Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Robert Down's PTA hosts taco night and silent auction

The Robert Down Elementary PTA is inviting the public to a taco dinner and silent auction to benefit school programs. There will be over 200 items in the silent auction, including an American Girl doll, Disneyland tickets, endurance race entries, restaurant gift certificates, signed sports items and dream vacations such as Space Camp. There are items for every budget, and 100 percent of each purchase goes straight back to the school.

Money raised from the silent auction will fund classroom supplies and projects, field trips, school garden, playground equipment and STEM lab resources.

The taco night and silent auction will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 6. At the school, 485 Pine Ave, Pacific Grove. 

Dinner is $10 for adults, $7 for kids 11 and under.

Click here to order dinner tickets and view the auction items. For more information or to donate items for the auction, please contact Kat Uppman at

Coaches needed for Steinbeck Young Authors’ Day of Writing

Are you good with the written word? Do you like working with youth?

The National Steinbeck Center is looking for writing coaches for their 12th Annual Day of Writing on March 2, 2015, a segment of the Steinbeck Young Authors program created to provide students with the opportunity to explore the excitement of writing while enhancing their writing skills.

Students discover the works of John Steinbeck through the novella The Red Pony. During the Day of Writing, students write an essay combining their personal life experiences and their reflections on the story. Students are paired with a writing coach from the community -- here's your chance to volunteer -- and later on, experts judge the students’ final works.

Volunteers need to commit for a bit over three hours. The schedule is:

· 10:30 – 11:45 a.m. – Coffee, overview of program, and tips on working with students.

· 11:45 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. – Lunch and working with students on their essays.

For more information or to sign up, contact Elizabeth Welden-Smith at

This year’s award ceremony will be held at the National Steinbeck Center on Sunday, May 3, 2015. All of the students’ essays are published in the Gabilan Journal and available for purchase on this day.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monterey County high school girls: want to learn how to code?

Here's an intriguing opportunity to learn how to code, even if you have no experience.

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program embeds 20 rising high school juniors and seniors inside a technology company or university setting from 9:00am - 4:00pm each day. Here, young women get hands-on experience in computing concepts, programming fundamentals, mobile phone development, robotics, and web development and design. Project-based curricular modules allow participants to build products and develop innovative solutions designed to inspire an interest in and enourage their pursuit of computer science.

Applications are due now and will be received until Feb. 12. Girls must be in their sophomore or junior year, and need two letters of recommendation. The closest program to Monterey County is in San Jose, so participants need to commute daily for seven weeks.  For more information, click here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Millennium Charter High School gets five year extension

Millennium Charter High School, one of the newest charters in Monterey County, was re-authorized for another five years by the Monterey County Board of Education.

Millennium opened in August 2013, and the following year was named by the California Department of Education a "model demonstration site" for Career Technical Education (CTE) in the Arts, Media and Entertainment pathway. Located in two sites -- the Monterey County Office of Education and Sherwood Hall -- the school offers traditional academic preparation with an emphasis on visual and performing arts, digital media technology. The school currently serves students in grades 9-11 and will add a 12 grade in 2015-2016.

Unlike most charters that have been denied in recent years, Millennium began as an effort by educators and performing arts professionals.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

CSUMB's Maria Villaseñor earns national honor

Maria Villaseñor, associate professor and coordinator of the First-Year Seminar program at Cal State Monterey Bay, has received national recognition as an outstanding champion for freshmen students.

Villaseñor is one of 10 recipients in the country chosen as “Outstanding First-Year Advocates” by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience at the University of South Carolina. She was selected from a group of 116 educators nominated by their colleges and universities.

She will be recognized for her commitment to student success at a conference next month in Dallas.

“Professor Villaseñor has distinguished herself as an effective and tireless advocate for first-year students, especially first-generation students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Provost Bonnie Irwin said in her letter of nomination.

“Students and instructors alike are effusive in their praise of Professor Villaseñor’s work in support of student success.”

In addition to her work with the First-Year Seminar program, Villaseñor teaches classes in the Division of Humanities and Communication in Chicano Studies and literature. She holds a Ph.D. in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

She's also the mother of two lovely girls, twins. How do you do it all, Maria? Felicidades, mujer!

MPUSD to look at how money gets distributed

In light of the very harsh report issued last week into MPUSD internal workings, it'd be very interesting to see what happens Thursday, when trustees and the public hear from a very reputable organization and its analysis on how MPUSD allocates its resources.

WestEd, a nonprofit research and development agency which works to improve education, was invited by MPUSD to analyze how it splits up its money pie. Similarly to what the auditors did, WestEd analyzed data, interviewed people, and will give recommendations at a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

"This study will help MPUSD identify opportunities to optimize how resources are aligned to improve student outcomes, and most importantly, to assist the district in determining whether and how to best implement the recommendations they provide," spokeswoman Marci McFadden wrote in an email.

The meeting will take place at the Instructional Materials Center, 540 Canyon del Rey, Del Rey Oaks. Anybody who's interested in seeing the district move forward in a positive way should be there.

Monday, January 19, 2015

CSUMB student designs "Together with Love" poster

As the date nears for the 30th annual "Together with Love" race, you'll probably see the posters everywhere.

What you may not know is that a student from Cal State Monterey Bay designed it.

The artwork was done by Diana Mejia in Bobbi Long’s introduction to digital graphic design class.

This is the fifth year the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, sponsor of the annual race that is held near Valentine’s Day, has worked with CSUMB to develop the logo that is used in marketing materials – in print ads, on television, online and on coffee mugs – and on the T-shirts given to race participants.

Clare Mounteer, the center’s executive director, made several visits to the class to introduce the project and work with the students. Students vote on the top designs, which are then presented to the staff or board of the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center for final selection.

“It’s really fun to see how excited people get on race day when they first see the T-shirts,” Mounteer said, “and gratifying for the winning design student to see so many people actually wearing their artwork."

The race is the biggest annual fundraising event for the Rape Crisis Center.

Monterey County young poets, this one's for you

The Cherry Center for the Arts is calling for submissions to the 2015 Monterey County High School Poetry Awards. As part of 'Thinking Out Loud,' the Cherry Center's annual exhibit devoted to high school arts, the high school poetry awards encourages the art and practice of poetry by offering educational workshops to high school students throughout Monterey County.


1. Submission must be original poetry in English, Spanish or a combination of both.
2. The author must be presently enrolled in a Monterey County High School.
3. No more than three poems allowed per author, and no poem may be more than 40 lines in length.
4. There are no restrictions as to content, style, form or metrical device.
5. All entries must be typed. Student's name, address and phone number must be printed on each poem. Poets should also retain a copy of their poem.

Entries must be postmarked by March 27 and mailed to the Cherry Center for the Arts, PO Box 863, Carmel, CA 93921.

Certificates of Merit, Cash Awards and Books of Poetry will be awarded at a reading and ceremony honoring the student poets. Additionally, an anthology celebrating the work of contributing students will be published by the Cherry Center. The poetry awards are held in conjunction with the Cherry Center’s annual high school art exhibit, Thinking Out Loud. The poetry awards have been established to recognize and promote excellence in high school poets and to develop an interest in creative expression through language. The awards are open to the public.

For more information call (831) 624-7491; Email: or click here.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Kevin Hicks named new head of Stevenson School

Kevin Hicks, currently at the helm of The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, has been named the next president and head of school at Stevenson School. Hicks will assume his new role at the private institution in July.

Hicks is succeeding Joe Wandke, one of the longest-serving heads of any independent school in the United States.

Hicks holds a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Yale and a doctorate in English from Princeton. He has previously worked as English teacher, admissions officer, and lacrosse coach. From 2005-2010 he served as Dean of Berkeley College at Yale University, where he counseled hundreds of undergraduates and instituted a unique advisory system.

In 2010 Hicks joined The Hotchkiss School, one of New England's best respected independent boarding schools. Hicks served in many capacities, and instituted new approaches to mentoring, revised the school's strategic plan, and created a symposium on learner-centered teaching.

A Stevenson alumnus from the Class of 1985, Hicks attributes much of his educational and career success to his years at Stevenson. "Stevenson is where my academic curiosity developed and my intellectual boundaries expanded," Hicks said in a statement. "Becoming president will be a true homecoming for me."

 Joe Wandke served as Stevenson's president for 32 years. For more information about Kevin Hicks and the presidential transition at Stevenson School, click here.

Kevin Hicks (center), with Stevenson Board Chair Mark Hornberger '68 and President Joe Wandke, at the 2011 Pebble Beach commencement. (Provided photo)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Monterey County superintendent of schools gets sworn in for third term

Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo and Nancy Kotowski's Pebble Beach neighbor administered the oath of office for her third term during a Jan. 7 ceremony at the Monterey County Office of Education.

Other personalities in attendance were Sylvia Panetta, co-director of the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, Mary Claypool, President of the Monterey County Board of Education, and former superintendent of California schools Jack O'Connell.

Kotowski was first elected Monterey County Superintendent of Schools in 2006. The late Donna Alonso-Vaughn ran against her in 2010, but Kotowski faced no contenders in the 2014 election. Which was fascinating, given the fact that Kotowski is widely disliked by union members, and the persistent rumors about her management style which has driven out key members of her staff recently. And you all know, Scuttlebutt does not lie.

It's also fascinating given the headlines we've seen this year about the low educational attainment seen in Monterey County schools. You would think somebody would try to hold her accountable, right? Of course, defeating the odds of a low-income, English learner community is a challenge that probably nobody wants to take on.

Here's another thing that's puzzling. In a majority-Latino community, with a super-majority of Latino children in schools, and a particularly active Latino political establishment, no one in the Latino community decided to challenge her? How's that for a mystery? 

Monterey County libraries are seeking literacy program tutors

Twenty five percent of adults in Monterey County struggle to read a prescription label, fill out a job application, or help their children with homework. And folks at the Monterey County Free Libraries are offering you a way to do something about it.

Volunteers are needed throughout the county to help others learn how to read. New volunteers may join the program at any point during the year by registering for the libraries' new tutor training.

The next two part orientation-and-new-tutor training will be held in the Monterey Peninsula. Attendance at both sessions is required for new tutors.

Part I: Tuesday, January 20, 6-830 pm at Marina Branch Library, 190 Seaside Circle, Marina.

Part II: Thursday, January 22, 6-830 pm at Seaside Branch Library, 550 Harcourt Avenue, Seaside.

For more information or to register for training, call 831-883-7597, or email on or after January 2nd, 2015.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Speaking of musics in the schools...

A kind reader is willing to donate a professional organ, a Yamaha E70. Any ideas who would want it? Give me a buzz!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Stephen Hinshaw addresses ADHD explosion

Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, a psychologist from University of California at Berkeley and co-author of The ADHD Explosion, will talk about the science behind its causes, medication and behavioral treatment. Audiences will learn more about issues facing children, teachers, clinicians, and family members who contend with ADHD every day.

The event is sponsored by the Carmel Public Library Foundation, and proceeds from the evening benefit its mission, which is to fund 100 percent of the collections, programs, equipment and services for Carmel Public Library.

The program will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan 13. Book signing after program.

At Carpenter Hall, Sunset Center, 9th & Mission, Carmel. 

Free and open to the public. $10 suggested contribution. Seating is limited.

MPC's Walter Tribley to talk about community college challenges

Monterey Peninsula College President Walt Tribley will talk about the community college mission and the significant changes that are changing the way colleges operate.

In the last decade, higher education has faced severe funding cuts and the implementation of very prescriptive policies controlling how higher education (colleges and students) will be funded. From limits on the amount of federal financial aid a student receives to the so-called national completion agenda, this presentation will highlight the challenges and opportunities for community colleges and the students and communities they serve.

This is around the time college administrators also present their budgets, so chances are Tribley will also address the college financials. It should be a presentation worth attending.

The presentation will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Jan 21., at the Lecture Forum #103 of the main campus, 980 Fremont St., Monterey.