Friday, February 26, 2016

Foothill Elementary hosts science day

Foothill Elementary had what administrators believe is the school's first ever Science Day on Wednesday. Students had a chance to choose three different sessions of hands-on activities that addressed the Next Generation Science Standards, said Principal Lauren Park.

"Teachers presented science experiments in chemistry, botany, zoology, physiology, geology, and physics," she said in an email. "Students experimented on chemical changes, how electricity turns on light bulbs, extracting periodic table iron from food, how rate and time affects distance, how the human taste buds are affected, and much more!"

Judging by the photos  and Park's enthusiasm -- science day was really special. "Our teachers took the bold step to be innovative in coordinating the best experience for our students."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Alisal's John Ramirez receives a glowing review from ACSA publication

John Ramirez, the outgoing superintendent of the Alisal Union School District, was the subject of a glowing article at EdCal, a weekly education newspaper published by the Association of California School Administrators, or ACSA. You can download the story here.

Some of the accomplishments described in the story I've already written about, such as the school starting the year fully staffed at a time of a serious teacher shortage. Other I have yet to tackle.

The article comes at a time when district officials are looking to replace Ramirez, who said last year he intends to move on after June. Trustees finally chose a consulting firm to help pick the new superintendent, and Ramirez cautiously says he's "open to opportunities to work with a strong team" when asked if he would consider staying at the Alisal if asked to do so.

"It wouldn't be prudent to commit either way to a hypothetical proposition," he wrote in a text. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Alternative education programs offered by the Monterey County Office of Education have received the stamp of approval by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Accreditation by WASC, as it's usually referred to, certifies that the schools meet the required criteria that demonstrates to students their studies will be accepted elsewhere.

The programs offered by the Alternative Education Department reach students across Monterey County. Students who attend Alternative Education Programs are foster/homeless youth, students on inter-district transfers, youth who have been referred by probation, or students who were expelled from their home district. Full service programming and support are offered to all students, including in-house social workers, mental health counselors, and aides in every classroom who help providing individualized instruction. Each program is unique so needy students with can be successful and prepared for college and careers after high school.

Alternative Education Programs include:

Salinas Community Schools
Rancho Cielo Silver Star Program
Silver Star Center, Independent Studies Program
South County Independent Studies Program
Warner Davis Program
Innovative Arts Technology Pathway
Sea Air Fire Earth Transportation Pathway
 MCOE Court Schools
Wellington M. Smith, Jr. School
Salinas Valley Education Center

Friday, February 19, 2016

McPherson & Jacobson it is for Alisal superintendent search

Alisal Union trustees picked the consulting firm of McPherson & Jacobson of Omaha, Nebraska, to conduct its superintendent search.

Trustees also met during closed session to discuss other, in-house potential candidates. They did not report anything from closed session.

Soledad Unified breaks ground on new middle school

Officials with the Soledad Unified School District held a ceremonial ground-breaking for the soon-to-be-built Main Street Middle School.

The school will be approximately 92,000 sq ft with a total of 43 classrooms. It will house about 1,200 students in grades 6-8.

It will cost the District approximately $33.5 million to build the new school, and it will be paid with funding being provided by Measure C, a $40 million bond approved in Nov. 2012.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Read Across America! My favorite holiday!

Dr. Seuss birthday celebration is right around the corner, and some schools are looking for volunteers to read to students and celebrate the joys of books.

That's the case at Ord Terrace Elementary School, where organizers are looking for volunteers. In honor of the world famous author administrators dedicate the entire day to celebrate reading in as many classrooms as possible.

The community read-in is scheduled from 8:30-11:30am. Community members are provided with books to read with students and are scheduled to read in classrooms for 25 minute increments. Readers are also encouraged to bring their favorite books from childhood and share your own experiences as readers.

Contact fifth grade teacher Jenifer Alexander, at 392-3922 or via email, if you're interested in participating in this exciting day!

See you there!

Do you want to help during History Day? Here's your chance!

History Day will take place on March 12 at Los Arboles Middle School, and the Lyceum of Monterey County is looking for people who would like to serve as judges.

During History Day, students from all over Monterey County have a chance to present the research they've done through posters, films, and plays. It's project based learning at its finest! If you want to read more about a story I wrote on the topic, check it out here. This year, the theme is Exploration, Encounter, Exchange.

Lyceum folks will be conducting two training sessions prior to the event, one in Monterey and one in Salinas, later this month. If you're interested in participating, please email: for information.

Happy encounters!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Salad bar program makes it into one Soledad school

The Soledad Unified School District partnered with the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation to bring one salad bar to the Soledad High School cafeteria.

Grower-Shipper’s Foundation works with local food service directors to help find effective solutions to getting more fresh produce into school cafeterias.

“Our foundation is committed to the idea that every child should have access to healthy food options. We see ourselves as a bridge between schools and the agriculture community to benefit the health and wellness of the next generation.” said Margaret D’Arrigo-Martin, President, Grower-Shipper Association Foundation. “We are fortunate to have partners throughout the grower shipper community who value our mission, and through that support, have allowed our organization the ability to bring resources to schools throughout the region.”

Salad bars have become commonplace in schools after the launch of "Let's Move Salad Bars" inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the Let’s Move Salad Bar to School program had delivered nearly 4,000 salad bars to school across the nation ad of Dec. 2014.

And now Soledad high has its own salad bar. Hopefully the rest of the schools will follow!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Alisal to discuss hiring search firm for new superintendent

Trustees with the Alisal Union School District will hold a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss how to move forward in the search for a new superintendent.

As you probably recall, John Ramirez said he would leave the district at the end of the school year -- now only four months away -- but the board did not start in earnest seeking for a replacement until a new board was installed.

On Wednesday, trustees will meet in closed session to "consider individuals for the position of superintendent" according to its agenda. When asked if the board intended to interview candidates for the position, Board President Noemi Armenta said that was not the case.

"It's a place holder in case we want to discuss potential candidate within the district," Armenta said. "We want to make sure we discuss every potential candidate. We want to be transparent." *

Asked if trustees were considering asking Ramirez to stay, Armenta said that was not her decision to make.

"We make decisions together," she said.

The board will also hear presentations from Leadership Associates of La Quinta, Calif., and McPherson and Jefferson LLC from Omaha, Nebraska, the only two firms that responded to the district's request for proposals issued in January. The board authorized to spend no more than $28,200 in the consulting firm.

*An earlier version of this blog had a different quote from Armenta.  She called me back about 20 minutes after our first conversation to modify her comments.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hugh Jebson will be new head of school at All Saints' Day School

Hugh Jebson, now assistant head of school at the Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida, will become the next head of school at All Saints' Day School in Carmel.

Jebson's career in education spans 25 years, including 15 years of operational experience as a senior administrator and school leader. Throughout his career, Jebson has retained direct contact with students as a teacher of history, advisor, and coach. An immigrant to the United States, he began his teaching career in England and has served a number of elite day and boarding schools. He is a teaching fellow of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, has been published widely, and has presented to numerous regional and national independent school conferences on a range of topics, including student safety, academic leadership and faculty evaluation.

His contract begins July 1. School officials would not disclose his salary. 

CSUMB selected to 're-imagine' freshman year

Suddenly, re-imagining seems like the concept du jour.

Cal State Monterey Bay has been selected as one of 44 colleges nationwide for a pilot program coordinated by the Association of American State Colleges and Universities to revamp education for college freshmen.

The three-year program, Re-imagining the First Year of College, aims to transform the freshman year in order to improve students’ chances of success in school and in the workplace. It is funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USA Funds.

“We are honored to be involved in such a prestigious and worthwhile project,” said CSUMB Provost Bonnie Irwin in a statement. “The Re-imagining the First Year of College project will allow CSUMB to continue to work on student success on campus and it will align nicely with Monterey County's cradle-to-career partnership, Bright Futures.”

The first year of college is a critical barrier to student success, the point at which schools experience the greatest loss of students. The goal of the initiative is to help the 44 participating colleges implement changes that increase retention and improve graduation rates, particularly among  underserved populations – low income, first generation and students of color.

By the end of three years, the goal is for each campus to have a better strategy for student success with measurable results on things such as retention and credits earned, plus a broader support network.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Monterey County teachers and administrators: this is for you

In its ongoing effort to set up a single accountability system that's coherent at the local, state and federal level, the State Board of Education is currently seeking applications to fill up to 15 positions on a newly constituted advisory committee.

The group will be called the California Practitioners Advisory Group and will provide input to the State Board of Education on ongoing efforts to establish said accountability system. The advisory committee will also serve as the state’s committee of practitioners under federal Title I requirements.

For more information about the application, please click here or , or contact the State Board by email at or by telephone at 916-319-0393. Complete applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26, 2016.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hartnell speech team finishes strong its regular tournament season

The Hartnell Speech team finished its regular tournament season with nine individual awards and a second place overall team award at the Las Positas Invitational held Feb. 6 in Livermore.

Thirteen two-year and four-year schools from around the region competed on Saturday, including San Francisco State University, Diablo Valley College and Modesto Junior College.

Individual awards included:

Susana Alcantar, 1st Place, Informative Speaking
Marc Dover, 1st Place, Communication Analysis
Meritzy Ayala, 2rd Place, Communication Analysis
Esmeralda Ramirez, 3rd Place, Prose Interpretation
Sarina Atkins, 3rd Place, Persuasive Speaking
Jasleem Bonilla, 4th place, Persuasive Speaking
Adrian Flores, 5th place, Program of Oral Interpretation
Lourdes Tinajero, 6th place, Program of Oral Interpretation
Andrea Cervates, 7th place, Program of Oral Interpretation
The team will participate in the Northern California Spring Championships February 20 and 21 in Modesto. They will also attend the California Communication College State Championships March 9-13 at City College of San Francisco.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Stevenson's Chapman Caddell, a scientist in the making

Chapman Caddell, a senior at Stevenson School, was named a U.S. high school semifinalist for the Intel Science Talent Search earlier this year. The talent search is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition and it honors exceptional high school seniors for their scientific research and their potential as future leaders in the scientific community. Chapman received a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation, and an additional $1,000 grant was made to Stevenson School.

He was one of 300 out of 1,750 that applied to qualify for this national contest, although he did not qualify to be one of the top 40 finalists. Quite an achievement, given that the application process is extensive and requires original research, multiple faculty recommendations, transcripts, AP test scores, standardized test scores, personal essays, summer institute participation, and a listing of awards.

Chapman’s apparatus that earned him this recognition resulted in his discovery of—among other things—methods to reduce the threshold “Leidenfrost Effect” temperature by half (from 650F to 300F) and condense airborne moisture, an important application in a drought environment.

I've written about Chapman's accomplishments in the past and no doubt we'll continue to hear about his success in the future. Way to go!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Monterey Bay Charter move to CSUMB moves one step closer

After receiving an initial blessing from Cal State University, Monterey Bay Charter trustees expect to begin circulating soon the environmental impact report on their proposed campus on CSUMB.

After the report has been shown to the public, trustees will hold a town hall meeting to talk about the school, to be located on a 20-acre plot of land on the southeast part of the CSUMB campus between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, and between Colonel Durham Street and Butler Street.

 I first wrote about the story here.

Monterey Bay Charter trustees are cautioning that this is still in the preliminary stages, and that a final approval won't come down until May. The project must be approved by CSU trustees.

In the meantime, the school will host an open house from 10 am. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 6. The Lottery deadline is March 1. The school's K-8 grades are located at 1004 David Ave., Pacific Grove.
For more information, visit the school's website here