Spotlight Community Newsletter – February 9, 2024

--- Published on February 09th 2024 ---

College & Career

Inderkum High School Students Tour Cal Poly as part of its United by Excellence Program

Providing college field trips is a great way to expose students to college and to give them a small taste of the college experience. That’s what happened to students of Inderkum High School’s Black Student Union. They were invited to visit Cal Poly and participate in the school’s United by Excellence program. Students toured the school, attended workshops, heard from students of Cal Poly, learned about admissions, and what it is like to be a student there. IHS students shared that it was an amazing experience! Thanks to Teachers Lisa Stubenrauch; Claire Fraga, the schools BSU advisor; and all the other IHS staff members who accompanied the students and made it possible.

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Leroy Greene Academy Students Visit Multiple Colleges Throughout School Year

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Leroy Greene Academy provides multiple college field trips to its students. In fact, this year, the LGA Counseling staff has coordinated five trips to such campuses as Sonoma State, Chico State, and UC Davis. They will take their final college field trip to UC Berkeley next month. Curtis Cole, one of the school’s counselors, shares why the counseling team makes these college trips a priority. “It is important for students to physically visit campuses, and feel what the environment and culture is like on each campus, so they can make an informed decision on which campus would be best for them and their educational success.”

Jordan, a junior at Leroy Greene, agrees with Cole. “Since college is a big step, I feel like looking at all these colleges makes me feel prepared to choose a school I would want to attend.”

Forward 5 Update

NUSD’s District Goals: Goal #2 

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 #2: Cultivate the social-emotional well-being of each student.

School Spirit

“IM.POSSIBLE” Assembly Inspires Students to Succeed

Once discouraged, student Rafael, was doubtful about his soccer dreams until he became inspired by motivational speaker Eddie Cortes. Cortes visited Natomas Park Elementary (NPE) last week. Cortes’ visit was all about tapping into the superpowers within each student and helping them to tap into their potential through fun and interactive activities! Cortes wrote about his memorable experience with NPE students on his blog. Thank you to Lyndsay Byrd for helping to organize this event.

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Student Athletes Featured on SEVA TV

Watch as NUSD students Zahidullah and Matthew from Heron School share their enjoyment of sports such as basketball, tennis and badminton in this SEVA TV video. The students also explain how to play pickleball in a fun and creative way. While Inderkum High School student Lena talks about her love of cross-country running.

Inderkum High School Student Athletes Sign Letters of Intent


Inderkum High School recently hosted another signing day for college-bound athletes. Congratulations to the following students for being one step closer to realizing their college dreams: Anisha, William Jessup; Christian, Dartmouth; Baron; Southern Utah.

Student Success

Last week, we celebrated our annual “Every Student Succeeding” event. One student from each school site is selected by school staff members as exemplary students who have overcome obstacles. Watch some of the students share how it feels to be honored.

Student Success Guide on Its Way 

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Our district is committed to engaging with parents and families to support student success in school. In the coming weeks, families will receive their “Winter 2023 Student Success Guide”. This guide will provide parents/families with academic and engagement results specific to their student and share important information about summer opportunities.

  • Specific student outcomes in the “Student Success Guide” will include:
  • Fall 2023 Attendance Rate
  • Report card results for the first trimester (Elementary) or fall semester (Secondary) 
  • Results from our district’s fall writing assessment (pre and post scores) for grades TK-11
  • Results from our district’s fall and winter math and literacy diagnostic assessments
  • Results from our district’s covitality social-emotional health survey for grades 4-12

Our main goal in providing this guide is to spark conversations and collaboration between home and school. We encourage families to review the guide, especially the results specific to your student, and connect with their student’s teacher(s) and school to partner in supporting their success.


Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Feast and Learn with NUSD as we celebrate Black History Month with Chef Vada Galvez and CTE Hospitality students Jerika and Raymond. In this video, the trio share how to cook Chef Vada’s version of baked macaroni and cheese with seafood, what Black History Month means to them, and their personal memories of what makes the dish special.

As the second most diverse school district in the nation, according to Niche, our district has been celebrating our cultural diversity through food. Through “Feast and Learn at the NUSD Table” videos, we have been sharing not only dishes, but the cultural perspectives that make NUSD unique and beautiful.

“A History of Me”

Natomas Unified students are exploring themes of identity, legacy, and Black history, as they read the book “A History of Me”. The lessons center around students’ cultural background, beliefs and values, identity, positive affirmation, and literacy. “A History of Me”, is just one of the many diverse books NUSD is proud to offer students, as we continue to strengthen our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

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Invitation to Attend Natomas Pride LGBTQIA+ Student Event and Conference

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Ensuring an inclusive environment where all students feel accepted and safe is a priority for Natomas Unified. One of the ways we are promoting inclusivity this school year is through our first “Natomas Pride LGBTQIA+ Student Event & Conference” on March 23rd, 11 – 3 pm. This event is a collaborative effort between NUSD sites and our charter schools within the Natomas community.

This poster was created by one of the students helping to organize the event. There will be food, student performances, student speakers, and an insightful conversation with educator Jeff Pollard regarding the history of LGBTQ movement within the United States. If you are interested in performing, becoming a vendor, and/or attending, please click this link. 

Details of location will be provided to registered attendees, closer to the event. If you are interested in participating, please fill out this form.

Students, staff, and families who want to volunteer for the event, please contact AJ Giersch at [email protected].

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Parents As Partners

Natomas Unified Families and Parents Come Together for Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) Event


Natomas Unified is committed to families being our partners in the education of students! We’re even a part of a statewide initiative to improve family engagement throughout the state. As a Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) district, we’re able to connect and engage with districts from all over the state to learn best practices for family engagement. Recently, our CEI Family Engagement team which consists of NUSD staff, parents, county office of education representative, and one of our students attended a Peer Leading and Learning Network where they presented on what we’re doing in the district and obtained resources to enhance family engagement in Natomas. We also had one of our parents, Tequila Miller, participate in the Caregivers panel, and her daughter, Noelle Miller, with a spoken word that she authored that ended the day in a standing ovation of a crowd of 600! You can view it here.

NUSD employees, parents, and county office of education partner represented our district at the Community Engagement Initiative Meet-Up last week.

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Join us Tuesday for an insightful discussion with Dr. Michele Hamilton and the Communications and Family Engagement Department as we discuss mental health and restorative practices and obtain feedback on our actions for the district’s new strategic plan. Click here to register.

Parent University Love & Logic Series at American Lakes and Bannon Creek Schools

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If you missed a chance to take part in our six week “Love and Logic” series, you still have an opportunity to attend this Parent University workshop at American Lakes or Bannon Creek schools. These sessions fill up quickly, be sure to register ASAP.

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

Register here.

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

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

Superintendent’s Corner

Dr. Robyn Castillo recently snapped these photos during “Senior Night” at Leroy Greene Academy’s (LGA) girls and boys basketball game. Castillo congratulates LGA’s seniors!

Follow along on her Instagram journey here, then click “follow”.

Staff Stars

A Big ‘Thank You’ to NUSD School Counselors

This past week, we shared these images of some of our amazing counselors. Counselors are integral in helping students prepare for their academic futures, by helping students stay on track, weigh out where to attend college, and sharing helpful resources. Thank you, counselors!

From the Forklift to the Uplift: A Conversation with Interim Counselor Markus Benjamin


Paths to success are not always linear, for Markus Benjamin, the interim counselor at Natomas Middle, his journey was a more than 23 years long process. Benjamin was an NUSD warehouse specialist before joining the Natomas Middle School team. He explains how he balances work and life, stemming from his start with the Sacramento Job Corps, being a small business owner, a husband and father, an NUSD employee, and a Diverse Future Teachers participant. We proudly share this Conversations with NUSD podcast, in celebration of National School Counseling Week.

FBF: Dr. Esther Perez, Principal of Larry G. Meeks Academy

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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 Dr. Esther Perez, Principal of Larry G. Meeks Academy.

Question: What’s the story behind the photo?

Answer: My mom took me to get photos with my aunt. I had a history of NOT liking to take photos but for some reason, I really liked the red outfit and the red chair (it was in the shape of a heart) and so—I was really happy that day!

Question: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Answer: I wanted to be either a doctor, an actress, or a teacher. In a good way, I’m basically all three now!

Question: Why do you like working here at NUSD?

Answer: I believe that NUSD strives to do the right thing for their students, staff, and the community we serve. And, NUSD is responsive — when something needs to be adjusted, addressed, or altered—we’re not afraid to make changes for the better

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

Earlier this week, we shared a message with families and students about the increase in lost, stolen, and damaged Chromebooks. If you missed the message, please take a moment to review it here, and watch the video below with your student to reinforce how to handle their Chromebook safely.

In Case You Missed It

Classified Employees of the Year and More!

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Click here to read NUSD’s Board Highlights, which recaps some of the actions taken during February 7th’s board meeting, including our Classified Employees of the Year!

Chromebook Safety and Care

Students are urged to take proper care of their district-issued laptops in this cute video featuring some of our very talented scholars. Watch here for tips on how to care for Chromebooks.

NUSD Newsroom Hub

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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.