• A Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) is committed to teacher leadership and the development of others to positively impact student achievement. TOSAs provide targeted professional learning, support site or district planning, and work directly with individual and teams of teachers, using the California Standards for the Teaching Profession as their framework. MPCSD is fortunate to have a strong TOSA team of Theresa Fox, Alicia Payton, and Lela Ward.
    Here are the ways that our amazing TOSAs support our teachers and schools:
    • Serve as the district’s “go-to” resource on all curriculum and adoptions grades K-8, including intervention programs.
    • Support the development and implementation of all district-wide benchmarks and universal assessments.
    • Manage, develop, and facilitate content specific professional development/trainings in partnership with site principals and district.
    • Develop and communicate long- and short-term department plans and goals, and evaluation of these goals.
    • Assist teachers in maintaining a classroom environment conducive to learning and optimal student achievement, particularly as it relates to the TOSA’s content expertise.
    • Explore new and highly effective teaching and learning strategies, methodologies, and assessments, especially as they relate to their content of focus; support teachers, site administrators, and instructional aides through coaching to improve current practices and instructional methods of delivering Common Core State Standards.
    • Collaborate with teachers to use data to inform instruction and to increase academic achievement.
    • Regularly visit K-8 classrooms during instruction to provide coaching support, share meaningful feedback, and engage in empathy.
    • Guide collaborative planning between and among grade level teams, Professional Learning Communities, and academic departments, ensuring vertical and horizontal coherence and quality.


    Get to Know our TOSAs:

    Technology - Theresa Fox

    Headshot of Theresa Fox Theresa Fox, a National Board certified teacher, taught for 10 years in Washington and Colorado before joining the MPCSD team. During her eight years in Menlo Park, she has served as a 2nd & 5th grade teacher at Oak Knoll, teacher librarian at Hillview, assistant principal at Laurel, and technology coach at Laurel and Encinal. Theresa joined the TOSA team in 2017. Her expertise in educational technology supports implementation and use of technology throughout the district. She is passionate about engaging all students in deeper learning through inquiry (especially project based learning and design thinking) and supporting teachers' professional growth. Her latest project is a collaboration with Superintendent Burmeister to create a “zone of innovation” for 4-8th grade teachers & students. Participants in this program will work together to create a new vision for what is possible in public school education.


    Science & Math - Alicia Payton

    Headshot of Alicia Payton Alicia Payton-Miyazaki graduated from Hillview in 1990.  She has her B.A. from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie New York in Biology.  She did her student teaching in New York and has worked studying infectious diseases for Stanford University Medical Center and SRI.  She taught science grades 6-8 at Hillview for 15 years before becoming a Math and Science Teacher on Special Assignment for the district.

    She was selected to be part of the CA state board Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) adoption committee which is meeting in Sacramento this April and July. The board is comprised of teachers, professors, and scientists reviewing material submitted to the state for consideration for adoption. Alicia is working with teachers to develop and share math talk frameworks in grades K-5 and align MARS, YouCubed, and NRich tasks to the math curriculum. Alicia works with teachers to develop lessons and the transition of MPCSD to the Next Generation Science Standards.  She is also working to ensure that every campus has access to STEM and Maker activities and supplies. This year, the effort will be helped by the MPAEF Auction Fund-A-Need bidding which will go directly to the purchase of STEM/Maker tools.


    English Language Arts and Social Studies - Lela Ward

    Headshot of Lela Ward After twelve years teaching 4th grade at Encinal with a special interest in literacy, Lela Ward serves as our ELA TOSA. With our recent English Language Arts and Spanish Language Arts adoptions, she has been busy making sure everyone feels comfortable with the new curriculum.  She has several times been accepted to the summer Teachers College program at Columbia University, and uses her knowledge of their programs plus her own expertise in reading and writing curriculum design to facilitate teacher training on our campuses, focusing this year on word study, EL accessibility, grammar work, and harnessing formative assessments to inform teaching and grading, working in collaboration with our Data & Assessment Coordinator. Lela customizes professional development, using every opportunity to integrate across subjects and incorporate ideas like design thinking in unit plans. The upcoming shift in the social studies framework brings new excitement to the ELA subject area.