currently, we offer over 40 Career Technical Education Pathways in high wage, high demand Industry Sectors.

Our CTE pathways serve over 3,000 students and include two-four year sequences of classes in an industry sector. In addition, some of our pathways are implementing a Linked Learning approach where the students’ CTE and academic classes are coordinated to have a unique career-themed, learning experience with additional student support from their teacher team. Students in all pathways learn industry-current technical skills, and incorporate their academic standards in an applied and relevant project-based learning environment. Opportunities include:
  • Work-based learning integrated at each level (industry tours, guest speakers, community projects)
  • Exposure to a full range of post-secondary options: entry-level jobs, apprenticeships, military, two- or four-year colleges
  • Articulation and alignment with post-secondary institutions and industry level certifications

Grossmont Union High School District is partnering with other high school and post-secondary districts as well as with private organizations and business partners to implement and expand this work at a regional level through Linked Learning San Diego.

2013-14 CIF State Academic Team Champions: Grossmont Girls Gymnastics Team

Governing Board Recognition of the Grossmont Girls Gymnastics Team
The Grossmont High School girls’ varsity gymnastics team was recognized at last night’s Governing Board meeting for being named the 2013-14 CIF State Academic Team Champions in their respective sport. The State CIF awards teams with the highest collective grade point average, based upon an unweighted 4.0 scale.
In The CIF News, September 2014 edition, 31 state academic team champions were announced and the Grossmont High School Girls’ Gymnastics Team was among them with a 3.75 GPA.  State CIF Executive Commissioner, Mr. Roger Blake, traveled from Sacramento to present the award to our scholar athletes.

Kelcy Sutton Named First Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee

Governing Board Recognition of Kelcy Sutton
At the Governing Board meeting on Thursday, October 9, 2014, Kelcy Sutton was recognized as the First Quarter Outstanding Classified Employee of 2014-2015.

Kelcy serves the Grossmont District as a Special Education Aide at Chaparral High School and also fills in as a Campus Supervisor when necessary. In addition to her superior performance with her regular job duties, she was recently instrumental in swiftly helping a student in serious need of emergency aid and support.

Kelcy serves the District with an energetic, positive and can-do spirit. She is well deserving of being recognized as Classified Employee of the Quarter.

GUHSD Teachers of the Year to be Recognized at Annual Awards Ceremony

GUHSD Teachers of the Year, Debbie Burton (Granite Hills) and John Berray (West Hills), will represent the Grossmont District at the 24th annual “A Salute to Teachers,” on Saturday, October 11, 2014, at San Diego’s historic Balboa Theatre.

The annual awards program, which is sponsored by Cox Communications, honors Teachers of the Year from all 42 districts in the county. Five of the honorees will be named County Teachers of the Year.

GUHSD is proud to have Debbie Burton and John Berray represent the district as its two Teachers of the Year for 2014.

Final Reminder: Got Plans? Career/College Fair on Saturday

As a reminder, the Grossmont Union High School District is hosting its eleventh annual Got Plans? Career & College Fair for high school students and parents tomorrow – Saturday, October 11, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Cuyamaca College.

Admission to the fair is free and open to the public. Cuyamaca College is located at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in El Cajon.