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Principal's Message

April 2018 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

We are down to the last two months of school, which means it is that time of the year when we start to get reflective on what has transpired at Homestead since August 2017 as well as look forward to what is to come in the 2018--2019 school year.  April and May are also months for us to start to celebrate those people and accomplishments that have made us even more proud of our students and staff then we already were.

On April 3rd, we held our yearly site school board meeting where we got to celebrate several student groups, staff members and individual students.  This year, we honored the Homestead Marching Band program including our Winter Guard and Winter Percussion groups for their continued excellence and dedication.  Getting invited to the Tournament of Roses Parade is a huge honor but really was only one of many accomplishments that these talented students and instructors have racked up this year.  John Burn, Eric Weingartner and Vicki Feltman were on hand to represent all our students and instructors, several of who were busy practicing for championships coming up in the next week!  We also honored the 2017 Girls’ Softball team including our recently retired coach, Steve Allemendi.  Because softball season usually falls right when we are holding our site meetings, we have neglected to honor them for their outstanding achievements and high level of success over the past 12 years under Steve’s leadership.  We were also able to honor Scott Strotman who has taken over for Steve after assisting him for many of those 12 years.

We also announced and recognized three of our outstanding students:  Jose Amador, Isabella Rosado, and Karina Guzman.  Isabella and Jose earned distinction for their amazing academic pursuits, commitment to service, dedication to Homestead, and overall contribution to our school and community.  They were named as our “Poster Students” and will have their pictures on posters and featured both at our site and in our district office for the 2018-2019 school year.  Karina was named our Foundation Student as a student who committed herself to academic pursuits while overcoming challenges or difficult situations.  We are extremely proud of all three students and are happy to have had the opportunity to recognize their talents.

This meeting is also the time when we announce both our Classified Staff Member of the Year (CSOTY), Rick Cardenas, and Teacher of the Year (TOTY), Andrea Westgate.  Both of these staff members were chosen by their peers for outstanding dedication and commitment to our students and our school.  Rick Cardenas is a paraeducator for our Special Education Department who has an amazing ability to work with students to help them overcome their personal, emotional and academic challenges.  He is a warm and engaging educator who builds up the skills and self-esteem of the students around him.  Rick has also previously been our Frosh/Soph Football coach where he demonstrated leadership, sportsmanship and a winning attitude.  Andrea Westgate is in our Math Department and teaches Algebra I and AP Calculus AB.  She is a dedicated leader in the math department and for her course-alike teams, helping to shape the curriculum, instructional strategies, and assessment practices for herself and her colleagues.  She has also worked on several districtwide committees to help improve and expand the mathematical opportunities at all of our schools.  With a huge heart and a sharp mind, Mrs. Westgate makes strong connections with her students, build collaborative relationships with her peers, and works tirelessly with families to help every student succeed.  The staff could not have chosen two better recipients of these awards than Mr. Cardenas and Mrs. Westgate!

The French Collaborative Team of Muriel Von Stein, Kelly Ronsheimer, and Madeleine Wills also were recognized for outstanding achievement and efforts in creating a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all students in the French courses.  Even though this team is small in number, it more than makes up for it in enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism.  Finally, we honored three of our retirees this year:  Mary Lopez from our Cafeteria, John Dang in our IT Department, and Dolf Placencia our Facilities Manager.  All three staff members have served Homestead with distinction, and while we will miss them we certainly wish them the best as they “graduate”.

There are many students and adults on our campus who deserve to be recognized or honored, and those mentioned above are just a few.  The next two months will certainly bring us more news as we continue to hear about the amazing plans and opportunities that our students and staff will be undertaking.  We look forward to hearing about them and helping them to celebrate.  Until then, I would wish you all a safe and happy Spring Break.

Greg Giglio, Principal


March 2018 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

While school safety is currently a popular topic in the media and in conversations, Homestead and the Fremont Union High School District have always taken the subject seriously.  We follow the rules and guidelines regarding updating emergency plans and holding yearly drills, but we have also taken extra steps in an effort to try to keep everyone safe. I thought it would be helpful to dedicate the space in this month’s message to talk about what we are doing.

We are proud to partner with both the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department and Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety in running emergency drills such as an active shooter drill or fire and earthquake drills.  Every year, the Sheriff’s Department comes to an early staff meeting to train and update the staff on the latest strategies for such emergencies.  These drills are run under the supervision of law enforcement and school administrators with the purpose of detecting problems or issues so that we can correct and improve our procedures.  For instance, an officer and an administrator team up during an active shooter drill to visit every classroom, test the outer door security and assess internal barricades.  At the conclusion of the drill, everyone meets back to discuss what went well and what went wrong.  We also ask for feedback from our staff as well as go back out immediately to staff or areas that need improvement.  Our fire drills are also run under the supervision of the fire department who give us their feedback and advice.  All of our drills are announced ahead of time but we don’t give specifics as we are hoping that they are as spontaneous as possible.  This is helpful both for staff to plan their instruction as well as for students to prepare for the drills are coming as they can be quite stressful.

Last year, we had the unfortunate situation of being told by the Sheriff’s Department that we had to go into a lockdown during the middle of lunch.  The call for a lockdown turned out to be premature and not needed but this was still a completely chaotic event, and one for which we had never practiced.  We had discussed what to do but after going through the actual event, we realized that we had to make many improvements.  For instance, we found that the emergency bell was not loud enough to be heard over the din of students eating lunch so we changed the bell to something much more jarring and attention grabbing.  We have also changed a few practices that sounded good on paper but in reality caused some issues.  I am not going to go into detail here because we do not discuss our procedures in a public forum as directed by law enforcement as a means for keeping that information secure.

We have been hearing from students lately that they would like to be able to contribute to the feedback loop so from here on out, we will be giving our students a link to a survey after such drills to hear how they experienced the drill.  
An important part of maintaining a safe and secure campus is for administration to be visible, present and out supervising.  You have seen us out during the morning drop-off times to help regulate traffic and to keep an eye on who is coming to campus.  Administrators are also out supervising during tutorial, brunch and lunch rotating through the various areas on our campus.  Louise, our campus supervisor, is always out during the day covering campus.

While we are out and about, we are constantly looking for people who should not be on campus.  We may not know every single student by name, but because we are frequently supervising we tend to recognize who is a Homestead student and who is not. Students from other campuses are not allowed on Homestead during the school day unless they are part of an official visit or function, so those students who do visit are returned to their home campuses.  Any adult who is not an employee of the Fremont Union High School District is not allowed on campus unless they have an official purpose or are part of an official function.  This is the reason we ask staff to send us the names of visitors so that we have passes ready for them when the arrive.  The passes help us identify quickly who should and should not be on campus, so if an adult is on campus without a pass we will identify ourselves as administrators or staff members before asking them if we can help them?  If they have no reason or business with us, we will escort them off campus or call law enforcement if needed. We will also ask parents, relatives or family friends to provide identification when picking up a student so that we know your student is leaving with the appropriate person.  

A testament to our school and staff are the large number of former students who come back to visit with us and tell us how they are doing.  We love to see them but we must, for the security of all our current students and staff, not allow them on campus during the school day.  Sometimes, a former student may be invited back to talk with a class or give a presentation, and even our former students must check in to the office and wear a visitors pass while they are here on campus.  All of this may feel a bit restrictive or untrusting, but we cannot take chances with anyone’s safety so we do ask for your cooperation and patience as we attend to our procedures.  

Substitute Teachers:
Even our substitute teachers must wear FUHSD badges and display parking permits while on campus.  Every sub goes through emergency training so that they are familiar with our procedures, and teachers are asked to provide emergency plans for their specific rooms for the substitute teachers.

Mental Health:
Our district is blessed with a variety of resources including having dedicated staff who are mental health professionals.  Our mental health team provides trainings for our staff, works with students who experiences issues, and react in moments of crisis.  Besides the emergency trainings listed above, our entire staff has recently been trained in suicide prevention strategies.  We will take seriously any concern or issue brought forward to us by students, staff, parents or community members regarding the mental health of a student.  In such a situation, we follow our internal procedures and strategies to check in with struggling students to help them stabilize or get them the help or assistance they need.  We have also been developing systems over the past few years that help students who are struggling with academics, attendance or behavior so that we can positively and proactively intervene and provide support.  

School Climate:
One of the main goals at Homestead is to provide a safe, nurturing and engaging environment for our students, and our School Climate Department plays a major role in this area.  Our two Deans of Students work with a variety of resources, both internal and external, to provide safety and security to our students.  Their main responsibility is to enforce discipline, which is a word that has taken on more of a negative connotation over the years.  The root of the word actually comes from the Latin word “to teach” and was not solely meant to describe punishment.  We have been trying to embrace this concept of teaching students how to make better choices so our discipline has been evolving to include educational components, classes, therapy and restorative conversations.  We have greatly reduced the number of suspensions and expulsions over the year by developing relationships with our students, holding countless meetings and conversations with them as well as providing them resources to help educate them.  This does not mean that we do not take issues seriously or that we are letting students off with a warning, but rather addressing the root causes of some of our issues and working to resolve them before the erupt into something bigger and more damaging.

Finally, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our services or deliver assistance to those who need it.  If you ever have a concern or question that you would like to discuss with us then please feel free to email an administrator, counselor, student advocate, teacher, coach or staff member.  Together we can help make Homestead safer, so we appreciate you being part of the team.


Greg Giglio, Principal

February 2018 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

As many of you are aware, our district has recently adopted and voted in two new schedules for our five high schools. There have been many questions raised, so I wanted to take a ...more

January 2018 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

Happy 2018! I hope that everyone had a restful, relaxing or exciting yet safe break. I truly enjoyed my time with friends and family, and I am very excited to be back with my ...more

November/ December 2017 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

I am very thankful for the amazingly supportive Homestead parent community and am always on the lookout for how we can better include our parents in our school improvement plans. We ...more

September 2017 -- Principal's Message

Dear Homestead,

Even though the school year has just begun, I wanted to use this space to talk about failure. The mere mention of the word usually makes people panic and begin to get anxious but ...more

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