Dear Novato Community,
I am very excited to return to Novato Unified School District as the new Superintendent. I began my administrative career at Hill Middle School as the Assistant Principal, and much has changed since I left Novato in 1999. Fortunately, there are still great people and great things happening in the district, and it has been rewarding to reconnect with so many old friends since I began work in July. One of the things I love about Marin is the number of fantastic organizations that provide extra resources and support to our students and the collective commitment to equity to help all students be successful. In my brief time here this summer, I have met with folks from School Fuel, Schools Rule, 10,000 Degrees, Marin Community Foundation, Marin Promise, Healthy Novato, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Novato Youth Center, Buck Institute for Education, College of Marin, National Equity Project and the North Bay Leadership Council—what a plethora of wonderful groups that all work to serve Novato youth in different ways.
This is an exciting time in education, and there has never been as much change as we are experiencing now. We have a new state testing system, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), and will receive our first results shortly. This assessment is a dramatic change from our previous state test—the California Standards Tests—as it is a more rigorous test that asks for more critical thinking and problem solving and not just memorization of facts. We are also well on our way with the Common Core State Standards in math and language arts, and these standards also demand more of our students in very positive ways. The Next Generation Science Standards have been adopted by the state, and we are working to implement these new standards now as the new science assessments begin in 2017. Not only is the content of our subjects changing, but the way we are teaching is changing as well. Technology plays a huge role in helping to support student learning, and active learning through techniques such as Project Based Learning is also helping to better challenge and inspire our students. Novato has hired some amazing teacher coaches to help support our teachers through all these changes, and we will continue to provide strong professional development so our teachers are able to meet the new challenges head on so our students are well prepared for their future. NUSD will also be working more with the National Equity Project to address opportunity gaps to improve learning and education outcomes for all students.
Other changes in leadership have occurred in the district besides the hiring of a new superintendent.
Last year, the Board approved the hiring of Ivan Chaidez as Assistant Superintendent of Education Services. Ivan brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to NUSD. Karen Maloney, Assistant Superintendent Business & Operations, is retiring in November after 6 years with NUSD. The Board approved the hiring of Yancy Hawkins as the new Assistant Superintendent Business & Operations. He will join NUSD in October.
With the fantastic support we receive from our Novato Community and parents, and with the amazing talents and skills of our school staff, we are poised for a great year of learning and discovery here in Novato.