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March 12, 2018

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Photo of the Week

Superintendent Bob Nelson reads to kindergarten students at Centennial Elementary School as part of Read Across America March 2.

Video of the Week

Link to video of the week
Faces of Fresno Unified

Dates to Know

March 20
Aspiring Teacher Expo

March 21 at 6 p.m.
Board of Education

March 26-April 2
Spring Break

April 14
Southeast Asian Parent Engagement Conference


Welcome to Community Zone, an e-newsletter from the Fresno Unified School District featuring news of the district and schools. Sign up to receive this newsletter every two weeks. Questions? Contact

Community News

Watch "60 Seconds with Fresno Unified"

The latest edition of “60 Seconds with Fresno Unified” features Design Science Middle College High School celebrating all 58 seniors being accepted into a four-year university, Read Across America, Kids Day at Fort Miller Middle School and a call for Tournament of Technology judges.
"60 Seconds with Fresno Unified"

Buses Get Students down from Outdoor School

Fresno Unified is very proud to report that faced with extreme weather and road conditions in the Fish Camp area near Calvin Crest Outdoor School on March 2, the district's Transportation Department carried the day and safely transported all students home from camp.  In fact, Fresno Unified drivers took charge and supported Madera Unified as well, as described by Calvin Crest director Joel Gist: "I am very grateful for the first class customer service, professional teamwork, and skillful driving displayed by Fresno Unified bus drivers Steven Fabela and Kellie Cavazos as they not only safely transported Muir Elementary sixth grade students home from Outdoor School, they also shuttled Madera Unified students to meet their buses in Oakhurst."

Fresno Unified Director of Transportation Reggie Ruben received a call from Madera Unified, thanking him for the outstanding service. Muir sixth grade teachers Patrick Speir, Jeffrey Ishihara and Christina Lewis also exhibited outstanding leadership during the four-day outdoor school. Student cabin leaders from Fresno High School Miranda Baiz, Nallely Sida, Leslie Arroyo, Evangelina Tamayo, Fatima Gutierrez, Yoceline Diaz, Takashi Tsutsui, Le'Voughn Hills and Christian Payne, and parent cabin leader Herman Peterson were also a huge help.

Linked Learning Pathways Earn High Ratings

Fresno Unified has 25 Linked Learning pathways in its high schools, serving more than ​5,000 students with career themed, interdisciplinary educational programs.  Recently, the Linked Learning Alliance created criteria for high quality "Silver Level" pathways.  At a recent conference, four of the district's school pathways were recognized as achieving this level, out of 40 from the nation.  Since then, three additional pathways have been recognized as well.  These include medical pathways at Duncan Polytechnical, McLane, Roosevelt, and Edison high schools; business pathways at McLane and Bullard high schools; and education pathways at McLane and Roosevelt high schools. 

Unified Sports Unifies Students

The district held a recognition program March 7 for the Unified Sports program. Through Unified Sports, special education students play soccer and basketball side by side with general education students, learning from each other. Several district high schools are involved. Come out and watch the Unified Sports basketball games!
Unified Sports Basketball Schedule
Video of Unified Sports

Manchester GATE, Gibson Win Elementary Basketball Tournaments

In the district elementary girls basketball tournament on February 24 at Hoover High School, Manchester GATE placed first, followed by Powers Ginsburg, Greenberg, Gibson, Addams, King, Bethune and Lane elementary schools. At the elementary boys basketball tournament on March 3 at Hoover, Gibson Elementary School placed first, followed by Manchester GATE, Ayer, Powers Ginsburg, Malloch, Forkner, Yokomi and Viking elementary Schools.

Program on Preventing Teen Suicide will Air

Parents and students are invited to attend a live Town Hall: Preventing Teen Suicide, airing nationally on Tuesday, March 13, 5:45-7:30 p.m. at Clovis Veterans Memorial District.  Seats are limited and require free registration. 
More Information on Teen Suicide Town Hall

District Newspaper Wins Award

Fresno Unified's Building Futures newspaper has won an Award of Merit for Excellence in Communications from the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA).Public Information Officer Jessica Baird accepted the award on behalf of the Communications Department at the CalSPRA conference in San Diego on March 3. Building Futures is published 11 times a year and distributed to 155,000 residences and businesses in the district. Building Futures is also available online.

District Unveils Expanded Hmong Language Immersion and Spanish Dual Immersion Programs

Leaders from the district, the community and the Hmong community gathered February 26 at Vang Pao Elementary to highlight the district's plans to expand its dual language immersion program. Currently, Ewing, Leavenworth, Rowell and Sunset elementary schools, Wawona School, Yosemite Middle School and McLane High School offer Spanish dual immersion.  Next year, the district will open Spanish dual immersion classes at five more schools and open a Hmong language immersion program at Vang Pao Elementary School.

Teacher Academy Summer Program Accepting Applications

​The Teacher Academy Summer Program offers current high school juniors and seniors a paid internship to work as a paraprofessional in elementary classrooms during the summer.  Participants will work alongside teachers to provide instructional support to students and are required to participate in professional learning. See flyer below for more information or the job developer at high school career centers.
Flyer on Teacher Academy Summer Program

District Seeks Input on Naming New Southeast School

In an effort to accommodate enrollment growth in the Sunnyside High School region, Fresno Unified is prioritizing Measure X funds to build a new school at 5090 E. Church Ave. (between Willow and Peach avenues).  The new elementary school is targeted to open for the 2020-21 school year and the district is seeking a name for this new elementary school.  The district invites the community to submit names of individuals for consideration based on the guidelines stated in Board Policy (BP) 7310 below:
1. Individuals, living or deceased, who have made outstanding contributions to the county or community
2. Individuals, living or deceased, who have made contributions of state, national or worldwide significance
3. The geographic area in which the school or building is located

The Board of Education encourages the community to participate in the process of naming the new elementary school in southeast Fresno. The survey closes on Monday, March 19, 2018, and names will be provided to the board of education for consideration.
Southeast School Naming Survey in English
Southeast School Naming Survey in Hmong
Southeast School Naming Survey in Spanish

Registration Open for Lorenzo Neal Football Camp

The Lorenzo Neal Bridging Fresno Football Camp will be held Saturday, March 24 at Fresno City College for ages 7-14. Partners in the camp include the Fresno Police Department, the Fresno Police Officer Association, Fresno PAL, and the NFL. Participants can attend free by entering the code "FRESNOPD" during online registration. The camp will include special NFL guests, skills training, T-shirt and swag bag.
Register for Lorenzo Neal Football Camp
Flyer About Lorenzo Neal Football Camp

Superintendent Board Remarks from March 7, 2018

Superintendent Bob Nelson provided a brief report to the Fresno Unified Board of Education including:

• Recognizing National School Social Work Week (March 5-9).  The district appreciates all of our school social workers who make an impact on students, families and staff every day. School social workers enhance our district’s ability to meet our academic mission, especially where home, school and community collaboration is key to achieving student success.  School social workers treat the whole child.  This year’s theme for School Social Work Week is “United to Make a Better World” and every day in our schools, Fresno Unified social workers make a better world for our students, their families and staff.  They are vital, valuable and visible on our campuses.

• Recognizing Kings Canyon Middle School landscape students who swept the top three awards in the high school division at the 9th annual Mini Landscape Competition at the Fresno Home and Garden Show.

• Recognizing Bullard Knights basketball team who gave it their all this past weekend in the Central Section Division I Boys Basketball Championship at Selland Arena.  Nelson says he enjoyed watching the game and the team played like champions.

• Recognizing Unified Sports League teams for giving students in special education an opportunity to play sports alongside students in general education in a competitive environment.   Soccer teams from Roosevelt, Fresno High, Hoover and McLane all had an opportunity to play against one another.  As we prepare to kick off the Unified Sports League for basketball one week from today, Nelson then shared a short video on Unified Sports.

• Commending the district’s Transportation team, headed by Reggie Ruben, for safely transporting all sixth grade students at Muir Elementary School home from Calvin Crest during last week’s extreme weather and snowy road conditions.  Our bus drivers also took charge and shuttled Madera Unified students who were stranded to meet their buses in Oakhurst.  Thank you for your professionalism and putting students first!

• The Communications team has been hard at work sharing success stories of students and staff in our district.  We recently launched a new video series called “Faces of Fresno Unified.”  Every Monday, the weekly series highlights one of our many dedicated employees and the work they do on behalf of our 74,000 students.  You can find the videos on our district website and social media pages.  This past weekend, Fresno Unified’s Building Futures newspaper won an Award of Merit for Excellence in Communications from the California School Public Relations Association or CalSPRA.  Building Futures is published 11 times per year and distributed to 155,000 residences and businesses in Fresno.  Thank you to Anne Ellis, Community Relations Officer who facilitates and writes a majority of the stories you see in Building Futures.

• Thanking Joel Baum from Gender Spectrum for facilitating workshops at the Education Center on the Foundations of Gender Inclusive Schools.  The workshops were designed to establish a basic understanding of gender diversity, approaches to apply to professional practice in schools, basic gender concepts and terminology as well as provide resources and tools for working with students, parents and colleagues.

• Encouraging all district employees and community members interested in becoming a teacher to attend the Aspiring Teacher Expo on Tuesday, March 20 at McLane High School.  Find out about the district’s teacher pipeline programs and opportunities to connect with university representatives.  Registration is available at

View Full Board Meeting Recap

Employer of Choice

Two Fresno Unified Administrators Win Awards

Ahwahnee Middle School principal Jose Guzman and College and Career Readiness executive officer Sally Fowler were named Administrators of the Year for ACSA Region IX on February 26. They will represent Fresno Unified in the upcoming statewide recognition event. Jose won in the Middle School Principal category and Sally won in Career Technical Education Leadership category. Local winners were instructional superintendent Misty Her; Tamara Neely, a director in professional development; and Cambridge High School principal Pete Pulos.

District Will Host Aspiring Teacher Expo March 20

Fresno Unified will host an Aspiring Teacher Expo Tuesday, March 20 for participants who are interested in teaching.  Representatives from colleges and credential programs from throughout the Central Valley will be available to provide information about the various pathways to becoming a credentialed teacher. Participants will have the opportunity to start networking early and talk to Fresno Unified representatives about the district's Teacher Pipeline Programs.

The expo is a must for those who are considering teaching as a profession.  Mark your calendar today! Pre-register using the link
Aspiring Teacher Expo Flyer

Hoover Names New Football Coach

Hoover High School has hired Rustin Pickett, the offensive coordinator from Madera High School, as its new head football coach. Pickett has also been the offensive coordinator at Sunnyside High School and an assistant coach at Bullard High School. Pickett graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications from Bluftton University, where he competed in football, baseball and track and field.

School Buzz

District Students and Staff Sell Papers for Kids Day

Students and staff from around the district helped with Kids Day on March 6, selling special editions of The Fresno Bee to raise money for Valley Children's Hospital.

Kings Canyon Wins Top Mini Landscape Awards

Kings Canyon Middle School landscape students swept the top three awards in the high school division at the ninth annual Mini Landscape Competition at the Fresno Home and Garden Show March 3. Because the students had been so successful in the middle school category, they were moved up to the high school category this year, but still won the top awards. First place: entire floral team of Julissa Jarquin, Brianna Sanchez, Nolan Tejada, Kenya Altamirano, Erica Hernandez, Virginia Rocha, Sarah Leduc, Larisa Lopez and Pilar Navarro; second place: Kenya Altamirano, Erica Hernandez and Virginia Rocha; third place:  Sarah Leduc, Larisa Lopez and Pilar Navarro.  Their teacher is Gary Nelson. Kings Canyon's program has taken the top awards for five years in row.

Columbia Students are Superior at Peach Blossom

Students from Columbia Elementary School participated in the Peach Blossom Festival at Fresno State March 8, receiving Superior ratings from all three judges.
View Columbia Students’ Peach Blossom Performance

Heaton Promotes Kindness

Heaton Elementary School's Kind Kids Club was thrilled to help coordinate last week's Kindness Week activities.  Two of its Kindness Ambassadors read daily positive quotes to inspire the school to be kinder.  The Kind Kids Club students wrote positive notes and passed them out to students during recess.  They also placed KIND notes on the doors of teachers and staff.  Heaton also had spirit days all week to promote kindness. The school also had a door decorating contest to help spread kindness because at Heaton, kindness matters!

District Attorney Talks with Bullard High School Law Pathway Students

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp visited Bullard High School March 6 to speak to a gathering of all students in the school's Law and Social Justice Pathway, which was revamped into a more robust program during the last school year. DA Smittcamp discussed day-to-day operations, the office's relationships with other agencies, its commitment to the community, budget constraints and needs, and the numerous opportunities for students if they decide to pursue a career in the law community.

Snake Man Featured at McLane Freshmen Assembly

McLane High School's February 23 freshmen assembly featured guest speaker Todd "The Snake Man," who spoke about overcoming fear and brought along Rocky Balboa, a python snake. The assembly also highlighted important information about first semester grades from Principal Brian Wulf and a celebration of 76 honor roll freshmen, perfect attendance for 17 freshmen and special individual teacher awards submitted by teachers.  ​

Bullard TALENT Hosts Pancakes with Parents

More than 600 students and family members enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast at Bullard TALENT K-8 School's annual Pancakes with Parents on February 23.  This is a highly anticipated annual community building event.  Staff as well as leadership students from grades 6-8 cooked, cleaned, served, and greeted. Imagine: more than 1,200 pancakes.  Families took a fun photo to commemorate the event. ​

Hamilton Hosts Guest Readers

Hamilton K-8 School honored Dr. Seuss with Read Across America events, culminating with guest readers on March 2. Guest readers from the community visited classrooms throughout the day sharing the importance of reading and read aloud to the classes.  Thank you to everyone for making this day super special! Read Across American events had started with "dress up" days earlier in the week.  For example, Monday was "Cat in the Hat" day and students wore red/white stripes and had the story read to them. 

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