Outlook 76.2 | December 2022

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Hacking the Drought Page 12 The Future of Special Education Page 22 Arts in Education Page 26 Leaders for Equity Page 30 Carddesignedby 2022HolidayCardArtwork ContestWinnerNataliTorres,grade9.
Troy A. Brown, Ed.D., County Superintendent of Schools
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TROY A. BROWN, Ed.D. San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools

SCOTT ANDERSON Deputy Superintendent Business Services



Outlook is published by the San Joaquin County Office of Education Public Information Office.
KAESLIN Associate Superintendent Student Programs and Services
STEINKAMP Assistant Superintendent Educational Services
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 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 Kailyn Hill, Contributor Lisa Bryant, Contributor Kim Borges, Contributor Melissa Galea, Contributor CodeStack Digital Media SUBSCRIBE bit.ly/SJCOENews SUBMIT A STORY sjcoepio@sjcoe.net VOLUME 76 | ISSUE 2 | DEC 2022 OUTLOOK Let’s stay connected! CONTENTS About the cover: The annual holiday card contest is a favorite tradition at the San
(SJCOE). Each year, students throughout the county submit their artwork for the contest. The winning artwork is
DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS Skilled Students 4 Opening Doors to Preschool 5 The First Snow of the Season 5 IN THE COMMUNITY Superheroes on the Run 6 A Day at the Park 7 LEARNING TOGETHER Fentanyl Town Hall 8 Schools Cybersecurity Symposium 9 Safe Schools Summit 10 CodeStack Conference 11 Chronic Absenteeism Summit 11 Computer-Using Educators (CUE) 11 NEWS Hacking the Drought 12 2022 ATHENA Leadership Award 13 Learning About Careers in the Trades 14 Trades Day 15 Sparking Career Inspiration 15 Wise Decisions 16 Mental Health First Responders 17 Experiencing Dyslexia 18 Grading for Equity 19 Exploring Careers in STEM 20 Action on Behalf of Children Awards 21 FEATURE The Future of Special Education 22 Teachers College of San Joaquin’s residency and other programs help to build the next generation of special education teachers. IN THE CLASSROOM Arts in Education 26 Arts education programs in schools across San Joaquin County help students build social-emotional and interpersonal skills. WE ARE SJCOE Leaders for Equity 30
BRANDIE BRUNNI Assistant Superintendent Special Education and SELPA SEAN MORRILL Assistant Superintendent County Operated Schools and Programs CHRISTINA TORRES-PETERS Chief Human
Joaquin County Office of Education
used on the SJCOE’s official annual holiday card and highlighted on the cover of the winter issue of Outlook. The winner and the runners-up also receive their artwork framed to display and share. Congratulations to the 2022 Holiday Card Artwork Contest Winner, Natali Torres! Natali is a ninth grader at Delta Charter High School in New Jerusalem Elementary School District. Artwork submissions from runners-up can be found on the back cover.


Craftsmanship teaches students a sense of pride in their work. Lodi Unified School District (Lodi USD) recognizes that the marketplace will have a demand for craftsmencarpenters, electricians, machinists, and woodworkers. Lodi USD students in the Weber’s Woodshop program have already gained valuable skills measuring, using a square, and drafting a plan. Some of the tools used to date include a bandsaw, edge sander, scratch awl, and hammer. This is an extended learning opportunity that is not creditbearing but allows students to gain career technical know-how. The program has been favorably received by students and will expand in the spring to accommodate more students. April Morse from Weber’s has shared that it is hard to find skilled laborers and is proud that Weber’s Woodshop students have already gained valuable skills. As a culminating experience, Weber’s Woodshop students will have an opportunity to try their hand at entrepreneurship by marketing their wares at the Lodi Street Fair this spring.

Submitted by Lodi Unified School District

If you would like a program or activity from your school or district to be highlighted in an upcoming issue of the Outlook, email your submission to sjcoepio@sjcoe.net

DISTRICTS Banta Unified Escalon Unified Jefferson Elementary Lammersville Unified Lincoln Unified Linden Unified Lodi Unified Manteca Unified New Hope Elementary New Jerusalem Elementary Oak View Union Elementary Ripon Unified Stockton Unified Tracy Unified
Lodi Unified students gaining career technical know-how in Weber’s Woodshop program


Preschool isn’t just for children. The Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) Preschool Program promotes parent participation by hosting parent workshops, family literacy nights, and parent advisory committee meetings throughout the school year.

Bringing preschool parents together in the school setting has its benefits. Parents get the opportunity to be a voice for their children while gaining the confidence to become their children’s advocates. Parent workshops also assist in building relationships with preschool staff and other parents. TUSD believes parent partnership is a priority and school readiness is a shared responsibility.

District School Readiness Preschool Program Parent Liaison Elena Sanchez led preschool parents in weekly workshops from the Abriendo Puertas/ Opening Doors Program. This 10-week program will be made available to parents at all three preschool sites at North, South/West Park, and Villalovoz elementary schools. This program promotes Latino parents’ leadership and advocacy as well as parenting practices that foster their children’s early learning and development in a culturally relevant manner. In the workshops, parents were given the tools necessary to assist and work with their children at home in math, science, and social-emotional development.

Staff at TUSD preschools keep it fun while connecting parents to what happens in the classroom. On Halloween at the preschool at Villalovoz, staff recorded the celebration. The children were dressed in a variety of costumes, including superheroes, princesses, woodland animals, skeletons, witches, an astronaut, and the iconic entertainer Selena. Students in the class took the spotlight to share what they chose to be and what the costumes meant to them.


On Oct. 31, a group of 120 sixth graders from El Portal Middle School headed to the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Sky Mountain Outdoor Education Center in Placer County to enjoy a week at Science Camp.

The students looked forward to going on nature walks, learning about animals and adaptation, and singing around the campfire. However, little did they know that they would experience the first snowfall of the season during their stay, too!

As the snow fell from the sky, students got busy visiting the “Sky Mountain Snow Gear Library,” where they quickly got fitted with waterproof clothing and shoes so they could begin experiencing the winter wonderland in the great outdoors of the Tahoe National Forest.

“Many students had never seen the snow before,” said Nabby Liel, a teacher at El Portal. “They spent time throwing snowballs, making snow angels, and building snowmen and snow forts,” she said.

Escalon Unified sixth graders experience the first snow of the season at Science Camp
Tracy Unified preschools offer parent workshops and more



On Friday, Sept. 30, over 115 San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) employees and Discovery ChalleNGe Academy (DCA) cadre and cadets could be seen bolting around the SJCOE campus in flashy uniforms, team shirts, and capes for the 2022 CASA Superhero 5K fundraiser.

Collectively, the superheroes raised over $2,100 in support of SJCOE community partner, Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC), and their Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program, which supports and advocates for San Joaquin County youth in foster care.

Congratulations to the top three finishers who received medals from CAPC:

First Place: DCA Staff Sergeant Jeffers

Second Place: DCA Cadet Amescua Lopez

Third Place: DCA Cadet Rasmussen-Buck

Imagine what it must feel like to be thrust into foster care. Life can be scary when it seems nobody cares and when all you have ever known is abuse, neglect, or abandonment. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), you can make a real difference in the life of a local youth in the foster care system.

The Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC) CASA program aims to prevent abused and neglected children from becoming lost in the Juvenile Dependency system. The objective of matching a CASA volunteer -- a trained advocate from the community -- with a foster child is to ensure that the child’s best interest is represented.

CASA volunteers give a priceless gift: someone who cares deeply – someone dependable who won’t disappoint these children like so many other adults have done in the past.

If you are available to volunteer 8-10 hours of your time each month to help a child in foster care, learn more about how you can make a difference by becoming a CASA at https://nochildabuse.org/casa-sign-up.

and students have some healthy fun while raising money for foster youth
Children in foster care need superheroes like YOU!


Families gathered at Weber Point for the 25th Annual Family Day at the Park

Colorful balloon arches guided the way for hundreds of families to visit resource booths, watch live performances, and engage in hands-on activities at the 25th Annual Family Day at the Park in Stockton on Sept. 17.

The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) joined the wide range of community organizations at the event at Weber Point, setting up booths with fun activities for children and important information about valuable programs for families.

In Alphabet Alley, SJCOE Early Education and Support hosted a reading corner built from cardboard houses where children could read and choose from more than 1,000 books to take home.

On Eco Expressway, the SJCOE’s Greater Valley Conservation Corps (GVCC) taught

children about recycling with a fun game of putting items in the right boxes for recycling, composting, or trash headed for the landfill.

The final stop to run into multiple SJCOE booths was in Education Expressway, which was sponsored by the SJCOE this year.

The SJCOE STEM Programs Department set up wind tunnels to inspire critical thinking. The goal was to create an object out of paper that would fly in the tunnel. Children tried out pieces of paper of various shapes and sizes before finding the right combination to make the perfect tunnel flyer.

Head Start San Joaquin held a Teddy Bear Clinic. After picking out a stuffed bear to keep, the children took on the role of doctor for their new friend. They measured blood pressure, applied bandages, listened to

heartbeats, and wrote custom prescriptions to ensure their teddy bears were healthy and ready for a fun-filled day at the park.

SJCOE Student Events and Activities organizes academic competitions and other events, including the new San Joaquin County Art Show. The department encouraged children and teens to express their creativity with various art projects at their booth. Maybe we’ll see one of these budding artists at the Art Show in May!




Town hall meeting raises the alarm of dangers of the drug fentanyl

Zachary Didier, a 17-year-old high school senior who played soccer and loved school, thought he would see what it was like to try the prescription drug known as Percocet.

He bought some pills from somebody on social media, but they weren’t Percocet. They contained fentanyl -- a synthetic opioid up to 100 times as potent as morphine.

He went into his bedroom on the evening of Dec. 26, 2020, and took a pill. The following morning his family found his lifeless body slumped on his desk, his hand still clutching his computer mouse.

It happened that fast.

“We miss him. And it’s hard to stand up here and share the worst day of my life,” said Laura Didier, her voice shaking as she recounted a story she has told many times in the months since her son’s death.

She and her husband, Chris Didier, were two of the speakers at a town hall meeting held at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) on Oct. 3 to sound the

alarm to families about the growing danger of fentanyl. Use and overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years across the country and within San Joaquin County.

“Even in small doses, fentanyl can be lethal,” San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools Troy Brown said. “Everyone in our community can make a difference by getting informed and talking to their children and loved ones about the dangers of fentanyl and drug use.”

The town hall meeting was hosted by the San Joaquin County Opioid Safety Coalition, San Joaquin County Public Health Services, and the SJCOE. Attendees were also able to obtain naloxone, the opioid overdose-reversal drug. At the meeting, public health experts, law enforcement officials, and others shared information about the scope of the problem, prevention resources, life-saving techniques, and more.

Leslie, a high school student at Lincoln Technical Academy (Lodi Unified School District), was wearing her maroon medical scrubs at the town hall meeting. The

statistics startled her, and she said she would tell her cousins what she had learned and that they needed to be careful.

Erika Pollard came to the town hall meeting with her daughter, a 10th grader. “I wanted to educate and scare her,” she said. “It worked.”

Aisha Kareem was part of a team from Able Charter School in Stockton who came to learn more because school-age children were at risk, she said. But what they learned about how extensive the drug is, how inexpensive it is, and how easy it is to obtain demonstrated that the impact is community-wide. “We are all a target.”

The San Joaquin County Office of Education brings educators and others together at training sessions, summits, and conferences to learn, move education forward, and to better serve students, families, and the community.


Information Technology departments learn together at San Joaquin Schools Cybersecurity Symposium

When hackers attacked the computer systems at Los Angeles Unified School District over Labor Day weekend, it sent ripples across the country.

Despite the ransomware attack, the district’s information technology (IT) department got systems back online and ready to go for a normal day of school when students returned. But it was a chilling reminder of what keeps any educational IT department’s staff up at night: Cyberattacks are on the rise, and schools are targets.

Los Angeles Unified was on the minds of IT professionals from school districts across San Joaquin County and beyond at the San Joaquin Schools Cybersecurity Symposium on Sept. 23 at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE). In partnership with the SJCOE IT Department, Lodi Unified School District, and the Central California Intelligence Center, the symposium brought together IT teams with security experts to exchange ideas and study

the best practices to defend school information systems from cyberattacks.

“It’s really important for us in education to share information and data,” said Rames Creel, SJCOE IT director of Enterprise Services. “The more you share information, the more tips, and tricks you learn. It helps the whole community.”

During the symposium, attendees started the day by taking part in exercises to look at cyberattacks through the eyes of the type of criminal organization looking for vulnerabilities. Throughout the day, they continued to focus on response and prevention, including organizationwide efforts -- like using multi-factor authentication to verify user identity -- that can make an organization’s information system harder to infiltrate.

“We want to stay ahead of the game and do what we can to protect ourselves,” said system administrator Tim Keen, who was at the symposium with a team from Lincoln Unified School District.

Cybersecurity is everyone’s jobincluding yours!

Strengthening cybersecurity is a year-round job for the SJCOE IT Department, which is working to instill a culture of cybersecurity at the SJCOE as well as the Data Processing Joint Powers Authorities, a consortium of the SJCOE, and eight school districts. Every October, the department ramps up its efforts to build this culture during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Find cybersecurity tips, links to resources, and more at www.sjcoe.net/security



Summit brings together educators, law enforcement, and students to improve safety

The San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) hosted the first annual county Safe Schools Summit on Nov. 9. The summit welcomed school district superintendents, administrators, teachers, students, law enforcement, and more to network, exchange ideas, and work together to improve school safety.

The day started with an introduction from County Superintendent of Schools Troy Brown, and continued with panel discussions with students, teachers, and law enforcement, followed by a presentation on preparing for an active-shooter incident. Attendees then could attend breakout sessions to dig deeper into specific areas that ranged from suicide prevention to building comprehensive school safety plans with a focus on building a positive school climate.

Vendors offered information to assist with training, planning, and incorporating new technology. And throughout the day, the individuals looking after the safety of students were

able to talk with each other, share best practices, and learn how to do it better.

Everyone at the summit faces the same issues, Lincoln Unified School District Superintendent Kelly Dextraze said. “And getting all these people together with school-safety resources and knowledge is very valuable.”

Jeff Abrew, a history teacher from Sierra High School (Manteca Unified School District), took part in the panel discussion to both share and learn, he said. “It’s good to bounce ideas off each other,” he said. “We’re all in this together.”

The keynote speaker at the event was John Wilson, projects director for Knowledge Saves Lives.

San Joaquin Delta College Police Department Sgt. Jim Bock also attended and presented an active-shooter session focused on preparation and prevention. “I think this summit is an amazing event that can increase security countywide on our campuses.”

Knowledge saves lives!

The Summit included a presentation from keynote speaker John Wilson, projects director for Knowledge Saves Lives. It also included panel discussions, presentations, and breakout sessions, such as:

Active Shooter: San Joaquin Delta College Police Department Sgt. Jim Bock led a session to empower attendees with the tools to respond to such an event.

De-Escalation: Keynote speaker John Wilson motivated, inspired, and educated professionals to better maintain their own behavior in stressful and critical moments.

PersonBrain Model: SJCOE Comprehensive Health Coordinator Rita Rasuli shared about the traumainformed model which provides positive behavioral support skills for those working with youth.

Comprehensive School Safety Plans and School Climate: Dr. Tom Herman, administrator of the School Health and Safety Office, and Nancy Zarenda, California Department of Education school safety consultant, taught about requirements and recommendations for school safety plans and highlighted the preventive role of school climate in increasing social-emotional wellbeing and promoting school safety.



CodeStack conference attendees learn how to make the most of technology

Through its CodeStack software development department, the San Joaquin County Office of Education makes an impact in education across California and beyond.

CodeStack builds and maintains software, web, and mobile applications -- such as EDJOIN, SEIS, BeyondSST, and PROMIS -- which are used by over 5,000 school districts and other public and private organizations nationwide.

From Oct. 12-14, the CodeStack team held its CodeStack Conference 2022 -- known as CSC Live -- in San Diego, providing an excellent opportunity for education professionals from across the state to learn industryleading technologies and strategies.

At a myriad of conference sessions, attendees learned from educational, technological, and other experts on how to make the most of technology to reach educational and organizational goals. Exhibitors helped educators learn about other products to keep them on the cutting edge. And speakers -- like the poet and America’s Got Talent winner Brandon Leake and CodeStack Division Director Johnny Arguelles -inspired educators to pursue innovation.


Educators and partners build relationships to battle chronic absenteeism

At the Fourth Annual Chronic Absenteeism Summit at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) in September, educators from across the county and their partners came together to exchange ideas and network. This year’s summit focused on the theme, Through Their Lens: A Deeper Exploration of the WHY behind absenteeism.

“What are our students experiencing? What are those specific barriers for under-represented student groups that are keeping them from attending school regularly?” said Jacob Boyd, alternative education coordinator for SJCOE County Operated Schools and Programs. “And how can we help them overcome those barriers and get to a good place where we can get them to school where they have access to the amazing supports and resources we have available?”

The summit drew educators from multiple districts -- both as attendees and presenters -- to explore the themes. Partners in law enforcement and communitybased organizations took part, too.

“I really appreciate that the focus today has been about building relationships,” said Banta Unified Superintendent Rechelle Pearlman. “I think we all know that building relationships is what’s going to keep children in schools, and that’s our goal.”


TCSJ hosts conference for computer-using educators

The San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ) hosted CUE’s first in-person fall conference in three years on Oct. 22-23. CUE Conferences are California’s premier educational technology events, drawing educators from all over the world. CUE, Computer-Using Educators, is the largest organization of its type in the west and one of the largest in the United States.

The CUE Fall Conference gathered hundreds of educators together to learn from their peers and experts. Sessions were designed to fit the needs of every educator and differentiated based on grade level, skill level, curricular area, and pedagogical supports. Topics ranged from STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), diversity, equity and inclusion, self-care, thoughtful EdTech classroom integration, and more.

In addition to over 130 conference sessions, attendees had the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers: Abby Almerido, the 2019 CUE Technology Leader of the Year and an educator committed to transformational learning, teaching, and leading; and Dr. John Spencer, a former middle school teacher and current college professor and coauthor of the bestselling books “Launch,” “Empower,” and “Vintage Innovation.”




H2O Hackathon coding and multimedia competition returns in a big way

Video projections flickered on the wall and music blared as students from middle school, high school, and college and their coaches entered the conference room at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE).

They had all received water bottles to help them keep hydrated throughout the day and the official T-shirt for the Sixth Annual H2O Hackathon that drew more than 150 participants. Competitors had the day to use computer coding skills to build an app to “Hack the Drought.” And for the first time, the H2O Hackathon also included a multimedia competition, calling on teams to create an engaging social media campaign to promote water conservation.

It was only 7:30 a.m., and the competition hadn’t started yet, but Merrill F. West High senior Julian was ready to start coding. “Now, we’re finally getting ready to do it in person for the first time,” said Julian, one of three seniors from West High’s (Tracy Unified School District) teams who had signed up for the 2020 Hackathon, which was canceled due to COVID-19, then competed virtually in 2021. “I feel good. This is a nice experience.”

The H2O Hackathon is a communitysupported event that taps into the technological, creative, and problem-solving skills of local students to find solutions for the state’s water issues. The focus changes each year. Creating the best app or multimedia

campaign is not enough to win. Each team also must present what they made to a panel of judges consisting of water experts and coding professionals.

“I saw from my students a lot of focus and real intensity about what they were creating,” said David Jimenez, an instructor from Cesar Chavez High School (Stockton Unified School District) who coached two coding teams. “They know they can put this in their college applications. They don’t have many opportunities like this.”

Chavez High also brought one of the teams competing in the new multimedia competition.

“It was great seeing how well the students were able to work together in a new environment and work together as a team,” said George Brais, Chavez High instructor and multimedia coach.

“My students now know that they can excel under pressure. This is an experience you can’t recreate in the classroom,” he said, adding that they had fun, too. “I love seeing my students happy.”

The H2O Hackathon is a community-supported event. This year’s sponsors include California Water Service (Cal Water); Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; A.G. Spanos Companies; San Joaquin County; Collins Electric; East Bay Municipal Utility District; Port of Stockton; San Joaquin Partnership; SJC WorkNet; Stockton East Water District; the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, Lodi, and Stockton; and John Herrick, Esq. The event is organized by the SJCOE’s CodeStack department in partnership with iHub San Joaquin, A.G. Spanos Cos., Restore the Delta, City of Manteca, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Delta Stewardship Council, San Joaquin Partnership, BOSS Business Systems, Café Coop, San Joaquin Delta College, and Stockton Unified School District.


High School First Place ($1,500):

Eagle Fang, Ronald E. McNair High School

High School Second Place ($1,000): Team Walter, Ronald E. McNair High School

High School Third Place ($500):

Mu, Merrill F. West High School

College First Place ($1,500):

Tigres del Sol, University of the Pacific* College Second Place ($1,000):

Unhandled Exception, University of the Pacific College Third Place ($500):

Top Coder, San Joaquin Delta College


First Place ($1,500):

Fantastic Four, San Joaquin Delta College Second Place ($1,000):

Ya Ya Ya’s, San Joaquin Delta College

* Cal Water Golden Spigot Award ($5,000)



Who is Jane Steinkamp? If you ask those who have worked with her over her 34year career in education or those who know her leadership as the assistant superintendent of Educational Services at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE), you will hear:

· “Jane is a creative, innovative, big ideas kind of leader.”

· “Jane is a fierce advocate for her community.”

· “Jane is a champion for students.”

· “Jane is a force to be reckoned with.”

· “Jane is a trailblazer and role model.”

· “Jane is an educational treasure.”

These sentiments and more fill the pages of Steinkamp’s nomination application for The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce 2022 ATHENA Leadership Award, which was submitted by Annie Cunial, SJCOE division director of STEM Programs.

The ATHENA Leadership Award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of accomplishment, excel in their chosen business or profession, have demonstrated support for the advancement of business and professional women, have devoted time and energy to their community, and have actively mentored others.

“She is not only a mentor who many -including myself -- look up to but also a supporter who empowers women in the workplace,” said Cunial.

On Sept. 1, Chamber Chief Executive Officer Tim Quinn surprised Steinkamp in front of approximately 100 educators at the SJCOE, telling her that she had been selected as the 2022 award recipient. Upon the announcement, Steinkamp gleefully said, “Thank you, I love the work that I do, and I love the people I work with.”

At the official awards ceremony held on Nov. 17 at the Stockton Golf and Country Club, Steinkamp accepted her award in front of a room full of her family, friends, colleagues, and other local educators, business professionals, and past ATHENA awardees who came before her.

In her acceptance speech, she shared memories from her childhood of helping in her father’s classroom and knowing she wanted to follow in his footsteps and have a classroom of her own one day.

She also shared stories of the women in her life who supported her throughout her journey. These women included her mother, who worked as a bank teller to help put Jane through college -- and colleagues who advocated for her, opened doors, and gave her a nudge through them.

“Agency,” Steinkamp said. “The capacity of an individual to actively choose to affect change in the lives of others.”

Jane then introduced women from the SJCOE who are “firsts” within the

organization, asking them to stand when she called their names. The list included Janine Kaeslin, the first female associate superintendent in the history of the SJCOE, and Christina Torres-Peters, the first Latina member of Cabinet, among others.

Steinkamp then called on more women to stand up and join them. “If you are a woman in education in this room, and if I or any other woman in education in this room has positively impacted your career -- if they lead you to the door, if they walked beside you, or pushed you through it, or turned around and dragged you through it, please stand.”

Many more women proudly stood up from the crowd.

“If I were the original Athena, defending Athens against Zeus ... these ladies and the ladies in the surrounding tables would be my army,” she said. “And we would win.”

To watch the awards ceremony, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXyrkHy1A_Q

Pictured Above: Steinkamp (third from left) with family and friends at the Nov. 17 ATHENA Awards Ceremony.

Steinkamp recognized for leadership and mentorship with 2022 ATHENA Leadership Award


When a veteran electrician told a group of fourth graders that they were going to learn how to bend metal pipe into a 90-degree angle, many of the students said they thought it would be a difficult task.

But when students used the right tool, leveraged their weight, and followed instructions, it turned out it was pretty easy. “It was really fun,” said Marissa, a fourth grader from Ventureland Academy.

Expanding the definition of what is possible to young students was a big part of the Mini Construction Trades Fair held at the Venture Academy Family of Schools on Nov. 16, which was during National Apprenticeship Week.

“Oftentimes students hear ‘college and career,’ but they don’t hear ‘apprenticeships,’” said Katie Wipfli, a director in the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) College and Career

Readiness Department, which worked with the Associated Builders and Contractors NorCal to offer this new event. “We’re excited about this because it starts that conversation (about apprenticeships) with students earlier.”

During the event, students also rode in a lift and watched a demonstration from a painter using epoxy to make decorative art.

“Career exploration really needs to start in elementary school, so students have a variety of ideas and interest areas to explore, Venture Academy Director Joni Hellstrom said. “So, by the time they get to high school, they can start narrowing down what they want to do.”

Otherwise, students might make a decision about their careers before even knowing what is possible, she said.

Fourth graders learn about apprenticeships and careers in the trades at Mini Construction Trades Fair


Delta College introduces high school students to industry career opportunities in the trades

More than 300 students from high schools across San Joaquin County came to Trades Day at San Joaquin Delta College on Oct. 18.

Designed to introduce high school youth to industry career opportunities in construction, design, subcontracting, heavy equipment, engineering, and other skilled trades -- the event gave students a chance to learn about careers by engaging in activities with professionals.

“We strive to connect industries to high school students through hands-on experiences,” said Brittany Albaugh with the Construction Industry Education (CIE) Foundation, which organized the event.

Students could try their hands at laying bricks, learned from electricians while tinkering on an electrical wall, and were introduced to heavy machinery.

Students also received other information and assistance that could lead to future careers, including getting help polishing their resumes to best reflect what they have to offer future employers.

Sixteen local businesses took part in the event. It was one of eight Trades Days scheduled by the CIE Foundation in California this school year. The San Joaquin County event was held in partnership with the Builders Exchange of San Joaquin, iHub San Joaquin, San Joaquin Delta College, and the San Joaquin Partnership. Find more information at tradesday.org


17th Annual Construction Trades Career Fair connects with hundreds of county students

More than 800 high school juniors and seniors climbed a girder, bent pipe, laid bricks, and sampled other hands-on activities to explore the trades while conversing with tradespeople about the paths they took to their careers at the 17th Annual Construction Trades Fair in Stockton on Sept. 23.

Samantha and Isabella, two students from Chavez High School (Stockton Unified School District), took turns at one of the stations where they could try their hand at welding.

Isabella, a senior, has always been interested in welding, and the activity reinforced that idea. “It looks cool, and I’ve always wanted to do it,” she said. “I actually had an experience of how it is, and I liked it.”

The fair was 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 best thing is that they can learn a skilled craft that isn’t going to just get them a job, but a career -- something they can take with

them for the rest of their lives,” said Gorgina Halaufia, business representative of Electrical Workers Local 595 which hosted the event at its electrical training center in Stockton. And through partnerships with community colleges, many apprentices will also be able to earn credits toward an associate degree, she said.

The first event, in 2005, drew a little over 100 students, said Rick Guantone, an organizer of the original event and apprenticeship consultant at the SJCOE.

That first career fair resulted from the desire to create a more meaningful interaction between students and trade representatives than what was available and to show more high school students how apprenticeships work.

Interest in apprenticeships has grown over the years for various reasons, he said, from both a push from the state level and the expansion of apprenticeships into non-traditional areas, like

information technology. The rising cost of college and the prospect of student debt is also causing more students to consider apprenticeships, he said.



Students and leaders from Friday Night Live club chapters across the county traveled to the San Joaquin County Office of Education for the annual Youth Summit on Oct. 25.

The summit began with an inspiring message from keynote speaker – and author of Every Monday Matters – Matthew Emerzian. To end his morning keynote session, Emerzian passed out two bracelets to each student that read “You Matter. Every Monday Matters.”

He then told everyone to stand up, move around the room, and find somebody who mattered to them. The task was

to tell the person why they mattered, then give them the second bracelet.

The rest of the day was spent in workshops that covered topics such as emotional well-being, drug effects on the brain, youth voices on social media, and more. In one session, various hands-on demonstrations were set up that showed the harmful effects of vaping and the toxic chemicals that are inhaled. In this session, students wrote how tobacco has negatively impacted their life on note cards that they then put on display in front of the room.

The goal of this year’s summit was to work alongside the youth as they learned how to prevent harmful habits and encourage their peers to make wise decisions.

The California Friday Night Live Partnership was developed in 1984 to keep youth safe and reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by driving under the influence. Today, the program has been implemented in nearly all of California’s 58 counties.

Students committed to preventing substance abuse and encouraging peers to make wise decisions


Medical emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time, so people learn life-saving techniques to prepare themselves to provide assistance until professional help arrives. They learn first aid or take cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification courses to be ready for times they could be the only ones able to help during an emergency.

“You don’t have to be a doctor or clinician to help them; you are doing what you need to do in that immediate moment to help save their life until the proper help arrives,” said Rita Rasuli while leading a training session at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) in August.

But the focus of the training was not just focused on physical health. The Youth Mental Health First Aid training was meant to get people ready to step in during a mental health emergency to bridge the gap and provide resources before a clinician or other mental health expert arrives.

“If you are around a young person and they are showing some signs of emotional distress, you’ll be able to help them at that moment,” said Rasuli, a coordinator with SJCOE Comprehensive Health.

The 8-hour training was designed to give adults who work with youth the skills they need to reach out and provide initial support to children who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem and help connect them to the appropriate care.

The skills will help teachers, school support staff, or anyone who works with young people understand crisis and non-crisis situations and step in and help that child, she said. The training builds mental health support for young people, whether they are experiencing the typical development challenges of adolescence or are facing an actual mental health crisis.

“It lets young people know that it is OK to feel whatever it is they are feeling and that there are adults who they can trust that will help them,” she said. “The sooner we are able to provide resources for them, the sooner we are able to help them. Especially in prevention -- you can minimize the negative impacts later.”

Young people learn how to build their own resiliency, and the adults in their lives can help them on their way to becoming successful adults, she said.


The Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings for adults working with children and adolescents ages 6-18 are offered through SJCOE Comprehensive Health at the SJCOE and in schools throughout San Joaquin County and beyond. The trainings are supported by grants, including the federal Bureau of Justice STOP Violence grant and the state Mental Health Student Services Act grant, which was awarded in partnership with San Joaquin County Behavioral Health Services. For more information about upcoming trainings, check the SJCOE calendar at www.sjcoe.org/calendar.aspx or contact Rita Rasuli at rrasuli@sjcoe.net or (209) 401-2036.


of youth (6-17 years) experience a mental health disorder


of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14


is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34

*Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness


It takes one trusted adult to help a child build resiliency. Be present. Young people need to know they can trust and turn to at least one person without fear of judgment. If an adult sees a young person in distress or shows signs of suicide ideation, ask them: “Are you thinking of suicide?” or “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

Find more mental health resources at www.sjcoe.org/CompHealth/ mentalhealth.aspx. If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis and needs help, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline.

Training teaches how to recognize and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders in youth


Experience Dyslexia training builds understanding and empathy for students with learning disabilities

Irene Hettervik had a lesson to teach -- and she was going to make it hard.

First, she told her students -- who were educators and education staff from the San Joaquin County region -- they had to write with their non-dominant hand. Then, she gave them a series of timed tasks that increased in difficulty, from writing the alphabet to tracing patterns that don’t quite look like handwriting or reproducing those loops and squiggles by memory.

If that wasn’t hard enough, she peppered the students with questions and comments the whole time or engaged a colleague in loud conversation within earshot of her students.

It was all part of a simulation designed to give educators an experience that would approach what students with dyslexia might feel. The lesson given by Hettervik, a program manager for the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) Early Childhood Education Department, was one of six rotating exercises that made up the Experience Dyslexia: A Learning Disabilities Simulation training in August at the SJCOE.

Organizers were clear that the exercises for the adults used practices that should not occur in a child’s classroom.

“This is designed to help us build empathy and understanding for the experiences of children and recognize when they may be struggling,” SJCOE Early Childhood Education Director Brandi Harrold said before the simulations began. “This is designed to be stressful. We make the activities challenging because that’s what children who have learning disabilities regularly face in the classroom. We’re trying to simulate that by putting you in experiences that are a little bit stressful. You might get emotional, and you might get tired after this because this is hard.”

Dyslexia is common, varies in degree, and is often misunderstood, Harrold said. And identifying it early will help students in their education.

The session at the SJCOE was just the start. The SJCOE will continue to

offer the training throughout the year. It is funded by an Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program grant from the California Department of Education. A team from Linden Unified School District was at this first session.

“I think it is important, so we understand the students who have dyslexia and how to support them,” district Assistant Superintendent of Educational and Student Services Jamie Hughes said. She plans to bring the training to school staff in her district to foster empathy for students and focus on meeting their needs.


While “dyslexia” may be a wellknown learning disability, it is commonly misunderstood.


· Seeing things backwards

· An indication of overall intelligence

· Something a child will outgrow


· A language-based learning disability

· Quite common



Curriculum Breakfast explores the benefits of rethinking grading practices

At the Curriculum Breakfast at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) on Sept. 1, educators from across the region came together to learn about ideas to improve how schools grade their students.

The discussion was led by keynote speaker Joe Feldman, the author of “Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms.”

“Equitable grading is when the grade is accurate, bias resistant, and motivational,” he said. During his presentation, he asked those present to look at the history of schools, how it shaped the way students were graded, and how students could benefit if grading practices changed.

He said that factors like extra credit and behavior don’t measure what a student is learning.

“Ultimately, we want to reflect what a student knows. Not what they do in a classroom, but what they know,” he said. “And what this does is make it explicit and transparent to students what the expectations are. So, the students always know where they are in their learning trajectory.”

The San Joaquin County Office of Education Continuous Improvement and Support Department holds Curriculum Breakfast meetings to provide professional learning opportunities for educators to hear from esteemed experts and develop a network to continue the conversation.

At the Sept. 1 breakfast, all attendees received a copy of Feldman’s book and had an opportunity to follow up in a monthly book study and community of practice over subsequent months.

Those present at the September meeting talked about their examples-- both as students and educators -- when they saw unfairness in grading. One example that was repeated by many was how the grades students received taking the same class at the same school could vary widely based entirely on the grading practices of individual teachers.

“Grading should be reflective of student work and student understanding,” said Brad Butcher, a science teacher who was part of a team of educators at the breakfast from Health Careers Academy (Stockton Unified School District). “Grades can be demotivating if they don’t reflect what a student is learning.”

Grades have a lasting impact on students since they are what is recorded in their report cards and transcripts, said Sally Glusing, SJCOE professional learning director.

“Equitable grading is when the grade is accurate, bias resistant, and motivational.”

“Equitable grading is the mindset and the practice of ensuring that the grades students receive in their K-12 classes reflect what they know and what they are being taught,” she said. “And that it is bias-free and does not incorporate other elements outside of what students learn in their classes.”

Educators also discussed how there are misunderstandings about the concept of equitable grading. It does not mean everybody gets an “A,” SJCOE Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Jane Steinkamp said.

“No. Everybody doesn’t get an ‘A.’ But everybody gets an opportunity,” she said. “And that is the importance of this work.”

Find Curriculum Breakfast dates and information on the SJCOE calendar at www.sjcoe.org/calendar.aspx.



About 150 middle school students rotated from table to table at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) on Nov. 3 to meet engineers, nurses, researchers, biologists, and other professionals who had turned their passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) into their life’s work.

At the same time, they also dug into plates of enchiladas, beans, and rice -- since sharing a meal is a central piece of the annual Dinner with a STEM Professional event hosted by the SJCOE STEM Programs Department to encourage a love of STEM education and broaden the horizons of students as they look to their own futures.

In addition to sharing their knowledge and continuing sense of achievement and wonder they find on the job, the volunteer STEM professionals at the event also gave the students a glimpse of what it takes to get from middle school to a career in often high-demand STEM professions.

“People can learn about careers by listening to people and getting inspired,” said Jesabel, a sixth grader at Neil Hafley Elementary School (Manteca Unified School District), adding that it also makes it a little

less scary when she thinks about her path to finding a career. “It is interesting hearing how people explain their life, and they’re saying that it’s OK to fail. It’s inspirational.”

Jesabel was part of a group of students talking over the dinner break at the event with Raul Lara, a performance management specialist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory whose field is geospatial analysis. Lara found his inspiration and first connection with a real engineer at the event when he was a student.

He was one of the volunteers who came to the event, eager to share with the young students. They prepared presentations, and some brought hands-on activities. Water plant operators brought beakers and solutions so students could try their hand at testing water samples.

Stacy Sherman, from California Fish and Wildlife, brought a hummingbird nest, a sandhill crane’s leg, a stuffed nutria, and other specimens that drew students into a conversation about science and nature. “Hearing kids say ‘Wow!’ or even ‘Ewww!’ and seeing their general interest -- I love to see it,” she said.

STEM professionals aren’t just scientists doing research in a lab, and the dinner event is a good place for students to understand that, said Scott Takechi, a science and math teacher at A.G. Spanos Elementary School (Stockton Unified School District), who has brought students to more than one event. “It piques their curiosity.” It’s also especially important in reaching girls to help encourage them to go into fields where women are underrepresented, he said.

Before the event began, Takechi waited outside the SJCOE with two of his sixthgrade students. Both were excited for the event to start, and both said science was their favorite subject in school, but for different reasons.

“I like learning new things,” said Kayloni.

“I like the challenge,” said Yessica.

After finishing their dessert and getting ready to head back home, the two left with a greater interest in science and new connections to those who practice it. And they had fun, too.

“I liked it a lot,” Kayloni said.

Inspiring Dinner with a STEM Professional event joins students and science, technology, engineering, and math professionals for dinner and conversation


Family Resource & Referral Center honors TEACH! Academy as a 2022 Action on Behalf on Children awardee

Did you know there’s a teacher education and early college high school program in San Joaquin County where students can earn both a high school diploma and associate degree by the time they graduate 12th grade? That program is called TEACH! Academy.

Part of the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s (SJCOE) Venture Academy Family of Schools, TEACH! opened its doors in 2021 to combat the teacher shortage while building a future teacher workforce that reflects the diversity of San Joaquin County.

The academy offers students a clear and affordable path to a career in education, and it is already racking up some accolades for its work, most recently being named a recipient of the Family Resource & Referral Center’s (FRRC) 33rd Annual Action on Behalf of Children Award in the school category.

TEACH! was honored with the award at the Nov. 3 ceremony in Stockton for its exemplary actions to support youth and its potential to make a lasting impact in the lives of thousands of children in the community in the years to come.

Program Coordinator Megan Filice accepted the award with fellow TEACH! instructors John

Giang and Paul Goossens. “Teaching is an incredibly tough job, but it’s also incredibly rewarding,” she said in her acceptance speech. “It is a privilege to work with young people every day, and we hope to see the influence of that work for generations of teachers and learners to come.”

SJCOE Assistant Superintendent of County Operated Schools and Programs Sean Morrill, Venture Academy Division Director Joni Hellstrom, and Venture administrators Silvia De Alba, Amy Thompson, and Amy Marszewski were in the crowd to support the TEACH! educators.

“As my colleagues and I look out at the Venture Academy leadership team cheering us on, we feel grateful to be members of the innovative, student-centered organization – San Joaquin County Office of Education,” said Filice.

Filice also recognized “the village” that makes TEACH! Academy possible, including the SJCOE and County Superintendent of Schools Troy Brown, San Joaquin Delta College, Teachers College of San Joaquin, and San Joaquin A+. “They say it takes a village and TEACH! truly is a product of an amazing village.”


At TEACH!, students graduate with a high school diploma from Venture Academy and a free associate degree in Elementary Teacher Education from San Joaquin Delta College. Upon earning a bachelor’s degree, TEACH! students can earn a teaching credential through the Teachers College of San Joaquin.

TEACH! is currently in its second year with 43 ninth- and tenth-grade students enrolled! If you would like to learn more about becoming a TEACH! student, visit www.ventureacademyca.org

Also in the lineup of 2022 Action on Behalf of Children award winners was

Lodi High School junior Lucas Goulart. Goulart accepted the “Kids Helping Kids” award for his work increasing awareness about suicide prevention at his school site and leading a Sparking Friendships Club to create a safe place where students of various abilities feel accepted and included.


The timer on the big screen in Jennifer Barry’s classroom ticked down to zero. It was time to change to the next activity on the schedule for her students at Redwood School, a school focused on students ages 6-22 with special needs.

But it wasn’t Barry -- a veteran teacher at the school -- who went to the front of the class for the regular morning check-in. That was Madison Wood -- a resident teacher embedded in Barry’s classroom at the school, which is part of San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) Special Education Programs.

For the morning check-in, Wood started reviewing the calendar by asking the students to count along with her through the days of the month leading up to the current day. The chorus of student responses included electronic voices from the tablet computers used as communication devices for some of the students who are non-verbal.

Wood called on students to stand up and share their answers. She also moved from student to student when somebody needed extra attention throughout the fun back-andforth that covered everything from the weather to what each student was wearing that day.

Wood, a resident teacher in the classroom, modeled much of the lesson from Barry. When reflecting on her performance, Wood noticed she didn’t leave students as much time to respond and give answers as Barry does. “I need to give students more time to help them think

about the answer,” Wood said. “I need to be more comfortable with the silence.”

Wood was paired with Barry for the full school year through the Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ) residency program called Residency@TCSJ. A few months into the school year, Wood already feels more confident in the classroom and that the program is building a solid foundation for the start of a career she already loves.

“I really think that by the end of the year, I will feel prepared,” said Wood. “It will give me the peace of mind and knowing I can do it on my own because I’ve done it for a whole year.”

Special education teachers are in short supply, and schools are bracing for the special education teacher shortage only to worsen. It is an issue nationwide, but not every place has something like TCSJ. The residency program at TCSJ is just one of the ways that the college is filling the gap with high-quality teachers and other positions in special education in the region.

“We work closely with our districts in ensuring that we have quality special education teachers in the classrooms serving our students,” said Girlie Hale, president of TCSJ, which is part of the SJCOE. Special education is just one of the areas covered at TCSJ in its programs, which include teacher credentialing programs, administrator credentialing programs, and master’s degree programs, as well as the residency program. “At Teachers College of San Joaquin, we play an important role in the development of teachers and teacher leaders.”

The college doesn’t just teach educators; it supports them in becoming great educators and gives them the confidence, skills, and inspiration to remain in the profession, she said. “I truly believe that we do a great service for this area, for this region, and we’re really happy to be a part of that pipeline, from recruitment all the way to retention.”

Support is especially important for new special education teachers, said Karin Compise, Ed.D., TCSJ residency program coordinator.

Teachers College of San Joaquin’s residency and other programs help to build the next generation of special education teachers and leaders


The teachers in the program don’t just get to learn best practices as they build their fundamental skills to be teachers -- they get to be there when issues arise, she said. “Residents get to see how mentors react, prepare for, and deal with all of those crazy things that happen in the classroom that you might not be able to be prepared for. When novice teachers experience things for the first time, they don’t always have the support of somebody who’s a veteran who can handle it with ease,” she said. “So, residents get the benefit of experiencing these kinds of things that happen with the wisdom of a mentor.”

This year, the program added a new element, allowing special education paraprofessionals -- also known as instructional assistants -who have bachelor’s degrees to start their residency as paraprofessionals with mentor teachers. Through the course of the year, the residents gradually take on the role of teacher.

“It’s a natural progression for me to move into the special education teaching world,” said Israela Valenzuela, a resident, and paraprofessional at Franklin High School (Stockton Unified School District). The program at TCSJ helps her build on her existing skills and passion for special education.

She was excited about teaching in special education before, but her mentor teacher in the classroom and the staff at TCSJ have given her more excitement and inspiration, she said. “And then I take it back to the classroom and just pour it into the classroom,” she said. “I found my place here.”

Back at Redwood School, Ashley Correa had the day mapped out before the

“We work closely with our districts in ensuring that we have quality special education teachers in the classrooms serving our students.”
- Girlie Hale, TCSJ President
Above: Residency@TCSJ students, along with Coordinator Karin Compise (bottom left), work in their class at Teachers College of San Joaquin after the end of a school day spent in a K-12 classroom with a mentor teacher.

first student arrived. The teacher has a clipboard with the day’s schedule in pictures on a laminated sheet.

Correa doesn’t just follow the schedule; she also lets students know they are on it.

“We all have our jackets on. We checked our schedule,” Correa said before she and the instructional assistants took the student in her classroom out for a walk through the campus.

This is Correa’s first year in charge of her own classroom. Last year she was in the TCSJ residency program with Barry as her master teacher. The schedule is something she models after what she learned from Barry, though she has modified it to fit her teaching style and the needs of her students.

“Scheduling is very important,” Barry said. It gives much-needed structure to students with autism and other special needs, she said. Teachers use their skills to manage class time and student behaviors to keep day-to-day learning on schedule. Keeping to a daily schedule also keeps the teacher working toward the longterm goals for each student laid out in individualized education plans (IEPs).

Barry and Wood go through each day together. After the students go home, the pair go over the day and plan for the next one. Wood pays close attention to Barry.

“As a special education teacher, you really juggle a lot, and you wear a lot of hats. She seems to do it all with ease,” Wood said. “Seeing her as a role model, I couldn’t ask for a better mentor teacher.”

The program benefits students in the short term by adding the resident teacher as an additional teacher in the classroom. But that isn’t the only reason Barry chose to be a mentor teacher. She is also thinking about students she might never meet -- those who will enter special education programs like Redwood in the years to come.

They need special education teachers to learn the fundamental life skills that will help them live their lives as independently as possible, she said.

“It’s the kids in our program. That’s what is at stake. Their independence. Their self-confidence. Their connection to the community. Their future,” she said.

“And it makes me sad to think that there can be a population or a group of students that could come up who don’t

Preparing and inspiring educators

Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ) provides a variety of programs for those who wish to begin or advance in a career in all aspects of education. Many include a focus on special education.

• Master of Education

• Teaching Credential Programs, including Residency@TCSJ

• Administrative Services Credential Programs

• Certificate Programs

• Trainings, including paraprofessional training

• Professional Learning Center, where educators can earn professional development units

To learn more: https://teacherscollegesj.edu

Special Education classrooms need YOU!

Careers in the field of Special Education are in high demand. The San Joaquin County Office of Education, along with local school districts, are hiring teachers, instructional assistants (substitute and permanent), and other positions to serve in Special Education classrooms. Learn more and apply at www.edjoin.org

Above: Madison Wood (left), a resident teacher at Redwood School, shares a classroom with Jennifer Barry (right), her mentor teacher.
Art is important at all levels of education. When students have the chance to experience arts in education from a young age, they have an outlet to express themselves, gain valuable skills, and explore different interests.


Arts education programs in schools across San Joaquin County help students build social-emotional and interpersonal skills

The sounds of violin strings, cameras capturing photos, paint brushes moving along a page, and students singing in harmony can be heard in schools across San Joaquin County throughout the year. But during Arts in Education Week -- it’s also a time to celebrate the importance of the arts in schools.

Arts in Education Week begins on the second Sunday in September. This year, the Ssan Joaquin County Office of Education traveled across the county to see the amazing art happening in schools. The administrators, teachers, and students from multiple schools we spoke to said arts education does more than teach students to create art -- it helps build community.

Classes such as photography, orchestra, and theater “give students a place to call home,” said Troy Fast, principal at Weston Ranch High School.

The benefits of arts in education don’t stop there.

“There is something to be said about the social-emotional piece and giving kids a place where they can be creative and make mistakes and it’s okay,” said Anthony Dahl, Manteca Unified School District’s visual and performing arts coordinator who has seen the impact arts have had on students throughout his years in education. “Making mistakes are a part of learning.”


The musical thriller was performed Dec. 1-3. On opening night, the crowd and students were buzzing with excitement.

and build friendships. “We are one team working together towards one goal,” said Alena, a junior and a treasurer in the class. This mindset was clear among the class as the students encouraged one another and remained dedicated to perfecting their performances during the weeks before the shows.

They reached that goal on opening night, Nov. 4. All the students came together to bring West Side Story to Lathrop High. When the show ended, the audience erupted in applause and the students took a bow.

Before students left the stage for the night, they thanked VanEerde for believing in them.


Manteca Unified School District

There is a place for everyone in the theater at East Union High School. In the combined Musical Theater and Choir class in September, students were rehearsing for the first musical thriller of the year, Sweeney Todd. Teachers Annette Taser and Gary Fritzen expressed their excitement about this combined class because it allows students to explore their passions while working on a production like they never had before. Returning students said that this show is different from shows in previous years because the musical numbers are more challenging. They also welcomed the challenge and the chance to push themselves outside of their comfort zones. Even during early rehearsals in September, the theater hummed with excitement as students set up props, measured for costumes, and classmates were figuring out their groove with one another. The students have seen how the arts bring people together.

“Even if you don’t think that you fit in, there’s a spot for everyone,” said Alyssa, a senior. “It takes so many more moving parts than anyone would expect.” If center stage is not the place for you, students have the opportunity to help out off the stage with costumes, lighting, props, and more, she said. Many of the moving parts happen behind the curtain with the stage crew. Brooklyn, the stage manager, is enjoying the hands-on skills she is learning. “These extracurriculars help so much with the other classes,” she shared. “It helps give you those social and hands-on skills, and you use your brain in a way you might not be used to in a classroom.”


Manteca Unified School District

The Lathrop High School choir isn’t just a class, it’s a family.

The class includes student-led “choir families.” Being part of a choir family allows students to engage in small group discussions and form friendships.

During Arts in Education Week, students in Elizabeth VanEerde’s Show Choir class had just started rehearsing for their performances of West Side Story that would be performed after the annual Talent Showcase in November. Students also choreographed the performance.

In her 33 years of teaching music, VanEerde has seen the impact music has on students, such as “personal confidence, leadership skills, and the appreciation for respecting people of all ethnicities, orientations, and backgrounds,” she said. “It’s people really coming together and accepting each other.”

It’s what happens in VanEerde’s class, where the students came together every day to practice, help each other,


Tracy Unified School District

The George Kelly Elementary School Eagles soared their way through the arts during Arts in Education Week.

Art is important at all levels of education. When students have the chance to experience arts in education from a young age, they have an outlet to express themselves, gain valuable skills, and explore different interests.

Laura Olson’s third-grade class enjoyed their weekly music class with music teacher Mitchell Beck as they learned about lines and spaces through interactive activities and competitions. To end the class, Beck showed his students a soprano saxophone and played various student-suggested songs.


Second graders in Monica Hill’s class received a visit from a parent art docent, Sonia Munoz, who led a step-by-step watercolor painting activity. Students followed along to create unique paintings of an orca jumping out of the ocean. Mrs. Munoz has been an art docent for years because she sees the value it adds to children’s lives. At the beginning of every art lesson, she provides the history of the artist or art technique. She is not only passionate about teaching art, but about teaching the history behind it.


Ripon Unified School District

Before the school day even started, students in the zero-period Strings class could be heard playing songs on their violins.

“We are teaching them how to listen to and evaluate the world,” said Ripon High music teacher Geoffory Felver. Throughout his 10 years of teaching, he has seen the tremendous impact that classes in the arts have had on students. “It really teaches kids to assess the world in a different manner and think about it from a different perspective.”

As the bell rang, students were off to their first-period class. For some, that was Art 2/3 class taught by Dakota Bowers. Within the first month of school, the students were pushed out of their comfort zones to create art involving detailed shading, geometric shapes, and realistic textures.

During Arts in Education Week, the students were hard at work on their drawings of the human ribcage and foot bones.


Manteca Unified School District

What do Advanced Photography, Orchestra, and Advanced Choir classes all have in common? At Weston Ranch High School, it’s passionate students and teachers.

After talking with students at Weston Ranch, it’s clear that these classes are more than a class -- they are community, friendship, and inspiration. Riley, a senior in the Orchestra class, shared about groups formed by students that practice outside of school hours. “We practice on our own free will,” Riley said. “It is really cool that we all found this thing that we like to do.”

Principal, Troy Fast, shared that he is excited about the future of the arts at Weston Ranch as these classes continue to build on the positive momentum that has been building for years. “The photography, graphic design, orchestra, band, choir, and leadership classes are all working together this year, and it’s created an environment of school spirit,” he said.

This environment was clear during Arts in Education Week as the Advanced Photography class was preparing for their first art show of the year. Students were printing their photos, attaching the photos to a frame, and hanging them on large display panels that would be out in the quad during lunch time the following day. Meanwhile, other students were practicing different photography techniques, using drones for aerial photography, and making Breast Cancer Awareness shirts for the football team


print shop.

County High School Art Show

More than 300 students competed for prizes in 15 categories while showing off their works of art to a countywide audience last May at the Best of San Joaquin County High School Art Show. Organized by the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE), the event will return on May 8, 2023, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Wentworth Education Center. To learn more about the countywide art show, please go www. sjcoe.org/studentactivities. For additional questions, reach out to Erika Chapman, SJCOE events and academic competitions coordinator, at echapman@sjcoe.net.

No matter what the students in the class were working on, they were excited to share it with fellow students and staff.
“I think we are changing the story of the school through student leadership and student initiative,” Band and Orchestra director Robert Brown said.


Equity Leadership Team working to ensure representation of all members of the San Joaquin County Office of Education community

The Equity Leadership Team is a group of San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) staff members taking the lead to ensure all members of the SJCOE community are represented, heard, and supported.

Formed in October 2020 and now led by Lisa Bowman, the director of the SJCOE’s Equity, Inclusion, and Access Department, the leadership team began their work by vetting consultants to help guide the SJCOE in creating safe, just, and inclusive work and educational environments.

This work has led to training opportunities for management with a plan to provide training for all employees over the next few years.

“My hope is that this work will provide more people with a sense of safety and belonging and will show our community what is truly attainable when we work together,” said SJCOE Business Services Division Director and Equity Leadership Team member Terrell Martinez.

Other members of the team shared their hopes for the SJCOE’s equity work, too. “My hope is for our equity work to have a direct impact on future generations of educators and students,” said Girlie Hale, president of Teachers College of San Joaquin.

Team member Hector Calderon is County Operated Schools and Programs truancy

intervention specialist. “We ask our students to make small changes and do better. My hope is that in our organization, we hold ourselves to the same standard in fostering inclusive environments,” he said.

Meet the entire team on page 31 and sign up to receive the SJCOE Equity, Inclusion, and Access monthly department newsletter by emailing lbowman@sjcoe.net


According to authors Shane Safir and Jamila Dugan: “Equity is an approach to ensuring equally high outcomes for all by removing the predictability of success or failure that currently correlates with any racial, social, economic, or cultural factor.”

Lisa Bowman, San Joaquin County Office of Education director of Equity, Inclusion, and Access, states, “Equity in the workplace is the building of a ‘culture of belonging,’ in which everyone feels safe to bring their authentic selves to work. They feel welcome in their workplace environment, they feel valued in their contribution to the organization, and that they have a voice.”

Equity goes hand in hand with inclusion in a welcoming workplace. Inclusion is about actively recognizing diversity, embracing qualities and perspectives that make us unique, and understanding that those differences we bring strengthen our organization.

We Are SJCOE is a regular feature in the Outlook to celebrate members of the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) community. If there is someone you would like to see featured, email sjcoepio@sjcoe.net #WeAreSJCOE


Meet the Equity Leadership Team!

Lisa Bowman Director II, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Janine Kaeslin Associate Superintendent, Student Programs and Services Terrell Martinez Division Director, County Business Services Amy Thompson Director II, Venture Academy Christina Torres-Peters Chief Human Resources Officer, Human Resources Brandie Brunni Assistant Superintendent, Special Education and SELPA Girlie Hale President, Teachers College of San Joaquin Jane Steinkamp Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services Sean Morrill Assistant Superintendent, County Operated Schools and Programs Hector Calderon Intervention and Prevention Specialist, Alternative Education Vicki Lock Re-Engagement Specialist, one.Program Stephanie Olmos Administrative Assistant, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Desiree OrtegaAdministrative Assistant, Mathematics

From top (left to right):

Armando Abujen-Samaniego, Grade 6

Woodbridge Elementary School

Kilo Mao, Grade 7

Pulliam Elementary School

Arkie Centeno, Grade 9

Delta Charter High School

Ruby Sanchez, Grade 2

Banta Elementary School

Abraham Perez, Grade 4

Golden West Elementary School

Sophia Hernandez Rubio, Grade 4

Linden Elementary School

Gia Massoni, Grade 6

Questa Elementary School


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