Spotlight Community Newsletter – February 2, 2024

--- Published on February 02nd 2024 ---

Natomas Unified Named Most Diverse District in California

NUSD most diverse in CA 2024 (1)

The Natomas Unified School District has been named the most diverse district in California; second most diverse in the country, according to Niche. Our district is proud of this distinction, as we continuously strive to celebrate our diversity, promote equity, and lead by example with our inclusion efforts. Those efforts include our Feast and Learn at the NUSD Table cooking series, where we spotlight a variety of cultural recipes, make available diverse literary works for our students to enjoy, and host meaningful cultural events.

Families may have also seen Deidra Powell, Executive Director of the Communications and Family Engagement Department on KCRA this week. Powell shared our excitement about being named the most diverse district and our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work.


NUSD Every Student Succeeds 2024_4917 copy

Every year, NUSD recognizes a student at each of our sites who have overcome obstacles. Congratulations to these students who have been leading examples of perseverance, resilience, and strength. Thank you to the families and staff who played pivotal roles in supporting and celebrating student success!


NUSD’s District Goals: Goal #1 Maximize Academic Growth

Natomas Unified is committed to its Core Values and continuous improvement. To show families our ongoing progress, we are sharing a series of five videos which outline NUSD’s District Goals. Click here to watch Goal #1: Maximize academic growth, responsibility, and achievement for each student.

100 Days of the 2023-24 School Year Highlights

100 days

Last Wednesday, Natomas Unified celebrated 100 days of the 2023-24 school year! Here is a picture that Witter Ranch Elementary shared of how its students celebrated.

Caught Doing the Right Thing

Watch this playful, competitive game of volleyball at Natomas High School (NHS) and learn how our district uses Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to support students’ social-emotional needs. Staff versus students faced off last week in a lunchtime game that built camaraderie, community, and positive behavior.

Students were able to participate by using PBIS points; points which are given to students by staff members for embodying SOARing behaviors such as: safety, optimism, achievement, and respect. “We catch the students doing the right thing. We reward them, and we acknowledge that they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Nick Juri, an NHS teacher said.

The volleyball game is just one example of how students are rewarded for exemplary behavior. Other incentives include a PBIS store, giveaways, and other activities. “(Activities such as volleyball) helps me to stay focused and be more respectful,” Josue, a student said.

Students Showcase Talents

Music, martial arts, and more sheer talent were on display at Witter Ranch Elementary last week, as the school hosted its talent show. Students who participated in this talent show gained a sense of accomplishment and confidence; they learned to encourage and praise others! School leaders would like to thank the site’s PTA leaders Mrs. Azemika and Mrs. Brandy Joseph for making this event possible.

8th Graders Prepare for Next Academic Steps

8th graders at American Lakes School were recently given tips on how to prepare for their high school and postsecondary education. Natomas High School staff members shared the importance of speaking with counselors about college plans, getting involved in extracurricular activities, striving for academic excellence, and how Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway courses can help them figure out what their career focus may be.

college planning

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Celebrate Black History Month! Enter our Poster and Essay Contest

bhm poster

This Black History Month, Natomas Unified is recognizing the contributions African American artists have made, as we celebrate the theme “African Americans and the Arts”. All Natomas Unified students are invited to participate in this year’s poster and essay contest, by paying homage to an African American artist of their choice. Examples include, but are not limited to: poets, writers, visual artists, dancers, and filmmakers.

Contest guidelines may be found here. Entries may be submitted via email to [email protected] by February 19th. Winners will be announced on February 23rd. Entries will be featured on our communication platforms.

Read Aloud with Award-Winning Author 

Parent U Crystel Patterson Read Aloud 2024

Parent University presents: Read Aloud with Crystel Patterson. Join the award winning author via Zoom, Thursday, February 22nd, from 6 to 7 pm, as she reads from her book series Inspired to Be. These books are catered to elementary students (TK-5). Families who register will receive a free autographed copy of “I am Different” or “One Flip, Two Flip, Three Flip, Four,” a story inspired by Gold Medal Olympian Gabby Douglas. The series focuses on the positive narrative of Black people, and inspiring children with real life stories of achievement. Register here.

Invitation to Natomas Pride LGBTQIA+ Student Event and Conference

NUSD families and students are invited to attend the first Natomas Pride LGBTQIA+ Student Event & Conference on Saturday, March 23rd, 11 – 3 pm. This is a collaboration with NUSD sites, including our charter schools. The event will feature food, student performances, and an insightful conversation with educator Jeff Pollard. If you are interested in performing, becoming a vendor, and/or attending, please click this link. Details of location will be provided at that time.

Natomas Pride Event

Join the NUSD team as a Substitute Teacher

nusd 2

We need yo(u)! Join our team as a daily or long-term substitute teacher. The NUSD Board of Trustees just approved the higher daily rate to maintain our competitive edge. Get paid $210 a day for daily substitute teacher positions; $260 a day for long-term substitute teacher roles. Learn more here:

Parents As Partners

Tips to Relieve Stress with Delta Prevention

podcast angela de re

The stress parents and guardians may carry, impacts children. In this episode of our Conversations with NUSD podcast, Angela Da Re, of Delta Prevention, goes over tips to relieve stress.

This is the second episode with our community partner, Delta Prevention. Delta Prevention’s mission is to empower youth, families, and the communities where they live, work, and play.

In the next episode, Da Re will share tips on achieving good sleep.

Understanding the Difference Between Public versus Private Colleges

Parent University presents Part 2 of Understanding the College Systems with a session on learning the difference between Community College or 4-Year University.  Click here to register. The session is co-presented by our community partner, the Office of Student Assistance and Relief (OSAR). The Zoom link to attend the virtual session will be sent out prior to the February 8th presentation.

Understanding the College Systems (English)
diverse conversations

Attend the Parent University Love & Logic Series

Spots are filling up fast for our Parent University Love and Logic series. If you would like to attend this free 5-week program where parents learn to raise self-confident, motivated, and resilient children, see below for the sites that still have space available.

Dinner and childcare will be provided starting at 5:30 PM, with sessions beginning at 6, ending at 7:30 pm.

Register here.

Cohort 1: Natomas Park Elementary – 2/6, & 2/13

Cohort 2: Jefferson School – 2/8, & 2/15

Cohort 3: Bannon Creek School – 2/27, 3/5, 3/12, 3/19, & 3/26

Cohort 4: American Lakes School – 2/29, 3/7, 3/14, 3/21, & 3/28

Cohort 5: Paso Verde School (This series will be conducted in Spanish) – 2/8, 2/15, & 2/22

How Excessive Online Activity Hurts Our Judgment

The influence of the internet and computers can have a heavy handed impact on the decisions we make. Watch this video from our educational partner, Screenagers, in which Nicholas Carr shares the latest findings on online activity and judgment.

Locate similar resources through NUSD’s Parent University. Parent University provides families with helpful advice to navigate the challenging behaviors that may arise with parenting. We offer classes, webinars, podcasts, and short videos to help parents/guardians in the success of their students.

Recognizing the NUSD Board of Trustees


We’d like to give special recognition to the Natomas Unified School District Board of Trustees in honor of School Board Recognition Month. ”The [Assembly and Senate] hereby declares the state’s appreciation to every school board and school board member in California and recognizes their dedicated commitment to serving the needs of pupils in our communities by proclaiming the month of January 2024 as School Board Recognition Month.” We thank our trustees for all that they do for our students, families, staff, and community!

Superintendent’s Corner


NUSD Superintendent Dr. Robyn Castillo shared these kind messages to her on her Instagram. The messages were from Paso Verde School students Nyliah, Belle, Scarlett, Rubi, Pride, and Maciel during The Great Kindness Challenge. Castillo wrote that the thank you cards meant so much!

Staff Spotlight

deidra 1
deidra 2

Every week, we share a wayback/flashback/throwback photo of our staff members, share a little bit of their story, and why they love working for NUSD.

This newsletter, we feature Deidra Powell, Executive Director of NUSD’s Communications and Family Engagement.

Question: What’s the story behind the photo?
Answer: This was picture day in the 10th grade. We always took our photos before the school year started, so I remember being excited for a new school year and connecting with my friends.

Question: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Answer: Journalist! I started writing when I was three years old. My mom was in college at the time, and she took me to class with her. To keep me occupied, she would always provide me with my own pen and paper, and a pack of lifesavers! I have been writing and creating stories ever since.

Question: Why do you like working here at NUSD?
Answer: We’re a close knit community. I love that! We’re so diverse. Our staff works so hard each and everyday to provide the best for our students and their families.

If you would like to see the latest career opportunities at Natomas Unified, visit

NUSD Newsroom Hub

newsroom hub big

The NUSD Newsroom Hub web page is a dedicated place to access current and past NUSD media such as news articles, Board Highlights, newsletters, Last Week’s Wrap Up, videos, and podcasts all produced by the district’s Communications and Family Engagement team known as CAFE. Check out our page here.