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Dear Bonsall School Community,

As we come to the end of the first quarter of the school year, we need to reflect on what’s working, what’s not, and how we increase student learning.  The teachers have presented parents with data from our new learning diagnostic tool, iReady.  Using such technology for measuring student learning is working by providing an opportunity for us to personalize and accelerate learning for the individual student. The technology is just a tool; but, like the printing press, that tool is having a profound impact on education.  We are very fortunate to have great partners like Hewlitt Packard that share the industry perspective so we might better prepare our students for their entry into a competitive global economy.  The following is an example from HP’s Jim Vanides sharing his six favorite Ed Tech recommendations:

  1. Technologies that empower creators and makers
  2. Technologies that provide access to opportunity
  3. Technologies that amplify, not replace, our best human qualities
  4. Technologies that provide analytics and insight to the learner and                  teacher
  5. Technologies that personalize learning
  6. Technologies that enable curiosity, creativity, inquiry, and playfulness

Recently I was wonderfully impressed when I sat in on several high school students’ presentations of their portfolios. With their computers they shared their projects from the first quarter and reflected on the content knowledge, analysis, collaboration, and thinking they experienced in each project and how they might revise it.  The depth of their perspectives brought the realization that they are indeed learning to learn, think, and project into the future; exactly the abilities we want them to have.  It validates our District’s purpose of “Academic excellence and support for all students to be highly competitive in their chosen career path and/or college”.  In previous posts we have explained the “competitive” aspect of our purpose statement is linked to our District philosophy of “Dedication to continuous improvement”; our concept of competition is not about outperforming your opponent, but instead focused on challenging one’s own previous performance.  This is the growth mindset in action.   We understand that the plasticity of our brains allows us to push the boundaries of previous performance.

Athletics is a great example of this.  Bonsall athletes at Sullivan Middle School have long had a great reputation as extraordinarily strong competitors, and as the High School implements more lifetime sports, we are seeing that success move into the CIF level.  Bonsall Legion and Wildcat teams like our cross-country runners, though relatively new to interscholastic competition, are becoming well-known as contenders for the top spots.  All of this reflects what a great school community we have here in Bonsall; the teaching, coaching, and parent support is what provides the environment for our young people to excel.

Excellence is also evident in the support all students receive from our school community organizations such as the Bonsall Education Foundation.  Like athletics, the arts are thriving in Bonsall due to the enrichment opportunities our students and families enjoy.  From music, to computer science, to gardens, to opportunities to help others less fortunate, our students receive a well-rounded set of experiences that increase their learning and preparation to thrive in the future.  The investment of so many generous adults in their lives models for them how community interdependence improves the quality of life for everyone.

With this in mind I encourage you to vote in the coming election.  This privilege and obligation is more important now because in so many ways we are at a crossroads.  However, in our nation’s history it is when we come together to support each other that we been the most powerful in making good things happen.


Justin Cunningham