New SDCOE blue logo
January 2023
jccs executive director tracy thompson
Mid-Year Milestones Foster Success

Dear Valued Educational Partners and Colleagues,
The San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) have reached the midpoint of the 2022-23 school year and we are excited for the second half of the year. There are several events and activities that took place this month that foster success for our students.

To ramp up the momentum with positive energy and support, we had our JCCS All-Staff Professional Learning event on Jan. 23. Staff had the opportunity to learn more about the Synergy student information system, positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), and multi-tiered systems of supports. Also during this event, several JCCS schools were recognized by the California PBIS Coalition for their efforts in implementing the core features of PBIS. They include:

La Mesa Community School, San Diego SOAR Academy East Mesa, and Victoria Community School received the Silver Implementation Award while 37ECB and SOUL Academy received the Bronze Implementation Award.
This month, and into February, we are hosting the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) forums throughout the county. The LCAP provides staff, parents and guardians, educational partners, and community members the opportunity to review last year’s academic goals and data, successes, and areas for growth. Additionally, the forums provide an opportunity for input in the development and prioritization of JCCS goals for the 2023-24 school year and to help identify potential challenges affecting students’ academic success. Please check the LCAP website for the remaining dates.

With the support of grants and educational partners, such as Outside the Lens, JCCS students also participated in the Design Jam academic excellence exhibitions. This activity provided students the opportunity to explore personally relevant topics while drawing from multiple subjects of study. You can learn more about the Design Jam below.

Another exciting activity for students was the sixth annual Black College Expo. More than 50 JCCS students attended to learn about Historically Black Colleges and Universities and local college offerings. I am pleased to announce several students were accepted on the spot and thousands of dollars in scholarships were awarded. Among the scholarship recipients were 10 JCCS students including the two scholars from San Pasqual Academy speaking to KPBS in this news story.

The second half of this school year is off to an amazing start thanks to each of you. As always, I am so appreciative of your leadership and support of our students and their families. As is my tradition, I leave you with a quote. This one is from Nelson Mandela:

“Education is the weapon which you can use to change the world.”

With much admiration and appreciation,
Executive Director
Juvenile Court and Community Schools
JCCS Students Showcase Talents, Share Passions at Design Jam
Up close photo of a flower in black and white
For students and staff alike, the semi-annual exhibitions of student learning known as Design Jams are something to look forward to.

“The Jams are my favorite, and I was not disappointed,” said 37ECB Principal Gretchen Rhoads. “When we provide learning environments and opportunities to share what is learned, our students shine.”

Students at 37ECB and across the region showcased their learning through writing, math, art, photography, and more.

“Our students wrote essays, poems, made Nicho boxes on identity, recorded their essays and poems, and had students performing their beats with the DJ,” Rhoads said.

This season’s Design Jam, with the theme Our Passion, Our Innovation, was a cross-curricular effort designed to engage students at JCCS in relevant learning. With the focus on researching and informing, students and teachers can choose how they want to participate and exhibit their final product.

The main objective is to create projects utilizing multiple subjects and answering the essential questions, which this time were: What inspires me? What makes me unique?

About a dozen SOUL Academy students presented in a seminar room at the Malcolm X Branch Library in Encanto, sharing photos and thoughts of three different locations they had taken field trips to – Encanto, Chollas Lake Park, and Balboa Park.

The students collaborated to pick emcees and put together the presentation.

“It gives the kids a purpose and they take the project so much more seriously knowing that they will have the opportunity to present it,” Principal Theresa Fox said.

Students Earn Scholarships, Connect with HBCUs at Black College Expo
Monarch student Even with Tracy T at Black College Expo
More than 2,000 high school students from across San Diego County connected with representatives from more than 30 historically Black colleges and universities, as well as UC and Cal State schools, at the Sixth Annual San Diego Black College Expo college fair on Jan. 26.

There were thousands of dollars in scholarships awarded, and many students were accepted on the spot to one or more colleges. More than 3,000 registered for the event, which included students, parents, and school staff.

Students from districts across San Diego County, including from JCCS, San Pasqual Academy (SPA), and Monarch School, attended the in-person event.

SPA students Princess Galvan and Kaylie Thaxton-Barney attended the event and are considering attending a HBCU.

Galvan said she is willing to go anywhere in the country that will support her dream of becoming a psychologist to help her community and where there is more representation that aligns with her mixed African American and Mexican heritage.

North Region Staffer Receives Equity Conference Award
JCCS staff membe Ilde Ojeda Equity award winner
Ilde Ojeda, a support specialist in the North Region, received the Turnaround Support Staff award at SDCOE’s Equity Conference.

The award is given to an individual who actively supports all students, in pursuit of academic and/or social and emotional excellence. Ojeda was recognized for his work in providing mentorship and resources students need to succeed in the academic world and in the global economy.

North Region Principal Oscar Felix said of Ojeda “He inspires teachers, counselors, students, and parents to persevere as critical thinkers who collaborate and solve real-world problems and knows that every student can learn regardless of socioeconomic background, intellectual abilities, or motivation level. He is a driven, compassionate educational leader with the ability to build relationships with site leadership, students, staff, and parents to drive the organization forward. Mr. Ojeda is truly a lighthouse for students, staff, and families.”

The Turnaround Support Staff award is one of nine Lighthouse Awards handed out at the Equity Conference to spotlight champions for educational equity in our schools, districts, and communities. SDCOE created the Lighthouse Awards to showcase the amazing people doing the work to lead others in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Student Spotlight: Alex
The Juvenile Court and Community School student representative on the San Diego County Board of Education for January was Alex, a sophomore at La Mesa Community School.

Alex was selected as student representative because of his ability to adapt to changes and roll with life’s challenges. He started at the school this past fall and plans to return to his hometown of San Bernardino soon to finish high school.

Principal Roberto Carrillo says Alex maintains a positive attitude and continues to rely on his mantra of “patience.”

“Alex enjoys creative hands-on learning experiences. Over the last several months, he’s excelled in the CTE graphic design course and has enjoyed working with the Aja Project,” Carrillo said.

Alex says he feels supported by the teachers and staff at the school in a way he hasn’t been before.

“I really respect the school. Everyone is positive. This makes me want to do the work and not have a bad day,” he said.

His advice to other students? Stay low key and stay out of the drama.
For Schools and Students
illustration graduation cap and scroll
FAFSA, CADAA Applications Due March 1

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the most important thing a student can do to get money for college. Most students receive some type of financial aid, such as grants, work-study funds, federal student loans, and certain state-based aid. It’s free to fill out and could be a requirement for some schools and private scholarships. It’s for everyone! And it’s first-come, first-served so finish your FAFSA ASAP.

Another important acronym is the CADAA, which stands for the California Dream Act application. This allows undocumented students, DACA recipients (valid or expired), U Visa holders and students under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), who qualify for a non-resident exemption under Assembly Bill 540, Senate Bill 2000, and Senate Bill 68, to receive certain types of financial aid such as: private scholarships funded through public universities, state administered financial aid, university grants, community college fee waivers, and Cal Grants. In addition, the California Dream Act, allows eligible students to pay in-state tuition at any public college in California.

Get up-to-the-minute information about what's happening at the San Diego County Office of Education and in school districts across the county.