Fall 2021
A Note from County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey
Dear Community Members,

Welcome to another edition of the Connection newsletter.
Schools throughout the county have celebrated a relatively successful start to the 2021-22 school year. Students are back to in-person instruction and many of the activities we have missed over the last 18 months have returned, albeit in a modified fashion. Despite the addition of masks and other safety precautions, seeing students in classrooms and in extracurricular activities is a sign that things are getting better.

To be sure, there have been challenges, but the data is trending in a positive direction. Our hard work is paying off: COVID cases are down, while vaccinations are up. It is my sincere hope that we can continue this trend and reduce the impact this pandemic is having on the students and communities we serve. In order to keep our communities safe and continue to expand the opportunities for students, I encourage you all to get vaccinated and continue following health care guidelines.

One of the challenges facing schools is a shortage of educators, especially substitute teachers. This is not a problem that is restricted to Contra Costa County; there is a shortage of substitute teachers throughout the state. Members of the community can help their local schools overcome this challenge by applying to become a substitute. All you need is to have a bachelor’s degree, basic subject-matter proficiency, and a passion for working with students. You can apply to be a substitute by contacting your local school district’s human resources department. More information at www.cocoschools.org/becomeasub.

While COVID still captures most of our time and energy, this issue of the newsletter will feature stories about the work being done to support education. I am proud to announce that the county office of education was awarded a $5 million literacy grant to help to build capacity to serve struggling readers, including students with disabilities and dyslexia, by strengthening district and site multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS); develop district and pilot site literacy plans and implement evidence-based strategies through improvement cycles; and increase family and community engagement in literacy.

Finally, we recently celebrated the county’s top educators this month, selecting Kristen Plant from Miramonte High School and Michelle Wilson from Dougherty Valley High School as the 2021-22 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year. These two exemplary educators are stellar representatives of the teachers working to educate students throughout this county. They are now competing to be named as California’s Teacher of the Year. You can read more about them later in the newsletter.

I hope you enjoy this issue and welcome back to school!

In community,
Lynn Mackey 

Calling All Substitutes: Make a Difference in Your Community
As a substitute, your schedule is up to you! Work any day of the week at the location of your choice! Make this a launching pad to a new career! Work with children and make a difference!

Miramonte, Dougherty Valley High School Educators Named 2021-2022 County Teachers of the Year
High school teachers Kristen Plant of Miramonte High School (Acalanes Union High School District) and Michelle Wilson of Dougherty Valley High School (San Ramon Valley Unified School District) were named the 2021-2022 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.

The announcement was made during a live stream broadcast that was simulcast on edTV, which is available throughout most of the county. The pair become eligible to apply to the California State Teachers of the Year program.

Supported by Title Sponsor Chevron and Visionary Sponsors Lesher Community Foundation, Martinez Refinery Company, and Saint Mary’s College of California, the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Program seeks to honor and recognize teachers throughout the county for the amazing work they do every day.

County Office Receives $5 Million Literacy Grant
The county office of education has been awarded a grant worth more than $5 million over three years to support literacy through the use of evidence-based practices, activities and interventions for students in grades TK-5. 

As one of seven county offices of education to receive the grant from the California Department of Education, CCCOE will serve as a Local Literacy Agency as part of the Comprehensive Literacy State Development (CLDS) federal grant program.
Lafayette School Earns National Blue Ribbon Award
National Blue Ribbon Award logo
Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey congratulated Burton Valley Elementary School in Lafayette for being named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2021.

Burton Valley is the 29th school from Contra Costa County and the third in the Lafayette School District to earn the honor in the award’s 39 years of existence.

“Congratulations to Superintendent Richard Whitmore, Principal Meredith Dolley and the Burton Valley Elementary School community for earning this prestigious honor,” Superintendent Mackey said. “This award demonstrates the hard work the faculty and staff have done to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of their students, even during a pandemic.”

There are 325 schools across the country being recognized this year.

Burton Valley is recognized for being an Exemplary High-Performing School, which means it is among the California’s highest performing schools based on state tests.
95 County Students Named National Merit Semifinalists
Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey congratulated 95 high school seniors for being named one of 16,000 Semifinalists in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Led by 51 students at Dougherty Valley High School in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, there were 10 Contra Costa County high schools represented on the list.

“These students deserve to be recognized for the academic excellence they have shown,” Superintendent Mackey said. “Their success speaks to their hard work and perseverance, especially during the pandemic, but also to the support they have received from their parents, teachers and other caring adults. I wish them well in the scholarship competition and in whatever path they choose to follow after graduation.”

Healthcare Providers Offer COVID-19 Vaccine Information
We all want to do everything we can to keep our children and families safe and healthy. While more businesses and activities have opened in our community, we still need to be vigilant about the threat that COVID-19 poses, especially as more dangerous variants emerge.

Children as young as 12 years old can get a free COVID-19 vaccine, but many people have questions about the vaccines and how they work. Understanding that, John Muir Health and Kaiser Permanente have partnered in a new effort to give unbiased, straightforward and scientific information about the COVID-19 vaccines.

John Muir Health and Kaiser Permanente launched www.GetAnswersContraCosta.org to help people get the answers they need to make an informed decision about vaccination. We encourage you to visit the website and talk to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician if you have questions about getting yourself or your child vaccinated.
Richmond Middle School Named After Nation's Oldest Living Park Ranger

Betty Reid Soskin received a special gift for her 100th birthday, the West Contra Costa Unified School District renamed Juan Crespi Middle School in El Sobrante in her honor.

Photo courtesy Kathy Chouteau/
The Richmond Standard.