Ed notes: District names new PA Walsh principal

Local students excel in county competitions

Britton Middle School eighth grader Ben Hayes and Rea Deshpande at Santa Clara Valley Science and Engineering Fair Assocation’s 2019 Synopsys Science & Technology Championship.

A San Martin assistant principal will head to another Morgan Hill Unified School District campus next year, with the promotion of Shannon Rafat to principal at PA Walsh STEAM Academy, according to a recent staff announcement.

Rafat, an interim assistant principal at San Martin/Gwinn Environmental Science Academy, will begin her new leadership role at Walsh in the 2019-20 school year.

Shannon Rafat was selected as the new principal at PA Walsh STEAM Academy.

During her career in education, Rafat has served as a bilingual classroom teacher, a teacher on special assignment in math and science, a reading intervention specialist, and interim assistant principal.

“My involvement building programs from the initial phase, helping create focused curriculum and working with staff, parents and students in Title I schools has led me to believe that focus academies are crucial to developing hands-on learning opportunities for students,” Rafat said.

Rafat was hired in Morgan Hill in 2012 as a teacher at San Martin/Gwinn, working closely with foundational literacy and coordinating enrichment and intervention programs. In 2015, Rafat became the interim assistant principal, assisting the school with administrative duties related to it’s expanding K-8 program with both the dual immersion strand and the environmental science focus.

“Shannon has a clear understanding of the academic and social-emotional needs of all learners, and her experiences in our district demonstrate her willingness to implement effective programs to address students’ needs,” according to the district’s announcement.

Third-grader wins countywide art contest

Willy Ramirez Salgado, a third-grader at San Martin Gwinn Environmental Science Academy, was one of 26 winners selected by the Santa Clara County Office of Education for the 2019 Young Artists Showcase.

More than 100 public and charter school students from 20 school districts within the county submitted their artwork. The top entrees in each grade level from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade were honored for their artistic ability.

This year’s theme, “Your Art, Your Story,” encouraged participants to tell their story through their art.

Salgado’s artwork was titled “El Tauro.” The medium of the piece is acrylic paint, acrylic canvas panel and brushes.

The winning entries will be unveiled at the Young Artist Showcase Celebration at 4:30pm Tuesday, May 21at the SCCOE, located at 1290 Ridder Park Drive in San Jose.

“The pool of artwork this year was absolutely incredible,” said Jeannine Flores, visual and performing arts coordinator for the SCCOE. “Each year, I am blown away by the creativity and pure talent expressed by Santa Clara County students. Thank you to the parents, teachers, principals and leaders who encourage our students to express themselves with authenticity.”

The SCCOE accepted 2D, 3D or 4D student artwork to become part of the permanent collection. The Young Artist Showcase Gallery within the SCCOE is the largest collection of adjudicated student artwork in California, with over 900 pieces.

Students have the choice of having their original work or a facsimile added to the permanent collection. Included in the collection are paintings, drawings, watercolors, photographs, sculptures and multimedia works. The Young Artist Showcase Gallery is open to the public during business hours. A total of 26 pieces will be added to the collection in 2019.

Pair of Acorns win county viral video contest

Two Live Oak High School students, Connor Dietz and Gavin Vallez, took home first place honors in the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department’s Viral Video Contest.

From high schools throughout the Bay Area, 171 students submitted creative videos used to catch their peers’ attention and instruct about safe sex practices. The winners were announced last week.

The award comes with $1,500 paid directly to the two students and $500 awarded to Live Oak High School for the achievement. The duo was assisted by teacher adviser William Row.

Two other groups of students from LOHS student groups that placed highly included Sami Arce, Cynthia Bernardino, Emma Burns, Ana Fuenzalida, Robert Harnette, Skylaire Hudson, Camille Kubota, Kobe Nguyen, Maribel Romo and Travis Tran.

Britton students compete with county’s best

Britton Middle School eighth-grader Ben Hayes, as well as the duo of Rea Deshpande and Lexi D’Amico, received high praise at Santa Clara Valley Science and Engineering Fair Assocation’s 2019 Synopsys Science & Technology Championship.

Hayes’ “Creek Stew” project was selected as an honorable mention.

Along with Deshpande and D’Amico, other local students who participated in the county science fair included Martin Murphy’s Alexander Nguyen and San Martin/Gwinn’s Samantha Togliatti.

Deshpande also competed in the 2019 Tech Challenge at the Tech Museum, with eighth-grade teammate Paras Gandhi and Corbin Schweigert. The team received a Judges Choice Award for Rapid Troubleshooting. They competed against 200 middle school teams.

AIM to host math festival May 11

The American Institute of Mathematics, a nonprofit organization that provides math learning opportunities for students and educators in South County, will host the Julia Robinson Math Festival from 9:30am to noon May 11 for second- through fifth-graders at San Martin/Gwinn Academy (13745 Llagas Ave. in San Martin).

AIM staff will provide “thought-provoking mathematics problems in a social, cooperative and noncompetitive atmosphere.”

AIM’s Morgan Hill project director, Kelley Barnes, runs after-school math programs for students: Math Olympiad and Math Counts. AIM also provides a Math Teacher Circle once a month at the Morgan Hill Cultural & Community Center. It is open to all teachers.

School board adopts environmental stewardship resolution

In honor of Earth Day, MHUSD’s Board of Education approved an “Environmental Stewardship” resolution at its April 23 meeting.

The purpose of the resolution is “to support environmental stewardship, conservation and natural resource sustainability wherever and whenever possible and feasible,” according to a staff report.

The district’s resolution was supported by the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and San Jose Councilmember Sergio Jimenez.

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