Thursday, October 28, 2010

Local Teen Parents Learned how Sharpen their Life Skills at Independent City

On Tuesday, October 19, more than 75 Contra Costa County teen parents attended this year’s annual Independent City, to learn how to be better providers and parents for their young families. This very successful program was directed by Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCEO) Supervisor Brenda Sharp, in collaboration of the CCCOE and FIRST 5 Contra Costa.

(l-r) Ursula Taylor, CCCOE & Michelle Williams, Brighter Beginnings helping young parents

Independent City is a reality skills workshop for teen parents in our community. The Ambrose Recreation Center, in Bay Point, Calif., was transformed into a simulated city, with agency tables set up around the room for the teen parents to receive information on business and community services needed for them to live out on their own.

“You are here to learn how to take advantage of all the services we have here in Contra Costa County,” Sharp to the attendees. Supporting agencies who took part with Independent City included Bank of America/Union Bank, Diablo Valley College, John Muir Women’s Center, STAND, Families First, Regional Occupation Programs (ROP), Youth Development Services, and the Contra Costa Employment & Human Services Department.

Brenda Sharp

The businesses and agencies brought copies of actual forms needed for their clients to receive services. Participants visited all business and agency tables, leaned how to learn how to complete actual application forms, in order to receive services. On this day, they gained knowledge about housing, insurance, continued education, employment, money management, health services, and smart shopping.

As Sharp told the young parents, “By learning these skills we practiced today, and continuing your education, you will be able to offer your child, as well as yourselves, so much more in life!”

For more information about this event, you can read this recent article in the Contra Costa Times.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Delta Vista Students get a Hall of Fame Lesson from One of the Greatest

Well known for his incredible football career, as well as his numerous generous philanthropic gestures, Hall of Fame former San Francisco 49er Ronnie Lott took time out, on October 18, to spend the afternoon with the students at Delta Vista High School. Delta Vista is located inside the Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility (formerly known as the Byron Boys’ Ranch), in Byron. On this day, the All Pro offered up the boys plenty of encouragement, empowerment, and entertainment.

As the close-to-100-young men (clad in orange, blue, or kaki jumpsuits), took their seats, Lott made it a point to great each one of them with a handshake and a warm hello. When his hour-and-a-half presentation began, he held all of the boys’ undivided attention as he talked
about his younger days, football career, after-football career, the current status of the National Football League (NFL), and his philosophies on being successful in life. The only time the boys would look away was when they were passed Lott’s Super Bowl ring, for each of them to hold and try on for size.

Still looking like he could play this coming Sunday, Lott told the boys how important it is to take responsibility for your actions: “Every one of you has some game! It’s what you do with it that’s important.” Lott also talked about his important influences in his life: his coaches, friends, and especially his dad. “My dad always told me, ‘You have to exhaust life, because you never know when your number will come up.’” Lott’s accomplishments certainly prove that he was listening to his father.

Allan Cacciaroni, longtime Delta Vista teacher and program coordinator, has put together a number of these types of speaking engagements for his students. “I couldn't be more pleased with Ronnie Lott taking the time to talk to our kids; we can’t thank him enough, reported Cacciaroni. It was obvious to all the teachers, staff, and probation officers, that Lott shared the same desire of making a difference with this group of kids. “He had them fully captivated, like no other guest we’ve had in the past,” continued Cacciaroni. “It was his personable approach that caught the attention, not only with these youths, but with the full staff and administration. He was a true inspirational speaker with elaborate answers to all questions given, and I'm sure it will have an effect.”

An All-American defensive back at the University of Southern California in 1980, Lott was chosen by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 1981 National Football League (NFL) draft, and for the next 14 seasons he amassed one of the most successful football careers any player has experienced in the league. Along with the 49ers, Lott played with the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets. His many NFL accolades include being four-time Super Bowl champion, playing in 10 Pro Bowls, fifth on the NFL all-time interception list, and was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team in 1995.
Lott answered plenty of questions about his professional football career with the 49ers and Raiders, as well as his collegiate play at the University of Sothern California. He answered many questions about today’s NFL players and teams. There was also plenty of interest about his post football life. Lott now enjoys a very successful business and family life. He owns a carwash and an auto dealership in Tracy, Calif.

Obviously understanding his audience, Lott finished the session by telling the incarcerated boys: “Take my advice, I know you have rage inside you, I do as well. I know it’s hard. But, like me, you need to turn that rage into something positive and productive in your life! I know every one of you can do that!”

The Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) operates many different programs, such as Delta Vista High, for high-risk juveniles, including those referred by probation and by local school districts for expulsion, behavioral issues or school attendance problems, and those in probation court facilities. The programs provide challenging academic curriculum and assist students in developing positive social skills. For additional info, visit our website.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

County Teacher of the Year Named

Concluding an energy-driven and exciting evening at the Concord Hilton, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Joseph Ovick, Ed.D., announced the night-long anticipated naming of the county’s next Teacher of the Year – it was Pinole Valley High’s Michele Lamons. Lamons (at left) has been teaching English and sign language at Pinole Valley High for the past eight years.

After being named by the West Contra Costa County Unified School District as their district Teacher of the Year (TOY), this past March, Lamons successfully proceeded with the other 17 eligible county candidates through a rigorous county-wide selection process, which included an application screening, classroom evaluation, interview, and speech presentation. Her fellow finalists were John Korzick, San Ramon Valley Unified SD, (California High) and Lori Leach, Brentwood Union SD, (R. Paul Krey Elementary).

Close to 400 attendees were on hand for an evening that will certainly not be forgotten. The audience was made up of the TOYs’ family members and friends, as well as numerous local educators, business partners, and officials. Kicking off the festivities was a rousing version of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” performed by Alhambra High School’s “Pivotal Vortex,” directed by teacher Julianne George. Master of ceremonies, Dr. Ovick introduced the TOY class of 2010-2011 (19 TOYs were on hand) by sharing stories to the audience about his visits to each of the teachers’ classrooms. This was followed by speeches of the three TOY finalists, their topic: “What I have learned from my students.” Following the three speeches, Lamons’ announcement was made.

Along with the courses she teaches at Pinole High, Lamons serves as an adviser and coordinator for several school student groups and activities, including the Forensics (speech and debate) Team, the African American Student Union, Black History Month, Day of Peace Celebration, and annual college fair. She also teaches English at Solano College, in Fairfield.

Lamons will now compete with all the other county representatives in the California State TOY competition. The California State Teachers of the Year are expected to be announced in early November.

The county TOY program is produced by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). (For additional TOY info, visit the CCCOE website).

The Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration was taped by Contra Costa Television (CCTV), and is scheduled for the following dates:

*October 13, 7:00 p.m.
*October 14, 4:00 p.m.
*October 18, 10:00 a.m.

CCTV is on Comcast channel 27, Astound channel 32, and AT&T U-Verse channel 99.

For additional air dates, check CCTV's program guide at