Friday, April 29, 2016

UCSC Chancellor visits North Monterey County High

As part of a yearly campaign to spread the UC message directly to students, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal paid a visit to North Monterey County High School on Wednesday.

Blumenthal addressed students in grades 8-11 about the feasibility of a UC education and the importance of acquiring a college degree. The event also included workshops for seniors that are designed to address next steps for the various college systems, a workshop for parents, and a resource fair for students to get their questions answered.

UC leaders have been visiting schools that have lower than average college-going rates. The system-wide effort is targeted at schools that serve a high proportion of low-income and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. The effort has helped increase the numbers of students applying to UC by as much as 30 percent at participating high schools, officials said. It's unclear whether the effort has actually increased the number of students accepted from these schools.

York Students shine on "Chinese Bridge"

Three York students earned top spots at the “Chinese Bridge” U.S. West Coast Competition: Chanha Kim and Justin Wong tied for second and Genevieve Roeder-Hensley third place.

The "Chinese Bridge" language proficiency competition is a large-scale international contest assessing students' Chinese language proficiency and knowledge about China, Chinese cultural talents, and comprehensive learning abilities.

The competition was started to kindle interest and passion in foreign youth learning Chinese and to further their understanding of Chinese language and culture. Over 20,000 students from more than 50 countries around the world participated in the preliminary competitions.

To qualify for the U.S. West Coast Competition, students submitted a four to five-minute recording on Chinese language in their lives. Judges selected the best submissions to attend the competition where students delivered their original recordings in person. In addition, students prepared a two to three-minute presentation on a cultural activity or talent like the art of Chinese paper making or playing a Chinese instrument.

York School Chinese teacher, Lei Lei Bates, is understandably excited.

“I am so proud of our students," she said in a statement. "This is a highly competitive competition, and for our first time competing, I was very pleased with their preparation and results.”

Justin Wong , Chanha Kim , and Genevieve Roeder-Hensley

Food, Fitness and Fun at Pacific Grove Middle School

The Pacific Grove Unified School District will host its first Carnival for Food, Fitness and Fun from 11 a.m. to 2 pm. on Saturday, April 30 at Pacific Grove Middle School, 835 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove.

There will be activities for kids on the field, like Races, Kid Zumba, Jr Roller Derby, a bicycle-fueled smoothie maker, etc. and awesome music by district students.

There will also be give-aways like seed starts, recipes, and food samples. So much to like!

Salinas Valley Grows Readers -- an event for the entire family

Read to Me Project  will host its first “Salinas Valley Grows Readers”, an admission-free festival for families from 12 noon to 3 pm Sunday at The First Tee campus on 1551 Beacon Hill Drive, Salinas.

Children will have the chance to meet Clifford the Big Red Dog and other favorite storybook characters, sing and dance to live music, take a spin around the musical book walk to win a prize, There will also be stories and free book giveaways, a raffle for a chance to win additional gifts, and more.

Let's grow readers, shall we?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Dual Language Academy to host second annual international celebration

The Dual Language Academy PTA will hold its second annual international celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30. 

The event will feature grade level performances and cultural tables representing countries from around the world. Special performances by Sadza Marimba from Santa Cruz and Baile Folklorico Aguila Real from Soledad, a folk storyteller from Mexico, the Ash East Indian dancers, Viejitos dancers, and Baile Folklorico Aguila Real throughout the day and the Sadza Marimba band, joining us from Santa Cruz at the end of the day.

There will also be items for auction to benefit the school: theme park admissions, sport games, and chocolate.

At the Dual Language Academy of the Monterey Peninsula, 225 Normandy Way, Seaside.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Calling all young cowboy and cowgirl poets!

Monterey County residents under eighteen years of age are invited to enter their poems celebrating the Western way of life in the annual poetry contest.

These are the themes:

Cowboys/cowgirls and the work they do
Cowboy/cowgirl values or customs
Western Landscapes/lifestyles
Stories of life on the range

Prizes for the best entries include 2 free tickets to the 2016 California Rodeo Salinas; the opportunity to read the winning poem at this year’s California Rodeo Salinas Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering on Sunday, July 17; the opportunity to ride the Cowboy Poetry Tractor Wagon in the Rodeo parade; have their poem published on Monterey County Free Libraries website; and more. Poems can be in English or Spanish and must be submitted to one of the branches or the administrative offices by May 31 by the end of the workday.

The Cowboy Music & Poetry Gathering is held in conjunction with the California Rodeo, in Salinas.

For more information about the poetry contest and for entry forms go to MCFL’s website here, call (831) 883-7542, or contact your local Monterey County Free Libraries branch. For more information about the Foundation for Monterey County Free Libraries, please go to

Last year's winners had a lot of fun!

CSUMB hosts school board colloquim

Interested in learning more about how school boards run? The CSUMB colloquim on school boards is for you.

The College of Education at Cal State Monterey Bay will hold a colloquium with members of local school boards at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 28 the University Center living room on Sixth Avenue and B Street.

Officials from Gonzales, Aromas, Santa Cruz and Monterey will discuss how boards run and what issues are currently shaping schools in the region. Panelists will answer questions from the audience, providing an inside view of how district decisions are made.

Panelists include:

• Sonia Jaramillo, Gonzales school board president
• PK Diffenbaugh, Monterey Peninsula School District superintendent
• Jennifer Colby, Aromas school board member
• Deane Perez-Granados, Santa Cruz school board member

Friday, April 22, 2016

Greenfield Union trustees quickly find replacement for Doc Ervin

Trustees with the Greenfield Union School District unanimously appointed Kimberly M. Berman as the new superintendent.

Berman, 37, is the district's current assistant superintendent. She will replace Doc Ervin, who will end his two-year tenure with the district on June 30. She will earn $175,000 a year.

 “As superintendent, I will continue building upon the foundation we have established over the last two years," she said in a statement. “My top priority as superintendent is to enhance the quality of our students’ education by increasing learning opportunities in the areas of Science, Technology, Math and the Arts to better prepare our students for post-secondary educational and career opportunities.”

A native of Ohio, Berman earned a bachelor's degree in education and early childhood education from Bowling Green University, a master's of education in reading, and a Ph.D in curriculum and instruction from the University of Toledo.

 Berman is scheduled to assume her position on July 1.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Friends of the Marina Library sale designed for educators

The Friends of the Marina Library will host an "Educator Materials Sale" April 29 and 30 at the sorting facility at Marina Del Mar School/Marina Child Development Center, 3066 Lake Drive in Marina.

Volunteers have amassed, sorted, priced and prepared hundreds of textbooks, curriculum unit support materials, class sets of reading books, workbooks, and much more for sale. Prices range from 50 cents to $10 and include grade levels K-12.

The sale will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. April 29 and from 10 to 4 April 30. Have fun shopping!

Gonzales students shine at MESA competition

The Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Schools Program at CSU Fresno held its annual regional competition the weekend of April 9, and Gonzales MESA students did great. Here's how they fared (by competition)

Medal winners: 

 Egg Drop 9th-10th Grade
1st Place - Eduardo Hernandez & Alfredo Valdez
3rd Place - Anahi Soto & Priscilla Flores

Egg Drop 11th-12th Grade
2nd Place - Palmera Ochoa & Maria Duran

Mousetrap Car Power - 9th-10th Grade
3rd place - Ivan Lopez

Balsawood Bridges Strength to Weight - 11th-12th Grade
2nd Place - Richard Martinez & Vicente Rios (848 lbs.)

Design ribbons:

Mousetrap Car Design - 9th-10th Grade
3rd place - Ivan Lopez

Balsawood Bridges Design - 11th-12th Grade
1st Place - Richard Martinez & Vicente Rios

Since its founding at UC Berkeley in 1970, MESA has encouraged students—especially those from underserved populations—to learn about math, engineering, and science in new and exciting ways. MESA has a tradition of preparing students to go to four-year colleges and universities. Many MESA alumni go on to graduate with math and science-based degrees and go into professions in these fields.

Students had a great time at the regional competition, science teacher Max Feldman said. His students have been participating in MESA competitions for a number of years, and they always get a lot out of them, he said.

Congratulations, boys and girls! A life of science awaits you!

Teacher educator rock star comes to Monterey County

In Monterey County education circles, Kate Kinsella is like a rock star. I’ve been hearing great things about her and I got to see her firstand on Thursday, when she made a pro-bono presentation to local educators at Hartnell College.

The topic of her conversation was Long-Term English learners, a term used for students who don’t “reclassify” as English proficient after certain number of years in the school system. Forty percent of students who attend Monterey County schools are English learners, so getting students to reclassify as proficient is a huge issue.

Kinsella has been hired by several districts to train teachers on her methods, so she’ll be around more often in the months to come. That means I’ll have more chances to see her in action. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Teacher appreciation day coming up!

National teacher appreciation day is coming up May 3, and I'd love to recognize a teacher with a wonderful story in the Monterey Herald. I wish I could offer breakfast or lunch or a lifetime of school supplies, but recognition is priceless, isn't it?

I've done this once in the past and I wanted to make it a yearly tradition but things got in the way. Now that I've revived it, here's what you have to do: call me, email me, tweet me or Facebook me to nominate a teacher in Monterey County I should profile. Tell me what makes this teacher special: commitment, sense of humor, ability to inspire his/her students? I'll have my editors help me pick the winner.

Deadline is April 26. Yeah, it's short notice, sorry. I promise to be more organized next year.

So get in your nominations fast! I know there's tons of great teachers out there! I can't wait to meet them!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County receives Excellence in Education honors

Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County was honored Thursday as the 2016 recipient of the Monterey County School Boards Association’s “Excellence in Education Award.”

The award is given to organizations that offer education opportunities to students countywide, that make transformative and significant impact on students’ quality of life, that addresses an unmet, countywide student need, and demonstrates a commitment to exceeding expectation in pursuit of addressing the challenge.

“We are so honored to be recognized by the Monterey County School Boards Association,” said in a statement Donna Ferraro, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, “We ourselves are not educators, but with the guidance, training, and support of MCOE, we provide effective and measurable programs that address critical after-school and summertime needs – like safety, nutrition, physical activity, mentoring, social and emotional development, homework help, summer learning loss prevention, and targeted academic interventions and solutions.”

Congratulations, Donna and team! I've seen the remarkable work you do for your club members and it's indeed an inspiration.

To read the story by the Monterey County Office of Education, click here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Migrant education winners get ready for state competition

Monterey County winners from last month's Migrant education speech and debate competition are getting ready for the state championship, which will take place May 13 - 15 in Fresno.

Gonzales High and North Monterey High were first place winners of debate in English. Alisal High won in debate in Spanish. Gavilan View Middle School won debate in English.

In speech categories in English, Ivan Bermudez of North Monterey High won 1st place in the prepared category and Martin Aguirre of Everett Alvarez High won 1st place in extemporaneous category.

In speech categories in Spanish, Alma Martinez of Gonzales High won first place for prepared speech, and Nancy Ramirez of Alisal High won for extemporaneous speech.

This is just a sampling of the winners. Participants came from schools all over the Salinas Valley, you can find a complete list of the winner here.

Students will spend the next month reviewing the feedback given during the tournament to refine their skills in preparation for competition in May, educators say. Trustees with the North Monterey County Unified School District recognized its winners during the April 7 board meeting.

The Monterey County Office of Education's Migrant Education Program serves the largest migrant population in the state of California. The 2016 Regional Speech & Debate Tournament was held March 12th at Salinas High School. Approximately 200 students in grades 6 to 12 competed in speech and debate in English and Spanish.

Congratulations to all the winners! You make Monterey County proud!

North Monterey County Migrant Ed Speech and Debate winners

Alisal trustees on track to pick new superintendent

Trustees with the Alisal Union School District are scheduled to review candidates and select finalists next week, and interview candidates Friday and Saturday. If the wheels continue moving in this direction, a new superintendent could be approved by May 11.

Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Four schools in Monterey County earn Gold Ribbon distinction

Virginia Rocca Barton, Creekside, Monte Bella, and Robert Down elementary schools were named Wednesday among the 772 schools statewide to earn the Gold Ribbon School award.

Barton, Creekside and Monte Bella are in the Alisal Union School District. Robert Down is in Pacific Grove.

The award is in recognition of quality implementation of Common Core content and performance standards for all students, including English learners, as well as school culture and technology practices which provide a supportive learning environment. The state intends to showcase Gold Ribbon schools so that their practices can be replicated by other local educational agencies.

“It’s a great and validating day at Alisal,” said Alisal Superintendent John Ramirez. “It’s a true testament to what our kids can achieve."

Schools applied for the award based on a model program each has adopted that includes standards-based activities, projects, strategies, and practices that can be replicated by other local educational agencies. The award recognized middle and high schools in 2015.

“These schools shine as bright beacons for others, putting forth an exemplary effort to ensure that every student is ready for 21st century college and careers,” State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “California teachers are developing an education model for the nation, training the students of today to be the problem-solvers, inventors, and pioneers of tomorrow.”

The Monterey County schools will be recognized later this month during a regional ceremony held in Santa Clara.

Students at Virginia Rocca Barton lead a validation team site visit

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Free science professional development for K-12 educators at Hartnell College

Hartnell College will be hosting a NASA STEM Day professional development day for local K-12 educators on Saturday, April 16. 

Educators will participate in hands-on workshops to learn space-travel related STEM activities to bring back to their classrooms. Hartnell has partnered with the Monterey County Office of Education and UCSC MESA to get bring this opportunity to as many educators as possible. There will be a number of world-class speakers during our opening.

"This collaboration with NASA Ames has allowed us to provide this invaluable opportunity to our local K-12 teachers. Teachers do such an important job with our K-12 students, we always appreciate opportunities to support them," said in a statement Shannon Bliss, dean of academic affairs for math, science and engineering.

Deadline to register for this free event is April 13, 2016. To register click here.

The workshops will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Steinbeck Hall on the main campus, 411 Central Ave., Salinas For questions, contact Director of K-12 STEM Programs, Maggie Melone, at or call (831) 7556970.

Where in the world is Peter Smith?

If you've ever wondered what is Peter Smith up to these days, wonder no further.

Smith, the founding president of CSU Monterey Bay, has been appointed the Orkand Endowed Chair and Professor of Innovative Practices in Higher Education at University of Maryland University College.

Smith began its two-year tenure on April 4. In his new role, Smith will collaborate with the college's academic leadership and collegiate faculty to strengthen the university’s strategic position and its learning and support services. He will also serve on the provost’s Academic Innovation Advisory Council, which will be established to help guide the academic direction of the university.

The Orkand Chair was established through an endowment from Donald S. Orkand, founder of the Orkand Corporation and former chair of UMUC’s Board of Visitors, to advance research and scholarship at the university by bringing scholars of national repute to the institution.

Smith was responsible for building CSUMB from the ground up during his tenure from 1995 to 2005. He guided the institution through all stages of accreditation and raised nearly $100 million from external sources for the development of academic buildings and programs.

For more information about the appointment, click here.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Congressional art winners include Everett Alvarez senior

Makayla Magdaleno, a sophomore at San Benito High School, is the winner of the 2016 Congressional Art Competition: An Artistic Discovery. Her winning piece, “Red Sova”, will be displayed in the halls of the Capitol along with other students’ works from across the country.

“This was my last year hosting the Congressional Art Competition and I continue to be amazed by the works by our local students,” said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel. “The arts are an important part of the Central Coast’s identity and it is great to see so many young artists add their passion and talent to that rich tradition.”

Magdaleno will travel to Washington, D.C. to be honored at a Congressional reception in June. She also received a $3,000 renewable scholarship from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Julia Ramos, a senior at Aptos High School, was named the 2nd place winner with her piece “Seeds.” Her artwork will be prominently displayed in the congressman’s Washington office. Alvarez High School senior Jesus Gil was named the third place winner, with “Blue”. His piece will be displayed in the congressman’s Salinas office.

Maya Yokoyama, Aptos High School; Oscar Gonzalez, North Salinas High School; Isabella Arreola, San Benito High School; Meghan Brandt, Georgiana Bruce Kirby and Trinity Esola, Georgiana Bruce Kirby were all selected as Honorable Mentions.

The annual Congressional Art Competition is open to all local high school students in the 20th congressional district. A total of 21 entries were submitted from seven different Central Coast high schools. The entries were judged by Melissa Pickford, Director of the Monterey Peninsula College Art Gallery.

1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

CSUMB students earn Barry M. Goldwater scholarship

Juan Cerda and Jordan Collignon, who will be seniors in the fall, are the first students in the university’s history to earn the Barry M. Goldwater scholarship. Both are involved with the university’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center.

The Goldwater scholarships were established by Congress in 1986 and are awarded to undergraduates working toward degrees in engineering, math or the natural sciences. The goal of the program is to encourage a source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.

Cerda, a biology major from Hollister, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in genomics or molecular and developmental biology, conduct research at the university level, and eventually become a university professor.

As a UROC scholar last summer, he worked with plant pathologist Timothy Miles to develop molecular tools to detect a fungal species in crops.

Collignon, from Seaside, is a math major who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in applied mathematics. Last summer, he spent eight weeks at Valparaiso University in Indiana where he performed simulations involving the reintroduction of the passenger pigeon, a bird that went extinct in 1914.

The Goldwater scholarship, named after former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, helps recipients cover the costs of books, room and board, and tuition up to $7,500 for their remaining period of study.

More than 1,100 students were nominated for the scholarships; 252 were awarded.

“Needless to say, the competition for this honor is fierce, and earning it is quite an accomplishment,” said John Banks, UROC director. “Notably, Juan and Jordan were the only 2016 Goldwater awardees in the entire CSU system.”

CSUMB students earn National Science Foundation fellowships

Beth Alger and Elisabeth Carrillo have received graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation totalling $138,000 each, which will cover an annual stipend of $34,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance.

Mentored by Timothy Miles, Alger will graduate in May with a major in biology. She will pursue a Ph.D. in plant genetics and breeding at Michigan State University.

Carrillo, who was mentored by Aparna Sreenivasan, is also a biology major graduating in May. She plans to attend graduate school at UC Santa Cruz in the molecular, cell, developmental biology program.

The students participated in rigorous research and scholarship through the university’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center. They won research awards, published their findings and presented their work at professional conferences. Since UROC was established in 2009, 20 students have earned Graduate Research Fellowships. That’s one of the reasons UROC has earned a national reputation for excellence, achievement and leadership.

The fellowships were awarded to 2,000 students – from more than 17,000 applicants – across the country; about 600 of them were awarded to undergraduates.

MPUSD Jenn Gerard heads to the Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley

Jennifer Gerard, described as a "food innovator" for the changes she implemented at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, has been named program director for the California Food for California Kids initiative at Center for Ecoliteracy in Berkeley.

“Jenn Gerard has been one of the most creative and committed school food service directors in California and a leader in transforming school meals by serving healthy, freshly prepared meals made with California-grown ingredients,” said Zenobia Barlow, executive director of Center for Ecoliteracy. “She even developed unprecedented partnerships with local fishermen to incorporate Monterey Bay’s bounty into school nutrition programs. I know she will be able to grow the California Food for California Kids initiative to reach more children and more schools.”

While in Monterey, Gerard oversaw a transition to fresh meal preparation, salad bars and staff development, and launched a culinary program at Seaside High School that collaborates with Nutrition Services to develop, test and market new recipes. She earned the California Center for California Kids Innovation Award for her work in raising the quality of meals and connecting the classroom to the cafeteria.

 “I am honored to have the opportunity to devote myself to expanding California kids’ access to healthy, delicious locally sourced food,” Gerard said in a statement. “Together, we’re accomplishing an amazing feat: remaking an entire industry to better serve our children and farmers, fishers and producers.”

So long, Jenn. It was fun to work with you. Much luck in your future endeavors.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Salinas City to host 2016 Music Festival

The Salinas City Elementary Education Foundation invites the community to attend the 2016 Music Festival on Saturday, April 16 at Boronda Meadows Elementary School, 915 Larkin Road, Salinas.

The event is dedicated to Donna Alonzo Vaughan, the late superintendent who was a big supporter of music education. 

Students from the district's 14 elementary schools will be performing and showcasing the skills they've been learning in the classroom. There will also be food for sale, a car show, resource booths, and lots of activities for the entire family!

WHAT: Salinas School District Music Festival
WHERE: Boronda Meadows Elementary School District, 915 Larkin Road, Salinas, CA
WHEN: Saturday, April 16
TIME: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.