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Focus on Success
September 2014 Vol 6, No. 1   
 Partnering and Promoting Education
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In This Issue
County Supt. Receives State Appt.
Keeping Kids in School
Young Writers Program
Santa Cruz Symphony
CA ELD Standards
Alternative Education Video
Write-Start Backpack Project
Live Oak Middle School Woodshop Reopens
Community Foundation Grants
Middle School Step-Up Classes
Summer Arts Institute 2014
Empathy Project
Migrant Head Start
Got Career?
Fed Up - Now What?
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 provide quality educational leadership, programs, services, and support

to the children, school

districts, and the diverse community

that makes up Santa

Cruz County.

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
Ms. Sandra Nichols
Ms. Gina Locatelli
Ms. Jane Barr
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 

How do you define success? As we prepared to send out our September newsletter "Focus on Success" that question came to mind because the answer demands such deep insight and perception, and I am not sure that any two people could agree on a common definition. That said, there are a few absolutes that we all can agree are fundamental to success and many of those are addressed in this edition. Let me begin with school attendance. September is Attendance Awareness Month and it is a fact that students who show up to school every day, all school year long, have a better chance of graduating on time, staying out of the juvenile justice system, scoring higher on tests, attending college and earning a higher wage. So maybe student success can be quantified when talking about school attendance, but that clearly would not be the lone variable to measure achievement. As we embark on a new school year, we know that so much more goes into a child's successful school experience. Attending a symphony, reading an essay to parents and students, receiving a back-to-school backpack, understanding empathy, learning a trade or even learning a second language, all are valuable experiences. Many of our county's students participated in these activities this past summer, demonstrating once again the importance of summer learning.


Michael Watkins
Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools 

You may also be interested in two recently published op-ed articles, one about our Inside Education program, and another about Chronic Absence: A Hidden National Crisis

Our newsletter is sent out quarterly. If you would like more frequent updates, follow me on Twitter, or like the SCCOE on Facebook.

County Supt. of Ed. Receives State Appointment: California Senate Approves Michael Watkins' Appointment to CCEE Board 36-0


Superintendent Michael Watkins

By Noel Smith, Aptos Times


The newly appointed five-member board of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) promises to be one of the most powerful and influential bodies directing education standards in this, the most populous state in our nation. With the shift to the Common Core curriculum, all the old testing programs and standards are being replaced, and the CCEE is being tasked with helping schools throughout the state meet their newly mandated education goals.


Read the Aptos Times article about the new CCEE Board. Also, see the California State Senate documents regarding this appointment.
Keeping Kids in School Task Force Engages Community, Parents, Students and Elected Officials in a Concerted Effort to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism


Keeping Kids in School Poster

On Friday, September 5, 2014, The Santa Cruz County Office of Education and the Keeping Kids in School Task Force held a press conference on the steps of Superior Court to promote Attendance Awareness Month. The event highlighted the solidarity among all school districts and community agencies in reducing excessive absenteeism in schools in our county during the 2014-15 school year.


Young Writers Program Expands Its Vision in New School Year


Wendy Wesch-Thompson and Sara Goldfarb spearheaded Branciforte Middle School's Media Center, dedicated to helping kids learn to write.

Despite the Internet-induced gloom that hangs over the publishing industry, in 10, 20, 30 years from now, there will still be a rich and diverse literary establishment to serve readers worldwide. And in that hazy future, a disproportionate number of the writers creating the literature of tomorrow may have spent their formative years in Santa Cruz County. At least that's the implicit promise of the Young Writers Program (YWP), a project of the local literary organization Santa Cruz Writes and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.


Read the Sentinel article about the Young Writers Program...
Santa Cruz Symphony Offers Educational Program for Local Elementary Schools


Symphony Hall The Santa Cruz Symphony is working to expand an educational program for local elementary schools. Developed in partnership with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, it's based on the Brummitt-Taylor Music Listening System. Through this system, five minutes of classical music are introduced to participating elementary school classrooms on a daily basis, meeting many of the state standards for music education. No advance planning or preparation is required of the teachers, although many teachers incorporate the program into other areas of the curriculum such as history and geography and writing.

Read more about the Santa Cruz Symphony...
County Office Leads the Way with California English Language Development (CA ELD) Standards


Training on English Language Development

As the shift to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) moved into high gear, the County Office Curriculum and Instruction Department took the lead in ensuring that English learners would not be left behind. Trainings for administrators, classroom teachers and instructional coaches to raise the awareness of and support implementation of the new California English Language Development Standards have been a priority.

Read more about the County Office CA ELD Standards...
Spotlight on the Students: Santa Cruz County Alternative Education


Screenshot of Alt Ed student from YouTube video

Students in Santa Cruz County Alternative Education's SOS and Ponderosa programs describe their experience and the impact Alternative Education has had on their lives.

Watch the video...
2014/15 Write-Start Backpack Project


Write-Start Backpack Project flyer

For 25 years the Write-Start Backpack Project has been providing homeless and low-income students with new backpacks and school supplies to start the new school year. Since its inception in 1989, the Write-Start Backpack Project has provided over 26,300 backpacks to Santa Cruz County students. On August 2, 2014 the "Stuff the Bus" event collected 426 backpacks and a variety of school supplies. Volunteers from United Way, Target and Bay Federal Bank helped stuff backpacks and then stuff the school bus with all the collected donations. Our goal this year is to collect 1,000 backpacks.

Live Oak Middle School Woodshop Reopens After Six Years


Eduardo Peralta, 13, carefully measures his project as he participates in a summer woodshop class at Shoreline Middle School in Live Oak on Monday. The class is reopening thanks to a donation from Bill Simpkins. (Kevin Johnson -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)

After being shuttered for six years, Shoreline Middle School's woodshop has re-opened with a free summer program, thanks to a $20,000 donation from Live Oak residents Bill and Brigid Simpkins. Bandsaws buzzed and sawdust filled the air this summer, as 63 Shoreline students built shelves, flower boxes and stools. Melissa Martinez, 12, said she joined the program to learn to use her hands. "Maybe I've hammered a nail once or twice, but it's my first time using a planer, building things," she said. "It's like real-life Legos."

Community Foundation Santa Cruz County Funds 32 Projects 


Students working on habitat project

Digital NEST, which stands for Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills with Technology, received $45,000 to develop a strategic plan to develop a center in Watsonville to prepare young people to be technology leaders. El Pajaro Community Development Corp. received $33,000 for its new kitchen incubator to help people interested in culinary arts learn about health regulations, marketing and management of a food business. Santa Cruz Community Health Centers, which opened a new family clinic in Live Oak, received $42,000 to expand access to health care for low-income residents. These are three of the 32 projects funded by Community Foundation Santa Cruz County in community development, education, health and human services.


Middle School Step-Up Classes Highlight State-of-the-Art ROP Technology Labs on High School Campuses


ROP Step-Up Digital Media class

The Regional Occupational Program (ROP), for the third year in a row, opened its doors to middle school students, inviting them to participate in free, summer Step-Up Classes at four different high school sites in Santa Cruz County. ROP has a long standing role of teaching Career Technical Education (CTE) classes for the county with over 60 instructors, serving more than 3000 high school students each year. What is not always visible are the state-of-the-art technology labs where students are taught, and this year over 75 middle school students and their parents from all over our county got to see what so many high school students have benefited from during their academic tenure.

Read More about ROP Step-Up Classes...
Summer Arts Institute 2014


Screenshot from Summer Arts Institute 2014 video

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, in collaboration with Arts Council of Santa Cruz County, celebrated the fourth annual Summer Arts Institute. 32 local teachers from K-8 grades along with SPECTRA teaching artists participated in a week long training offered by highly experienced professional VAPA (visual arts and performing arts) instructors. Participants explored and created visual arts, theater, and music while learning how to integrate the arts into classroom curriculum to support the Common Core.  

Watch the YouTube video...
Empathy Project


Screenshot from Empathy Project video

Watch a video created by the Pajaro Valley Arts Council (PVAC) about public art projects in Watsonville, entitled What You See, Who We Are, exploring identity and stereotypes.

Santa Cruz County Migrant Head Start has Openings for Child Care


Migrant Head Start provides child care for local farm workers at the home of Armando Zamudio and Estrella Palmerin-Zamudio. (Dan Coyro -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Migrant Head Start and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education are once again providing free child care for local farmworker families with children younger than 5 years old through October. Throughout Watsonville, there are 90 homes and eight classrooms, providing child care for more than 860 children. The Watsonville providers offer 12 hours of child care, from 6 a.m to 6 p.m, five days a week for children of farmworkers. The program currently has 30 child care openings.


Got Career?


ROP Got Career class Over 80 Cabrillo Advancement Program (CAP) students proudly wore t-shirts with the words "Got Career" inscribed on them. This year marks the seventh year that the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) and Cabrillo College have collaborated to bring hands on Career Technical Education (CTE) classwork to students attending the four-day Career Academy. Students were engaged in Medical Technology, Culinary Arts and Sports Occupations, with an additional support class of Career and College Counseling. Co-directed by Elizabeth Dominguez of CAP and Karen Lemon, Middle School Outreach Coordinator for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, students had four fun-filled and educational days to explore career pathways.

Find out more about the CAP/ROP event...
Fed Up - Now What?


Fed-Up Poster

On a Saturday morning in early June, nearly 200 people packed into a full theater at the Nickelodeon to see the new documentary, Fed Up. Thanks to County Superintendent of Schools Michael Watkins, the audience was treated to a private screening of the movie.


Fed Up, narrated by Katie Couric, blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss. The film reveals a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history. 


Read more about the Fed-Up screening...
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education publishes news to the community several times a year, highlighting programs that support student achievement.