Celebrating Education Successes Across Monterey County

May Flowers

MCOE is proud to share news from May 2019, where our staff, along with district and community partners, are continuing to make outstanding impacts on education throughout Monterey County.

Monterey County Classified Employee Surprised with Statewide Recognition

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The Monterey County Office of Education is thrilled to share that on Monday, April 29, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond honored six outstanding classified school employees for their dedication to California’s public school students, and one of those employees works in Monterey County - Ramon Moreno, Bus Driver, Greenfield Union School District, Monterey County.

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. Recipients were chosen from more than 100 nominations statewide.

“Meeting students’ basic needs, as well as their social and emotional needs, is essential to ensuring that every student can learn,” said Thurmond. “These dedicated employees make sure that kids have healthy meals, safe transportation on school buses, and have someone to talk to during difficult times in their lives—allowing California’s students to reach their greatest potential.”

Ramon Moreno (12 years in current position, 20 years with the district) is a bus driver for special education students who get services in other school districts in Monterey County. He is always conscientious about students’ feelings and well-being. There are times where his routes result in very long journeys due to traffic or delays. During these times, Ramon engages with students when they become irritable or sad. He is in constant communication with parents during these delays. He personally communicates and informs parents of transportation time changes in his route. These are tasks that he does not have to perform but is willing to do to ensure students are comfortable and parents have peace of mind.

“Ramon is a humble, dedicated bus driver who takes great pride in the important work he does for our students, families, and staff,” said Dr. Deneen Guss, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools. “We are thrilled he has been selected for statewide recognition. His attention to detail, willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty, and his sincere love for the job make us incredibly proud that he is representing Greenfield and all of Monterey County.”

The six 2019 Classified School Employees of the Year were honored by Thurmond at a luncheon in Sacramento on Thursday, May 23 (see photo below). Ramon, along with Monterey County’s Classified Employees of the Year and Teacher of the Year were recognized at the Monterey County CSEY/TOY Awards dinner on Monday, May 20 (see story below).

Please visit the California Department of Education’s Classified School Employee of the Year web page for more information. The program is co-sponsored by the Classified School Employees Association and Presenting Sponsor, San Mateo-based California Casualty. California’s Classified School Employee Week, established as an official week of statewide recognition in 1986 through Senate Bill 1552, celebrated this year from May 19 to May 25.

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MCOE Celebrates Teachers of the Year and Classified Employees of the Year at Annual Awards Dinner

On Monday, May 20, districts throughout Monterey County joined MCOE in celebrating the Teachers of the Year and Classified Employees of the Year during an elegant awards dinner at the Salinas Elks Lodge.

Over 260 guests enjoyed a beautiful Hawaiian-themed evening to celebrate nominees and winners. The evening's program was emceed by Salinas City Councilmember, Steve McShane. MCOE also thanks the dinner's sponsors: Caliber Home Loans, SchoolsFirst Credit Union, Scheid Winery, Grand Canyon University, and Lifetouch.

Congratulations to all nominees and our winners below!

The Monterey County Office of Education Teacher of the Year:

Meredith Jones

First-Grade Teacher at Mission Park Elementary, Salinas City Elementary School District.

The Monterey County Office of Education Classified School Employees of the Year:

Maria Velasco

Food Service Worker, King City Union School District in the Child Nutrition Category

Vanessa Rodriguez

Bilingual Community Liaison, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in the Support Services and Security Category

Jesse Almand

Senior Crafts Leader, Mechanical, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in the Maintenance, Operations, and Facilities Category

Patricia Lara

Typist Clerk III, Salinas Union High School District in the Office & Technical Category

Renee Sitko

Para Educator, Soledad Unified School District in the Para Educator & Instructional Assistant Category

Ramon Moreno

Bus Driver, Greenfield Union School District in the Transportation Category

A Very Special Day for Very Special Students

On Friday, May 10, nearly 200 Monterey County Office of Education special education students from locations throughout Monterey County in grades 1 through 12 participated in our annual field day event themed “If I Had Fun, I Won!” in Salinas on Friday, May 10, at Rabobank Stadium.

The ball throw, turbo javelin, standing long jump, and multiple wheelchair races and running events filled the morning specifically designed for moderately to severely disabled students. High school students from Carmel High School also served as volunteers to assist the MCOE Adapted Physical Education teachers who coordinated all of the games and festivities.

“Field Day is always an exceptional experience for our special education students to enjoy a variety of physical activities with their peers,” said Dr. Deneen Guss, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools. “The day was filled with delighted faces and joyful celebrations.”

Laura's Barn Preschool Offering Discounted Enrollment for MCOE Employees

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We are excited to provide another exciting update on MCOE’s partnership with Laura’s Barn Preschool Child Care Center. Over the last several months, our General Services Department has been working with Laura’s Barn to design and build a state-of-the art preschool in our very own Morgantini Building (893 Blanco Circle, Salinas) to provide over 6,600 square feet of learning and fun for children.

Laura’s Barn is now open and accepting applications for enrollment for children ages 3 months to 5 years and offers full-time and part-time enrollment. Regular full-time enrollment is $1400/month, but MCOE employees are being offered a $200/month discount (to $1200/month). Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday part-time openings are also available for $860 and $570 respectively (no discount available for part-time enrollment).

For more information and to enroll your child, please contact Laura Hair at 831-261-9897. Please also visit their website at https://www.laurasbarn.com/.

We are proud to see our MCOE facilities being used to provide early childhood care and education to our local families, and for the children of our MCOE family.

A Day of Learning Adds Up for Monterey County Students

Over 430 fifth through twelfth grade students from Monterey County public, charter, and private schools assembled at Monterey Peninsula College on Saturday, May 11, for the 51st Annual Mathletics Competition.

The morning began with the competition, where students took exams in Grades 5 through 8, Integrated Math, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Statistics. Professors then scored the exams while students enjoyed lunch and experienced various STEM learning opportunities. Lunch activities this year included: a design challenge, a math festival, 3D printing and puzzles, math and ag-tech, a simulation of population changes, and a screening of Journeys of Women in Math to celebrate Women in Mathematics Day.

Monterey County Mathletics is a math contest held each Spring to encourage excellence in math and recognize the achievements of individual students and the schools they represent. The Monterey County Office of Education and California State University, Monterey Bay Mathematics Department coordinate and lead the event.

A complete listing of Mathletics results can be found here.

Mathletics is funded in part by long-time supporter, the Monterey County Richard Morgantini Foundation, as well as Chevron North America Exploration and Production and Robert P. Balles. This year the event would not be possible without the support and generosity of Monterey Peninsula College.

MCAET Demonstration Day Showcases State-of-the-Art MCAETtv Studios

As a designated California Model Demonstration School Site for the Arts, Media, and Entertainment sector, MCAETtv hosted a Demonstration Day open to educators, administrators, students, and community leaders on Thursday, May 9, within the MCAETtv Studios at MCOE.

Due to the importance of this industry to California, administrators, teachers, and students must stay up-to-date on the Arts, Media, and Entertainment pathways, the careers that newly emerge, the industry demands, and the skills needed to succeed in these careers.

State designated Arts, Media, and Entertainment Models, such as MCAETtv, serve as examples of exemplary Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Demonstration Day at MCAETtv was a resource opportunity for California secondary schools wishing to develop or improve an Arts, Media, and Entertainment (AME) Industry Sector Career Technical Education (CTE) program. It was also an opportunity for students to learn more about AME careers and the related CTE pathways that lead to college or careers.

Protect Yourself From Phishing Scams

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Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day—and they’re often successful. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $30 million to phishing schemes in one year.

Phishing scams continue to proliferate at alarming rates and are becoming more and more difficult to detect. It's important for you to understand how to recognize a phishing attempt and what you can do to protect yourself.

How to Recognize Phishing

Scammers often update their tactics, but there are some signs that will help you recognize a phishing email or text message.

Phishing emails and text messages may look like they’re from a company you know or trust. They may look like they’re from a bank, a credit card company, a social networking site, an online payment website or app, or an online store.

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
  • say you must confirm some personal information
  • include a fake invoice
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
  • offer a coupon for free stuff

What to do if You Suspect a Phishing Attack

If you get an email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, answer this question: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?

If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam. Go back and review the tips in How to recognize phishing and look for signs of a phishing scam. If you see them, report the message and then delete it.

If the answer is “Yes,” contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the email. Attachments and links can install harmful malware.

For more information on phishing scams, please contact MCOE's Technology & Operations Department at 831-755-4247.

Farewell to Friends 2019

Forty-three MCOE retirees were recognized during the annual Farewell to Friends celebration on Tuesday, May 14 in Rooms A/B.

MCOE thanks and sends well wishes to all retirees leaving MCOE during the 2018-2019 school year:

Educational Services

Susan Castillo, Administrative Assistant II

Gwenn Frindt, Executive Assistant

Dr. Ramiro Reyes, Educational Administrator

Finance & Business Services

Susan Scheuermann, Payroll Technician

Deborah Staley, Financial Services Specialist

General Services

Mario Solorio Aguinaga, Maintenance & Operations Manager

Sergio Murillo, Maintenance Custodian

Head Start

Maricela Alonzo, Family Service Advocate

Chuck Carranza, Preschool Teacher

Cecilia Esquivel, Site Supervisor

Guadalupe Garcia, Preschool Teacher

Alice Ledesma, Preschool Teacher

Dora McKean, Program Analyst Coordinator

Gloria G. Quintero, Child Development Coordinator

Maria Rico, Associate Teacher

Irene Rojas, Preschool Teacher

Antonia Ruiz, Preschool Teacher

Olga Slutsky, Preschool Teacher

Maria Tellez, Preschool Teacher


Tom Mooneyham, Media Center Lead

Charles Parker, Programming Engineer

Hamish Tyler, Director

Migrant Education

Esther Anaya, Student Information Specialist

Special Education

Lupe Anderson, School Secretary

Leilani Badilla, Teacher

Elizabeth Behrens-Nagle, School Nurse

Britt Bell, Occupational Therapist

Nancy Bui, Instructional Paraprofessional

Terri Erickson, Instructional Paraprofessional

Kathleen Hicks, Teacher

Sharan Joyce, Resource Specialist

Judith E. Foxworthy-King, School Secretary

Zelia Garcia-Rapoport, Instructional Paraprofessional

Jackaline Loredo, Instructional Paraprofessional

Sally Quintanilla, Instructional Paraprofessional

Mariphil Romanow-Cole, Assistant Superintendent

Cynthia Sims, Instructional Paraprofessional

Terry Soria, Signing Instructional Paraprofessional

Karen Stacy, Paraeducator and Substitute Secretary

Mindy Tidwell, Instructional Paraprofessional

Diana Trevino, Instructional Paraprofessional

Technology & Operations

Randy Lent, Information Systems Specialist II


Debbie Dolan, Bus Driver

Maria Elena Garcia, Bus Driver

Roslyn White, Bus Driver

MCOE Employees Celebrate Service Anniversaries

Each Spring, MCOE recognizes employees for service anniversaries for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years of service (and beyond!). Our greatest resources at MCOE are the dedicated staff whose daily efforts help our students, staff, schools and districts succeed.

We thank each of you for your years of service to MCOE!

Salsa Showdown Spices Up MCOE Main and West

Milk was at the ready for MCOE Main and West employees on Tuesday, May 7 as they traveled from department to department for the extra spicy second annual MCOE Salsa Showdown.

The Showdown was a huge success with 17 salsa entries with incredible variety and creativity.

And the scores were oh so very close!

Results for the contest are below. We cannot wait until next year, when it's sure to get hotter!

Crowd Favorites

1st Place: Mango Madness, Business I

2nd Place: Lupita’s Salsa, Migrant Education

3rd Place Tie: Green Mean Machine, Head Start and Salsa LaLorana, Special Education

Social Committee Choice Favorites

1st Place: Momma Mia, Payroll Services

2nd Place: Tropic Like It’s Hot, Human Resources

3rd Place: Dame Mas, Business II

Cabinet’s Choice

1st Place Tie: Tropic Like It’s Hot, Human Resources and Hell Hath No Fury from Technology & Operations

2nd Place: Maverick’s Top Gun Salsa, Educational Services

3rd Place: Catholicon, Educational Services

All-Star Shout-Outs!

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San Ardo Head Start Heroes

On May 8, the Monterey County Superintendent of Schools and the Monterey County Board of Education recognized San Ardo Head Start employees Rosa Martinez, Site Supervisor I; Ana Lilia Camacho-Montes, Preschool Teacher; Natali Cardona, Assistant Teacher; and Rosie Sanchez, Site Manager for their heroic efforts to save the life of one of their Head Start students who stopped breathing during class on Friday, April 12th. Read about the team's heroic efforts in the resolution here and join MCOE in thanking and honoring these hometown heroes!
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Carmel Unified Honored with Distinguished School Recognitions

With a strong commitment and innovative approaches to improve student academic achievement, Carmel Unified School District has been honored by the California Department of Education with an Exemplary District Award for implementing model practices that have positive impacts on student outcomes.

Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Deneen Guss and Monterey County Board of Education Member, Harvey Kuffner visited Carmel Unified's Board Meeting on May 15, 2019, to present the Superintendent, Barb Dill-Varga and the Carmel Unified Board of Education with a resolution in recognition of the honors.

Carmel Unified's thriving schools are consistently showing exceptional gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards, and therefore Carmel High School and Carmel Middle School have been honored by the California Department of Education through the California School Recognition Program as 2019 California Distinguished Schools.

For establishing healthy and creative learning environments, Carmel High School also received an Exemplary Program Awards for CHS Arts.

District and school leadership are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of students through high standards, hard work, and unwavering support. Carmel Unified School District has made positive and meaningful change through innovative programs and educational opportunities and serve as exceptional role models.

Congratulations Carmel Unified School District, Carmel High School and Carmel Middle School for fostering a challenging, meaningful, and rewarding educational environment where all students can excel!

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Greenfield Union's Family Resource Center Grand Opening

On May 3, 2019, the grand opening of the Family Resource Center located at the Greenfield Union School District Office was held with great fanfare. This center will be able to provide a location for parents to receive county resources and supports, ranging from McKinney-Vento homeless services to high school equivalency classes. The space will allow parents a consistent location that they can refer to for support.

The Family Resource Center will be accessible all year round for agencies to provide their services for the Greenfield community. Agencies that will be available for parent support are Gonzales Adult School, Monterey County Behavioral Health Department, Read to Me Project, Doors to Hope, Sunstreet Centers, First 5, PTA, and many other agencies. In addition to agency availability for their families, GUSD will have a plethora of materials and resources such as shoes, backpacks, jackets, school supplies, hygiene kits, and more.

They are currently accepting monetary and materials donations that might be able to support GUSD families. The Family Resource Center is already becoming a place of great use for their community! Congratulations to all!

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Carmel Unified's Bill Schrier

Carmel High School AP Human Geography and AP Government and Politics Teacher, Bill Schrier has been nominated and is in the running for the NBC Sports All-Star Teacher of the Year Award! Click here to vote for Bill (voting ends June 1). The winner receives $20,000 for their school! Good luck, Bill and kudos on the recognition!

(Biography courtesy of NBC Sports)

In June 1978, Bill Schrier graduated high school and vowed never to return. He had been a poor student who spent a lot of time in the principal’s office. Why return to a place of so much disappointment and failure?

Fast forward to December 2001. Bill was invited to guest-speak at Carmel High School. Since graduation, he’d earned a BS in chemistry, a law degree, cooked professionally, worked as a chemist, served in the Navy, learned to fly, and been a federal prosecutor and corporate attorney. His message to the students was clear: you don’t have to know what you want to be when you’re a teenager to be successful and happy as an adult.

That day, Bill’s perspective on high school changed. He realized that he had something to offer students and that helping them was a lot of fun. He was invited back several times. Three years later, after earning his credential, Bill began his teaching career in Carmel.

Over the past 15 years, Bill has been recognized for excellence in the classroom. He’s taught math, science, and social studies. In 2005, Bill and a few students started the Carmel High mock trial team, which in 14 years has won eight county titles, a state championship and a world championship.

What is the secret to Bill’s success? His students know that he cares about their wellbeing above all else. He treats them with respect, regardless of their class rank. And his classroom is a place of safety, where students know they will be heard and feel empowered.

Blue Zones Project Salinas

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

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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