Portrait of a Graduate

We invite you to view our final Strategic Promise publication below, that outlines our Portrait of a Graduate journey and how we're preparing our students to become Future Ready:

Our Portrait of a Graduate journey:

January 2022

The San Marcos Unified School District is leading the way in making 21st century learning a reality for all students. We are actively engaging diverse perspectives from our staff, students, and broader community in developing a Portrait of a Graduate, a collective vision that articulates our shared aspirations for every student. 

Why a Portrait of a Graduate?

At SMUSD, our mission is to ensure our students are challenged, inspired, and poised to excel - but we must ask ourselves what this looks like in our 21st-century global economy. This short video is a thought-provoking look at how the future of work is rapidly changing.

As school leaders, we must ensure our students are prepared and learning experiences not only provide for the acquisition of rigorous academic content, but must also foster critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and other 21st century skills and mindsets our students need to thrive.

Who will Develop our Portrait of a Graduate?

In partnership with Battelle for Kids, we have recruited a dynamic Portrait Design Team of nearly 100 business & community leaders, local elected officials, parents, students, and alumni to discuss the relevant skills students need, and the aspirations our community has for our young people.

Through this process, we’ll work with our community to ask:

  • What are the hopes, aspirations, and dreams that our community has for our young people?
  • What are the skills and mindsets that our children need for success in this rapidly changing and complex world? 
  • What are the implications for the learning experiences we provide in our school systems?

How Will We Develop our Portrait of a Graduate?

Our timeline for the Portrait of a Graduate is four months, beginning January 2022, which involves four Design Team meetings where stakeholders actively participate in creating the Portrait. 

Throughout the four meetings, the Portrait Design Team will:

  • Examine how the world has changed and implications for our students.
  • Discuss the competencies students need to thrive today and tomorrow.
  • Identify and contextualize the competencies that should be part of a shared, local vision for our district.
  • Discuss how to make our Portrait of a Graduate a reality for every student.  

We will share our progress of the Portrait of a Graduate work with our families and community members as the process unfolds.

Our Portrait of a Graduate will be the first step in framing a new vision for SMUSD. From our kindergarteners to our seniors—this work has an enduring impact. Each of us will play an important role in making our Portrait of a Graduate a reality for every student as we continue to create meaningful learning experiences every day. And, once we create our Portrait, the exciting work of implementing this new vision begins, as we embark upon the creation of our Strategic Plan.

Please check back for regular updates and progress of our Portrait of a Graduate process. 


After multiple working sessions gaining input and insights from key stakeholders including students, parents, alumni, staff, elected officials, business owners, and community members, we are thrilled this collective vision has been created. 

This visual representation that embodies the skills and competencies of all students has been finalized:

photo of branded graphic of our Portrait of a Graduate


We are now working to bring this vision to life through a strategic planning process. 

Board Member, Sarah Ahmad, and SMUSD staff, engaging in a Strategic Planning session.


  • During the September 29, 2022 Special Meeting, the Board heard a comprehensive update regarding the Portrait of a Graduate, and how this vision will be brought to life through the Strategic Plan. The Board provided overall agreement on the direction of the Strategic Plan, and shared feedback on key areas. 
  • During the October 27th Special Meeting, the Board approved the adoption of the final Strategic Plan, which will serve as the roadmap to achieve the Portrait of a Graduate vision over the following years in our district. 

Please stay tuned for updates on how the Portrait of a Graduate is being implemented across our campuses.