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Saturday, August 24, 2019

News & Updates

News & Updates

Jamaal Brown Returns to Ventura - Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Jamaal Brown Returns to Ventura
Former VUSD athlete returns as Athletic Director for Foothill High School

Former Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) student-athlete, Jamaal Brown has been hired by VUSD to serve as the Athletic Director of Foothill Technology High School. A former varsity football, basketball, and baseball player, who attended Buena High School and graduated in 1987, returns to Ventura after more than 30 years. Mr. Brown most recently served as a Special Education Inclusion and Physical Education teacher, as well as the Head Coach for the Carlsbad High School boys basketball team in Carlsbad, New Mexico. He will hit the ground running for VUSD on August 12, 2019.


Mr. Brown grew up on the same street that Foothill Technology High School now sits. He and his friends played in the empty lot behind his house, which is now the site the high school sits on. “We are so excited to have Jamaal return to his hometown of Ventura is this capacity. He is a special person and educator and will be a tremendous leader for our athletic program," stated Foothill Principal, Joe Bova. 


In addition to his role as Athletic Director, Mr. Brown will serve as a teacher and will coach the boys basketball team. Mr. Brown attributes his desire to teach and mentor young people to his high school coaches and his mother. His mother also attended Buena High School and was a Special Education teacher at Ventura High School until a tragic accident, at the hands of a drunk driver, took her life in Jamaal's senior year.   After graduation, Mr. Brown left Ventura to attend Stanford University and served as Manager for the basketball team under Head Coach, Mike Montgomery. He then obtained his master's degree in Education from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and moved to New Mexico in 2004, where he met his wife. He worked at Hobbs High School as a teacher and Assistant Coach working under legendary Coach, Russ Gilmore. He served at Hobbs for five years before transitioning to Carlsbad High School in New Mexico where he served as the Head Coach for the boys basketball program. When Mr. Brown took over the Carlsbad team, they had only won six games in the previous season. However, through hard work and dedication, he was able to develop the team into the State runner-up in 2016. He looks forward to bringing that same commitment to Foothill Technology High School and collaborating with those already in place in the Athletics Department.


"Foothill's academic reputation drew me back to Ventura. I have been given the opportunity to teach and coach, which is very important to me. In addition, my two boys will benefit from the VUSD education system; these are opportunities you just don't pass up.  I look forward to joining the Foothill team," stated Mr. Brown.

Chris Prewitt Remembered - Monday, August 12, 2019

Chris Prewitt Remembered
Former VUSD teacher and assistant principal honored five years after death

On the morning of April 7, 2014, Chris Prewitt, husband, and father was out training for a marathon when he was hit by a driver under the influence and passed away. Chris’ students described him as inspiring, with an ever-present smile and welcoming attitude. Two organizations will honor his spirit this month.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recently hosted the Ventura County Walk Like MADD 5K in his honor, and the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) will award the Chris Prewitt Eternal Optimist Award at a District-wide meeting on Tuesday, August 20, 2019.

Prewitt was a teacher at Foothill Technology High School (FTHS) from 2003-2012, after which he became an assistant principal at DeAnza Academy of Technology & the Arts (DATA).  He also coached the Buena High School girls water polo team for many years, where he began every practice with an inspirational quote to get the girls motivated and ready to work. FTHS teacher and close friend, Cameron Crouch, said that he could hardly process what happened when the accident occurred. “My heart immediately broke over losing a best friend, a brother, my children’s amazing uncle, my son’s godfather. He was a friend of 17 years. We had many adventures and laughs together,” Crouch said. “His impact on the community of Ventura through his teaching, coaching, as assistant principal…he gave his all in each area of his life. The world lost an amazing man.”

Many VUSD staff and their friends and family walked in the Walk Like MADD event on August 10.  Ventura Unified School District Board President, Sabrena Rodriquez, led the “Do it for Prewitt” team, which had 35 walkers and raised funds which will go back to support MADD’s mission.

The Ventura Unified School District began The Chris Prewitt Award shortly after Chris’ death to honor his spirit of eternal optimism and love for life.  This award goes to a VUSD staff member who shares Chris’ eternal optimism and passion for teaching. This year’s award winner will be announced out at a VUSD all-district meeting on Tuesday, August 20, 2019.

LAUNCH Raises Over $20,000 for VUSD Classroom Innovation - Monday, July 1, 2019

LAUNCH Raises Over $20,000 for VUSD Classroom Innovation

“A broad spectrum of community leaders experienced LAUNCH – amazing educators sharing their very personal motivations for finding new, creative ways to reach their students,” said Dave Armstrong, Vice President of Innovation for VEP and VUSD parent. “Emotional, uplifting stories provided a small window into the inspiring education happening throughout Ventura’s public schools with support from Ventura Education Partnership’s VEPGrants program.

Curated by Ventura Education Partnership, LAUNCH celebrated VUSD educators who share their passions in novel ways and create new learning opportunities for students. During this unique gathering of business, community and school leaders, VUSD educators Elisabeth Denger-Harris, Kelly Herrera and Alex Wulff presented their ground-breaking ideas that inspire classroom innovation and deepen student learning.

"LAUNCH showed the community what is possible when you give a little bit of money and support to a great teacher -- anything!  VEPGrant recipients take that investment and vote of confidence and turn it into an amazing opportunity for student learning and engagement." stated Sabrena Rodriguez, President VUSD Board of Education

In addition to being an inspiring evening and connecting with leaders who care about public education, LAUNCH raised over $20,000 for VEPGrants. VEPGrants give VUSD teachers the opportunity to apply for $1,000 grants in the fall for projects that will engage students more deeply in their learning, something hands on and innovative. Grant applications will be available August 1, 2019.

"Investing in organizations like Ventura Education Partnership is an investment in the future of our children," says Michele Newell, Aera public affairs and presenting sponsor for LAUNCH. "These investments are critical to building stronger neighborhoods and communities and ultimately benefit us all. Our community is enriched by VEP and all they do for our schools."

Ashley Pope, Owner of SpiceTopia and VUSD Parent sums up her LAUNCH experience best, “This was the most inspiring event I've been to in years. I encourage all who love this city and its children to learn about the beautiful work that Ventura Education Partnership is doing!!! So grateful to have witnessed the magic that is happening at VUSD due to Ventura Education Partnership.”

For more information on how you can assist Ventura Education Parternship with providing grants to VUSD teachers visit or contact Madhu Bajaj (805) 754-9861.

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