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Upcoming Events

Teachers Level-Up Their Skills for Teaching Literacy 

Making every child a proficient reader not “easy as A-B-C”

student reading wearing mask

To the non-educator, the goal “Every Child a Reader by Third Grade” may seem simple. It isn’t.

“Learning to read is complex,” said Whitney Holton, Campbell Union School District’s Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. “And teaching reading requires deep knowledge of the curriculum, identifying the obstacles to student learning, and professional expertise for advancing the student’s ability and desire to read and write.”

The district is focusing resources and teacher professional development on strengthening those skills for every student, especially in the early primary grades. A long-term study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who were not proficient in reading by the end of third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Reaching literacy by third grade has long been a goal of California schools and a key benchmark in measuring and predicting student success. 

diagram showing the strands of learning to read
Skilled reading is developed over time. Learning to read and then reading to learn are fundamental to student success.

“Our teachers use a systematic scope and sequence of phonics skills and multiple strategies and methods to establish strong foundational skills in literacy and to address any learning gaps that emerge,” said District-wide Administrator of Literacy Tiffany Spaudling. “At the same time, teachers are building vocabulary and language comprehension through exposure and discussions about rich texts.”

For the younger students in transitional kindergarten through second grade, teachers are using the CKLA curriculum to further the goal of “Every Child a Reader by Third Grade.” Teachers who participated in the LETRS course identified the need for more resources for teaching phonemic awareness and some teachers are piloting the Heggerty curriculum as a supplement. 

LETRS is a two-year course written by Louise C. Moats, Ed.D., a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Carol A. Tolman, Ed.D. Thirty-four CUSD teachers have completed the full two-year program, and 62 more have finished year one or are just starting this year.

For the older students, grades 3 through 8, teachers are using various approaches to strengthen specific skills to support individual student needs. To address gaps in phonics, they use the Sonday Essentials curriculum to identify specific missing skills. Teachers use flexible groupings so students can receive targeted instruction specific to their needs. 

Supporting Literacy At Home

“Whether your student is starting to hear sounds in words, bringing home stories to read that align to the phonics lessons they have learned in class, talking about echo and choral reading to improve their fluency, or getting to spend time with other teachers at their school, know that all of this is a sign that they are building their reading skills,” Spaulding said.

At home, she advises pulling out a great story or nonfiction text, talking about what you are reading and discussing new words your student may not know. If you want more ideas on how to support this at home, visit this website.

School-based COVID-19 Testing is Underway

Process supports safety and allows healthy students to remain at school

health worker swabs a student's mouth as part of the COVID-19 testing

While some schools across the country are having to close completely due to high rates of COVID-19 exposure, Campbell Union School District’s mitigations have prevented that fate so far. The addition of weekly surveillance testing bolsters the district’s ability to keep students and staff safe while at school.

COVID-19 surveillance testing by Grapefruit Testing began in CUSD’s schools in mid-September, allowing schools to identify any positive cases of the novel coronavirus early to reduce its spread. 

In spite of pre-planning, the process had a few bumps at the start. Leaders from the district and of Grapefruit Testing met to discuss the challenges and, as a result, Grapefruit Testing has revamped its procedures and increased staffing and schedules so that the schools can retain this valuable mitigation against spreading COVID-19. 

“Our aim is to relieve schools of the health-related tasks of testing, tracking, tracing, and notifications so the staff can focus on teaching and learning,” said Dr. Richard Pescatore, Grapefruit’s Chief Medical Officer. “Testing students weekly allows us to catch COVID-19 cases early so that healthy students can continue in-person learning.”

Staff in CUSD’s schools have commented on the attendance benefits of the testing. “Students have been returning to school in 2 days instead of 10 days” because of the availability of the rapid testing. 

“We share our families’ expectation that their students can be at school, safe and learning with their classmates, and are working with Grapefruit to make sure that is the case,” said Superintendent Shelly Viramontez. 

The COVID-19 testing adds to the multiple layers of protection against the coronavirus already in place in CUSD’s schools: wearing masks, hospital-grade air filters and maximum airflow settings on ventilation systems, plenty of outdoor learning spaces, reinforcing good hand hygiene, and using seating charts in classrooms and buses to help identify close contacts. 

If you have questions about Grapefruit Testing’s program or need a consent form, please contact Grapefruit at admin [at] GrapefruitTesting.com or call (213) 900-6878.

Community testing for COVID-19 is also available. See times and location on our calendar.

Student Art Exhibit at Ainsley House

Summer art creations on display at the museum's Carriage House through October

student art - cherries

Campbell Union School District invites you to view some special work by talented students on display through October at the Campbell Historical Museum's Ainsley House.

Students in the district's Summer FUN program worked with artists from Arthouse Studio who taught them the importance of imagination and creativity in their lives by giving them a glimpse into their potential as innovative thinkers, problem solvers and change makers. The City of Campbell and Arthouse Studio arranged for the exhibit, which is sponsored by Gitlab.

The Summer FUN program is one of several ways that the Campbell Union School District is providing students with supplemental instruction and support for social and emotional well-being that the community said were priorities. The program was made possible through one-time Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) grant and community partnerships.   

Backyard Briefing for September 17

A message from Superintendent Viramontez

Superintendent Viramontez standing in yard, smiling

Watch the Campbell Union School District Superintendent's 9/17/21 Backyard Briefing.

Topics include:
• Staffing shortages - Seeking Guest Teachers (subs) and others
• Free COVID-19 testing 7 days/week
• Supply chain delays also impact schools

Use the Youtube settings for closed captions in English or Spanish.

Centennial: Wonder Wednesdays Bring 100 years of Learning into Focus

Monthly series to feature District’s history and student design challenge

Classrooms across the district tuned in to the 2021-22 Wonder Wednesday series this week and developed a clearer picture of how different school is now compared to decades past. The monthly series will also support student teams that participate in the 2021-22 Design Challenge in which students will create exhibits to display at the Campbell History Museum in April.

front of Campbell Grammar SchoolIn the September 15 episode, Campbell History Museum Director Kerry Perkins shared photos showing what schools were like when the district was formed over 100 years ago. She described how rural this region was and how schools grew from one-room school houses where students from all grades were together with one teacher into bigger schools with a room and teacher for each grade. 

Campbell Union School District Superintendent, Dr. Shelly Viramontez, spoke about her experience in the district, which began as a kindergarten student in the late 1960s.

old photo of students sitting in rows     students in flexible seating

With photos, she described the differences between what going to school was like for her versus what students experience today. 

“We didn’t sit on balls or have furniture that could be moved around easily. We sat in rows at our desks and moving around was frowned upon,” she said. She added that students didn’t use Chromebooks or apps. “Our technology was a pencil.” 

Wonder Wednesdays are a monthly online feature aimed at inspiring students’ curiosity and creativity. Information is online at https://cusd.link/3zbt0dr.

  Save the Date!  CUSD Centennial Celebration!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Featuring Students’ Design Challenge Exhibits in Campbell History Museum

Student Art and Music Performances

Downtown Campbell Concert (with two professional bands)

More information and photos on our Centennial Website.