Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Antioch School Board votes to hire Stephanie Anello as new superintendent on split vote

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
New Antioch schools Superintendent Stephanie Anello smiles to the applause of the audience following the vote to hire her by the Board, at their meeting, Wednesday night, June 22, 2016.

New Antioch schools Superintendent Stephanie Anello smiles to the applause of the audience, along with Trustee Alonzo Terry, following the vote to hire her by the Antioch School Board, at their meeting, Wednesday night, June 22, 2016.

By Allen Payton

At their regular meeting on Wednesday, June 22, the Antioch School Board finalized the process for hiring a new superintendent for the district by voting 3-1-1 to hire Interim Superintendent Stephanie Anello.

Four of the board members spent months working to fill the position made vacant by the early, what some believe was the forced, retirement of Dr. Don Gill, by hiring of a search firm at the cost of $29,000, reviewing 20 applicants and interviewing seven of them and multiple, closed sessions deliberating. They finally settled on Anello as the consensus candidate and spent more time in closed door meetings negotiating her salary and compensation package and announced their selection on June 13.

The newest board member, Alonzo Terry, was appointed in May but didn’t take his seat until June 8, after a required one month provisional appointment period had passed, so he was unable to participate in any board meetings until then. He was the one vote to abstain.

Before the vote, two members of the public spoke.

“At this point, as part of the city council…I think you made an excellent choice,” said Antioch Councilwoman Mary Rocha, who is a former school board member.

Another resident spoke about Anello, as well.

“She’s always willing to give you the time and listen,” said Nayeli Salazar. “She’s always kept her word. I just want to thank her for all of that.”

Then the board members offered their comments about Anello, the contract and the process.

“A lot of work went into this contract…given the budget numbers,” said Board Member Debra Vinson. “This board’s looking at a level of high accountability. I’m looking forward to working with Ms. Anello. We’re behind the eight ball. I’m hoping we can push the reset button.”

“I’d like to echo those words,” stated Board Vice President Walter Ruehlig. “The process was very rigorous…where neither party was really happy.

“That’s an indication it was fruitful. Stephanie has had a 24-year probation with the district,” he continued to with a chuckle, and laughter from the audience. “I’ve heard this was pre-ordained, rigged. All I can do is laugh. We all went in with a completely open mind. If we could have found a better candidate, we would have chosen them in a heartbeat.”

Terry stated he wasn’t on the board during the process and “I have to depend and count on my colleagues.”

Board President Diane Gibson-Gray argued in favor of the contract, comparing the financial components with those paid to Gill.

“I said the cream would have to rise to the top,” she said. “We spent $29,000 on Leadership Associates and it rose to the top.”

She then shared the figures of a $250,000 salary for Gill, compared to $225,940 for Anello; a car allowance of $5,400 for Gill compared to $3,600 for Anello, “tel com” expense of $1,500 and bonus of $7,500 for Gill compared to zero in both categories for Anello.

Vinson offered additional comments.

“We had several very qualified candidates,” she stated. “We tried to do what’s in the best interest of the district. We hope to…really move forward.”

Terry then offered more comments on the contract, as well.

“It was difficult for me,” he shared. “We did a comparison. We hit her with some hardballs. I was surprised she took it. I was shocked.”

Vinson also argued for the contract.

“Look at the contract,” Vinson added. “Look at the details. If there was a difficulty (with the previous superintendent) there was 24 months. We limited that to nine months,” referring to the severance package portion of the contract.

Ruehlig then stressed another difference in Anello’s contract.

“Stephanie agreed to a two-year contract,” he said. “Standard in the industry is four years.”

Navarro then offered a different point of view and a critique of the process.

“I’m the one vote that’s not in support,” he stated. “It was not a predestined decision. I did try to warn the board if we did have an internal candidate to save the money.

“We lost a board member. I asked the board…we should accelerate to appoint the seat,” Navarro added, referring to the vacancy created by former member Claire Smith who resigned abruptly in March. “We went along with a four-member instead of a five-member (board).”

“My support is a thousand percent with Stephanie,” he continued, but said his opposition “is because of the issue of the contract. I applaud the board’s austerity. The numbers are generous. Superintendent salaries average $149,000 to $189,000 nationwide. We’re temporary custodians making long term decisions. It’s very generous with regards to the district. We’re in decline (referring to declining enrollment, which was reported earlier in the meeting).”

“Mine’s more of a vote to a clear conscience,” he concluded.

Ruehlig responded.

“I respect that,” he said. “I’ve always respected Fernando. There was no guarantee Stephanie was going to accept the position. We truly didn’t know. We had a long, long final session…to get to the final decision. It was a prudent decision.”

Vinson also offered additional arguments in favor of Anello and the contract.

“We had several qualified candidates,” she reiterated. “I understand Mr. Navarro’s position because I was there.”

She then spoke of two other candidates presented by the search firm and that they had to “look at what’s in the best interest of the district” and “a fit for the district.”

“To be a team player, sometimes you have to let your ideas go,” Vinson added.

Navarro responded.

“This is a team operation,” he said. “To have a full board, to not rush into anything like this.”

Then following their comments, Gibson-Gray, Ruehlig and Vinson voted in favor of the contract and to hire Anello, Navarro voted against, and Terry voted to abstain.

“All I can say is congratulations,” stated Gibson-Gray, after the vote and during the applause of the audience.

Anello responded.

“I’m just really honored to serve the district in this capacity,” she said. “I thank you for the opportunity and look forward to continuing the work that is going on in the district and…some long overdue changes.”

“If at the end of two years, if we find we’re not good dance partners, then the board has the opportunity to make a decision, then,” she added. “I never want to be a block.”

“We look forward to two years, if not more,” Gibson-Gray responded, which drew laughter from the audience.

A press release from the district, on June 13th, announced the board’s selection:

“After a full search using Leadership Associates, the board selected Ms. Anello not only due to her extensive experience during her 18 years of employment with Antioch Unified School District, but also her seven months of on-the-job accomplishments as the Interim Superintendent.

Her experience in AUSD as a classroom Teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, Director, Associate Superintendent and Interim Superintendent, makes Anello uniquely qualified to lead the District.

Since taking the helm in November, Anello has successfully negotiated teacher and classified contracts, taken decisive action to integrate Special Education students into current and new AUSD programs by opening the Bidwell Center and has made several difficult decisions to better align spending with current revenues.

Additionally, during the last seven months she has successfully ensured that District initiatives are more publicly transparent. While doing so, she has adeptly employed positive social media, and established robust media relationships and city partnerships to highlight the many positive activities happening in our schools.

Ms. Anello has lived in the community since 1990. She has two adult sons, both of whom attended AUSD schools.”

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Antioch School Board announces Stephanie Anello as Superintendent finalist

Monday, June 13th, 2016
Stephanie Anello

Stephanie Anello

Stephanie Anello, Interim Superintendent for Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), has been named as a finalist for the District’s number one position – Superintendent. The Board will consider a contract for Anello at their June 22nd meeting.

There were twenty qualified candidates, seven of whom were interviewed by the board. After a full search using Leadership Associates, the board selected Ms. Anello not only due to her extensive experience during her 18 years of employment with Antioch Unified School District, but also her seven months of on-the-job accomplishments as the Interim Superintendent.

Her experience in AUSD as a classroom Teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, Director, Associate Superintendent and Interim Superintendent, makes Anello uniquely qualified to lead the District.

Since taking the helm in November, Anello has successfully negotiated teacher and classified contracts, taken decisive action to integrate Special Education students into current and new AUSD programs by opening the Bidwell Center and has made several difficult decisions to better align spending with current revenues.

Additionally, during the last seven months she has successfully ensured that District initiatives are more publicly transparent. While doing so, she has adeptly employed positive social media, and established robust media relationships and city partnerships to highlight the many positive activities happening in our schools.

“Stephanie Anello is a respected educator and leader with a proven track record of implementing

reforms and improving student achievement,” said Antioch USD Board President, Diane Gibson-Gray. “She has fostered strong parent and community partnerships as well as strong relationships with AUSD’s employee groups; all of which publically endorsed her for the position. These strong relationships coupled with her vision for AUSD, will allow Stephanie to more quickly and efficiently continue the district’s forward momentum while at the same time making necessary changesto move the District forward.”

Ms. Anello has lived in the community since 1990. She has two adult sons, both of whom attended AUSD schools.

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Antioch student graduates with Masters from Tulane University

Friday, June 10th, 2016
Jared Clay from his Facebook page.

Jared Clay from his Facebook page.

New Orleans, LA (Grassroots Newswire) June 6, 2016 – Tulane University awarded degrees to nearly 3,000 graduates on May 14, 2016 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Local student, Jared Clay of Antioch, graduated from the School of Liberal Arts with a Master of Arts degree. The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Hoda Kotb, co-host of NBC’s Today show who also received a Tulane President’s Medal. Honorary degrees were given to renowned artist Lynda Benglis and Christopher Paola, a world leader in the study of earth surface processes, particularly in river and delta regions.

The Deer Valley High grad, Clay and fellow class members were honored at the ceremony, which included all the pomp and circumstance of a traditional commencement but with a New Orleans twist, including herald trumpets, and a second-line jazz  procession. Music was provided by Dr. Michael White’s Original Liberty Jazz Band, jazz singer Topsy Chapman and Tulane a capella group Green Envy.

Tulane University is one of the nation’s leading educational and research institutions. Founded in 1834 in New Orleans, Tulane has ten schools and colleges offering degrees in architecture, business, law, liberal arts, medicine, public health and tropical medicine, the sciences and
engineering, and social work.

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John Muir Health contributes to Antioch, Deer Valley High Schools’ “Safe and Sober Grad Night” celebrations

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

John Muir Health announced this week, the donation of $10,000 to local high schools across Contra Costa County. The funds will support programs and services related to the schools’ 2016 “Safe and Sober Grad Night” celebrations, which are held to honor the graduating senior class in a safe environment.

Antioch High and Deer Valley High Schools, as well as 18 other high schools each received a $500 check from John Muir Health to help finance graduation night festivities hosted by the schools, including professional entertainment such as hypnotists, magicians, karaoke, casino games and live DJs.

“As a health care provider in the community with the county’s only trauma center, we’re well aware of the dangers involved with teens driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said Kacey Hansen, executive director of Trauma and Transfer Services at John Muir Health.  “This is an important time in their lives and we appreciate the efforts by local high schools to provide an appropriate environment for them to celebrate. The last place we want to see members of the class of 2016 on their graduation night is in one of our hospitals.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of John Muir Health’s trauma center, which cares for critically injured patients in Contra Costa County and parts of Solano and Marin counties. In addition to treating critical injuries, John Muir Health actively works to prevent them. Trauma physicians, nurses and staff are participants in the Every 15 Minutes program to educate high school juniors and seniors about drinking and driving and the impact their decisions have on family, friends and other members of their community. John Muir Health also participates in Beyond Violence, an intervention program for trauma patients treated at the medical center between the ages of 14-25 who are victims of intentional injuries (e.g. gunshot, knife assault) and reside in West or East Contra Costa County. Support for Safe and Sober Grad Nights is another form of injury prevention.

The other high schools receiving donations included: Acalanes High School, Alhambra High School, California High School, Campolindo High School, Clayton Valley Charter High School, College Park High School, Concord High School, El Cerrito High School, Freedom High School, Heritage High School, Las Lomas High School, Liberty High School, Miramonte High School, Monte Vista High School, Northgate High School, Pittsburg High School, San Ramon Valley High School and Ygnacio Valley High School.

About John Muir Health

John Muir Health is a nationally recognized, not-for-profit health care organization east of San Francisco serving patients in Contra Costa, eastern Alameda and southern Solano Counties. It includes a network of more than 1,000 primary care and specialty physicians, nearly 6,000 employees, medical centers in Concord and Walnut Creek, including Contra Costa County’s only trauma center, and a Behavioral Health Center. John Muir Health also has partnerships with San Ramon Regional Medical Center, UCSF Medical Center and Stanford Children’s Health to expand its capabilities, increase access to services and better serve patients. The health system offers a full-range of medical services, including primary care, outpatient and imaging services, and is widely recognized as a leader in many specialties – neurosciences, orthopedic, cancer, cardiovascular, trauma, emergency, pediatrics and high-risk obstetrics care.

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Dozier-Libbey Medical High School celebrates Class of 2016 graduates

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016
Dozier-Libbey Medical High graduated the Class of 2016 during commencement ceremonies at Deer Valley High's outdoor amphitheater in the cooler hours of Friday evening, June 3rd.

Dozier-Libbey Medical High graduated the Class of 2016 during commencement ceremonies at Deer Valley High’s outdoor amphitheater in the cooler hours of Friday evening, June 3rd. photo by Sean Pearson

By Sean Pearson

The healthcare industry is hiring, and that means bright prospects for another crop of fresh Dozier-Libbey Medical High School graduates.  On Friday, 3 June 2016, at 8:00 in the evening, the Dozier-Libbey Class of 2016 held their graduation ceremony at the outdoor amphitheater of Deer Valley High School in Antioch.

Joining the graduates’ families in celebrating their achievement  were Antioch Unified School District Board of Trustees Vice President Walter Ruehlig, AUSD Trustee Fernando Navarro, AUSD Provisional Board Member Alonzo Terry, AUSD Associate Superintendent Tim Forrester, and Antioch City Councilwoman Monica Wilson.

The Board of Trustees’ decision to start all graduation ceremonies two hours later successfully avoided a repeat of the health crisis of June, 2015, which resulted in dozens of grandparents collapsing from heat exhaustion during commencement exercises and being transported to local emergency rooms.  One relative of a graduate was overheard calling the decision “genius”.

Ruehlig, using a book as a metaphor for an individual’s life, concluded his brief remarks with this exhortation:  “My closing prayer, then, is that each of your chapters ends with the same three words you finished with at Dozier-Libbey:  job well done.”

Graduate Michelle de los Reyes reminded her classmates how excited their families had been at their admission to the academically challenging pathway school, where they all wore medical scrubs as their school uniform.  Graduate Andrés Soto reflected on the gap between fantasy and reality:  “Unfortunately, Disney didn’t get their facts right.”

Bergerhouse named several students as he shared some of the valuable memories from their time at Dozier-Libbey.  When teacher Mark Libbey rose to read the names of the graduates, he was welcomed with loving applause.  After the reading, the class president and valedictorian each gave some closing remarks, challenging the students to go face the world with boldness and vision.  While thousands of high school seniors in Contra Costa County are graduating this spring, this small group of less than 200 can start college knowing they are especially well prepared for their future studies in health sciences.

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Antioch High graduates nearly 300 in four academies for the Class of 2016

Monday, June 6th, 2016
Antioch High graduates celebrate as they file in for the commencent ceremony, Friday night, June 2, 2016. photo by Luke Johnson

Antioch High graduates celebrate as they file in for the commencement ceremony, Friday night, June 2, 2016. photos by Luke Johnson

Families celebrate their Antioch High graduates.

Families celebrate their Antioch High graduates.

By Luke Johnson

Nearly 300 graduates assembled in Eells Stadium for Antioch High School’s Class of 2016 Commencement Ceremony, Friday night, June 3rdd. This marked the first graduating classes for three academies: Media Technology, Environmental Studies, and Leadership and Public Services.

It was also the Engineering Academy’s third graduating class. With all these separate academies, Principal Louie Rocha likes to describe it as “four schools within one large high school.”

The campus has gone through several changes over the past two years with a new football field, administrative building, library and modernized classrooms. Still to come on the construction timeline is a new cafeteria, aquatic center and media center.

Antioch High ASB President Julia Odom shares her parting thoughts with the Class of 2016.

Antioch High ASB President Julia Odom shares her parting thoughts with the Class of 2016.

In her speech, Associated Student Body President Julia Odom emphasized that this moment was bitter-sweet, because although she was receiving a diploma, it signified that there will be some activities she will never get to do again, such as getting ready for prom and attending sports games.

“I’ll probably miss being a student athlete most, because that’s like a real big part of who I am, and it’s helped build my character throughout the years,” Odom said after the ceremony.

AHS’s athletic department reached milestones that had not been seen in decades. Its football team went undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 1977, and its boys’ volleyball team won a league championship for the first time since 1996. Rocha said the school’s athletic and academic success this year was like combining the old Antioch High School with the new one.

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Deer Valley High graduates 600, selfless students leave positive legacy

Monday, June 6th, 2016
Excited Deer Valley grads prepare to receive their diplomas. By Luke Johnson

Excited Deer Valley grads prepare to receive their diplomas. Photos by Luke Johnson

Families celebrate their graduates.

Families celebrate their graduates.

By Luke Johnson

The largest high school in the Antioch Unified School District, Deer Valley High School, held its annual Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2016, honoring approximately 600 graduates in its newly resurfaced football stadium, Thursday evening, June 2nd. These diploma recipients have left a lasting impression according to Vice Principal Blair Wilkins.

“The Class of 2016, as a whole, are some of the most selfless students I have worked with in my 10 years in the AUSD,” Wilkins said. “In conversations I have had with students, they spoke about the legacy they wanted to leave so that the students behind them inherited a better school.”

Students and faculty alike feel that Deer Valley High School receives unfair and out of perspective negative criticism from the public on a regular basis. But this year, students decided to stand up for themselves and conducted a positive protest in October. They stood in front of the campus, waving signs that read, “Stop the Hate,” and “This is the real Deer Valley,” among several other messages.

Deer Valley girl grads stand for their turn to receive their diplomas.

Deer Valley girl grads stand for their turn to receive their diplomas.

Student speaker and Senior Class President Emma Hamilton said what she will remember most about her high school experience is the diversity to come out of Deer Valley.

“We have a huge variety of personalities,” Hamilton said. “We have people who achieve well in school, people who want to pursue a rap career and all of the above. It’s just amazing.”

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Summer Math Intensive Program for students begins in Antioch, Monday

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Math_Intensive_class

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