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Principal's Message

July 2017 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead, 
I have recently received several emails and questions asking what Homestead and our district is doing about the rising trend of racist hate speech that has been in the news so much lately.  Our cities and schools, like those across the country, have not been immune to these disturbing incidents including the situation we faced in September when students at Homestead and Fremont were the recipients of Anti-Semitic threats on Instagram.  Fortunately, in that situation our schools were able to partner with the Sunnyvale Public Safety Department as well as with Instagram to track, find and arrest the individual who was making the posts.  As the case involves a minor, I am not able to give out any more information but what I can say is that our district and schools have been reflecting on our practices to see how we might better address and help try to prevent future incidents.
Looking at our official Homestead Coat of Arms (picture below), the Latin phrase “Acta Non Verba”, which translates to “Deeds, not words”, can be seen at the top between the two horses.  Knowing that action speaks louder than words, our district and school are looking for ways to make this phrase a reality for our staff and students.

For the past several years now, we have been working with the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department to provide presentations to our students on Cyber Safety and have started to include lessons on safety and cyber identity to our students in various classes.  We also meet with students in the beginning of the year to go over our rules and procedures to let students know our expectations for their part in keeping the campus safe.  Over the past four years, the administration has increased the scope of supervision to include all six of us to be out during morning traffic, brunch, and lunch so that we fully cover the campus.  As with this incident and other issues on social media, it is obvious that physical supervision is not the only answer.  After this incident in the fall and in conversation with our communities, we clearly heard from our stakeholders that you were hoping for a more active and comprehensive approach that included students, staff and the community.  
One of our first steps in this incident was to partner with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, and the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center to investigate available resources and opportunities that would help us achieve our goals of making our campuses more engaging, safe and nurturing.  We participated in two trainings from the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program on the topics of Anti-Bias, Bullying and Harassment that has included teachers and administrators.  All of the Homestead administrators have participated in one or both of the trainings, and close to 30 Homestead teachers and classified staff participated in the first training along with representatives from the other four schools.  At the last training held in June, we brainstormed some ideas with the ADL for future trainings and topics to continue our efforts into the 2017-2018 school year. One important result of our new relationships was the ability to bring to campus Mr. Ben Stern, a holocaust survivor featured in the documentary “Near Normal Man”.  He spoke to over 700 students and staff members in May, and we hope to bring him back in the fall.
The Homestead staff members who participated in the first training were the volunteers from our Homeroom pilot that took place during the 16-17 school year.  We started this pilot to address some data that we have received from the past few School Climate surveys that said students felt they were not building connections to adults and other students on campus.  The idea for Homeroom was originated during one of our Leadership Team Meetings and was a grassroots effort by our staff.  The basic outline for the pilot was to put all of our 9th graders into groups of 20 that would meet with the same adult every Friday for the entire year during tutorial period.  The Homeroom groups participated in ice breaker and “get-to-know-you” activities as well as activities on a variety of subjects designed to help students not only be more successful in school but to become more active members of the Homestead community.  Our goal was to continue the program each year until we have every staff member and every student involved over the four years of high school.  While we were successful on many levels, we realized that we needed some significant changes to the program to address some of the concerns that were raised by both students and staff as well as to make it sustainable.  We are going back to the drawing board this summer to make some adjustments and will have a revised program to present in August.  We are committed to helping students make connections to their classmates and adults to help build that sense of community.
When staff returns in August, all five schools will be meeting in the Fremont Auditorium to hear a presentation from Dr. Pedro Noguera, a nationally recognized expert on Equity and improving public education.  This presentation will be the beginning of an ongoing working relationship between our district, our individual schools and Dr. Noguera to address site issues and challenges that will help to improve the social, emotional and academic conditions of our students.
A major change that we will be undergoing at Homestead is the reorganization of the duties and responsibilities of our Administrators.  Central to these changes is the creation of an Assistant Principal position that will focus on Equity and address inequities in the classroom and campus climate, curriculum content, pedagogical approaches, assessment, school and family relationships, and other aspects of school life.  We are not adding a new position but rather adjusting and moving duties among our three AP’s and two Deans.  We will be posting a chart with their new duties in the fall and feel that this re-organization in our administration will maximize our efforts while continuing to provide the support and leadership that is needed to run a school like Homestead.
Another important change that we will be focusing on next year is the creation of a new School Climate vision that promotes a more inclusive and active school community.  Our Deans have been working hard to reduce the number of discipline incidents including suspensions.  This does not mean ignoring behaviors or “going soft” on consequences but instead refers to a more restorative form of school discipline that includes educational opportunities such as one on one work with students, academic interventions, counseling and even outside classes or groups for students who are exhibiting at-risk behavior.  The root of the word “discipline” comes from Latin meaning “to teach” so punishment without education or redirection is not true discipline.  Our Deans will be unveiling the new vision to students in the fall and will be seeking input from all stakeholders to fully design and implement a vision that shows students how to be contributing members of our school and community, rather than just a list of what not to do.
We will also be continuing our Campus Commitment pledge that we created in November.  The pledge was posted in the classrooms and spaces around campus to re-confirm that we are committed to providing a safe environment that is respectful of anyone “regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, ability, social or economic status, or nation of origin”.  The second part of our Commitment outlines our pledge to hold civil discourse in our classrooms and on campus.  This previous school year, staff members also wore safety pins with green ribbons, some adorned with small horseshoes and/or American flag heart charms, as a visual affirmation of our commitment.  We have also booked our two Challenge Days for the 2017-2018 year, thanks in part to ongoing funding from the Homestead PTSA.
When we add these new and continuing priorities to the collaborative work of our teachers and staff as well as the efforts of the Wellness Task Force, we feel that we are well on our way to providing an excellent educational experience for all students.  Study after study shows that when students are feeling safe and included in their schools, their performance increases and they are able to achieve more.  And now more than ever it is time for “Acta Non Verba” or “Deeds, not words”.
Looking forward to seeing everyone again and welcoming our new students and families in August.
Greg Giglio, Principal

June 2017 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead --

Happy Summer, and thank you for helping us make the 2016-2017 school year a successful one! On behalf of the entire Homestead staff, we would like to wish you all a wonderful and ...more

May 2017 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

In the month of May we celebrate Staff Appreciation Week. The term “Staff” is used to include both the Classified personnel such as office assistants, instructional assistants, ...more

April 2017 Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

No matter what is happening in education or on school campuses, you will always hear the word “change.” Sometimes the change that happens is natural, such as when a senior class ...more

February 2017 Principal's Message

Dear Homestead --

Welcome to February, which means we are getting closer to course selection time. We put a lot of time and attention into the process in order to provide opportunities for all ...more

January 2017 Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

Happy 2017! I hope all of you had a restful break spent with friends and family, and that you are now ready to kick off second semester.

One thing that you might notice if you are on ...more

December 2016 Principal's Message

Happy Holidays from Homestead and congratulations on the approaching end of the first semester! As the 2016 year starts to wind down, we know that this can be an especially trying time for students ...more

Principal's Message November 2016

Dear Homestead Families and Visitors,

Welcome to November! October has flown past us and we are now looking at the second half of the first semester, which means we will soon be heading into winter ...more

Principal's Message October 2016

Dear Homestead Parents and Guardians,

As most of you are aware, during the Labor Day weekend students at both our school and Fremont High School received some disturbing and threatening messages on ...more

September 2016 Message

Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year! We are very excited to be kicking off our school year on August 15th and are looking forward to seeing all our new and returning students.

One of the most ...more

Summer 2016 Message

What are you doing for your summer vacation? If you are a Homestead teacher, then you are most likely going to be taking part in some form of professional development to help make the educational ...more

May 2016 Message

Dear Homestead Parents and Guardians,

I wanted to thank all of the parents who recently participated in the first FUHSD parent survey in February. Over 2,100 parents in the district responded; 466 of ...more