RCOE wins two Golden Bell Awards

The Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) has received two prestigious Golden Bell Awards from the California School Boards Association, one for a program that brings grandparents into classrooms as volunteers and another for its statewide work to ensure students have high quality education programs.

RCOE’s Abuelitos Foster Grandparent Program and ScaleUP for Special Education will be honored with Golden Bell Awards at a special ceremony during CSBA’s Awards luncheon in San Diego on Saturday, December 5, 2009. The event is held in conjunction with the California School Boards Association’s Annual Education Conference.

“The Golden Bell is a prestigious award bestowed by the California School Boards Association honoring excellence in education,” said Kenneth M. Young, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools. “Receiving two this year is remarkable. We are deeply honored.”

Young said the Abuelitos program is an outstanding example of the collaboration between RCOE and partner agencies. The Abuelitos Foster Grandparent Program was founded in 2000 as a volunteer program in partnership with Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego, and funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of San Diego, is in their 37th year as sponsor of the Abuelitos Foster Grandparent Program serving San Diego and Imperial Counties. This past year the program provided over 10,000 volunteer hours of service in the Desert area Migrant Head Start centers, and over 100,000 hours during the past decade.

The partnership has expanded from six initial volunteers to fourteen. Five of the original six Abuelitos remain committed to the program and children they serve.

The Abuelitos Foster Grandparent Program is a model of community collaboration in action, and has been highlighted as an exemplary practice in RCOE’s last two federal reviews.

RCOE’s second award was won in the Partnerships and Collaboratives category for the “Quality Assurance Focused Monitoring Facilitated Districts Grant.”

The ScaleUP Project, funded through the Special Education Division of the California Department of Education (CDE), partners with teams from six county offices and two large school districts in California to replicate successful RCOE school reform initiatives.

ScaleUP, now in its third year, involves teams from Los Angeles, San Diego, Sonoma, Madera, Imperial, and Butte Counties, and from Sanger and Mt. Diablo Unified School Districts. The RCOE model itself is designed to provide customized, on-site consultation and professional development support for schools and districts to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap.

Teams applied to CDE for participation in the ScaleUP Project and were selected based on their vision for engaging in this type of service delivery model as well as their organizational capacity to support it. The project involves six days of training per year, site visits by RCOE coaches, the completion of a case study on one target school, and the development of a sustainability plan to ensure that the model is successfully replicated throughout the state. The impact of the project is reflected in above average improvement in student achievement within the schools served.

The CSBA Golden Bell Awards program promotes excellence in education by recognizing outstanding programs in school districts and county offices of education throughout California. The Golden Bell Awards reflect the depth and breadth of the education programs necessary to address students’ changing needs. The goal of this awards program is to contribute to the development and evaluation of curriculum, instruction, and support services.