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Street Academy’s Parents and Teachers Plan Together for School in the Fall

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Street Academy graduates - Emunti Herrera; Simone Kuykendall and Yoanna Rodrigue. Photo by Gina Hill.

A happy mix of Oakland Street Academy staff and parents planned the school’s approach to distance learning together at an evening Zoom meeting.

It was not like a lot of education meetings. Parents weren’t being “talked at.”  They came with their children. The Spanish translation was homey and natural; and there were lots of jokes.

Of course, this is in keeping with the roots of The Street Academy. It was born out of the Civil Rights movement, a period much like this one when Black and Latino youngsters filled the streets and college campuses with demands for a respectful approach to them, their communities, and their education.

First on the agenda was an “icebreaker” led by Bukola Lawal, a graduate of Street Academy and now one of its administrative leaders. Everyone viewed three intriguing pictures on the Zoom screen and explained why one of those fits their mood. Gina Hill, another school leader, led a process called Transformative Life Skills. Everyone closed their eyes and took collective sustained breaths, listening to Gina’s calming voice.  And then she led the group in a period of silence in honor of the late Civil Rights icon John Lewis and the legacy of the school’s founding.

The staff explained the basics of what would happen in the new semester. “OUSD has decided that everyone will be learning at a distance for at least the first four weeks of school.”

Everyone will come to school every day online, and students will continue to meet with their “consulting teachers,” the special adult who helps them with everything from college advice to personal problems.

Then the parents and students were asked what they needed. “What will make distance learning work for you?  Are there any things we did in the Spring that worked really well?”

One father said that text messages helped him. “I have several children. So I need these texts to keep track of what they’re supposed to be doing.”

A student said she especially liked what happened with one of her teachers during the Spring when distance learning first started. “We had class on Google classroom.  She explained everything and then we did some work together. Then she was also available later for more office hours.  So I could get online with her and ask about anything I didn’t understand.”

Another parent said she didn’t feel she had done all the things she could have done during the Spring term. “I’m setting up our place now so that there’s a space set aside for him to do his schoolwork, but I don’t have a desk.” A staff member offered to bring over a desk that they could use.

The staff committed to making sure that every family had a computer and internet access, and asked families to fill out a survey that would capture anything they had missed in the discussion.

One mom asked about the continuation of the Street Academy’s practice of making sure every student completed college preparation and application activities. Staff talked about how this would continue online and intensify through a new partnership with local colleges.

The curriculum has been expanded this year with two new elements. In partnership with Holy Names University, Street Academy students will be helping new teachers in the School of Education learn how to teach, a dramatic and exciting role reversal.  And teachers are planning for cross-disciplinary studies on big topics like the debate on policing, COVID-19, or other critical issues.

Staff member Juan Ramirez ended the parent meeting with, “Wait until you hear the plan for the curriculum this year.  We’re definitely the school of the future”

People who are interested in this school that operates like a family can e-mail gina.hill@ousd.org

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Bay Area

Jamie Scardina Appointed Marin County Sheriff

Scardina was elected as Sheriff in the June primary election, running unopposed, and was to be sworn in when Doyle’s term ended Jan. 2, 2023. However, Doyle retired June 30 after more than 52 years of public safety service to Marin, and Scardina became acting Sheriff. The board’s action July 19 covers the time until Jan. 2.

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As Sheriff, Scardina will lead a department of 311 full time staff and oversee a $77,735,000 operating budget.
As Sheriff, Scardina will lead a department of 311 full time staff and oversee a $77,735,000 operating budget.

Courtesy of Marin County

Acting Marin County Sheriff Jamie Scardina had the “acting” taken off his title July 19 when the Marin County Board of Supervisors appointed him to the position, becoming the 22nd sheriff in county history. Scardina, a Marin native and 23-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, replaces the retired Robert Doyle. Scardina took the oath of office, administered by Doyle, at a public swearing-in ceremony on July 28.

Scardina was elected as Sheriff in the June primary election, running unopposed, and was to be sworn in when Doyle’s term ended Jan. 2, 2023. However, Doyle retired June 30 after more than 52 years of public safety service to Marin, and Scardina became acting Sheriff. The board’s action July 19 covers the time until Jan. 2.

Scardina grew up in Corte Madera and attended Marin Catholic High School and College of Marin. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminology from the University of Montana. After starting his law enforcement career as a Tiburon police officer, Scardina joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2000 and gradually was assigned more responsibilities as he was promoted from deputy to sergeant to lieutenant to captain. Scardina replaced the retired Mike Ridgway as Undersheriff in 2018.

Scardina is only Marin’s third Sheriff since 1983. He thanked Doyle for giving him a “tremendous amount of autonomy” during the past four years as he served as Undersheriff. He pledged to listen to concerns and make decisions together with resident involvement.

“This is not an appointment I take lightly or for granted,” Scardina said at the July 19 Supervisors meeting. “I know it comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. … This is something I’m looking forward to, working with staff and working with the community. I know there are a lot of people in the community who want to talk, and we’re looking forward to having those conversations.”

As Sheriff, Scardina will lead a department of 311 full time staff and oversee a $77,735,000 operating budget. His annual salary will be $251,825.60 and benefits will be consistent with those received by other department heads.

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Activism

Marin County Offers Booklet to Parents to Prevent Preteen Substance Abuse

Each middle school teen is different and there is no single right way to address their changes, experiences, and their transition to middle school. But the book endeavors to help parents more objectively understand and support their children.

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Top: Mother and daughter talking (From care.com). Bottom: English and Spanish covers of the booklet “Let’s Start Talking.” Go to letstalkmarin.org for more information, downloadable digital booklets, and video recordings of recent “Let’s Talk” community discussions.
Top: Mother and daughter talking (From care.com). Bottom: English and Spanish covers of the booklet “Let’s Start Talking.” Go to letstalkmarin.org for more information, downloadable digital booklets, and video recordings of recent “Let’s Talk” community discussions.

By Godfrey Lee

Marin County District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli recently distributed an informational booklet “Let’s Start Talking – A Parent’s Toolkit for Understanding Substance Use in Marin County Through the Middle School Years” at the San Rafael Elks Lodge 1108 on Tuesday, July 19.

The toolkit booklet was created with support from the Marin Prevention Network and the Marin County Office of Education. The booklet was also translated and published in Spanish under the title “Hablemos.”

The booklet begins by saying that although drug usage among 7th graders remains low, their substance abuse can increase as they grow older. Parents and caregivers can still lay the foundations to support preteens/teens as they grow and help prevent negative consequence from substances use. This involves knowing the facts, communicate openly, and focus on relationships and resilience.

Each middle school teen is different and there is no single right way to address their changes, experiences, and their transition to middle school. But the book endeavors to help parents more objectively understand and support their children.

The major life experience for middle schoolers is the start of puberty, where their bodies, brains, and social environments rapidly and dramatically change, along with their hormones levels and emotions. The booklet says, don’t joke about or dismiss the child’s puberty process as being unimportant.

Parents are still in charge and should also teach and model healthy coping skills. Accept the child even while they are investigating their own identities and their attraction to the other or their own sex.

Their adolescent brain is not fully developed until about the age 25, and they are still growing in its management of reasoning, decision-making, planning, and impulse control. Their peers become more important, their circle of friends may change, and need to become more independent from their parents.

All teens face a lot of risks. Social media gives a lot of unfiltered information that can be disturbing. Other risk factors include mental health issues, attention deficit disorders, trauma, bullying, family substance and drugs abuse, the family rejection of their same-sex identity and thoughts of suicide.

Teens can still be protected with parental monitoring and involvement, a positive self-image, community and school norms and behavioral expectations, positive coping and self-regulation skills, positive and healthy peer relationships, school and community connections, and a sense of belonging to a healthy group.

Peer pressure and social norms are powerful during the middle school age, and the child’s social relationships can tip the scale toward risk or protection. Parents or caretakers can still meet and know the child’s friends and their parents, and also ask questions concerning the safety of their children. Parents can also spend time with their teens to stretch their minds and find opportunities for their teens to meet and work together with other youths with similar interest in groups and clubs.

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Bay Area

Sir Francis Drake Boulevard Lighting Update to Begin

Overseen by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW), the lighting update project will address street lighting that was installed during the Upgrade the Drake project, completed in November 2021, replacing a selection of lighting poles with shorter, decorative poles, and dimmer fixtures.

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The street light revisions are being funded by the remaining budget of the Upgrade the Drake project and the Marin County Street Light Fund. To further offset the cost, DPW will explore resell opportunities for the currently installed street light poles, which are a standard pole design used across California.
The street light revisions are being funded by the remaining budget of the Upgrade the Drake project and the Marin County Street Light Fund. To further offset the cost, DPW will explore resell opportunities for the currently installed street light poles, which are a standard pole design used across California.

Courtesy of Marin County

Work will begin the first week of August to revise street lighting on the median islands along one mile of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, between Manor Road in Kentfield and Eliseo Drive in Greenbrae.

Overseen by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW), the lighting update project will address street lighting that was installed during the Upgrade the Drake project, completed in November 2021, replacing a selection of lighting poles with shorter, decorative poles, and dimmer fixtures.

The work starting next week will be the first phase of the project and will focus on structural foundations and wiring connections. This phase is expected to take about one month to complete, finishing in time to avoid the influx in traffic expected when the school year starts in late August.

Traffic impacts are expected to be minimal. A 500-foot stretch of one eastbound lane on Drake Boulevard will be closed for the duration of phase one. Traffic is expected to flow normally through the other two lanes. However, during the first week of August, there will be an additional lane closure of a westbound lane for two days to ensure crew safety during some initial work on several poles. The lane closures may cause traffic delays during peak commute hours.

The second phase is expected to begin sometime in the fall. A selection of existing street light poles will be removed and replaced with shorter, decorative light poles. In April 2022, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the new light poles, costing an estimated $300,000. The poles require significant manufacturing lead time, taking approximately six months to be fabricated and delivered. DPW expects the new poles to be available in October.

 In response to community concerns regarding lighting enhancements implemented during the Upgrade the Drake project, the street lighting project is intended to reduce light dispersal on adjacent properties, decrease light intensity, and improve aesthetics while still maintaining the lighting uniformity levels necessary for public safety. The shorter, decorative poles with dimmer fixtures will require closer spacing to achieve sufficient light levels on the roadway, resulting in a net increase in total lights. Statistically, uniform nighttime street lighting improves safety for all modes of transportation.

In January 2022, DPW replaced lighting fixtures at intersections and added backshields to help block light dispersal outside of the roadway and sidewalks. In June, the County replaced all remaining light fixtures on existing poles throughout the 2.2-mile corridor from the Town of Ross to Highway 101, as well as adding more backshields where necessary. The dimmer fixtures have a brightness of 5,000 to 8,000 lumens, depending on the needs of each location. For comparison, the removed fixtures had a brightness of 12,000 lumens.

The street light revisions are being funded by the remaining budget of the Upgrade the Drake project and the Marin County Street Light Fund. To further offset the cost, DPW will explore resell opportunities for the currently installed street light poles, which are a standard pole design used across California.

Learn more about the lighting project, as well as the separate landscaping improvements along Drake Boulevard and all the other various DPW projects, by visiting DPW’s projects webpage.

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