Kent Awards 2024

The San Mateo County School Boards Association (SMCSBA), representing 23 school districts, the San Mateo Community College District, and the San Mateo County Office of Education, presented the 2023 Kent Awards on May 10, 2024.

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 program in the 1980-81 school year.

Congratulations to our 2024 Kent Awards winners!

Belmont-Redwood Shores SD - Sandpiper KidTalk, Sandpiper School

KidTalk has been a Sandpiper practice for three years. The inspiration for implementing the KidTalk process stemmed from a recognition of the increasing diversity of students' needs within our school community. The primary goal of KidTalk is to identify and provide appropriate support to students with the highest level of need, ensuring they receive services within the least restrictive learning environment. During KidTalk meetings, our teachers work alongside the Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) team to create action plans. Sandpiper’s KidTalk meetings convene two to three times per year, providing full-day sessions aimed at addressing the needs of 15-25 students per day. During KidTalk meetings, each grade level has time to discuss students requiring support, addressing questions including parent communication, attempted interventions, presenting challenges, and student strengths. The MTSS team then partners with teachers to develop solutions and decide on next steps,

Cabrillo Unified SD - Real Life Learning, Half Moon Bay High School

In Fall of 2021, HMBHS hired a part time Program Coordinator to launch a new program called Real Life Learning to streamline operations and to manage the oversight of all 1000+ students’ service hours, thus relieving teachers and counselors of a time-consuming, additional responsibility providing all students with a singular point person during their four-year journey of fulfilling this graduation requirement. The Program Coordinator is on campus three days/week and is the only person reviewing, approving and tracking student service hours, identifying students who need additional support. Real Life Learning currently has active partnerships with approximately 60 local community partners. encouraging students to take advantage of this time in high school to learn something about themselves. Since Fall 2021, 100% of Seniors who were academically eligible to graduate successfully met their service hour requirement. The total number of service hours per class continues to grow, showing an overall increase in how much HMBHS students are engaging with our community. The Class of 2023 graduated with 21,092 hours, more than 6,000 hours than the previous year.

Cabrillo Unified SD - Agricultural Science Program, Half Moon Bay High School

Half Moon Bay is a rural community with strong roots in agriculture. Although Half Moon Bay High School has had an agriculture program for many years, it has experienced high teacher turnover, limited student participation, and has been historically difficult to maintain. In the past, participation in the agriculture pathway was often limited to students with a background in agriculture, usually from their family upbringing. The changes we have made in our pathway have helped bring students from all subgroups and populations into pathway courses increasing equity across the curriculum. Our Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school Agriscience pathway aligns with our regular science pathway offering courses in agricultural earth science, biology, and chemistry. In addition, we offer advanced agricultural science (honors) and agricultural communication and leadership. For 23-24 we were able to add a section of Enhanced Earth Science with a co-teaching model. This has helped increase course access (state priority 7) for some of our special population students and provide greater equity and access to the agriculture pathway overall. For the 24-25 school year, we are adding a new animal science course that will incorporate a goat program working with special needs students.

Hillsborough City School District - HCSD Battle of the Books

The Hillsborough City School District librarians wanted to reinvigorate reading at their sites, and they decided to work together to create a unique reading “event” that would be held across the district. In 2019, they created Hillsborough’s own version of March Madness–Battle of the Books, a book-based competition that is open to all elementary students in 4th and 5th grades in HCSD.

There are three rounds in the Battle of the Books competition, and Kahoot is used as the online competition platform. For each round, there are 35 multiple choice questions. The first two rounds are held at each HCSD site–North Hillsborough School (North), South Hillsborough School (South), and West Hillsborough School (West)--during lunchtime. Half of all contestants at each site advance to the second round, and then two teams represent each elementary school in the final round, which is held in the evening at one of the elementary sites and rotates from site to site. Participation at each school site has increased since 2019, and this year, there are over 200 students participating across the district (the sites have 50, 77, and 88 students participating). Since the inception of the competition, approximately 1,000 students have participated.

The HCSD librarians manage all aspects of the Battle of the Books, from selecting the books to managing the competition, but they receive help from their staff and their parent community. Preparing for and holding the competition is an ongoing process throughout the school year, including choosing team names and team t-shirts. All students and families become engaged in the event and enjoy the competition.

Jefferson Union High SD - Pie Ranch Partnership with Oceana High School

Since its inception in 2007, thousands of Oceana High School students have participated in a myriad of ways from this wonderful partnership with Pie Ranch in Pescadero. The program is innovative because it is based on experiential education and supports the district’s LCAP goals on wellness, equity and inclusion. Students leave the classroom to experience life on a farm including learning about indigenous history and culture, farm to table systems and culinary skills. While it is challenging to organize field trips to Pie Ranch which is 45 minutes away, the school has diligently worked to overcome this barrier through fundraising and CTE grants. For example, the Pie Ranch Interim Program that started in 2007 takes 20 students for five days to Pie Ranch where they camp, cook and learn animal husbandry and sustainable agriculture practices. This is a rare opportunity for urban and suburban students to truly experience the multifaceted components of our food systems. In addition, our Humanities 11 team was able to take the entire junior class to Pie Ranch specifically to learn about indigenous history and culture which is directly connected to the Humanities 11 curriculum.

Menlo Park City SD - Community Reads

The Community Reads initiative strives to enhance the learning experience for TK-5th grade students across all three elementary schools in MPCSD by integrating high-quality children’s literature into classroom read-aloud. Aligned with Learning for Justice Standards, the initiative aims to spark classroom discussions and cultivate an inclusive school community. The focus areas encompass Identity Awareness, Diversity Awareness, Justice-Mindedness, and Action-Orientedness, addressing the imperative to promote awareness about justice and create a positive learning environment, ultimately creating the conditions for belonging. The initiative, including a diverse student population, involves selecting pertinent children’s books to explore specific learning domains. Facilitated discussions and activities foster understanding, appreciation, and connection among students concerning identity, diversity, justice, and action. A dedicated group of educators from each elementary school collaborates to review and select a children's book for implementation. Administrators play a crucial role in supporting the initiative's rollout through the Single Plan for Student Achievement, securing funding for materials, providing time for professional development, and facilitating communication with families. Families actively contribute by offering personal perspectives, feedback, and input on lesson design.

Portola Valley SD - "Garden Thyme" (Ormondale Garden), Ormondale School

The garden program, established over a decade ago, demonstrates significant positive outcomes in student engagement, learning, and well-being. Expanding from 3-4 classes to 14, the program now boasts a comprehensive "teaching garden" equipped with multiple beds, a watering system, a sensory garden, a superfood garden, and stand-up beds in the kindergarten area, showcasing its growth and adaptability. Key indicators of success include increased student participation in gardening, enhanced understanding of health and nutrition, and the development of environmentally sustainable practices like composting and worm beds for soil enrichment.

Redwood City SD - RCSD Counseling Program

The Redwood City School District (RCSD) Counseling Program felt the need to support our students' mental health and overall well-being, particularly in the context of returning to school after the COVID-19 lockdown. Recognizing that educators are not mental health clinicians, the initiative sought guidance and support from Stanford University to provide expertise and resources. This collaboration provided invaluable insight and resources, including multilingual support and assistance from supplemental psychiatrists. Our program aims to address the holistic needs of our students, recognizing that they must feel safe, comfortable, and at ease to fully engage in their school experience on social, emotional, and academic levels.

San Mateo County Office of Education - Safe Routes to School

Although many counties across the country have Safe Routes to Schools programs, the San Mateo County Office of Education’s program stands out for both its comprehensive approach and its focus on equity. The program is also the only Safe Routes to School program coordinated by a county office of education. Most are coordinated by city or county staff or bicycle or walking coalitions. Our program offers a multi-pronged approach to creating a safe, healthy, and fun environment for students to engage in active transportation, including walking, biking, scootering, skateboarding, and wheeling, on their way to and from school. Safe Routes supports many schools and districts in running their own Safe Routes to School programs and activities while combining infrastructure improvements, education initiatives, and community engagement.

San Mateo Union HSD - Student Board Council

The Student Board Council program includes 17 student representatives from each school site. By including student representatives from each high school, special programs, and diverse student interests, the program aims to ensure that a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and needs are considered in decision-making processes. The program is structured to promote intersectionality and equity within the student body. By representing the diverse backgrounds, identities, and circumstances of students across the district, the council seeks to address issues that affect different groups of students and advocate for their needs. By selecting two Student Board Members each quarter to attend school board meetings, the program provides students with a platform to voice their concerns and advocate for positive change at the district level.

Sequioia Union HSD - Welcome Center for Newcomer Multilingual Learners

The Welcome Center for our Newcomer Multilingual Learners was launched at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year as a centralized, district-wide welcome center for newly arrived international students and families. The Welcome Center expedites and improves the enrollment experience of international students and families while lessening the challenge for sites to complete student intake processes over the course of the year. The Welcome Center also serves as a vital resource center for new students, providing information about the structure of U.S. schools, and connecting students and families to school and community-based -resources The District Newcomer Family liaison establishes connections with families as they are in constant communication with her throughout the process and know they can return to the office for continued assistance.

South San Francisco Unified SD - Diversity and Multicultural Talent Show, Sunshine Gardens Elementary School

The Diversity and Multicultural Talent Showcase began 10 years ago and provides opportunities for our students who may not have access to formal training in dance, music, or art to showcase their talents and cultural performances. Sunshine Gardens students come from socioeconomically and culturally diverse backgrounds who may not have access to extracurricular activities or resources for artistic development. The program aims to provide a platform for students to express themselves through cultural performances, fostering creativity, confidence, and a sense of cultural pride. It also promotes inclusivity and celebrates diversity within the school community. By assembling a diverse team of students, staff and parents, each with unique skills and perspectives, we fostered collaboration that propelled the event’s success from a weekday school-hour affair to a Friday evening extravaganza.

South San Francisco Unified SD - Culinary Arts CTE Pathway, El Camino High School

Under the dedicated leadership of Marlis Ringseis, the Culinary Arts program at El Camino High School has undergone a transformative journey from a conventional "foods" class to a vibrant, UC a-g approved Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway. This transformation has not only resulted in exponential enrollment growth but also in the program becoming a cornerstone for students demonstrating Career Readiness. In the 2022-23 academic year alone, over 70 students were recognized as pathway completers, highlighting the program’s efficacy in preparing students for successful futures in the food service industry. By integrating UC a-g approved courses and providing dual enrollment opportunities with Skyline College, the program champions State Standards (Priority 2) by preparing students with the knowledge and skills needed for post-secondary success.

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