Day 134, Dr. Dianna Carberry

The best gift I’ve gotten in life is a love of reading.  My grandmothers passed it on to my parents, my parents to me, and me to our daughter. From my earliest memories I can still see the library in my grandparents’ home full of books.  My favorites back then were comic books, (Popeye, Donald Duck, Buck Rogers, The Green Flash to name a few) but the shelves were full of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys mysteries, Ellery Queen, Perry Mason, Sherlock Holmes, Little Women, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, AA Milne, and a plethora of other books.  On blustery Saturday’s I recall taking down a book, grabbing a blanket, and sitting by the warm fire immersing myself in my choice.  My grandmother and mother would be reading too.  No one spoke, we just read.  Sometimes my mother would scold me when she would catch me finishing a spellbinding book under the bed covers with my trusty flashlight. I really think she was proud that reading was such a joy to me. In high school I still found time to read, sometimes staying up all night until I would finish the book.  I still do that sometimes.  My tastes in genres and my love for reading has never changed.  Years later my mother, daughter, and I would repeat this memory.

My family favorites are mysteries and I warmly recall trading them with my mother as a young mother myself. But I also love historical novels and books about other cultures and communities.  Our daughter’s friends thought it was odd that she didn’t have video games as a child.  Our deal was we would buy her any book she wanted to read so she too would curl up with a favorite book.  I remember the days of walking to the library to check out Babysitters club books and later the book store where we’d pick out a few and hurry home to start reading.  Today her library is larger than mine and much more eclectic.

The love of reading has made us good readers; reading to learn is critical.  Because I read a lot I believe I can learn anything I put my mind to. However, reading for fun is what I wanted my daughter and students at my school to value.  Sometimes books teach us about our past, present and future.  I learned a lot about the outdoors from Scrooge McDuck comics, like what poison oak looks like and that it grew down in our creek.  The comics covered life lessons, science, problem-solving, trust, and mischief.

Each time we moved homes as a family we dragged boxes of books to the new home.  It’s like having our friends with us. The bookshelves in our home are full. Today some of my friends are Kay Scarpetta, Alex Cross, Rita and Harry Decker, Eve Duncan, and Amy Underwood (the main character from the book our daughter wrote last year).  Over Spring Break I plan on pulling out the newest books of some of my friends for the sheer pleasure of being entertained.  In the staff lounge on 5th street there is a book case where you can borrow or share a book.  I’ve shared a few of mine. I urge you to do the same. Go make your own new friends!

 

Dianna Carberry, Assistant Superintendent Leadership and Systems Innovation.

When she is not reading she is riding her bike, hiking, gardening, sewing or playing in the water.  This year is her 39th year in education and this December she and her husband will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. 

Day 123, Steve Rodriguez

Have you found yourself feeling a bit stale in the classroom?  Are you searching for new instructional ideas?  Or do you just frequently experience a sense of professional curiosity, wondering if there are fellow teachers out there somewhere doing interesting things that might benefit your classroom of students?

If so, I highly recommend attending a professional teachers’ conference. Two weekends ago I attended the 2017 California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) state conference held in Santa Clara, CA. What I re-learned from the experience was the value of spending time amongst my own teacher tribe, exposing myself to new ideas, new faces, and intense energy.

The three-day CATE conference involved over 800 English teacher attendees from throughout the state. I attended general sessions featuring prominent speakers, and a number of smaller presentation sessions featuring teachers like myself willing to share their experiences and findings.  Though I didn’t find all ideas applicable to my classroom situation, the presentations provoked me to reexamine what I currently do with my students—and that alone made the conference worthwhile.

In addition to attending, I also actively participated by delivering an hour-long presentation session to fellow 12th grade teachers. My presentation was on Olympian High’s Common Senior Experience—a theme/project-based curriculum my school has administered for the past 8 years. Though preparing for the presentation was time consuming and a bit intimidating, I actually enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone while conducting the event.  Once done, I was on a mental high for the rest of the day after fielding enthusiastic questions and comments from the audience.

Next year’s CATE conference will be held right here in San Diego (at the Town and Country Hotel in Mission Valley) during March 9-11, 2018.  For English teachers it will be a great opportunity to expand one’s perspective and spend time with fellow teachers.  And you won’t have to spend money on airfare or a hotel room.  I highly recommend attending!  Chances are good you too will leave such a conference, if not full of new ideas, at the very least intellectually stimulated and mentally refreshed—not to mention, motivated by the high level of energy possessed by motivated peers excited to share their theories, opinions, and experiences.

Steve Rodriguez teaches AP English Literature and English-12 at Olympian High School.

Day 115, Operation Grit

Tiffany Howerton, MOH English teacher and Operation GRIT advisor

Michelle Beauchamp, MOH English teacher and Operation GRIT advisor

Operation GRIT is a club and a mentoring program at Montgomery High School. We match 11th and 12th grade GRIT mentors with 9th and 10th grade protégés in Aztec Checkout.  Our goal is to help students with their academics, but also to make sure they know they have a community of peers that care about them. Mentors and protégés meet 2-4 times a week to ensure overall success. GRIT stands for Growth, Resilience, Integrity, and Tenacity, which are the 4 pillars of our mission statement.

Gia Jaramillo, MOH Senior and Operation GRIT Vice President/mentor

Initially when I started mentoring I simply wanted to complete my community service hours and be done with it. But after 3 years I’ve gotten into the routine of going 4 days a week, multiple hours a day. Operation GRIT has changed from a dinky after school program to the largest club in my school. Not only have I grown more sociable, but also it has expanded the value of my school and community. Through this program I found that I enjoy helping my protégés and seeing the moment when they understand a problem.

I’ve decided that I will continue helping students to reach their full potential through teaching. My favorite part of GRIT is that we celebrate the success of all the students, both small and tremendous. This helps unify us as a whole as well as incite a passion within the individual students. I hope to help Operation GRIT prosper and grow in the future as I plan to continue the tradition when I am a teacher.

Oscar Soto-Castelo, MOH Freshman, Operation GRIT protégé

Operation GRIT has helped me a lot to improve my grades. Currently, I have been getting really good grades because of the program. I meet with my mentor at least twice a week to make sure I stay on track. If it wasn’t for my mentor and Operation GRIT I wouldn’t be going to the college trip during Spring Break. I can’t wait to visit universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The trip will be fun especially since I get to go with my mentor Gia and other students in the club.

Last semester, I felt proud every marking period because we would have a party to celebrate good grades. I always have fun. I hope to one day become a mentor in the club. I know I can do it.

Day 114, “Sweetwater Sisters”

Thanks to Dr. Carberry, a cohort of new SUHSD counselors have had the opportunity to attend the New Counselor Leadership Institute, offered by the San Diego County Office of Education.  The Institute is a series of six workshops where topics range from preparing our students to be college/career ready to building positive student development.  Our last workshop held on January 31st focused on “Strengths-Based Student Group Facilitation.”

During the day, we were exposed to many different approaches to providing groups on campus, including counseling groups, support groups, and educational groups.  As “The Sweetwater Sisters,” we represented 4 different high school sites (Eastlake, Olympian, Mar Vista, Hilltop) and practiced our facilitation skills around the topic of “stress management.”  Not only were we able to role-play and provide feedback, but we were also able to make valuable connections to one another.

“The most exciting aspect of this training is bringing the knowledge back to our sites to plan our own support groups to meet the needs of our students,” exclaimed Carla Jacobo.

According to Kristen Ereno, the training helped remind her of how important and powerful groups are for students.  She plans to increase the number of groups offered on campus and personally seeks to implement an empowerment group for young ladies.

“Receiving a binder filled with resources and ideas made this one of the best training in the series so far,” said Ilyana Castaneda.  Furthermore, Ilyana expanded upon the fact that the activities presented during the training could easily be used for our students and at staff meetings.

For Bibiana Jones, the workshop was enriching in helping her identify how she can deliver more authentic services to her students.  She also acknowledges the value of teamwork and collaboration with her colleagues.

As for Liliana Barron, she was reminded about the power of connection that groups can provide with staff, peers, and their school.  “In strengthening these bonds,” she says, “we are building an essential component to student success.”

As new counselors, we are proud to be members of this school district and appreciate the support of the district in providing us with professional development opportunities to better serve our students.  Our own counseling teams at our site have been incredible mentors and invaluable to our growth as counselors.  We look forward to the remaining three trainings of the Institute — a School Counselor Leadership Conference at the University of San Diego, Building Asset Based Relationships with Youth, and Youth Mental Health First Aid.

This blog was written by the following “Sweetwater Sisters”: Carla Jacobo, second year counselor at Hilltop High School; Bibiana Jones and Kristen Ereno are second year counselors at Eastlake High School;  Ilyana Castaneda, first year counselor and 13 year SUHSD educator. Liliana Barron has been at Olympian High School since 2015.  Edrey Ledezma is a second year counselor at Mar Vista High School.

Day 113, Elvia Estrella

This week is “National School Counseling Week.” The theme for this week is “Helping Students Realize their Potential.” #NSCW17

“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds” Mexican Proverb

Quisieron enterrarnos, pero se les olvido que somos semillas.” Mexican Proverb

Education! We all come into the field of education for different reasons. Many people at a young age know that they were made to teach, counsel and others say they were born to lead. Whichever the case may be, school has been the one constant for all children and some children enter school as young as three-years-old. I believe in the field of education because it is the one place, other than home, that we as educators have the greatest impact on a child’s development. My philosophy is that all children can and will learn, and all children can and will be successful academically and in life.

As school counselors, we have the most important role and many times a more impacting role on a child’s life to shape a child’s mind, thoughts, and behaviors. When children enter school for the first time, many enter with a story and a dream. Each story a child enters with is unique to them and separates them from others. Economical resources may vary but it is the quest to satisfy a dream through the world of education that unites all students. As school counselors, I believe it is our duty to help each student understand that their story builds their character even when they can’t see the potential that illuminates them. We all need to be willing to help each child reach beyond their dream so one day they can say they had the opportunity to achieve their dreams through receiving an education.

Many often do not fully understand our role as school counselors in education. However, I often state that “I have the best job in the world!” My daily duties and responsibilities are to be a dream maker and a life changer. I have the role and responsibility to help each student not only graduate high school, but to help them make their academic/career dream a reality. I get to be part of each student’s story when a student answers the common question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Every time that I ask this question, I learn a little more about each student to build our relationship and help them reach that dream. As school counselors, we hold the ability to inspire each student to achieve by the power of our words, our actions and our encouragement to transform a student’s educational experience. My most memorable statement from a student was when he received his letter of acceptance to college and he said, “Ms. Estrella, you have changed my life forever!” I love being a school counselor because every day I get to plant seeds.

Elvia Estrella is currently a counselor at San Ysidro Learning Center and is currently the president of Sweetwater Counseling and guidance associations (SCGA).

Day 110, Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia

Philosopher Confucius once said, “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”

This week is “National School Counseling Week.” The theme for the week is “Helping Students Realize Their Potential.”

Being an alumnus of Sweetwater High, I understand the stigma my students feel about not being “good enough” for highly selective college admissions. They have heard the narrative too many times: kids from National City don’t go to “those types of schools.”

Building a college-going culture is more than increasing A-G rates and building AP programs. It’s about building each student’s belief in their ability to achieve their college dreams. They have to believe kids like them DO go to schools like Harvard, Stanford, and Yale.

As a teacher turned school counselor, in every interaction I have with students, I am reminded of the power of my words and actions to guide students towards the realization of their potential. I have learned that I must acknowledge a student’s hard work and dedication in making their education a priority. I have to express my admiration a student’s resilience amidst the trauma they have experienced.  I have to call attention to a student’s talents that make them unique.

Each student inherently has the will to win, the desire of succeed, and the urge to reach their potential, yet many need us to help them realize their potential.

Lysabeth Luansing-Garcia is a former AVID Tutor from GJH, once ELA teacher at CPH, now school counselor at SUHI where she maintains the website www.SUHIcounseling.com. She is also the co-chair of the SUHSD Counselor Standards Committee. Outside of work, she shares the diversions of life on her lifestyle blog www.GarciaMemories.com.

Day 109, Liliana Silva Diaz

This week kicks off National School Counseling Week (#NSCW17)! The theme for this year is School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential.  As a school counselor, I am in the unique and fortunate position to genuinely know my students and create opportunities to enhance their academic achievement, career development, and personal/emotional growth.

In a given week, I can work with a student, their teacher(s) and parent to help improve their grades and help them develop study skills, convince a kid that college is for them, help guide someone’s career decision and outline potential pathways, explain the financial aid process to a parent, or sit alongside a student in their most vulnerable moment, because they feel life is not worth continuing, is overwhelmed with a home situation, or has experienced a death in their family for the first time. Our students deal with so much and often do so while coming to school everyday.

Being a school counselor can at times be stressful. Actually I lie, it is stressful most of the time, but so rewarding. It is a tremendous responsibility to care for my students emotional well-being and know that I play a role in guiding them as they shape their future.  I am very cognizant of the potential impact a school counselor can make and a responsibility that I do not take lightly. For that reason, I give my students 110%, welcoming them with a smile, letting them know they are important, and collaborating with them so they realize their potential, all while holding high expectations.   I treat them with respect and I see every student as someone who can and will be successful in life. I do so not expecting anything in return (although it always makes my day when I hear from alumni), and knowing that I strive to make an impact.

Two weeks ago, I transitioned from being a school counselor at a site to working at the district office.  I found out I would be leaving SUHI four weeks prior to my departure, and of course that was enough time to say goodbye to my students.  I always knew that as school counselors we make an impact, but never did that realization come to fruition as when I was getting ready to leave.  I was genuinely surprised to see students reaction upon telling them the news.  I assumed they may be surprised, but would not be too phased by the news.  Was I wrong!  Although I know my students are resilient and will be fine (and I know they will soon bond with the incoming counselor), I was truly touched by how significant I was to their life, more than what I ever imagined.  I learned that all we do for our students matters to them and they take notice.  The bond and relationships we form is the essence to cultivating learning and growth so they realize their full potential.

Liliana Silva Diaz has been a school counselor for 12 years.  She is currently a Counselor on Special Assignment (COSA) in the Professional Growth Office.  Previously she was part of the school counseling team at Sweetwater High School (Go Red Devils!), which is also her alma mater.

Day 107, Carmen Dacasin

Rather than “what I learned today”, I’m more accurately sharing what I’m learning and continue to learn.  That being, remembering to be grateful every day for even the smallest things in life.  Over the last year, months, weeks and even days, SOMETHING has happened to bring me to this place of gratitude.  I really AM grateful that I work in the department I’m currently in. Grateful for the co-workers who’ve become friends, and some almost like family. Grateful that, regardless of the many changes that have occurred, we learn to work together and even though we’re stumbling through some of it, we’re getting through it ~ together. So, in trying to keep this short, because I CAN go on and on. . . consider this my “grateful blog”. First “blog” ever!!!!

Carmen “Auditor” Dacasin started at SUHSD when she was 10 years old and in June of this year she will have been here for 34 years. OK,  she wasn’t really 10. She is currently an accountant in the Finance Department and loving every minute of it.

Day 106, Ricardo Cooke

This past year, my good friend Amy Illingworth, politely challenged me to expand my learning zone.  I gladly accepted the challenge and started tweeting and today, completed my first blog.  Having a twitter account was a pleasant surprise that allowed me to have access to instant professional development each day.  It also allowed me to connect easily with other like-minded people.  However, creating a blog represented a challenge.  I consider myself a reflective practitioner, but blogging seemed like it would take a lot of time and to be honest, while I consider myself a little more interesting than a cat video, I wondered, Who would want to read what I post (other than Amy Illingworth)?  After completing my first blog, I found that the process really was about my own learning.  A blog allowed me to think about my own growth as an educator and what I still needed to learn or experience to become my next best self.  We sometimes forget to just stay still and think.

So now,  I humbly offer you my first blog.  Many people know this about me … I have a weakness for metaphor and music.  SO, I combined both loves.  As a young child, I was obsessed with mixtapes.  I would get my radio out, pop a cassette in and wait all day to record all of my favorite songs.  There was an art form in putting together the music.  I wanted to capture music that represented a tiny slice of my life.  I hear Beat It by Michael Jackson and I think about my first crush. I hear King of Rock by Run-DMC and I think about how much rap music changed the music scene forever.  I hear Led Zeppelin and I think about learning to play Stairway to Heaven on my first guitar (SIDENOTE:  I keep that guitar in my office as a way to connect with students).  Music was so powerful to me.  I would sit around all day with friends and try to memorize lyrics.  Or in some cases, choreograph awful dance routines.

I see teaching a lot like a mixtape.  We are consistently creating  soundtracks for our students about different themes, lessons or ideas.  We know that music has a special power to ignite memories and connections.  Well, I think great educators create powerful learning experiences that are very much like those mixtapes.  Students will not only learn from those powerful experiences, but those experiences will help create more opportunities for success in future endeavors.  My blog is intended to be a mixtape for educators.  If you choose to follow along for the next year, you will see each month has a song, theme and some insights.  The first track is about potential.  We all have the key to unlocking students’ potential and dreams.  It comes down to your belief system in the student and doing everything possible for them to meet your expectations.   What an awesome responsibility.   You are ready for it.  So, let the soundtrack of your teaching career be songs of joy, learning, love and growth.

And by the way, my mixtapes were rad.

or follow me on Twitter @RicardoCooke1

Dr. Ricardo Cooke is currently an assistant principal with National City Middle School.  He has a passion for teaching, learning and leading. In his spare time, he teaches, reads and makes mixtapes.  He has been in the education field for twenty years. He is a proud Mar Vista Middle and Chula Vista alum as well as a former teacher at Bonita Vista High School. 

Day 101, Amy Illingworth

Have you noticed that your inbox has been missing the daily SUHSD Learns post? We need your contributions!  We know that each member of the Sweetwater community has learned something this year. Please take the time to share your learning with us all.

 

To contribute all you have to do is:

  • Write (hand write, type, email, or call us directly to type for you) a short description of what you learned *OR*
  • Record a short video where you talk about what you learned *OR*
  • Send in pictures with captions about what you or your students learned
  • Create an infographic of something you learned
  • Submit student work (as long as we have parent permission to post it) demonstrating learning

Blogs can be in list format, in video format, or in narrative.  Blogs can be created by one individual or by a team of people. We are open to all styles and appreciate hearing from a range of district students, staff and community members.

For questions or support, please contact Cynthia Acuna (cynthia.acuna@sweetwaterschools.org or 619-585-4431).

 

Dr. Amy Illingworth is the Director of Professional Growth. She loves reading about others’ learning experiences and looks forward to new community members contributing.