Dr. Nick Bruski
Chief Academic Officer (Principal)
Welcome! As the Chief Academic Officer at Montecito Union School, I broadly oversee Teaching and Learning.
My primary work includes supporting teachers in every aspect of instruction by facilitating meetings and professional development, providing structures that allow for collaboration, observing teaching and providing feedback, and overall, ensuring that the work towards goals outlined in the Strategic Plan moves forward. We accomplish this in many ways. Behind the scenes, much is happening to solidify and expand upon professional development. The staff meets in grade levels weekly to develop common throughlines, activities and assessments. They analyze student work together and talk about their practice to become better teachers.The entire staff collaborates bi-monthly practicing thinking routines, developing common expectations, and attacking “big picture” issues in teaching and learning.The following structures are in place to support continued exploration and growth in these and other areas:
- Weekly grade level professional learning community meetings
- Bi-monthly whole staff professional learning community meetings
- Monthly Teaching and Learning Collaborative meetings to reflect on and refine our work towards implementing the Strategic Plan
- 3 non-student staff professional development days
- 5 release days to plan as teams and work with outside consultants
- Regular observation by the Chief Academic Officer with feedback
So often, educators attend trainings and are momentarily inspired only to forget what they learned as the latest fad hits the spotlight. The structures of grade level and school-wide professional learning community meetings along with all teachers having shared a common experience at Harvard have helped build momentum and commitment to implementing change and working together towards a common vision of embracing a thinking curriculum. The role of Chief Academic Officer helps support and coordinate all of these endeavors.
At Montecito Union, our vision is to set a global standard of educational excellence. We strive to give our students the academic foundation to creatively solve complex problems, to apply interpersonal and collaborative skills, and to demonstrate a genuine sense of curiosity in a student-focused and supportive environment. We seek to help our students be empowered thinkers who positively impact and adapt to our ever changing and diverse world.
Although there are many methods of measuring success, one accomplishment we are proud of is being a “10/10” school. The state of California ranks schools on a scale from 1-10 based on their annual standardized test scores. The first 10 indicates that we are among the top scorers of all California schools. The second 10 indicates that when compared to schools with similar demographics, we are still among the best of the best. Another marker of our success is our API scores around 950 for the past several years, well above the state benchmark of 800.
We also measure our success on the number of enriching activities we are able to provide to our students. Students enjoy weekly visits to our well-equipped music and art rooms as well as a state-of-the-art computer lab. Each second and third-grader is assigned a violin for two years of string study with our music specialist. Each third, fourth, fifth and sixth grader is assigned an Apple laptop for composition, research and presentations and receives instruction from our technology specialist. Our K-2 students each receive and IPad. Our art teacher displays the students’ amazing works of art in our professionally designed art gallery. Our physical education teachers help support healthy living and sportsmanship through bi-weekly outdoor sessions for each class. Our Spanish teachers visit classrooms twice weekly as well, encouraging cultural awareness and language acquisition. Our science specialist coordinates our new science lab with interesting equipment and materials as well as engaging activities to support classroom science units. A full-time librarian is on hand for weekly classroom visits to help connect students to over 20,000 titles housed in our library.