Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's Read Across America tomorrow!

It's becoming one of my favorite holidays! Tomorrow, thousands of people nationwide will read out loud to thousands of students in celebration of Dr. Seuss's birthday.

I'll be reading at Ord Terrace Elementary along with other community members. The children will eat green eggs and ham too!

 If I wake up early enough :( I'll pay a visit to El Sausal Middle school, where they'll fight the good fight against illiteracy with warrior chants and war drums.

What is your school doing? How are you celebrating Dr. Seuss's Birthday?

You may find good tips here on how to inspire your young ones to be readers. And here, you can share with the rest of the United States how you're planning to celebrate Read Across America.

Anybody have a red hat I can borrow?

Watsonville Film Festival has shorts on education

And a movie en español, La Leyenda de la Llorona

The festival starts Saturday at noon at the Mello Center in Watsonville, but the films in education and the movies for children will play on Sunday, March 3. There will also be segments on immigration and produced by young students. Check it out!

For the entire schedule, click here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Learning for Life student heads to US Naval Academy

Sarah Rosa, a 16-year-old senior at Learning for Life Charter School in Marina, has been invited to attend the Naval Academy Summer Seminar program at the United States Naval Academy this year.

The Summer Seminar is a fast-pace leadership experience for rising seniors in high school. The Seminar helps educate, motivate and prepare selected students who are considering applying for admission to the USNA.

Sarah will join a select group of 2,550 young men and women from around the nation and abroad to attend the seminar.

When Sarah first visited the USNA as an eighth grader, she set her goal to one day graduate from the USNA with a civil engineering degree and as a commissioned Navy officer. Sarah comes from a Navy family. Her brother Aaron is a USNA graduate and commissioned Navy officer who received his pilot’s wings in January. Her father, CDR Louis Rosa is the Protestant Chaplain at the Naval Postgraduate School. Sarah and her four siblings were all home schooled by their mother, Maria, a teacher at Learning for Life Charter School. All of the Rosa’s five children accelerated at least one year ahead of their peers.

The USNA Summer Seminar teaches prospective Academy applicants about life at the Naval Academy, where academics, athletics, and professional training are key elements in developing U.S. leaders. She will attend a six-day session and experience a glimpse of USNA life. Sarah will experience first-hand what the Naval Academy has to offer through its academic, athletic, extracurricular activities and leadership training programs.

Sarah has also received news that she is accepted at Montana State University (MSU), in Bozeman, Montana for fall 2013-2014 enrollment. Since Sarah will not be old enough to attend the USNA until she is 18 years old, her plan is to begin her civil engineering studies at MSU and then transfer to the Naval Academy when she is 18 years old.

Sounds like Sarah's already going places! Go Sarah!

Hartnell students bring law student and immigration activist for talk

The Liberty Initiative in association with the Associated Students of Hartnell College hosts Sergio Garcia for a talk on the need for immigration reform.

Sergio Garcia was brought to the United States illegally as a child. After attaining a law degree and passing the bar, Sergio was denied a license to practice law because of his immigration status. The presentation will focus on Sergio's personal struggle and current immigration policies.

The Liberty Initiative is an organized group of young professionals with the drive to be the change they want to see in the world.

Contact: for more information on this event.

The presentation will take place from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on March 8, 2013, at the Student Center of Hartnell College, 411 Central Ave, Salinas.

What do you want in the next MPUSD superintendent?

Answer the survey!

MPUSD officials have posted online a survey of qualities people would like to see in their next district wide leader. You can take the survey here.

The first question: What do you believe are the two or three most important leadership/personal characteristics needed in our new superintendent?

Second: What professional skills and knowledge do you think the superintendent should possess?

What types of work experiences do you think the superintendent should have (e.g., classroom teacher, principal, etc.)?

It should be a healthy exercise, and I highly recommended to everyone involved. 

The survey will be open until March 1, so there's not much time left!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quo Warranto 101 -- or what can be done about José Castañeda

Salinas councilman José Castañeda has made it abundantly clear -- if not by his words, by his actions -- that he has no intention of stepping down from his post at the Alisal Union School District, no matter how many columns The Californian writes on the issue.

So the only thing that's going to make him step down -- maybe -- is legal action. And the California Attorney General Office, in its infinite wisdom, spells it out how in its website. It's a bit hard to find, so I'm going to make it easy for you.

First, let me tell you that the Attorney General's office also has made it abundantly clear that it's a conflict of interest to hold the two offices that Castañeda is holding right now. And to follow on Castañeda's example (he loves to quote government code and scriptures) here's where you can find all of this.

California Government Code Section 1099 reads:

(a) A public officer, including, but not limited to, an appointed or elected member of a governmental board, commission, committee, or other body, SHALL NOT simultaneously hold two public offices that are incompatible.

Conflict of Interest manual, Chapter XII -- The prohibition against holding incompatible offices

Section E, reads:

Functions: The incompatible offices prohibition does not require proof of an actual clash between the two offices in the context of a particular decision. It is enough that there is the potential for a significant clash between the two offices at some point in the future.

In the same section, further down:

Following are additional citations to opinions where the holding of two offices by a single person created an incompatibility:

city council member and county planning commissioner (63 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 607(1980));
city council member and school district trustee (73 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 354 (1990));

And here comes the meaty part:

Penalties and Enforcement

Where a public official holds incompatible offices, section 1099 provides for an automatic vacating of the first office. (That is, in case said elected official is acting ethically and vacates it him or herself)

The appropriate mechanism for enforcing the vacating of the office is a suit in quo warranto under Code of Civil Procedure section 803.

Disqualification or abstention from those decisions where an actual clash of the two offices occurs is not an available remedy under section 1099 or common law. However, notwithstanding the legal forfeiture, the person remains in the first position as a de facto member until he or she actually resigns or is removed from office by a quo warranto action or other lawsuit.

There you have it. Either Castañeda resigns, or he's removed by a quo warranto action (which can only be brought by the Attorney General, on behalf of a regular citizen) or another lawsuit.

(You can find the entire manual here or here)

I spoke with a representative of the California Attorney General's office on Tuesday, and she told me her office has no records of anybody requesting a quo warranto take place. She also told me the Attorney General's office could take up the case on behalf of an organization, such as the League of Women Voters.

But so far, nada. Which means, José Castañeda could remain in both his incompatible seats for a very very long time.

Can you put to a referendum the naming of Tiburcio Vasquez school?

It occurred to me, as I researched the steps necessary to unseat Alisal trustee José Castañeda, how come no legal avenues have been sought to change the naming of the controversial school?

How come nobody's asking for a referendum? Monterey County voters do it all the time.

It's probably too late, though. Referendum seekers only have 90 days to complete the necessary paperwork and signatures, and that deadline is coming next week on March 5.

Or maybe someone's already working on something that I don't know about?

Speaking of the education reform movement

I found a really good opinion piece about it. Here's the link.

In essence, the article talks about how reformers and those critical of them are not talking to each other. Unfortunately, reformers tend to be policy makers and lightning rods a la Michelle Rhee. The critical folks are teachers and people in the trenches.

They should be talking to each other, and they aren't.

The issue would be helpful to keep in mind for those who are going to discuss the efforts to privatize public education (I see them closely linked.) The League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula is having a discussion on the topic at its monthly meeting in March. You can find more information here.

Is public education being privatized?

Here's a timely and provocative topic, one that will be discussed by the League of Women Voters of the Monterey Peninsula at its monthly meeting.

“Is public education being privatized? What does that mean for schools, students and democracy? The two guest speakers are James Gutman, a 23-year public school educator and consultant for the California Teacher’s Association and Melanie Billing, former high school history teacher.

The meeting free and open to the public.

Wednesday, March 13, at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Road, Monterey.

Luncheon available for $15. Reservations required. Free program begins at 12:30 p.m. Call Lorita Fisher at 375-8301 or email at Reservations deadline March 9.

Two scholarships in one for an Ag student

Wednesday, Feb. 27, is the deadline to apply for the Jimmie Cox Memorial Scholarship.

A $2,000 award for a student entering or currently attending college and majoring in agriculture. This award will be allocated for the remaining years in college with verification of registration for each session of full time classes.

The recipient of 2013 Jimmie Cox Memorial Scholarship will also receive a $2,000 award from American AgCredit.

To be eligible for the scholarships, students must live in Santa Cruz County or within the Pajaro Valley Unified School District boundaries, or be a member of the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau. Criteria for the scholarship are based on student leadership skills, a demonstrated commitment to the industry, grades and financial need.

Deadline for submitting applications for the Agri-Culture Scholarship Program is Feb. 27.

To request an application, please contact the Financial Aid office at your school or the Agri-Culture office, 141 Monte Vista Ave., Watsonville, CA 95076. (831) 722-6622 or (831) 818-1193

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Mother Tongue Day! Feliz dia de la lengua materna!

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999.

Language is a powerful weapon to preserve our heritage. I'm sure my ancestors spoke an indigenous language, Nahuatl most likely, so I have no other mother tongue to celebrate now than Castilian Spanish. I'll take it. I feel privileged to speak more than one language.

Así que, feliz día de la lengua materna. Se podrá hacer taco con ella?

Step Afrika -- storytelling and dance to celebrate Black History Month

Cal State Monterey Bay continues its celebration of Black History Month today, with a presentation of Step Afrika when the group visits CSU Monterey Bay at 7 p.m. Thursday Feb. 21, in the World Theater.

Step Afrika is the first professional company devoted to stepping, a unique dance tradition created by African American college students. The body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and spoken word.

The tradition grew out of the song and dance rituals practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities in the early 1900s. Moviegoers got their first glimpse of stepping in Spike Lee's 1988 film "School Daze.”

The performance will start at 7 p.m. in CSUMB’s World Theater, located on Sixth Avenue near A Street. Tickets are $15 and are available by calling the box office at 582-4580 or here . Seating is general admission.

Also celebrating Black History Month: NuBiAh, a Broadway-caliber musical, will be staged at CSU Monterey Bay’s University Center on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.

NuBiAh is a spoken-word musical that dramatizes the history of African kings and queens, with an emphasis on the strong principles and character traits that made them legendary. The play is based on a bedtime story and a coloring book written by Tommy Jones.

Jones is executive producer and artistic director of the stage play. His impetus for writing the musical was a desire to give African American children and young adults a keener sense of identity and self-worth.

The play features original choreography, music, dance, and spoken-word poetry. The play aims to inspire the audience members to find their passion and follow their dream.

The University Center is located on Sixth Avenue, near the intersection with B Street. Driving directions and a campus map are available here. The performance is free, but visitors must purchase a parking permit for $2.

More information is available from the Cross Cultural Center at 582-4676.

Advocates for foster children needed

Voices for Children (formerly known as CASA) has an urgent need for more advocates.

Voices for Children-- CASA which has been serving foster children in Monterey County for 15 years. Its mission is to train and support community volunteers who advocate for abused or neglected children placed in foster care, upholding the children's rights while pursuing a safe and permanent home. CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) speak up for the children’s best interests and build relationships that help restore a child’s trust. CASAs also mentor youth over age 18 as they transition out of foster care into independent living.

Voices for Children - CASA is looking for adults, 21 years and older, in particular men and bi-lingual volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children in the foster care system. Meet the staff and current advocates to learn how you can make a difference in a child's life.

Attend an information session at the Voices for Children office at 945 S. Main Street at Romie in Salinas on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013.

RSVP here or call 831-455-6800. For more information click here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

North County's DL Johnson: California's top band director

North Monterey County High band director DL Johnson was named California's "Director who made a difference" in 2012 by the School Band and Orchestra magazine.

The magazine named one music teacher or band director for each state.

"In the midst of monumental national and local economic challenges and dour budget forecasts, music educators continue to excel in classrooms across the country," the report says. "Take heart in this report, which sheds light on exemplary teachers who run thriving, and vibrant programs in schools big and small, elementary through high school, from coast to coast."

Johnson is known for taking his students to perform in China every few years. The band is getting ready to leave pretty soon.

Congratulations, Mr. Johnson, for a well earned recognition!

Robert Danzinger to be CSUMB's commencement speaker in May

Robert Danziger, a Carmel resident who received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from CSUMB for his accomplishments as a musician, inventor and sustainable energy pioneer, will be the keynote speaker at the university's 17th commencement ceremony May 18.

Danziger worked at the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he had a close-up look at one of the space age’s most ambitious projects, the Voyager exploration into deep space.

While still in his 20s, he founded Sunlaw Energy Corp. His goal was to research, develop, demonstrate and commercialize new energy and environmental technology.

He has been issued 10 patents, including one for a “walking chair,” which he uses to help overcome his own mobility issues.

And he’s a law school graduate, an artist and musician. His current project: rewriting Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, “coming at it from a jazz point of view,” he said.

The ceremony will be held at Freeman Stadium on the CSUMB campus. Approximately 1,300 students will receive bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Last year, CSUMB officials bucked tradition and scheduled no commencement speakers. At the time, they said they would review the issue for subsequent commencement ceremonies.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Alisal school district to consider health clinics

The Alisal Union School District will discuss school-based health clinics at a board workshop scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wed, Feb. 20.

Recent proposals to start up health clinics in school sites have drawn considerable attention, given new rules to take effect to comply with President Barack Obama's health care reform. 

The board will meet at the district's office, 1205 E. Market St., Salinas. 

North Monterey County to hold special hearing on trustee boundary lines

The Monterey County Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to approve proposed trustee boundary lines. The new boundary lines will mean trustees will be elected by district, and new elections would begin this November for trustees in areas 2 and 4.

Traditionally, this type of change requires an election, but North Monterey County Unified is requesting the election be waived, and Monterey County trustees will consider whether to waive the election also at Wednesday's meeting.

The meeting will take place at North Monterey County Middle School, 10301 Seymour St., Castroville.

Friday, February 15, 2013

North Monterey County High School students walk out

The unofficial word is many students -- a couple of hundred -- walked out because they're upset about the resignation of a popular teacher. It was this morning, and parents received a recorded message about it.

More on that as I find out. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CSUMB students celebrate One Billion Rising

It was a gorgeous day to be out at CSUMB. It was also powerful.

One Billion Rising was celebrated this year as an effort to end abuse against women.  There were events worldwide with poetry and songs. There will be another event this afternoon in Monterey.

At CSUMB, Several students talked about their own experiences suffering violence, including Margo Flitcraft, a teledramatics art major who directed The Vagina Monologues two years ago and will produce it this year.

She read outloud a letter she wrote to her 13-year-old self. It contains very explicit material, it's intense and painful, but it's also worth watching. Check it out.

ACT Young Conservatory to offer classes at the Steinbeck Center

The National Steinbeck Center will be hosting ACT Young Conservatory classes at One Main Street in Salinas starting February 26 through April 23, 2013.

ACT is an award-winning conservatory, where students ages 8 to 19 develop their talents and gain the confidence to succeed, all in a creative, fun, and encouraging environment. The teachers are all ACT graduates and theater professionals who understand and have a passion for working with young people.

This is an opportunity for local youth to participate in a program that has only been available in San Francisco. ACT's Young Conservatory alumni include, Darren Criss (Glee), Milo Ventimiglia, Winona Ryder, and Nicolas Cage.

First Session: Acting Techniques
Tuesdays from February 26 through April 23
From 4 to 5:30 p.m. and from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Cost: $200 per student; future sessions will cost $250.

For more information, click here or call (831)775-4728.

Learn a language on-line -- courtesy of the Monterey County libraries

The Monterey County Free Libraries have now a popular language learning program available free of charge through its website here.

Livemocha uses a combination of traditional language learning methods and online social interaction for a fun way to learn 38 different languages. Just click on the Livemocha icon to get started.

The Livemocha community has over 15 million users with several options available: traditional lessons, flash cards, vocabulary tools, videos, audio recordings of your own voice, and feedback from native speakers of the language. Plus, once you start using the program you can also give feedback to learners of your own language.

Sounds like a fun way to learn something new. Would you try it out and let me know what you think?

MPUSD teachers: here's a novel idea

After writing about the plight of Monterey Peninsula Unified School teachers -- a situation that's very likely being replicated across California-- an alert reader from Soledad called me with this idea:

Teachers should just quit working and go on Medicare. After all, a huge chunk of their paycheck is going into health care costs, why even bother?

The caller added that prison guards get a lot better benefits and all they education they need for the job is a high school diploma. Why should a person study so hard for so many years if s/he will be so poorly remunerated?

This reader also voted for Prop. 30-- the first time he's voted for a tax increase in a long time -- to boost spending for education, and when he sees this type of stories, it makes him reconsider his support.

I think my reader is onto something here. For sure, tapping into the deep reasons why people are so angry at MPUSD, and at the system in general.

And I also believe this is a good opportunity to reconsider not just pay for the next superintendent -- more on that in the days to come -- but also compensation for teachers. I think some serious action is needed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One Billion Rising at CSUMB

There will be hundreds of thousands, millions, one billion? women worldwide singing, dancing, walking and demanding an end to violence against women.

Some will be at CSUMB.

On the 15th anniversary of VDay, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, organizes are inviting one billion people to help promote a culture that respects women and ends the rape culture.

ONE BILLION RISING began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS.

CSUMB will be rising at noon on the Main Quad. For more information, click here.

For the Monterey One Billion Rising at 4 p.m., click here.

Grant allows Greenfield students to visit Monterey Peninsula museums

Fourth graders from Oak Avenue Elementary School visited Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History on Wednesday as part of a grant the district earned to give the students access to Monterey Peninsula museums.

The $5,000 grant will allow students from the Greenfield Union School District to visit the Monterey Museum of Art and the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. For many of the district’s students, this will be their first time visiting an art museum.

“Introducing our students to the vast opportunities that exist outside of Greenfield can have a profound impact on their learning experience, and we have to thank our generous partners at the museums who are giving us this chance,” said Superintendent Trevor McDonald.

Greenfield Union has not been immune to the budget cuts that have affected most schools in California. McDonald is trying to forge partnership with community organizations to restore some of the services that budget cuts eliminated.

These kids are soooo cute! Don't they look like they're having tons of fun?

Save the date! MPUSD consultant wants to meet with you

On March 4 and 5, Wendell Chun of Education Leadership Services will hold meetings with trustees and community members interested in talking to him about what they'd like to see in a new superintendent for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

Trustees get first dibs. He'll meet with individuals for 15 minutes, and with groups for half an hour. He'll be here for the two days and will work until 8 p.m. if need be to accommodate as many people as possible.

In charge of scheduling will be the one and only Tricia Westrick, administrative secretary to the board of trustees, 831-645-1204 or

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's Black History month!

And even though I think we should celebrate the achievements of all cultures year round, Black History Month is a great chance to celebrate our black brothers and sisters.

And that's what they're doing at our institutions of higher learning.

On Thursday, speaker, singer, author, and educator Traciana Graves will present “Creating Hope: Celebrating Dreams Throughout History” at Hartnell College. Her presentation will take place a 1 p.m. in the student center of the Central Campus.

Graves is considered a dynamic and gifted performer and will present an interactive journey that weaves the stories of key unsung African American heroes with those of everyday people. Graves uses song, storytelling, experiential learning, and multimedia to teach and inspire on a broad range of topics designed to empower individuals, encourage civility, strengthen community, and create hope.

The public is invited to the free, annual celebration which begins at 11 a.m., with opening remarks by Salinas mayor Joe Gunter and Hartnell president Willard Lewallen.

I'll post more info on other Black History Month events coming up. Stay tuned.

Carmel author to lecture on education, creativity, and architecture

The Monterey Institute of International Studies will present a lecture by Carmel architect and author Louis Roberts titled “Man Between Earth and Sky: Exploring the Connection Between Education, Creativity, and Architecture” on February 19 from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. in the Irvine Auditorium at 499 Pierce Street in downtown Monterey.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Roberts will analyze educational concepts that lead to ways of maximizing one’s creative potential, citing examples of architecture, planning, sculpture and mechanical devices, and then illustrate how this would apply to a creative community environment like the Monterey Institute. A question and answer session will follow the lecture, which is offered in conjunction with The Body in Education Spring Lecture Series hosted by Visiting Scholar Andrea Olsen, a professor of dance and environmental studies at Middlebury College.

Louis Roberts is a registered architect in California, and has a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in architecture, including urban design, from the University of Illinois. In addition to teaching at various universities and colleges in the U.S. and abroad, he is the author of Man Between Earth and Sky: A Symbolic Awareness of Architecture Through a Process of Creativity. Find more information about him here.

For more information about the lecture, contact Andrea Olsen at or call 831.647.4100. Information about all Monterey Institute events is available via the online events calendar here.

What do you want in a new superintendent for MPUSD?

Breaking news: the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District is looking for a new superintendent!


Ok. You probably already knew this. So now on to the serious stuff: what do you want to see in a new superintendent? MPUSD trustees are working on a survey they'll soon begin circulating, asking community members what they'd like to see in a new superintendent. You can find the draft of the document here.

So, what do you want to see? Email me, call me (831) 753-6755, tweet me @MelendezSalinas. I'll be working on a story sometime soon, I hope.

York teacher creates online grammar resource

So you're correcting 40, 80, 160 essays, and the same errors keep popping up: it's when it should be its. It's so frustrating!

Kevin Brookhouser, humanities teacher at York School, has created a website with videos, quizzes and badges that hill help address those grammar errors. As Brookhouser explains, "each grammar issue has a short URL that teachers can provide students instead of mere correction. For example, if a student uses the wrong "its," the teacher can simply comment "" to direct the student to the page that provides a video lesson, a quiz, and a badge reward system for submitting the quiz correctly."
The site is becoming so popular it's gotten over 100,000 views on Brookhouser's YouTube channel, he says.

Go ahead, give it a try! And let me know how it goes!

Monday, February 11, 2013

While we're out shopping for a new superintendent...

I highly recommend this great article that ran a couple of months ago in the great EdSource.

It's about the high turnover of superintendents, and the reasons why. A couple of gems:

The “honeymoon” with the school board lasts between 12 and 18 months before “political interests and dysfunction show up” former school superintendent Santiago Wood said for the piece. A board may have hired a superintendent to institute reforms, but when interest groups such as unions or community organizations complain, the elected board gets uncomfortable, Wood said.

“Even if you agree on the results,” Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems in Los Angeles, “change is painful. It is so critical that superintendents have the backing of the governing board when they go down that road.”

The board and superintendents must agree not only on what changes they want to see, but also how quickly and what sacrifices they are prepared to make to get there, she said.

Even Luis Alejo is now chiming in the Marilyn Shepherd brouhaha

Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), well known for stepping into already controversial issues, has decided to dip his toes into the Monterey Peninsula Unified latest skirmish.

Alejo announced on Monday he's introducing a bill that would limit severance pay for superintendents from 18 months to three months. He plans to modify his bill to limit paid leave of absence for superintendents, a move that's directly addressing the recent departure of Marilyn Shepherd, who was granted a paid leave of absence in January.

More on that later.

Bright Minds Scholarship presentation at MPC today

Attention Monterey Peninsula College students: from 2:30 to 3:30 pm today there will be an information session on the Bright Minds Scholarship, which awards 10 scholarship of up to $30,000 a year and 90 $2,500 scholarships.

Respresentatives from Pacific Gas and Electric Company, sponsor of the scholarship, will be on hand to answer questions. Deadline to apply is Feb. 28.

The meeting will take place at the Library an Technology Center, Rm. 216.
For more information about the scholarship, click here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

STEM education is highlighted at Pebble Beach Golf tournament

The golf tournament at Pebble Beach has also been turned into an opportunity to talk about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

For starters, watch broadcast of the tournament today and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and you'll see two 60-second promotions featuring Hartnell College work on STEM Education.

In the last couple of years, Hartnell has been making a name for itself for its emphasis on STEM education, and it looks like the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which puts on the golf tournament, was impressed enough to make a promo out of it.

Also,students can benefit from the STEM Zone at the Pebble Beach tournament. On Thursday, students from Stevenson School (photo below) navigated the exhibits at the STEM Zone, and found hands-on experiences in golf ball physics, swing analysis with technology, golf course "agro dynamics", professional videotaping with green screen and newsroom performances with teleprompt, and more.

Stevenson began a STEM program in Grades 5 and 6 this year.

I wonder if students from other schools attended the STEM Zone. Shoot me an email and let me know.

Parenting classes in Salinas

The Organization Triple P presents parenting classes that would help you develop positive, caring and loving relationships with your children; become a more confident parent and learn effective discipline strategies and stress management.

The classes will take place from 5:30 to 7: 30 p.m., Monday and Friday evenings, starting March 1. At the office of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, 11 Quail Run, Suite 101, Salinas.

For more information, call Maria Theresa Rodriguez at (831) 757-7920.

Parent University -- and Cash for College - Saturday in Greenfield

The Greenfield Union School District is hosting its first Parent University from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, February 9 at Vista Verde Middle School in Greenfield.

Also on Saturday, there will be a "Cash for College" Resource Fair in nearby Greenfield High School.

Parent University is an event designed to help parents become aware of the steps students need to take to get into college. The staff and school counselors are working together to provide the community with information to help understand the value of a college education, to help our students get into college and pay for college.

The day-long event will discuss:
* What are the A.G./High School Requirements
* What's the California Dream act
* How to develop organization Skills/Time management goals
* Financial Aid
* The Power of Parents
* Navigating the School System (in Triqui)

The following colleges and universities will be present; Hartnell College, Central Coast College, Heald College, CSU Monterey Bay, and CSU Fresno; a variety of school counselors will also be on hand.

At the Cash for College Resource Fair, participants will have the opportunity to learn about financial aid resources for college and speak with college and university representatives.
The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Greenfield High School, 225 El Camino Real, Greenfield.

Free assistance will be provided to students wishing to apply for Cal Grants.

The event will also include fun activities for the entire family.

Participating will be the University of California Berkeley, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced, Cal State Fresno, Cal State Monterey Bay, COSMOS Program UC Santa Cruz, University of San Francisco, University of Phoenix, Golden Gate University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cabrillo College, Menlo College, Mills College, Central Coast College, Heald College, CA Strawberry Commission Scholarship Fund, First Tee of Monterey County
For more information contact Priscilla Barba via email at or 831.759.8676.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

CSUMB TRiO program holds toiletry drive to help Dorothy's Place

The TRiO Student program at CSUMB will like to bring attention to the plight of the homeless population by hosting a toiletry drive.

Beginning Friday, Feb. 8, and ending on Feb. 25, there will be toiletry bins located at the University Center, Alumni and Visitor's center; dining commons, library and student center for anyone to donate necessary hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, combs, hairbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, deodorant, razors and shaving cream, tissues and toilet paper.

Community members who would like to participate in the drive can contact Chloe English of CSUMB’s TRiO Student Support Services at 582-4451.

TRiO began with the Upward Bound program, started in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Educational Talent Search was added the next year, and a third program, Student Support Services, was added three years later. By the late 1960s, the term "TRiO" was coined to describe these federal programs.

Over the years, the TRiO programs have been expanded and improved to provide a wider range of services and to reach more students. All are federally funded.

CSUMB student designs "Together with Love" logo

You may already know that the annual Together with Love Run/Walk is taking place this Sunday, Feb. 10.

What you may not now is that a CSUMB student designed their logo. As part of a project in Professor Bobbi Long’s Digital Art and Design class, Chelsea Pyne came up with the heart with branches design.

Students in the Digital Art and Design class have submitted the winning design for the last three years; students in this class have also designed the marketing materials for First Night for the last decade.

The 10/5K races begin at 9 a.m. at Lovers' Point Park in Pacific Grove, rain or shine. There's also a Kids' Fun Run that begins at 8:15 a.m.

To register, click here.

Volunteers are also needed for race day.

Monterey Peninsula Colleger gets award from business council

Monterey Peninsula College was honored for its contribution to the Monterey Bay area’s economy during the Monterey County Business Council’s 17th Anniversary awards on Feb. 2.

MPC was received the Education and Research Award.

The Economic Vitality Awards are presented annually by the Monterey County Business Council, a non-profit group of individuals interested in shaping the future of Monterey County and have a vested interest in the economic streght of the community.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bay View Academy's hearing at MCOE -- a love fest!

It was a love fest at Wednesday's meeting of the Monterey County Board of Education, where trustees held a public hearing to consider the renewal of the Bay View Academy charter school.

Fourteen people spoke in support of renewing the charter, including parents, teachers, and board members.

Nobody spoke against it.

 The room was packed, and all who spoke describe passionately -- even tearfully -- how wonderful Bay View Academy is. What a difference it's made in some children's lives. How lucky everyone is to be a part of this family.

Bay View leaders want to renew the charter for five years and expand its size to make the school K-8. The Monterey County Board of Education will hear staff recommendations and make a decision on March 6.

A Winsconsin teacher measures love

"Using a privately-run, publicly-funded love rating system--my family members and I rate our love for one another using a scale of 1 to 5. While the surveys are done individually and anonymously, the answers are compiled collectively and the results are shared publicly."

Thus begins this week's post of Steve Strieker, a veteran Social Studies teacher in Janesville, WI. In the post, Strieker pokes fun at the market-driven obsession with measuring knowledge, teacher's performance, etc. It's lighthearted and punchy, and I thought it desperately needed to be shared.

So here it is. Enjoy.

Marina council to host townhall meeting on Marina schools

Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado and Councilman Frank O'Connell will be co-hosting a town hall meeting to discuss Marina Schools' facilities, the future plans for Marina High School and the concerns of the residents relating to the same. Additional time will be available for discussion on other city related matters.

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m Tuesday, February 12 at the Community Room of the Marina Library, 190 Seaside Circle, Marina.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Time to donate that prom dress

The Prom Dress Free Shopping Days will only be possible for hundreds of girls if a lot of prom dresses are collected.


The Planning Committee for the 5TH Annual Prom Dress Drive have kicked off this year’s prom dress drive, which will take place during February, March, and April 2013.

Help high school students in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties by donating a gently used prom dress and give a less fortunate student a chance to attend their prom this year.

In collaboration with local schools and agencies all students will be invited to locations in Watsonville and Santa Cruz for the 2013 Prom Dress Free Shopping Day

Prom Dress donations can be dropped off at:

Classic Vapor Cleaners, in Santa Cruz, Capitola and Aptos.

All Comerica Banking Centers in Santa Cruz and Monterey County
Monterey: 35 Bonifacio Plaza
Prunedale: 7915 San Miguel Canyon Rd.
Salinas: 430 South Main St.
Watsonville: 1998 Main St.

The UPS Store at 1961 Main Street, in Watsonville

Comcast Store at 2440 Fremont Street , Monterey

Comcast Store at 1481 N. Davis Road, Salinas

Radio Campesina Office, 608 E. Boronda Road, Suite C, Salinas

CSU Monterey Bay Alumni & Visitor Center, at 100 Campus Center, Seaside

The Free Prom Dress Shopping Days will be:
SANTA CRUZ: 10am-4pm Sat April 13, in Santa Cruz at Teen Center, 301 Center Street, Santa Cruz

PAJARO: 10am-4pm Sat April 20, in Pajaro at Our Lady of Assumption Church, 100 Salinas Road, Pajaro

MPUSD dual language program hosts magnet fair

 If you have a child who will enter kindergarten next year and would like your child to grow up fluent in two languages come learn about the Dual Language Program at Marshall School during the annual MPUSD magnet fair. 

The parent information meeting will take place at 5 p.m.,  Feb. 12, at Marshall Elementary, Room 10, 225 Normandy Ave, Seaside. For more info, contact Luisa Caballero at (831) 899 7052. 

Anger over Marilyn Shepherd's pay

An alert reader suggested I perhaps clarify how much MPUSD Marilyn Shepherd will be paid through the end of her tenure with the district.

The reader suggested I do this because there appears to be some confusion, as exemplified by the letter Judi Lang of Monterey that appeared in our august pages over the weekend.

The letter reads: "I am appalled the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District board voted "unanimously" to pay Marilyn Shepherd her full salary of $233,315 a year until her contract runs out in 2016."

The story I wrote for the Feb. 1 edition of the paper states that Shepherd is set to retire at the end of this year, before her contract expires in 2016 -- which means she was giving up future pay, since she's the one giving up the job.

Furthermore, I wrote: "Shepherd's annual salary is $223,315, which is about $18,600 a month. The remainder of the year would be equivalent to $93,000."

What that means is that the district is going to pay her about $93,000. That's what the board authorized, no more.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Seaside workshop: memory strategies to enhance learning

What types of information are difficult for students to learn? What lessons do students forget or remember, and why? Which strategies are most effective for learning and recalling what was taught? What are some “memory tricks” to master? This workshop focuses on how memory impacts a student’s ability to learn.

Dawn Anderle has been working in the field of speech and language since 1982, specializing in neurologically based disorders of speech and language, early childhood language development, auditory disorders and other learning challenges. She will present information for parents and educators to understand how memory can be enhanced and how to use this understanding to improve instruction and learning. Parents and educators should bring their questions and memory challenges to this hands-on, troubleshooting workshop.

The free workshop will take place from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 13, at Chartwell School – McMahan Hall, 2511 Numa Watson Road, Seaside CA 93955. For more information, call Graydon Mitchell at (831) 394.3468 ext. 1025 or

Bay View Charter and North County Unified at MCOE Wednesday

Leaders with Bay View Academy Charter will make their case at 3:30 p.m Wednesday at Monterey County Board of Education for why their charter permit should be extended. And augmented to house almost twice the students it has now.

 It will be the the second major issue the education board takes on. In the morning, they'll consider whether to give the green light for the reorganization of the North Monterey County Unified School District Board into trustee areas. The two promise to be lively hearings.

MPUSD meeting tonight: keep me informed, will you?

I had a day-long date with the Monterey County Grand Jury, so won't be able to attend tonight's MPUSD meeting. Many items of interest, most prominently, the final approval to convert the former Bay View Elementary building into a preschool. If you're heading out there, take good notes for me, will you? And shoot me an email. I'll check in with district officials in the A.M.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tonight: Teen Talent Extravaganza in Salinas

It's not to late to plan to attend Salinas Teen Talent Extravaganza. Come watch what our amazing youth are up to.

Starting at 7 p.m. Friday Feb 1 (TODAY!) at the Steinbeck Institute of Art and Culture (formally Sherwood Hall) 940 N. Main St, Salinas

Entrance is free, but bring cans or nonperishable items for our local food banks

For more information call: Salinas Recreation Center 758-7476

Send me photos!

Start Smart classes to train better drivers

The California Highway Patrol is once again offering “Start Smart,” a class designed to reduce the number of collisions and injuries involving teen drivers. California has the second highest fatality rate involving drivers between the ages of 15-20. “This tragic loss of young lives is a concern to us, and we hope this program can reduce the death toll,” said CHP Captain William Perlstein. Start Smart addresses traffic safety issues that directly affect new drivers. Start Smart speaks directly to the newly licensed drivers and their parents/guardians. This program entails collision avoidance techniques, collision causing elements, driver responsibilities, a number of testimonials from parents whose children have perished in collisions, and local area traffic collision trends. Start Smart makes teens and parents aware of the responsibilities they face and teaches what precautions to take to stay safe. The next class is scheduled for February 6th at 6:00 PM, and will be held at the CHP Monterey Area office, which is located at 960 E. Blanco Road, Salinas. The Class is free of charge and parents/guardians are asked to attend with their teenage driver. For more information or to reserve your seat, contact Officer Robert Lehman, at (831) 796-2197.

Health summer internship offered

Health Career Connection provides paid internship opportunities to undergraduate students interested in careers in public health and healthcare, with a priority emphasis on health management and policy, health education, community health, environmental health, other areas of public health.

The organization strongly encourage students of color and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply. HCC has a commitment to increasing the number and diversity of healthcare leaders and professionals and also to increasing opportunities for people who are from or want to serve underserved communities.

Deadline to apply is Feb. 11.

For more information, click here.

Alisal Union kicks off basketball league

About 450 children are expected to participate in the district's first annual basketball league, which will kick off Saturday at 11 a.m. at Martin Luther King Academy in Salinas. Ten coaches has been hired for ten of the school sites, said Francisco Estrada Jr., coordinator of the program. Superintendent John Ramirez and the board of trustees are expected to lead an inaugural ceremony at 12:30 p.m. In these day and age of childhood obesity, having more sports available at school sites is key, so way to go, Alisal students!

California Fourth Graders: here's your chance to win $150

Attention fourth graders: display your pictorial talents and win $150.

The California Farm Water Coalition would like to recognize "Water Awareness Month" by encouraging students to enter the 14th annual Farm Water Poster Contest. The top three winners will win cash awards, and their teachers of the top three entries will each receive a $100 cash award for classroom supplies.

The contest is open to all California fourth-grade students enrolled in public and private schools, including home schools. Contest guidelines may be found on the Kids Corner of the Coalition's website. Deadline to enter the contest is April 15, 2013.

"It has been amazing to view the entries over the years and realize that these students have grasped the importance of water to California farmers," said Mike Wade, Coalition Executive Director. "The posters have not only portrayed the use of water on the farm but also its source."

Why Marilyn Shepherd really left

Reader: Can you do a true story of why the superintendent is leaving? Dig up some facts or rumors

Me: Do you have some information that you'd like to share? Something that you could give me off the record and could be corroborated elsewhere? 

Reader: there are  lots of suspicions of why she really left

Me:  Yes, I know of those. So far, I haven't received any concrete evidence, and that's why I asked. I was hoping you'd have reliable information. 


Trust me, I'd love nothing more than writing THE definite story, THE irrefutable truth of why Supt. Marilyn Shepherd is  leaving the district. I'd love to find the smoking gun, the fingerprint in the dagger, insert your metaphor here. And I've looked, I've poked around, I've asked  usual suspect and  unsuspecting bystanders and so far nada.

What that means to me is either a) there's nothing to report, or b) those who really have something to say, and proof of it, are not saying it.

Either way, I can't do stories based on speculation. 

So if you have something to tell me that's worth reporting, please let me know. I'd love to report it, if for nothing else so we can finally put this issue to rest.