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Letter from the Superintendent: Wrapping up the First Week of the 2023-24 School Year!

Posted Date: 8/25/23 (5:31 PM)

Wrapping up the First Week of the 2023-24 School Year!
Letter from the Superintendent

Dear San Rafael City Schools Community,

I sincerely hope you’ve all had a wonderful start to the 2023-24 school year! I know throughout the summer, our staff worked diligently to prepare for the new year, and we were overjoyed to welcome students back to school on Wednesday. I’ve had a chance to visit many of our schools these first few days, and it stood out to me that there was a palpable enthusiasm amongst students, teachers and staff while also everything seems to be running very smoothly - even in our Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes! 

I am truly honored to be in San Rafael City Schools to serve the students, staff and community. As I have transitioned into the District over the past few months, it is so evident to me how special the SRCS community is. I have already met many of our dedicated teachers, staff, school leaders and employees across the District and they truly embody the values of equity, community and joy.   

As the Superintendent of this amazing District, my purpose will be to serve as the ultimate advocate for all students and work with our strong staff to provide all students with a high-quality education to prepare them for the world ahead. I believe that all students are scholars, each in their own way. All students can achieve success and deserve the opportunity to thrive, regardless of the challenges they face. 

Throughout my education journey, I’ve learned that the relationships I created with my students matter more than I often realized. In fact, these can matter more than any content I ever taught or any grade I ever assigned. With our support, our SRCS teachers and staff are here to ensure that all our students are heard, seen, valued, supported and safe in order to learn and be their best selves - and I consider it a privilege to lead this work. 

I want to take an opportunity to highlight some key areas as we start this new school year. 

Attendance Matters - Start The Year on Time, Every Time 
Our parents and families are our strongest partners on our students’ journeys; we value our home-to-school connection. It is essential that your child attend school every day and we need your support in helping them arrive at school on time. Attendance is the key to school success, both academically and socially. When students miss school, they miss valuable learning opportunities and social interaction with their classmates. Any day or hour absent is a missed learning opportunity.

Welcome New Staff
We are happy to have several new key school and District leaders:
  • Jacob Hodgson, Principal, Glenwood Elem.
  • Jimmy Lopez, Principal, Laurel Dell Elem.
  • Mari Kernan, Interim Principal, Bahia Vista Elem.
  • Kristin Hancock, Assistant Principal , Sun Valley Elem.
  • Sara Hausner-Furch, Assistant Principal, Bahia Vista Elem.
  • Faye Kwan, Assistant Principal, Venetia Valley School
  • Shelly Thelen, Assistant Principal, Davidson Middle School
  • Claudia Thompson, Assistant Principal, Davidson Middle School
  • Anthony Braxton, Dean of Students, Venetia Valley School
  • Christy Novack, Director of Technology
  • Timothy Ryan, Senior Director of Capital Facilities
  • Darlene Avalos, Senior Director of Human Resources
We have hired nearly 60 new teachers and certificated staff and about 25 new classified staff and are thrilled to welcome all to our SRCS community. New this year, we have 13 teaching residents joining us. They participate in a rigorous teacher preparation program through the lens of equity and inclusion, whereby they earn their teaching credential and Master's degree in one year; each is paired with an expert mentor SRCS educator. This is one way we are building the teacher pipeline in SRCS, and it is especially impactful as many are former students or employees!

Building for Student Success - Construction Continues 
Over the past eight years, our school facilities have been transformed thanks to the school bonds generously approved by our SRCS community. An independent oversight committee reviews the work - 
check out their most recent report on the recent projects and progress at our schools. We're fortunate that additional projects are ahead to further enhance our campuses; projects are in the design phase, with construction, renovation and modernization slated to begin in 2024. Stay tuned for more!

I am so happy to be here with our amazing students, dedicated staff and supportive families as we embark on a new year of learning, growth and endless possibilities. Let's make the 2023-24 school year one to remember!

Carmen Diaz Ghysels 

2023-24 SRCS All Staff Welcome Back Celebration at San Rafael High School on Aug. 22

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310 Nova Albion Way
San Rafael, CA 94903