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October 28, 2015
Esteemed Vista Unified Families--
This is an update to apprise you of our progress related to Strategy 3 of our Blueprint for
Educational Excellence and Innovation. Strategy 3 focuses on “Social and Emotional Systems of
Support” and we had an opportunity to provide a presentation to the School Board on October
8th with an overview of our progress to date.
As you may recall, we are presently in the second year of implementing the Blueprint which also
includes the state required “Local Control Accountability Plan” (LCAP). Last year we created a
brief videoproviding an overview of Strategy 3 that provides context for our efforts.
Strategy 3 Video https://vimeo.com/113533200
To develop social and emotional systems of supports for all learners, the Blueprint includes five
action plans that address various aspects of the needs of our students. The first of these relates
to the addition of support personnel, including counselors and social workers, who are available
to students and their families. This year we added ten additional counselors across the district,
including one at each of our five middle schools, to help create positive school climates where
students feel safe, connected, and enthusiastic about learning. We also increased the number of
elementary assistant principals by three positions to focus on student safety. Our social workers
focus primarily on reducing chronic absenteeism and this year we added one social worker to
focus on the needs of students at Alta Vista and Major General Raymond Murray High Schools.
The addition of the counselors and social workers has also led to our ability to attract interns
from local universities such as San Diego State who provide support for our students at no cost to
the district. This enables us to expand services and our return on the investment in additional
staff positions yields far more support than we had initially anticipated.
The second action plan expands research-based programs that increase student safety and
connectedness, including restorative practices, character education programs, and positive
behavioral interventions and supports. Professional development for teachers, counselors, and
psychologists is provided to support these efforts. In addition, programs such as Project AWARE,
Breaking Down the Walls, and trips to the Museum of Tolerance are funded through this strategy.
The next action plan focuses on integrating special education students into their neighborhood
schools. Additional psychologists have been hired to assist with proper placement and support
for our students. We have hired a lead instructional aide to provide training for our aides and
funds are also allocated for teachers to collaborate and plan together to promote effective
The final aspects of this strategy include providing a comprehensive support program for teen
parents and the delivery of a strong health program at all grade levels. We have hired three
additional nurses and also three licensed vocational nurses to ensure that students have access to
the help that they need. The team of nurses also conduct vision and hearing screenings, refer
students to partners such as the Vista Community Clinic for dental services, and assist with the
implementation of individual student health plans.
Our commitment to providing support for the social and emotional needs of our students aligns
with our value of trust--which we define as making decisions in the best interests of students. We
know from the research that the brain does not function well when an individual feels unsafe.
We also know that many conditions, including our social context, can influence our perceptions of
As we strive to achieve our vision to be the model of educational excellence and innovation,
students will only learn and thrive in an atmosphere where they are well-supported and where
they feel that there are trusted adults and resources available to assist with their concerns. It is
our hope that by developing systems of support we can help to establish an environment that
promotes collaboration and inspires each of our students to be a critical thinker who is
empowered to solve real-world problems.
Devin Vodicka, EdD
Superintendent of Schools
Strategy 3 of the Blueprint for Educational Excellence and Innovation -- Vista Unified School District