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August 2019

April-May 2019

End of the Year Assessments

 The end of the year is rapidly approaching us and our staff remains committed to finishing the year strong! Our students and staff in grades 3-8 and 11 are focused and engaged in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Assessment (CAASPP).  According to the California Department of Education, the primary purpose of the CAASPP System is to assist teachers, administrators, students, and parents by promoting high-quality teaching and learning through the use of a variety of assessment approaches and item types. Our students are administered the English Language Arts/Literacy and Math assessments in order to accurately gauge their knowledge of the state standards. Additionally, 5th grade students, 8th grade students and high school students are assessed with the California Science Test. When I visited our schools, I observed  our students focused on reading, writing, or responding to the prompts. I have no doubt that our students will move closer to meeting/exceeding standards this year! 

Celebrating our Staff 

We were truly excited to celebrate our certificated and classified staff this year during their weeks of acknowledgement! Our Cabinet members excitedly joined me as we recognized our exceptional colleagues. The cabinet and I purchased and delivered  #Believe backpacks to all staff members in SSFUSD as a token of our deep appreciation for all of their hard work and commitment to our students, one another, and our district! We couldn’t accomplish the  many successes we have as a district , if it weren’t for the dedication and support of all of our classified and certificated staff members.

End of the Year Scholarship Luncheon

Scholarship luncheonOur amazing students demonstrated excellence and perseverance during the 2018/2019  school year and were rewarded at the end of the year at the Chamber Scholarship Luncheon. Our outstanding scholars were granted over half a million dollars in scholarships! Our students selected prestigious universities and colleges such as Stanford, USF, UCLA, and UC Davis to study bioengineering, math, biochemistry, humanities and other areas of study. The students confidently articulated their names, their schools, and where they will be heading off to in the fall. Our students are so gifted, talented, and determined to succeed! Their focused hard work and dedication paid off in the form of college/career acceptances as well as scholarships to aid them along the way. Congratulations to the Class of 2019! 


Ponderosa Earns Kent Award and Bay Area Top Public School for Low-Income Latino Students 

Ponderosa Elementary School receives Kent Award for for 5th grade peer tutoring program.Each year, Innovate Public Schools recognizes and celebrates Bay Area public schools who achieve higher performance results for low-income Latino and African American students. I am extremely excited and proud to announce that our very own Ponderosa Elementary School was recognized this year in the Innovate Public School’s Fourth Annual Report, “Top Bay Area Schools for Underserved Students.” This prestigious rating was based upon performance levels of low income Latino and African American students during the 2017-2018 school year. The staff at Ponderosa Elementary School were honored at the organization’s recognition ceremony on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

Ponderosa Elementary School also earned the San Mateo County School Boards Association’s Kent Award for their 5th Grade Peer Tutors program! The San Mateo County School Boards Association presents these awards annually in recognition of outstanding programs that meet the challenges present in our public schools. Supervisor David Canepa opened the exciting program with a warm welcome to all in attendance. Our very own Principal Julie Erskine was afforded the opportunity to address attendees with a wonderful presentation that featured describing her school’s program as well as introducing her staff members who contributed to the success of the program.

Other recognitions and accolades

El Camino High School also earned prestigious honor this spring. Our very own Everything South City wrote an article about it also.  Click here to read all about it!

SSFUSD PTA Installation Dinner

We had such an enjoyable time at the PTA Installation Dinner where we recognized and swore in our new PTA Officers for the 2019-2020 school year.  We had a fun and engaging evening and it was great to interact with our parent community!

Golden Apple Ceremony

SSFUSD s Golden Apple recipientsEvery year we elicit nominations for our colleagues whom we believe have demonstrated excellence throughout the year. Our ceremony also includes recognizing and presenting service awards for our employees who have served as educators for 30 or more years as well as our honored retirees.  This year, we had a wonderful and celebratory afternoon together. I am so proud of all of our award recipients and honorees! We salute and thank you for being such a wonderful part of our SSFUSD family!

Best of Green Schools Winner – SSFUSD

The Green Schools National Network and the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) are pleased to recognize South San Francisco Unified School District as a winner in the "Best of Green Schools" class of 2019! The jury happily selected your nomination to represent the School System category, and we are excited to recognize your efforts this year.

Across the U.S. and around the world, individuals and communities, non-profit organizations and corporations are showing their commitments to healthy, safe and sustainable schools. Your contributions to this effort stand out among the very best, and it is thanks to work such as yours that we are moving ever closer to ensuring that every student is in a green school within this generation.

Our partners in this award, ENGIE, were able to accept the award on our behalf and will present to the Board in June, 2019.

Other End of the Year Events

2019 graduation ceremoniesWe had several other wonderful end of the year events, promotions, give back days, and dance shows. The pictures below capture the inspirational and exciting ways we are engaging our communities in the South San Francisco Unified School District.

ceremoniesWe had our annual Spelling Bee, ECHS featured their annual dance showcase and we also had several promotions and graduations to celebrate the accomplishments of our students. Office Depot sponsored a give back day at Spruce Elementary School and our students, in partnership with the City of South San Francisco, participated in Youth and Government Day where they shadowed and learned from our City officials and staff!

SSFUSD, truly values every student, parent, employee and community partners of our great district and are so thankful for the successful year we experienced together! We truly believe that our district will grow better and better! Congratulations to our students, staff, and community for the completion of another amazing school year! #Believe

march 2019

During the month of March, SSFUSD recognized and celebrated Women’s History. Our district’s website featured the contributions made by women who made an impact in our country’s history. A few of these inspirational leaders are featured below!

Inspirational Women

CAAASA and CSBA Presentation on Equity

It was a true honor to be invited to present at a conference in Southern California. I was afforded the opportunity to co-present with the California School Boards Association at the Annual California Association for African American Superintendents and Administrators. Our session focused on educational equity and access for all students. At SSFUSD we are on a journey to ensure equitable systems across our district. We have committed to engaging with intentional and focused work that truly addresses our equity and access plan. I was able to share and highlight the equity and access work that our Cabinet and District Office level Administrators engaged with. Our district leaders began this important work by focusing on our definitions of equity and how it impacts our students. Here is a picture of my CSBA co-presenters and I. It was a lot of fun and we received wonderful feedback from participants about our sessions. 


Equity in SSFUSD

In SSFUSD, we have initiated these discussions by talking about equity as an important foundation to remove barriers for students. We are focused on ensuring that students have access to high-quality and rigorous coursework, programs, and entry points at all of our schools. We recognized and believe that we have a responsibility to give students what they need and when they need it,  in order for them to be successful. Our amazing students are coming to us with the most amazing assets. Our students bring varied experiences with technology, academic language, access to advanced courses and programs, and travel. In order to promote access to a high quality education for all students, there are resources  and supports that we can provide. In SSFUSD, we have begun discussing these ideas through the lens of the 5 Ps - our programs, practices, people, protocols/procedures, and policies. We are exploring what our district will look like when we have equitable systems in place via the 5 Ps. I believe this should  give you an idea of the things for which we are discussing at our meetings. Additionally, we have initiated meetings with Our Family Coalition to talk about overall inclusivity in SSFUSD. We will continue to explore and take action as we work together to ensure that our students feel included and safe while at school. Our students will see themselves in our classrooms, across our campuses, and in our instructional materials.

Equity in SSFUSD

College and Career Fair

SSFUSD hosted our second annual college and career fair which was a huge success! Our event featured several local colleges (community colleges, universities, state colleges) schools and industry. Representatives set up tables at El Camino High School and spent the day answering questions and providing information to potential students or employees. It was another great way for our community to come together and receive resources that will assist them in their next steps.  Enjoy the pictures below:

College and Career

DO staff meeting

Our District Office staff members believe in coming together not only to build and strengthen relationships with one another, but to talk about the ways in which we are serving our schools. This communication also involves reviewing the District goals, analyzing our progress and hear updates about what is happening across the District. This important information is utilized in order to continue discussing the ways we should exemplify customer service to our school site staff, one another, and our community. All of staff members came prepared to discuss an article that we read prior to the meeting focused on customer service. We broke up into small groups in order to discuss the  key concepts in the reading. Prior to leaving, we assessed ourselves on our understanding of the goals of the district. Each of us made commitments about the ways in which we would positively communicate and interact with our colleagues at the district office, school sites, and community. Here are some of the pictures from that session:

DO Staff Meeting

SSFUSD Showcase of Bands

This was an unbelievable showcase of our talented band students! Dr. Valerie Garrett was the Mistress of Ceremony and she engaged the crowd, complimented the students, and kept the show moving swiftly. Our site leaders participated in the performance as well and introduced their school’s bands. Truly, we have unbelievable talent in SSFUSD! Thanks to our parents for your support of your children who are obviously committed to playing their musical instruments. It was a joy to hear the progress they have made since the beginning of the year. Here are some pictures that capture the excitement from our wonderful performances:

Showcase of Bands

Senior Capstone

In our high schools, students have a culminating project they must present on and answer questions about from a myriad of community members. I visited the El Camino HS Senior Capstones and was so proud and impressed to see our students well dressed, well-informed, prepared, and able to respond to any questions asked of them. The projects ranged from senior living, to supports for students with disabilities. Clearly, our children put in a lot of time and service into their learning This is one more example as to why SSFUSD is a great place for your children!

Senior Captions

ACSA Region 5 Event

The Association for California School Administrators (ACSA), Region 5, held an event titled “Movin’ on Up” and several SSFUSD administrators were present.  The purpose of this event was to talk with others who are interested in moving into administration. Yours truly, was honored to be asked to share parts of my story with the group regarding my path to the Superintendent position. We also had several other SSFUSD staff members in attendance from Cabinet members, Directors, Principals and Teachers! It was a fun event and it was great meeting and connecting with future administrators and leaders! Our district values the growth of our staff members and encourages participation with professional development programs designed to build leadership capacity. It was great to see that SSFUSD was well-represented at this event and was present to provide insight, feedback and learn how to grow and advance their careers!

February 2019

Congratulations Principal Daniel Lunt

SSFUSD is comprised of the most amazing staff and faculty! The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region’s Education Committee has selected Mr. Daniel Lunt, Principal at El Camino High School, to receive the Armenian Genocide Education Award. He was nominated by Mrs. Sevana Panosian for his exemplary commitment to providing educators and students access to resources that support understanding of the Armenian Genocide and other crimes against humanity. His efforts help to shape an empathetic, informed, and tolerant generation. It is a positive contribution that deserves our recognition!

National Counseling Week

SSFUSD is proud of our amazing counselors and recognized their outstanding contributions to our district! On Feb. 4, the California State Assembly recognized school counseling with a proclamation presented by Assemblyman Medina (District 61-Riverside) on the House Floor. This is an annual event and most school counselors are aware of the various state and local events celebrating their work in California’s schools.

Our counselors provide time and support to help our students through successes and challenges that they face in their lives. Additionally, they are always supportive of and strive for ways to help improve our schools. They are also instrumental in building and enhancing the school to home relationships that are so critical to our schools.

During the month of February, we also celebrated Black History. Throughout the month, our district’s website featured African Americans leaders who not only have positively contribution to society, but who also paved the way for others. Here is a sample of the leaders we celebrated and featured on our website:


Alternative to Suspension in SSFUSD

We recognize how important it is to keep our students at school. In fact, as we explore more intentionally, equity in SSFUSD, we have spent a lot of time as District Office leaders analyzing our data and we are in agreement that we want to do more to ensure the access and success of all of our children. So, in addition to learning more about performance management, we have been engaged with presenting to one another in order to deepen our understanding of what our data is revealing to us related to the academic performance of our students. School discipline is one of the areas in which we have studied and have taken action steps to resolve. In an effort to minimize suspensions, we are shifting our paradigm and working on ways to help change students’ behavior and teach them alternative ways to address conflict. Dr. Spaulding and Mr. Sebers have been spearheading this effort and I am so pleased with the progress they are making. We will be taking our recommendations to the Board in the next few weeks as we work toward implementation for the 2019-2020 school year. The South San Francisco Unified School District is committed prioritizing the needs of our students. This work will take time and although you may not see drastic changes overnight, rest assured that we are committed to our students, their success in our district and ensuring they have an overall positive learning experience. We will continue working hard to provide the highest quality of supports for all of our students! 

PTA Founder’s Day Dinner

Our PTA Council hosted their Founder’s Day dinner and it was a well-attended and successful event. Each year, PTA recognizes staff whom they believe have gone above and beyond in their role to serve and support others. This year, our very own Board Vice President, Patricia Murray and Director of English Learners, Categorical Programs, and Special Projects, earned this honor along with active PTA member Mrs. Reem Nasrah and amazing teacher, Ms. Caitlin Radcliffe! We are so proud of our SSFUSD community!

PTA Council Winner video – Board Vice President, Mrs. Patricia Murray:

Site Visits

We launched our classroom walkthrough focus for site leaders so they can begin to identify and look for standards, skills students are learning and the materials. This is another step we have taken to ensure we are monitoring implementation of our curriculum. Right now, the only parts of the curriculum we are examining at those listed above. In the future, we will also be looking at levels of rigor and relevance in the classroom and the pacing to see if it’s aligned to the scope and sequence pacing. Once we adopt our SSFUSD instructional framework, that will give us concrete and specific items with which we are looking for in classrooms. Please enjoy the short YouTube visits where site leaders are reporting out at one of our meetings the reflections they have had after doing the first month of classroom visits with this specific tool.


Alta Loma


January 2019

Greetings SSFUSD Community! 
Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed an amazing and relaxing holiday season  with your loved ones!  
January has brought a renewed sense of gratitude and excitement for our colleagues throughout SSFUSD! A lot of fantastic events have happened since December that I am thrilled  to share with you!

Our new Board members have hit the ground running! At our first Board meeting of the year we had a rich discussion about SSFUSD employee housing and the Trustee election areas. Check out our website at and scroll down the page and you will see the proposed maps. The screenshot below will assist you with navigating  to this section of the webpage. 

We value our community members’ feedback and engagement and now you also have the information available (also on the website) needed to create your own maps!

SSFUSD Proposed Trustee Area Maps

Golden Bell Recognition

At our January Board meeting, our district was presented  with a $5,000.00 check and a beautiful trophy for earning the prestigious Golden Bell award! We  are extremely honored and are currently displaying the  framed award and the names of all who contributed to the district earning this award at the District Office! Take a look at the pictures below!

Certificate of Appreciation

Student Support and  Academic Enrichment Grant

In October, 2018, members of our Educational Services Department applied for a competitive grant named the Student Support and  Academic Enrichment Grant (SSAE). Our district was notified that SSFUSD was awarded this grant in order to infuse Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) and Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) opportunities for our teachers and students!

The purpose of this grant is to encourage and support eligible districts to increase capacity and provide all students with access to well-rounded educational opportunities; support safe and healthy students; and/or support the effective use of technology. SSFUSD will continue to focus on providing well-rounded opportunities for our students through the arts. What an accomplishment to earn such a wonderful award! Thanks and sincere gratitude goes to Dr. Leticia Bhatia, who spearheaded this effort with support from colleagues within the district and at the county level. I would also like to recognize  Mr. Irish for his leadership and support of this project. Congratulations SSFUSD....another amazing accomplishment you've earned!

More about the grant

Opinion Piece in the Daily Journal

Recently, I had the privilege of writing for our local newspaper; it was such an honor to be asked to write an OpEd piece in the Daily Journal. The piece focused  on equity in SSFUSD and the need for our district to continue learning and reflecting  on the ways in which we can either positively or negatively impact our students by our words, actions, policies, or procedures. The focus on equity, equitable outcomes, and serving the needs of all students and especially those most in need, is a commitment of the Board of Trustees and Cabinet. We will continue to delve more deeply into this topic through continuous opportunities of unpacking of our  policies, programs, and practices.  Our goal is to rebuild and promote equitable practices that ensure access for all of our students.  We are definitely on team #believe!

Read the article!

2018-2019 Vision, Goals, Priorities informational videos and actions

In South San Francisco Unified School District, we are always thinking about ways we can articulate our vision, goals and priorities to ensure everyone knows what we are doing and why?

We thought we would try by creating short informational videos whereby we explain and graphically showcase where we are headed as a District. If you haven’t seen them yet, please take a moment and watch the videos and leave us your insights and feedback. Right now, the videos are primarily geared toward our internal district community to further explain where we are heading, as a school district. However, for anyone who has access to the links, you’re also more than welcome to watch and enjoy the journey we are on! SSFUSD, your involvement and engagement is paramount to us moving SSFUSD forward and becoming a premier district!

The videos are below!

  1.     Video 1 (SSFUSD Vision, LCAP Goals, and District Priorities): (Approximately 4.5 minutes)                                                                                                                                                     
  2.     Video 2 (SSFUSD Board & Superintendent  Vision and Institutional Commitments): (Approximately 3 minutes)                                                                                                  
  3.     Video 3 (Creating an equity focused District: Journey towards performance management): (Approximately 4 minutes)                                                                                             
  4.     Video 4 (SSFUSD Destination - Strengthening our Systems through Performance Management –Visual): (Approximately 4 minutes)

Also included is our District’s LCAP Plan. Detailed actions/services to see the detailed actions/services that are included in our 3-year plan.

Kindergarten Night

We had a wonderfully attended and well-executed Kindergarten Night at the end of January. As you know, we cultivate inclusion in SSFUSD and we modeled just that. All 9 elementary schools had tables monitored by school staff and administration. Some sites had goodies, spirit wear, and pictures of the fun things happening at the site. Our African American Advisory Parents were there and our District English Learner Committee was well-represented! Other District Office staff were present as well to show our support and offer assistance anywhere needed. Our amazing parents and staff did a wonderful job taking care of our kiddos in the childcare room and of course, we were pleased to have our City colleagues from Parks and Recreation After School Program present as well! Our PTA Council was present and Mr. Sanna, PTA President, gave an inspiring and supportive speech to kick off the presentations! Overall, it was a successful evening. Our staff members were proud to showcase and share the many wonderful programs available  to families in our district. Our staff members were relaxed and happy as they provided excellent customer service to our new families. Our parents were inquisitive and curious about schools, programs, and after school care.   Our incoming students were happy, excited, and busily talking with and becoming friendly with potential new classmates! Kudos to Dr. Valerie Garrett and her support person Mr. Nathan Isla for coordinating, communicating, and successfully implementing our 2019 Kindergarten Night!

Martin Meteors

Center for Early Learning


2019 Summer School Programs

Did you know that we already gotten our summer school program Board approved?

Summer school is quickly approaching and once again we will be offering a gold star of summer programs. Here are the summer programs we are offering.

Site Visits in January

I enjoyed my site visits this month to Ponderosa, Buri Buri and ALMS with Trustee Flores! At Alta Loma, teachers were engaging students in math problems on angles and solving for x,  and the ELA lesson was teaching students how to identify level I-III sentences based on the text! At Buri Buri, students were learning how to read word problems and understand how to calculate the time in between. In one class at Buri, students were developing their own business, which happened to be a bakery, and they needed to complete a table that showed the fraction of the items they needed to purchase and then  show its value in reduced simplest form and then the equivalent fraction. Students were discussing the possibilities in class and sharing their thoughts on ways to approach the problems! Check out the pictures below!


students in class


December 2018


November 2018

Did you know that SSFUSD recently celebrated by having a Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day? I was thrilled to get out and walk with our students and celebrate them and the passion they exemplified to stand up for courage and the integration of education. Click here to see the Facebook feed, click here to see the San Mateo County press release, and take a look at the pictures below!

Walk to school

Golden Bell Award

We had a validation visit and were recently notified that South San Francisco Unified has successfully earned a Golden Bell Award! Click here for the press release! 

California League of High/Middle Schools

I am proud to share that South San Francisco Unified has a number of teachers who have been nominated for Region 4’s Educator of the Year from the California League of High Schools/ Middle Schools! Here are the teachers who have been nominated and who will be honored at an awards dinner during the last week of November!

  • Helen Ng Tam, Parkway Heights Middle School
  • Corinna Low, Westborough Middle School
  • SeaAnna Patrick, El Camino High School
  • Rhonda Clements, South San Francisco High School

October 2018

We have been very busy celebrating our schools and continuing to appreciate the opening of a new school year and the many things for which we are most proud.

Here are some pictures from Back to School Night this year! We had an amazing turnout and our site leaders shared information on our District goals, priorities, and our Vision for our students. We also emphasized our support and proactive efforts to ensure we have programs in place to support positive interactions with our students and positive and productive communication with our families!




Buri Buri School Dedication

It was a longer project than we initially anticipated but so thankful we were able to celebrate the Buri Buri dedication.

                       Buri Buri School dedication         


Cultural Celebrations

At our District English Learner Advisory Committee Meetings we celebrating the talent of our student Folklorico dancers and we celebrate Hispanic heritage/Latin/a/a Month! Enjoy the pictures!           

               Panther Pride            

September 2018

Did you know?

That SSFUSD has institutional commitments with which we strive to exemplify?

In South City, we have identified our C.A.R. to exemplify our institutional commitments to our community. In order to positively influence and impact our students, we recognize that our entire community must be involved and engaged. The C, recognizes our desire to communicate in ways that are transparent, professional, and honest. The A, is important to all in our District as we strive for excellence and equity in academics and our overall achievement for our students and staff. The R is one of the most critical as we are focused in SSFUSD on strengthening and maintaining positive and productive relationships throughout the district with one another, with our families, communities, and most importantly, with our students! See the picture of our CAR Graphic below which graphically depicts the SSFUSD institutional commitments!

Communication Achievement Relationships

Did you know that we have an invaluable partnership with the Genentech? South San Francisco Unified is a special place to be. We continuously strive to look for ways to engage our students and staff so they want to be here. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our video that highlights our partnership with Genentech, please click here and enjoy!

Did you know that SSFUSD  was featured on the news to showcase our amazing partnership with Genentech?  Click the link to the Destination Imagination video below!

Did you know that Genentech has a page dedicated to their company and SSFUSD! Click here to check it out and see the amazing ways they have been supporting to our school district!

Did you know that we have an Official District Twitter feed (@SSFUSD)  and that I have my own personal-professional Twitter feed (@ShawnterraT)? You can often find out some of the great things by viewing these periodically! 

August 2018

Dear SSFUSD Community,

I remain humbled and privileged to serve as the Superintendent in SSFUSD! 

This is the beginning of my 4th year as the Superintendent in South San Francisco Unified and I am very proud of the things we have been able to accomplish as a school district.  In my tenure, we have been blessed to have received four Kent Awards , two Gold Ribbon Awards, and one  Title I Distinguished School Award

Please take the time to watch the State of the District video to get a glimpse of our District and where we are heading!