SVUSD to Share in $13.5 million Career-Tech Education Grant

 

Graduation Male Student Have Different  Careers To Choose.

Working with the Ventura County Office of Education, all three Ventura County community colleges and six other school districts, the Simi Valley Unified School District will participate in Ventura County Innovates, a grant-funded project supporting career-technical education.

About $1.3 million of a $13.5 million Career-Technical Education (CTE) grant will benefit Simi’s four high schools and the Adult School over the next three years.

Funded by the state of California through the $250 million Careers Pathway Trust, the CTE grant helps create work-based learning efforts in K-12, community college and adult school programs and courses. The grant also requires collaboration between businesses, organizations and education for the purpose of developing career opportunities for participating students. The end result of all of this is to foster local economies.

One of the grant’s main goals is for students interested in a specific career to be nurtured through the process from school, to college and on into their career. The courses and partnerships created between educators and business leaders to further this goal are called career pathways.

VCOE leaders worked with the school districts, community college districts and many other county education and business officials to identify 15 county industries suitable for merging workforce needs with educational programming. Examples include arts, media and entertainment; health science and medical technology; manufacturing and product development; building and construction trades; and public services. Altogether, Simi will cover some or all aspects of 11 industries participating in VC Innovates.

These industries already have a strong presence in Ventura County and show the likelihood of continued growth over the next decade. The grant’s writers looked at existing career-tech programs in the participating districts and divided the programs into three themes. The first are educational programs that are already in place and can serve a specific industry, but which could benefit from better integration with businesses. The second are partial educational programs that lack the collaboration or needed curriculum to support industry opportunities fully. The third are potential programs that don’t exist but should to complement regional industry needs and growth.

These three themes become the phases over the next three years that the CTE grant’s money funds to improve. The money will pay for staff training, equipment purchases, field trips, coordinators to develop partnerships with participating businesses, and project managers.

So what does all of this look like for students?

Let’s say a student shows an interest in a career in nursing. At the middle school level, courses are being created to support a student’s interest in health sciences as he or she moves into high school. Once in high school, health science teachers will be trained to provide related instruction in nursing, while still accommodating curriculum requirements. Labs will be equipped with needed tools and supplies to support health science instruction. Local medical businesses–hospitals, doctors, labs–will partner with VC Innovates to offer internships, job shadowing, speakers and more in order to give students direct access to their area of interest. High school students deciding to move forward with their career goals will have specialized training available through Ventura County community colleges and possibly with area universities as the program develops, and the training is designed to build upon all the student learned in high school. The community colleges are also working with the local health community to offer the skills and training needed by students for potential of future employment. All of this completes a comprehensive cycle of quality education for those students with a dedicated career focus.

For more information about the CTE grant and VC Innovates as it relates to Simi Valley schools, contact Dr. Pam Castleman after July 20 at pamela.castleman@simivalleyusd.org.

Simi Elementary School: A 10-Year Timeline and History

Simi El
Simi Elementary School, 1947

On Monday, June 16, 2014, the Simi Valley Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on the potential closure of Simi Elementary School. This is not a board meeting and no decision will be made at the hearing. The hearing’s purpose is strictly to hear public comment on the issue.

Simi Elementary School has been the topic of many SVUSD School Board meetings and much public discourse for several months, beginning with the District Advisory Committee’s (DAC) request in January that the School Board decide what would be done to repair the front/main building before the DAC makes a recommendation on the school’s future.

Shortly after this, the entire school body was relocated to Mountain View Elementary, amid serious concerns about the safety of the entire Simi Elementary School campus. The physical campus has remained vacant since then, pending further School Board action, but the school continues to operate separately at the Mountain View campus.

The link below will direct you to a comprehensive timeline documenting the history of Simi Elementary School’s physical campus over the past 10 years, beginning shortly after the 2004 passage of Measure C4, the $145 million facilities and technology bond to modernize all of the District’s campuses. This information has been gathered to factually answer the many questions and concerns about how the campus was maintained over the years; what Measure C4 Bond funds and additional monies were spent on maintaining and improving the campus; and how the District and School Board responded to the rapid physical decline of the campus.

Simi Elementary Timeline

Getting Kids to Love Reading at Berylwood Elementary School

All-school assemblies were held each month to celebrate Berylwood's reading milestones. This last assembly was held on June 5.
All-school assemblies were held each month to celebrate Berylwood’s reading milestones. This last assembly was held on June 5.

85,573,779.

It’s a number almost too high to really count.

But that’s what the teachers at Berylwood Elementary School did to determine how many words their students read in total for the school’s Accelerated Reader (AR) program.

During an all-school assembly on June 5, students in every grade of the K-6 school received awards and cheers for their reading efforts.

And not just for AR points. That’s just one part of the year-long campaign the staff launched to improve reading at this Title I school, said Principal Rob Hunter.

Next year, students meeting reading goals will get a T-shirt like this.
Next year, students meeting reading goals will get a T-shirt like this.

Two years ago, the kids, he said, hated reading. His students were more likely to play video games instead of picking up a book to read for pleasure.

Now, 10 months after the start of the reading effort, Berylwood’s students treasure their reading time.

“They take their books to lunch. I see them on the playground reading. I’m even bumping into kids who are too busy reading their books while they are walking,” he said.

It all started just before school began last August when Berylwood’s teachers agreed to participate in a 5-day program, Teaching Readers to Think, on their own time. The program taught teachers about the science of learning—how kids learn best—and how to apply this information in their classrooms.

“We know how kids learn. We needed to remodel how we teach,” Hunter said.

The teachers walked away with a simple philosophy: If we want kids to be good readers, then they have to read, a lot.

Teachers set aside the textbooks with excerpts of literature (because taking in pieces of stories is not the same as reading the entire story) and instead sent kids to read whole books on different topics. The students were allowed to select any books they wanted to read, at their reading level. Their teachers also read aloud to them. There were fun reading nights (one staff member brought in her comedian son and his friends and they read to the kids for an evening), and a lending library was created so every Tuesday students could borrow up to 10 books—in English and Spanish—to read during the week. The school library stayed open longer, and this summer it will be open on four separate days for kids to check out books. Each month the entire school came together to celebrate the reading milestones the students achieved. The students were invested in their reading, Hunter said. They were excited.

The school library will open on four separate days during the summer so students can check out books to read.
The school library will open on four separate days during the summer so students can check out books to read.

It’s also about writing. Teachers tucked away the workbooks normally used to measure reading comprehension. Hunter said that the fill-in-the-blank answers usually required of workbooks don’t encourage students to think about their answers. Instead the school purchased hundreds of blank notebooks and had their students write about the books they read. Students gave reports, wrote reviews and used their writing to support their reading, always showing that they understood the depth and context of what they were reading.

“If you want them to master language, they have to write,” Hunter said.

Berylwood’s success this year is measurable. Taking the average reading level for all 480 students from the start of the last school year to now, the school has increased its reading level by two years, in 10 months!

This summer, Berylwood’s teachers will once again give up some of their summer vacation to focus on math. Hunter’s passion for teaching is contagious, and the results are empowered teachers working with engaged students.

“I love working in a school like this,” he said. “It’s like working in the emergency room. But you have to have the best teachers. And we have the best teachers.”

 

Learning Should Be Fun: A Day at Park View’s Kindergarten

Kindergarten Teacher Joyce Leas works with her young students on a counting game during a recent Game Day at Park View Elementary School.
Kindergarten Teacher Joyce Leas works with her young students on a counting game during a recent Game Day at Park View Elementary School.

It’s the end of the school year at Park View Elementary School in Simi Valley and the school’s two kindergarten classes have come together for a morning of fun.

In a busy, color-filled room, one group of students plays a dice game with partners, while another works on counting games and still another practices math through playing cards. And the group along the room’s side wall? They are at the computer stations where the children play learning games.

The computer games are a  favorite activity among the students.
The computer games are a favorite activity among the students.

It’s Game Day and the 27 kindergarteners of Joyce Leas and Teri Smyres’ classes don’t seem to notice, or mind, the educational value embedded in each of the games they play. Instead, they interact with each other while their teachers, and the three room volunteers, encourage them to work together to find the answers. And the grown-ups never seem to stop encouraging their young charges.

With three volunteers in the class, the students receive a lot of guidance and attention.
With three volunteers in the class, the students receive a lot of guidance and attention.

When you visit Park View’s campus, the first thing noticed is that the children wear uniforms. White and navy polo shirts and navy bottoms dominate the landscape. It’s the only school in the Simi Valley Unified School District that requires its students to wear uniforms, a change instituted under Principal Anthony Karch two years ago.

“The idea came partly from a parent, who is also a teacher here, who previously worked at a district with uniforms. It also came from a sense that our students needed to get a little more serious about the business of school,” Principal Karch said.

Park View is a Title I school, which is a Federal designation identifying a school with a high percentage of students coming from low-income families. Because poverty can be a barrier to a child’s education, the school receives extra funding for its students, which translates into added services and resources to help the children learn and succeed.

Learning should be fun!
Learning should be fun!

Principal Karch said that in the first year of the uniform policy, which 90 percent of the parents voted to implement, there were no significant changes in attendance or discipline issues fielded by the Principal Karch. But this year, the changes have been dramatic, and Principal Karch said he believes that uniforms are a big part of the improvements.

“Two years ago, we had 85 incidents of students coming to see me for discipline issues. This year we dropped to 55. That’s a 35 percent drop. And this year, our attendance has been phenomenal! We’re number 6 out of 21 elementary schools for good attendance,” he said.

“You can never say that the uniforms is the sole reason for the improvements; there are other factors. But it helps. And it’s just a nicer look. I love it. Today we had Principal’s Day, and one of the students thanked us in his letter for the uniforms. He said, ‘It’s so much easier for me to dress in the morning.'”

Park View also has a deep connection with the arts. Students in grades 1 to 6 who are at grade level or above in their school work can become part of the drama program. Two plays are produced annually by the students. Kindergarteners take dance classes and all of the students enjoy the school’s art program, Artist in the Classroom, where working artists come and work with the kids.

IMG_0674
Kindergarten Teacher Teri Smyres gets very excited when her student figures out the answers.

With almost 300 students, Park View is a smaller school compared to others in the district. Principal Karch said most of those attending, about 70 percent, come from the surrounding neighborhood. But there is room for more students, especially in kindergarten, which is an all-day program. While there are more students already enrolled in kindergarten for next year, Principal Karch hopes to bring in even more.

Applications are still being accepted for kindergarten and you don’t have to live in Park View’s neighborhood to attend. Classes will end on Friday, but the school’s office will remain open until June 26. For more information, call the school at 805-520-6755 or stop by the campus at 1500 Alexander Street.

IMG_0708
All of the students at Park View wear uniforms.
Kindergarteners enjoy separate recesses from the school's other grades.
Kindergarteners enjoy separate recesses from the school’s other grades.

More New Positions Announced

Group student with notebook isolated.

The Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees met in a special session on Tuesday, May 27 to discuss appointments of several additional administrative positions throughout the District. Coming out of closed session, Board President Rob Collins confirmed the following new hires. They will be formally confirmed at the June 3 Regular Board Meeting. 

  • Ron Todo, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services
  • Dr. Jason Peplinski, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services
  • Deborah Salgado, Director of Secondary Education
  • Kathy Roth, Director of Elementary Education
  • Keith Derrick, Principal of Royal High School
  • Jamie Snodgrass (Teacher on Special Assignment), Erin Taggart (teacher from Crestview Elementary) and Nora Kuntz (Dean of Students at Hillside Middle School) have all been named as elementary principals, but which school that are each assigned to has not yet been decided.

Mr. Derrick comes from the San Marino Unified School District where he serves as the principal of San Marino High School.

Congratulations!

There is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch for Simi Kids!

Students Outdoors Eating Lunch (Selective Focus)

Having our kids eat healthy this summer just got easier with the Summer Food Rocks! Food, Fun & Sun! program.

In partnership with the Rancho Simi Parks & Recreation District, the Simi Valley Unified School District will offer free lunch to children 18 and younger at Rancho Simi Community Park, 1765 Royal Ave (near Erringer Road).

Beginning June 9 and running through Aug. 1, lunch will be served at 11:45 a.m. Monday through Friday. Each nutritious lunch will include a fruit and vegetable, choice of milk, chocolate milk or water, and a rotating choice of sandwiches, pizza, corn dogs and burgers.

Lunch will not be available on July 4 due to the Independence Day holiday.

For more information, call 8805-306-4500, ext. 4702 or email montserrat.padilla@simivalleyusd.org.

Our Kids do Amazing Things!

On April 26, a team of 10 students from Hillside Middle School battled high schoolers at the annual Clay Day competition at California State University-Northridge and emerged victorious!

With two first-place finishes, two second place and three third-place finishes, Hillside’s pottery team stood proud in the face of many area high schoolers.

Josh Franco and Jerry Butler team up for the Twin Throw.
Josh Franco and Jerry Butler team up for the Twin Throw.

Clay Day is a pottery competition that challenges students in teams and individually to throw the tallest, or widest pots. Other contests include smallest wheel thrown pot, a pot thrown by a blindfolded potter and the potter who throws eight pots fastest. Still other young potters face off to build the tallest hand-built structure, create a fantastic sculpture, fabricate the most imaginative vehicle and in the final task, pull the longest handle.

From left to right: Front row: Justin Hibbit, Coach Galvin, Zalma Quezada. Back row: William M., Mrs. Malone, Scott Dodge, Josh Franco, Hayley Williams, Taylor Blomquist and Amanda Adams.
From left to right: Front row: Justin Hibbit, Coach Galvin, Zalma Quezada. Back row: William Malone, Mrs. Judi Malone, Scott Dodge, Josh Franco, Hayley Williams, Taylor Blomquist and Amanda Adams.

The students included eighth graders Amanda Adams, Jerry Butler, Scott Dodge, Josh Franco, Justin Hibbits, Joey Kraige, Wiliam Malone and Zalma Quezada. Seventh grader Haley Williams and sixth grader Taylor Bloomquist finished off the team.

The wins were:

  • First place: Tallest Hand-Built Structure. (Team of Scott Dodge, Josh Franco and Justin Hibbits)
  • First place: Most Imaginative Vehicle. (Team of Amanda Abrams, Josh Franco and Justin Hibbits)
  • Second place: Fence Post Sculpture. (Joey Kraige)
  • Second place: Twin Throw. (Team William Malone and Zalma Quezada)
  • Third place: Fastest Throw. (Jerry Butler)
  • Third place: Tallest Thrown Pot. (Zalma Quezada)
  • Third place: Longest Pulled Handle. (Scott Dodge and Joey Kraige)
Zalma Quezada throws her entry for the Tallest Wheel Thrown Pot contest.
Zalma Quezada throws her entry for the Tallest Wheel Thrown Pot contest.

Teams from Hillside have competed in the past, and surprisingly come away with some first place awards.

“The younger potters do not know that there are some things too difficult to do. They fearlessly plunge ahead and achieve great things, not knowing they have done the impossible,” said Coach Stephen Galvin, Hillside’s art teacher.

We are proud of ALL of our Clay Day competitors! Throw on, guys.