Thursday, July 31, 2014

Millennium High Charter School to host orientation

Even if you're not enrolled at Millennium Charter, but are curious about the school, the student/parent orientation to take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday Aug. 8 should be a good opportunity to find out all about the school The orientation will take place at Sherwood Hall, the school's new digs. Sherwood Hall's at 940 N. Main St., Salinas.

The grand opening for the Sherwood Hall portion of the school will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15.

At the Monterey County Office of Education Campus, Millennium students will still have access to a digital media lab with laptop computers, editing software, a black box theater, a high-definition television studio with professional control rooms, and a radio station designed for broadcast as well as podcast production.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Salinas Youth: become a city commissioner

The City of Salinas is looking for students between 13 and 18 years old to serve on the Youth Commission.

The Youth Commission is comprised of twenty-eight members selected by the Mayor and City Council members to make recommendation regarding recreational programs and activities affecting youth. The Commission generally meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 6:30pm.

Interested persons may obtain additional information or an application by contacting Library and Community Services Department 758-7217 or the Salinas City Clerk’s office, 200 Lincoln Ave. Salinas, 93901, 758-7381, Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Return completed applications to the City Clerk’s Office.

Back to School Health Fair to take place in Salinas

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), a father of four, is partnering with the Alisal Family Resource Center to host the Back to School Health Fair for K-6 students in east Salinas. The event will be a one-stop venue where parents may bring their children to receive medical and dental screenings, eye exams, and Child ID Complete Kits, a comprehensive tool for parents to record a child’s vital identification.

The health fair is a free event and will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Alisal Family Resource Center, 1441 Del Monte Avenue, Salinas.

Senator Cannella’s district staff will hold mobile office hours at the fair and have fact sheets available with information on relevant legislation.

Sponsors of the event include the Alisal Family Resource Center, Monterey County Health Department, Natividad Medical Center, United Way Monterey County, California Medical Association, California Dental Association, California Optometric Association, and Salud Para La Gente.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

CSUMB gets $2.1 million grant to help enroll more migrant students

California State University, Monterey Bay has received a $2.1 million federal grant aimed at enrolling more migrant students in higher education.

Awarded by the U.S Department of Education, the five-year grant will enable CSUMB to offer financial assistance, academic and career services, cultural and social enrichment and health and counseling services through the College Assistance Migrant Program or CAMP, according to Joan Weiner, a university spokeswoman.

The goal of the program is to create a paradigm shift in the minds of students and their parents, to help them believe that college is possible, and to provide the support they need to succeed once they arrive on campus.

The grant started in July and runs through June of 2019. It will provide services and assistance for 55 migrant students from Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Santa Clara counties.

Services provided by the CAMP grant will also include parent orientations, high school and community outreach events, admissions and financial aid application workshops, one-week summer orientation programs and tutoring.

An estimated 31,000 migrant students live in the four-county area served by the grant, making the Central Coast home to 25 percent of migrant students in California. In Monterey County, the average farm worker has an annual income of $18,397.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Want to learn more about ag careers? iAgriculture coming to Harnell College

The Agricultural Business and Technology Institute at Hartnell College is offering a new series of informational workshops called iAgriculture

iAgriculture offers an insider’s look at the agriculture industry in Salinas Valley through hands-on activities, field trips, and conversations with professionals in the field. Participants will visit a diverse range of local ag-related businesses such as strawberry growers, flower production companies, vegetable transplant operations, laboratories and research facilities, companies focused on processing and handling, fabrication, packaging, trucking and transportation, and marketing.

iAgriculture aims to increase students’ awareness of the wide array of career options in agriculture, the different paths they can take in pursuit of those careers, and the relevant classes and certificate/degree programs offered at Hartnell College.

The iAgriculture series includes a five-day session in August and monthly/bi-monthly half-day sessions in the Fall. Any current or incoming Hartnell students as well as local high school students who have an interest in agriculture are welcome to attend, free of charge.

To sign up for the August 4-8 session, please contact Kristen Arps at or 831-755-6798, or register online here.

General information on Hartnell College’s Agricultural Business and Technology Institute can be found here. Industry or community members who would like to learn more or get involved in iAgriculture,  contact Susan Pheasant, Director of the Ag Business and Technology Institute, at 831-755-6702 or

Millennium Charter High School earns WASC accreditation

Millennium Charter High School is on a roll. Weeks after being named a Model Demonstration Site for Career Technical Education in the Arts, Media, and Entertainment, school administrators have just learned the school has just earned accreditation for grades 9 and 10.

Accreditation for Grade 11 will be completed in the fall of 2014, followed by Grade 12 in the fall of 2015, Principal Peter Gray said. WASC Accreditation certifies that the school is a trustworthy institution of learning and validates the integrity of the school’s program and student transcripts.

"I feel very proud that WASC has validated the hard work of the students and staff and the support of our parents," Gray said in an email. "Because there won't be a 12th grade program to be accredited until the 2015-16 school year, WASC will send a team out for a site visit and then we will be fully accredited for grades 9-12."

The school will be moving some operations to Sherwood Park starting the 2014-15 school year. An opening ceremony's scheduled for Aug. 1. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Still interested in running against Meredith Ibarra in her recall?

There's still time. Although only Estrella Thoeni, a page at John Steinbeck Library in Salinas, has filed to run against Alisal Union School District Trustee Meredith Ibarra in her recall election, the nomination period for write-in candidates is now open. Interested parties have until 5 p.m. August 26 to file. The recall election will take place Sept. 9, in an all mail-in vote.

For more information, visit the Monterey County elections website here or call 831-796-1499.

Friday, July 11, 2014

MPUSD trustees, new superintendent, to meet to define goald

Trustees with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District will hold a special, three-hour meeting on Monday to talk about expectations and goals for their new superintendent.

From the agenda posted on the District's website, the goals of the session are:

• Briefly review and commit to the Unity of Purpose, Governance Team Mission and Beliefs
• Establish norms for communicating with one another and building an effective relationship
• Clarify board expectations of the superintendent
• Clarify superintendent expectations of the board
• Discuss the 90 day superintendent’s entry plan and agree to a process and schedule of the Superintendent evaluation

If you want to get the entire agenda, click here of the MPUSD website here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Marina students win big at the American Legion Auxiliary essay contest

Three Marina students earned top honors with their writings in an essay contest about patriotism sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary.

Each year, the organization offers 270 units in California the opportunity to sponsor the Americanism Essay Contest. As it has for the last 20 years, Monterey Cypress Unit 694 of District 28 sponsored the contest again this year. Unit Americanism Chair, Elisabeth Billingsley, worked with the teaching staffs in Marina schools to promote and implement the essay contest in their respective classrooms. At their recent annual Convention, the Department of California American Legion Auxiliary awarded three Marina students the highest possible recognition for essays in their respective groups at the state level. The winning essays were selected from more than 4,000, written by students in grades 4 through 12 across California.

Alexis Williams, a student at Marina Vista Elementary School, was the First Place winner in Group I, Grades 4 and 5, receiving a Certificate of Appreciation and $100 cash award for her essay entitled, “Why Should I Show Respect for the American Flag?”

America Osornio, a student at Los Arboles Middle School, was the First Place winner in Group III, Grades 8 and 9, receiving a Certificate of Appreciation and $200 cash award for her essay entitled, “What Does the ‘Pledge of Allegiance Mean to Me?’ ”

Tatiana Youpa, a student at Marina High School was the First Place winner in Group IV, Grades 10, 11 and 12, earning a $2,500 Educational Grant. She received a Certificate of Appreciation and check for $500. The remaining $2000 grant balance will be credited to any accredited college or university located within the United States or its territories within two years following Tatiana’s graduation from high school.

King City teacher Michael Jones needs your help

Michael Jones, a first grade teacher at the King City Union School District, is seeking to win $2,500 from an on-line contest so he can outfit his classroom with Chrome books.

The grants are awarded based on internet voting. Jones believes he's the only teacher with an active proposal on the entire central coast (and probably the only participant in this month’s grant cycle.)

"Any way that you can support my efforts to bring this grant to our area would be greatly appreciated," Jones said in an email. "People can vote once each day in July. I will be using the grant money to provide technology so my students can practice and integrate their learning in computer based projects."

To vote for his project, click here.

A search for 93930 zip code shows the grant for M. Jones of King City.

And good luck to you, Mr. Jones!

Teacher recruitment fair for Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties

The Monterey County Office of Education will host its second annual teacher recruitment fair to help school districts in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties fill vacant teacher positions.

The recruitment fair will showcase employment opportunities for public and private school teachers, as well as other credentialed professionals. Job fair participants can speak first-hand with district representatives about open positions, as well as submit their resumes.

The fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 pm. on Tuesday, July 15, at the Monterey County Office of Education, Rooms A/B, 901 Blanco Circle, Salinas.

For a list of participating districts, click here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Take a look at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District budget

I don't know whose marvelous idea was to put together the budget for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District this year, in this form. Whoever it was -- and I suspect it was Interim Superintendent Bill Brand -- deserves a hug.

Budgets are beastly creatures by nature. Too many numbers, too many categories, too little explanation.  But this work of beauty -- at least the first 58 pages of it -- contains a lot of explanations. The breakdown of teachers per school and how administrators assign teachers. How much money is being spent in each school site. Where's the money coming from.

It's 332 pages long, and definitely worth your time -- at the very least, the first 58 pages of it are.  And if you're the wonky type and you care about MPUSD finances, you can probably handle the whole enchilada.

And you can find it here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monterey Peninsula Unified welcomes new superintendent PK Diffenbaugh

Daniel Diffenbaugh, or PK, as he's already getting to be known, officially took over his new role as superintendent for MPUSD, and apparently, he's already making a good impression.

Scuttlebutt tells me PK is making the community rounds and asking the right questions. And he's still reaching out to folks in his effort to get a feel for the landscape.

Tomorrow will be his first official board meeting. The community will have a chance to say hello during meet-and-greet events already schedule. From 3 to 5 pm. July 19, at the Seaside City Hall, 440 Harcourt; and from 1 to 4 pm. in the multi-purpose room of Marina High School, 298 Patton Parkway, Marina.

The Marina reception will be a community potluck. Dessert and drinks will be provided. A reception in Monterey has yet to be scheduled.

UPDATE: The Monterey reception has been scheduled from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on July 18 at Wharf Marketplace, 290 Figueroa St, Monterey.

The Alisal Dream Academy needs your help

The Alisal Dream Academy needs a bus to transport 50-plus high school students who want to participate in the Academy's 'Day in the Fields' Project.

The Academy students will work in an organic field in Soledad from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 17. By participating in this project, students gain a deeper understanding and respect for what it means to labor in the fields, a work often perform by their own parents and other community members in their neighborhoods. 

If you know of anyone who might be able to help the students out, please contact political science  teacher Ruben Pizarro at  (831) 229-7969. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has released a blue print for California schools to improve education in the science. Titled INNOVATE: A Blueprint for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in California Public Education, the blue print outlines seven major steps:

1. Public Awareness: Increase public awareness about the importance of STEM education to ensure support for these fields of study.

2. Resources: Increase support for STEM learning from government, business, charities, and communities through partnerships.

3. Access: Make high-quality STEM experiences and programs accessible to all students in and out of school, before and after school, and to underrepresented youth and girls.

4. Framework: Establish guidance for STEM teaching and learning in all grades that line up with the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

5. Professional Learning: Adopt policies and standards to train teachers in STEM education.

6. Assessment and Accountability: Consider STEM in the state’s testing and accountability systems.

7. Availability of STEM Materials: Ensure that STEM programs can identify and access excellent learning resources.

STEM jobs are expected to grow 21.4 percent over the next five years, versus a 10.4 percent growth in jobs overall, and business leaders say they do not have enough skilled workers to fill these jobs. Even students who work outside the STEM fields will have to deal with complex issues that require strong science competence. They will also be consumers of increasingly sophisticated technologies.

Torlakson wants educators to attend the Second Annual California STEM Symposium on September 21–23, 2014, in San Diego as part of continuing efforts to enhance STEM education in California. This gathering will showcase STEM programs, curriculum, strategies, resources, Common Core, and Next Generation Science Standards. More than 200 presenters will share their best practices with attendees. Registration is now open. Presenters and vendors are invited to apply to showcase their STEM programs, projects, and products. To sign up, visit the Californians Dedicated to Education Web page.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Monterey College of Law establishes scholarship for alums of Boys & Girls Club

Monterey College of Law is establishing a scholarship program for alums of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County.

The Monterey College of Law will provide an annual, full-tuition law school scholarship to alumni of the Monterey County Boys & Girls Clubs for each of the next 10 years, starting this fall. The law school will also establish a similar scholarship program with the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Cruz.

"We share an important mission with the Boys & Girls Clubs by providing quality educational opportunities for local students,” said Mitchel Winick, dean and president of the law school, during the announcement of the scholarship at the annual breakfast of the Boys & Girls Club in Seaside.

 “This is a unique and exciting opportunity to recognize special students from our community who have worked hard and earned the chance to achieve their dream of becoming a lawyer," he said.

"This special scholarship program not only represents an extraordinary opportunity for our youth, it represents one of the largest financial sponsorships in the history of our organization," said Donna Ferraro, president and chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club.  "This program is another inspiring example of how our community stands behind our slogan 'Great Futures Start Here'."

Persons interested in the Monterey College of Law scholarship program should contact Mary Dawson at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County at 394-5171.

Monterey County schools get after school grants

It used to be that Monterey County schools received millions of dollars in after school grant. Sadly, the pot has dried out, but two schools still managed to get some money.

The California Department of Education just announced that Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary in the Alisal Union School District will get $43,650 for its after-school program. Also, El Camino Real Science and Technology Academy on the Greenfield Union Elementary School District will get $8,100.

Given their multi-million dollar budgets, the money doesn't seem like much, but at least is something, right?