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925.942.3429

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CCCOE Press Releases - 2017

January 2017

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April

County Office of Education
2017-18 Teacher of the Year Receives Special Visit

Acalanes TOY Rhuepell Stroud

MARTINEZ, Calif., April 18, 2017 – Earlier today, Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata visited Rhuepell Stroud's classroom at Mt. McKinley School. Stroud, a 38-year multiple-subjects instructor, was recently named CCCOE's Teacher of the Year (TOY). Since 2003, he has been teaching core subjects to grades 6-12 at Mt. McKinley School. Interesting to note, Mt. McKinley School is located inside the Martinez Juvenile Hall Detention Center.

When asked about his philosophy of teaching, Stroud said: “I always imagined that I would save the world and transform lives like the teachers in To Sir with Love, Up the Down Staircase, The Blackboard Jungle, and Stand and Deliver. Although teachers might not transform lives, we do make a difference. We facilitate the possibility of students transforming their education and future by providing the necessary tools for them to be successful. And like the teachers in each of these movies, we are transformed by the opportunity to serve others.”

On the evening of September 28, 2017, the 22 Contra Costa County TOYs, class of 2017-18, including Rhuepell Stroud, will be introduced and honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Concord Hilton. The 22 TOYs will be accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers. The expected crowd of close to 500 will also include numerous other supporters of the program. For more information about this year’s CCCOE TOY Program, please review this earlier-sent news release.

Throughout the school year, Superintendent Sakata makes it a point to visit each incoming TOY in their classrooms, prior to the Dinner Celebration. This is a great way for her to meet the teachers and their students, as well as take in the day’s lesson plan. When individually introducing the TOYs at the Dinner Celebration, Sakata will tell the audience about her visit and will quote one or two of the students’ remarks about their revered teacher.

Currently, there are approximately 8,400 teachers educating more than 176,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county named their TOY representatives in mid March. The incoming 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

Note regarding eligible participants:

  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, and the CCCOE are participating in this year's TOY program.
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Diablo Valley College’s turn.
  • Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates

Follow Contra Costa County's Teacher of the Year program on Twitter: #cocotoy


Orinda Union School District
2017-18 Teacher of the Year Receives Special Visit

Orinda TOY Susan Boudreau

ORINDA, Calif., April 18, 2017 – Today, Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata visited the classroom of Susan Boudreau, at Orinda Intermediate School. Boudreau, a 33-year instructor, was recently named Orinda Union School District's Teacher of the Year (TOY). Boudreau has been teaching science at the Orinda school for the past 25 years. Prior to her current position, she had taught biology and science in the West Contra Costa County Unified School District, at U.C. Berkeley, and at the Queen Elizabeth School (grades 6-12), in Devon, UK.

“The accomplishment of which I am most proud is making science more accessible to girls and to all students who are not part of the traditional white-coat scientist mold,” says Boudreau, whose father is a particle physicist. “This compelling world of physics is incredibly male-dominated – from middle school onward, and outward to engineering too. The under-enrollment of girls is a huge waste of talent for society and for their own lives and careers, with physics being a gateway to so much beyond STEM. I want to model and convey the message that science is a fascinating, powerful, and relevant endeavor in which ALL are invited to take a part.”

On the evening of September 28, 2017, the 22 Contra Costa County TOYs, class of 2017-18, including Rhuepell Stroud, will be introduced and honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Concord Hilton. The 22 TOYs will be accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers. The expected crowd of close to 500 will also include numerous other supporters of the program. For more information about this year’s CCCOE TOY Program, please review this earlier-sent news release.

Throughout the school year, Superintendent Sakata makes it a point to visit each incoming TOY in their classrooms, prior to the Dinner Celebration. This is a great way for her to meet the teachers and their students, as well as take in the day’s lesson plan. When individually introducing the TOYs at the Dinner Celebration, Sakata will tell the audience about her visit and will quote one or two of the students’ remarks about their revered teacher.

Currently, there are approximately 8,400 teachers educating more than 176,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county named their TOY representatives in mid March. The incoming 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

Note regarding eligible participants:

  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, and the CCCOE are participating in this year's TOY program.
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Diablo Valley College’s turn.
  • Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates

Follow Contra Costa County's Teacher of the Year program on Twitter: #cocotoy


Acalanes Union High School District
2017-18 Teacher of the Year Receives Special Visit

Acalanes TOY China HarveyWALNUT CREEK, Calif., April 17, 2017 – Earlier today, Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata visited the Las Lomas High School classroom of China Harvey. Harvey, an eight-year social studies instructor, was recently named Acalanes Union High School District's Teacher of the Year (TOY).

“While I went into teaching because of my love of history and my desire to share often untold stories, I have stayed a teacher because of my students,” says Harvey. “They enrich my life through their intelligence, humor, inquisitiveness, and love for life. I am happy to see them every time they walk into my classroom. Combining my love of history with the joy I get from teaching students motivates me every day.”

On the evening of September 28, 2017, the 22 Contra Costa County TOYs, class of 2017-18, will be introduced and honored at the annual Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Concord Hilton. The 22 TOYs will be accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers. The expected crowd of close to 500 will also include numerous other supporters of the program. For more information about this year’s CCCOE TOY Program, please review this earlier-sent news release.

Throughout the school year, Superintendent Sakata makes it a point to visit each incoming TOY in their classrooms, prior to the Dinner Celebration. This is a great way for her to meet the teachers and their students, as well as take in the day's lesson plan. When individually introducing the TOYs at the Dinner Celebration, Sakata will tell the audience about her visit and will quote one or two of the students' remarks about their revered teacher.

Currently, there are approximately 8,400 teachers educating more than 176,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county named their TOY representatives in mid March. The incoming 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

Note regarding eligible participants:

  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, and the CCCOE are participating in this year's TOY program.
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Diablo Valley College’s turn.
  • Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates

Follow Contra Costa County's Teacher of the Year program on Twitter: #cocotoy


2017-2018 Contra Costa County
Teachers of the Year Finalists Named

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., April 10, 2017 – The following four teachers have been named as the 2017-2018 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) Finalists: Paula Raj, West Contra Costa Unified School District; Kari Stewart, Walnut Creek School District; Tom Trowbridge, Mt. Diablo Unified School District; and Marissa Ware, San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Two of these four finalists will be chosen in late September, and will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program.

To see the entire listing of the 22 Contra Costa County TOYs, class of 2017-2018, please review this earlier news release.

Before she was old enough to attend school, Paula Raj began honing her teaching skills with a “classroom” of stuffed animals and younger neighbor kids. Raj teaches Spanish to grades 9-12 at De Anza High, in Richmond. The 35-year teacher has been with the high school for the past 21 years. Prior to her current position, the Brooklyn native taught middle high and high school Spanish and French in Brooklyn, New York City, and Lexington, Massachusetts, between 1968-1995.

While majoring in genetics, Kari Stewart found her career in education through a college internship tutoring local at-risk students. Stewart will soon be finishing her 24th year of teaching for the Walnut Creek School District. For the past two years, Stewart has taught multiple subjects at Tice Creek School, in Walnut Creek. Her former experience includes teaching at the school district’s Walnut Creek Intermediate and Buena Vista Elementary, grades 5-8.

Tom Trowbridge has been a building trades and engineering educator for more than 11 years at Concord High. Trowbridge’s high school courses include CTE/ROP robotics engineering, civil engineering and architecture, woodworking technology, and construction technology. For the past year, Trowbridge and his students have made quite a bit of news with the construction of their low-cost, eco-friendly Tiny Homes project.

Marissa Ware was well on the road to becoming a physical therapist, but during her college work with an infant development program, she became absolutely fascinated watching the development stages of the infant and toddler patients grow physically and mentally. From this experience, Ware changed course to education. The 18-year educator has been teaching grades K-3, at John Baldwin Elementary, in Danville for the past six years.

The county's TOY program is directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates as follows:

I Application Screening:
On March 31, a committee of 13 judges, representing the county's education, business, and public-sector partners meticulously reviewed the applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently rated each application. After the application screening and scoring was completed, these four teachers were selected to advance to the next two phases as TOY finalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:
During the months of April and early May, a small committee of education specialists and business partners will observe the four finalists interacting with their students during class, followed by interviews with the TOYs. The committee and finalists will discuss topics such as their teaching philosophies and student-progress techniques.

III Speech Presentation:
This coming August, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

On the evening of September 28, 2017, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of close to 500) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects her classroom visits of each teacher during the current spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in August) to the filled banquet room. Finally, the night will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2017-2018 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

Currently, there are approximately 8,400 teachers educating more than 176,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county recently named their Teachers of the Year (TOY) representatives. This year’s 22 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Twenty-one of these representatives, those who teach grades pre-K through adult education, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two winners of the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.


Campolindo High School has an impressive showing at the California State Academic Decathlon Championship

Academic Decathlon first place winning team Campolindo High SchoolMORAGA, Calif., April 5, 2017—The recently crowned Contra Costa County High School Academic Decathlon Champions, Campolindo High School (Moraga), (see story) successfully represented its county during the weekend of March 23-26, at the 2017 California Academic Decathlon, held in Sacramento.

Campolindo’s coach Paul Verbanszky reported that the team represented Contra Costa County very well at the state competition. The team took 6th place, overall, in Division 2 (medium-size school), and picked up a number of individual awards:

Zoe Portnoff, First Place (Gold), Overall Scores; Scholastic Division
Ashley Zhang, Seventh Place, Highest Scoring Student by a School; Overall
Ashley Zhang, Second Place (Silver) in the subject of Art, Honors Division
Zoe Portnoff, Third Place (Bronze) in the subject of Art, Scholastic Division
Mikhail Vasilyev, First Place (Gold) in the Essay Competition, Scholastic Division
Zoe Portnoff, First Place (Gold) in the Interview Competition, Scholastic Division
Zoe Portnoff, Third Place (Bronze) in the subject of Literature, Scholastic Division
Zoe Portnoff, First Place (Gold) in the subject of Music, Scholastic Division
Athya Uthayakumar, First Place (Gold) in the subject of Science, Scholastic Division
Bennett Coates, Second Place (Silver) in the subject of Science, Scholastic Division
Zoe Portnoff, First Place (Gold) in the subject of Social Science, Scholastic Division
Mikhail Vasilyev, Second Place (Silver) in the subject of Social Science, Scholastic Division

Verbanszky teaches AP psychology and government/economics, and has been Campolindo's Academic Decathlon coach since 2005 — they have won the county's Academic Decathlon title for the past seven consecutive years. His Academic Decathlon is an after school club with funding coming from generous donations and fundraising. “It is a tremendous accomplishment to compete in the State Competition”, says Verbanszky.

“I am very proud of my students. They have put in countless hours after school preparing for competition. And, our team gives a big thank you to the Contra Costa County Office of Education for all of their hard work with Academic Decathlon, so that the students can have such a positive experience.”

Directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and with the assistance of community volunteers, the Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations. The subjects in the competition include art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, essay, interview, and speech (prepared and impromptu) – plus the popular SuperQuiz™. Approximately, 100 participating high school students had been studying and preparing for this event with their coaches since September. This year’s Academic Decathlon theme was World War II.

The Academic Decathlon was first created by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, California. Firmly believing that everyone's learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenge, Dr. Peterson set in motion the contest that has since come to be recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States. The program spread rapidly throughout the states due to the success and excitement it engendered. USAD was founded in 1981.


John Swett and Pittsburg School Districts included in 2017
Model School Attendance Program Awardees

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., April 4, 2017 — Recently, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 27 California school attendance programs were recognized as Model School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) for innovative and effective practices to reduce suspensions, expulsions, and chronic absenteeism – News Release. Among the honored California school districts were Contra Costa County's Pittsburg Unified School District and John Swett Unified School District.

According to the findings, the Pittsburg Unified School District decreased its chronic absenteeism rate by an impressive 21 percent over the past three years. During the 2015-16 school year, John Swett Unified School District improved 15.9 percent over a chronic absentee rate of 19.3 percent from the prior 2014-15 school year.

“Students need to be in school to learn. The terrific work of the review boards is a testament to the collaboration between the school, parents, and community so that all students have the opportunity to succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college,” Torlakson said. The number of districts that applied to the Model SARB Recognition Program tripled since 2016. The State SARB, an expert panel appointed by Torlakson, reviewed the applications.

All school programs chosen use a three-tiered approach to keep students in school. The first tier rewards improved attendance and creates an engaging school climate with low suspension rates. The second tier identifies attendance problems early and provides personalized outreach to students and parents. The third tier refers the most persistent attendance or behavior problems to a SARB and combines resources to solve the underlying attendance problems.

In its third year, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, Karen Sakata, and District Attorney, Mark Peterson have been co-championing two attendance awareness initiatives with the theme Every School Day Counts: Attend today, Achieve for a Lifetime! The countywide campaign is designed to provide communication resources to schools, engage school communities, and boost student attendance as soon as children enter school. For additional information about the award-winning program, visit its website. The other attendance initiative is the Attendance Learning Network funded by the Long's Foundation and facilitated by Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), in partnership with the national experts on chronic absenteeism, Hedy Chang and Cecelia Leong, of Attendance Works. Both the John Swett and Pittsburg Districts have been active participants in – both of these initiatives.

The State SARB Chair, David Kopperud and Education Consultant, Jennifer Gomeztrejo presented a Model SARB application workshop in December at the CCCOE to train attendees on model SARB best practices and assist districts interested in submitting an application. Director Dr. Lindy Khan represents the CCCOE on the State SARB.

Poor attendance increases the likelihood that certain groups of students will drop out, including children living in poverty, African Americans, Native Americans, foster youth, and others. Chronic absenteeism and truancy also costs California school districts millions of dollars each year.


Contra Costa County's school districts announce their
2017-2018 Teachers of the Year

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., April 3, 2017 – Currently, there are approximately 8,401 teachers educating more than 176,000 students in Contra Costa County’s public schools. To recognize their efforts and bring much-deserved honor to the teaching profession, the participating school districts in the county recently named their Teachers of the Year (TOY) representatives. (See list below.) The upcoming school year’s 21 TOYs represent 17 Contra Costa County school districts, the Contra Costa Community College District, and the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE). Most of these representatives, those who teach grades K thru 12, are eligible to compete in the Contra Costa County TOY competition. The two top teachers in the county TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State TOY Program this coming fall.

“We are extremely proud of these astounding educators,” said Karen Sakata, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools. “They were thoughtfully chosen to represent their schools and districts, and truly represent what is best about public education.”

The county’s TOY program is directed by the CCCOE. With such a high caliber of teaching professionals to draw from, the CCCOE’s TOY program uses a three-stage selection process, with a point and percentage system to determine the final candidates as follows:

I Application Screening:
On March 31, a committee of 13 judges, representing the county’s education, business, and public-sector partners carefully reviewed the TOY representative applications submitted by the school districts. This committee independently read and rated each application. After the application screening and scoring are completed, four teachers will be selected to advance to the next two phases as finalists.

II Classroom Observation and Interview:
In April and May, a small committee of education specialists and business partners observe the four finalists interacting with their students. Immediately following, the committee interviews the candidates discussing topics such as their teaching philosophy and techniques.

III Speech Presentation:
On August 21, the four TOY finalists will each give a three- to five-minute speech to another panel of a dozen educators, business, and public-sector representatives who will judge the finalists on their speech and presentation skills.

On the evening of September 28, 2017, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of close to 400) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Dinner Celebration, held at the Hilton Concord. Ms. Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects her classroom visits of each teacher during the current spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four finalists giving their three- to five-minute speeches (same speeches given in August) to the filled banquet room. Finally, the night will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2017-2018 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

2017-2018 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Representatives:

Shawna Borba, Brentwood Union School District, Bristow Middle School
Susan Boudreau, Orinda Union School District, Orinda Intermediate School
Trina Bradshaw, Liberty Union High School District, Liberty High School
Tiffany Chieudjui, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Grant Elementary School
Paige Colburn, Oakley Union Elementary School District, Gehringer Elementary School
John Freytag, Contra Costa Community College District, Diablo Valley College
Kelly Giotta, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Gale Ranch Middle School
Paula Gonzalez, Knightsen Elementary School District, Knightsen Elementary School
China Harvey, Acalanes Union High School District, Las Lomas High School
Margaret Jane Honey, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Northgate High School
Erica Hornnes, Byron Union School District, Excelsior Middle School
Amanda Lorie, Moraga School District, Donald L. Rheem Elementary School
Linda Mara, Lafayette School District, Stanley Middle School
Paula Raj, West Contra Costa Union School District, De Anza High School
Jacey Renfroe, Antioch Unified School District, Marsh Elementary School
Kari Stewart, Walnut Creek School District, Tice Creek School
Rhuepell Stroud, Contra Costa County Office of Education, Mt. McKinley School
David Taylor, John Swett Unified School District, Rodeo Hills Elementary School
Tom Trowbridge, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Concord High School
Julie Quinn, Martinez Unified School District, Las Juntas Elementary School
Marissa Ware, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, John Baldwin Elementary School
Michael Whitaker, Pittsburg Unified School District, Highland Elementary School

Note regarding eligible participants:

  • Seventeen of the eighteen Contra Costa County school districts represented, and the CCCOE are participating in this year’s TOY program.
  • Each year, one instructor from Contra Costa Community College District is submitted to the TOY program for his/her outstanding body of work with their designated college. The colleges rotate each year between Diablo Valley, Los Medanos, and Contra Costa. (These instructors do not compete in the State Teacher of the Year competition.) This year is Diablo Valley College’s turn.
  • Due to the larger number of students and teachers in their districts, West Contra Costa USD, Mt. Diablo USD, and San Ramon Valley USD are allowed to submit two TOY candidates

Follow Contra Costa County’s Teacher of the Year program on Twitter: #CoCoTOY


March

County Office of Education Announces the Death
of Former Superintendent

Dr. Joseph OvickPLEASANT HILL, Calif., March 31, 2017 — The Contra Costa County Office of Education sadly announced today that former Superintendent of Schools Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D., died unexpectedly, early Thursday (March 30) morning. Dr. Ovick served as the County Superintendent of Schools from 1996-2014.

Dr. Ovick was an educator for 45 years. He began his career as a Special Education teacher in Santa Clara County, followed by serving in the county as a public school assistant principal, principal, and Director of Special Education. He later joined the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), where he worked as Director of Special Education, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, and Associate Superintendent for Business.

In 1996, he began his service as the elected County Superintendent of schools. He was well known for developing strong coalitions of educators, community members, and legislators in support of public schools, while always making it a point to visit countless classrooms throughout the county.

“Dr. Ovick was a true champion of students and schools during his 45 years as an educator,” said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, Karen Sakata. “He was a wonderful friend and mentor to me, beginning back in our early days working in Santa Clara County. This is truly a sad day for our agency, our county and the education community.”

Dr. Ovick taught at Chapman University’s Graduate School of Education and San Jose State University for a number of years, with a curriculum emphasis on school law, finance, and leadership. Besides holding many leadership roles in statewide and local education organizations and commissions, Dr. Ovick served on the Board of Directors of the East Bay Leadership Council and the Contra Costa County Children and Families Policy Forum. In 2012, he served as president of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, where he continued to serve on their executive board after his retirement.

In addition, Dr. Ovick was the former chair of the Bay Area Leadership Foundation; the Federal Policy & Legislation Committee for the Council of Administrators for Special Education; former vice-chair of the Federal Advocacy for California Education; past-president of Association of California School Administrators, Region 6; and former chair of the Bay Area Region Superintendents Association.

In 2005, Dr. Ovick was awarded the President’s Circle Award for Outstanding Service to Education and the Community from the Diablo Valley College Foundation, as well as the Government Service Award in Recognition of Outstanding Community Service from Congressman George Miller. In 2008, the East Bay Leadership Foundation named Dr. Ovick Citizen of the Year, East Bay Awards. In 2006, he won the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Region 6, Superintendent of the Year Award, and in 2010 he earned the ACSA, Region 6, Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award.

Additionally, in 2008, the Contra Costa County Board of Education unanimously voted to honor Dr. Ovick by dedicating CCCOE’s community school in Brentwood as the “Joseph A. Ovick School.” The Board said that the dedication was made because he was a longtime advocate for the addressing the needs of all students – especially those most at risk and with special needs.

Community service was also an important part of Dr. Ovick’s life. He was an active member of the Pleasant Hill Rotary Club and served as a member on both the local Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs and Junior Achievement USA.

Dr. Ovick leaves behind a rich legacy of leadership and advocacy on behalf of children and families. The County Superintendent and staff of the CCCOE offer their sincere condolences to Dr. Ovick’s family, relatives and many friends.


2017 Mock Trial winning team - Miramonte High School

Miramonte High named Contra Costa County's
High School Mock Trial Champion

PLEASANT HILL, Calif., March 3, 2017 — After remarks given by Contra Costa County's Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata and Presiding Judge Jill Fannin, followed by speeches made by coaches and individual awards presented to exceptional-performing students, last night's (3/2) exciting 36th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial’s Awards Ceremony concluded with the naming of this year’s championship team: Miramonte High (Orinda). Miramonte beat California High (San Ramon), this past Tuesday night in the final round of Mock Trials, inside the Bray Courthouse, in Martinez. This is second year in a row Miramonte has earned top team honors.

Also noteworthy, Acalanes High (Lafayette) defeated Alhambra High (Martinez) in the same evening’s consolation match.

This year’s top four teams were ranked: 1) Miramonte, 2) California, 3) Acalanes, 4) Alhambra.

Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Jill Fannin was on hand to address the large crowd with amusing stories about her Mock Trial experiences while attending law school – which many of the students could relate. “I've been involved with Mock Trials for 20 years, as a scoring attorney and presiding judge”, said Judge Fannin. “It’s still so much fun to watch your hard work and talent come together in our courtrooms. At work, I often hear my fellow judges, who volunteer with Mock Trials, speak so highly of how well you all did the night before, during your matches. We are all so impressed!”

Most of the teams begin their Mock Trial training when they began the new school year – which makes Mock Trials one of the longest seasons of all the participating schools’ sports and academic activities.

For the past four weeks (seven evenings), Miramonte High School and 15 other Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams have been battling it out with each other inside the superior courthouse courtrooms of Martinez. Miramonte High School will now represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, held in Riverside, California, March 24-26. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 11-13, Hartford, Connecticut.

Teams from the following 16 Contra Costa County high schools competed:
Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Pinole Valley (Pinole), Richmond (Richmond).

For all the team and individual results, visit the Contra Costa County Office of Education's Mock Trial Web page for complete team and individual results.

Mock Trial is an academic event for high school students coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.  The purpose of this program is to teach students about the law and the workings of the legal system. To prepare, the students conducted legal research and received guidance on courtroom procedures from their schoolteachers and volunteer attorneys and judges, to acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system.

This year, an impressive 100 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys, senior law students, and sworn judges volunteered their time to serve as Mock Trial Attorney Scorers and Judges. These volunteers represented judges from Bay Area Superior Courts, the California Bankruptcy Court, the California Supreme Court, and the California Appellate Court. Attorney Scorers included Bay Area attorneys from county District Attorney and Public Defender offices, the State Attorney General’s Office, and the California Department of Justice. Also assisting, were non-profit, public, private, and corporate attorneys. In addition, senior students from five Bay Area law schools lent a hand in scoring.


2017 Contra Costa County
Teacher/Certificated Staff Recruitment Fair

MARTINEZ, Calif., March 1, 2017 – The Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) will present its annual Contra Costa County Teacher/Certificated Staff Recruitment Fair, on Saturday, March 4, from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m., at Alhambra High School's gymnasium, located at 150 East St., in Martinez.

Attendees will discover a number of teaching positions in a variety of fields, including all levels of K-12 education, specialty, and substitute teaching positions. Representatives of some of these open positions will be offering interviews on site.

Along with the CCCOE, representatives from many of the 18 Contra Costa County school districts will be on hand. In addition, representatives from local universities will also be attending to talk to those interested about their teaching programs and earning teaching credentials.
For additional information about this free event, contact Beverly Christie at (925) 942-3387 or visit the CCCOE's human resources website.

February

Campolindo named 2017 East Bay Regional
Academic Decathlon Champion for the Seventh Straight Year

Academic Decathlon first place winning team Campolindo High SchoolPLEASANT HILL, Calif., February 9, 2017— At last night's energy-filled Academic Decathlon Awards Reception, it was announced that Campolindo High School (Moraga) won the 2017 East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon for the seventh straight year. Along with being the East Bay Regional winner, the team will also represent Contra Costa County in the California State Academic Decathlon competition. Following Campolindo, were Acalanes High School (Lafayette), second place; and Freedom High School (Oakley), third place.

Directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and with the assistance of community volunteers, the Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations. The subjects in the competition include art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, essay, interview, and speech (prepared and impromptu)–plus the popular SuperQuiz™.

Approximately, 100 participating high school students had been studying and preparing for this event with their coaches since September. This year’s Academic Decathlon theme was World War II.

The participating teams represented the following high schools: Acalanes (Lafayette), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), Dublin (Dublin), Freedom (Oakley), and Pittsburg (Pittsburg). Campolindo High School has now been Contra Costa County’s champion for the past seven years, and last year at the State competition, the Moraga high school came in 2nd place in the Medium Sized school division. One of the students ranked 10th overall decathlete in the state.

Academic Decathlon teams are made up of nine students, grades 9-12, with a maximum of three students in each of the following divisions: Honors (3.75-4.00 GPA), Scholastic (3.00-3.74 GPA) and Varsity (2.99 GPA and below). The winning team will represent Contra Costa County at the California State Academic Decathlon, to be held in Sacramento, March 24-25. This year’s National Academic Decathlon will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, April 20-22.

The top four 2017 East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon overall school rankings:

  1. Campolindo
  2. Acalanes
  3. Freedom
  4. Pittsburg

Campolindo High School also won this year’s East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon SuperQuiz™, held last Saturday.

Numerous individual awards were presented last night, and will soon be posted on the CCCOE's website.

HISTORY

The Academic Decathlon was first created by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, California. Firmly believing that everyone's learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenge, Dr. Peterson set in motion the contest that has since come to be recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States. The program spread rapidly throughout the states due to the success and excitement it engendered. USAD was founded in 1981.

January

Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial is looking for legal professionals to volunteer a few hours of their expertise

MARTINEZ, Calif., January 12, 2017—Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 36th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held in the early evenings throughout the month of February, at the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, 120 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the Mock Trials.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year's grabbed-from-the-local-and-national-headlines case, the People v. Awbrey, is a trial about human trafficking and false imprisonment. The pretrial issue involves the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, namely protection against illegal search and seizure and against self-incrimination.

“I encourage all my fellow law professionals to join us in serving as Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers,” says Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Jill Fannin. “I have been volunteering with this program for over fifteen years. I’m continually impressed with the dedication demonstrated by all the teams that participate in this challenging academic event. Every volunteer will tell you that the professionalism and skill these high school students demonstrate in our courtrooms during Mock Trial, rival those they witnessed earlier in the day with the professionals.”

Teams of high school students work with teachers and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 18 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing.

Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the case in their assigned court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial judge and scorers. The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of Bay Area deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, seasoned law students are also welcome to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial’s scorers.

Teams from the following 17 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing:
Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Pinole Valley (Pinole), Richmond (Richmond), St. Patrick–St. Vincent (Vallejo).

Schedule for 2017 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: February 7, 9, 14, 16, 5:00–8:00 p.m. (Eight competitions each night)

Quarterfinals: February 21, 5:00–8:00 p.m. (Four competitions)

Semifinals: February 23, 5:00–8:00 p.m. (Two competitions)

Final and Consolation: February 28, 5:00–8:00 p.m. (Two competitions)

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.
Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting the CCCOE’s Mock Trial Web page, or contacting Jonathan Lance at (925) 942-3429.

The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals on Tuesday, February 24. The winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, held in Riverside, Calif., March 24-26. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 11-13, Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.

Advisories - 2017

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Page updated on: April 18, 2017

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