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Home / News / Education / School Boards Association honors Riverside County programs, educators 

School Boards Association honors Riverside County programs, educators 

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Eight programs in Riverside County school districts and the Riverside County Office of Education were acclaimed at the recent California School Boards Association’s Annual Education Conference, officials announced Monday.

The 2023 Golden Bell Awards, which were awarded at the conference that took place Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 in San Francisco, “honor the hard work and dedication of governing boards and district staff in creating innovative programs that improve student achievement and well-being in the state’s preK-12 public schools,” according to a statement by Office of Education spokesman Craig Petinak. 

The Golden Bells also recognize quality “governance and boardsmanship” of individual board members and highlight the role education journalists play to promote issue-awareness in the community, Petinak said.

“These outstanding programs in Riverside County schools are making a difference for our scholars and their families inside and outside of the classrooms,” Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Edwin Gomez said in a statement. “The innovative thinking and student-focused approach of these award-winning programs are building a solid foundation for our earliest learners, supporting staff and students in teaching and learning, and propelling graduates into college and career opportunities.”

The local school programs that received awards this year were:

1. Organization: Riverside County Office of Education; Program: Early Childhood Education University; Category: Early Childhood Education; Description: “With the creation of the ECE University virtual training series, new and existing staff supporting RCOE’s Early Care and Education (ECE) programs have access to training modules for up-to-date program requirements, regulations, and process information,” according to the county’s announcement. “This interactive training platform allows all members of the ECE team to remain current with policies and supports consistent program implementation across multiple offices serving over 15,000 children, their families, and early educators in Riverside County.”

More Information on the program is available by contacting Viridiana Lopez at vilopez@rcoe.us or 951-826-6699.

2. District: Coachella Valley Unified School District; Program: The Academies of Coachella Valley High School; Category: Career Technical Education; Description: “The Academies of Coachella Valley High School have provided high-quality college and career opportunities since 1995,” officials said. “The academies have contributed to higher A-G rates, higher graduation rates, and have been the longest-running programs in the region. The programs are so popular that recruitment and acceptance into these programs are fiercely competitive.”

For more information visit https://cvhs.cvusd.us/student-resources/academic-programs/academies-and-pathways.

3. District: Corona-Norco Unified School District; Program: Auburndale in Action; Category: English Learners/Biliteracy; Description: “Auburndale implemented the Auburndale in Action program, which focuses on reclassifying students at the middle school level, rather than risking long-term English Learner status in high school,” according to the county. “Internal structures of support are used for language development while continuing to provide a rigorous educational experience for all students.”

More information: https://www.cnusd.k12.ca.us/c_n_u_s_d_c_o_n_n_e_c_t_i_o_n/2023goldenbell.

4. District: Hemet Unified School District; Program: HUSD Teacher Residency Program; Category: Professional Development and Teacher Recruitment/Retention; Description: “The Teacher Residency Program tackles staffing shortages, retention, and diversity disparities,” officials said. “In collaboration with San Jacinto USD, and Alder Graduate School of Education, it offers aspiring educators a yearlong apprenticeship, a competitive stipend, and a Master’s degree. This innovative and replicable approach aligns with HUSD’s vision, secures sustainable funding, creates a pipeline of qualified local talent, and serves as a model for enhancing teacher diversity and effectiveness.”

More Information is available from Director of Human Resources Mark Garner via mgarner@hemetusd.org or 951-765-5100, ext. 2200.

5. District: Jurupa Unified School District; Program: JUSD Dell Student TechCrew; Category: Career Technical Education; Description: “The Dell Student TechCrew is the only one of its kind in California,” officials said. “This unique CTE pathway prepares students for lucrative technology careers with hands-on training in both technical and soft skills. Students graduate high school with industry certifications qualifying them for immediate employment. The pathway also is unique in that it is in place at all district high schools — including the district’s continuation high school — as well as in middle schools.”

For more information, contact Jacqueline Paul at jacqueline_paul@jusd.k12.ca.us.

6. District: Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD); Program: A Commitment to Environmental Sustainability; Category: Climate Change Innovation; Description: “The district is leading the way in connecting environmental education efforts, health and wellness, and progressive developments with solar, water conservation and air quality,” according to the Office of Education. “It has reduced costs by $2.9 million in two years and projected savings of $19 million over a decade. Environmental education engages staff, students and the community in promoting behavioral changes. Progress examples include school assemblies, solar panels at schools and transitioning the entire school bus fleet to clean energy.”

More information is on the district’s website, www.mvusd.net/engage/news.

7. District: Murrieta Valley Unified School District; Program: Inclusion; Category: Equity and Access; Description: “Inclusion initiative removes barriers for Special Education students, ensuring equitable education and fostering cross-cultural understanding,” the Office of Education stated. “It focuses on meeting students’ needs demonstrating that all students benefit from inclusive programs and opportunities.”

More Information is at www.murrieta.k12.ca.us/Inclusion.

8. District: Riverside Unified School District (RUSD); Program: Cafecito, Amigos de RUSD Facebook Live; Category: Innovation in a Time of Crises; Description: “Cafecito, Amigos de RUSD Facebook Live, is a thriving online community fostered by the Family Resource Center that has served as a vital resource for parents and offers a space for over 400 weekly viewers to connect, share information, and access valuable resources to support student learning and well-being,” officials said. “The community has fostered peer support while providing a safe haven for parents to seek help and guidance in navigating education and parenting.”

For more Information, visit https://www.riversideunified.org/cms/one.aspx?portalid=580805&pageid=951883.

Additional Riverside County honorees included Mary Helen Ybarra, a Corona-Norco Unified School District trustee, and former Desert Sun education reporter Jonathan Horwitz.

Ybarra was honored with the Golden Gavel Award as the 2023 board member of the year. She has represented Trustee Area 3 on the CNUSD Board of Education since 2014.

Horwitz was honored with the Golden Quill Award, which highlights “the essential role journalists play in increasing understanding of the objectives, operations, accomplishments, challenges, and opportunities related to public schools,” officials said.

For more information on the Golden Bell Awards, visit https://publications.csba.org/golden-bell/golden-bell-awards-2023/.

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