Connecting with Kyla: Back to School, This is What We Do

Dear OUSD Community,

The beauty of our District is that our students represent all backgrounds and ethnicities. We stand ready to welcome them all tomorrow on the first day of school. 

For me, the “Back to School’ season is one of hope and renewal. Our resilient staff rises to the occasion every year. Floors are waxed. Lesson plans are revamped. Meals are prepared. But most importantly, our educators are ready to greet all students with open arms. Those students arrive with nervous excitement back into the rhythm of the school year. 

We receive them all. We care and provide educational opportunities for all.

This is the season when a difficult freshman year can be followed up with a sophomore year that changes the trajectory of a student’s life. It is when a kindergartener steps on to a campus beginning the journey to graduation. It’s the time when a second year teacher is able to put into practice the lessons learned last year. This is when our veteran teachers can take on new roles supporting others with their knowledge and experience. And when principals can renew their focus and build collaborative and unified school communities. In the central office, it is a season to meet our challenges head on with focus and resolve to reinvent ourselves and better support our schools.

“Back to School” is a season borne of the grit and determination of Oaklanders. 

On a personal note, I am proud to head into my third year as Superintendent. Here are some of the reasons why I know we are moving in the right direction:Climbing Graduation Rates: Our four-year cohort graduation rates have been on the rise for several years now. In fact, our graduation rates have increased by over 13 percentage points over four years. Currently, four of our high schools have graduation rates above 91%. Our dedicated teachers and support staff, targeted initiatives led by our Office of Equity, and Measure N Linked Learning pathways have all contributed to this success. 

Innovating our Middle Schools:
— Oakland Goes Outdoors:  All of our middle school students will have at least one overnight experience in nature to deepen their understanding and knowledge of themselves, the environment and their communities. 

— More Computer Science: We offer Computer Science classes in every middle school which is critical in the 21st century, especially here in the Bay Area.

Growing Enrollment in Early Childhood Education (OUSD preschool): Enrollment is at a seven-year high. This means that more eligible children are entering kindergarten with a quality Pre-K experience in an OUSD half-day, or full-day program.

Making Bold Changes to Transform our District: This year, we are expanding access to MetWest and Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA), two of our most successful, in demand high schools. Elmhurst United Middle School, a newly merged campus, is set for a successful launch and strong program. Under the Citywide Plan, we will continue expanding access to high quality programs in neighborhoods across the city.

Recruiting and Retaining Great Educators: We are proud to be piloting several efforts to support and mentor current teachers, encourage classified staff to become teachers and “grow our own” OUSD teachers. We have amassed $7.5M of public and private grants for the next 4 years to invest in recruiting and retaining great teachers, and we have secured $4.1M over the next three years to support principal leadership development and retention.Tomorrow, my own children – and children across the city – will begin the school year just like I did as a child here in Oakland. This grounds me as we launch into a new school year. The work, passion, and dedication it will take to create the schools our babies deserve is daunting and exhilarating. I look forward to our first day and another school year working on behalf of all students.

Our staff is ready to welcome and care for every student. It is what we do.Respectfully,
 Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell
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