2016 Kent Award Winners

May 24, 2016

The San Mateo County School Boards Association (SMCSBA), representing 22 school districts, the San Mateo Community College District, and the San Mateo County Office of Education, presented the 2016 Kent Awards on May 23rd in a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City.

The awards are given to outstanding and innovative programs either in the classroom or outside the classroom as well as district-wide programs. Applicants must demonstrate their programs promote student success, employ a high degree of creativity, and demonstrate transferability.  Named after past San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools, J. Russell Kent, SMCSBA initiated the J. Russell Kent Award Program in the 1980-81 school year.

The event also honored this year’s winner of the annual Emily Garfield Preventive Counseling Award. The Emily Garfield Award was established through a grant from Youth Empowering Systems to honor local education pioneer Emily Garfield to focus on successful alcohol and drug prevention programs as well as positive youth development and community wellness programs. The Emily Garfield Award comes with a $1,000 program grant. The winner of the Emily Garfield Award this year is Jenna Carson of Menlo-Atherton High school (Sequoia Union High School District).

Jenna has been with Menlo Atherton for over 20 years and is one of the most gifted and committed teachers on the campus. She helped to design the original Compass summer program for at risk students and now runs the campus Aspiration Advocates program.

The 17 recipients who received their Kent Award on May 23rd were:

Cipriiani Green Team, Belmont-Redwood Shores School District, Cipriani Elementary
Anne Snelling- Teacher, Lucy Boyle – Para educator, Marla Becker – Parent Jennifer Gaboury- Principal and Michael Milliken- Superintendent

This program has helped make composting and recycling trendy at Cipriani. With the goal of making a huge contribution to Zero Waste this innovative program has made a huge impression on students and a lasting impression on the broad community. Fourth and Fifth grade students are intent about teaching others about the importance of reducing waste. The school trustee who did the site visit wrote, “This is an excellent leadership opportunity for the students who are really reducing waste at the school lunches and a very impressive program. It would be great to replicate this at other school sites both for student leadership opportunities and to help make the planet a more environmentally sound place”.

Animated Collaborative Classics Throughout the Ages, Belmont-Redwood Shores School District, Ralston Middle School
Teacher Coordinators: Mary Natoli, Steve Pomeroy, Jordan Webster, Gary Means, Ellen Paisley and Peter Thielen , Principal Joseph Funk and Superintendent Michael Milliken

This program brings classic literature, music, history and art to life through animated videos. Students are engaged as teachers from multiple classes and subjects compose collaborative projects that make learning fun. The site visitor noticed that students worked right up to the bell and were extremely engaged. He also wrote, “This program is so popular that there are 3 after school animation clubs. I visited students in Music, English and Animation class. 100% of the class was engaged and quite excited. I saw students learning teamwork, collaboration and how to be supportive. There are over 20,000 views if you take a look at their work on YouTube as of last year”.

TechEase Team Program, Los Lomitas Elementary School District, La Entrada Middle School
Suzanne Mitchell -Director of Technology, Shannon Potts – Principal and Lisa Cesario- Superintendent

La Entrada Middle School’s TechEase Team program is a “win-win” for everyone. With the roll-out of 1 to 1 iPads, the need for teacher and student tech support increased dramatically. Students in 6th through 8th grade with IT skills or wanting to learn more about technology become part of the solution. Notes from the site visit include, “ Students volunteered because they like computers, they want to accumulate leadership hours, or their friends asked them to join. They all said it was easier and more fun than they expected, they were well prepared, and it made them feel more confident. The Tech Ease Team have become fast friends, and provide great service to the school”.

Strategies Reverse Mainstreaming Program, Las Lomitas Elementary School District, Los Lamitas Elementary School
Kim Butler- Special Education Teacher, Alain Camou- Principal and Lisa Cesario, Superintendent

Kim Butler the Special Day Class Teacher has created a unique bridge between special and general education students. She created a Reverse Inclusion program that brings general education classes into a special day class to receive academic instruction and help facilitate interaction. The site reviewer noted, “ It’s an innovative program in that it pushes general education kids into the special education classroom on a regular basis so that the general ed kids get regular exposure to the kids in the special day class. They develop more empathy and understanding towards the special ed kids when they see them in other settings. One second grade mother of a general education student wrote a letter to the teacher saying: My daughter’s second grade year is so much richer because her class is visiting the Strategies Classroom to learn where two of their classmates do some of their learning during the day. Her experience has helped our entire family think more about her friends who learn in ways that are different from us”.

Tier 3 Positive behavior Intervention Programs, Menlo Park City School District, Laurel School, Encinal School, Oak Knoll School and Hillview Middle School
Program Coordinators: Laurel School – Ashley Guilliot, School Counselor and Lisa Walton, School Psychologist. Oak Knoll School – Nicole Scott, School Counselor and Jenny Ryan, School Psychologist. Encinal School – Karin Bloom, School Counselor; Jana Parker, School Psychologist; and Margie Rubin, Behavior Interventionist. Hillview Middle School – Chris Arrington, School Psychologist and Kim Staff, Wellness Coordinator. Willy Haug, Principal and Maurice Ghysels, Superintendent.

This program is designed for the most behaviorally challenging students in the district. Counselors, psychologists, behavior interventionists and the wellness coordinator make up the support team. The school and the families work together to fully support each student. The site reviewer wrote in her remarks, “I had goosebumps during my visit as I saw the incredibly powerful support offered to children who need our help the most. This amazing program is very deserving of a Kent Award and I suggested they also apply to present at the CSBA conference this year. This surely is a best practice model for the entire State of California.

Buddy Program, Millbrae School District, Meadows Elementary School
Teachers: Stacey Tachiki, Karen Gordon and Erin Zlatunich. Daina Lujan – Principal and Vahn Phayprasert -Superintendent

This powerful buddy program provides purposeful and engaging opportunities for students with exceptionalities and their typically developing peers to collaborate, interact and work together. General education students interact in the special education setting as play buddies, reading buddies and other fun activities. The site reviewer wrote, “In over 12 years doing site visits for the Kent Awards, this is the most motivating program I ever visited. If you want to be inspired to new heights, go visit this program and talk to the kids. It teaches kids empathy and they are role models for all of us”.

Cabrillo Elementary Big Green Garden, Pacifica School District, Cabrillo Elementary School
Victoria Ferretti – Teacher Coordinator, Toni Mari D’Amore- Teacher, Thomas Stafford- Principal and Wendy Tukloff- Superintendent

This ideal outdoor classroom addresses STEM oriented 21st Century real-world problems. Students work across grade levels to study soil conservation, engineering, erosion and more. Comments from the site reviewer, “ Great program to observe. The children were looking for ladybugs and lizards and having a great time. One student shared that she loves her teacher and she also likes being outdoors to learn about the environment”.

Roosevelt School Annual Reading Fair, Redwood City Elementary School District, Roosevelt School
Trish Reilly Taylor- Parent Liaison, Tracy DaCosta -Assistant Principal, Patricia Girardi- Principal, Dr. John Baker- Superintendent

The Roosevelt School Annual Reading Fair is a very big deal and an opportunity for students to share their favorite book through a storyboard display, and allows the school, students and families to work together collaboratively to promote reading. The site reviewer comments, “This program brings the love of reading alive to students and families. I was impressed with a board from a kindergarten student about a story he wrote. It was very unique! All of the students seem to enjoy this fair.”

Roy Cloud Student Leadership Program, Redwood City Elementary School District, Roy Cloud School
Catherine Gaston- Advisor, Dana Hardester- Principal and Dr. John Baker- Superintendent

Roy Cloud’s Student Leadership Program offers students a way to acquire life long leadership skills while giving them an opportunity to affect change in their school and community. Experiences include: Student government, human relations, organization, time management, problem solving, communication, project planning and community service. The site visitor said, “The 6-8 grade students are clearly engaged with this Leadership class and are learning a lot about how to be good leaders including how to listen and collaborate with others. They were preparing entertainment for a school Academic Achievement Awards rally and had lots of exciting plans to motivate the other kids in the school. Catherine Gaston has created a program that creates a positive influence throughout the school. Her enthusiasm and energy inspre the students to be creative problem solvers and strong contributors to the culture at their school. It’s clear that the students love being in her program”.

Project Friendship, San Mateo County Office of Education, Gateway Community School and Early Child Education
Staff, Students and Families of SMCOE’s Gateway Community School and ECE
Mary Browning and Becky Vichiquis- Principals, Anne Campbell- County Superintendent

Project Friendship is a program that provides opportunities for high school students who attend the San Mateo County office of Education’s Gateway Community School to volunteer in the County’s Early Childhood Education Program. Students volunteer at the ECE in a variety of roles, including playing with and reading to young children with disabilities. This is a mutually beneficial, collaborative program as the young children learn from the older teens and the teens develop relationships with very young students. Quote from a project participant, “Project Friendship gave me the opportunity to discover that there are second chances. I gained the skills I needed to excel in a professional environment. Project Friendship was a place where I came and discovered who I was, and what I could achieve”.

Adventure Activities, San Mateo County Office of Education
Pamela Merchant- APE Specialist, Mary Browing- Principal and Anne Campbell- County Superintendent

Each year through the Adventure Activities program, students with even the most severe disabilities have the opportunity to participate in kayacking, the Crystal Bowling Tournament, ice skating, Horse Buddies and other activities. This program reaches approximately 1,500 students with special needs each year. The site reviewer wrote, “Pam Merchant has been the driving force behind the program. She has been a role model to inspire others to become involved but it is the kids that inspire the volunteers to return year after year”.

San Mateo Union High School District Alternative to Suspension Program, San Mateo Union High School District, San Mateo Adult School
Greg Quigley- Assistant Director of Special Education, Bettina Graf- Student Services Case Manager, KindyLee Mackamul- Associate Superintendent and Kevin Skelly- Superintendent

This program was implemented as a student support system with the goal to reduce suspensions district wide by 20%. ATS provides a daylong intervention based on Restorative Justice Practices, a curriculum teaching, modeling, reinforcing appropriate behaviors and repairing harm. The site reviewer wrote, “Students who have earned a multi-day suspension spend time with a therapist. Students spent time in self-reflection and interacting with others from different backgrounds, understanding their emotions, actions and impacts, learning how to take more positive control of their future actions.”

Baywood 4th and 5th Grade Elective Program, San Mateo-Foster City School District, Baywood Elementary School
Teachers: Laura Cornwell, Lisa Moreci, Julie Weinstein, Jennifer Lionberger, Julie MacArthur, Stephanie Sardella and Laurel Studebaker. Maria Majka- Principal and Dr. Joan Rosas -Superintendent

All Baywood Elementary 4th and 5th graders think creatively, pursue innovative solutions utilizing evolving technology and develop collaborative skills through active participation and engagement. Students can self-select elective courses from a wide range of offerings based on interest. Whether as an inventor; a horticulturalists exploring health and wellness; an author or poet; a film maker; a miner retelling gold rush adventures through story and song; a problem solver engaging in brain games; or a school leader as a member of student government, the students actively enrich their academic experience.

Audubon Choir Program, San Mateo-Foster City School District, Audubon Elementary School
Elyse R. Cheever- Choir Director, Maria Brady- Principal, Dr. Joan Rosas- Superintendent

The Audubon Choir Program, under the direction of Elyse Cheever, solves the need to provide a fun and engaging educational opportunity for students while utilizing 21st century academic skills, and providing a well rounded education through music. Upper grade students are engaged in a music program, which incorporates group work, research, public speaking and performing musical selections which emphasize academic subjects and character development.

Social Academic Communication Class, Sequoia Union High School District, Carlmont High School
Sara Cohn- Special Edcuation Teacher, Michelle Morris- Speech and Language Specialist, Ralph Crame- Principal and Jim Lianides- Superintendent

Approximately 80-90% of ASD Students are unable to maintain full time employment due to poor social skills. Approximately 80% of ASD adults also suffer from anxiety and depression. This class at Carlmont is trying to reduce these grave percentages for our students by using a transdisciplinary curriculum grounded in evidence based practices in order to improve our students’ social cognitive skills so that they can become healthy, contributing members of society. The site visitor remarked, “This program is really amazing! The leadership students who participate in the program with their special education peers said that one of the things they enjoy most about being a part of the class is that they are helping other students have a better, fuller high school experience by participating in student activities like prom, potlucks, games with others and more. “
Baden High School-Peninsula Humane Society Partnership, South San Francisco Unified School District, Baden High School
Michael Coyne Principal
Lynn Loar, Pryor Foundation President
Dr. Shawnterra Moore, Superintendent

The profile of a continuation high school student typically includes words such as: struggling, apathetic and disengaged. For the past three years selected students from Baden have found success and engagement in a program that has been established through the school’s partnership with the Peninsula Humane Society. This program allows the students to look at their futures with a sense of optimism. Comments from the site reviewer, “The impact on the kids who participate in terms of confidence, career possibilities and peer support was notable. This partnership is special”. Lynn Loar says, “The students often identify with the shelter animals and this motivates them to master their own impulsivity and become patient, attentive and kind trainers”.

Family Stories, South San Francisco Unified School District, Martin Elementary School
Lindsay Summers-Coordinator, Delia Vieyra- Support, Dr. Rosemary Wood- Principal and Dr. Shawnterra Moore- Superintendent

The Family Stories program at Martin School is a successful and valuable part of the school’s culture. Through the program, families have become more involved and feel empowered to use school-wide reading strategies at home in both English and Spanish. The program has become a conduit for communicating about the Common Core State Standards and the related instructional shifts, as it fosters a dialogue between home and school as well as an inclusive learning environment.


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