M-A teacher, Menlo Park and Las Lomitas school districts – all honored with Kent Awards for outstanding programs

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on May 22, 2016

Emailed Carrie Du Bois, President of the San Mateo County School Boards Association: “This Monday evening (May 23) the San Mateo County School Boards Association will be holding our 36th annual Kent Awards Dinner…These awards honor outstanding educators and programs in San Mateo County.”

Carrie had attached a list of the winners and we were delighted to see, among them, a number of Menlo Park/Atherton educators/schools/districts. They are:

Jenna Carson of Menlo Atherton High School

 This special award goes to an individual who works in the area of mental health or serves very at risk students.  Jenna will receive a $1,000 grant for her program and is winning for her extraordinary work with the most at risk students at the school.

Jenna has been with Menlo Atherton for over 20 years. She helped to design the original Compass summer program for at risk students and now runs the campus Aspiration Advocates program.

TechEase Team Program, Las Lomitas Elementary School District, La Entrada Middle School; Suzanne Mitchell -Director of Technology; Shannon Potts – Principal; Lisa Cesario- Superintendent

La Entrada Middle School’s TechEase Team program is a “win-win” for everyone. With the roll-out of 1 to 1 iPads, the need for teacher and student tech support increased dramatically. Students in 6th through 8th grade with IT skills or wanting to learn more about technology become part of the solution.  Notes from the site visit include: “ Students volunteered because they like computers, they want to accumulate leadership hours, or their friends asked them to join. They all said it was easier and more fun than they expected, they were well prepared, and it made them feel more confident. The Tech Ease Team have become fast friends, and provide great service to the school.”

Strategies Reverse Mainstreaming Program, Las Lomitas Elementary School District, Las Lomitas Elementary School; Kim Butler- Special Education Teacher; Alain Camou- Principal; Lisa Cesario, Superintendent

Special Day Class Teacher Kim Butler  has created a unique bridge between special and general education students. She created a Reverse Inclusion program that brings general education classes into a special day class to receive academic instruction and help facilitate interaction.   The site reviewer noted: “ It’s an innovative program in that it pushes general education kids into the special education classroom on a regular basis so that the general ed kids get regular exposure to the kids in the special day class. They develop more empathy and understanding towards the special ed kids when they see them in other settings. One second grade mother of a general education student wrote a letter to the teacher saying, ‘My daughter’s second grade year is so much richer because her class is visiting the Strategies Classroom to learn where two of their classmates do some of their learning during the day. Her experience has helped our entire family think more about her friends who learn in ways that are different from us.’”

Tier 3 Positive Behavior Intervention Programs, Menlo Park City School District, Laurel School, Encinal School, Oak Knoll School and Hillview Middle School

Program Coordinators: Laurel School – Ashley Guilliot, School Counselor. and Lisa Walton, School Psychologist; Oak Knoll School – Nicole Scott, School Counselor, and Jenny Ryan, School Psychologist; Encinal School – Karin Bloom, School Counselor, Jana Parker, School Psychologist, Margie Rubin, Behavior Interventionist; Hillview Middle School – Chris Arrington, School Psychologist, and Kim Staff, Wellness Coordinator; Willy Haug, Principal; Maurice Ghysels, Superintendent.

This program is designed for the most behaviorally challenging students in the district. Counselors, psychologists, behavior interventionists and the wellness coordinator make up the support team. The school and the families work together to fully support each student. The site reviewer wrote in her remarks: “I had goosebumps during my visit as I saw the incredibly powerful support offered to children who need our help the most. This amazing program is very deserving of a Kent Award and I suggested they also apply to present at the CSBA conference this year. This surely is a best practice model for the entire State of California.”

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