Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Radio Commentary

We’ve made a lot of progress in reducing the number of children who are accidentally poisoned each year. Much of the credit is due to public education on the topic.
In the 1960s, more than 450 children under the age of 5 were dying from accidental poisoning each year. That total has fallen to about 30. But it’s still too high.
Simple precautions remain critical:
• Keep medicines in their original childproof containers, stored out of reach.
• Follow the doctor’s instructions carefully when giving medicine to children.
• Store household cleaners safely — a high percentage of poisonings involve everyday cleaning products, cosmetics, cough and cold remedies, antibiotics, and vitamins.
• Teach children never to eat anything you haven’t approved.
A typical household contains products such as bleach, fertilizers, or paint stripper that can be fatal to a child.
If your child swallows a poison, you must act quickly and calmly:If the child is conscious, determine exactly what was swallowed. The child could lose consciousness at any time.
Call 9-1-1 or the local poison control center.
Have the container on hand so you can tell the center the exact contents of what was swallowed. If the child must go to the hospital, be sure to take the poison container with you for the doctors there.
Stay calm and give the professionals short, precise answers, because time is often critical.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Radio Commentary

Feeling safe makes children feel more confident when they can meet new people, try new tasks, and take on new responsibilities.
As children grow, they also need time to explore their power and abilities. This means parents need to let go of some control and help their children take “healthy risks.”
How do parents help their children learn what it means to be more self-sufficient? Think about these questions:
How do your children work through their fears or doubts? How often do you do things with your children rather than for them?
What do your children do that makes you laugh or feel proud? Do they know it?
To help empower your children, tell them often that you appreciate what they do around the house, at school, and for friends.
When your children tell you about problems, confirm their feelings and help them think through solutions.
Encourage children to take new roles at school or try new activities that will be enjoyable but not stressful.
Let children take full responsibility for some chores. When you do your own chores, do them with good cheer even if they aren’t fun. Your children will learn from your example.

Prediction skills

Radio Commentary

Reading skills are often enhanced through the use of prediction skills.
Good readers use prediction throughout their reading. They constantly anticipate what will happen next.
When reading with your child, find time to have the child write down what he or she thinks is going to take place.
Do this at the end of a chapter or in between the illustrations of a picture book.
Beginning readers need stories that are highly predictable. This predictability may take the form of rhyme, repetition, or patterned language.
Help children write down their prediction of the next word in a sequence.
They can then compare their choice with the one in the book. 
One good exercise is to make up short stories and have children write several endings.
You can then talk about which ending is “most predictable” or “most unbelievable” or “most inventive.”
Experts agree: When helping your child become a strong reader, writing down predictions can be a valuable tool for improved reading skills.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Stress in children

Radio Commentary

Many adults think of childhood as a happy, stress-free time. However, experts in child development say that in many ways childhood is as stressful as any other age.
Young people also report that stress can make some of their days miserable. Fortunately, the following activities have been found to help stressed-out children at any age:
Help them get exercise. Learning good exercise patterns can help them release stress.
Teach them to breathe deeply and slowly. This can help them calm down if they feel themselves tightening up.
Have them get involved in an activity that is just for fun.
And, probably the most effective stress-reducer for children is for parents to reduce the stress in their own lives. Studies show that the ways parents deal with stress has a strong influence on their children’s ability to cope.
Parents can model good coping skills by keeping themselves in control at all times.
Parents should set aside time every day to do a stress-reducing activity with their children, like taking a walk, gardening together, playing cards, or cooking.
And parents can help relieve children’s stress just by listening. Children need to be able to tell someone when they are worried, scared, or angry.
These steps can go a long way toward helping children manage stress.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ensuring world leadership

Radio Commentary

Modern technology has made the concept of a “global village” quite real. 
We can communicate with people in other nations and watch events occurring anywhere on the globe almost instantaneously.
This means we must make sure that our children have an education that prepares them to excel in this global marketplace.
Many industrialized nations continue to invest heavily in education. Important keys to development overseas have been sound public education, extensive school-to-work transition programs, and continuous worker training and education. 
The former executive director of the North American Institute for Training and Education Research wrote that other countries have earned a global competitive edge by making sustained investments in education and training for all their citizens. 
He asked: “Is it not time for America to do the same?”
We talk a lot about the importance of education, but the truth is that we still have not yet put together the national will to provide the resources and support that would truly make a difference.
People often say, “This isn’t the time.”  That prompts the question, “If not now, when?”

Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award

News release

In recognition of Santa Barbara County Superintendent Bill Cirone's 34-year legacy of leadership and service, the "Bill Cirone Heart of Education Award” has recently been established. This annual grant award will recognize an outstanding educator who demonstrates passion for the profession, creativity, and compassion for students — the same virtues that Superintendent Cirone championed and celebrated in his 34 years in office. The inaugural award will be presented in 2018. 

To make a contribution to this endowment campaign, checks may be payable to the Santa Barbara County Education Office Teachers Network. Please write “Heart of Education” in the memo line. 100% of contributions will go to the annual award.

For additional information, please contact Director of Teacher Programs and Support Steve Keithley, at 964-4710, ext. 5281, or by email at

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

State preschools enrolling for the 2017-2018 school year

News release

Children ages three through five* years in Lompoc, Los Alamos, and Santa Ynez whose parents are income-eligible can receive FREE preschool instruction in nationally accredited and state QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) highly rated centers operated by the Santa Barbara County Education Office Child Development Programs. Preschool is offered in the following locations:

• DeColores State Preschool, Clarence Ruth School, 501 North W St.,
Rm. 1 (Lompoc)

• Just for Kids State Preschool, Arthur Hapgood School, 324 South A St.,
Rm. 34 (Lompoc)

• La Honda State Preschool, La Honda Elementary, 608 E. Central Ave. (Lompoc)

• Learning Place State Preschool
, Crestview Elementary, VAFB Utah Ave.,
Rm. K1 (Lompoc)

• Los Alamos State Preschool, Olga Reed School, 480 Centennial St.,
Rm. 1 (Los Alamos)

• Santa Ynez State Preschool, College School, 3525 Pine St. (Santa Ynez)

• Young Learners State Preschool, La Cañada Elementary, 621 West North Ave.,
Rm. 37 (Lompoc)

Preschool services are provided three hours per day during the school year. Included is a daily nutritious snack in centers that include outdoor classroom daily activities. Children participate in play-based school readiness learning activities with highly qualified teachers and teaching assistants. The SBCEO-operated preschools are each licensed and are of the highest quality rating, both nationally and in the state of California, and offer excellent student/teacher ratios.

ENROLL NOW by calling Ana M. Hernandez, Administrative Secretary, at 964-4710, ext. 4409. You will be placed on the waiting list. Teachers will contact you when they return in August.

*Children who turn 5 BEFORE Sept. 1 are ineligible.

Local Leaders with Bill Cirone

Susan Salcido
Deputy Superintendent, SBCEO

Managing anger

Radio Commentary

Everybody gets angry, but you can help your child take responsibility for heading off angry outbursts.
Start by asking your child what situations seem to make him angry. He might say:
When I lose a game.
When someone says something untrue about me.
When my little brother uses my things.
When I want to do something that I can’t.
Then brainstorm alternatives with your child about how to diffuse the emotions.
Ask, for example, “If you’re losing a game and you know that can make you angry, what might you do instead?”
One technique is to help think of a few phrases your child can repeat over and over until the anger subsides, such as, “It’s only a game,” or “I can stay cool about this.”
You should also help your child practice things he can say to others to avoid a situation where he’s likely to get angry.
He might say, for example, “I have to go home now,” or “I’m too mad to talk about this right now.”
Other suggestions to help a child control anger might include listening to music, running around the yard to wear off some energy, or writing a story about the situation.
With parents’ help, most children can learn to take responsibility for managing their anger before it gets out of hand.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Radio Commentary

Sometimes young people look for the easy way out. They may want to take a class that does not challenge them, or slide by with little effort.
It helps to have children understand the importance of challenging themselves to their fullest. Encourage them to take courses that are demanding — ones that get them to think and reach a little further.
Subjects or projects that require young people to push harder are well worth the extra effort. When they find an extra resource within themselves, they feel comfortable trying new challenges in the future. 
By taking accelerated courses, your children might end up finding their life’s passion. The hard work will often pay off in experiences that they otherwise might not have been able to share.
The payoff might be as simple as interacting with students they’ve never talked with before, getting hands-on experience in a new area, meeting experts in a certain field, or writing college-level research papers that will better prepare them for higher-level academic challenges.
While children should be allowed to focus on the present moment, help them understand that the future will hold more opportunities for those with broader experiences.
Reaching beyond one’s grasp and finding success is positive reinforcement. It is a good way to keep at bay the fear that too often is associated with trying something new or difficult.
It’s been said that “You get what you settle for.” Make sure your children set their own bars high and use their skills and creativity to meet those higher standards.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Promoting culture of reading

Radio Commentary

What can parents do to excite their children about school and learning? A former national Teacher of the Year provided the following suggestions.
First, he said, promote a culture of reading at home. Reading is the gateway to all knowledge and is fundamental to academic excellence.
Computers are wonderful tools, but they cannot replace books. Reading stimulates the imagination and encourages creative thinking.
So read with your children. Discuss a book or an article in the car, while walking, and at the dinner table.
Turn reading into a pleasant event by taking children to libraries and bookstores once a week. 
Give them an allowance and let them choose the books they want without questioning what they’ve chosen. 
Don’t insist that they always read “educational” material. A lifelong love of reading can start with almost any book or magazine. 
Stimulate your children’s curiosity. Children need to be encouraged to ask “Why?” when they don’t understand something. Learning is a constant process, and children sometimes think this process is over once they have an answer.
They need to be taught to push for more answers. So when children ask “Why”? -- Don’t respond with a pat answer. Ask, “What do you think?  Or “Why do you think that’s so?”  Or, “I’m not sure; let’s look it up.”
The goal is to spark their curiosity so that it becomes fun to learn new information.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I Madonnari

Radio Commentary

The plaza of the Old Mission will once again come to colorful life when Santa Barbara’s Italian Street Painting Festival is celebrated over Memorial Day weekend, May 27 to May 29.
I Madonnari, which is part Renaissance fair, part performance art, and one of Santa Barbara's most popular open-air festivals, will once again transform the plaza 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 arts 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.
The Project also brings professional performing arts groups to Santa Barbara to work with our local school children.
These performers reach over 50,000 children in scores of elementary schools every year.
The Children’s Creative Project is more essential than ever. Every dollar raised is used to support visual and performing arts instruction in our schools.
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 27 at the Santa Barbara Mission.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Santa Barbara County Education Office recognizes Classified Employees of the Year

News release

At its monthly board meeting on June 1, the Santa Barbara County Education Office will recognize two extraordinary professionals as the 2017 Santa Barbara County Classified School Employees of the Year.
Honored this year in the Support Services and Security category is Brenda Galvez, a community liaison in the Orcutt Union School District. She is currently assigned to multiple schools in the district, although most of her time is spent at Olga Reed School, a 210-student, rural TK-8 school with over 60% of its students identified as English Learners, and over 80% of its students classified as low-income.
“Brenda inspires me,” says her principal, Joe Dana, “and I can say without reservation that Olga Reed School would not be what it is without the amazing contributions of the incomparable Brenda Galvez.”
“Brenda and her ‘moms’ have a huge role at the school,” says her district superintendent, Dr. Debbie Blow. “Brenda is willing to do everything she can to support the school’s families.”
Raymond Segovia, a painter in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, is the winner in the Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities category. “Ray takes pride in the work he does to keep the schools looking good for current students,” says Reese Thompson, the district’s director of facilities and operations. Anita Wickers, an administrative assistant in the district, adds, “I call Ray my ‘Little Ray of Sunshine.’ He always takes the time to greet his fellow employees with a smile, while continually working hard to get the job done—whatever that job takes. His work ethic is evident in his attention to detail and his dedication to his trade.”
“Classified employees are at the heartbeat of education and are instrumental to the smooth operation of schools, playing a major role in educating tomorrow’s leaders. We honor them for all they do for children,” said County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “Brenda and Ray represent all the school staff members who play such a vital role in supporting children’s achievement.”
The program is part of a statewide recognition sponsored by the California Department of Education (CDE). Galvez and Segovia’s nomination packages were forwarded to the CDE for consideration as the California Classified Employee of the Year.

Cabrillo High School music teacher named 2018 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year

News release

Garson Olivieri, a music teacher at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, has been named the 2018 Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County. The award was created in 2015, in a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) and the Santa Barbara Bowl through the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation Education Outreach, which is dedicated to supporting performing arts in the community. Olivieri will succeed Brett Larsen, a music teacher at Adams Elementary School in Santa Barbara, as the Performing Arts Teacher of the Year next academic year.
“One of Santa Barbara Bowl’s Education Outreach priorities is ensuring access to the performing arts for all youth in Santa Barbara County,” says Graham Farrar, the Bowl’s Education Outreach Committee Chair and Board Secretary. “Educators like Garson play a vital role in positively enhancing the lives of students every day. We thank Garson for his dedication to his students and to his community. We are excited to support this award and teachers like him!”
Olivieri will be honored at the fifth annual “A Salute to Teachers,” a gala event recognizing award-winning educators from Santa Barbara County, to be held next fall. The event partners SBCEO with Cox Communications and a variety of sponsors. Cox has sponsored a similar celebration for over 25 years in San Diego, and is honored to continue this great tradition of teacher recognition for Santa Barbara County educators.
“Mr. O,” as he is affectionately called, is highly respected and admired for his teaching and leadership not only at Cabrillo High School but also throughout the district. His students often start playing with the Allan Hancock Community College Jazz Band, Atascadero Community Band, and other local ensembles. In recent years, the Jazz Band has performed with the local jazz group, the Basin Street Regulars, who were so impressed with the group that, this year, they offered scholarships to all of the Cabrillo students who performed.
“I was both surprised and deeply humbled to be named Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year for Santa Barbara County,” Olivieri said. He learned of the award in a surprise announcement from his colleague Chris Ladwig, who together had taken their students to perform at Disneyland. “It’s an honor to work with the students at Cabrillo every day,” Olivieri says. “My students — and the families who love and support their pursuit of music — are an inspiration to me. I am so grateful to the Santa Barbara Bowl for making this award possible. It speaks to the way our community truly values arts education.”
“Garson’s passion, energy, and enthusiasm for the performing arts shine through, and have inspired young students to develop an enduring appreciation for music and the arts,” says County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “We applaud the Santa Barbara Bowl's vision in spotlighting the importance of the performing arts in a well rounded education by sponsoring the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year Award, and sincerely appreciate Cox Communications’ sponsorship of ‘A Salute to Teachers,’ where Garson will be honored before fellow educators and community partners from around the county.” 
“The Santa Barbara Bowl works hand in hand with many community organizations to help enrich the lives of everyone,” adds Rick Boller, the Bowl Foundation’s Executive Director. “By leveraging the success of the Bowl’s Concert Seasons, we are able to help support programs like a Community Ticket Subsidy, Instrument Fund, the SBCEO Teachers Network Performing Arts Curriculum Project Grants, as well as the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to Garson Olivieri on his success in the classroom and his impact on the world of performing arts… and we hope he has a great time at the concert he choses to attend as part of his award.”

Mothers’ degrees

Radio Commentary

High standards and accountability are critical to school reform, and I strongly support both these areas. 
I do worry that using test scores as the sole measure of progress can mask the more complete picture. Here’s a quiz we often use to illustrate the point: 
Which of the following factors is the most accurate predictor of a school’s standardized test scores?
A.  The quality of the teaching staff
B.  The percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunches
C.  The number of children who moved from another school during the year
D.  The average number of hours volunteered each week
E.  The number of mothers who hold a college degree.
The answer is E.
Nationwide, schools with the highest number of mothers with college degrees have the highest test scores. No other factor correlates as highly.
But the answer is also ‘all of the above,’ because ALL these factors correlate with test scores. 
Everyone agrees we must have a means to evaluate how well a student has grasped the subject matter that’s been taught, and good tests do just that. 
But sometimes it is hard for students to show on a test what they really know quite well. The problem is dealing with the way a question is asked, not the information itself.
We need to know which students are truly falling short in knowledge so that we can help them succeed. The correlating factors remind us that when it comes to achievement, test scores can never tell us the whole story.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

No free lunch

Radio Commentary

More than two-dozen “lessons for life” were outlined in a book written by Marian Wright Edelman, best known for her position as president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Edelman wrote the book as a letter to her own children, but the wisdom that permeates it can serve as a lesson for us all.
The first lesson is quite simple: There is no free lunch. Don’t feel entitled to anything you don’t sweat and struggle for.
She writes:  “Each American adult and child must struggle to achieve, and not think for a moment that America has got it made.”
Especially in the days of instant fame and celebrity through the sports and entertainment fields, it is sometimes difficult for young people to keep their lives and their goals in perspective.
Edelman reminds us that rewards are so much richer and more fulfilling if we have earned them through our own hard work.
She says we must teach our children, by example, not to wobble and jerk through life, but to take care and pride in work, and to be reliable. 
A life well lived is embodied in those who serve others, who share their successes, and who give back to those who have helped them.
Many of us know of philanthropists who have accumulated great wealth but are moved to share it in ways that benefit others. 
Those we admire most are those who do it quietly without fanfare or without need for public acknowledgment. They do it not for self-glory, but for what they see as the public good.
It’s a good value to instill in all our children.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Radio Commentary

Many people believe that children today lack good manners and too often display rude behavior.
That may be a bad “rap” for the younger generation as a whole. Clearly, there are examples at both extremes of the spectrum when it comes to displaying good manners for every age group.
The fact remains that good manners must be taught; they do not come naturally.
In fact, bad manners are usually natural, selfish impulses that children are sometimes allowed to demonstrate.
Curbing poor manners and developing good ones requires parents to place real limits on their children. A caring adult may need to have a tug of war with a child who has developed the habit of a me-first attitude.
It involves taking away ordinary privileges, and saying “no.” Sometimes that’s harder for the parent than for the child.
Remember that good manners are not just about rules. It’s also about showing children how to be gracious and respectful.
Simple words like “please,” “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and “excuse me,” go a long way, as well.
Teaching manners may start out with a negative approach of restrictions and consequences. But the outcome should always be a form of civility, respect, and love.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ceremony Celebrates Career Education

News release

On Thursday, June 1, 300 community members are expected to gather at the Marjorie Luke Theatre from 5:15-7 p.m. for Partners in Education’s red carpet themed Student Awards Reception & Ceremony. Held for the first time at the downtown theater, this annual event honors South County junior high and high school students who have successfully completed Partners in Education’s award-winning Paid Student Internship Program, as well as those who have been nominated by an educator for excellence in career education-related courses.

“Our business partners consistently tell us how important it is for employees to have solid problem solving and communication skills, as well as the ability to work on a team,” says Partners’ executive director Chelsea Pacino Duffy. “Students receive opportunities to develop these important skills through Career Technical Education in schools and the paid work experiences we coordinate. Both are key to preparing our community’s future leaders and business owners, making it important to celebrate the educators and business people who work together to make this hands on learning happen.”

Business leaders will present Emerging Professionals awards in four categories: business and finance, healthcare and science, specialized technology and design, and education and nonprofit. Presenters will include Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Deputy Superintendent of Schools; Marybeth Carty, Venoco, Inc. Community Relations Manager; Kirsten McLaughlin, Cox Communications Public Affairs Manager; Sandra Murillo, Santa Barbara City College student and Partners in Education’s Paid Student Internship Program past participant; Wally Hofmann, Hofmann Architecture Partner; and Anthony Beebe, Santa Barbara City College President.

“The students we are celebrating at this event are forward thinking, future minded young people,” said Marybeth Carty, who is also this year’s Partners in Education Board President. “Whether through an internship or their hands-on classroom work in the areas of engineering, automotive, healthcare, and so many more, they are learning to do things that directly apply to the professional arena. When we talk about success, we often forget just how many different pathways there are that can lead you there. This event gives us a chance to celebrate them all.”

Tickets are $15 and all community members are welcome. To learn more about the event, visit

About Partners in Education: Partners in Education fulfills needs in K-12 schools and youth programs through the coordination of volunteer and business resources. The organization was formed by local business and education leaders in 1977, and is administered by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, an intermediate agency between the California Department of Education and the county’s 20 school districts.

Getting organized

Radio Commentary

Growing children may look and even act mature, but more often than not they will not yet have the planning skills you might wish for more often than not. They may need some help to keep their world organized.
Here are some tips to help your children build the skills they will need to keep their lives running smoothly:
Decide what is important. Your children may not need to have every aspect of their lives organized, so figure out together what activities or times cause the most stress and make sure those routines are set.
Does the morning routine always cause stress? Plan this out carefully. Is soccer practice driving everyone crazy? Develop a plan for when the gym bags get packed.
Stick to the routine. Once you make plans, be sure to follow them as well as possible. This will help your children understand how routines can keep life running smoothly. Reinforce that connection. Say things like: “We got to practice with no problems today — your morning checklist really worked!”
Reinforce your child's successes. Acknowledge the times when children are able to stay organized, and help them problem-solve when the routine doesn't work.
Stay involved. Once your children get a handle on a routine, they will need your support. Check in and ask how the routine is working. This will also make it easier for you to help brainstorm problems and solutions if obstacles arise. These are important life lessons.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival planned for May 27-29

News release

The I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival will celebrate its 31st anniversary from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 27, 28, and 29 at the Santa Barbara Mission. A ceremony at noon on Monday, May 29, on the Mission steps will introduce and thank the major festival sponsors and featured artist Meredith Morin as her street painting is concluded.

I Madonnari, the first festival of its kind in North America to present the performance art of street painting, is presented by and raises vital funding for the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

The festival features 140 street-painting squares drawn with chalk pastels on the pavement in front of the Mission. As the public watches, 200 local artists transform these pavement canvases into elaborate compositions in unexpectedly vibrant colors. The spaces range in size from 4-by-6 feet to 12-by-12 feet and in price from $150 to $700, each one bearing the name of its sponsor — a business, organization, family, or individual. The festival is sponsored in part by The Berry Man, Loreto Plaza Shopping Center, Yardi, Daniel and Mandy Hochman, and Bella Vista Designs. The festival is grateful and thanks the Santa Barbara Mission for hosting I Madonnari. Members of the public can sign up at the festival’s information booth to receive a brochure to be a street painting sponsor or an application to be an artist next year.

This year’s featured artist, Meredith Morin graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989 with a BFA in Graphic Design. She has worked as the Graphic Designer and Art Director at AGIA, Computer Motion, Nexxus Haircare, and Forms+Surfaces. She has received multiple awards for printed materials including annual reports, media kits, brochures, and advertisements. Meredith currently works at her own design studio, MMGD Meredith Morin Graphic Design, opened in October of 2016, and works as an assemblage artist. She has participated as a Santa Barbara I Madonnari artist since 1993, and has participated in festivals in Puerto Vallarta, San Luis Obispo, and Valencia.

An expanded area for children to create street paintings will be located at the west side of the Mission inside a private parking area. Some 600 Kids’ Squares are available. When completed, they will form a 40-by-60-feet patchwork of colorful paintings. Throughout the three-day event, the 2-by-2-feet Kids’ Squares can be purchased for $12, which includes a box of chalk.

Live music and an Italian market will be featured on the Mission lawn throughout the three-day event. The festival’s fabuloso Italian Market offers authentic Italian cuisine produced by the Children’s Creative Project Board of Directors. According to Board President Phil Morreale and Market Coordinator Bryan Kerner, this year’s market will include lemon-rosemary roasted chicken, pasta, pizza, calamari, Italian sausage sandwiches, gelati, coffees, and specialty items designed from prior years’ festivals including T-shirts, posters, note cards, and more. All proceeds from sales benefit the Children's Creative Project.


I Madonnari is produced by the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office. The organization is the first to create a festival in North America featuring the public art of street painting. After traveling to a street painting competition in Italy, CCP Executive Director Kathy Koury created the festival and the concept of sponsored street-painting squares as a fundraiser and produced the first local festival in 1987. The late Father Virgil Cordano and the Santa Barbara Mission’s bicentennial committee members also worked with Koury to include the I Madonnari festival in the yearlong series of official events that celebrated the Santa Barbara Mission’s bicentennial.

The festival has continued to grow and now is being replicated in more than 100 cities throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. In November 2016, four I Madonnari street painters — Ann Hefferman, Joy Davis, Cecelia Linayao, and Lisa Jones — traveled to Santa Barbara’s sister city of Puerto Vallarta to create street paintings with local artists and children. Koury has continued to work with Santa Barbara and Puerto Vallarta Sister City representatives to further develop the festival that has taken place in the city’s main plaza since 2006. The project is co-sponsored by the Santa Barbara-Puerto Vallarta Sister City Committee.

Street painting, using chalk as the medium, is an Italian tradition that is believed to have begun during the 16th century. Called “Madonnari” because of their practice of reproducing the image of the Madonna (Our Lady), the early Italian street painters were vagabonds who would arrive in small towns and villages for Catholic religious festivals and transform the streets and public squares into temporary galleries for their ephemeral works of art. With the first rains of the season, their paintings would be gone. Today, the tradition lives on in the village of Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, where the annual International Street Painting Competition is held in mid-August.

Festival proceeds enable the CCP to sponsor fine-arts programs conducted by professional artists during school hours for 50,000 children in county public schools. Resident artists provide workshops in the visual and performing arts for more than 38,000 children. Fundraising from the I Madonnari festival helps to continue the CCP’s work to support annual performance events and other activities.

Last October at the Granada Theater, the CCP presented a free performance for 1,400 elementary schoolchildren who experienced the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and their Jazz for Young People program “Who is Duke Ellington?” The performance was presented in collaboration with UCSB Arts & Lectures. The performance was fully funded by the I Madonnari festival with grant support from The Towbes Foundation.

This school year 50,000 children at 90 school sites will view some 450 performances presented by multicultural touring companies featured in the CCP’s Arts Catalog. To support this program, festival proceeds also provide every county public school with a $200 arts credit to help pay the companies’ performance fees.

For festival photos or more information about the Children’s Creative Project or I Madonnari, or to arrange artist interviews, contact Koury at 964-4710, ext. 4411, or go to

To interview featured artist Meredith Morin, contact her at 637-9561, or

College visits

Radio Commentary

The search for colleges can be very stressful. Parents can help in the decision-making process by planning visits to campuses. 
They can also help students prepare questions to ask during the visits. Here are some suggestions:
What are the strongest departments and most popular majors at the school?
What is the average class size? Is it different for freshmen?
How do I compare academically with students already attending the school? What kinds of cultural, athletic, or literary activities are offered on campus?
What kind of housing is available? How many students are members of fraternities and sororities?
What support services are available to students? General counseling? Health care? Tutoring?
What do most students do after they graduate? What kind of student is generally happiest at this college?
Selecting a college that will provide a good “fit” often rests on intangibles — a feeling students get when they walk around the campus.
But answers to these questions can help students narrow down whether a particular college might be right for them.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Educator Awards winners announced

News release

Outstanding educators from North and South County who received the 2017 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 25 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.

Nominated for this award by their peers, the Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Educator Award recipients 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. Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Educators receive a special crystal apple plaque and a $500 stipend, provided by the program sponsor, Venoco, Inc. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the award supported by 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.”

“Venoco is proud to acknowledge the exceptional accomplishments of this year’s Crystal Apple honorees,” said Marybeth Carty, Community Partnership Manager for Venoco, Inc. “This peer-nominated award allows us to recognize the best of the best, and express our thanks for the daily dedication and faith our local educators apply to the supremely important task of helping our children thrive.”

This year’s Crystal Apple winners are:

North County

Elementary Teacher: Becky Geisler, Mary Buren School, Guadalupe Union School District

Classified Employee: Lisa Chavez, La Honda STEAM Academy, Lompoc Unified School District

Secondary Teacher: Janet Soares, Arellanes Jr. High School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District

Certificated Support Provider: Laurel Ciervo, Orcutt Academy HS, Orcutt Union School District

Administrator: Don Nicholson, Orcutt Union School District

South County

Elementary Teacher: Jean Gradias, Cold Spring School, Cold Spring School District

Secondary Teacher: Jeff Cygan, Los Robles HS, Santa Barbara County Education Office

Classified Employee: Eduardo Lara, San Marcos HS, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Certificated Support Provider: Emily Pariseau, San Marcos HS, Santa Barbara Unified School District

Administrator: Shawn Carey, Santa Barbara Unified School District

For more information call Steven Keithley, Director of SBCEO Teacher Programs and Support, at 964-4710, ext. 5281.

Passion for learning

Radio Commentary

Turning children into lifelong learners can be the ultimate joy for teachers and parents alike.
The benefits of this effort will continue to emerge throughout an entire lifetime.
Getting A’s is a great feeling for a student. But in the long run, generating a genuine curiosity and desire to learn can make a bigger difference than any grade on a test.
Imagine the potential of children who are curious about the world around them and who are happy with themselves. 
That combination can lead to success in almost any arena.
Parents and teachers have the power to set the tone for a child’s academic accomplishments.
Praise children for their effort, for working independently, and for the energy they’ve spent in achieving a goal.
The process of studying well and learning deeply should be the highest priority.
If you look behind good grades you will often find a great deal of love and support.
Your children deserve the best chance to become true, lifelong learners.
Help maintain their enthusiasm for gaining knowledge, not just good grades.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Day of Teacher

Radio Commentary

Today is the California Day of the Teacher, which encourages our community to salute some of the unsung heroes and heroines in our midst.
Teachers embody our society's belief that universal public education is key to meeting the challenges of a changing world.
They strive to make every classroom an exciting environment where productive and useful learning can take place and each student is encouraged to grow and develop.
Our teachers reach out to foster the well-being of each student, regardless of ability, social or economic background, race, ethnic origin, or religion.
Teachers also motivate individual students to find new directions in life and reach high levels of achievement.
This year, May 1 to May 5 was designated Teacher Appreciation Week by the National PTA. It is a time for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our communities.
It is fitting that this month we take time to remember and salute the teachers who mold and educate our children and have such impact on the future of our society.
Please join me in saying ‘thank you’ to our teachers for their skill, patience, dedication, their hard work and their results. They are true community heroes who make a difference every day, and we are all very grateful.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2017 Showcase of Innovative Learning sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office

News release

4:30-6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 11
Auditorium, Santa Barbara County Education Office,
4400 Cathedral Oaks Road, Santa Barbara

This exciting event features nearly 200 students and educators from around Santa Barbara County sharing exemplary innovative educational technology practices to implement the Common Core Standards in an engaging manner.

The following schools will be represented at this year’s showcase: Alice Shaw Elementary (Orcutt USD), Cold Spring Elementary, Fillmore Elementary (Lompoc USD), Laguna Blanca, La Honda STEAM Academy (Lompoc USD), Marymount, Orcutt Academy, Peabody Charter (Santa Barbara USD), Santa Barbara High School.

The evening features:

· Student created snake traps, pendulums, mazes, rollercoaster, etc.

· Student created app to program drones

· Student created materials to teach cyber safety

· A showcase of Deeper Learning schools that are implementing learning that is student-centered, collaborative, project-based, and meaningful for both students and teachers

· Inspiring real-world digital integration ideas

· New digital tools to explore, with demonstrations from vendor partners

· “Hacktathon” — student coding competition

· Chances to win great door prizes

For questions, contact Matt Zuchowicz at 964-4710, ext. 5247,, or Scott Spector at 964-4710, ext. 5348,

Teacher Appreciation Month

By Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

Public education has always been the glue that binds our citizens together and forms the foundation for our democracy.

As 19th-century educational reformer Horace Mann once said, “Public education is more than the greatest single idea of the republic; it is the bedrock on which our democracy has to stand.”

Our nation was created on the premise of free public education for all. Our founding fathers believed it was the duty of all adults in a community to provide an education for the children.

The premise was that a community is healthiest when its children are well educated so that they can carry on the community’s responsibilities when they are adults. That is every bit the case today as well.

In fact, a secular, non-ideological public education system — available to all — is what separates free nations from others.

May, which is Teacher Appreciation Month, is a perfect time to remind ourselves why public education is so very vital. It is also a time to celebrate and thank the teachers and educators who strive to make every classroom an exciting environment where productive learning can take place and each student is encouraged to grow and develop.

Our teachers, who are our community’s true unsung heroes and heroines, personify our society’s belief that universal public education is key to meeting the challenges of a changing world.

As part of our tribute to teachers, this month the Santa Barbara County Education Office also announced the 2018 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Cline, a first grade teacher at Oak Valley Elementary School in Buellton.

Cline’s skill, creativity, passion and compassion make her a perfect representative for all the outstanding teachers in Santa Barbara County who foster the well-being of our 67,000 public school students, regardless of ability, social or economic background, race, ethnic origin, or religion.

Her teaching approach is also inspiring. In her own words, “Our classroom community is one where students feel safe to make a mistake, celebrate an accomplishment no matter how small, ask for help, and discuss issues with each other. Students in my classroom know that making mistakes is a huge part of learning. In this classroom mistakes are expected, inspected, and respected.”

Teachers in classrooms throughout the county share Jennifer’s humbleness, passion for the profession, and empathy for students. They deserve to be celebrated and honored.

Later this month, educators from around the county will do just that. At our annual May Education Celebration, an enlightened business community invests in teacher excellence by awarding grants to teachers for innovative curriculum projects. Our business partners recognize that an investment in teachers today pays dividends down the road for our children.

Teacher Appreciation Month is a wonderful time to remember that without teachers there would be no other professions. It’s also a great time to say “thank you” to a teacher. Thank you for all you do on behalf of our children and by extension the future well-being of our nation. You are our heroes.