Three Ventura County Schools Named 2018 California Distinguished Schools

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Three Ventura County elementary schools are being honored as 2018 California Distinguished Schools by the California Department of Education. Schools that applied were eligible based on their performance and progress on the state indicators as described on the California School Dashboard. Indicators include test scores, suspension rates and English learner progress.

The local schools being honored are:

  • Sycamore Canyon (Conejo Valley Unified School District)
  • Walnut Canyon Elementary (Moorpark Unified School District)
  • Oak Hills Elementary (Oak Park Unified School District)

Additionally, Oak Park Unified School District is one of just 22 in the state to be named an Exemplary District for making positive impacts on student outcomes. The district and the Distinguished Schools will be honored in May during a ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The complete list of the honorees is available here.

About the Ventura County Office of Education

The Ventura County Office of Education provides a broad array of fiscal, training and technology support services to local school districts, helping to maintain and improve lifelong educational opportunities for children, educators and community members. VCOE also operates schools that serve students with severe disabilities and behavioral issues, provides career education courses, and coordinates countywide academic competitions including Mock Trial and the Ventura County Science Fair. Learn more at: www.vcoe.org.

Eight Ventura County Schools Receive 2017 Gold Ribbon Honors from California Department of Education

Eight Ventura County area schools are recipients of the 2017 Gold Ribbon Schools Award from the California Department of Education. The award recognizes middle and high schools that have developed innovative programs that support rigorous academic standards and create a positive school environment. The winning local schools are:

  • A.E. Wright Middle School (Las Virgenes Unified School District)
  • Adolfo Camarillo High School (Oxnard Union High School District)
  • Colina Middle School (Conejo Valley Unified School District)
  • Hillside Middle School (Simi Valley Unified School District)
  • Moorpark High School (Moorpark Unified School District)
  • Redwood Middle School (Conejo Valley Unified School District)
  • Royal High School (Simi Valley Unified School District)
  • Westlake High School (Conejo Valley Unified School District)

A.E. Wright Middle School received an additional award for being a Title I Academic Achieving School. This additional recognition is given only to schools receiving federal Title I funds that assist in meeting the educational needs of students living at or below the poverty line.

Eligible schools for the 2017 Gold Ribbon Award exclude schools that previously won the award in 2015. These schools include Sequoia Middle School (CVUSD), Thousand Oaks High School (CVUSD), Medea Creek Middle School (Oak Park USD), Oak Park High School, Ocean View Junior High, Santa Susana High (Simi Valley USD), Sinaloa Middle School (SVUSD) and Valley View Middle School (SVUSD).

This year, 275 Gold Ribbon honorees were selected out of 477 schools that applied. Additional information about the Gold Ribbon Schools Award is available at www.cde.ca.gov/ta/sr/gr.

The California Gold Ribbon Schools Award was created to honor schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which is on hiatus while California creates new assessment, accountability, and continuous improvement systems.

About the Ventura County Office of Education

The Ventura County Office of Education provides a broad array of fiscal, training and technology support services to local school districts, helping to maintain and improve lifelong educational opportunities for children, educators and community members. VCOE also operates schools that serve students with severe disabilities and behavioral issues, provides career education courses, and coordinates countywide academic competitions including Mock Trial and the Ventura County Science Fair. Learn more at www.vcoe.org.

Gateway Community School in Camarillo For At-Risk Kids Lauded in New Book

Gateway Community School in Camarillo, which serves some of Ventura County’s most troubled kids, is receiving recognition for major reforms that have made it a model for schools across the country.

It’s About Time: Planning Interventions and Extensions in Secondary School, edited by Mike Mattos and Austin Buffum, dedicates a full chapter to the changes Gateway has undergone since it began implementing reforms in 2010. In the chapter titled “From a Last Resort to a Model School of Choice,” the book describes Gateway’s transformation from a troubled, underperforming school to an example of success. The chapter was authored by Dr. Jane Wagmeister, the Executive Director of the Curriculum and Instruction Department at the Ventura County Office of Education.

Students are sent to Gateway Community School from their home districts due to repeated suspensions, expellable offenses, severe substance abuse and gang involvement. Prior to the reforms, Gateway suffered from low attendance and frequent disciplinary problems, with only 30% of students passing the state high school exit exam.

To address these issues, the Ventura County Office of Education, which operates the school, began a complete restructuring that included the hiring of James Koenig as the new Principal. After a careful assessment of the reasons for the school’s troubles, an extensive series of reforms were put in place. These included improved training of teachers and staff, an updated curriculum, adjustments to the school schedule and separating the middle school from the high school. Perhaps the most important change was shifting the school culture to one that gives students positive feedback, emotional support and a clear understanding of expectations.

The results were dramatic: the daily attendance rate at Gateway increased from 75% to 88%, the number of eleventh and twelfth graders passing the high school exit exam rose from two to 15, and the number of suspensions due to physical altercations decreased from 451 to 14.

Another positive outcome is that Gateway students have a newfound respect for service to the community. They are working at giving back by organizing blood drives, serving as volunteers at the local animal shelter and collecting donations for the homeless in Ventura County.

About the Ventura County Office of Education

The Ventura County Office of Education provides a broad array of fiscal, training and technology support services to local school districts, helping to maintain and improve lifelong educational opportunities for children, educators and community members. VCOE also operates schools that serve students with severe disabilities and behavioral issues and coordinates countywide academic competitions including Mock Trial and the Ventura County Science Fair. Learn more at www.vcoe.org

CLU Unveils $15 Million Ullman Commons in Thousand Oaks; Includes a Starbucks

California Lutheran University (CLU) announces the grand opening of the $15 million Ullman Commons at 101 Memorial Parkway in Thousand Oaks.

The 20,000 sq ft building includes an all-you-can-eat dining hall, a quick-service counter called Ullman To Go, a Starbucks and a conference center. Designed to transform the heart of campus, the facility provides a gathering place for students, faculty, staff and visitors. It features glass curtain walls and second-floor balconies overlooking Kingsmen Park and the academic corridor.

The dining hall, which is open to members of the CLU community and their guests, serves a wider variety of food than the former facility. An international station offers Mongolian grill and Asian wok options as well as vegan food, sushi, samosas, and fried rice and noodle dishes. Diners can order from the grill, pick up daily specials or wood-fired pizza, and serve themselves at the pasta, soup, salad and dessert bars. A deli station offers made-to-order sandwiches and wraps. I had the pleasure of visiting the dining hall and was extremely impressed!

Ullman To Go, which is open to the public, sells fresh-baked pastries, made-to-order sandwiches and prepared wraps, sandwiches, salads, soups, pizza and hot entrees.

Starbucks is open daily from 7 a.m. until midnight, providing a gathering spot for students as well as community members attending events. The CLU Starbucks, the 18th Starbucks in the Conejo Valley, has three times the seating of the chain’s typical cafes, with 65 spots inside and a patio with space for about 50 people. The patio, which features a fire pit, is called Jack’s Corner in honor of generous donor and longtime Cal Lutheran Regent Jack Gilbert, who died in 2012. Their phone is 805.492.2411.

The first-floor conference center has two rooms for banquets or lectures that can be combined, a smaller seminar room and an intimate dining room.

The building was designed to earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver certification. It uses natural lighting and ventilation extensively and has water-saving fixtures and a system designed to turn waste into compost.

Ullman Commons is named for a family of alumni and generous donors who provided a $2 million gift for the facility through their foundation.

Learn more about CLU at www.callutheran.edu.

Conejo Valley Adult School "P.O.W.E.R. Project" for Pregnant and Parenting Teens

CVAS Parent Education Presents…THE P.O.W.E.R. PROJECT 

An Educational Support Program for Pregnant and Parenting Teens 

To help support the parenting success and academic achievement of our pregnant and parenting teens, the Parent Education Program has developed the P.O.W.E.R. Project (positive outcomes with education and respect).  The goal of the project is to provide specialized education and social/emotional support, specific to the pregnant and parenting teen. The program actively promotes healthy adolescent development, increases parenting skills, improves birth outcomes and provides a strong understanding of what teen parents and their children need.

Available Classes/Topics Include:

  • Pregnancy and Newborns (includes childbirth preparation and lactation support)
  • Baby Care
  • Parenting Education
  • Child Development
  • Teen Parenting- Preparing for your child’s first year
  • Adolescent Development
  • Child Abuse Prevention

Groups are held at Horizon Hills on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm. One to one consultations by appointment are also available (i.e.- family support, lactation counseling).

The P.O.W.E.R. Project is coordinated by Brenda Hunter, M.S. who has provided counseling and educational support for thousands of pregnant and parenting teens and their families, over the past 30 years. She specialize in teen pregnancy related issues, parenting education, child development, teen sexuality, and child abuse prevention. She is a credentialed Adult Education teacher who is a trained Lamaze Childbirth Instructor, Certified Lactation Consultant, and Certified Infant Massage and Red Cross CPR Instructor. She holds a BA degree in Sociology/Social Work and a MS degree in Human Resource Development.

For more information or to refer students please call 818-599-8420.

Conejo Valley Adult School Parent Education Horizon Hills Campus, 33 Greta Street, Thousand Oaks. 805-492-8837 www.conejoadultschool.org

CLU Launches Sabbath Hour For All Faiths, Including Recently Built Labyrinth

CLU launches Sabbath hour for all faiths

New resources include labyrinth, interfaith texts

An hour previously reserved for a weekly chapel service at California Lutheran University has been revamped as a Sabbath hour when students and staff are encouraged to take time for spiritual rest and reflection in any of a variety of ways.

This fall, to accommodate more classes, the growing university moved its weekly chapel service from the Wednesday morning slot it had held for 43 years to 11:25 a.m. Thursdays. The Office of Campus Ministry used the change as an opportunity to roll out new resources to encourage students and staff to use the hour from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Thursdays to hit pause in their busy lives, regardless of their spiritual backgrounds. No classes or official meetings are scheduled during the hour.

A labyrinth for walking and contemplation was recently built behind Samuelson Chapel with support from student groups.

(NOTE: The labyrinth is open to the public, as is the Wennes Interfaith Meditation Chapel and the campus' weekly chapel services. Visit www.callutheran.edu to learn more.)

University Pastor Melissa Maxwell-Doherty in front of the labyrinth is attached. (Photo credit: Brian Stethem/CLU)

University Pastor Melissa Maxwell-Doherty and former Associated Students of CLU President Jesse McClain added prayer mats, cushions, incense and several sacred texts to the Wennes Interfaith Meditation Chapel, which i

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Conejo Valley Unified School District Names Newbury Park High School Library After SAGE

Conejo Valley Unified School District Names School Library After SAGE

Thousand Oaks–based publishing company recognized for long-standing support of local schools

At a ceremony at Newbury Park High School on November 10th, the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) announced the re-naming of the Newbury Park High School library as the SAGE Library. This honor was bestowed on SAGE, an academic publisher based in Thousand Oaks, in recognition of over a decade of ongoing support for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at NPHS.

“SAGE believes passionately in the value of education,” said Blaise Simqu, chief executive officer of SAGE. “We see our mission as not only to disseminate teaching and research globally, but also to make a difference locally by being active in our community and supporting educational programs that prepare students for college and beyond.”

Since 1995, SAGE has donated more than $600,000 to the school district, including $385,000 for the IB program at NPHS. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to reveal a representation of the brass plaque that will be placed outside the school library.

Announcement of the naming of the SAGE Library at NPHS and unveiling of the new library plaque (a representation of the plaque is pictured; the actual plaque will be installed at a later date at the library). Left to right: Jeffrey Baarstad, superintendent, Conejo Valley Unified School District; David McCune, Corwin co-founder, former CEO of SAGE, current member of SAGE board of directors; Timothy Stephens, member, CVUSD board of education; Betsey Connolly, member, CVUSD board of education; Mike Soules, Corwin president“The IB program put NPHS on the map and draws as many as 300 students from other communities,” said Jeffrey L. Barstaad, superintendent of CVUSD. “A program like IB requires resources above and beyond our ability to fund. We recognize the long trail of giving by SAGE that has made the program possible.”

The IB program at NPHS is the only one in the Conejo Valley. Since the start of the program in 1996, approximately 315 students have graduated with an IB diploma. This school year, 47 students are scheduled to test in May—the program’s largest cohort ever.

“The IB program at NPHS has benefitted students, teachers and the whole school community in so many ways. Its commitment to rigor and creative thinking, to teaching students to see a larger picture and take an active role in the global community, has definitely affected the whole campus,” said Christine Thompson, the IB program coordinator at NPHS.

SAGE continues to support educational organizations in the Conejo Valley and Ventura County through its corporate giving program. The company has also provided CVUSD with funding for language arts grants and teacher summer writing workshop scholarships.

About SAGE: SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology and medicine. A privately owned corporation, SAGE has principal offices in Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi, and Singapore. For more information, please visit www.sagepublications.com.