Oakwood Elementary was recognized by the California Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Coalition for their successful PBIS implementation at the gold level. This reflects excellence in the measurement of fidelity and implementing core features of PBIS.

Lodi, CA (June 11, 2019)—One of Lodi USD’s very own was named San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year for 2019. Jeff Simpfenderfer, a Liberty High teacher, first received Lodi USD’s Teacher of the Year award this spring. Placed in the running for the countywide competition, Simpfenderfer was named County Teacher of the Year during the Ninth Annual San Joaquin County Classified Employee and Teacher of the Year Awards Celebration Dinner held on Thursday, June 6.

As the named County Teacher of the Year, Simpfenderfer received $1,000 from Premier Community Credit Union and a nomination for the State for California Teacher of the Year.

“We greatly appreciate Mr. Simpfenderfer and believe that he is well deserving of this honor. His work with students is exceptional and we are proud to have him in the Lodi USD family,” said Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer.

Simpfenderfer was originally nominated by Liberty High’s Principal, Tamara Dillon. His nomination was supported by recommendation letters from Tiffany Wood, a counselor at Liberty High, and Cynthia Close, Co-Chair of the English Department at Liberty High.

Referred to as “Mr. S” by his students, Dillon shared, “you would be hard-pressed to find an educator [who] cares more about students and their learning than [Simpfenderfer does]. [He] is honed in to his students’ needs, both academic and emotionally. He finds relatable literature to show them they are not alone and that books can help them understand their world.”

A graduate of University of California, Berkeley, Simpfenderfer taught for 11 years at Sierra Christian High School in Rocklin, CA. Simpfenderfer went on to attend the University of Phoenix to obtain his teaching credential. Once in Lodi USD, Simpfenderfer taught at Delta Sierra Middle for one year and four years at Lodi Adult School. Simpfenderfer now teaches English, horticulture, and family living at Liberty High.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Simpfenderfer serves as the technology lead for Liberty High and a mentor for a teacher at Lodi Adult School.

“It made sense for me to be the one to help [the teacher]. I enjoy being able to give suggestions, to reassure, and then see [the teacher] really excel in [the] classroom,” said Simpfenderfer.

Dillon isn’t surprised by Simpfenderfer’s willingness to help others.

“[He] is not only an incredible teacher, he is an all-around incredible human being. For many students, he’s the teacher of a lifetime,” said Dillon.

Wood, a school counselor and colleague of Simpfenderfer’s, echoed Dillon’s sentiments.

“He is the most beloved teacher among our students… He makes his students feel safe, supported, and loved. He has a wonderful passion for teaching and goes above and beyond for his students’ successes,” said Wood.

Next up for Simpfenderfer is the planning and preparation for the California Teacher of the Year Ceremony, which will take place later this summer.

“I’m excited and proud to represent both Liberty High and Lodi USD at the State level. I look forward to it,” said Simpfenderfer.

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Lodi, CA (April 15, 2019)—Lodi USD is excited to announce a new school will commence in the 2019-20 school year. The Valley Robotics Academy (VRA) is a joint collaboration between Lodi USD and San Joaquin Delta College to bring new and innovative Career Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) offerings to the Central Valley.

VRA is the first of its kind in the area. Delta College will provide college courses; students will receive both core program and general education courses through dual enrollment at VRA. Students in grades 7-12 will have access to robotics, drones, and automation integrated curriculum. Students will be in project-based classroom settings with opportunities for independent study.

“We are giving students the flexibility to learn and engage with CTE and STEM in a completely new way. By extending the program offerings through a hybrid, independent study model with dual enrollment, we are offering students an all-inclusive education in robotics,” said Jeff Palmquist, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education at Lodi USD.

Through this partnership, students will complete a high school diploma through a CTE pathway with opportunities for job shadowing, internships, and externships. Students will also have the ability to obtain a Delta College certificate, Associate of Science degree, or Bachelor of Science transfer.

“Preparing students for the future is a top priority for the District. We are always seeking new and innovative ways to equip students with the skills they need to be successful in their future endeavors.

We are excited to expand our partnership with Delta College on this new academy that will support the development of skills necessary for the 21st century,” said Dr. Nichols-Washer, Lodi USD Superintendent.

Salvador Vargas has served as the Dean of CTE and Workforce Development at Delta College for six years and has been with the college for over 30 years. He understands the unique challenges facing those entering college.

“The genesis of this partnership was to create more opportunities for children. It is estimated that two-thirds of students are not college or career ready after graduation. VRA will expose students to emerging technologies that are vital to the economy and free market. Dual enrollment will save students and their families thousands of dollars by allowing them to earn transferrable college credit or an A.S.,” said Vargas.

It is estimated that between 2012 and 2022, there will be over 50 million job openings for CTE graduates, and approximately 30 percent will be new positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“When students graduate from VRA, they will have the skills needed to pursue higher education, technical or trade schools, and secure employment. It is our goal to build and advance local and regional workforces to ensure our economic growth and global competitiveness in San Joaquin County and beyond,” said Vargas.

VRA students will be entitled to the same support services as any other currently enrolled Delta College student, including counseling, computer labs, student email addresses, and access to the library, food services, and bookstore.

In its inaugural year, VRA plans to enroll 90 students in grades 7 – 9. In future school years, VRA will be expanded to include grades 10 – 12.

VRA will be housed at the Walter J. Katnich School site, located at 13451 N. Extension Road, Lodi, CA 95242. High school students will attend classes at VRA and Delta College. One-way transportation will be provided from Katnich to Delta College.

Lodi USD is accepting applications for the 2019-20 school year from April 15 – May 15, 2019. Interested students and parents are encouraged to visit, email, or call (209) 331-8008 to learn how to apply.

Parent information nights will be held on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 6PM – 7:30PM in the McNair High Theatre and Thursday, May 2, 2019 from 6PM – 7:30PM at the District Office.

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About Lodi Unified School District

Lodi Unified School District is located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Home to 49 school sites, Lodi USD provides high-quality education to a diverse population of 29,000 students. Lodi USD encompasses more than 350 square miles, including the Cities of Lodi and Stockton as well as the rural communities of Acampo, Clements, Lockeford, Victor, and Woodbridge.


LODI, CA (February 26, 2019)—Middle College High School (MCHS), a dual-enrollment model program offered by Lodi USD and the San Joaquin Delta College (SJDC), has been designated as a 2019 “Distinguished School,” as part of the California Department of Education (CDE) Distinguished Schools Program (Distinguished Schools).

Distinguished Schools recognizes outstanding education programs and practices. Schools are awarded for “achieving exceptional student performances for two consecutive school years or closing the achievement gap between two school years.” Distinguished School awardees represent examples of “excellent teaching, learning, and collaboration” as well as “highly successful school climate efforts,” which ranges from “real-time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention.” Awardees hold the title for two years.

MCHS was eligible and applied based on their performance and progress on the State indicators in the California School Dashboard (Dashboard), including graduation rates and test scores, among others.

MCHS provides a unique learning opportunity for students seeking an alternative to a traditional high school.

As an early college model, students are enrolled in both high school and college courses. The school provides individualized support to students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college.

Jim Davis, Principal of MCHS, is exceptionally proud of this designation. He noted that “students are the reason we exist and this is proof that our students are making the most of this opportunity.”

The mission of MCHS is to provide a supportive, academically challenging environment where students are able to successfully complete 30 to 60 transferable college units in order to directly apply to a four-year college. Over the last three years, 100 percent of MCHS students have attained at least 30 transferable credits.

Davis went on to say that “the staff of MCHS is second to none. They continue to make strong connections with students and provide the direction for students to pursue their dreams and future careers.”

Jeff Palmquist, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, echoed Davis’s sentiments. Palmquist shared, “MCHS offers rigorous coursework and an outstanding education to students. Staff prepare students for their futures so they can continue to pursue postsecondary education and career pathways in high paying job sectors. This honor speaks to the efforts and achievements of both MCHS staff and students.”

The graduation rate at MCHS has remained at 100 percent over the last three years, with 67 percent of graduates earning one or more Associate’s Degrees from SJDC. In the fall 2018 semester, MCHS students collectively took 504 college courses, of which 88 percent of the grades from these courses resulted in a letter grade of an “A” or “B.” Even more impressively, 70 percent of these courses resulted in a letter grade of “A.”

Fred Cochran, a County Coordinator for Distinguished Schools and a Coordinator in the Continuous Improvement and Support Division of the San Joaquin County Office of Education, worked with Davis and Palmquist to submit the Distinguished School application to CDE. Upon hearing of MCHS’s designation, Cochran was excited. He shared that it was a “well-deserved honor for MCHS” and that “students, families, staff of MCHS and Lodi USD should be so proud of this recognition.”

This is yet another exciting designation to add to the school’s list of accomplishments. MCHS received the California Distinguished School Award in 2008 and 2011. MCHS was also recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School in 2015.

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About Lodi Unified School District

Lodi Unified School District is located in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Home to 49 school sites, Lodi USD provides high-quality education to a diverse population of 29,000 students. Lodi USD encompasses more than 350 square miles, including the Cities of Lodi and Stockton as well as the rural communities of Acampo, Clements, Lockeford, Victor, and Woodbridge.