Spring 2017

Message from Your County Superintendent of Schools

It is the time of year where we celebrate and recognize all of our students for their accomplishments and prepare to congratulate our soon-to-be graduates. I am so proud of our staff members for the important role they play in the lives of our students, and I am excited for each student as they plan the next steps in their educational paths.

This issue of MCOE News is full of good news - including new Monterey County graduation and dropout rates showing more of our students are earning their high school diplomas and fewer students are dropping out. Read about many of the exciting achievements made by students, staff and schools below.

As the school year nears its conclusion and tests, report cards, and celebrations fill our calendars, take some time to be proud of your year's accomplishments - big and small. You make a difference in the lives of our students and we appreciate all you do!


Nancy Kotowski, Ph.D.

Monterey County Superintendent of Schools

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Monterey County Graduation and Dropout Rates Outpace the State

Over the last three years, increases in Monterey County graduation rates and decreases in dropout rates have outpaced the state in most student subgroups for which data are provided.

The 2016 graduation rate for all students in Monterey County rose to 85.4%, an increase of 3.8 percentage points over a three-year period, surpassing the state rate of 83.2%.

Monterey County graduation rates for all student subgroups increased between 2014 and 2016. While the State’s graduation data shows all subgroups increasing, Monterey County’s rates showed greater gains in most subgroups.

The dropout rate for all students in Monterey County has decreased 2.8 percentage points since 2014 to 6.8% to surpass the state rate of 9.8%. (NOTE: The lower the rate, the more positive the trend.)

Monterey County dropout rates for all student subgroups decreased between 2014 and 2016, except Students with Disabilities, whose rate remained the same.

The greatest gains in the Monterey County graduation rate over three years were made by:
-Filipino students – increasing by 5.8%
-Migrant Education students – increasing by 5.5%
-African American/Black students – increasing by 5.3%
-English Learners – increasing by 4.9%; and
-Socioeconomically Disadvantaged students – increasing by 4.8%

“It is imperative that our students graduate from high school well-prepared for success,” said Dr. Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools. “Seeing gains by many of our students who face the greatest challenges – our Migrant Education, English Learner, and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged students – is a testament to the success of our teacher and administrator professional development, afterschool programs and systematic interventions. This is excellent progress, and I am proud of students, teachers, and school leaders countywide."

For more detail on our countywide graduation and dropout rates, visit our website.

Monterey County Classified Employee Selected as State Transportation Employee of the Year

Exciting news out of North Monterey County Unified School District!

Congratulations to Andrei Rayas, winner in the category of Transportation! Andrei is a Vehicle Maintenance Technician, North Monterey County Unified School District.

Mr. Rayas is responsible for inspection, diagnosis, and repair of school buses and all other vehicles in the fleet at North Monterey County Unified, where he is known for going far above and beyond the basic requirements of his position. He understands the importance of education and good attendance, and he works diligently to make sure all students get to school on time. For example, if a bus experiences mechanical issues on a route, he will connect with that vehicle, troubleshoot from behind the wheel, and make repairs on site. He has also taken the role of Lead Mechanic, where he must know all the laws and regulations for school bus operations in California, know California Highway Patrol rules and bus inspection requirements, and understand proper disposal methods for hazardous materials such as fuel, oil, and transmission fluid. He also takes water samples as part of the district’s storm water pollution prevention plan. Plus, he volunteers for the Alisal High School Booster Club, and Alisal Eagles youth football, and cheer organization.

For a complete list of the 2017 Classified School Employees of the Year, please visit the California Department of Education's page here.

The annual program honors six outstanding classified school employees from the following categories: Child Nutrition; Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities; Office and Technical Support; Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance; Support Services and Security; and Transportation. This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominations statewide.

Mr. Rayas will be honored by State Superintendent Torlakson at a May 25 luncheon in Sacramento. Way to put Monterey County on the map! Congrats again, Andrei!

Celebrating Our Districts' Successes

Pacific Grove and Salinas High Schools Win 2017 California Gold Ribbon Awards

Pacific Grove High School and Salinas High School have been named 2017 California Gold Ribbon Schools by the California Department of Education.

The Gold Ribbon Awards recognize California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

These schools represent examples of not just excellent teaching, learning, and collaborating, but also highly successful school climate efforts, ranging from real time conflict resolution to positive behavior intervention.

Additionally, Salinas High School was honored as an 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.

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Carmel High Senior Honored with KSBW Jefferson Award

Carmel High School senior Caroline Mierzwa has been selected as a KSBW Jefferson Award recipient for her work with Family House in San Francisco and inspiring others to help their community. This year Caroline has worked with the campus club, This Club Saves Lives, and organized a freshmen toiletry drive and welcome bags for Family House. Family House is a place where families can stay while their child is going through treatment at UCSF Children’s Hospital. The CHS freshmen collected over 3,000 toiletries in October and the club created 100 Welcome Bags in February. All items have been delivered to Family House and have already started making a difference in the lives of the families there.

Click here to watch the KSBW segment on Caroline and her giving heart!

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Monterey County Juniors and Seniors Learn and Explore the 14th Amendment

Judges from Monterey County Superior Court partnered with the Monterey County Office of Education and Hartnell College to offer 300 high school students a unique learning experience to deepen their understanding of the law. Students attended a full day of learning about Due Process of Law and the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Every year the American Bar Association designates a Law Day theme to highlight an important issue relating to the law or legal system. The 2017 theme provided the opportunity to explore the many ways that the Fourteenth Amendment has reshaped American law and society. Through its Citizenship, Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, this transformative amendment advanced the rights of all Americans. It also played a pivotal role in extending the reach of the Bill of Rights to the states. Ratified during Reconstruction a century and a half ago, the Fourteenth Amendment serves as the cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation, the foundation for numerous federal court decisions protecting fundamental rights, and a source of inspiration for all those who advocate for equal justice under law.

Monterey County School Boards Association Honors Harmony at Home

The Monterey County School Boards Association honored Harmony at Home with the “Excellence in Education” award at its annual dinner and organizational meeting on Thursday, April 27th at Hartnell College. School board members and superintendents from school districts throughout Monterey County attended the event.

The Monterey County School Boards Association helps governance teams fulfill their school district’s educational missions by providing information and training on governance standards and current issues. Each year they recognize local programs with the Excellence in Education Award. Programs honored have transformative and significant impacts on students’ quality of life and demonstrate a commitment to exceeding expectations in pursuit of addressing significant, unmet student needs.

Harmony at Home provides a wide variety of high-quality programs and services for local youth who have experienced trauma in their lives and empowers them to lead healthy and produce lives. They inspire Monterey County youth to break dysfunctional family patterns and realize their full potential to become responsible citizens. Harmony at Home programs are led by caring staff that provide a safe and positive environment for youth throughout the County. Harmony at Home helps youth to realize their potential and reach for opportunities for a bright future.

MCAET Hosts Career Demonstration Day

The Media Center for Art, Education, and Technology (MCAET) and Millennium Charter High School (MCHS) are developing future leaders in the arts, media, and entertainment industries as State designated Career Technical Education Demonstration Sites.

On April 26th, MCAET hosted a Career Demonstration Day featuring panels with industry experts in Content Delivery, Production Management, Visual Arts/Design, and Production. Students and teachers listened to panel members speak to the importance of the arts in life, education, and inspiring future generations to seek out careers in arts and entertainment. Guests also saw first-hand how students from throughout Monterey County are learning alongside industry professionals and developing their own original content. The day concluded with tours of the state-of-the-art MCAET Studios, Production Truck, and Mobile Digital Media Studio.

Visit the MCAET website for more information about its programs and services. To watch the live stream video of the Career Demonstration Day, visit MCAET's YouTube page here.

Technology and Operations and MCAET Staff Members Recognized for Years of Service to MCOE

On Wednesday, April 19th, seven Technology & Operations and MCAET employees were recognized for their years of service.

Not present, but recognized for service, was Jonathan Schneider, Tech Support Specialist III, T&O, for 10 years of service.

Thank you for your dedicated years of service to MCOE.

Monterey County Home Charter School Staff Members Recognized for Years of Service to MCOE

On Wednesday, April 26th, five Monterey County Home Charter School employees were recognized for their years of service.

Not present, but recognized for service, was Nancy Kuska, Teacher for 20 years of service.

Thank you for your dedicated years of service to MCOE.

Unique Opportunity to Host Migrant Education Teachers

MCOE’s Migrant Education participates in a unique program that invites teachers from Mexico to support migrant children along with local teachers during summer programs. These teachers come for a period of four to six weeks and work Monday through Friday with students from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and with parents two to three times a week from 6 to 8 p.m.

This program is in immediate need for host families. The host family experience is unique and unforgettable as you have the opportunity to contribute to the Migrant Program and host a professional and fascinating individual in your home. Host families receive a modest stipend for basic food, utilities, and occasional transportation. Migrant Program staff are assigned to the teachers to meet their needs.

The host family must provide a bedroom with a bed and provide the teacher with access to a restroom and common areas of the home. This year, we are hosting 18 teachers from three states in Mexico: Michoacán, Guanajuato, and Oaxaca.

Please consider being part of this great program and volunteering for an outstanding opportunity for you and your family. If you are interested, please contact Ernesto Vela at or at (831) 755-6403.

This opportunity is limited and closes on May 12th.

Volunteers Needed for Annual Mathletics Event

Are you looking for an "addition" to your calendar on Saturday, May 13th? Sign up to be a volunteer at the Mathletics Competition!

Mathletics is a math contest held annually to encourage excellence in mathematics and recognize the achievement of individual students and the schools they represent. Mathletics is made possible by the generosity of donations and is organized mainly by volunteer teachers and students from the participating schools and the mathematics department from California State University Monterey Bay. The event is coordinated by the Monterey County Office of Education Mathematics Department.

The 49th Annual Mathletics will take place on Saturday, May 13th, 2017 at Hartnell College. Volunteers are needed to proctor/supervise Mathletics students as they take their tests as well as supervise and engage students as they rotate through demos and eat lunch.

Volunteers can choose to leave at 11:15, or stay through rotations and attend the awards ceremony. We appreciate any support you can provide.

To sign up to volunteer, please email Susan Castillo at

Monterey County Office of Education

Leadership, Support and Service to Prepare All Students for Success