Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two ROP Members Acknowledged with ACSA Awards

The CCCOE was well recognized with awards at the recent Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region VI, Diablo Valley Charter Awards and Recognitions Dinner, held on March 18, at the Marriott Hotel, in Walnut Creek. Along with each award, there was a heartwarming story told about the recipient. One of the evening’s highlights was a story about two ROP awardees that had a special bond between themselves: an ROP student and an ROP business partner.

(l-r) Valeria Navarrete, Sally Savage, Amy Adams

ROP student, Valeria Navarrete earned the Every Student Succeeding Award and the John Muir Medical Center was presented the Partners in Education Award. The two were presented, that night, with their awards by ROP Principal Sally Savage, who had nominated the honorees late last year.

The John Muir Medical Center has been very involved with the CCCOE’s ROP since 2004, when they became interested in creating a summer internship/education program for high school students in Contra Costa County. Working together, John Muir and ROP produced such a program, with the first students beginning their internships in the summer of 2005. Qualified students are interviewed, evaluated, and hired to work in paid positions at John Muir, 40 hours a week, for eight weeks in paid positions. This admirable curriculum of work and education was created for students to gain important work skills on the job and in their ROP classes, which are held one day a week during their 8-week tenure at John Muir. Along with the real-life skills gained in such a program, the students also earn high school elective credit.

John Muir Medical Center’s Work Force Development Manager Amy Anderson, who received the Partners in Education Award in the hospital’s honor, has spent countless hours evaluating student applications, interviewing candidates, arranging department interviews for final candidates, and overseeing every aspect of the program. She arranges class schedules that include guest speakers from various hospital departments and many department tours.

Valeria Navarrete is a junior at Mt. Diablo High School, in Concord. Last summer, she applied and was accepted into the John Muir Medical Center’s summer internship/education program. Valeria is self-described as “the quiet and shy girl” who never does anything “extra” at school. Along with a challenging home life, Valeria has an IEP, which means she has a caseworker and a speech therapist that help her with her academic work. So with their help, Valeria wrote her résumé, completed the required essay, and successfully filled out the online application. Valeria was selected to interview at John Muir, which went very well. Amy Anderson said that Valeria was articulate, polite, and was clearly interested in doing something to better herself. Amy was anxious to place Valeria in the Medical Staffing Office at the Concord campus.

Valeria was hired and spent a very productive summer with a group of hospital workers who nurtured and cared deeply for her. The internship proved to be a life-changing experience for her. When asked what kind of an impact this made on her, she stated that she has started asking questions in class, and is no longer afraid that she might embarrass herself when speaking in the classroom. In the International Hospitality Academy, she feels she has become a quiet leader. It's quite obvious that Valeria has become more self-confident, and she looks forward to a future in the medical field.

It was agreed by all the attendees, that this special partnership was certainly worthy of celebrating with their awards.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Local hero, of national note, speaks to ROP high school class

Corporal Ally Jacobs, the University of California police officer who helped break the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case, spoke today to Patricia Blades’ ROP Law Enforcement Careers class, at Pinole Valley High School. “If I can inspire one person to take the time out of their day to help others, and listen to their gut instincts, then I’ve done my job,” said Corporal Jacobs to an enthralled classroom.

Corporal Jacobs has become something of a celebrity lately, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but she remains modest about her accomplishments. Standing in front of the ROP class, she told the students about her journey from high school to college to the Police Academy. She was inspired to go into law enforcement by a high school teacher. Now she’s back in high school trying to inspire others.

Corporal Ally Jacobs

Part of her message to the class was, “Pay attention to your instincts.” Corporal Jacobs believes hunches and intuition can be important. She told the story of her encounter with the protagonists in the Jaycee Dugard case. “I knew something was wrong in my gut,” she said, and she followed up on that feeling with a phone call that lead to more investigation, and the eventual return of a young woman who had been kidnapped 18 years earlier.

While this sensational case made her a hero in others’ eyes, Corporal Jacobs said, “We didn’t do anything stupendous. We just followed our instincts. Everyone in this classroom has the ability to have a positive effect on people’s lives.”

Jacobs shares stories about her career with students (l-r) Adam Brownrigg, Daniel Chavez, and Brandon Whitson in Pinole Valley High's ROP Law Enforcement Careers class

The Contra Costa County Office of Education’s ROP Program offers career technical education classes in every comprehensive high school in the county. There are over 50 different ROP courses, ranging from Law Enforcement to Biotechnology to Robotics Engineering, which help prepare students for college or future careers.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Contra Costa County Annual Health & Bioscience Career Fair

An impressive group of local education, health care businesses, and health care organizations came together to present a conference for more than 450 Contra Costa County high school students that share an enthusiastic interest in the fields of health, health care, and bioscience, at this year’s annual Contra Costa County Health & Bioscience Career Fair. The extraordinary educational opportunity was held on March 4, at the Marriott Hotel in San Ramon.

At left, students from San Ramon Valley High ROP Sports Medicine Class (l-r) Gabrielle Patton, Jennifer Just, Bonnie Hagmaier (Teacher), Jordon Bosso, and Mackenzie Emerson.

The majority of attending students are currently enrolled in bioscience and health-care ROP and School-to-Career programs provided by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and their representative schools. On hand, were a number of students from CCCOE ROP Sports Medicine classes. During the Career Fair, the students participated in a number of workshops that feature such topics as Technology and Health, Laboratory Medicine, Imaging, and Pre-Hospital Care. In addition, the students were able to meet directly with 19 local bioscience- and health-care-related exhibitors to talk to, interview, and learn more about the arena they are looking to enter after graduating high school.

The conference kicked off with an insightful and upbeat keynote presentation, made by Brian Feeley, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco, Sports Medicine Center. Dr. Feeley championed the day’s conference and the opportunities it offered the attending students: “I really wish I had such program to attend when I was your age.” Dr. Feeley talked about his education and career path, which included earning his undergraduate and medical degree from Stanford University, and then completed his hospital residency in orthopedic surgery at the UCLA Medical Center. He finished his sports medicine fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, where he also served as and assistant team physician to the New York Giants.

The presenting sponsors of the Contra Costa County Health & Bioscience Fair were John Muir Health, Sutter Health, and Kaiser Permanente. The event was produced in cooperation with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, Contra Costa Economic Partnership, Hospital Council, Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa Health / Bioscience collaborative.

“The Health and Bioscience Career Fair is a wonderful opportunity for our ROP and School-to Work teachers and students to learn more about the wide range of career opportunities that are available,” says Louise Barbee, coordinator with the CCCOE. “We received a lot of positive feedback from everyone involved today: students, teachers, and sponsors!”

Students attending represented the following Contra Costa County high schools: Ygnacio Valley H.S. (Concord), San Ramon Valley H.S. (Danville), Monte Vista (Danville) H.S., Richmond H.S. (Richmond) California H.S. (San Ramon), Mt. Diablo H.S. (Concord), Middle College H.S. (San Pablo), Heritage H.S. (Brentwood), and De Anza H.S. (Richmond).

All of the day’s vendors and presenters were very impressed with the overwhelming enthusiasm and interest the students displayed, as well as the number of great questions that were asked.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Miramonte High School named Contra Costa County Mock Trial Champions

On March 4, Miramonte (Orinda) High School was named Contra Costa County’s Mock Trial Champion. Held at the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), the crowded room gave hearty congratulations to the team, and plenty of encouragement for their upcoming matches in the California State Mock Trials. This was Miramonte’s 4th Mock Trial County Championship in a row.

For seven consecutive Tuesday and Thursday evenings in February and March, 10 Contra Costa County high school teams have been battling it out in the courtrooms of Martinez with a hypothetical murder trial. The final-two matches Miramonte vs. Campolindo (Championship Round) and Acalanes vs. California (Consolation Round) were held March 2 in the courtrooms of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse, in Martinez. Along with the Miramonte team, the following three teams in their respective rankings were also awarded: Campolindo (2nd place), California (3rd place), and Acalanes (4th place). In addition, there were a number of individual awards for outstanding achievement presented to students who represented all of the participating teams.

Miramonte High School Mock Trial Team

This year’s participating Mock Trial schools include Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), Antioch, California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Dougherty Valley (San Ramon), Miramonte (Orinda), Hercules, Heritage (Brentwood), and Northgate (Walnut Creek).

Contra Costa County Presiding Superior Court Judge Mary Ann O’Malley gave her overwhelmingly positive thoughts and observations about how impressive all the students performed during Mock Trials. “I look forward to seeing you all serving as attorneys in my courtroom in the very near future. And, I know some of you will be joining me at the Judge’s Bench, as well.”

Judge O'Malley with three of the five Judges' Choice Award Winners

Miramonte will represent Contra Costa County in the California State Mock Trial Competition, held in San Jose, March 19-21. (The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held in Philadelphia, Penn., May 6-8.)

Mock Trial is an academic activity for high school students coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. The purpose of this program is to teach students about the law and the workings of the legal system. Each participant portrays the part of a courtroom character such as an attorney, witness, court clerk, or bailiff. To prepare, the students conduct legal research and receive guidance on courtroom procedures from their school teachers and volunteer attorney coaches, where they acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, develop analytic abilities and presentation skills.

An impressive number of 85 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys, senior law students, and sworn judges volunteered their time to serve as Mock Trial Attorney Scorers and Judges with this year’s program.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Do I Need to Know Algebra?

The Contra Costa Office of Education in partnership with Chevron Corporation launches a new project titled “Why Do I Need to Know Algebra?” This project addresses the gap in students’ knowledge between what they learn in the classroom and how they will use the knowledge as they move into higher education and into their careers.

Many students believe that algebra doesn’t apply to real life. They echo the common refrain, “Why do I need to know Algebra?” As adults we know that math applies to many careers, not just those in math and science. Through the curriculum materials and video clips, students will learn about a variety of careers that use Algebra. They will have the opportunity to hear real people talk about their careers and practice some of the math skills along the way. Take a look for yourself at . All materials may be downloaded from the website for free. For additional information contact Louise Barbee at