Outlook 75.2 | Nov. 2021

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Special Education Programs nurse Pamela Wampler recognized for work mentoring peers and building strong bonds with students SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION Troy A. Brown, Ed.D., County Superintendent of Schools


















Banta Elementary returns to its roots with new agricultural-themed playground equipment

CodeStack Academy students build real-world job skills on projects to benefit the community

Teams from SJCOE support foster youth by participating in Child Abuse Prevention Council’s CASA Superhero 5K

WorkStartYES creates welcoming new resource center for participants

Former Big Tobacco scientist talks to students, parents about the dangers of smoking and vaping

TEACH! Academy launches in Stockton for 2021-22 school year to provide high school students with a direct, affordable pathway into the teaching profession

New inclusive playground at McFall School a shared place to play for students in special education and Head Start programs at the site

Three Teachers College of San Joaquin master’s concentrations now available online

CYBERSECURITY 13 SJCOE IT Department promotes multi-factor authentication and other safety tips during Cybersecurity Awareness Month











High school students weld, operate machinery, and meet with professionals at annual career fair for the trades

Special Education Programs nurse Pamela Wampler recognized for mentoring peers and building strong bonds with students

A look at professional learning that educators engage in to address the needs of their students during difficult times

SJCOE Continuous Improvement and Support Director Connor Sloan answers the question: What are some ways to accelerate learning recovery for students?

Employees share memories about Halloween costumes over the years and their favorite and least-favorite candy



The Outlook is published bimonthly, September through May, by the San Joaquin County Office of Education Public Information Office.


San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools

SCOTT ANDERSON Deputy Superintendent Business Services


Events, trainings, & more! Learn more about upcoming events, meetings, trainings, and workshops for students, families, and educators on the San Joaquin County Office of Education calendar at www.sjcoe.org/calendar.aspx.


Associate Superintendent Student Programs and Services

JANE STEINKAMP Assistant Superintendent Educational Services


Assistant Superintendent Special Education and SELPA


Assistant Superintendent County Operated Schools and Programs

CHRISTINA TORRES-PETERS Chief Human Resources Officer

The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) is a regional agency that provides educational leadership, resources, and customized services to assist school districts. The SJCOE promotes student achievement and accountability, serves San Joaquin County’s most vulnerable students, and strives to create an environment in which every student, regardless of circumstances, has an opportunity for a quality education. Zachary Johnson, Editor Carly Sexton, Editor Lisa Bryant, Contributor Brandie Moore, Contributor Veronica Tova, Contributor Melissa Galea, Contributor CodeStack Digital Media




SUBMIT A STORY sjcoepio@sjcoe.net

Let’s stay connected!


AGRICULTURAL ROOTS Banta Elementary returns to its roots with new agricultural-themed playground equipment

Students gleefully leap across a vine of largerthan-life tomatoes on the playground at Banta Elementary School. The tomatoes are part of a series of new play structures added over the summer to the rural Tracy campus. The climbing structures that depict everyday items found on a typical farm were added to commemorate the school’s agricultural roots. The huge, red tomatoes that sprawl across the playground area are joined by a bright green tractor, bales of hay, and a content-looking black and white dairy cow. “We wanted something that went along with our ag-school theme, and we were looking for updated playground equipment,” said Andi Lopez, business services supervisor for Banta Unified School District. The new play structures replaced an outdated piece of equipment that consisted of sideby-side slides. Lopez said they considered

renovating the slides but found it was more cost-efficient to replace the structure. District officials approached Oakland-based Miracle Play Systems, which designed some of their existing playground equipment, to create a new design that best fit the school theme. A company representative presented them with different concepts, and they decided to go with the unique tomato vine and other farm-related pieces. Lopez said the changes to the playground gave the students something new to come back to when they returned to campus. The equipment cost was approximately $72,000, which was paid for through developer fees, which included new wood chips for the playground surface around the climbing structures. Two additional pieces will be added to the site


in the coming months: a wagon wheel bench and a rope bridge attached by two windmills. “It’s a really nice feature since the school (playground) needed some updating,” Lopez said. “So far, the kids love it, so I think it’s great. They’re having a blast out there.”

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CodeStack Academy students build real-world job skills on projects to benefit the community On an afternoon in September, the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) was part of a team of volunteers, outreach workers, and other partners in the community giving out sandwiches, snacks, gift cards, and water at a homeless encampment in the dry Mormon Slough in Stockton. In addition to supporting the outreach, the SJCOE’s CodeStack department team was there to pilot a new mobile application called Project Homebound. It was designed to collect real-time data while conducting surveys of the county’s homeless population. “It’s really good to see this app being used. When you go out and talk to people who are homeless, you see how critical this information is to capture,” CodeStack Director Johnny Arguelles said. “We can do that electronically and get important data that can lead to policies and decisions that can improve their quality of life.” The app was created by students at CodeStack Academy, Stockton’s first accelerated, immersive coding school. During the pilot program, the app is continuing to be developed and fine-tuned

with the CodeStack department’s experienced software developers and former Academy students in the CodeStack internship program.

Joseph Racca, part of a team of students who worked on the site to make it more engaging and accessible to the public.

CodeStack Academy focuses on preparing its students to get the skills they need to land technology jobs that are in high demand. The Academy’s project-based learning and twomonth internships allow students to hone those real-world skills while building up their portfolios.

CodeStack Academy students are part of the team working on the new San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office website, too. And students were also a part of the Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln’s website.

At the same time, students are doing work important to the community, like the Project Homebound app. CodeStack Academy students also built the new website for HealthForce Partners of Northern San Joaquin Valley, a partnership of healthcare employers, educators, workforce developers, and community leaders working together to grow the qualified healthcare workforce in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced counties. “I felt fortunate to work directly with HealthForce Partners. It was an opportunity to not only build on top of our web development experience but also to provide a tool and resource for the community,” said CodeStack alumnus

“This was an amazing experience, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about what I love to do and impact the community, even just a little bit,” said Christy Eang, an alum who worked on the site. “I chose CodeStack to create the Stockton Mayor website for several reasons. The quality of work they produce is top notch, the students are local (with many from Stockton), and having the opportunity to say ‘I made the Stockton Mayor website’ gives the students something to be proud of,” Lincoln said, noting that Arguelles is also the chair of his Stockton Tech Advisory Council (STAC). “So, CodeStack is positively impacting our city in many ways.”




Teams from SJCOE support foster youth by participating in Child Abuse Prevention Council’s CASA Superhero 5K Runners and walkers wearing capes, costumes, and team T-shirts circled the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) campus on Sept. 17 as part of the 2021 CASA Superhero 5K run/walk. The run supported the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program administered by the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County. The annual event was virtual, with participants able to follow any path they chose to take part in. At the SJCOE, departments grouped up into teams and followed the Connectivity Path that circles the Transworld Drive campus. Staff members dressed up in individual or team-themed costumes, covered the distance, then stopped for lunch on the Venture Academy Family of Schools soccer field. The following week, the SJCOE Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and Families in Transition teams joined Mary Graham Children’s Shelter on another satellite run in French Camp.

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program recruits and trains volunteers to be advocates for children in foster care in San Joaquin County. To learn more about how to volunteer, go to nochildabuse.org/casa/.




WorkStartYES creates welcoming new resource center for participants A brightly colored mural with three inspiring words written in bold, gold letters greets youth and visitors as they enter the WorkStartYES resource center in the Career Technical Education Center at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE).

Beneath the gold letters in black are a mandala – which promotes healing and represents the circle of life -- and a rose that symbolizes courage and beauty. It sits on top of a colorful background of harmonious blended colors inspired by the color wheel, which are known to promote health and wellness.

Those words: I AM POSSIBLE. It’s a message that the WorkStartYES (WSY) team is passionate about instilling in their participants. “We want all youth that enter our doors to feel welcomed, empowered, and respected,” WSY Career Development Transition Specialist Jennifer Kopecki said. “The words ‘I AM POSSIBLE’ reinforce our belief in our students and our belief that they are capable of achieving anything they put their mind to.” The artwork paired with the words brings a deeper meaning to the mural that had until recently been a bare, beige conference-room wall.

This year, changes to the grant-funded program meant that WorkStartYES had to move the hub for their workshops and meetings from the downtown Federal Building to the SJCOE campus in southeast Stockton. “Moving from our space at the Federal Building is an end of an era,” WSY Program Manager Catalina Di Somma said. “But the move has provided an opportunity for us to incorporate new elements into the shared space, such as this mural.” Di Somma and her team wanted participants to be a part of designing the new space. And on an early morning in September, with a wall as a blank canvas and some art supplies, four WSY participants -- Ian, Gabriella, Ven, and Daniella -- and local artist Erin Elizabeth who

led the efforts – brought the shared vision to life, transforming the wall into an inspiring work of art that brings new energy to the room. “It was very fun to collaborate with a local artist,” WSY participant Gabriela Alvarez said about the experience working on the mural. “When I got home, I started drawing immediately. I was inspired by all the different colors and techniques used in the mural that we all painted and used some of them in another painting I did later that day.” WorkStartYES has fittingly named the new space The (Re)Source because “It’s the source for everything our participants need to succeed – such as a clothes closet to help participants prepare for interviews, computers and Internet for job searching, a Promethean Board for workshops and tutoring, a community resource station with information on housing and other basic needs, and more,” said Di Somma. “It’s a work in progress, but we look forward to what it can become.”



SCIENCE of ADDICTION Former Big Tobacco scientist talks to students, parents about the dangers of smoking and vaping

The real-life story of Dr. Victor DeNoble and how he became a whistleblower testifying against Big Tobacco could be the plot of a blockbuster thriller. He told his tale to virtual audiences of children and adults in San Joaquin County in September as part of his Science of Addiction presentation, describing a world of secrecy, lies, and corporate intrigue -- all in the name of profiting from the sale of tobacco products. As a scientist -- he had once been employed by a tobacco company to do research -- he also described the nature of addiction, the dangers of smoking cigarettes, and how vaping is an addictive health hazard, too. Like heroin and other illicit narcotics, the nicotine found in tobacco is addictive, he said. And because of the nature of the brain, no one is immune to drug addiction. He noted that most addicts become addicts before the age of 21. “Anybody can become a drug addict at any age, but it is the young brain that is the drug dealer’s target,” he said. And young people have been the target of those selling tobacco, from trying to get them to smoke cigarettes to try vaping, he added.

DeNoble told his story to a group of parents within San Joaquin County in a virtual town hall meeting on the evening of Sept. 22. Additionally, he had given virtual presentations to about 2,300 middle school students in the Stockton Unified School District over the course of a week. “He gives presentations to students in the district every year on a rotation of schools so that all students will get the opportunity to hear him speak about nicotine and addiction before they finish middle school,” said Jillian Glende, school counselor program specialist at the district. It is part of the district’s broader Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) program. “He tells an engaging story, and it draws students in,” she said.

Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) Comprehensive Health director, whether through attempts to glamorize vaping as a status symbol or introducing cotton candy, bubble gum, or other flavors to entice children. The Science of Addiction presentation was able to reach a wider audience this year through an SJCOE contract with San Joaquin County Behavioral Services. “We want to educate our whole community -- not just students -- about substance abuse prevention,” Hana said. “We’re trying to make sure that parents are aware that there’s a lot of deception directed at their students.”

“His story is amazing. He was the scientist who outed Big Tobacco, and now his efforts are focused on teaching students about the dangers of nicotine and addiction and how your brain changes,” she said. He Resources to help stop vaping and smoking also warns about vaping, which bit.ly/3AXlHHj contains more nicotine than


traditional cigarettes and has a higher addiction rate in youth. Vaping marketing targets young people, said Nora Hana, a San


Tips for parents and tobacco prevention curriculum www.stocktonusd.net/tupe The National Institute on Drug Abuse www.drugabuse.gov



TEACH! Academy launches in Stockton for 2021-22 school year to provide high school students with a direct, affordable pathway into the teaching profession High school students in San Joaquin County now have a new, affordable path to becoming much-needed teachers in local communities at the TEACH! Academy, a new early college high school that welcomed its first freshman class this year. Local officials celebrated the launch of the new academy at a September press event. TEACH! is a joint effort of Venture Academy Family of Schools, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Teachers College of San Joaquin, San Joaquin Delta College, and San Joaquin A+. “We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity this program will provide for the students enrolled this year and for all those who will attend in years to come,” said Dr. Troy A. Brown, San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools. “The launch of this school is a testament to the hard work of

our San Joaquin County Office of Education team and our partners. We look forward to continued collaboration to grow this program and to nurture the students here into the talented educators of the future for our region.” Two members of the new freshman class -- Rudy and Talia -- spoke at the event, too. “Teachers have made a difference in my life, and I want to make a difference in the lives of my students, one day, too,” Rudy said. “Being a student at TEACH! Academy will help me do this. It also means I have the opportunity to be able to earn college credit while I’m still in high school.” In the days following the launch, Rudy, Talia, and their classmates had their first official assignment to try their hand at teaching other students. It was a math game that they played with fourth graders in the courtyard outside

Ventureland Academy to help them learn about number places and rounding numbers. The TEACH! students were well-prepared. They had already played this game, then thought of the best ways to explain the concepts using terms that fourth graders could understand, said TEACH! instructor Sunelle Simpfenderfer. At the end of the game, TEACH! student Felicity gathered the students in her group together for one more cheer: “Let’s shout at the top of our lungs: Venture Rocks!” Even though this was the first class exercise at TEACH!, she has worked with younger children before. It’s something she loves, which is one of the reasons why she knows she wants to be a teacher. “It always makes me feel really good,” she said.

The TEACH! Academy is an early college high school where students can receive an associate degree from San Joaquin Delta College when they receive their high school diploma. Through partnerships that include the Teachers College of San Joaquin, graduates can continue on an affordable and direct pathway to a bachelor’s degree, teaching credential, and job in the classroom. Enrollment is open for students across San Joaquin County. More information at ventureacademyca.org/.




New inclusive playground at McFall School a shared place to play for students in special education and Head Start programs at the site

Young students spilled out of their classrooms for morning recess at McFall School in Manteca and descended on the recently completed playground area. There is more than one way for students to get to the shaded platform central to the new playground. For students unable to climb the steps up to the platform, there’s a long ramp so that all students can reach the playground’s highest vantage point. Elements that provide access to students with a wide range of abilities are a key part of the new playground, which was designed to be inclusive. That’s important for a school site like McFall, which is home to both a Head Start preschool and classrooms for students in San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) Special Education Programs. The playground modernization was paid for with federal funding through Head Start San Joaquin. There is a Head Start center operated by the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin at McFall. The playground design was a collaboration of educators across the programs. Playtime isn’t just for fun. It is also a factor in early childhood development. “The importance of play is that it gives children opportunities to practice skills and experience various activities -- whether we’re talking about makebelieve play or play that develops gross-motor skills – outdoor play allows children opportunities to use various


OUTLOOK | NEWS skills and strengthen their muscles and coordination at the same time,” said Leticia Sida, Head Start San Joaquin director. Child development is a continuum that all children follow, she said, whether or not they have special needs. The different equipment found on the playground has something for a wide range of children as they move along their continuum. The playground is accessible from the ground up. The spongy surface is soft enough to provide safe landings when children fall. It’s an alternative to shredded rubber mulch and other surfaces that make playgrounds

safe but also act as barriers to students on wheels or with other mobility issues.

students with disabilities or medical needs requiring extensive support.

The soft ground cover is expansive, around and between different play structures -- multicolored and multifunctional. There are places to slide, climb, run, rock, or spin. And there are spinning cylinders, chimes, drums, and other sensory features.

“I was so excited when Head Start proposed this project! We were able to collaborate and develop a space to benefit all students. There has been an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from staff regarding the new playground,” said Shelly Garrett, principal of the special education programs at McFall School. “It allows access for all students in a safe environment. Students are really enjoying exploring the new equipment, ultimately helping them achieve their goals.”

The sensory features are fun and important for all children this age, but they are particularly appealing to students with autism. McFall School is home to Connections! preschool class with a large percentage of students diagnosed with autism and

Head Start programs prepare young children to succeed in school and in life beyond by delivering services to children ages birth to 5 and their families in core areas of early learning, health, and family well-being. Head Start services are provided in centers or in the family’s own home. In 2015, the SJCOE was awarded a federal grant to provide these valuable services to eligible children and families in San Joaquin County. Through a partnership with Lodi and Stockton unified school districts and nonprofit organizations Child Abuse Prevention Council and Creative Child Care, Inc., Head Start San Joaquin (HSSJ) provides Early Head Start and Head Start services to children ages birth to 5, pregnant women, and their families.



TCSJ GOES GLOBAL Three Teachers College of San Joaquin master’s concentrations now available online

Carlos Flores has brought a host of new ideas into his sixth- and seventh-grade classroom in Kern County since earning his master’s degree (M.Ed.) in environmental literacy from the Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ). Not only are his students getting outdoors and gaining the academic and social-emotional benefits of keeping a nature journal, but they are also enjoying an interconnectedness between different subject areas. Through collaboration with other teachers, Flores has initiated bringing together English, social studies, and science teachers through ideas he traces back to his new degree.

was created following the passage of a 2018 law requiring the inclusion of environmental literacy concepts in the K-12 classroom. When it became available online, it opened up to a much wider audience of educators eager to add the knowledge and skills from that degree to their educator’s toolbox. “Teachers College always wants to be on the leading edge of education in our community and beyond. With our environmental literacy master’s concentration, this is just another way we are preparing educators for the future - not just here in California, but nationwide,” said Dr. Katie Burns, program advisor.

And because TCSJ offers certain master’s degree programs online, Flores was able to complete the course over the past two years while living in Southern California. “I was nowhere near San Joaquin County, but I felt really welcomed and engaged with the content,” he said. “I couldn’t recommend better.”

In addition to the environmental literacy concentration, the college offers five other master’s degree concentrations, two of which are offered fully online: early education and special education. Since launching, the reach of the online program has gone global. Lynae Brown has local roots, but she is the principal of a school in Guatemala, where she has been an educator for 15 years. She is just starting in the TCSJ Early Education M.Ed. program. She chose this focus because it is something she is passionate about that will benefit the students at her school and move her toward the next steps in her career.

TCSJ is the only college in California offering an Environmental Literacy M.Ed. program. It

The program is flexible enough that it is something that she can balance with the

He chose his M.Ed. focus because he wanted to be among the first wave of educators in the state introducing new concepts of environmental literacy. “I wanted to become a better advocate and become a better teacher through this program.”


responsibilities of being both a parent and a principal. And since the family plans to move to California when Brown’s second child finishes high school in two years, having the program online means she doesn’t have to wait for the move before pursuing the master’s degree. “I see this opportunity as a way to continue my growth as a learner and a mother ... and to become a more empathetic educator, here in Guatemala or California,” she said.

TCSJ accepts applications for the M.Ed. program year-round. For more information, call (209) 468-9164 or visit teacherscollegesj.edu.



SJCOE IT Department promotes multi-factor authentication and other safety tips during Cybersecurity Awareness Month Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of defense, protecting your money and personal information. To kick off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) released training videos highlighting the importance of having this security layer. Also known as two-step or two-factor authentication, multi-factor authentication can help secure professional and personal accounts from criminal computer hackers. “Multi-factor authentication is the single most important measure you can put in place to protect your accounts from unauthorized access,” said Rames Creel, director of enterprise services for SJCOE’s IT Department.

In a nutshell, multi-factor authentication is a security process that requires two or more pieces of information that uniquely identify that person from independent sources to verify the user’s identity. The factors are a combination of something you know (like a password) and something you have (like a cellphone) or something you are (like your unique fingerprint). Though multi-factor authentication has been used more widely in the ongoing arms race between network defenders and cyber attackers, it is not a new concept. It’s the same as the security steps taken at an ATM machine. The PIN code is something you know, and the card is something you have.

Strengthening cybersecurity is a year-round job for the SJCOE IT Department, which ramps up its awareness campaigns along with public agencies and private industries across the country during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month every October. Along with providing training and an informational website, the October push is part of an effort to create a culture of cybersecurity at the SJCOE as well as the Data Processing Joint Powers Authorities, a consortium of the SJCOE and eight county school districts through which technological services and support are provided through the SJCOE IT Department.

Multi-Factor Authentication Multi-factor authentication is used to ensure that digital users are who they say they are by requiring that they provide at least two pieces of evidence to prove their identity. It combines something you know with something you have or something you are.




High school students weld, operate machinery, and meet with professionals at annual career fair for the trades Students from high schools in San Joaquin County explored careers in the construction trades in Stockton at the 16th Annual Construction Trades Career Fair on Sept. 17. Throughout the day, students learned about apprenticeships and careers from representatives from a wide variety of construction trades. Besides making new connections, students also had a chance to engage in activities to sample the skill sets of each trade. “The Annual Construction Trades Fair is an invaluable opportunity for students to participate in activities and interact with prospective employers,” said Amanda Peters, director of College and Career Readiness at Manteca Unified School District, one of the school districts with students participating.

“This real-world application of skills and networking is a critical aspect of CTE (career technical education) programming, as these programs help to prepare students for a meaningful career after high school. Opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning is another vital component of CTE coursework as students gain the knowledge and understanding of current industry trends, practices, and expectations.” The Construction Trades Career Fair is organized by the San Joaquin Area Apprenticeships Association in partnership with the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) College and Career Readiness Department and the San Joaquin Building Trades Council. The San Joaquin Area Apprenticeship Coordinators Association is made up of 22 apprenticeship


programs serving the region. About 600 students from seven school districts and the SJCOE attended the outdoor event. “It was very informative to have this opportunity,” said Emilee, a senior at Escalon High School (Escalon Unified School District). This was the second trades fair for Anthony, a senior at Venture Academy Family of Schools. He said he was taking this much more seriously the second time around. The fields he was most interested in were welding and pipefitting, he said. “I want to see what kind of job opportunities there are,” he said. “I’m here to ask a lot of questions and see what it is really like.”


Adult Apprenticeships and the High School Apprenticeship Program There is more than one path for a high school student interested in finding an “earn-while-you-learn” apprenticeship that can lead to a well-paying career in the construction trades or other fields. One way that students can get their start toward an apprenticeship program after graduation is through high school CTE programs. Contact your school or district for more information about CTE programs and pathways to apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship Reaching Career Horizons (ARCH) program allows students to earn money as state-registered apprentices while working part-time and participating in dual enrollment classes through San Joaquin Delta College. CTE instructors and school administrators interested in establishing a high school apprenticeship program on their campus are encouraged to contact College and Career Readiness Director Pam Knapp at paknapp@sjcoe.net.

Employers Needed Employers interested in growing their talent by hiring an ARCH high school apprentice are needed to provide more opportunities for students.

Ready to learn more? Please visit the College & Career Readiness page at sjcoe.org/CollegeAndCareer to learn more about registered adult and high school apprenticeship programs.



LEADING & SERVING WITH COMPASSION Special Education Programs nurse Pamela Wampler recognized for mentoring peers and building strong bonds with students

And on another stop that became immediately necessary, she checked on a student who fell on the playground. (The student was OK.)

Healthcare staff also stopped by Wampler’s desk to sign a pair of brightly colored cards she kept for her colleagues with upcoming birthdays. Managing cards and planning birthday celebrations for her colleagues is one of the additional tasks Wampler volunteers to take on.


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On another, she trained staff to make sure they were up to speed on changes to student care plans.

In the afternoon, she returned to McFall School to tube feed a student and took care of business in her office. At the same time, as she completed her afternoon paperwork, she also trained a new LVN in her first month on the job between talking with credentialed school nurses who walked in with case files holding more changes in care plans for students.

It was pretty much a typical day. In her two decades with the SJCOE, she has cemented her place at the center of both the operations and the heart of the department within the organization that cares for the medical needs of students across San Joaquin County in SJCOE Special Education Programs.

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At one stop, she taught medical procedures to staff members at the school.

All of this was before noon.


On a recent morning, the duties of an itinerant nurse in the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) Special Education Programs took Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Pam Wampler to four different school sites, from Manteca to Mountain House and back again.

OUTLOOK | FEATURE “Nursing is more than just handling their medical needs. It is also handling their other needs outside our scope, like participating with them in a circle, or engaging when they are doing another activity, getting them more comfortable to be around us. Saying ‘hi’ to them and making them smile when they might not be able to communicate and going that extra mile to get a smile out of them,” she said. It’s one of the reasons teachers and students enjoy working with Nurse Pam.

She was also recently named the 2021 State Classified School Employee of the Year in her category, which just confirmed what nurses, health aides, instructional staff, support teams, families, and students in San Joaquin County have already known for years: Nurse Pam is the best. “She deserves the recognition for all the little things that she does that nobody knows about, but yet makes everyone feel special and makes our department run smoothly,” said Donna Beckman, director of Special Education Programs nursing division. “I am so proud to be her friend and to be her supervisor and to have the whole world know what a wonderful nurse she is.” Wampler builds strong bonds with students and families and is a mentor to nurses and health aides joining the department. She does more than help them understand the organizational and technical skills of the job. “More importantly, she mentors them in compassion and understanding for the unique needs of each individual in our student population ... Pam is the ‘mother’ to staff and students alike,” Beckman said. When Wampler first joined the Special Education Programs team 20 years ago, it was a career change for her. She had been working as a pediatric nurse until she started thinking about looking for something new around the

age of 40. She picked up a newspaper and saw the position at the SJCOE advertised. She took the leap. “It was my chance at 40, and some people thought I might not enjoy it,” she said. “And you know, now I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

“It feels great to have Pam in my classroom,” said Jacque Chandler, a teacher at McFall School. “When Pam walks in, she always says ‘hi’ to everybody. The kids all know her. They know that she’s there to help. They know that she’s a fun person. They’ll wave to her. And it’s just always a great atmosphere when Pam’s in there because she’s just so cheery and full of love and always wanting to just be positive.” In the program, sometimes students require daily procedures and assistance, such as being fed through a gastrostomy tube or “G-tube.”

Changing to a job in special education was a return to a path Wampler started as a child. She had the opportunity to work with children with special needs at a time when they were less visible, both at school and in the community at large. It started with her uncle. A former police officer who was paralyzed in a skiing accident, he went on to become a teacher and a principal as well as the director of a camp for children with disabilities. When she was about 13 years old, she would spend time working at that camp. “So, I started getting a heart for that.” She had other opportunities to work with children with physical disabilities or autism as an older teen, too. Wampler believes that being an LVN for SJCOE Special Education Programs is more than just being knowledgeable about medical procedures. She says it also includes communicating with students to bond with them and help them feel comfortable.

Photos: Licensed Vocational Nurse Pamela Wampler working with a student (top) and preparing a “G-tube” (bottom).


OUTLOOK | FEATURE Chandler said that Wampler is able to take care of these daily routines in a way that doesn’t take the students away from what they are doing in the classroom. Her attitude, her expertise, and the trust the students have in her make that possible. “She’s able to pop in and be in the background, do what she needs to do,” Chandler said. “And the kids are still in the environment doing the activity that they were doing.” Students can be in Special Education from birth through age 22. Each year, there is a graduation ceremony celebrating all the students who aged out during the year. It is important to Wampler to be among the families and staff at those ceremonies, she said. The ceremonies are a time to recognize the teachers and other staff who have helped students become more independent or have a time in school that was filled with joy, she said. It is also a time to celebrate alongside students and families that she has known for many years. “I love seeing the progress that they make from the time they are in preschool. Whether it be a little bit or a lot, they have come a long way from when they started in our program.”


Pamela Wampler named 2021 California Classified Employee of the Year in the Health and Student Services category Each year, the San Joaquin County Office of Education celebrates education by naming San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year and Classified Employee of the Year awards. In 2021, Pam Wampler was the county employee of the year in the Health and Student Services category. She was among the eight classified employees, and one teacher submitted to the California Department of Education to be considered for statewide recognition. In May, she was named the 2021 California Classified School Employee of the Year in her category. State Superintendent Tony Thurmond’s news release stated, “Although based at a preschool site, Pam serves all students in the Special Education Department, ages birth to twenty-two. When students started returning to hybrid in-person instruction in September, Pam assisted school nurses with contact tracing by contacting parents, educating them regarding public health quarantine guidance, and following up. Pam also helped facilitate training around PPE and COVID with Special Education staff. She administered immunizations at the County Office of Education’s clinic, which vaccinated more than 13,000 education employees in San Joaquin County. She willingly worked overtime to help the team accomplish this great service to the community.”



SPECIAL EDUCATION NURSING Nursing services an integral part of Special Education Programs

Special Education Programs at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) provide services to more than 1,000 students with special needs from birth to age 22 in 10 of the 14 school districts in San Joaquin County. The services provided are vast, ranging from speech and language services for students in general education classrooms to services for students in special day classrooms receiving extensive support. Some students require medical services, too, which can include administering medication to feeding to clearing airways allowing students to breathe.

aides,” said Donna Beckman, SJCOE Special Education Programs nursing director. A typical day starts with the team arriving at their assigned schools. They keep student medical files up to date, then fan out across the county to do procedures, like feeding a student in the morning to administering an insulin shot before lunch. “It’s all choreographed for each member

For some students, attending school would not be possible without these services. “But our nursing team is there to help support our students so that they’re able to be present in the classroom, attend, and be available for learning,” said Brandie Brunni, assistant superintendent of Special Education/San Joaquin County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) at the SJCOE. “Having those nursing services is an integral part of their day.” The nursing team that covers more than 100 classrooms includes four credentialed school nurses, six licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), and five health aides. “The credentialed school nurses direct the care implemented by the LVNs and health

of the team, and there’s give and take,” she said. There might be an emergency, like an injury or a seizure, that will require immediate attention. Even more duties have been added during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law requires that students have an educational plan that allows them to be as independent as possible in the least restrictive environment. Implementing the medical piece is the role of the nursing team, but the nurses’ role goes well beyond just fulfilling legal requirements.

“We adore all of our students,” Beckman said. The team is there with the families as well as the students through all the milestones, both good and bad, as they continue through the program, from birth through age 22. “Our nursing staff obviously has a chance to bond over those many years with students and families. Occasionally we have a student pass away, and we consider it an honor to go to their funerals or memorial services. We feel that families need to know that we care,” she said. And the nurses are there for the celebrations, too. They join together with family members and other special education staff members who come together every year for the graduation ceremony for students who age out of the program. One of the ceremony’s highlights is a slideshow that the staff puts together with photos provided by family members. It’s set to music, and each student has one. “It’s powerful,” she said. “There’s not a dry eye in the house.”

“We adore all of our students.” Donna Beckman, SJCOE Nursing Director




As schools entered the third academic year occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, educators in San Joaquin County have not stood still. Conditions have changed continually, but teachers, administrators, and other education staff continue working hard to keep expectations for themselves and their students high. Education continues to move forward, and there is help. Educators connect in networks and learn from training sessions. This issue’s In the Classroom feature highlights some of the professional learning that educators engage in to hone their craft to address the needs of their students during difficult times. We are also introducing a new In the Classroom (ITC) regular feature: ITC FAQ. We hope San Joaquin County educators can use this new resource to add to their skills toolbox, too.



REBOUNDING and MOVING FORWARD Educators join together at SJCOE Curriculum Breakfast to kick off new school year with focus on accelerated learning Dr. Doug Fisher shared some testimonials from students of all ages who shared what they had learned during the pandemic. The students shared that they had learned how to bake a cake, clean up around the house, or hula hoop. They also shared that they learned more about reading, math, and writing, but that they also learned about communicating with each other and using technology. Despite narratives to the contrary, students and their teachers learned a lot during distance learning, Fisher said during the Sept. 3 virtual Curriculum Breakfast hosted by the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) to the more than 100 educators from the region logged on to the session. Focusing on what was gained, understanding where students are, and recognizing the accomplishments of teachers and students alike, will allow schools to move forward in the new school year, he said. “Learning loss conversations grant us permission to lower expectations of students,” he said. “We did not have a gap year. We should not focus on remediation. Instead, I wish that we would talk about acceleration.”

The SJCOE Continuous Improvement and Support Department (CIS) organizes the Curriculum Breakfasts, which are keynote events on current education topics provided by engaging and inspirational speakers who are experts in their field. “As we are entering our third school year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the message of rebuilding agency, reimaging our schools, and rebounding learning and engagement has never been more appropriate and more critical,” said Sally Glusing, a CIS director. Helping students feel proud about what they have accomplished will help them excel in the new school year, she said, adding that the same is true for educators. “Leaders can recognize and share this message to their teams: Let’s highlight what we’ve learned, what is working, and where the gains are that we didn’t anticipate. And let’s ride that wave of the successes that we’ve identified.” During the morning-long event, the teachers and administrators took the discussion into breakout rooms. They talked about what they were doing in their schools so far and how the ideas being discussed could be applied in the future.

All attendees received a free copy of the book Leading the Rebound: A Playbook for Rebuilding Agency, Accelerating Learning Recovery, and Rethinking Schools, which Fisher co-authored. The SJCOE also opened up a book-study network to help educators implement strategies at their schools. “The whole session was wonderful. Very useful. There wasn’t anything in it that wasn’t a takeaway that I could use,” said Regina Fernandes, an instructional coach at Dolores Huerta Elementary School (Stockton Unified School District), who is going to take part in the book-study network. Fernandes shared that she intends to apply new ways to use quick assessments. For example, fun games that students can take part in to show what they’ve learned. “If we have these fun ways of assessing them and just checking in with them, they’re going to be more motivated because they will be able to see that they did do something and that they can do it,” she said. “That was really cool, and it gave me new ideas on how to do that.” Besides being fun and engaging for the students, she said finding out what they have learned is essential to keep the learning moving forward and taking students to the next level.

In partnership with the educational community, the SJCOE Continuous Improvement and Support team leads with equity and designs and facilitates relevant and innovative learning that fosters relationships and is responsive to student and adult needs. To learn more, visit www.sjcoe.org/cis.




Welcome to the new In the Classroom FAQ, where we turn the page over to educational experts to answer questions on the minds of educators. In this first FAQ, San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) Continuous Improvement and Support Director Connor Sloan answers the question:

Q: What are some ways to accelerate learning recovery for students?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of our lives, presented extraordinary health challenges, and created layers of unfinished learning for students. Some students thrived within distance learning, while others struggled to stay engaged. Many forms of unexpected learning occurred for students, such as: learning how to cook and bake, doing laundry, using Zoom and Google Meet, keyboarding skills, working on cars, and gardening. As educators, we recognize the need to provide learning experiences that take into account the whole child. The instructional process of engaging the needs of the whole child is aligned with designing lessons and equitable learning environments that are inclusive and optimize student voice and choice. Opportunities for collaborative conversations, student interaction, and exploration of grade-level content standards are directly related to accelerating learning recovery. Why accelerate learning? This evidencebased approach strategically prepares students for success in the present, provides a fresh academic start every week, and readies students for new learning. To support accelerated learning, teachers front load

core concepts and vocabulary, which serves to jump-start underperforming students’ learning. Learning acceleration enables struggling students to learn alongside peers who are demonstrating grade-level mastery. Teachers address past concepts and skills, but always in the purposeful context of current learning. Throughout an accelerated learning approach, educators honor the knowledge and assets students bring with them. There is a lot of power in honoring students’ voices and providing them choices. When students have a choice in how they apply and demonstrate what they have learned, it increases their investment in the learning process. Student voice and choice also promote relevant student work that emphasizes the application of transferable skills. Learning acceleration strategies are designed to meet students where they are in their learning. This objective is supported by collaborative routines that encourage student-to-student interaction with the use of academic language. There are many strategies educators can use to meet students’ specific needs. Examples of these supportive strategies include

Job-embedded and ongoing professional learning based on teacher needs is key. To learn more about learning acceleration and evidence-based practices to support student academic growth and social-emotional development, please visit SJCOE’s Continuous Improvement and Support website at https://www.sjcoe.org/CIS/ or contact department Director Connor Sloan at csloan@sjcoe.net. • • • •

Accelerated Learning Modules: https://bit.ly/AL_Modules Curriculum Breakfasts LiveBinder: https://bit.ly/SJCOE_Breakfasts Continuous Improvement and Support Newsletter: https://www.sjcoe.org/CIS/ Professional learning and other opportunities: https://sjcoe.org/calendar.aspx


scaffolding and differentiation through small group instruction; assignment revision from constructive feedback; student-led instruction; student goal setting; flexible assessments; reciprocal teaching; discussion roundtables; and text rendering. Dr. Doug Fisher, co-author of Leading the Rebound (2021) and Rebound: Playbook (2021), was the keynote speaker at the September 2021 Curriculum Breakfast hosted by SJCOE Continuous Improvement and Support department. During his keynote, Dr. Fisher shared that “students need systematic and purposeful experiences that move them from surface to deep transfer of learning.” Students become more engaged in the process of learning when lessons reflect their lived experiences. Instructional moves that deepen understanding enable students to work together to advance their learning. Teachers formatively evaluate their instructional impact throughout this process and then use these “lessons learned” to adapt their instruction to meet all students’ diverse learning needs.

EDUCATORS! Is there an educational topic you would like to know more about? Is there a question you have that can help us all grow as educators? Send them to the Outlook at sjcoepio@sjcoe.net. Please put “ITC FAQ” in the subject line.



What was your best Halloween costume ever?

“When I was a little girl, it was Snow White. Halloween’s my birthday, by the way. I used to go around and say, “Trick or Treat and it’s my birthday,” and I would get extra candy.”

“When our department dressed up as KISS. I was the drummer. I wore a leather vest, leggings, a wig, full make-up, and spiked heels.”

“The time we (IT) were all the Geek Squad was the one I liked the most. Because it was fun and exciting to be a group, that was our first group costume together.”

VENETIA BRITTON District Business Services

VENESSA BOWLIN Payroll Services

PAM MENDOZA Information Technology

What is your least-favorite Halloween candy?

“My least favorite candy is black licorice. I just hate the taste of black licorice.”

“Candy Corn. Too sticky. Gets stuck in your teeth. Too sweet.”

“Peeps. I hate Peeps. They have Halloween Peeps. That’s the worst.”

MARIA NUÑEZ Human Resources

JASON BROWN COSP Academic Technology Support

DEBBIE GOOSSENS Venture Academy Family of Schools

What is your most-favorite Halloween candy?

“Reese’s peanut butter cup -- the holiday shaped ones you can only get for Halloween.”

“Milk Duds, because they are caramel, chocolate and gooey and chewy.”

“I love KitKats. I love the wafer. That and Reese’s, but KitKat tops it all.”


SARAH OBLIN Teachers College of San Joaquin

JUSTIN ALBANO Special Education Local Plan Area