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OUSD Newsletter 1/13/2019
OUSD Newsletter 1/13/2019
Linda Jordan
Monday, February 11, 2019

Letter from The Superintendent

Dear Ojai Unified District Community,

As we launch into the second half of our Academic year, I am pleased to announce our new communications program, beginning with bi-monthly eBlasts.  Later this month, we are also launching an updated website platform with enhanced communications capabilities.  You will receive more information on the new OUSD website in the next eBlast. As I shared in my previous communication, I believe Ojai is truly a special community. I am continually amazed by the level of dedication shown by parents and community members in serving our students through parent teacher organizations, booster clubs, service organizations, and groups like the Ojai Education Foundation, Food for Thought, Inspire and more! Being “OjaiStrong” existed long before December 2017 and it continues to this day.  Read more here 

For more information on Ojai Unified School District, including School Board meeting agendas and dates, and District calendar, please click here 

    Nutrition Services – Harvest of the Month   


OUSD Nutrition Services’ Thanksgiving Week and Christmas Week menu offerings  

Since 2012, OUSD Nutrition Services has been developing relationships with local farmers to grow for Ojai Unified schools' increasing fresh fruit and vegetable demands.  Nutrition Services has developed new recipes for each new offering and brings in Harvest of the Month (HOTM) produce for special taste-testing events for our students.  “This helps to educate our students to try new produce choices, such as persimmons and pomegranates”, noted Director of Nutrition Services, Julie Chessen. “Taste testing also helps us to determine ‘likeability’, and future ordering needs, of all new offerings, cutting down on food waste, an OUSD initiative” 

One example of how Nutrition Services incorporates HOTM into breakfasts, snacks and lunches to our over 2200 students is in our special Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. The Thanksgiving meal featured turkey roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green beans, fruit cobbler, and Harvest of the Month persimmons mixed into a yummy fruit salad. What a feast!  The staff also provided a Holiday meal in December, consisting of tamale pie, pozole, and the Harvest of the Month carrots, locally-sourced from Steel Acres farm in Meiners Oaks.   For more information on Nutrition Services’ mission, menus and opportunity to make online payments to your student’s account, please visit OUSD Nutrition Services here.  Stay updated on new initiatives by following us on Facebook here      

 Operations – Increasing Efficiencies, Driving Down Costs

ecobee units, installed Summer 2018

As part of OUSD’s commitment to drive down operating costs and provide a more sustainable infrastructure, and as a planned Measure J project, the Operations team installed these ecobee units over the summer in every classroom at Topa Topa, Matilija, and Nordhoff schools, along with occupancy and door threshold sensors.  These units provide minute-to-minute reporting, and adaptation, to increase HVAC efficiencies, and drive down costs.  Additionally, over 50% of less efficient and failing HVAC units were replaced.

  “We are already seeing a 25% reduction in energy costs over the same time last year,” noted David Rogers, OUSD Director of Operations.   For more information on OUSD Operations, including Measure J projects, please visit OUSD Operations page here      

Matilija – Bullying Prevention Guest Speaker


OUSD SPED Director Rebecca Kirkland, Asst. Superintendent Sherrill Knox, Matilija Principal Javier Ramirez, Asst. Principal Carol Paquette,  Superintendent of Schools Andy Cantwell with Guest Speaker Peggy O’Neill

Matilija Students:  Hannah Boverson, Addysyn Johnson,  Delancey Vogt, Madden Miles, Chanel Kenton, Brenley Hootaen,  Lily Morris, Sariah Lopez & Zayreth Guardado with Guest Speaker Peggy O’Neill

In December Matilija Junior High School hosted local resident and professional diversity speaker Peggy O'Neill, to speak to students and staff about bullying prevention.  During an all-school assembly, Ms. O’Neill shared her insights on bullying, inclusion and empowerment. As a child, Ms. O’Neill, a little person who stands at 3’ 8”, was bullied and she used her experiences to present the consequences of bullying from her unique perspective.
During her presentation, Ms. O’Neill also inspired the students to:
*Honor Differences in Others
* Communicate with Kindness
* Practice Inclusiveness
*Believe in Themselves
After her presentation, Ms. O’Neil remained on-campus, through snack, to answer questions from, and to encourage, Matilija’s students.
“We are thankful for Ms. O’Neill, and her willingness to share her story,” said Javier Ramirez, Principal of Matija Junior High School.  “This demonstrated to our students that they can triumph over obstacles and learn to embrace differences in others.”
For more information on OUSD’s anti-bullying policy, and bullying prevention, please review our school policies document here or contact Ms. Paquette at To learn more about Ms. O’Neill,  visit her website here 
Meiners Oaks Elementary – a Green Ribbon School

(l) Meiners Oaks Elementary Field Trip participants Rodrigo Ortiz, Joseline Gutierrez, Alexa Quiroz, Miranda Martinez

(r) Meiners Oaks Elementary Prinicipal, Theresa Dutter, with goat from Poco Farms
Do you ever drive by Meiners Oaks Elementary school, located on Lomita Avenue, and wonder exactly what the new banner noting “Green Ribbon School” means?  It’s a story that begins in 2007, with an environmental awareness partnership between Food For Thought Ojai (FFTO) and Ojai Unified School District schools to create a District Green Committee. Since then, Meiners Oaks Elementary teacher Janis Duncan, has worked to encourage and inspire her Student Leadership team to focus on environmental projects. Beginning in 2011, Meiners Oaks participated in the Texas-based Green  Ribbon Schools ( programs, earning multiple awards, and was featured on their website.

As a result of these efforts, teacher Janis Duncan and FFT Executive Director Lori Hamor were confident in the school’s ability to be recognized as a California Green Ribbon School, and have worked to complete the arduous application (twice!). Meiners Oaks received recognition as a Silver Award in 2017 and 2018. The applications are considered and scored in 3 categories/pillars: I) Reduce environmental impact and costs, II) Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff, and III) Provide effective environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways.

Student involvement and enrichment opportunities are a hallmark of the Meiners Oaks program. All 4th and 5th graders are invited to apply to the Student Leadership Green Team. Each year a new group of 40 students creates the projects and ideas that correlate with the Green Ribbon Schools three pillars. For more information about these, and other programs at Meiners Oaks Elementary, please visit school website here

To date, approximately 70 California schools, 22 California school districts have been recognized as Green Ribbon Schools since 2014.     
 San Antonio School’s Chair of Distinction
San Antonio students Avery Monson, Roman Johnson,
Daniel Hernandez, Madison Rogers and Jackson Nash.

“A special tradition at San Antonio School is The Chair of Distinction, reserved for students whose outstanding behavior exemplifies the characteristics we promote, especially kindness and friendship,” says Robin Monson, San Antonio School Principal. 
The Chair of Distinction recognition is observed at most school assemblies. These assemblies are an opportunity for the whole campus to meet on a weekly basis and celebrate academic achievements and recognize students for their kind deeds.  We sing songs and the 5th and 6th grade leadership teams passes out pencils for students who have been chosen from “Gold Slip” recipients; students who demonstrate kindness or lend a helping hand to other students. 

For the Chair of Distinction portion of the assembly, one student is recognized through the sharing of stories by teachers or through interactions with other students, usually highlighting the candidate’s leadership qualities.  Ms. Monson notes that assemblies are, “… really special.  We make a point to invite parents to our assemblies, as … assemblies are a big part of our school culture and climate.”  Assemblies are every Friday at 8:15 and PTO often has coffee for parents before the assembly starts.  Please contact the San Antonio office at (805)640-4373 or email for more information.

 Nordhoff  High School – Health Science Academy

       Nordhoff HSA Student volunteers      HSA Teacher, Ms. Nayima Houston,   at grand opening of Ventura's                  with 2017 HSA students         Community Memorial Hospital                                                                   

At Ojai Unified School District, Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathways are an important component of outlining next steps for our students to navigate to college and career.
The Health Science Academy is a three-year elective program designed to give students who are interested in careers in the Health Science Industry an opportunity to gain specialized knowledge and training while in high school. The Academy prepares students for an entry level career in the Health Science Industry and will allow them to pursue the areas which interest them the most. The HSA also offers students credit opportunities in the workplace, as they job shadow and intern at one or more local health service offices. Nordhoff students may apply to the Health Science Academy at the end of their freshman year.  
HSA Student volunteers recently helped with the community open house at the NEW Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura.  Many of these students plan to pursue careers in healthcare. Congratulations Nordhoff HSA!
For more information on NHS’ Health Science Academy, please visit our page here  
To learn more about additional CTE Pathways offered at Nordhoff, please click here
Chaparral High School:  Restorative Justice


Chaparral’s Democracy students lead a dialog circle using Restorative Justice practices learned in training

“Restorative Justice, or Restorative Schools, is more about an attitude than it is about a prescriptive process”, says Chaparral’s Principal Becky Beckett.  “It reflects a core value of the institution that relationships matter, and that harmful, destructive behavior results from, and causes, damage to relationships”. 
At Chaparral, Restorative Justice has been a way of resolving conflict for over three years.  The two key parts to Restorative Justice are; establishing trusting, respectful relationships among members of the school community, and engaging all affected parties in repairing those relationships when someone has (intentionally or not) caused harm.  Dialog Circles can be part of the establishment of an open and positive campus climate.  Chaparral staff have received training in running Circles, and they continue to add to their knowledge by seeking on-going training.  Last year’s Democracy (leadership) students were trained to run Circles, and every other week they invited groups of students to participate.  The concept was to construct the groups such that every participant was with at least one student with whom they were comfortable, and at least one with whom they’d not yet interacted.  The goal was to get students to become more aware of people outside of their immediate social groups.  Students had a very positive response to this experience.
“There has been some resistance to making dialog circles a classroom routine”, says Ms. Beckett. “So, we will continue with the circles in Democracy, but we are really focusing on staff development this year”.  Chaparral staff is working with Reins of Hope to develop into a more cohesive team, and to develop the students’ and staffs’ leadership skills.  The school’s first session with Reins of Hope gave the team the insight that, “…we each operate in our own bubble, focusing on student success, but that we are missing opportunities to support one another” stated Ms. Beckett.  “My hope and expectation is that our growth as a team will improve campus climate and support student success, and will allow us to move forward with developing a restorative schools routine at Chaparral.”
 Topa Topa – TED Table Tuesday
Topa Topa Students (l) Oliver Tallerico and Ethan Beirne creating beautiful, hand-made Christmas Cards.
(r) Morgan Holland, Lily Giuliani, Cassidy Gaston and Sofia Perez-Salinas work  at TED Tables to “Take Apart Computers”


 In the mode of TED, the non-profit organization dedicated to idea-sharing of Technology, Entertainment and Design, Topa Topa Elementary School has adopted TED Table Tuesday.  This fun, free, and optional playground activity is designed to spark interest in technology, entertainment and design, and affords the students an opportunity to continue their path toward life-long learning.
The first TED Table experience, called “Take-Apart Computers!”, offered students the opportunity to explore computer design, as they disassembled old computers and computer parts . Additional TED Table topics included:  Loom Weaving, LEGO Design, Christmas-Card Making, and more!

Topa Topa Staff and PTO are hoping to offer TED Tables EVERY Tuesday throughout the year, but your help to do so.   If you are interested in bringing an activity to TED Tables, please email Karin Dingman at to set a date. 

 Mira Monte  - Teaching Compassion through “Pay It Forward” Fundraiser

(l) MiraMonte students Logan Katz,  Ari Larrew, Riley Katz and Bryce Parent (r) Thank you letter from Paradise Unified School District.


In December, Mira Monte students and staff sought ways to support the students of Paradise, a town ravaged by the devastating Camp Fire. Because the Mira Monte students had experienced a similar situation during the December 2017 Thomas Fire, they rallied behind this project and asked Principal Katherine White the best way to help.  Soon thereafter, the “Pay it Forward” fundraiser was launched.  The project began with a baked goods sale at Ojai Farmer's Market, benefitting Paradise and Las Virgenes School Districts. The bake sale produced over $418, and a separate fundraiser – open to the entire OUSD family - garnered over $1515 in gift cards.    
For more information on Mira Monte School, its leadership and mission, please visit school website here
Adult Continuing Education –  Residential Building and Construction
This February, OUSD’s Adult Education program will celebrate the first graduates of its new “Introduction to Residential Building and Construction” class.  This program is offered on the Chaparral campus by Ventura College, through its Strong Workforce grant, where students learn construction math, construction drawing, basic rigging, hand and power tools, as well as workplace communication, computer applications, and "soft skills".  “We will be collaborating with Ventura College this Summer on additional course offerings, which are still to be determined, and we are seeking input from potential students as well as employers in our community,” noted Program Director Becky Beckett.  “Our courses are designed to support and promote the personal and professional development of adults in our community.  OUSD Adult Education is a place where every student is given an opportunity to succeed”
Adult high school diploma and adult ESL programs are also offered throughout the year.  To learn more about OUSD's Adult Continuing Education program, or to share your input, please contact Ms. Beckett at, or visit the ACE page here

For information regarding OUSD's communications program, please email