Motivation, Safeway club cards, charters, senior year, study abroad, top public schools, teacher grants

Schools Education

Lorna Sheridan/Index-Tribune Education Editor


Thankfully, the California state budget included one-time funds to help school districts implement the new Common Core State Standards. The Sonoma Valley Unified School District received $848,236. While SVUSD is already deep into implementation, it has announced these specific allocation plans for the current and next school years:

• Professional development and the development of curriculum (70 percent of funds);

• New instructional materials (10 percent);

• Upgrading of hardware and bandwidth for the online assessments (20 percent).

All funds must be spent by July 1, 2015. My guess is that this will be the easiest of the deadlines to meet. The district has also set aside money from other sources to supplement these funds.

Teens who stay up late at night perform more poorly academically and emotionally, according to researchers at UC Berkeley. By graduation, night owl teens had lower GPA scores, and were more vulnerable to emotional problems than teens with earlier bedtimes (Journal of Adolescent Health). The temptations of technology have made it even more difficult for teens to get enough sleep. The good news is that better sleep patterns can be adopted anytime.

Internationally-renowned arts education leader and “El Sistema” advocate Eric Booth will be in Sonoma to speak on “Motivation and Creative Learning – Prioritizing What We Know” at The Presentation School from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. Register at: ericbooth.eventbrite.com. In this free talk, open to the community, Booth explores intrinsic motivation and creative thinking and creative engagement – two driving forces behind achieving mastery and purposeful life-long learning. There is an additional opportunity to hear Booth in Sonoma when he presents, “A vision for Sonoma: the community development possibilities of El Sistema” at the Sebastiani Theatre on Monday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. The Valley Vibes Orchestra from El Verano will also perform. No registration needed. Learn more at ericbooth.net.

I am guessing that you have a red Safeway card in your wallet. Did you know that you need to “renew” your card every November to make sure the company continues to donate a portion of every purchase you make to your assigned nonprofit beneficiaries? You can choose up to three and I know that many local schools count on the thousands of dollars they receive from this Safeway giving program each year. Visit escrip.com and click on Safeway to renew in just a few seconds.

To help teachers who have exciting ideas for their classrooms but need money to accomplish their goals, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is now accepting applications for “Barn Grants” up to $1,000. These grants are made possible by the monthly Barn Sales on West Watmaugh organized by Holly Bennett. Last year, almost a dozen teachers saw their classroom dreams come true. svgreatschools.org/page103.html

Newsweek released its list of the top public high school in the country In those ranks are around 175 schools in California. The two nearest to us that made the list are Analy High in Sebastapol (709) and Roseland Prep in Santa Rosa (1,024). Schools are ranked based on how successful they are in producing college ready grads (graduation rate, college acceptance rate, AP/IB tests taken and passed per student and average SAT/ACT scores. (http://tinyurl.com/m6g9t7b)

I have to admit that I always appreciate it when other moms admit how hard they find it to try to “have it all.” A new book, “Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink,” by Katrina Alcorn suggest that working moms, in particular, are always having to say they are sorry … to their husbands, to their kids and to their co-workers … and that they are apologizing for not being able to do the impossible. I haven’t finished the book but it broaches a topic that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Cornerstone is hosting a 1920s French holiday circus “Le Cirque De Boheme” at 1 and 3 p.m. Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.You can also mark your calendar to save the date for the ninth annual snowman lighting at Cornerstone starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. The festivities include photos with Santa on the Big Blue Chair, live music, classic holiday films, kids crafts, face painting, games and a traditional beer garden (cornerstonesonoma.org).

If you have a senior in high school, “17 Things I Want Myself to Remember Senior Year” may be meaningful to you and them. You can read the article by Pennsylvania high school senior Katy Ma here: http://tinyurl.com/n6vpane but my favorites are: not everything will happen according to plan; bring a camera with you wherever you go; if you haven’t been outside in more than two days, it’s a problem; thank everyone as much as you can; and celebrate the victories but don’t dwell in pride.

Study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades. Despite these increases, fewer than 10 percent of U.S. college students study abroad during their undergraduate years, even though studying abroad is the same price or cheaper than a semester at a student’s home university. The most popular choice for U.S. students is the United Kingdom (then Italy, Spain and France). In terms of who comes here, China now sends as many students to the U.S. as the next four countries combined: India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada. (Chronicle of Higher Ed)

“I Wonder What It Feels Like To Be Dyslexic” is a cool coffee table book that uses graphic design to provide a visual sense of how dyslexic students see words, giving parents and teachers a much better sense of the frustrations of the learning disability. You can take a look at pages from the book at http://tinyurl.com/lnu9ygw.

A number of local students will be performing in the Sonoma Conservatory of Dance’s “The Snow Maiden: A Russian Wonder Tale of Love and Magic” at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8, at the Sebastiani Theatre. Tickets for this family-friendly show are on sale now at sonomadancestudio.com. Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 for students/seniors.

Does your student love Khan Academy, the website that has a clear, engaging tutorial video for basically any possible topic at any grade level? If so, consider becoming a beta tester. Students sign into New Feature Explorer and can test features before their release. http://tinyurl.com/l6xr2ft

ClassWish is a free website that organizes cash or supply donations for schools. Teachers and PTOs can create supply wish lists and spread the word with emails and printable flyers. Supporters can get a receipt for their tax-deductible contribution. Classwish.org

Wordplay is a free online game to help students learn and remember Spanish words and phrases. Students can master new words with a simple game that adjusts to each student’s unique needs. The game helps students to learn the proper meaning, pronunciation and spelling of each word. A mastery meter fills as students develop mastery, and turns blue as they build long-term retention. wordplay.com

More than 100 new charter schools opened across California for the 2013-14 school year, bringing the total number to 1,130. Charter enrollment grew by 10 percent, for a total of more than 519,000 students in charters. California has the highest number of charters and charter school students in the nation.

Local high school students who are inspired by today’s feature story on Marissa Rosenberg can email me for her contact information. Rosenberg has offered to mentor any Sonoma students who are interested in astrophysics. ourschools@sonomanews.com