New SDCOE blue logo
October 2022
jccs executive director tracy thompson
Partners Making a Difference for Students

Dear JCCS Family and Educational Partners,

As we approach the holidays, and the flu season, I am hoping that you and your family are well, physically and mentally.

Our Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) continue to evolve into becoming the hub of the community, rich with resources and services that will allow all students, including our infants and toddlers, to thrive. This courageous work is performed in collaboration with each of you, our amazing staff, the SDCOE Strategic Leadership Team, governmental agencies, community-based organizations, and all our educational partners.

A recent example of this great work and service is our partnership with VSP Vision. Last week more than 60 students were given vision exams, and many will receive glasses free of charge thanks to this partnership. Leading this remarkable work is Ellyson Slater-Kobetsky, who we passionately call our JCCS Super Nurse. I am pleased to share a few words from our students about this resource from KPBS news and you can learn more from the story below.

I am also excited to announce the pilot of our first computer science class in JCCS. This class was designed in partnership with SDCOE’s Learning and Leadership Services, Student Services and Programs, and JCCS under the leadership of Executive Director Bruce Petersen. More than 20 students throughout JCCS enrolled and will soon complete their first semester. This course, in addition to our partnerships with Access, David’s Harp, and The Coding School of San Diego, will provide students access to a pathway of independence as demonstrated by former JCCS student, Tony Murillo, who shared his experience as a software engineer with the class.

Thanks to each of you for your support, partnership, and spirit. You are very much a part of our relay team of support for our students and their families fostering an amazing legacy. Much appreciation and admiration for each of you on behalf of our staff, students, and their families.

In closing and as is my tradition, I leave you with a quote. This one is by Eleanor Roosevelt, which I dedicate to Alurah, a student at San Pasqual Academy, who was recently named one of the 25 Most Remarkable Teens in San Diego in 2022.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

With much admiration and appreciation,
Executive Director
Juvenile Court and Community Schools
SDCOE Develops Resources for Children During Outside-of-School Activities
teachers in classroom on floor with students
As any parent of a school-age child knows, there are plenty of meetings and events at school, and keeping your children occupied during these meetings can be difficult.

For parenting students in independent study programs, the situation can be even more challenging. Not only are there meetings, but students also must take assessments and other school-related tests with their children nearby, which can lead to distractions and worry.

To address this need, individuals from the JCCS with SDCOE’s Grant Services and Early Education teams are working together to develop the Resources to Empower Small People to Enjoy Constructive Time (RESPECT) project, to provide simple, age-appropriate, multilingual activities to do with children in non-traditional child care situations. Funding for the project became available through JCCS’s recent California Community Schools Partnership Program grant award.

The goal is to embed kits with a host of physical and digital activities at school sites and create a website with resources and instructional videos so that anyone at the site can work productively with children. The intended age for the resources is birth to 5, but there will be some activities for older kids as well. The kits will be available at all JCCS school sites early next year.

Steph Johnston, a JCCS supervisor who works with students and parent and family liaisons, had heard from parents and staff members about the need for this type of assistance and reached out to her SDCOE colleagues to brainstorm ideas.

JCCS Students Get Free Eye Exams at VSP Vision Mobile Clinic 
Student getting eye exam from doctor
Learning and living can be challenging if you cannot see properly, which is something both SDCOE and our partners at VSP Vision recognize.

Thanks to the VSP Vision for Hope clinic, which traveled to three different JCCS school sites in the county, nearly 100 students from JCCS had the opportunity to see more clearly after receiving free eye exams and a prescription for glasses.

“Having multiple centralized clinics allows us to serve more students, and for many of them, it’s life changing,” said Nurse Ellyson Slater-Kobetsky, who works with JCCS students and coordinated the event.

Many JCCS students don’t have access to eye care due to financial hardship, lack of transportation, or other obligations. Slater-Kobetsky shared that many of the students being examined had never had glasses so they didn’t realize they should be able to read white boards or books so clearly.

Giselle, a student at Lindsay Community School, tried to get glasses in the past but found it was too expensive. As a single mom, clinics like this one are helpful.

“This helps me out a lot,” she said.

In addition to the financial side, she says that being able to see will help her concentrate at school and in taking care of her son.

Former JCCS Student Shares Insights into Computer Science Field
Appears to be young child's hands on laptop keyboard
Students in the JCCS computer science course are learning about coding and computer systems, but hearing from someone in the field who’s bringing it to life can have a lasting impact.

Tony, a former Monarch School student, is now working as a software engineer with Dick’s Sporting Goods. He recently shared what it’s like to work in the field and the path he took to get there with students in the class.

Tony works on the code that’s behind the cart and checkout process on the company’s online store. He explained how coders and designers work in tandem to deliver the online experience for the end user.

“I like having a challenge every day,” he said. “My work is never boring; there is something we always have to solve.”

Tony developed his ability to problem-solve and persevere while growing up in some tough neighborhoods and facing unstable financial and housing situations.

“I kept my head down, went to the library every day, read, and worked on the computer a lot. I was always looking for alternative outlets to stay out of trouble," he said. “Technology really did save my life. If I had not been in the library, I don’t know where I would be.”

Coaching at San Pasqual Academy is More Than Just X’s and O’s 
SPA football players on field with helmets raised and coaches around them.
San Pasqual Academy (SPA) is one of 14 schools in San Diego County that field an eight-person football team and compete in the Citrus League against four other teams, which include Borrego Springs, Julian, Warner, and West Shores. Last year, the SPA team made it to the semifinals.

The co-ed team has 15 players, including two girls, most of whom have never played organized sports.

“Seeing them go from playing a sport for the first time to excelling in what they’re doing, it’s heartwarming,” said Assistant Coach Chris Toomey. “These kids work hard. The coaches work hard. And they’ve been doing it for years.”

Toomey is joined on the coaching staff by head coach Andrew Serrano, and assistant coaches Mark Dederian and Shalimar Jackson, who work for New Alternatives and SDCOE on limited-term contracts. They not only coach the players but also look after them off the field by helping them get to practice; helping with personal situations; making sure they stay motivated, eat well, and stay hydrated; caring for injuries; and driving them to games.

Student Spotlight: Jennifer
Jennifer from Monarch at the dais
The JCCS student representative on the San Diego County Board of Education for October was Jennifer, a senior at Monarch School.

Jennifer, who has been at Monarch since the 4th grade, was recognized for her artistic and analytical skills as well as her ability to motivate herself and her classmates.

“What makes Jennifer special is that she is an astute observer. She often sees the irony in situations and seems attuned to people’s motivations,” said teacher Jeffra Becknell. “She is a thoughtful student who shows care to her family and friends.”

Outside the classroom, she is a gifted artist and a leader on the volleyball team. She encourages other students to “get your work done and give it your all.”

“I can say that I take my education seriously and make it my number one priority,” Jennifer said. “I want to thank my mom because she is always pushing me to do my best and make sure I am doing OK and my math teacher, Ms. Estrada, because she cares about me and all of her students,” she added.

In the future, Jennifer would like to join the military, after which she hopes to go to college and pursue a career that allows her to work with people.

“Ultimately, I’d like to inspire younger generations from my community,” Jennifer said.

Board Member Gregg Robinson introduced Jennifer at the board of education meeting, thanking her for her desire to serve, and encouraged her to pursue education after her military service.
For Schools and Students
FAFSA CADAA Applications Now Open

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the most important thing a student can do to get money for college. Most students receive some type of financial aid, such as grants, work-study funds, federal student loans, and certain state-based aid. It’s free to fill out and could be a requirement for some schools and private scholarships. It’s for everyone! And it’s first-come, first-served so finish your FAFSA ASAP.

Another important acronym is the CADAA, which stands for the California Dream Act application. This allows undocumented students, DACA recipients (valid or expired), U Visa holders and students under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), who qualify for a non-resident exemption under Assembly Bill 540, Senate Bill 2000, and Senate Bill 68, to receive certain types of financial aid such as: private scholarships funded through public universities, state administered financial aid, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants. In addition, the California Dream Act, allows eligible students to pay in-state tuition at any public college in California.

Save the Date and Register for the 2023 Black College Expo
Mark your calendars for the 2023 Black College Expo scheduled for Jan. 26 from 12:30 to 5 p.m. at Bayview Baptist Church in San Diego. The Black College Expo features historically black colleges and universities with on-the-spot college scholarships and acceptances awarded to qualifying students. Some college application fees may also be waived. There will be informational seminars on financial aid and other helpful sessions. Juniors and seniors of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to attend this event hosted by the San Diego County Office of Education in partnership with the National College Resources Foundation. Scholarships are available with the deadline of Jan. 16, 2023 to apply.
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