County Office of Education announce mini-grant winners

The San Joaquin County Office of Education announced several teachers and other employees who submitted innovative proposals were selected to be funded by the Making a Difference Through Mini Grants program.

Sponsored by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Better Together Giving Program, the mini grants give SJCOE staff the opportunity to obtain the funding needed to try out a new idea or enhance current projects that ulimately benefit students. A grant-review committee awarded $7,888 to eight successful proposals for the 2016-17 school year.

The winning proposals are:

Classroom Science Lab Setup

This project will supply additional science materials and supplies to SJCOE-run classrooms at the Discovery ChalleNGe Academy, a new program for at-risk youth beginning in January through a partnership with the California National Guard. Students will participate in activities that support crosscutting curriculum in life science, physical science, and introductions to biochemical processes.

College Tour

Approximately 60 high school students from Venture Academy Family of Schools (VAFS) will participate in tours of nearby colleges. Students will have the opportunity to get a feel for the campus culture and environment and learn about the major programs and degrees offered and cost of tuition.

Historic Durham Ferry SLEWS Riparian Habitat Restoration

The mini-grant award will fund the Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship (SLEWS) program field days for students at Historic Durham Ferry (HDF). The goal of the program is to create a mosaic of habitat types that will support a diversity of wildlife at SJCOE’s 290-acre Durham Ferry site and create a variety of learning opportunities. Students will plan and install a hedgerow driveway, pollinator garden, and restore riparian woodland habitat.

HOSA State Leadership Conference

Approximately 25 students from VAFS’ Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) chapter, a professional organization for students interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare industry, will prepare for and compete in this year’s annual HOSA State Leadership Conference. At the conference, students will compete in their selected competitive event, such as medical terminology, medical math, healthy living, CPR/first-aid; network with their peers and other HOSA advisors and sponsors; and meet with legislators at the State Capitol.

If you build it, they will come…

Students at Discovery ChalleNGe Academy will build model airplanes that teachers will use to teach mathematical processes, such as scale, geometry, and aerodynamics. The project will also complement lessons in history as students learn about the industrial revolution, and World War I and II. Students will research the era from which their models were created, paint their models from an artistic perspective, demonstrating their knowledge of the elements of art and principals of design, and present their completed project to peers and the National Guard Cadre.

Mock Trial Beach Ball Classic

VAFS’ Mock Trial team will prepare for the county mock trial competition by attending the Beach Ball Classic invitational where they will scrimmage against some of the best mock trial teams in the state to improve their overall performance and gain specific skills that are best learned through competing with other teams. The invitational is a team-building experience where students learn to trust one another, learn to support each other, and work as a team while also honing their individual skills.


The one.Growing and Reaching Opportunities through Work (GROW) project will prepare 35 at-risk youth and young adults enrolled in County Operated Schools and Programs (COSP) for careers in food or food service. Students will learn about COSP’s School Nutrition Program, receive training in proper hand-washing techniques and how to effectively prepare and sanitize food preparation areas. Upon successful completion of the project, students will receive an industry-standard food handler certificate from ServSafe National Restaurant Association.

Relationships and the Environment

This project will inform students about the relationships of all things in the environment. Students will create conservation action plans that target the California coastline. Students will travel to Asilomar State Park to conduct tide pool and sandy-beach research. Conservation action plans will directly address how to restore or counteract destructive factors in the ecosystem.

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Stockton Teachers Assoc. release statement on SUSD’s “pretzel logic”

Press release from STA:

After 15 months of trying fruitlessly to get the Stockton City Unified District’s Board and managers to make students and teachers the top priority and with a strike in the offing, members of the Stockton Teachers Association desperately needed a laugh.

The teachers got their laugh break on Monday when they read the response by district attorneys to charges filed against the district with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The district’s legal eagles declared that the “teachers” made the district engage in the charged violations of state law.

And the district’s legal team cited such “authorities” as a Facebook post by an individual teacher to support their case.

“If this situation weren’t so serious with the education of thousands of students hanging in the balance, this would be a great joke,” said Erich Myers, a Chavez High School mathematics teacher and president of the 1800-member Stockton Teachers Association. “The district’s lawyers are saying they had to violate the law by tripling strike-breakers’ salaries because teachers were organizing for a strike. We expect to hear next that it’s okay for district officials to speed because they had to hurry to the office because teachers are planning to strike….and if they get any tickets, it’s the teachers’ fault.”

“We have been dealing with this kind of cavalier indifference to our students, teachers, and the law for more than a year,” Myers said.  “We’ve been telling the district for nearly a year and a half that Stockton is losing highly qualified and experienced teachers because salaries here are so low. The loss of these teachers is harming our students. This late in the school year, the district still has some 30 classrooms temporarily staffed by a carousel of day-to-day substitutes.”

“It is time for this school board to wrest back control of this district from these bureaucrats and their poor legal and fiscal advice. It’s time for the school board to direct them to ditch the excuses and reach a settlement with teachers,” Myers said.

Ironically, at the time district attorneys were making this filing, the district’s chief negotiator, Craig Wells, and its attorney, Marie Nakamura, were presenting a workshop to officials from other districts at a meeting of the Association of California School Administrators in Sacramento.  Like Roman Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned, the two Stockton officials were hosting a workshop entitled, “When Negotiations Get Tough, The Team Starts Singing.”

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Lammersville Unified to celebrate perfect CAASPP scores

The Lammersville Unified School District announced Friday that 60 students achieved perfect scores on last spring’s California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) assessment.

The number also includes seven students who achieved perfect scores in math and English/language arts, the district said.

Lammersville Unified trustees will honor all 60 students at a board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The CAASPP tests consisted of two parts: an adaptive test done on the computer that provided students different follow-up questions based on how they answered, and why they decided on that answer.

Second was a performance task that challenged students to solve real-world problems and were essentially open-ended. The two parts, said the California Department of Education, measure depth of understanding, writing, research and problem-solving skills.

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STA President Erich Myers sets his own record straight

Stockton Teachers Association president Erich Myers took to Facebook last night to provide an update to contract talks between the teachers union and the Stockton Unified School District.

In the comments section, Myers related the district’s request of having someone from the California Teachers Association at the table to having “the Mets telling the Giants we want (Johnny) Cueto to pitch not (Madison) Bumgarner or the Nationals to tell the Dodgers we want Rich Hill to pitch, not (Clayton) Kershaw. How disrespectful that our district is now trying to pick our bargaining team and call me a liar that I don’t want to meet.”

Further talks between the district and union have not been positive. With classes on fall break next week, it’s sill unknown when teachers will go on strike, unless a contract can be made before then.

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Stockton educators help guide policy in STEM education

Three San Joaquin County educators will represent Stockton at the Enhancing Teachers’ Voices in Policy Making for K-12 Engineering Education in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

Those representing are Lori Green, principal of John McCandless STEM Charter School (Lincoln Unified), Justine Sares, a fifth-grade teacher at McCandless STEM Charter and Katie Burns, coordinator at Teachers College of San Joaquin.

Green, Sares, and Burns are among 75 individual and team applicants that were chosen nationwide, according to a press release by the Teachers College. Attendees selected to participate in the two-day convocation include K-12 educators, administrators, and other stakeholders in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

The National Academies Teacher Advisory Council and the National Academies of Engineering have support from 100Kin10 to initiate a national dialogue on how K-12 STEM educators can be more engaged at the policy and decision-making level to improve and expand the reach and quality of K-12 engineering education. The 100Kin10 project is a network of academic institutions, nonprofits, foundations, companies, and government agencies with a goal of bringing 100,000 more STEM teachers into U.S. classrooms by 2021.

Burns and Sares both earned their Master of Education degrees with a STEM concentration from the teachers college and all three teach in the college’s STEM Master’s program.

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California receives grants to help low-income students take Advanced Placement tests

The U.S. Department of Education announced it awarded California $11,043,703 in Advanced Placement grants as part of its efforts to boost college- and career-readiness for under-served students.

California is one of 41 states and Washington, D.C., that received a total of $28.4 million to help settle the costs of taking advanced placement tests for students from low-income families.

In a press release sent from the department, the grants will be used to help pay for students from low-income families take approved advanced placement tests administered by the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations.

By funding test fees, the program encourages all students to take advanced placement tests and obtain college credit for high school courses, reduce the time and cost required to complete a post-secondary degree.

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Manteca Unified releases mobile app

Manteca Unified, known for embracing technology to a different level than any other district in San Joaquin County, has introduced their own mobile application.

Called “MantecaUSD,” parents and students can download the free app for direct links to the district website, directory, calendar, YouTube channel, sports scores, nutrition education menus and PeachJar, another new technology initiative that is the district’s new e-flyer system.

The district said since the app was launched on August 25, it has been downloaded over 1,500 times. The “Parent Connection” feature has by far the most popular.

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Annunciation School celebrates 60 years

The Annunciation School in Stockton kicks off their first day of classes today but are also celebrating another milestone: turning 60.

First founded in 1956, in the building formerly housing St. Mary’s High School, the school, located on 1110 N. Lincoln St. in central Stockton, provides students a quality education in a faith filled environment.

According to the school’s website, they are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges as well as the Western Catholic Education Association.

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Tokay High STEAM Team honored; awarded grant

(From left) Tokay High teacher Sandra Starr and former student Julie Fukunaga. Courtesy of Fukunaga.

The Tokay High School STEAM Team was selected in late July for a $5,000 grant of the Think It Up Innovation Awards, honoring eight teams of students and teachers who “exemplify the great work happening in America’s classrooms.”

Tokay High received $5,000 in funding credits to advance their outstanding work in the classroom.

The Tokay group was honored as the STEAM Team consists of more than 20 students who brought STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) with the first-ever Science and Tech Festival earlier this year.

Graduating senior Julie Fukunaga and her teacher Sandra Starr, an Advanced Placement environmental science and biology teacher, walked the red carpet at the 2016 Teen Choice Awards to attend the ceremony.

In April, Starr was honored as the local winner of the Weberstown Mall Barnes & Noble store 2016 My Favorite Teacher contest.

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Welcome back message from Davalos

Dear Stockton Unified staff, students, parents and community.

Welcome back to what is sure to be an exciting and successful year in SUSD!   

In June 2016, the SUSD Board of Trustees approved the 2016-17 Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).  The LCAP represents the collective voices of students, teachers, administrators , parents and the public.   It is truly a testimony to this community’s commitment to our schools and to the expectation that each student in SUSD receives the highest quality educational program in a safe learning environment. 

Among the exciting things you will see this year is a commitment to providing our students with the most up to date tools and equipment for their learning.  High schools will have new, state of the art science equipment which will enhance the STEM opportunities at these schools.  Increased tutoring at our schools will help support the learning needs of all of our students, including support for students learning at the highest levels.  Students will also receive additional assistance with preparation for college admissions tests such as the SAT. 

The district’s successful AVID program, which has propelled so many students into becoming the first in their families to attend college, is moving beyond the high schools to elementary campuses.  In 2016-17, through our partnership with San Joaquin Delta College, qualified high school students will be able to engage in dual enrollment courses at their respective comprehensive high schools.  Students enrolled in these courses will have the opportunity to gain college course experience and earn college credits. 

The Stockton Public Safety Academy at the Stagg High campus will launch a class of nearly 100 cadets in 5-8 grades.  In addition, career readiness opportunities will be expanded throughout the district, with increased partnerships and participation of the area’s trades and business sector.  Positive school climates will continue to be enhanced through an increased investment in PLUS, Peer Leaders Uniting Students.  And, just in case you haven’t noticed, the Edison High renovation continues at full speed.  New classrooms and facilities at Edison will provide students with the latest technology. 

I am very proud to serve as the Superintendent of this district.  I know that by working together we can ensure that each SUSD student will graduate from high school and be college and career ready!  


Eliseo Dávalos, Ph.D.


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