Dec 17 2016

School Board: New President Sarah Pearson, New Vice President Amal Smith, School Goals

On December 14th, 2016, I attended a Piedmont Unified School District Board meeting at Piedmont City Hall. These meetings occur once or twice a month during the school year and their purpose is to discuss and propose changes to the Piedmont school system.

This meeting was focused on the Single Plan for Student Achievement which asked every Piedmont school principal to review their last year’s goals and create new goals for the coming year. There were also quick notes on school activities going on which were presented by the Associated Student Body President Alisha Lewis and each board member gave a quick list of the school related events they had recently attended. However, during the two hours I was at the meeting, the majority of the time was spent on each Principal’s plan for their school. Elementary school principals presentations weren’t until much later.

Principals Brent Daniels, Sati Shah, and Ryan Fletcher shared similar goals which included: improving communication between students and teachers, efficiency of time spent outside of school (eg. necessity of homework, sleep), and taking care of emotional and physical wellness for their students. Though a few times the Board may have had questions for the Principals, they seemed very happy with last year’s results and next year’s goals.

I got a chance to speak with Sati Shah, the Principal at Millennium High School, before the meeting began and asked him a few questions about his upcoming presentation.  He said that on average he gives about three or four presentations to the Board and that helps “set [a] collaborative direction for [the] school to follow”. He seemed confident with his presentation and after he finished, he was greeted with a few notes of praise by the Board towards the educational decisions made by Millennium High School.

This was a long meeting and after Ryan Fletcher’s goals for the year, I found that the similarities were growing and there would be little change between the elementary schools in terms of goals.

Finally, there was an election for a new president, vice president and secretary of the board which went to Sarah Pearson, Amal Smith, and Randall Booker.

Cato Leist, Piedmont High School Senior


    I attended a School Board meeting on December 14, 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to make sure everyone is in agreement on how the schools are running and how they are progressing toward their goals.

    Because it was the last meeting of the year, the principals from all the schools in the Piedmont Unified School District came to talk about their assessment of last year’s goals and how they will improve them this year or new goals.

    Principal Brent Daniels, of Piedmont High School (PHS), was the first principal to speak on his goals. He noted all the efforts he and all the staff made to reduce student stress and give students a greater opportunity to sleep; tutorial and staff meetings in the morning, conflict calendars, and the five day block scheduling. Also, his new goals for this topic; implement a curfew for any school related activities, including sports, a testing center open 8a.m. to 3p.m., therefore students can make-up tests on their own time, and continuing to make sure homework has Meaning, Value, and Practice (MVP.)

    Every Board member agreed that Principal Daniels had outstanding achievements and futures goals, however one Board member, Amal Smith, pointed out that we want to help the students as much as possible, without taking away from learning life skills. For example, the conflict calendar is an immense help, but on the contrary, students need to be taught how to juggle and delegate multiple projects or assignments at a time, because that is what is expected of people in the real world. Also, Board member Doug Ireland questioned if students were actually receiving more sleep. Principal Daniels stated that based on the survey, they are getting slightly more sleep, though they are mostly benefiting from the later start, thus they are more alert during class. Other than those two comments, every Board member expressed their support and positivity.

    Principal Daniels spoke about their efforts in improving the message of Consent. This past year, they chose to implement a new speaker and a debriefing. I spoke to the debriefing. I was lucky to have Ms.Taylor, the acting teacher and a leader in the Consent Assembly, lead my classes debriefing. I expressed that Ms.Taylor should lead the teachers in a class on how to talk to students because she created a warm and open environment where it was easy to speak my opinions. Also, about thirty student are in my English class, the class we debriefed with, and less than ten showed up. Teachers and faculty should stress the importance on the debriefing because many chose not to attend. I got an immense amount more from this assembly than freshman year’s Consent Assembly due to the discussion afterwards.

I had the chance to speak to Principal Sati Shaw, of Millennium High School (MHS). This was his second year as principal of MHS, thus his second year reviewing and expressing his goals, the Single Student Achievement Plan. He fully supports the Board meetings as, “they are a great opportunity for teachers, parents, and community members to express their ideas and feelings,”  said Shaw.

Then, he continued to explain the process of the goals. The goals are tirelessly attempted to be met, while new ones are arising. They are all important, but as Principal Shaw stated, “it is about prioritizing them and where the School Board and I want the center of discussion to be. The main goal is to create a collaborative space where students feel comfortable to excel on a personal level. We get lost in grades and getting into college, we really try to create well rounded people as well.”

Daniela Siu, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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