Friday, March 30, 2012

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2012 California Distinguished Schools

SACRAMENTO--State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 387 exemplary California public elementary schools were named 2012 California Distinguished Schools for their innovative education programs that encourage students to learn and help close the achievement gap.

"The schools we are recognizing today demonstrate the incredible commitment of California's teachers, administrators, and school employees to provide a world-class education to every student, in spite of the financial hardships facing our state and our schools,"  Torlakson said. "Their dedication is inspiring, and I applaud and admire their passion and persistence."

The list of schools may be found on the California Department of Education Web site at

Contra Costa County winners:

  • Byron Union Elementary School District
    • Discovery Bay Elementary 
    • Timber Point Elementary
  • Martinez Unified School District
    • John Swett Elementary
    • Morello Park Elementary
  • Mt. Diablo Unified School District 
    •  Highlands Elementary
  • Pittsburg Unified  School District
    •  Los Medanos Elementary
  • West Contra Costa Unified School District
    •  Hanna Ranch Elementary
    • Olinda Elementary
The 2012 California Distinguished Schools Program focuses on California's students and their entitlement to an equitable and rigorous education. The program identifies and honors those schools that have demonstrated educational excellence for all students and progress in narrowing the achievement gap.

To be invited to apply for Distinguished School honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including designated federal and state accountability measures based on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Academic Performance Index requirements.

Once schools are deemed eligible, the CDE invites them to apply to be recognized as a California Distinguished School. The application process consists of a written application, which includes a comprehensive description of two of the school's signature practices, and a county-led site validation review process, which validates the implementation of those signature practices.

Elementary and secondary schools (middle and high schools) are recognized in alternate years. This year focuses on elementary schools.

Schools earning the Distinguished School title agree to share their signature practices with other schools and serve as mentors to other educators who want to replicate their work. An updated searchable database of these Signature Practices will be available later this spring by the California Department of Education.

Schools selected for recognition will be honored as Distinguished Schools at award ceremonies where Torlakson will present each school with a 2012 Distinguished School plaque and flag. The event and awards are funded by donations from many of California's most prominent corporations and statewide educational organizations.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Free School Supply Kits for Homeless Youth in Contra Costa County Schools

 Throughout the month of February, districts in Contra Costa County distributed 1,239 tote bags filled with $65 worth of free school supplies to homeless students.

The supplies were provided free of charge by K-to-College, a California non-profit organization, as part of their School Supply Initiative. CCCOE/Youth Development Services (YDS) Homeless Program established an agreement with KtoCollege to provide these donated supplies to school districts with high numbers of homeless youth. This was the first year of CCCOE's participation in the School Supply Initiative.

In total, nine pallets of school supplies and an additional 4,900 dental kits were delivered to the CCCOE to process and distribute to districts. The quantities of kits delivered to districts were based on numbers of homeless youth who had been identified by the schools earlier in the year. The dental kits were provided to kindergartners at schools with high rates of students enrolled in the Free or Reduced Price Meal Program.

A special thanks to CCCOE's YDS staff, Tito Rodriguez from General Services, and Rich Gamba from the Parolee Education Program for their help getting these special deliveries out to the districts!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Contra Costa County Single Subject and Specialty* Teacher Job Fair

 The Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) will present their Contra Costa County Single Subject and Specialty* Teacher Job Fair, on Saturday, March 24, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, at the Pittsburg High School gymnasium, 1750 Harbor St., in Pittsburg.  (*Specialty teachers: special education, math, science, and bilingual.)

Attendees will discover a number of Contra Costa County teaching positions that will be available in the next school year.  Along with the CCCOE, representatives from seven Contra Costa County school districts: Antioch, Liberty Union High, Mt. Diablo, Oakley, Pittsburg, San Ramon, and West Contra Costa, will be recruiting for open positions.  Some interviews will be held on site.

For additional information about this free event, call (925) 942-3387 or visit the Job Fair's website.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eighth Annual Young Children's Issues Forum

The public is invited to The Eighth Annual Young Children's Issues Forum, to be held on Saturday, March 24, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., at the Willow Pass Community Center, 2748 East Olivera Rd., Concord.  This free annual community event is sponsored and organized by the Local Planning Council for Child Care and Development (LPC), and is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).

The purpose of the program is to provide a forum for discussion among legislators, local officials, and the community regarding current children's issues. This year’s event will feature two panel presentations and discussions.  Ted Lempert, Executive Director of Children Now will be the guest moderator and will lead discussions of approximately 12 state legislators and local officials who will speak about the current status of young children's health, education, social and child care services.  There will also be time for questions from the audience after each panel.  Confirmed presenters include Assembly Members Joan Buchanan, Nancy Skinner and Susan Bonilla, Senators Mark DeSaulnier and Loni Hancock and County Supervisors Karen Mitchoff and Federal Glover.

Historically, the majority of the event attendees are early childhood educators, preschool teachers, program administrators, community college faculty, and representatives from community agencies.  Resources, services, and other information related to child care and education, a benefit to parents, will be available at the event.  The LPC hopes to encourage and foster parent participation, as well as participation of all early care and education professionals in the county, including private and state-funded child development centers and family care providers.

For more information about the annual Young Children’s Issues Forum, please contact the Contra Costa Local Planning Council for Child Care and Development Coordinator Ruth Fernández at (925) 942-3413.  This is a free event, but attendance registration is required.  Please visit the LPC website to register and for more details:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Miramonte High School's Mock Trial Team is County's Champion

After a number of speeches made by the coaches and individual awards given out to individual achievement participating students, the exciting Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial’s Awards Ceremony concluded with the naming of this year’s championship team: Miramonte High School (Orinda).

For the past four weeks (seven evenings), the Miramonte High School and fifteen other Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams have been battling it out with each other inside the superior courthouses in Martinez, in the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s 31th Annual HighSchool Mock Trial Competition. Miramonte High School will now represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial Competition in Sacramento, Calif., March 23-25. (The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held in Albuquerque, N.M. May 3-5.)

This year's 31st Annual Contra Costa County Mock Trial Championship team:
Miramonte High School (Orinda)
Teams from the following 16 Contra Costa County high schools competed in this year’s Mock Trials: Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), Antioch (Antioch), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley (Concord), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley (San Ramon), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Northgate (Walnut Creek), and Richmond (Richmond).

The top four teams finished in this order:
1. Miramonte
2. California
3. Northgate
4. Hercules

Mock Trial is an academic event 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. To prepare, the students conducted legal research and received guidance on courtroom procedures from their school teachers and volunteer attorneys and judges, to acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system. 

This year, close to 100 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys, senior law students, and sworn judges volunteered their time to serve as Mock Trial Attorney Scorers and Judges.