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Focus on Success
December 2011 Vol 3, No. 2  
 Partnering and Promoting Education
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In This Issue
Project Impact
Teen Peer Court
American Teacher Screening
Environmental Instruction
Forestry Challenge
Migrant Head Start
Grading for Learning
Digital Connections
Bike Tech at School
Board of Education
Business Services
Educational Services 
Human Resources
SC County Schools
Student Services
Technology Services
SCCOE Mission
The Mission of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education is to increase the proficiency of students by providing quality educational leadership, services and support to all school districts in Santa Cruz County, as well as to a diverse community of learners.

Strategic Vision

To improve education in Santa Cruz County by using data and research to prepare all students for college and/or career success in the 21st Century global economy
Santa Cruz County Board of Education 
The Santa Cruz County Board of Education is comprised of seven trustees each of whom represents a designated trustee area within the County.
Mr. Jack Dilles
Mr. Aaron Hinde
Mr. Arnold Levine
Ms. Gina Locatelli
Mr. Vic Marani
Mr. Dana M. Sales
Mr. George "Bud" Winslow

Santa Cruz County Office of Education
400 Encinal Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 466-5600
(831) 466-5607 (FAX)
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Superintendent's Message 


When one thinks of public education what comes to mind is the image of a teacher in a classroom lecturing to students or assisting them to learn in other ways. However, in this edition of the SCCOE newsletter you will see how students learn in a variety of settings, and the important role that teachers and parents play.


We have students learning math, science and environmental education through a Forestry Challenge and others experiencing the complexities of our judicial system by participating in Teen Peer Court. We also see high school students giving back through an educational mentoring program at an elementary school. At the heart of these unique learning settings is the teacher. Nowhere was this more evident than at the recent screening of the documentary "American Teacher" where, on one Saturday morning at the Nickelodeon theatre in Santa Cruz, teachers, parents and administrators met to view and discuss the current status of this profession. You will also read about our nationally recognized Migrant Head Start program, the importance of professional development, and how bicycle repair has taken on a whole new meaning.


In these times where the budget attracts most of the attention, it is reaffirming to see that creative teaching and learning can still happen.


Michael C. Watkins
Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools


Read past messages from the Superintendent.


Project Impact Special Education Interns Earn Credentials 


Project Impact GraduationThree years ago, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education saw a serious need in our county and worked hard to find a way to fill it. Realizing that many districts were struggling to find teachers for their most challenging Special Education classrooms, the county developed a way to "grow our own" through the Project IMPACT Intern Program. Recently, the first cohort of fully credentialed teachers celebrated their successful completion of the intern program surrounded by family, friends and staff.

Read more about Project Impact interns completing their credentials


The Power of Teen Peer Court 


In the painful world of adolescence, often nothing looms larger than what other teens think of you.


Teen Peer Court
Photo by Patrick Tehan/Mercury News

Santa Clara County's fledgling Peer Court hopes to take advantage of that mindset, by placing low-level criminal offenders in front of a jury of their peers.


In the fourth session since its start last month, on Tuesday 12 teen jurors will decide the punishment for a student defendant represented by two teen defenders, facing off against two teen prosecutors. As in other successful programs in Santa Cruz, East Palo Alto, Oakland and across the nation, the defendants have admitted guilt and appear only for sentencing.


Read the article in the San Jose Mercury News.


BASTA: Education and Law Enforcement Join Together to Help Students Get Out Of, or Avoid Gangs



Gina Casteneda, Santa Cruz County Probation Officer, showing a crowd what to look for in gang clothing, symbols and paraphernalia.

Broad-Based Apprehension, Suppression, Treatment and Alternatives (BASTA) is a new spin on an old effort to convene the pertinent players involved with a student who is at risk of becoming gang involved or is interested in getting out. BASTA, which also means "enough" in Spanish, speaks both to the feeling of the community as well as the internal struggle of the individual. 

Find out more information about BASTA. 


Good Turnout for Screening of 'American Teacher' Film


American Teacher

On Saturday Nov. 19 the County Office of Education, with the Teacher Salary Project and the Santa Cruz New Teacher Center, co-sponsored a screening of the documentary "American Teacher" at the Nickelodeon Theater in downtown Santa Cruz.

Made over a period of five years and funded largely through small donations, the film tracks the careers and travails of four teachers in New York, New Jersey, Texas and California, with an emphasis on how the long hours and low pay affect their lives.


Learn more about this screening of American Teacher.





Natural Bridges High School students offer environmental instruction to Bay View first-graders


Bayview Elementary First GradersSANTA CRUZ - The first-graders watched with excitement as water washed doughnut sprinkles and soy sauce - representing pollution - from the hills and fields into an ocean model.


Cries of "That's disturbing" and "That's gross," peppered animated discussion around a table-top model of a watershed.


The Bay View Elementary School students were learning about watershed health and the harmful effects of pollution. But their usual teachers were standing back and watching. The instructors for this lesson at Bay View were high school students from Natural Bridges High School and Green Career Center.


Santa Cruz Sentinel article continued here.

Forestry Challenge 2011


Forestry ChallengeStudents from our newest Alternative Ed High School Program, Ponderosa High School and Green Careers Program, just returned from three days at the Santa Cruz Forestry Challenge. Forestry Challege is a competition for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry issues. Teams of students compete in field testing and give a presentation to determine the top scoring team. Our school came in sixth place after days of creating a presentation for the judges. 


Find out more information about Forestry Challenge here.

A winning Head Start: program for children from migrant families gets national recognition


Migrant Head Start family child care homeWATSONVILLE - In a large sunny room off Lupita Fernandez's dining room, toddlers built towers with brightly colored blocks and slightly older children made "bubble gum cakes" from Play-doh on Wednesday morning.


Each day, Fernandez and her assistant, Anelly Alvarado, play host to a dozen small children while their parents work. Along with what's obviously loving care, the women work to give their charges the foundation that will one day make them successful in school.


"We're here for the kids," said Fernandez.


Find out more about Migrant Head Start in the Santa Cruz Sentinel article.


Do Grades Reflect Student Learning?
An Important Conversation among County Educators

Grading for LearningLast year, middle school principals shared their frustrations around the fact that during this time of accountability and aligning instruction to state standards, many are finding themselves with grading systems that do not reflect their students' mastery of standards. This conversation led our SCCOE curriculum and instruction team to identify the need for a process that would allow administrators to look further into their current grading practices. We asked school site administrators to reflect upon how many non-academic factors such as attendance and attitude were included in their grading system and how consistently any system for grading was being implemented across their schools. 

Read more about grading for learning.

Lights! Cameras! Education!! - Innovative Project Deserves an Academy Award!


Digital Connections

On September 29th, as school was kicking into gear, the Digital Connections Project was kicking-off with its 2011-2012 premier event at the Digital Media Factory, a full production studio located inside the walls of the former Wrigley spearmint chewing gum factory. The cameras were positioned at either side of the silver screen, the lights focused in on student success, and the stage was set for another year of project-based learning through digital video production. 

Read more about this year's Digital Connections project.


'Bike Tech at School' program offered at five area high schools


Bike Tech at SchoolSCOTTS VALLEY -- Scotts Valley High School is the latest in a string of area high schools to offer a course geared toward fostering students' interest in bicycles -- and teaching them lifelong skills along the way.

Project Bike Trip, a Santa Cruz-based non-profit organization, has partnered with five high schools to offer "Bicycle Tech at School," a program administered through the schools' respective regional occupational programs and operated similar to auto shop.


Read more about the 'Bike Tech at School' program in this article published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education publishes news to the community several times a year, highlighting programs that support student achievement.