Superintendent Newsletter, December 2021
Friday, December 17, 2021
Dear San Mateo-Foster City Community,
I hope this message finds you preparing for a much-needed Holiday Break. I want to begin by recognizing the over 1,000 incredible classified, certificated, and administrative employees who work so hard on behalf of our students. You are truly wonderful people who make a difference!
I also want to send warm Holiday wishes to our families and students. Many thanks to our parents for all your support during this unprecedented school year. We are all stronger when we work together.
Warm Demands & Equitable Resources
I recently met a parent of one of our students who expressed an interest in helping her child improve his math skills. The parent shared that she wants her child to do more studying and couldn’t figure out how to help him do that at home. We talked for a while and I shared some strategies with her. The conversation, however, got me thinking about an educational research concept that has helped shape my work as a teacher and administrator for over twenty years.The concept of warm demands refers to a mindset that is based on believing in children, establishing high expectations for them, and offering the necessary support to ensure their growth. The California School Board Association 2021 Annual Conference in San Diego included a Keynote Address given by UCSB professor Dr. Victor Rios. The attendees, more than 1,000 school board members from around California, heard about his work related to educator projected futures and warm demands. His powerful remarks reinforced the importance of giving families warm supports and setting high expectations. As the Superintendent of the San Mateo-Foster City School District, I will work with stakeholder groups through the Strategic Plan process to establish system wide strategies to facilitate a culture of warm demands for all children.
We are in the process of adopting and implementing two programs, ST Math and Footsteps 2 Brilliance, that will become a districtwide expectation for all children. We will expect K-8 students to complete weekly minutes on the ST Math program at home. We will also expect all Preschool - 3rd grade students to complete weekly minutes on the Footsteps 2 Brilliance program. These will be two examples of warm demands that our district will establish in the months ahead. Most importantly, we will not simply create these expectations without support. We will align our staff resources and internal technology to facilitate the completion of these expectations. We will conduct weekly monitoring of progress towards these expectations for all students and communicate to families whose children are not completing their work. We will give warm support and set high expectations.
We will offer resources.
No Internet? We’ll provide a mobile hotspot. Computer at home not working? We’ll issue a Chromebook. Don’t understand how to log in? We’ll have a technical support staff contact you to walk you through the process. Don't speak the language? We will adopt bilingual resources. These two, new expectations are only the beginning.
I believe that our children have incredible potential to achieve their goals. As a district, we will work hard to strengthen relationships with families through our engagement related to these expectations. We will promote and celebrate these high standards for all our students.
We will set benchmarks as a district and achieve those benchmarks. And, we’ll do so together.
Diego R. Ochoa
about Superintendent Diego R. Ochoa
Superintendent Ochoa joined the district in July 2021. He has 22 years of educational experience as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, director, executive director, and superintendent. Superintendent Ochoa has a strong background in instruction, curriculum, special education, equity, student wellness, parent engagement, and building school facilities.
In 2012, Superintendent Ochoa joined the Esparto Unified School District in the Sacramento area. He served as the Director of Special Education and Superintendent until 2018. In Esparto, he developed long range academic plans and oversaw the development of greatly expanded Advanced Placement programs.
In the 2018–2019 school year, Superintendent Ochoa joined the Hollister School District. He led the district in developing quality special education services for children with autism. He oversaw major curricular adoptions and led a new early literacy small-group reading program. He also led efforts to coordinate new school configurations addressing struggles with overcrowded middle schools and a lack of classroom space at multiple sites. In 2021, Ochoa concluded the $52 million dollar campus built to serve up to 850 students.
Prior to his work at HSD, Ochoa served as high school principal, assistant principal, and elementary school special education teacher. Ochoa received his Bachelor of Arts, Teaching Credential and Master of Arts in Education from California State University San Marcos, and also holds a Special Education Teaching Credential. Active in community associations, he has served as President Elect of the San Benito County Educational Leaders Association (ACSA), member of San Benito County League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and board member for Capay Valley Vision. Diego and his wife Hallie are parents to five children.