New SDCOE blue logo
March 2022
jccs executive director tracy thompson
Recognizing the Women Who Do So Much

JCCS Family, Friends, and Partners,

Just when you think we are finally climbing out of the shadows of the pandemic, who would have ever imagined an actual war would be occupying our minds and hearts. During these difficult times, please remember to take care of yourself and loved ones.

Always hopeful and positive, I would like to take a moment to pause, exhale, and honor the contributions of women in our world. Too often, our brilliant, intelligent, and courageous women are ignored or not recognized for their many contributions to our lives, world, and history. To the women reading this message and the women who inspire us each day at JCCS, I sincerely thank you for your sacrifices and your support of our students, staff, and society at-large. Your leadership and contributions truly benefit all students in removing barriers and creating equitable opportunities for all to succeed.

As of my last communication, the status of San Pasqual Academy (SPA) was in question. I am pleased to share that SPA will remain open and become a multipurpose campus serving a wider population of youths. Please see this article for more information: Board Paves Way for Future of San Pasqual Academy.

I am also pleased to announce the opening of the new Kearny Mesa Youth Transition Campus (see story below). This collaborative effort began in 2017 and involved national experts from Georgetown University, The Children’s Initiative, The San Diego County Board of Supervisors, probation, community-based organizations, and Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) leadership amongst others. The new campus replaces the old, outdated correctional facility with an amazing, state-of-the art therapeutic and rehabilitative facility that resemble a college campus. I also would like to send a special shout-out to a few of the probation leaders on this project that have or will soon retire.

Additional highlights from recent weeks include the following:
  • JCCS students participated in the National College Resource Foundation’s Black College Expo. Several of our students were accepted to colleges throughout the country and three students received scholarships
  • JCCS, in collaboration with community-based organizations, facilitated a newcomer presentation for Haitian students and their families regarding wrap-around support and resources 
  • JCCS instructional coaches developed a unit of study educating students about COVID-19, the vaccine, and the impact on your body, and created support resources 
  • A Monarch student won a JCCASAC scholarship (see story below)
  • JCCS has hired three full-time social workers and a program specialist
  • Mario, a SPA student, received the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Region 18 (San Diego and Imperial Counties), Every Student Succeeding Award
  • Roberto Carrillo, JCCS South and East Region Principal, was named the ACSA Continuation/Educational Options Administrator of the Year

As is my tradition, and in recognition of Women’s History Month, I leave you with a poem by Maya Angelou:

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll more of the poem

By working collaboratively, valuing, uplifting, and supporting one another, and our students and their families, we will all rise. Thanks to each of you, especially the amazing women in our lives, for all that you do.

With much admiration and appreciation,
Executive Director
Juvenile Court and Community Schools
New Youth Transition Campus Welcomes Students
The new Youth Transition Campus is a place where a student can feel like a student. It looks like a comprehensive high school or charter school campus, with modern facilities, upgraded technology, and grass and open space.

The facility is replacing the existing Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility and is located just south of the campus. The process of relocating students to the new campus began in mid-February.

Located within the new campus is the San Diego SOAR Academy, one of San Diego County Office of Education’s (SDCOE) JCCS schools. With additional space and upgraded facilities, JCCS will be able to offer more rigorous educational opportunities and a richer curriculum to students.

The school will have a dedicated physical education teacher, a library based on reading levels, a numeracy lab to help students in mathematics, art classes, and access to microscopes for use in class, among other things. A chef’s kitchen and dedicated classroom spaces for graphic design and woodworking will help prepare students with skills for their future.

Art Cruz, who teaches at the school, is excited about the dedicated arts and drama programs.

“I think it’s recognized that the arts, in many forms, contribute to our students’ growth and healing,” Cruz said. “Our students are searching for avenues of self-expression and recognition. We have a real opportunity to help them discover how to express themselves in healthy and constructive ways.”

Students Ahead of the Curve With Driver's Education Program
The simulator looks like something you might see at the local arcade, but it provides students attending SDCOE JCCS with more than just fun and games — it’s helping them learn to drive.

More than 70 students throughout JCCS are participating in the driver’s education program using the new driver simulation systems that were installed last year at eight schools. The course is available to all age-eligible JCCS students.

The simulator has a built-in instructor who teaches 16 lessons covering all aspects of driver training, including road rules and safety, as well as what happens when driving under the influence or driving while tired.

“The course adds fun to the education, gives them a sense of achievement, and teaches them the traffic laws, road safety, driver responsibilities, and overall defensive driving techniques,” said Maria Mujica, career technical education teacher and program analyst. “It gives them confidence and a sense of personal responsibility. And it’s free.”

Access to this program is important for many students who may not be able to afford the course fee or have time to attend if taken outside of school. Mujica said that often the courts also instruct students to take driver’s education and this course helps them fulfill that obligation.

JCCS, Monarch School Students Attend Black College Expo
Students talking with college recruiter
More than 500 high school students from across San Diego County connected with representatives from more than 30 historically black colleges and universities, as well as UC and Cal State schools, at the Fifth Annual San Diego Black College Expo college fair on Feb. 17.

There were thousands of dollars in scholarships awarded and many students were accepted on the spot to one or more colleges.

Students from districts across San Diego County attended the in-person event, including from SDCOE’s JCCS and Monarch School.

The free event was organized by the National College Resources Foundation (NCRF) in partnership with SDCOE to bring opportunities for students in the region.

“Our mission is to make sure every child gets what they need and deserve and this expo helps fulfill that mission,“ said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County Superintendent of Schools. “Hundreds of students had the opportunity to learn about colleges they may not have been familiar with, gain acceptance on the spot, get assistance with financial aid applications, and earn scholarships. All in one place. It was a tremendous day.”

Multiple seminars were offered on topics including how to find money for college, differences between high school and college, and why attend a historically black college and university. Assistance on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid was also available throughout the expo.

Monarch School Student Awarded $500 Scholarship
Rosario, a senior at Monarch School, has been awarded a $500 scholarship by Juvenile Court, Community and Alternative School Administrators of California (JCCASAC).

Rosario plans to go to college and pursue a career in criminal justice. She loves the environment and learning about plants, animals, and everything that happens on the planet.

“Rosario has demonstrated that she is highly capable (like the “A” she received in her concurrent enrollment college course for Semester 1 of the 2021-22 school year) but that she also knows how to ask for help and garner the support that she needs to support her success,” said Monarch School Principal Dyane Plumly. “This skill is one that ensures me of Rosario’s success as she pursues higher education.”

She recently served as the JCCS student representative at the San Diego County Board of Education meeting and also received a scholarship at the recent Black College Expo.

School counselor Jessica Codallos describes Rosario as a “role model, kind, and who is hard working.” Teacher Jeffra Becknell says she is “organized, meticulous, likes to use a lot of color in her art, and also loves the environment.”

Under the direction of the county superintendents in California, JCCASAC is dedicated to preparing students who are enrolled in county alternative education programs to become self-sufficient adults who lead healthy lifestyles and are competent, caring, and academically prepared for their futures.

Eight $500 scholarships are given out annually to students in northern and southern counties in California.
Student Spotlights: David and Joanna
The JCCS student representative on the San Diego County Board of Education for January was David, a senior at Cuyamaca Prep, and recognized in February was Joanna, a senior at SOUL Academy.

David was recognized for his ambition, compassion, and commitment to helping others. He attends school regularly, is an engaged learner, and a talented artist. In his potter class, he created a spectacular life size model of a cobra, a detailed bust of an eagle, and worked extra hours on the weekend to create inspired gifts for his loved ones.

“David is the epitome of the ‘Can Do’ attitude,” said teacher Steve Rainey. English Language Development Assistant Susan Al Saadi added, “David is a very ambitious student because he always wants to climb the mountain and he never gives up until he reaches his goals.”

Joanna recently worked with one of the school's arts partners on a photo design for a public service announcement on the dangers of vaping, and her design was selected to be featured on a Metropolitan Transit System bus bench.

"We have had the privilege in watching Joanna grow and mature these last two-and-a-half years, and has really become a focused, determined, young adult," said Principal Theresa Fox.

Joanna has already completed two college courses while being a full-time student and working part-time. After high school, she'd like to become a nurse.

She credits teacher Wendy Aja with helping her in her studies, always believing in her and encouraging her to take chances in academics. To reduce her stress, she draws on advice from her mom who often says in Tagalog "Laugh it out, dance it out, sing it out."
SDCOE Equity Conference 2022 Rescheduled for May 12-13
Equity Conference 2022
The annual Equity Conference was postponed from January to May 12-13. The keynote speakers and presenters have confirmed their attendance, and we hope to see you there too. Join hundreds of educators, parents, students, policymakers, advocates, and community members to advance educational equity for California’s students. The Equity Conference will be an opportunity to grow and learn as we work to make our campuses safe spaces for all students, staff members, and families, where they feel honored and valued. Find details on the event website
Upcoming Student Opportunities
March 12 Mind Out Loud Event Flyer
Mind Out Loud — March 12
Join middle and high school students from across California, the U.S. and throughout the world in connecting with one another on issues of mental health and wellness. Students will have the chance to hear experts on these topics, learn practical tools, and access resources to help advocate for their peers on campus.

The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit the Mind Out Loud website to register.

The event is hosted by SDCOE, the California Department of Education (CDE), and Wellness Together School Mental Health.
Get up-to-the-minute information about what's happening at the San Diego County Office of Education and in school districts across the county.