CVUSD Connect

Cajon Valley School District's weekly updates…

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TEDxKids@ElCajon… Great job everyone!


Our inaugural TEDx event drew international attention from the TED community. Not bad for a “first time” event. We also learned a lot on how we can make it better next year. We are grateful to the Cajon Valley Ed Foundation for supporting this amazing work. The best “Ideas Worth Spreading” can be found right here in CVUSD. So proud of everyone.

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Cajon Valley Makers


Cajon Valley teachers and students launched the last week of school by participating in the second annual White House Maker Week, which ran from June 12 through June 18th. The Maker Movement focuses on empowering students and adults to create, innovate, tinker, and problem solve to make ideas and solutions into reality. Last June, President Obama made a call to action to lift up makers, builders and doers across the country. Cajon Valley teachers supported this call to actions and by providing design challenges for students. Students across the district built bridges, catapults, arcade games, kazoos, balancing sculptures, towers, egg drop challenges, video games, Lego cars, boats, rockets, and much more! Follow @CajonValleyUSD on Twitter to more student creations.

Carmen Restrepo, Ed.D
Coordinator of Educational Technology

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Magnolia Magic…it is powerful. It is palpable.


Every teacher at Magnolia has embraced Blended Learning and is experiencing the power of small group instruction and Project
Based Learning as it transforms student learning and achievement. Changing philosophy, pedagogy and school culture so significantly…positively in two years is impressive for any site, but Magnolia isn’t your ordinary elementary school setting. Our team has done this in spite of a very distracting environmental challenge. As we gear up for a move, our team pours on the rigor and facilitates learning through arts, maker projects, inspiration, and love in the last full week of school.

Amanda Silva, Principal
Magnolia Elementary School

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Avocado Gators (Dino’s, Makers, Winners…)


Although the school year is winding down, Avocado Gators are engaged in a variety of exciting activities. The Gators welcomed Dr. Miyashiro (aka Davidosaurus) with his personalized Dino T-Shirt in recognition of Kindergarten’s Dino Day. As a culminating activity to their dinosaur unit, kinder students worked as archeologists digging for bones and building their very own dinosaur!

While Dino Day activities continued throughout the day, students in grades 1-5 participated in many other fun and educational activities. A number of Avocado students received acknowledgement for both academic excellence and community service during Avocado’s Awards Assemblies. Students were recognized for achievement in AR, ST Math, Patrol, Perfect Attendance, etc. We are delighted that one of our third grade students, Julianna Inouye, was awarded with Best of School, and first place overall in the district for the El Cajon Historical Essay Contest.

Avocado Elementary Teachers enthusiastically joined Cajon Valley to participate in the second annual White House Maker Week. Students are working collaboratively to plan, create, design, and build unique structures. Third grade teams began a four day rotation that encourages students to design structures using tiny cups, build catapults, aluminum boats, and paper chairs. Both teachers and students are thoroughly enjoying the process! In addition to Maker Week activities, fourth grade students who mastered ST Math levels showed off their abilities by engaging in Mind Research Institute’s, Game-A- Thon, to showcase their unique game designs featuring creative solutions to mathematical problems. Three fourth grade students, designed a four square game and will create a video presentation in hopes of winning the national competition. Good luck Gators!

As we complete the last Friday of the school year, we are so proud of our many successes and accomplishments. On behalf of the Gator Team……have a fun and relaxing summer!

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Special Reunion at Blossom Valley


Nothing pulls at our heartstrings more than the viral videos that we see documenting the moment that our service men and women surprise their families with an unexpected reunion. Last Friday, Blossom Valley Elementary School and the Cajon Valley Jumpstart program were given the opportunity to play a small part in our own special reunion story.

Blossom Valley’s first grade teacher, Lacey Campbell, has been caring for her niece Vanessa for the past nine months while her sister, Lindzy Macias, served our country overseas. This past week was Vanessa’s fifth birthday, and her only birthday wish was for her mother to come home.   Ms. Macias received word that her requested leave was granted and made last minute arrangements for the long trip from Bahrain to fulfill her daughter’s birthday wish.

We would like to send a special thank you to Lacey and her family for allowing us to be a part of this special reunion.

Keith Himaka
Principal – Blossom Valley Elementary School

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Personalization of Student Learning (Resources From Naranca)

In an effort to promote blended learning and specifically the personalization of student learning, Naranca teachers have captured in a few short videos how they have made the personalization of student learning come to life in their classrooms. The goal of each video is to share what we have learned and how we have progressed so that others do not have to “reinvent the wheel.” Please, use these videos and the information within to take the personalization of student learning to the next level in your classrooms. Eventually, our goal is to have multiple videos per grade in an effort to continue to share our journey with our CVUSD community and the larger educational community outside of El Cajon.

Feel free to share your progress so that everyone can benefit from the collective teacher brainpower that exists in our amazing district! Enjoy these videos and we look forward to hearing and seeing your journey as well.

These videos were made relatively quickly so that we were able to get as many videos completed in a short period of time. We were not focused on the perfect video, rather we wanted to get the information out there so that blended learning can grow and blossom. A special thank you to the following Naranca teachers who are featured in these videos: Janet Deal-1st Grade, Jana Byrd-3rd grade, Melissa Valentine-4th grade, Bethany Schwappach-5th grade, and Brittany Clark-5th grade. We also want to thank Jason Hacker for capturing the video, editing and compiling the videos.

Thank you,

Michael Serban, Principal
Naranca Elementary School

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Maker Week? Try “Maker Year”!

Madison Elementary Teachers enthusiastically support the ideas behind Maker Week. In fact, they support them 52 times a year! With project-based learning in full swing and constantly growing and improving, Madison students spend a good chunk of their academic time building, creating, designing, planning, cooking, and making things: gardens, planter boxes, public service announcements, bridges, solar cars, presentations, food, books, and more! We believe that students need to see how academic learning directly applies to life, and they need to see this now, not just once they have graduated from college. Hats off to Madison teachers for a very PRODUCTIVE year! May the engineering, writing, experimenting, revising, developing, and thinking continue!

Christine Sphar, Principal
Madison Elementary School

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Madison’s Demonstrations of Learning


Fifth grade students at Madison Elementary don’t just “pass on” to sixth grade; first, they show they are ready to take on the next challenge in their academic career. Madison fifth graders each demonstrate that they have shown growth in the 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity to a panel of experts. These experts, superintendents, governing board members, USD professors, assistant principals, teachers, coordinators, department directors, and middle schoolers, provide feedback on each student’s strengths and suggestions on how each child can continue to grow in middle school and beyond. This inspiring and moving tradition began last year, and this year the presentations were even more developed and more creative. Student presentations all have a theme that reflects the passions and talents of the presenter, and students often present “in character”, as scientists, archeologists, soccer players, dancers, and doctors. Fifth grade teachers, Debbie McCallister and Neil Saffer, work tirelessly teaching students what it means to provide solid evidence for their claims of growth, and all Madison teachers in grades K through 4 coach small groups of fifth graders on their presentations. Students in the younger grades also provide constructive feedback in advance of the final presentations. It is truly a team effort! Congratulations to this year’s fifth grade class! You made us proud and you will do great things in middle school.

Christine Sphar, Principal
Madison Elementary School

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“The Success Project”…Personalized Learning @ Naranca


The Naranca School Community has been working on the development of “The Success Project” since January of last year. We received an outside grant to create a student template website where simply students develop their passions, turn their passions into goals and their goals into an actionable step-by-step plan. We have incorporated, Character and Success Assemblies monthly and motivational videos daily. Students are given 20% of the day or week to work on themselves. Once teachers understand what students are passionate about, then they can explain how reading, writing and math can make their passions come true.

Mike Serban, Principal
Naranca Elementary School

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At Naranca, “failing is growing!”


Since January, we have been able to share our growth and development as a blended learning school community with many school’s inside and outside of our district. We have welcomed various grade level teams from Chase, Lexington, Magnolia and other schools as well as district leaders. We have had the privilege of hosting tours from Westminster School District in Orange County, CA, Lemon Grove School District in San Diego and Sequoia Charter Schools in Mesa, Arizona. This year has been filled with many successes and challenges but the Naranca staff is committed to learning from the challenges and turning each challenge into area strength. At Naranca, “failing is growing!”

Mike Serban, Principal
Naranca Elementary School

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