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Welcome Back Vallecito Families


It is great to be welcoming our students and staff back to school on August 17th after an inspiring summer of travel, pleasure and rest. The Vallecito Union School District Staff is energized and our students are excited to start the new school year. We are enthusiastic about our new initiatives this year.


We are launching Art in Action at all three schools. Last year, this program was implemented at Hazel Fischer Elementary with the support of the Parents Club. Art in Action is a robust visual arts curriculum with parent led lessons. This program will allow our students to explore different cultures, cultivate creativity, and broaden their world view. For more information, check out the Art in Action Website ( ).  


The hills are alive with the sound of music again. Our Instrumental music program will be available at all three schools under the direction of our nationally acclaimed Maestro David Allured. Also returning this year will be our innovative robotics program and it is our plan to expand the program at all three sites. Here are links to some of the robots we use; Sphero ( and Cubeletes (


We have also increased support services for our students. For counseling, Ms. Vieira will now be a full-time counselor at Avery Middle School and we welcome the return of Ms. Dewitt to our elementary schools as our elementary school counselor. Additionally, we have added a full time skilled maintenance worker to keep our sites safe, clean and running smooth.


Our teachers will start this year on August 15th with a Professional Development working on our Multi-Tiered Systems of support. We will be guided by these four essential principles:

  1. Collective responsibility. It is a shared belief that the primary responsibility of each member of the organization is to ensure high levels of learning for every child.
  2. Concentrated instruction. Program like UALL and the Learning Lab are a collaborative process that focuses teacher teams on the skills and knowledge most important to the student and his or her future.
  3. Convergent assessment. Student progress meetings will be used at all three schools as an ongoing process of collecting targeted information to add depth and breadth to the understanding of each student’s individual needs, obstacles, and points of learning leverage.
  4. Certain access. At each and every school in the Vallecito Union School District, we have a systematic process that guarantees every student will receive the time and support needed to learn at high levels.


2016-17 will be a pilot year for our English Language Arts program. We have partnered with several publishers and will use several different programs this year in addition to our currently adopted curriculum. We are looking for a sound and methodical approach to helping our students develop the reading and writing skills and habits needed to be ready for college and career. I am grateful for our staff’s dedication and committed to bring the best resources to the students of VUSD.


As you all know, the Vallecito Union School District is a wonderful place to be a student.  At each school, we pride ourselves on safety and cleanliness.  Our custodial staff worked hard this summer stripping and waxing the gym floors, painting and cleaning classrooms. Also, we upgraded our safety exit lights and cleaned up the grounds around each school. We appreciate their hard work over the summer.


Students will be thrilled to learn that we are planning on continuing the Bear Valley Ski Program, our library programs and our after school sports. We are able to offer these opportunities because we have an army of parent volunteers at each school. Please join the parent club at your site. We have great schools because we have great parent support! Thank you for taking the time to visit our Website. I look forward to seeing you soon.



Mr. Ogden

Superintendent's Summer Message

 Summer Learning Opportunities


Our students have several options to extend over the summer. Student accounts will remain open until July 31. Most of our programs can be accessed from your home computer using the same login ID and password used at school. The exception is Accelerated Reader. As we have done on the past, we have licensed the local library computers to be used for Accelerated Reader over the summer. However, all of the programs below can be accessed from the any computer with internet access.


Accelerated Reader - Angels Camp, Arnold, And Murphys are all set up for students to use their school log in ID and password and earn AR points. We hope this will encourage summer reading. Also, each library is holding a summer reading program. Our license agreement does not allow students to use the AR program from home.



Based on the results of the i-Ready® Diagnostic, students are automatically placed into student instruction customized to their placement levels. These online lessons provide a consistent best-practice lesson structure and build conceptual understanding, in addition to being engaging and fun for learners of all levels. Available until July 31 (August 1st data will roll as we develop new student rosters for ’16-’17. After July 31, student will not be able to access iReady until they take the ’16-’17 assessment #1 during the school year.)


Math facts in a Flash-

Math Facts in a Flash is being rebranded as Accelerated Math Fluency. This program helps students achieve automaticity—the ability to recall math facts instantly, accurately, and effortlessly.


Dance Mat Typing-

This is a program that strongly reinforces the use of the home

Don Ogden named Association of School Administrators Superintendent/ Principal of the Year

Vallecito Union School District Board President Tom Pratt presents Don Ogden with the 2016 Association of California School Administrators Superintendent/ Principal of the Year Award.


Congratulations Nanelle McCracken Teacher of the Year


Nanelle is the quintessential problem-solver and culture-builder. Whenever there is a tough schedule to iron out, or a staffing logistic to solve, She is willing and ready to step in and tackle it as part of the team. Nanelle can take hard concepts and help them make sense ot others. She is a beloved kindergarten teacher who provides an emotionally-safe and nurturing environment for students to learn and grow. 


~ Brett Loring,

Principal, Albert Michelson Elementary

Congratulations Paula Gonzales Classified Employee of the Year


Paula Gonzalez is the opposite of the stereotypical grumpy lunch lady. She is an amazingly loving and kind person that shares that love and kindness every day with the students and staff of Avery Middle School. In addition to her endearing heart and personality, she is a fantastic cook! Avery Middle school is trilled that Paula Gonzalez was chosen as this year's Certificated Employee of the Year!


~ Mr. Hungerford,

Principal, Avery Middle School

Superintendent’s Message for 2016

As we look forward to 2016, we can anticipate a few events that will capture our imagination. It is an election year, it is a year that will host the Olympics and it is the year that the NASA probe Juno will reach Jupiter (it was launched in 2011 and is the fastest manmade object traveling at a speed over 16,000 miles per hour). This is a year when dreamers will see their bold dreams come true. Our next President, the Olympic Medalists and the NASA scientists are all bold dreamers.


Another thing that all of these dreamers have in common is that they have all overcome major obstacles. These big dreamers have grit. Grit is a trait based on an individual's passion for a particular long-term goal, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. 


What are our students dreaming about? What are we doing to help them reach their dreams? At our recent Local Control Accountability Plan meeting, our administrators met with teachers and parents to discuss our priorities and together we a putting in place a plan. A plan that will guide our work in the Vallecito Union Schools District. A plan that will encourage our students to be creative, prepare our students to overcome obstacles and engage students in the work needed to develop skills and realize dreams. Please join us at out next LCAP meeting on February 11th (3:30) at Hazel Fischer Elementary School.


Make 2016 a great year,

Mr. Ogden

Superintendent's December Message

Happy Holidays to our Vallecito Unions School District Families,


The year 2015 has brought commendations for the outstanding schools in the Vallecito Union School District. The students and staff at Avery Middle School were awarded the Gold Ribbon School Award by the California Department of Education and both Albert Michelson and Hazel Fischer Elementary schools qualified as applicants for the 2016 Gold Ribbon Award. "These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching," State Superintendent Torlakson said. "They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate."


All three of our schools are exceptional because each of our schools has developed a focus on preparing our students to be successful in life. We are calling that success, “career and college ready.” We understand that to succeed in life our teachers must also help our students develop personality traits, personal talents and social skills. Towards this end, this year has welcomed the rebirth of an instrumental music program and the creation of robotics and programming classes at all three sites. Also, we have adopted a new math curriculum that promises to allow our students to work in a more personalized manner.  Our 1:1 iPad program at Avery Middle School is a model of innovation and our arts programs at each site nurture the creative talents of our students.


Our District’s success is supported by a generous community, robust parent clubs and a harmonious relationship among stakeholders. We are grateful to live in such a wonderful community.  In 2015, we focused our resources and efforts on creating schools that would prepare our students to be successful in life. We evoked parent confidence and witnessed student success in this effort. We look forward to building on our success in 2016.


Enjoy the Holiday,

Don Ogden.


Superintendent’s October Message

We usually give thanks in November but this year I thought I would start early. I am thankful for our supportive community. The Butte Fire wrought destruction in Calaveras County but it also ignited the hearts and souls of our families to give, share and serve. Thank you all. It has been a show of the spirit and values that make up our community.

As the Butte Fire passed through, it graciously bypassed our towns. The experience has left us aware of the fragile hold we have on the things we hold as dear.  We were protected by things within our control like fire breaks, trained fire fighters, and defensible space. We were also spared because of things beyond our control, the wind, humidity and the temperature.  Out of this experience came many stories of people who stepped up to help someone in need.  If you are aware of someone in need, please let me know. 

I would like to thank the parents club at Hazel Fischer and Albert Michelson Elementary schools as well as the Student Leadership Class at Avery Middle School. The Backpacks for Butte program has been a tremendous success. Our Hazel Fischer Elementary School Parents Club and community came together to fill a new backpack with school supplies for every student at Railroad Flat, Mokelumne Hill, and West Point elementary schools. Also, the Annual Albert Michelson Jog-a-Thon donated 100% of their proceeds to the Calaveras Community Fund. Additionally, the Student Leadership Team at Avery Middle School has adopted two families and are gathering donations and necessary items. This is an ongoing project. If you are interested in helping, please contact Mr. Weidman our Leadership Advisor at Avery Middle School.

We are also thankful for the years of dedicated service provided by our committed staff. At our recent Board Meeting, we recognized Linda Stevens for 30 years of service, Margaret Gleason for 25 years of service, Suzi Furuya for 20 years of service and Beth Kryst for  15 years of service. Several generations of Vallecito Union School District families appreciate you all.

By now, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress  (CAASPP) results should have arrived to the homes of our 4th through 8th graders. Our goal is to have 80% of our students nearly at, at or exceeding the standards in English Language Arts and math. Most of our students met that goal according to our CAASPP results.  I would like to thank our teachers, parents and our students for the hard work.

The hills are alive with music. We have our instrumental music program up and running. Students have already learned a few songs and are in their way to developing a lifelong love of music. We are thankful to have the talented Maestro Allured on our staff. Please contact your child’s school if you have a flute, clarinet, trumpet or trombone gathering dust in the garage. We have students who would love to bring it back to life.

Have an Awesome October,

Don Ogden,


Butte Fire Update and Transportation Update

Schools to reopen Monday, September 21st and
New Bus Routes effective Wednesday, September 23rd

VUSD families, it looks as if the Butte Fire which caused so much devastation in our beloved foothills will bypass our towns.  This will allow us to open schools on Monday, September 21st.  Please try to make the routine as normal as possible.  Please have peace of mind. Our quick and efficient evacuation of all three sites last Friday demonstrated our ability to communicate quickly and keep our students safe.  On Monday, we will have opportunities for students to talk about their experience and we will also provide some activities to help students express their gratitude to those who came forward to protect our community. We look forward to seeing you back at school Monday, September 21st.

Frequently asked questions about the Fire:
Q How can I help someone who was suffered a loss in the fire?
A. Contact your site Principal or Parents Club. All three sites will be participating in activities.

Q Do you know who was effected?
A. The list of homes lost is confidential and not made available to the public.

Q What does Evacuation Advisory Mean?
A. Conditions exist such that a Mandatory Evacuation Order may be given in the near future.  The threat to lives is not yet imminent. Due to the potential for rapidly changing conditions to develop into a serious threat, you are advised to prepare for the issue of a Mandatory Evacuation Order.  Business Owners are advised to take whatever precautions they deem necessary for protecting equipment and/or inventory.  Businesses with large volumes of inventory that is difficult to move should consider taking action before an Advisory and a Mandatory Evacuation Notice is issued.  The time between an Advisory and a Mandatory evacuation is always indeterminate and may be only a few hours.  Residents are advised to leave the area.  Those with special evacuation needs, such as care homes, or those with special transportation needs are particularly encouraged to leave as soon as possible after the Advisory Evacuation is issued.

New Bus Routes
We plan to run our normal bus routes Monday and Tuesday.  We have a new schedule of bus routes that will go into effect onWednesday, September 23rd.  The new bus routes and pick up times are attached. They represent hours of work creating the most encompassing routes that we can run with only two drivers.  As many of you are aware, we had a resignation in our transportation department and we also have a shortage of substitute drivers.  Consequently, we will need to run two bus routes.  We are working on a long term solution.  If you choose to not participate any longer due to the route changes we will refund your students’ bus pass.  Please contact the District Office at 795-8500.  If you are a bus driver or know someone who is a bus driver, please encourage them to contact us.

Parent Calls
The District makes every effort to communicate in a timely and informative manner with parents via our School Messenger.  What we learned during last week’s situation is that parent’s tend to call the District and/or the school sites to find out why we are calling instead of listening to the message.  The reason we communicate via School Messenger is so that we can continue to conduct business and/or respond in an emergency situation appropriately.  Last week we were inundated with parent calls which caused all circuits to run busy in the entire area.  We would appreciate you listening to your message and/or reading your email instead of attempting to call our offices.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Don Ogden,
Superintendent/ Principal
VUSD/ Hazel Fischer Elementary

Welcome Back Vallecito Families

It is great to be back at school after an inspiring summer of travel, pleasure and rest. The Vallecito Union School District Staff is feeling motivated and our students are too. We are excited about the new initiatives we are going to implement this year.  Instrumental music is back at all three sites under the direction of David Allured. Mr. Allured is the director of the nationally acclaimed Bret Harte High School Band. In addition to the instrumental music program, the elementary sites will continue to have vocal music under the direction of Nick Ragusano. The hills are alive with the sound of music.

Our teachers started the year with several Professional Development opportunities. We learned more about the adaptive assessment and online teaching tool that we have been using, iReady. We look forward to another year of blending our live teaching with various online and computer based tools. We participated in a training that helped us develop a deeper understanding of phonics and phonemic awareness instruction. Our middle school teachers were involved in a training that will help them teach writing across the curriculum. In addition, the entire staff worked over the summer training on our new math program, Go Math. Go Math is a systematic approach to helping our students develop the mathematical skills and habits needed to be ready for college and career. I am grateful for this dedicated and committed VUSD staff.

As you all know, the Vallecito Union School District is wonderful place to be a student.  At each school, we pride ourselves on the cleanliness of the campus.  Our custodial staff worked hard this summer shinning our floors and cleaning classrooms. Also, we upgraded our internet wiring and reconfigured our WIFI system to handle the plethora of devices we are using.  We now have one gigabyte of data to each computer in the school. This means our kids can download the amount of data in a 30 foot long book shelf in a second!

Students will be thrilled to learn that we are planning on continuing the Bear Valley Ski Program, after school sports programs, and we are teaching robotics this year. We are able to offer these opportunities because we have an army of parent volunteers at each school. Please join the parent club. We are able to have great schools because we have great parent support!

The next time you are on campus, you are invited to visit our libraries and computer labs. Each site has a full time librarian. Our librarians inspire our students to enjoy reading. Thank you for taking the time to visit our Website. I look forward to seeing you soon.



Mr. Jgden


Superintendent’s Message- May

Avery Middle School Named California Gold Ribbon School

We are so proud to announce that State Superintendent Tom Torlakson proclaimed Avery Middle School as one of the California Department of Education Gold Ribbon Schools for the 2014-2015 school year.  This high honor was bestowed upon our School in recognition of our implementation of Common Core State Standards, our burgeoning intervention system, and a school environment that fosters the growth and development of the whole child. Avery Middle School is a fun and interesting place to learn.

Congratulate are in order to the entire staff, student body and parents at Avery Middle School. We all recognize that this accolade is only possible because the Vallecito Union School District elementary schools, Albert Michelson Elementary and Hazel Fischer Elementary, build a strong foundation. Also, this tribute to Avery Middle School would not be possible without an excellent support and leadership team at the district office and the governing board of trustees. Thank you all for always putting students first. This recognition is for all of us on the VUSD team. 
Don Ogden
Honoring Our Retirees
At our May 7th Board Meeting, we honored seven educators that have dedicated their careers to the students in the Vallecito Union School District. Dedicated is the best word to use to describe this group of educators. Each of them worked in their last year as enthusiastically as if they were a new teacher. Thank you Kathi Grover, Suzanne Mattson, Vicki Morrisroe, Patti Johnson, Mary Devany, Amy McKeen, and Laurie Detrick for your years of service, perseverance, and commitment. Each of you had a smile as you looked ahead to your retirement and the rest of us had a tear as we remembered how wonderful it was working side by side with true friends.
May 7 2015 280.JPG

Superintendent’s Message- April

Superintendent’s Message- April

Are our students on track to be college and career? That is the question we will assessing this Spring as we participate in the State Testing in grades 3-8. This is a very different expectation as in the past our State Tests assessed minimum proficiency. I think aspiring for college and career readiness in a more admirable goal. But what does it look like to be career and college ready? I have provided a link to the CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) website.  Practice problem for English Language Arts and math are available for you to view and even try to solve for grades 3-8. Check it out and see if you are smarter than a fifth grader.

Example 5th Grade math problem

Jen measured the growth of a sunflower.

  • In week one, it grew 2 1/2 inches
  • in week two, it grew 2 3/4 inches
  • in week three, it grew 3 1/4 inches

How much did the sunflower grow over all 3 weeks?

Link To Practice Tests..Give it a try.

Superintendent's Message- February

Thoughts on Kindness

In February, schools across America celebrate kindness week. We will hand out our Blue Ribbons on the week of February 9th for students to share with others as an act of kindness. And, I am reminded of one of my favorite Fables that my mother read to me when I was too young to read but old enough to listen. We had a book of Aesop’s Fables and one of my favorite stories was of the Mouse and the Lion. The moral of the story was, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

I remember talking with my mom about kindness.  She shared with me that people, like the Lion, are fragile and when we are kind we recognize this. And, we recognize that we have the power to hurt or to help. We have a choice to heal or injure. In doing an act of kindness, we do not take advantage of people’s vulnerability. Rather, we comfort , help, and encourage.

Please take some time this month to talk with your kids about kindness. Maybe you can perform an act of kindness to a person who you know is fragile and vulnerable.

Be Kind,

Mr. Ogden


Extend your Learning at Home!

Students in the Vallecito Union School District have some great learning opportunities that students can use at home.  Please go to one of these links and have your child show you how this technology is helping them learn!


i-Ready is an on-line program that enhances student learning through adaptive on-line lessons. There is a diagnostic feature that students have already completed. I-Ready calibrated a custom set of lessons for every student’s particular learning needs. It contains Common Core curriculum to assist in giving students a jump start into the new Common Core Standards and is a great learning opportunity for our students.


Math Facts in a Flash

Math Facts in a Flash is an on-line math program that helps students commit to memory math facts. It is ideal for students in grades 1-6 and students will be rewarded by completing  5 levels. It uses a variety of tools to keep students engaged. The tests are personalized because they are based on the students’ performance by doing Math Facts in a Flash!


Type to Learn

Type to Learn is an online program that teaches keyboarding skills.(School Account Code: 154954)



Treasures is the current reading program at Hazel Fischer. This link has activities, games with spelling and vocabulary words for each unit. Here is the link to Treasures spelling words.