Thursday, May 31, 2012

Honoring Teacher Excellence

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

Newspaper Column

Congratulations to Montecito Union School District’s Jennifer Wilson and her instructional strategy team for winning the first Ellen Dempsey Memorial Grant, an award that pays tribute to a woman whos life was devoted to honoring and promoting teacher excellence.  
The grant award was based on excellent, innovative curriculum lessons, and highly effective instructional strategies.
The winning strategy this year, “Thinking Routines: Promoting Critical, Creative, and Reflective Thinkers,” was won by a team coached by Wilson, comprising Vanessa Scarlett, also of Montecito Union, Becca McNees of Monte Vista School in the Hope School District, Kimberly Konoske of Ellwood School in the Goleta Union School District, and Lindsay Alker of Harding University Partnership, in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
“Thinking Routines,” developed at Harvard University, are systematic ways teachers can promote a culture of thinking in their classrooms. Students learn to build explanations, reason with evidence, make connections, consider different viewpoints, and capture the essence of a topic. Those skills help promote a deeper understanding of content.
This is a truly fitting area for an award that honors Ellen Dempsey, who was such a giant in the field of teacher excellence. Dempsey, the founder and former national executive director of National Teachers Network in New York, was a passionate believer in teachers, and coined the Teachers Network phrase “by teachers, for teachers.” She was a tireless advocate for bringing the teacher’s voice to the educational policy table, believing in the words of former U.N. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold that “the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.” Dempsey formed the Teachers Network Policy Institute to provide that voice, always combining idealism, vision, and action to make good things happen for teachers.  
Now more than ever we see the importance of honoring and supporting excellent teachers and making sure their voices are heard. Teachers are our unsung community heroes and heroines, working every day, under less than ideal conditions, for the betterment of our children. It is our shared responsibility to support all our excellent teachers, who add value to the young people in classrooms countywide, and help ensure that the next generation of workers and leaders are armed with the tools they need to succeed and to make sound decisions. Nothing could be more important during these challenging times.
It is fitting that Ellen Dempsey’s vision and actions live on through this memorial grant program. She would be justifiably proud of the good work being promoted in her honor. Congratulations again to the winners of this year’s award. We are all proud to help keep her dreams alive in such a meaningful way.  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Test de-stress

Radio Commentary
     Does your child get stressed about tests? If so, this time of year will be challenging.
     These pointers can ease your child’s worries about finals and help your child cope with test anxiety:
• Get the facts: Find out the exact dates your child will be tested and which tests he will take.
• Talk to your child: Find out whether your child is feeling nervous and if so, why. Often children feel better when they voice their fears instead of shutting them up inside.
Your reassurances will help him feel less scared.
• Help your child practice: If your child is familiar with the format of the test, she’ll feel more prepared.
Ask his teacher for some sample questions or materials that can help him get acquainted with the set-up.
• Take care of the basics: See that your child gets a good night’s sleep the night before the test and eats breakfast that morning. It’s true that the brain can’t work its best if the stomach is empty.
• Keep your cool: While tests have increasing importance, they are just one measure of student learning so try to keep the process in perspective.
If you can find a way not to take things too seriously, your child will probably feel calmer too.
So be sure to reassure children that they should prepare to do their best, and that is all you ask.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ed Celebration Dinner

Comments by County Superintendent Bill Cirone
Thank you Mary Beth for a great job emceeing and also for Venoco’s long-standing support for our teachers, our children and public education.
The Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Awards have become the Academy Awards for educational excellence.
A big and a very special “thank you” to Petti Pfau, our Teachers Network Director.  Petti is retiring at the end of this year and has been with the Teachers Network from the very beginning, first as a participating teacher, and now as the director.
What has made Petti such a phenomenal leader is the passion, the love, the caring, and the skill she brings to the task.  Petti appreciates the true value of teachers and how they touch lives forever.

To express our appreciation for all you have done for teachers, your love of arts and crafts, we have a fabric apple on plaque which reads:

To teach is to touch a life forever.

It captures who you are and your work.
The inscription reads:
Petti M. Pfau – May 17, 2012
Thank you for all that you have done for our teachers through Teachers Network.
Petti, we love you and appreciate you and wish you dreams fulfilled.
A very special thank you to all our business, foundation, and government partners.  Your support is the lifeline of the Teachers Network.  A special thank you to Frank Guiberteau and to Exxon who has been a supporter of Teachers Network since day one, for 28 years. Your investment in our teachers will pay dividends for our youth for years to come.
A shout-out too to our elected officials, school board members, dignitaries, and other guests , who are here to support teacher excellence.
And, speaking of excellence, congratulations to all the Crystal Apple and grant award winners for the excellence you bring to your classrooms, your schools, and to education in our county. Together, you are an impressive group!
Tonight, too, we also honor the memory of Ellen Dempsey, the founder of the National Teachers Network, whose vision and leadership made our network possible, with financial support from Exxon.    As a Teachers Network board member for over 25 years, I had the privilege of watching Ellen shape the Teachers Network to provide a voice for teachers that combined idealism, vision, and action.  It is a fitting tribute that Ellen’s vision and actions live on through the Ellen Dempsey Memorial Grant Program.  
Congratulations to the winners, Jennifer Wilson and her team.  Ellen would be justifiably proud of the good work being promoted in her honor.  We are all proud to help keep her dreams alive in such a meaningful way.
Ellen was about honoring teachers. A special word now to all our teachers, as tonight is all about honoring you.  When I see your passion for, and love of teaching, along with the enthusiasm and skill you bring to the classroom, I’m reminded of a quote from Katherine Graham: “To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?”  Clearly, you love what you do and what you do matters!
I have deep and abiding admiration and appreciation for your choosing the teaching profession.  It is a given that you have sacrificed, like all public servants, much higher pay and far better working conditions to make our communities better places.  
This is why I find mind boggling and outrageous, the recent trend by some media pundits and political opportunists, to twist logic and common sense on its head, and cite education and teachers as the cause of the fiscal crisis.
I intend to continue to speak out, with every remaining ounce of energy, challenging those who attempt to make teachers and public servants, who are our true community heroes, into villians and targets of scorn.
The media, for example, likes to talk about international comparisons.  What they don’t mention, and I will, is that in high performing countries, teachers are revered and highly compensated.
Then there’s the state budget.  As I speak, we have on the table a state budget proposal that, moves us further away from our historic commitment to education and children in California.  
This is on the heels of $18 billion in cuts to education in the past three years.
Georgie, a Crystal Apple recipient -- her comments tonight speak to the pain and devastation of these cuts and that the investment gap that exists today represents turning our backs on our traditional values; it is simply wrong and frankly un-American.
What we see today in Sacramento is a clear dereliction of that duty.
We are not sticking our heads in the sand. We are well aware that our state faces a true fiscal crisis and is staggering in its magnitude.
We understand there are no easy solutions. We are mindful that legislators need to make extremely difficult and wrenching choices.
However, I respectfully submit that not all institutions are equal.  Public education is of a different magnitude and impact.
It is simply unacceptable and self-defeating for the state to abdicate its responsibility to fund public schools at an adequate level.
The current situation is unsustainable.    The very fabric of our society is at stake.  
The concept of free and universal public education is the core of what makes our country exceptional, and has been the envy of the world.
In America, for generations, adults did what was right for the generations that followed. We cannot lose a generation of young people simply because the adults refused to act.
In summary, we are asking simply that today’s policymakers grow up and do what adults of the past have always done for the next generation of children, providing them with the same opportunities they had as children.
When I meet with legislators, I will also continue to remind them that despite the difficult working conditions created by these deep cuts our teachers, all of you, reach out to foster the well being of each student, regardless of ability, motivation, background, race, ethnicity, or religion.
I will ask them to visit your classrooms and see first hand the caring, the passion, the commitment, and the skill – the “can do” and “will do” spirit, the magic that goes on every day in your classrooms, the spirit that is represented here tonight.
In summary, I know I speak for all the children, I speak for all parents, I speak for the entire community, in thanking you for your passion, skill, tenaciousness, and patience.
Thank you for the things you do every day, under less than ideal conditions.  
You are the true keepers of the dream.
And your service is among the greatest callings in our community.
Marion Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, once said, “Every day light a small candle.  It may be the one that sparks the moment to save our children and the nation’s future.”  Every day you walk into your classroom and work your magic, you light that candle.
Your work represents the brightest hope for our state and nation.  Your contributions are among the most meaningful as your work shapes humanity.
Simply and honestly stated, you are true community heroes, and you have our respect, appreciation, and adulation.
Thank you for caring and for all you do.
Good night and God speed.

Children, ads, obesity

Radio Commentary
According to a report by the Kaiser Family foundation, childhood obesity can be linked to television viewing time —specifically to the 40,000 ads that children see annually on TV.
Children age eight and under are very vulnerable because they have trouble distinguishing between ads and programs.
The majority of ads targeting children are for candy, cereal, soda, and fast food. This provides parents with some easy ways to counteract the effects of advertising: 
·        On shopping trips, let your child see that advertising claims are often exaggerated.
·        Toys that look big, fast, and exciting on the screen may be disappointingly small, slow, and unexciting close-up.
·        Tell your child that the purpose of advertising is to sell products to as many viewers as possible.
·        Put advertising disclaimers into words children understand: “partial assembly required” means “You have to put it together before you can play with it.”
·        Teach your children about nutrition. If the youngsters can read package labels, allow them to choose a breakfast cereal from those where sugar is not one of the first ingredients listed.
These steps can all have an impact.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Madonnari

 Radio Commentary

The plaza of the Old Mission will again come to colorful life when Santa Barbara’s Italian Street Painting festival is celebrated over Memorial Day weekend, May 26 to 28.
I Madonnari, part Renaissance fair, part performance art, and one of Santa Barbara's most popular open-air festivals, will once again transform the piazza at the Mission over Memorial Day Weekend.
My office sponsors the program, run through our Children’s Creative Project, as a continuing means of fostering art education and expression for young and old alike.
It is also a major fund-raiser for the Children’s Creative Project.
The Project uses professional artists-in-residence to provide quality arts instruction in the visual and performing arts.
They also sponsor professional performing arts groups to come to Santa Barbara to work with our school children.
These performers reach some 40,000 children in scores of elementary schools.
The CCP is more essential than ever as more and more school districts are forced to cut arts offerings from their budgets. Every dollar raised is used to support visual and performing arts instruction.
At the I Madonnari festival, pavement squares sponsored by businesses and organizations are made available for local artists, architects, and school children.
           Don’t miss out on this local tradition, starting May 26 at the Santa Barbara Mission

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dudley hits perfect note on prevention

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

Newspaper Column

When Santa Barbara District Attorney Joyce Dudley was invited to speak at the National District Attorneys Association by a national research/advocacy group, “Fight Crime, Invest in Kids,” her educational roots were abundantly clear. She demonstrated a spot-on understanding of human development and the critical importance of early interventions to prevent crimes.
She told the assembled group that the traditional role of district attorneys was to “clean up the mess.”
“On a good day, our community feels justice was served,” she told them. “On a great day our efforts helped victims become survivors.”
She said that traditional role is no longer sufficient, and that district attorneys are expected to become leaders in the field of crime prevention: to fight crime by prosecuting criminals and investing in kids.
I greatly respect and appreciate the approach she took with the assembled group.
She said that district attorneys have all looked into the eyes of a murderer. But she suspected that very few had had the opportunity to look into those same eyes when the murderer was a child. Think of the power if that could be the case, and preventive steps could be taken.
Ms. Dudley cited a murderer she prosecuted a few years ago. She said that murderer, as a child, had been the victim of vicious homophobic bullying. She said she also prosecuted a child abuser a few years ago and now one of his abused children was recently arrested for rape.
Said Ms. Dudley: “In my mind, both cases stood for the proposition that to fight crime we MUST invest in kids.”
She added: “If I had been there to stop the bullying and the abuse when those violent offenders were still children, I could have had a fighting chance to stop those later crimes from every occurring.”
She admonished the group of district attorneys to become those leaders in the field of crime prevention and she laid out a very specific list of particulars to support: high quality preschool education, enticing after-school programs, especially at the junior high level, and truancy programs that re-engage the alienated student.
Most impressive about her talk to this esteemed group were the echoes we hear from the educational establishment about the importance of these very issues. What has been missing from the educational argument is the hard facts about crime and the resultant costs to society, from a prosecutor with the vision and understanding to lay out the case so clearly. I salute her approach and look forward to having our offices collaborate to the shared goal of preventing crime by investing in kids — especially those who are abused, bullied or neglected. It is not only the right thing to do; it is also in our community’s best interests. As Benjamin Franklin said so wisely, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Children and second-hand smoke

 Radio Commentary

An estimated 39 percent of U.S. households with one or more children under age six have at least one smoker in their midst, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you are among those who smoke and find it hard to stop, bear in mind that parental smoking is a serious health hazard for children. 
Small lungs fill quickly, and concentrations of poisons affect them more potently.
Children who live in homes with smokers cannot avoid inhaling cigarette smoke. The second-hand nature of the smoke does nothing to diminish the dangers. 
As a result, these children run a higher risk of developing asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and middle-ear disease. Studies show they also have more difficulty getting over common colds.
Also, of the 4,000-plus chemicals in environmental tobacco smoke, at least 40 are known to cause cancer.
If you would like to quit smoking but can’t seem to do it, contact your physician. Many low-cost programs can help.
Never allow smoking inside the house. If another member of your household is a smoker, have him go outside and leave all ashes and cigarette butts outside as well. 
And remember: No one should ever smoke in an automobile if children are riding along. The confinement increases the potency and the risks. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Talk to your children

KTMS Radio Commentary

Books, magazines, and talk show hosts all bombard parents with advice on how best to raise their children. But there is simply no substitute for a caring adult who takes time with a child
Children pick up language skills and knowledge about the world around them during interesting conversations with responsible adults in their lives.
In daily life, parents can help by pointing out and reading printed words that appear in a child’s environment —store signs, labels, and television titles.
Have your toddlers share in making grocery lists and checking them off at the store as each item is found.
Sing songs and tell stories whenever the opportunity arises. It’s fun for children and it’s a way for them to develop verbal skills that will stay with them.
Above all, talk to your child whenever possible. It is the rhythms and sounds of language that lead to future learning.
That’s why children love nursery rhymes, though the actual words can seem to make little sense to adults.
It’s the sounds of the language and the word-play that children find so appealing and get imbedded in their consciousness. In a very real sense, language is like music to a child’s ear.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Magni named County Teacher of the Year

“My personal teaching goal is to have every student leave my classroom each day having made a positive change to their knowledge base, whether it be fundamentals such as reading, writing, or communications, or gaining a better understanding of the world of science…

“Distinguished schools are the ones that give their students unique opportunities that may not be offered at other schools – like magnet programs, field trips, guest speakers, internships, or access to specialized equipment and technology. Usually, this costs money and is the first to be eliminated in times of crisis. However, it is this ‘stuff’ that is precisely what motivates students to work hard and achieve more because it is fun and different and ‘cool.’… We need to keep the ‘cool’ in school.” —Riccardo Magni

Riccardo Magni, for 11 years a 9–12th grade biology teacher, and science department head at Pioneer Valley High School in Santa Maria, was named 2012-13 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made by County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone at a press conference convened at the regular monthly meeting of the County Board of Education on May 3. Magni will become the county’s official representative on July 1.
Magni, one of a number of outstanding countywide nominees for the honor, was selected by a committee including representatives of former teachers, administrators, PTAs, and school board members. A Distinguished Educator was also named and will be announced at the June board meeting.
Superintendent Cirone expressed congratulations for Magni’s professionalism, enthusiasm, creativity, and remarkable successes inside and outside the classroom and in the community.
In addition to being named Teacher of the Year, Magni has obtained 36 grants totaling $45,500 for science education at his school.
He earned his bachelor of science degree in molecular biology and his teaching credential from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and his master of science degree from National University in San Jose.
He began his teaching career in Saratoga High School, then moved to Silver Creek High, Alta Vista High, and Mt. Pleasant High, before starting at Santa Maria High in 2001. He began teaching at Pioneer Valley High in 2004.
He currently teaches 9–11th grade biology, 10–12th grade intervention biology, 11–12th grade AP biology, and 11–12th grade AP environmental science.
“Making the class more interactive facilitates learning, especially for English Language Learners, special education students, or for other students who have historically struggled in school,” he said. “One of my personal goals is to create an environment where students enjoy the experience of taking a science class. I believe all kids can learn and a key to that potential is for the instructor to motivate the ‘clientele’...By developing a relationship with each student, I can create the spark that will motivate that student to work to the best of their ability.”
Professional goals for Magni were to achieve consistent improvement of student test scores and to help close the achievement gap. Some 85% of students at his school are minority and 75% of the students qualify for free lunch. The average score in his regular biology class surpassed last year’s state average, and 14 of his students passed AP science exams.
“From the real rhino skull in my classroom, my pet snakes, CSI labs, and unique laboratory instrumentation, I want my classroom to be the one that kids are talking about at lunch or on Facebook,” he said.
Magni also initiated the Pioneer Valley Summer Science Institute, sponsored by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. He mentored four students on college-level scientific research projects. They built a device that could extract energy from ocean waves. The projects competed in the county science fair, the district’s first-ever entries in the 56-year history of the science fair, and won two third-place awards. Two students then entered the project in the Siemen’s We Can Change the World Challenge, winning the contest in the state of California and finishing in the top 25 nationwide.
In addition to his teaching load, Magni also served as assistant varsity track coach, assistant varsity basketball coach, and library tutor. He has coached soccer, youth basketball, and track. He has been a science volunteer at Happy Hollow Preschool, Little Shining Stars Preschool, and May Grisham and Ralph Dunlap schools.
Wrote Principal Shanda Herrera: “Riccardo Magni is an outstanding science teacher and instrumental school leader who improved student achievement by providing numerous opportunities for unique science skill building…it is his desire to create a love of science in our youth…Riccardo tailors his instruction to serve the diverse needs of his students by arranging guest speakers and field trips...He has used his grant-writing skills to purchase thousands of dollars of equipment that have assisted in teaching his students. I am thankful for his work as a science teacher and I am happy that our students can benefit from his expertise. “
Wrote student Shannon Patterson: “By encouraging students to adopt independent reading and study skills in his AP courses, he is ultimately teaching us valuable skills that will carry us through college…Mr. Magni is also available every day at lunch so students can ask questions and get help on anything from the previous test to the SAT. Mr. Magni also undertakes many projects that provide students with experiences I never thought would be available to us in high school…Currently we are working on a water testing project where we have the unique opportunity to use various probes to test the quality of a local water source...He is the one teacher that has gone above and beyond in any way possible for his students. The passion he has for science is depicted in his enthusiasm to teach and motivation to give his students the best experience possible…It has been and continues to be an honor to be his student.”
Wrote colleague J. Manuel Casillas: “Riccardo Magni is a very deserving, dedicated, and responsible teacher who has been instrumental in the establishing of a strong and diverse science department staff at Pioneer Valley High School…Mr. Magni’s dedication to the success of the students is evident in the work he does after school, during the year, and during the summer research program he supervises…The success that the students experience in Mr. Magni’s classes and summer program is a result of the dedication, preparation, and hard work he puts into the job…He is a deserving teacher who needs to be recognized for his excellent work in one of the noblest jobs, being a great teacher.”
Magni’s nomination will next be reviewed for consideration as California Teacher of the Year in the fall. The California winner will then proceed into consideration for 2013 National Teacher of the Year.
As Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Magni will be available to speak countywide, and can be reached at Pioneer Valley High School at 922-1305, or at the County Education Office, by calling Petti M. Pfau at 964-4710, ext. 5281.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crystal Apple Winners Announced

Outstanding educators from North and South County who received the 2012 Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Educator Awards will be honored at the annual Education Celebration sponsored by the Teachers Network of the Santa Barbara County Education Office on May 17 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.
Nominated for this award by their peers, Crystal Apple winners are recognized for their dedication, their instructional and motivational skills, their ability to challenge and inspire students, and their ability to interact with students, staff, and members of the local community.
Each year, school employees, parents, and students are invited to nominate educators they feel have provided exceptional service to students. Crystal Apple winners receive a special crystal apple plaque and a $500 stipend, provided by the program sponsor, Venoco, Inc.
“We are so pleased to be able to acknowledge the exceptional work of these outstanding educators,” said County Superintendent Bill Cirone, whose office coordinates the program. “They represent the hundreds of professionals working day in and day out to make a difference for the students of Santa Barbara County.”
This year’s Crystal Apple winners are:
North County
Elementary Teacher — Julie Padfield, Los Berros School, Lompoc Unified School District
Secondary Teacher — Victor Prato, Los Robles High School, SBCEO JCCS
Certificated Support Provider — Melanie Sutton (Vocational Technology Teacher), Los Robles High School, SBCEO JCCS
Administrator — Laurie Graack (Principal), Adam School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District
Classified Employee — Coleen Hefley (Special Education Aide), Los Robles High School, SBCEO JCCS

South County
Elementary Teacher — Courtney Brewer, Monroe School, Santa Barbara Unified School District
Secondary Teacher — Nancy Wood, San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara Unified School District
Certificated Support Provider — Alejandra Aranovich (School Psychologist), La Cuesta and Alta Vista High Schools; Franklin and Adelante Charter Elementary Schools, Santa Barbara Unified School District
Administrator — Dr. Kathleen Boomer (District Superintendent): Goleta Union School District
Classified Employee — Georgie Perkins (Instructional Assistant), Peabody Charter School, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Further information is available from Courtney Taylor, SBCEO Teacher Programs, 964-4710, ext. 5277.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Christman and Chaney named 2012 Classified Employees of Year

Cathy Christman, an instructional assistant at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara for 10 years, and Zonia Chaney, an administrative secretary at the Santa Barbara County Education Office for seven years, were named 2012 Santa Barbara County Classified Employees of the Year, and will be honored at a ceremony during the meeting of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education on April 5.
Christman was nominated in the instructional assistance category and Chaney was nominated in the office and technical category.
The county recognition is part of the California School Employee of the Year Program.
“We are very happy to take part in this program,” said County Superintendent Bill Cirone. “Each year we honor the Teacher of the Year and outstanding schools; it is fitting that we also include the school staff members who play such a key role in supporting children’s achievement, safety, and health.”
To qualify, the employee must have been in the same service category for at least five years.
The nomination process started at the district level, where each district was invited to select employees from six categories, including child nutrition, maintenance/operations/facilities, transportation, para-educator/instructional assistance, office and technical, and support services and security. A county committee reviewed the nominations and selected the county’s nominees.
Cathy Christman has been a special education aide at Franklin School for 10 years. Principal Casie Killgore wrote that Cathy “is a model employee and advocate for students. Cathy goes above and beyond the call of duty…As I observe employees daily, Cathy has always stood out…Cathy is sought by other classified staff and is a leader amongst other classified employees…” Killgore added that Cathy is “dedicated to the school community and culture…she consistently looks for ways to have students get involved in improving themselves and the school. Cathy is one of a kind!”
Wrote Special Education chair and teacher Leslie Oliva MacDougall, “Cathy demonstrates outstanding performance in all areas of her work…Cathy understands what the students need to learn, why they need to learn each skill, and how to facilitate that learning…The students love working with her as she is positive, patient, nurturing, and is responsive to their individual needs both academically and behaviorally.” She added: “Any week during the school year, before school begins, after the school day, or on the weekends, Cathy Christman can be seen on the Franklin campus anywhere and everywhere. If there’s a job to be done, she’s ‘on it.’ From painting school logos, mascots, mission statements, and murals on school walls and buildings, to creating banners for assemblies and students’ participation in community parades, Cathy does it all and most often she is a committee of one.” MacDougall added: “Miss Cathy is a jewel here at Franklin. She leads by example and is a role model for all of us.”
Wrote teacher Brian McCarthy, who worked with Cathy when she was an instructional aide at Cleveland School: “Cathy went above and beyond on a daily basis to make sure all students were engaged, focused, and held accountable for their work and responsibilities…She is missed every day I come to work. She spent her evenings and weekends volunteering for school projects such as video yearbooks, classroom comprehensive service projects, and Big Buddies…Cathy has always been a leader and she has committed her life to the students with whom she works. She was a true leader among classified employees as she helped them understand policies as well as helping them further their own education. She is a true treasure.”
Zonia Chaney has been an administrative secretary for seven years with the assistant superintendent for Categorical and Special Programs, which provides managerial oversight for several federal, state, and local programs. Wrote Assistant Superintendent Jan Clevenger: “Zonia exemplifies SBCEO’s motto of ‘service and leadership’ on a daily basis with her exceptional ‘can-do’ work ethic, professional demeanor, and positive attitude. I marvel at her ability to efficiently juggle multiple tasks and projects while maintaining her routine office responsibilities with personal touches and an ever-present smile. Zonia is extremely organized and plans her workload to meet all deadline and department timelines…Zonia’s interpersonal skills and relationships with colleagues have contributed to the positive climate in our department and within the entire building. She is highly respected by her peers and by management…She is a model employee — dedicated, competent, and selfless, who will do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Mark Leufkens, coordinator at Summit High, wrote that “Zonia is a ‘go-to person’…her confidence, interest, and caring approach make her a unique and invaluable employee. Those who are fortunate to work with her can put things into her hands with the confidence that those things will be done and done right. Zonia’s skills, knowledge, and efficiency make us all more effective in our jobs.”
Wrote Williams consultant Dr. Richard Shelton: “I have worked closely with Zonia for seven years as she has coordinated the complicated and challenging Williams project…She provided what was needed efficiently, effectively, and cheerfully…Her discretion and judgment have always been truly outstanding, as has been her ability to work cooperatively in assisting and resolving any technical problems that arose. Zonia is exceedingly well organized, and always demonstrates a willingness to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to see a job to completion. It is hard to imagine someone more fitting for this award.”
Further information is available from Dr. Al Zonana at the Santa Barbara County Education Office, 964-4710, ext. 5279.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cirone appointed to state arts education task force

Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools, was appointed to the state Arts Education Task Force formed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
The task force will help craft recommendations for Superintendent Torlakson’s consideration to help meet the California Challenge identified by members of the Team California Education Leaders Institute (ELI).
The arts education task force will draft a set of recommendations for Superintendent Torlakson which will be included in a new publication: A Blueprint for Creative Schools: How the Arts and Creative Education Can Transform California’s Classrooms.
These efforts are guided by the California Challenge identified by the ELI team: To ensure each student reaches his or her full potential by broadening California’s educational vision, policy, and practices to promote innovation, economic development, and creativity.
Superintendent Cirone is committed to the arts and in 1997 was named by former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin to co-chair the California Arts Task Force.
His office is the umbrella for the Children’s Creative Project, which provides artists in residence in schools countywide. He writes and speaks regularly as an advocate for arts in education. He is the recipient of the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission Leadership in Arts Award and the California Arts Council Outstanding Arts Educator Award.
Bill serves on numerous boards including the National Center for Learning/Citizenship (past chair), Hazelden Foundation, First Five Commission (chair), Santa Barbara Partners in Education, and KDB Classical Radio. He is also past chair of the Santa Barbara Foundation.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Public schools reflections

KTMS Radio Commentary

In a report titled “The Annenberg Challenge: Lessons and Reflections on Public School Reform,” researchers identified several important lessons from their studies.
•  First: Every child benefits from high expectations and standards. 
• Even large gifts like those from Annenberg are no substitute for adequate, equitable, and reliable funding.
• Schools are too isolated. Reaching out to other schools and forming networks for mutual support and criticism can help.
            The report also found that schools need lots of allies to do their work. Parents, businesses, and foundations all can play a vital role.
• Professional development holds the key to better schools. Teachers — both new ones and veterans — are eager to become better instructors.
• Schools need strong leadership — not just from principals and superintendents, but also in the classroom, on school boards, in the community, and in state capitals.
• Schools need accountability. But those who set the policy and allocate resources should also be held accountable.
The final lesson learned: Public education in America is better than its image. Public schools and those who work with them must do a better job of telling their stories.” 
More detailed information about the report can be found at the website of the Annenberg Foundation at That’s

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Children's Future

KTMS Radio Commentary

Each year, some 350,000 children are born to mothers who are addicted to cocaine. And 40,000 children are born with alcohol-related birth defects.
Those staggering numbers have tremendous implications for our health care system and our school systems.
These children are likely to have strikingly short attention spans, poor coordination, and language problems. They are almost two times more likely to need special education.
Their ability to learn is severely hampered by their physical challenges. Yet so much of these consequences are preventable, which makes it all the more tragic.
For example, one-fifth of America’s preschool children have not been vaccinated against polio. Yet the heartbreak and consequences of this terrible disease are completely preventable.
One-fourth of all pregnant women get no physical care of any sort during the crucial first trimester of their pregnancy.
It is estimated there would be one-fifth fewer handicapped children if the mother received just one physical exam in the first trimester.
Modern medicine can detect all sorts of potential problems. And basic care can prevent many common maladies.
We know that children are our future. We know that they will lead our world. We know our future is in their hands.
What are we doing about their future, right now, while we can?