The following article was posted by the Sonoma Index Tribune September 28, 2021
Money will benefit Valley’s public schools, teachers and students
INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF REPORT
Raising $400,000 for Valley schools, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation wrapped its signature Red & White Ball fundraiser, surpassing the revenue generated in 2020. The marker is especially impressive as this is the second year the fundraiser was all virtual, instead of the beloved gala on the Plaza.
'As uncertainty remains ever-present in our lives, I'm moved that we continually find a steadfast certainty in our local community to show up for youth in Sonoma Valley,' said Angela Ryan, executive director of the education foundation. 'Hosting a cornerstone event like the Red & WhiteBall virtually for the second year in a row and still seeing such a generous output gives us the confidence to creatively reimagine fundraising moving forward. We are filled with gratitude for the generosity of our supporters who are making expanded programming a reality for students.'
The virtual fundraising utilized double and triple match days, along with an online auction to raise funds. Donors who made a gift of $250 or more had an opportunity to pick up their Red & White Ball party bag in the Plaza horseshoe or donate the bag to a local teacher as a thank you for all they've done throughout the pandemic and for local students in general.
The $400,000 raised will be “creatively and strategically” directed to areas where the pandemic has impacted students. That will include programs and opportunities to help recapture 'beyond the bell' learning and social-emotional development, including all-day preschool at Sassarini, expanded after-school opportunities and arts education.
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) was established in 1993 and has since provided over $20 million dollars to Sonoma Valley public schools through grants to teachers and administration, sponsored community initiatives, and meaningful programming such as Summer Literacy Academy, Preschool For All. and more.
For more information, visit svgreatschools.org.
The following was posted by the Sonoma Index Tribune September 24, 2021
Eat at CaliForno, raise money for the Ed Foundation
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s Airstream food truck is giving back to public schools
By KATHLEEN HILL
INDEX-TRIBUNE FOOD AND WINE EDITOR
CaliForno, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn’s Airstream “food truck,” will help the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation with a month long “Dine and Donate” program. The Fairmont will donate $1 for every entree purchased on Friday and Saturday evenings from CaliForno throughout the month of October.
According to Michelle Heston of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, “The Education Foundation will use funds raised from this promotion to help fund classroom grants throughout public schools. These grants help teachers to purchase extra supplies, fund field trips and engage in personal development classes.
“The shiny, Airstream kitchen serves seasonally inspired Sonoma street eats – bringing food truck cuisine to a whole new level. CaliForno serves on the resort front lawns, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m.
Live music is from 5 to 8 p.m., weather permitting.”
Currently the menu includes roasted squash and green chili quesadillas, garlic prawn tostadas, salt and pepper calamari, Parmesan truffle fries, an artisan cheese plate with candied almonds and apples, charred corn Caprese, their very green grilled cheese with brie and avocado, a fried chicken sandwich with spicy coleslaw, char siu pork buns, Dungeness crab melt on Fridays, poke bowls, a s’mores kit and ice cream sandwiches. ($10 to $18).
Guests can enjoy their purchases around fire pits or at socially distanced picnic tables.
Call 938-9000 for more info.
CaliForno is the Airstream food truck that parks outside the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn on Fridays and Saturdays.
The following was posted by the Sonoma Index Tribune August 16, 2021
Red & White Ball goes back online for 2021
Without the typical Red & White Ball on the Plaza, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation is urging donors to go online.
(Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)
August 16, 2021, 3:00PM
The popular Red & White Ball, an annual celebration of our schools, is once again taking its fundraising goals online this year due to the pandemic, with activities to watch throughout August. Honoring the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, donations will benefit student-focused initiatives.
“The generosity of our community at the Red & White Ball has been significant over the years, and we are hopeful that this year will be no different, particularly as the needs of our children and students are more amplified coming out of the pandemic and distance learning,” said Angela Ryan, executive director of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. “Revenue generated at this year’s event will be directed to helping students recover from a tumultuous past year, by making possible preschool, after-school and weekend programs. With the support of our generous community, together we can help ensure our kids catch-up, recover and thrive this year.”
Beginning the first week of August, Red & White Ball sponsors are poised to match all donations up to $60,000, including some special triple match days. Individuals who make a gift of $250 or more before Aug. 20 will receive a special Red & White Ball party bag, which they can pick up at a festive Pick-Up Party in the Plaza horseshoe on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 3-5 p.m.
An online auction will run the full week of Aug. 23-29, featuring unique lots, including local and remote vacation getaways, exclusive wine and spirits tasting opportunities, private events featuring food and entertainment and more.
The Red & Wall Ball has historically benefited a wide array of student programming. On the heels of the federal and state COVID funding made available to school districts to bolster resources during the school day, SVEF has an opportunity to creatively and strategically direct revenue to other areas where students have been impacted by the pandemic. This will ensure that there are programs and opportunities to help recapture “beyond the bell” learning and social-emotional development.
For more information about the event or to donate, contact Caroline Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit svgreatschools.org.
Please enjoy the video below in which Dr. Adrian Palazuelos, the new superintendent of Sonoma Valley Unified School District, joins us in thanking all of the donors who supported students during this difficult last year.
We welcome Dr. Palazuelos to Sonoma, and join him in thanking YOU for helping our students when they needed you most.
High School Students Provide Crucial Summer School Support Thanks to Collaboration Between SVEF, SVUSD, Teen Services and SVBGC
The following was posted by Sonoma Valley Sun July 12, 2021:
A New Kind of Summer School Experience
By Leslie Nicholson | Sonoma Valley Sun
Sporting their new blue Teen Services/Intern shirts, 20 high school students reported for duty at the Flowery School campus on June 14 and have been busy working in classrooms to support teachers, staff, and students for the past four weeks.
They are not only an essential part of the plan to make up for learning losses resulting from the pandemic shut-down – they are the first-ever group of paid interns to be part of the district’s summer school program.
“Not only will this benefit the younger students with social and emotional learning, but the high school students also need this connection after a year in distance learning,” says Joe Hardeman, Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley vice president of program operations.
What started as a brainstorming idea at the Sonoma Educational Foundation and SVUSD, blossomed into a community-wide collaboration to include Teen Services/Sonoma Valley Boys & Girls Club.
“The Ed Foundation has raised funds to support Summer School programs for the past ten years,” explains Ed Foundation director Angela Ryan. “With COVID funds that the District had for funding Summer School, we were able to use Ed Foundation funds to start the Intern Program.”
But before the Interns set foot onto Flowery’s campus, they went through a full hiring and training process to give them real-life experience as applicants and new hires, making $15/ per hour.
“They submitted applications, interviewed, and went through all of the required fingerprinting and TB testing for SVUSD employees. They were then required to spend a week in training that included training in child development,” says Eric Gonzalez, senior director of teen programs for Teen Services/Boys & Girls Club.
Except for knowing that they would be working in the classrooms, he sayds, the Interns did not have specific assignments for student drop-off and pick-up time. “They jumped in and started helping with lunch distribution, crossing guard duty, and have really shown up as team players.”
“A lot of the kids were very shy and reserved at first, and now I see them running groups in the classrooms and finding their ‘voices’ with the kids. We have had great reviews about the programs from the Summer School staff and I am very excited about how we can continue this program into the next school year and summer.”
Summer School Principal Sonia Castaneda is grateful that the Intern program came together and has supported the entire elementary Summer Literacy and Math program. “The interns filled the gaps where we were in need of staffing. Initially many of the teachers had never met the Interns and no one knew what would develop as the teens moved into their new classroom roles,” Castaneda explains.
Looking beyond the summer, Hardman sees the Intern program as something that will continue into the upcoming school year and next summer.
“We are already thinking about how we can make the interns an integral part of our Power Hour during our after school programs and expand our tutoring efforts. There are so many opportunities for small groups, one-on-one tutoring, and for kids who need extra help with focusing,” says Hardman. “Giving these kids more real life work experiences and helping them with their career paths is such an important continuation of what we have established with this summer’s program.”
See below for the Sonoma Index Tribune's article on the pandemic's impact on preschools and child care.
Local author and mother Jennifer Churchill and her son's father Kenta Gilmore stand behind their son Weston, 7. When the pandemic hit and childcare became scarce, Gilmore quit his job and took over Weston's schooling and care during the day while Churchill worked. Churchill and Gilmore do not live together but worked together to create a strategy for Weston's care. (Photo: Jennifer Churchill)
By JANET PERRY
June 17, 2021
The pandemic has brought into sharp relief the struggle of local parents to find adequate, affordable child care.
As preschools and day care centers closed down under COVID, parents scrambled to find ways to keep working while they cared for their children and oversaw their education.
Many families found there wasn’t enough child care before the pandemic. After COVID hit, the situation became dire.
In 2019, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) undertook a study of the preschool landscape of Sonoma Valley. It looked at the availability of care for children ages 3 to 5 in centers and family child care homes. The study concluded there was a gap, particularly in subsidized care for families that couldn't afford tuition-based programs.
Sonoma, Calif. (May 26, 2021) - The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) today announced a unique summer school internship support program that will be hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley. This new initiative will benefit both youth attending Sonoma Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) summer school, and teens involved in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley’s Teen Services Ready to Work program.
“The generosity of our donors has created a powerful opportunity for our organization to think critically and creatively about where funding can be most impactful, which in this case, is building upon the good work of the Boys & Girls Club, and adding a significant dimension to SVUSD’s summer school offering,” said Angela Ryan, Executive Director of SVEF. “Knowing we’re serving both teens and grade school level youth in the Valley with one program inspires us to continue to use our resources to create additional opportunities for kids outside of the core programming being offered.”
Hosted in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, the program offers teens who will be Juniors or Seniors in the 2021-22 school year the opportunity to gain work experience and build their resume by assisting in middle and elementary summer school classes. They will support students with one-to-one and small group guidance in subjects including reading, math and language development.
There is no experience required for teens to apply, and once hired, the teens will be given training and compensated for both the training itself and the time spent in classrooms.
In addition to the unique work experience this program creates for teens, it also enhances the experience and instruction students attending summer school will receive by lowering the ratio of students to support and educational staff. With educational interns available in classrooms, students looking for additional aid and assistance will have access to more targeted help throughout their school day.
“This partnership marks an important trend we anticipate seeing in the coming months and school year where our partner organizations - working closely with SVUSD - find strategic ways to amplify and build upon what each is doing to best serve the youth in Sonoma Valley,” said Dr. Palazuelos, Superintendent of SVUSD. “This is a tremendous display of creativity by SVEF in how our nonprofits can elevate the strides we’re making at the District level, and how we can support kids both in and out of the classroom.”
The program is currently open and accepting applications. Interested teens can apply at https://www.bgcsonoma.org/careers/
For additional inquiries or questions, please contact Angela Ryan at email@example.com
About Sonoma Valley Education Foundation
The Sonoma Valley Education Foundation was founded in 1993 by public school parents seeking to support and enhance their students’ educational opportunities. Throughout 28 years of providing support to SVUSD schools, SVEF has invested over $20 million dollars in Sonoma Valley public schools. Our mission is to enrich the student experience by partnering with the Sonoma Valley Unified School District as the primary fundraising and volunteer resource for innovative programs. We focus on results and report to our donors and community.
About Sonoma Valley Unified School District
Sonoma Valley Unified School District is a public school district serving grades K-12 in Sonoma, CA. The district is comprised of five elementary schools, Dunbar Elementary School, Flowery Elementary School, El Verano Elementary School, Sassarini Elementary School; two middle schools, Adele Harrison Middle School and Altimira Middle School; two charter schools, Woodland Star Charter School and Sonoma Charter School; one high school, Sonoma Valley High School and a continuation high school, Creekside High School.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley
Founded in 1962, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley currently serves more than 2,600 children and teens annually across seven Sonoma Valley locations. Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley serves approximately 60% of the total student enrollment in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District with afterschool programming, athletic leagues, and summer camps. Our mission is to provide positive opportunities for youth and teens to learn, succeed and discover their full potential.
See below for the Sonoma Index Tribune's coverage of how Sonoma teens are putting culturally inclusive reading materials into Sonoma public schools.
Making education more inclusive, one book at a time
Local students advocate for more culturally diverse reading materials at Sonoma schools
By KATE WILLIAMS
INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Ask a typical teenager what’s on their mind, and you’ll get a spectrum of adolescent concerns: What’s new on TikTok?
Did my Insta story get likes?
Will I ever learn to draw a cat eye with liquid eyeliner?
But Victoria Hernandez, 15, and Lily Gelb, 14, are not typical teens. They spend their time pondering weightier things. At the moment, what’s occupying their thoughts is the fact that many local children haven’t had the advantages they’ve had, and the likelihood that that inequity may penalize those kids forever.
Specifically, Hernandez and Gelb are concerned about what they see as a dearth of culturally inclusive reading materials in Sonoma’s public schools, books in which marginalized communities might recognize themselves. Race, class, gender, orientation: many of the books available to young readers disregard the diversity of the melting pot in favor of monochromatic characters and themes where white, middle- class, and cisgender is the norm.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your involvement with summer school at SVUSD.
A: I love watching children learn how to read and create a learning environment where they see themselves in the literature, and develop a sense of identity that propels their sense of inquiry and curiosity. I have dedicated my professional life to support the vision of academic excellence, identity, curiosity and joy! To that end I am coordinating the K-12 summer school program to help students continue that journey of learning this summer.
Q: What are you most optimistic about for students?
A: The technology skills they have developed this year are like no other year of learning. They had opportunities to learn technology skills that otherwise would not have been available. I have watched student presentations on environmental issues and read powerful persuasive writing about what children want in their schools. My optimism is rooted in that this generation is living a historical event that has challenged and changed all of us. Children have developed skills and knowledge as a result of this experience. I have watched children champion causes in their community to help serve a greater good. This awareness may not have developed had it not been for this epic moment in time.
Q: Why is summer school important? Will it be different this year?
A: Summer school helps support the ongoing development of student learning. In person learning time was limited this year and therefore summer school is more important than ever to help kids build their academic muscle for the fall. We know there are opportunities gaps for many students, and summer school is a good place for them to get that extra attention they need for their continued growth. Summer Literacy will expand to include math instruction.
Q: What message would you like to give our community?
A: I think it is important to build on the strengths and assets we have as a community of learners. The educational experience of our students was disrupted this year from what we have come to know as normal. Some students found success in an online environment and many need in person instruction to thrive. Taking the lessons we learned from this period of time and applying them to future educational programming could inspire some innovative opportunities for our students. There is an opportunity to revolutionize how we do education. Our teachers made dramatic shifts in their teaching from spring 2020 to fall 2020. They are innovative and responsive, we don't want to lose that energy!
Ms. Gray values humor in the classroom and looks forward to resuming her infamous Greek Mythology plays in person.
Q: During this very challenging year of Distance Learning, what are some ways you have tried to keep your students engaged? What worked? What did not?
A: One of my gifts is humor, and throughout distance learning, I have tried my best to use it to engage students. One of the ways I know it works is that my students tell me that I should make my own YouTube channel because I am so funny -- yes, I get compliments from teens, and I know how crazy that is. While I am no Mr. Gibson, nor am I Mr. Tierney, I think I bring that similar type of comedic banter but at a 9th-grade level (fart jokes for some and beauty guru drama for others).
I have also implemented a "QOTD" (Question of the Day) at the beginning of every class. Most recently, a battle broke out in the Zoom chat over whether a hot dog was a sandwich; the class was divided, and I loved every moment of it. Why? Because I am in the midst of teaching the research paper where I am trying my best to hone their argumentation skills. It was great to see them try to make their points by pulling definitions from various sources online unprovoked. They were so passionate about it, you would think we were arguing about politics or religion (granted, a really good hot dog can be a religious experience if made right).
Q: What has worked?
A: Teaching literature that is both engaging and showcases the human condition has definitely worked.
Q: What has been trying?
A: Teaching about a real-life issue where it requires the student to do research and come up with their own educated opinion has been quite trying. While this is difficult every year, I wonder whether it is more so this year as students are bombarded daily with the very serious concerns we have in our society right now (the attack on the Capitol, Covid, etc.). However, this skill is incredibly important and especially so this school year. While teaching research has been difficult, I think this is one of the reasons I am so happy that we were able to figure out how to continue ABU (independent reading) so that students were still able to enjoy a bit of escapism.
Q: Is there something that was introduced during online learning that you hope remains when students return to class?
A: I think the ability to connect with students on a video chat is great, and I am so happy we all learned how to do that this year. When a student is absent or if a teacher is willing to meet on a weekend to offer additional support on an assignment, both teachers and students will be able to now because we all know how to. I also think this is great for when parents need to meet with teachers but are unable to make it into school. Moving forward, this is something I plan to continue using when necessary.
Another thing that has been absolutely amazing is pre-recording myself teaching a concept. For example, I have been teaching the "dreaded" annotated bibliography for years, and every year I try to figure out how to teach it better as it can be frustrating for both the teacher and student. Last summer school, I decided to prerecord myself modeling how to type one (the format of it is the Olympics of formatting for most high school students). I have never seen a better set of annotated bibliographies and my co-teachers who used my video said the same thing. If it is in a video format, students can replay the video, speed up/slow down the rate of speech, and even add closed captions to it, which means that this is an absolutely excellent scaffold for English Language Learners and students in SPED.
Q: What are you most excited about when you and students return to school?
A: I am excited to see their faces! Many students keep their cameras off and/or pointed to the ceiling. While many keep it off due to wifi issues/poor-performing devices, many do so for a myriad of personal reasons. This can make it difficult to foster a connection (mind you, not impossible). It is also difficult because much of teaching is seeing their reactions to something. Nothing screams louder that you do not understand something than a look of confusion and a pencil down; when the camera is off, one of our most important tools is gone. Thank goodness for incredible tools like GoGuardian where we can see what is happening (or what is not happening) on a student's computer screen.
Finally, if we come back soon enough, I cannot wait to, maybe, put on some of my infamous Greek Mythology plays - costumes and all. Former students generally talk to me about how that is one of their absolute favorite memories of my class, and I long to give my current students the same Mrs. Gray experience. While I would definitely have to alter it to meet Covid restrictions, I am confident, time permitting, that I can make this hope come to fruition.