E-News MCOE

Celebrating Education Successes Across Monterey County

Make 2019 Magical

Walking into the lobby of Gabilan School in King City, MCOE's Special Education students' artwork welcomes visitors with an encouraging message for the new year - Make 2019 Magical!


MCOE is proud to share news from the first part of 2019, where our staff, along with district and community partners, are making magic happen for the students of Monterey County.

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Celebrating New County Superintendent, Dr. Deneen Guss

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Dr. Deneen Guss was sworn in as the Monterey County Superintendent of Schools on January 7, 2019 and is now serving her first term of office. Deneen continually supports Monterey County’s 24 local school districts and the 78,000 students they serve.


Prior to January 7, Deneen had served as the Deputy Superintendent of the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), responsible for administering the day-to-day operations of all divisions and services throughout the organization.


Dr. Guss is a 30-year educator with a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership. She was a classroom teacher for 10 years, including two years as a teacher in a bilingual program in South Central Los Angeles. During her teaching tenure, Deneen was a mentor teacher for new teachers and a master teacher for teacher candidates completing their student teaching experience. She continues to be a strong advocate for the teaching profession. She also served as a college adjunct professor for San Jose State University. Dr. Guss has been an administrator for 20 years serving as an assistant principal, principal, director of curriculum and instruction, associate superintendent of educational services and as district superintendent of the Soledad Unified School District from 2010-2013 and deputy superintendent for the county office since March of 2013.


Dr. Guss completed her undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from California State University, Dominguez Hills, her Master’s degree in Education Administration and Supervision from California State University, San Jose, and her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Argosy University.


With a lens of community and equity, Dr. Guss is focused on strengthening community engagement and improving educational outcomes for Monterey County’s youth. Deneen serves as a Core Convener for the Bright Futures Cradle to Career Initiative sponsored by California State University Monterey Bay; represents MCOE with Impact Monterey County, a collaborative focused on improving the quality of life for Monterey County residents and serves on the Hartnell College Bond Oversight Committee. She also serves on two non-profit boards: The Bob Hoover Academy (Every Kid Can Fly) and Girl’s Inc. of the Central Coast. Deneen is an active Rotarian.


Dr. Guss is married to Mr. Jim Guss. Together they have three children.

Four Monterey County Board of Education Members Sworn In

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Back row from left to right: Dr. Deneen Guss, Harvey Kuffner, Ron Panziera, Janet Wohlgemuth, John McPherson. Front row from left to right: Judy Pennycook, Mary Claypool, Lupe Sánchez



On January 16, 2019, four Monterey County Board of Education members were officially sworn into office. Returning board members Mary Claypool, Harvey Kuffner and Judy Pennycook and new board member Lupe Sánchez.


The Monterey County Board of Education is comprised of seven members who represent individual Trustee Areas of the county. Each member is elected by the voters of his or her Trustee Area and serves a four-year term. The Board supports and guides the Monterey County Office of Education in providing leadership and services to the school districts.


The primary responsibilities of the Monterey County Board of Education are to work with the Monterey County Superintendent of Schools to establish the direction and priorities for the Monterey County Office of Education through its budgetary determinations and to provide leadership to support the success of public education.

Bright Futures' Bright Spots

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On February 7, 2019, Bright Futures hosted a recognition event honoring Bright Spots in our community where programs and schools are achieving results that outpace the State and the County. Bright Spots are programs and schools that are improving student outcomes by at least 10% with a 3+ year trend of growth. Some Bright Spots are achieving over 40% growth.


Bright Futures is a community partnership of diverse members fostering progress in education outcomes for local students, from cradle to career, and improving the pipeline of quality talent within Monterey County.


Bright Spots demonstrate that all kids can learn, including less advantaged children and youth, and that the community can raise the bar to higher expectations for student achievement. Why? Because it is already happening in our community, successfully! Many bright Spots also serve as proof point that important disparity gaps can be closed and equity can be created for our students who face the most challenges.


Monterey County programs and schools recognized include:


  • Quality Matters Monterey County (see below)
  • Bay View Academy
  • Monterey Bay Charter
  • Monterey County Home Charter School


For a complete listing of all Bright Spots, click the links below to download handouts from the event:


Kudos to all recognized! You're making Monterey County a better place to learn, work, and live.

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MCOE's Quality Matters Program was recognized for Quality Child Care. 110 of 451 Quality Matters' licensed sites are rated and 78% of those sites rate 4+ out of 5.

Human Trafficking Summit Highlights Often Hidden Problem


Two hundred education, non-profit, legal, law enforcement and business professionals joined together at Salinas Sports Complex for MCOE’s Second Annual Human Trafficking Summit on January 24, 2019, to learn and share about the problem of Human Trafficking in Monterey County and beyond.


In 2018 the Monterey County Board of Education set a goal to raise awareness of the Human Trafficking issue in Monterey County. The Monterey County Board of Education, in collaboration with the Monterey County Office of Education, and several community partners, are proud to be leading the charge to end Human Trafficking in Monterey County.


The Summit was hosted by the Monterey County Office of Education in partnership with the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center, Monterey County District Attorney's Office, and Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office.


Since 2015, the Monterey County Department of Social Services has identified 82 youth in Monterey County as at risk and survivors of Human Trafficking. Numbers continue to grow each year as awareness is heightened with child serving agencies within the community.


There is a need for outreach and training efforts to raise awareness and help eliminate Human Trafficking. Attendees of the Summit increased their awareness and understanding of Human Trafficking in Monterey County, learned more about AB 1227, the Human Trafficking Prevention Education Act, and left the day with local state, and national resources to impact their work.


Thank you to all who dedicated their day to help us identify and stop these horrific crimes.


Call 1-888-373-7888 or text “INFO” or “HELP” to BeFree (233733) to report Human Trafficking and access help and services.

Tackling the Teacher Shortage Head-On

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The Monterey County Office of Education continues its search to help fill teacher vacancies in MCOE sites and school districts throughout the county by hosting several How to Become a Teacher Educational Workshops this year.


Two successful workshops were hosted this January, with breakout sessions including information on financial aid, local college and university admissions, pathways and internships, how to become a teacher 101, how to become a substitute teacher, resume building and interview skills.


The workshops are open to all community members and are aimed at encouraging anyone interested in teaching to follow their passion.


MCOE has been putting on the workshops and informational sessions for the past three years.


For those ready to apply for a teaching position, the MCOE Teacher Recruitment Fair is being held on Saturday, February 23, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at MCOE Main.

Chevron Shoot-Out Raises $100,000 for Local Students

The morning of February 5, 2019 was stormy, but the clouds parted to welcome twenty-two Salinas City Elementary School Family Resource Center students to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am's Chevron Shoot-Out.


Pro golfers and NFL players joined forces to putt their way to victory on a STEM-themed putting green course of obstacles. The event, sponsored by Chevron, raised $100,000 for local students.


Following the event, students were able to pick up clubs and test out their golf skills on the same course. Following the fun, the Family Resource Center was hit with a very special surprise - a $10,000 donation from Chevron.


The Family Resource Center is where Salinas City Elementary School District serves homeless and foster youth children along with their families. Camany said about 85 percent of the group is currently homeless, which is roughly about 19 children.


The funds will go toward the Family Resource Center and a second Family Resource Center facility, which Salinas City Elementary School District plans to open soon. The money will be used to purchase basic needs for homeless families and foster youth.


Big thanks to Chevron for hosting Salinas City Elementary School District’s Family Resource Center, their students, and County Superintendent, Dr. Guss for an outstanding afternoon at the Chevron Shoot-Out.

All-Star Shout-Outs!

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MCOE's Dr. Jennifer Elemen

Jennifer Elemen, Ed.D., Educational Administrator, Language & Literacy, History-Social Science has been honored with the Diane L. Brooks Administrative Award by the California Council for the Social Studies. The Diane L. Brooks Award recognizes an administrator at the district, state, or local level who has contributed significantly to the profession of social studies education. She will be honored during the CCSS Awards Ceremony during the CCSS' 58th Annual Conference on Friday, March 15, 2019, in San Jose.


Congratulations, Dr. Elemen! We are so proud to have you as a key member of the MCOE team!

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Gonzales Unified's Cindy Aguilar-Castaneda

Gonzales High School senior Cindy Aguilar-Castaneda has been selected to represent California at the 57th annual U.S. Senate Youth Program, sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation for students interested in pursuing careers in public service.


Aguilar-Castaneda is one of two high school students chosen by California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to attend the 2019 program in Washington, D.C., from March 2 to 9. She and Lauren Kong, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Los Angeles County, were picked as delegates for their outstanding leadership qualities, scholastic achievement and contributions to their schools and communities.


Aguilar-Castaneda is a youth commissioner with the Gonzales Youth Council, the official youth advisory group to the Gonzales City Council and Gonzales Unified School District.

She is a founder and mentor of Mentoring in New Dimensions (MIND), a peer-mentoring club that focuses on first-generation college students. She plans to attend Stanford University and major in political science and public policy, ultimately obtaining a Ph.D.


As a first-generation college student and the first to graduate high school in her family, Aguilar-Castaneda desires to work with state and federal politicians to implement new policies and connect them to members of disadvantaged communities.


Congratulations, Cindy! We are incredibly proud of your accomplishments!

Mark Your Calendars

Blue Zones Project

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The Monterey County Office of Education is proud to be a partner in the Blue Zones Project.


Blue Zones Project® is a well-being improvement initiative designed to help make healthier choices easier by encouraging changes to communities that lead to healthier options. When individuals and organizations participate — from worksites and schools to restaurants and grocery stores — the small changes contribute to huge benefits: lowered healthcare costs, improved productivity, and ultimately, a higher quality of life.


Learn more about Blue Zones here! Visit Blue Zones Project Salinas here.


Watch out for Blue Zones Project changes coming to MCOE sites in the near future!

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Send your news to jhull@montereycoe.org today for future editions!