Ukiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk Blog: Students are the center of everything we do!

Welcome back to school for the 2022-23 school year at Ukiah Unified School District! In case you missed it, I can tell you that we’re off to a furious start! So much to do and so little time. If you have a teacher in your family, you might have heard about setting up the classroom, and labeling desks, books, and cubbies. You may have helped pack pencil boxes, counted textbooks, or organized files. If you drove around town, you might have seen construction projects at Nokomis, Oak Manor, and Grace Hudson going on seven days a week throughout the summer. If that isn’t enough, maintenance, grounds, and custodians have been checking out the new HVAC systems, assembling new furniture, and cleaning the rugs, desks, hallways, hardscaped playgrounds, and courtyards. Behind the scenes, there is even more happening. It is a bit of a dream come true to see our schools receive the level of funding that they have long deserved. The reality is that when we fund our classrooms, we help kids. 

So let’s talk about some things that have already occurred this year and some that are still to come! In August, more than 300 teachers stepped up not just to go to work; they showed up to make a difference. For the first time ever, we have a cohort of 44 teachers participating in a two-year professional development opportunity called Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). In their usual forward-thinking minds, Ukiah Unified has partnered with LETRS to provide a master's level course to these dedicated educators. Additionally, the District has purchased tools to support the instructional practices explained, described, and reviewed in the course curriculum. As you can imagine, these small groups that now have people to teach them, a curriculum to use, and assessments to measure progress with also need materials like tables, letter cards, easels, and so on, and Ukiah Unified provided all of it. The plain fact is that when teachers have the tools they need, kids benefit! 

I am a huge proponent of seeing children succeed, and with the current educational funding priorities, we have implemented several critical components of this vital work. In our schools, we have been able to hire additional staff to provide small group instruction. This small group intervention and targeted instruction are crucial to our multi-tiered support system. Addressing the varied needs of our thousands of students has taken on a new layer in recent years. The social-emotional needs of our students are higher than ever, making learning an even more challenging task. Ukiah Unified supported our work in this area with additional counselors, social-emotional programs, and our focus on PBIS (positive behavior interventions and support) could not have come at a better time!

As we all celebrate students back in school, I also welcome that opportunity to continue the shared work of our union and district leadership in solving problems, coming up with innovative solutions, and making educational leadership a desirable career goal for our students and staff. I am in awe of our teachers' fantastic work across the District with Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and things like the Big Picture program, Middle College, advanced placement access, GATE testing, CTE courses, professional development workshops, food distribution, nighttime event supervision, field trips, and the list goes on! 

All of this has one single unifying idea at its heart; students are the center of everything we do! I am so proud of the Ukiah Teachers Association and the amazing work we do every day! We are truly BACK, and it is great to be with our students, colleagues, and families once again.