Dear Belmont-Redwood Shores Community,
I am very excited to be writing to you as the Superintendent of the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District (BRSSD). The BRSSD Board of Trustees appointed me superintendent effective July 1, 2013. I am honored to have this opportunity. This school district has a terrific reputation in the Bay Area both for its professional staff and for its supportive community.
Professionally, I have a diversity of experience as a school district administrator, principal, and teacher. Most recently, I supervised the middle schools and high schools in the Palo Alto school district. Prior to that, I served as a middle school principal in Palo Alto and an elementary school principal in Newark, CA. Personally, I am a husband and a father of two girls who are starting 6th and 8th grades in our neighborhood public schools in Los Altos. I value family greatly. I try to be an active parent in my daughters’ lives, and we generally use vacations to connect with our extended family in San Diego, Alaska, Colorado, and Massachusetts. I love the outdoors and sports, and try to stay fit by playing soccer on the weekend. Philosophically, I see education as a group endeavor, in which we are most successful when we communicate effectively and draw from stakeholders’ diverse perspectives and experiences. I believe that students are best served by a well-prepared and supported professional staff.
As you may have heard, we were busy this summer with school facility improvements and hiring new principals. We have good news to share on both topics! Our projects are on time, and nearly everything will be complete by our first day of school on September 11. An independent citizen’s oversight committee supervises the expenditure of funds, and I can assure you that the community’s money is being well spent. Construction photos showing our progress can be found from our website homepage. As for our new principals, three outstanding professionals are joining our administrative ranks. Bob Sherman is leading Redwood Shores Elementary School as principal. Mr. Sherman has a diversity of teaching and administrative experience in both private and public schools, and he comes to us from the Cupertino School District. Jennifer Gaboury, a well-respected teacher from Nesbit Elementary School with previous administrative experience in Southern California, is the new principal at Cipriani Elementary School in Belmont, and Joseph Funk is our new principal at Ralston Middle School. Mr. Funk served as a teacher and administrator in Millbrae for a dozen years, and is returning to the peninsula from Lafayette. These principals will make an immediate and positive impact at our schools.
Looking Ahead to the 2013-14 School Year
This year, our top two educational tasks are (1) adjusting to our increasing enrollment and (2) transitioning to the new state academic standards. We will have an advisory task force help us outline and recommend options for our projected enrollment growth. The bulk of that task force’s work is expected to take place in fall and winter. As for the new academic standards, our teachers will be working hard to adapt their lessons and instructional units to the new Common Core State Standards in English and Math. As summary of those standards can be found here. New state tests will take effect in the 2014-15 school year, with testing taking place in early May as usual. The new tests are expected to be more rigorous and to rely less on multiple choice responses. You can find a link to “practice” tests for the new state tests here. This is an exciting challenge for our school district, and one that will better serve our students in preparing for high school and a globally competitive workplace.
My top priority for this year is to improve the District’s communication with the entire community. I expect to provide regular updates to the community, and I invite you to contact me. I can be reached at 650-637-4800 (x1003) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you have a neighborhood or community group that would like to have me visit, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you. As we broaden the District’s engagement efforts, I am confident that we will continue to improve our service to students and the wider community.
Michael Milliken, Ph.D.