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CCSESA Newsletter2021

SeptemberVolume 20 / Issue 6

Meet our CCSESA Superintendents...

Dr. Troy Brown San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools

  • What led you to a career in education?

    I got my start in education because I wanted to teach and be a coach and work with kids. Once I got there, it wasn’t long before I discovered just how important positive relationships are to students. I had an opportunity to get to know them and be that somebody that they could talk to. It really showed me the value and importance of public schools, and not just as a place for students to get an education and build skills. It’s where students can find everything from a nutritious meal to a sense of stability they might not have otherwise. School can be such a grounding force in students’ lives. This really is a place where we can be a part of changing kids’ lives for the better. 

    What are some aspects that you love about your job as a county superintendent of San Joaquin County?

    I love hearing people’s stories. I love the people I get to work with, and I love the opportunities to serve and help people. But my favorite part of the day is going out and being able to connect with other people. The meetings and the office work are important, but if you don’t meet with students, teachers, other educators, and families, you risk losing important perspectives. You can support them by using what you’ve learned and by letting them know that they matter. When you visit a school, meet with students, and ask them questions to get to know them — it shows them how important they are and that their voice and opinion matter.

    What is something fellow county superintendents may not know about you?

    I like spending time outdoors: backpacking, kayaking, obstacle racing, gardening, and landscaping. I would love to raft the Zambezi River in Africa, one day. I also really enjoy cooking and baking. My wife and kids are very sweet to say my cinnamon rolls are the best.

    Visit the SJCOE Website
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  • What is a bright spot / exemplary program in your county that would be of interest to others in education?

    County offices of education are in a unique position to build the right programs to meet specific needs of our communities. Those needs can be anything from finding new ways to reach hard-to-serve students or supporting schools and districts by helping build a workforce of highly qualified educators. Here are a few examples from the San Joaquin County Office of Education: 

    Discovery ChalleNGe Academy (DCA) This program is a residential program for at-risk/at-promise youth that we are able to offer through a partnership with the California National Guard. It is one of three National Guard Youth ChalleNGe programs in the state and is available to youth in all of Northern California. Over the past 4.5 years, we have seen how effective this program is. So far, eight classes have completed the 22-week residential phase of the program with 87% of 962 cadets who completed this phase going on to employment, military service, or continuing their education after graduating the academy. When you meet one of these cadets you can see how DCA has helped them. You see it in their eyes, in their health, in their attitude — in everything.

    Teachers College of San Joaquin (TCSJ) Founded in 2009, TCSJ college serves over 1,300 students who work across 60 districts in an eight-county region of California.  The college is a local institution that allows new teachers to earn their credentials and veteran educators can continue to grow.  Educators across the state and beyond can now earn their M. Ed. online through TCSJ in Environmental Literacy, Early Education, and Special Education. 

    Greater Valley Conservation Corps (GVCC) The GVCC is a regional conservation corps that provides youth 18 to 25 years old with educational opportunities and are paid to do work that is valuable to their community. This includes improving fire safety by clearing growth that can fuel wildfires as well as improving neighborhoods by cleaning illegally dumped garbage and removing graffiti.  They leave the program with job experience and the soft skills that help them find future employment. 

Close to Home: A Call for Civility

Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D. Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools

Eighteen months into this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, it is important to acknowledge our collective fatigue and disappointment. When local schools closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020, many of us expected the closures to be a short-lived interruption. As it became clear that the pandemic would not be erased quickly or easily, frustration and
exhaustion understandably set in for many parents, students, and school staff.

This summer, it seemed the worst might be behind us as schools prepared to welcome students back to full-time, in-person learning. Unfortunately, the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant posed new challenges. By now, many families have dealt with the challenge and inconvenience of quarantine resulting from exposure at school. At the same time, school leaders and staff are stretched thin by the exacting demands of COVID-19.

It is natural, in these times of uncertainty and stress, to feel frustration and anger. However, as a school community, we must remember we are stronger when we are unified. This commentary is an urgent call for civility and kindness within our schools and community. Parents, teachers, school administrators, and other school staff all want the same things for the children we are trusted to serve. We want our youth to be safe, thrive socially and emotionally, and progress in their learning so they may meet their goals for school, college, career, and life.

It is easy to lose sight of these common interests when frustration sets in.

Much of our culture’s collective exasperation with the pandemic has been exhibiting itself in local school offices, classrooms, and board rooms, with parents arguing to let their student attend when faced with quarantine, attacking school boards and individual teachers for enforcing state-mandated masking requirements, and more.

The lack of civility is taking a toll on our workforce. Nationwide, school leaders and teachers report heightened levels of anxiety, overwhelm, worry, and frustration. This is playing out locally.

In a normal year, out of around 200 board trustees, I accept five to seven school board resignations. In the past 18 months, under COVID-19, I have received 17.

CalSTRS has reported an increase of administrators and teachers retiring by an extra 20,000 over average.

We are seeing a high level of turnover among school administrators as they take on time-consuming tasks like contact tracing, monitoring quarantine, implementing health guidance, and more. This is on top of their normal duties, which are critical to ensuring that schools operate smoothly.

The loss of these dedicated, experienced leaders and teachers is difficult to overcome, as these positions take years of specialized training.

Whatever your disagreement, it need not be personal. Teachers, trustees, principals, and other school staff are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. They chose education because they
care deeply about children. Like all of us, they are doing their best to navigate these uncertain times.

As a former history and government teacher, I taught that rights are owed by the governing body to the people, while responsibilities are owed by the people to the society or country.

It is everyone’s responsibility to provide students, many of whom are not age-eligible for vaccination, a healthy and safe learning environment.

Let us find ways to disagree respectfully while working toward common solutions, including active listening, offering potential solutions or compromise, embracing varying and diverse perspectives, and always assuming the best intent. In this way, we can model respect and civic engagement for our children, even when we may disagree with a specific decision or policy. The best way out of this pandemic is through unity, not division!

Get To Know Our CCSESA Staff

Since the General Membership Meeting is next month and we have had some staffing changes, we wanted to make sure that you were familiar with our team and specific job roles. In the spirit of going back to school, we also threw in a fun way to get to know us better, sharing our favorite back-to-school memories with you.




Ashley Lugo, Executive Assistant & Policy Analyst:

“As an Executive Assistant & Policy Analyst I do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work to support our Executive Director and her schedule,  and the various regularly scheduled meetings that CCSESA has within our steering committees, subcommittees, and the Executive Board. I also work on policy to support mental health initiatives.”

“My favorite back-to-school memory is the excitement of fall in the air, as it always means cooler weather, which I love.


Derick Lennox, Senior Director Governmental Relations & Legal Affairs:

“My role is to mobilize the 58 county superintendents to be proactive and strategic in statewide policy conversations about public education. Whether those conversations are happening in the legislature, administration, state agencies, or anywhere else, my goal is to make sure county superintendents are at the table.”

“My favorite back-to-school memory was… all of them? Still to this day, the fall season is bound together with the buoyant optimism I felt at the start of each new school year. It’s never gone away.”


Jessie Mapes, Arts Program Assistant:

“As the Program Assistant for the CCSESA Statewide Arts Initiative, I provide administrative support to the Arts Initiative Director, coordinate state and regional meetings, events, professional development, and curriculum activities. Additionally, I support CCSESA office operations and wherever I am needed.”

“My favorite back-to-school memory is the shopping opportunity to pick out school clothes during the summer that would be placed on layaway, and that I would get back in time for the first day of school AFTER Labor Day!”

Kami Martin, Coordinator, Member Services & Events:

“Transitioning from legislative and policy analyst to member services. Will coordinate CCSESA meetings, and liaison for Listservs, and Cvent event registration websites. 

“My favorite back to school memory: I always liked to plan out my outfits for the first day of school, it was fun to get all my school supplies ready and plan what outfit/shoes I would wear. I was also excited to see my friends after summer break!”


Karen Stapf Walters, Executive Director: 

“As the Executive Director, it is my job to oversee the CCSESA staff, in addition to supporting the organization’s needs, to support the 58 county superintendents in their roles of providing support to school districts in the areas of student services, curriculum and instruction fiscal accountability, business services, personnel services, and technology and telecommunications.”

“I always got a new pair of shoes to start the school year.  I was so proud of my shiny new shoes!  Didn’t stay that way for long however.  Another memory is that my mother was a wonderful flower gardener.  She always would cut a bouquet for me to take to school on the first day for my new teacher.  I was thrilled with being able to give this special “gift” to my new teacher.”


Kindra Britt, Director of Communications and Strategy: 

“I am the Director of Communication and Strategy and joined CCSESA in May 2021. I work closely with Karen and the CCSESA team to deliver on CCSESA’s strategic goals, including strengthening our communications, the CCSESA brand, image, and positive identity, as well as broaden awareness of our programs, initiatives and priorities across key stakeholder audiences.”

“My favorite back to school memory was getting to go back-to-school clothes shopping. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend which I appreciated because I had to be more careful about what I chose to purchase, and even more strategic, of course, about what would be my “first day of school” outfit – SO important!”


Lumi Amarie, Finance & Operations Assistant: 

“My role with CCSESA is to assist the Finance and Operations Director, keeping up with all financial transactions and managing all CCSESA’s incoming mail and emails.”

“Back in the 70s, in my primary school years, I was always excited on the first day of school to meet my teacher. I had the same teacher from 1st to 4th grade. She was kind, with lots of patience for all her students. On the first day of school I loved to offer my teacher flowers, as it was considered good manners for students in those days.”


Sarah Anderberg, Director, CCSESA Statewide Arts Initiative: 

“The Director leads and manages the statewide arts initiative that includes grant oversight; program management; fiscal oversight of the grant programs; sub grant implementation and evaluation; communications; professional learning and curriculum development; state, regional, and county meetings and convening implementation;  as well as other capacity building efforts.  The Director fosters and maintains many partnerships with organizations across California and serve on the Policy Council for CREATE CA.”

“I remember fondly how much I enjoyed the first day of school in my elementary school years. With new school clothes, fresh school supplies, I remember it was with great expectation that I went to school after summer break. I can remember how excited we were to meet our teacher for the year and to reconnect with classmates. Pinedale School was a beautiful school nestled close to pine trees in a beautiful setting with fresh halls and clean rooms and an expansive playground.  My mother always made the first day special and often did many little things to commemorate the first day of school.”

Tiffanie Floyd, Director, Finance & Operations: 

“Maintain and organize day-to-day operations, human resources, and finances for the association. Serves as liaison to the Finance and Audit Committees; and supervises support staff.”

“Shopping for clothes! I couldn’t wear any of them until the first day of school, so I always had brand new, crisp outfits for school. Loved it!”


CCSESA October General Membership Meeting

We can’t wait to see all of you IN PERSON next month in San Francisco. If you haven’t already done so, please click here to register in-person or virtually. 

We have so many wonderful things planned for you, with the agenda focused on providing helpful, useful, and effective sessions to make the most of our time together, and planning for the future. Most importantly, we are just looking forward to being together, in person, after nearly 2 years of Zooming.

CISC 2022 Leadership Symposium

30th Annual CISC Leadership Symposium
LIBERATE: Our Voice, Our Time
February 23-25, 2022
Monterey, California
Click here for more information or to register.

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