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CCSESA Newsletter2021

AprilVolume 19 / Issue 4

Meet our CCSESA Superintendents...

Dr. César Morales Ventura County Superintendent of Schools

  • What does your day to day look like as the new county superintendent of schools for Ventura County?

    I’ve taken on this role in the unusual circumstances of the pandemic. Every morning, I check in with staff and follow up with District Superintendents. Additionally, I check in with our Ventura County Public Health partners daily to brief them on issues related to school reopening and discuss how modifications to guidance could help address particular situations. These daily conversations with VCPH are often brief but have been extremely helpful with our efforts to assist our districts during the pandemic. I am trying to balance family time and exercise with an increasingly busy schedule.

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

    I enjoy representing schools with other agencies in the county and promoting a multi-agency response in our community. I enjoy bringing people together to tackle tough issues while being focused on positive student outcomes.

    What are some objectives you would like to achieve in your new position as the county superintendent of schools?

    I would like to know the needs of every school district in our county to ensure VCOE is offering the appropriate services in the post-pandemic era. I also want to capitalize on the momentum in the area of education technology that was necessary to deliver instruction during distance learning. I believe we need to take advantage of this moment and continue to support innovative practices to engage students and parents in meaningful and impactful ways. Additionally, I want to continue the work we have begun on diversity and inclusion practices in the classroom.


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  • What led you to a career in education?

    I wanted to have a career committed to service for others. Education gave me an opportunity to serve our students and school communities.

    “I was also attracted to education as a potential equalizer in society that could address the opportunity gap that exists. I was drawn by the ability to help others navigate the school system and inspire students daily.”




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

    I am particularly proud of the work we began this year with developing our Social Justice Task Force. We brought together leaders from different branches in our COE to discuss and commit to actions that promote equity and social justice. We also incorporated student and parent voices in order to deeply understand issues from their perspectives. I am proud of the fact we will kick off our first annual Equity Conference on May 24, which will include sessions designed for administrators, teachers, students and parents.

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

    I love the outdoors and enjoy camping in my trailer with the family.

    What does being a county superintendent mean to you?

    It means I have the opportunity to make or influence change daily that will impact the education community.

Leadership Link

Meet the 2021 SPSSC Chair Susan Connolly, Assistant Superintendent- Student Services Placer County Office of Education

What led you to your current role at the Placer county office of education or to education in general?
I was enrolled at CSU, Stanislaus, when I began to work as a substitute teaching assistant for the Stanislaus County Office of Education. I immediately fell in love with the students I had the opportunity to work with daily. I was inspired by my colleagues and intrigued by the skill and devotion I witnessed. Ultimately, I graduated, earning a BS in Geography, and immediately started teaching students with moderate to severe disabilities. Several years later, I was fortunate to be hired by the Placer County Office of Education and spent the next decade teaching students with autism. After leaping into special education administration, the focus of my work shifted to alternative education for many years. Now, I am privileged to oversee the regional special education and alternative education programs as well as our charter school.

What does your day-to-day look like as the chair of the SPSSC Steering committee and in your role at the Placer county office of education?
Very busy! My day-to-day work starts early in the morning, working with site leaders to ensure all programs have the staff required to operate safely. Keeping classrooms appropriately staffed has become even more of a challenge in the past year since we have been providing in-person instruction since mid-September. Once schools are up and running, I attend various meetings, crunch data, write plans, manage the budget, and keep up with ever-changing guidance and requirements. Chairing the Student Programs and Services Steering Committee (SPSSC) allows me to see the big picture. The SPSSC executive committee works daily to provide guidance, best practices, and support related to the unique programs that are the responsibility of the fifty-eight county offices of education.

What are some of the goals or objectives you would like to achieve within SPSSC this year?
SPSSC is unique in supporting some of the most vulnerable students in California during this very challenging time. Our number one goal is to make sure our students are engaged in their education and receiving the support they need. Supports come in many shapes and sizes and may be related to improving mental health, removing barriers to accessing education, securing housing, or ensuring adequate nutrition. SPSSC members know that a community is only as strong as the education and services provided by our local schools, and we work together every day to strengthen that bond.

What is a bright spot / exemplary program in your Steering Committee that would be of interest to other educators?
It is too hard to choose just one! From Fresno CSS’s Kids’ Cafe and welding program to San Joaquin COE’s partnership with Discovery Challenge Academy to Riverside and Stanislaus COE’s Come Back Kids program, there are outstanding programs in every part of California. Partnerships, creativity, and innovation are the hallmarks of county-operated programs. I encourage all educators to reach out to their COE colleagues to see the possibilities.

What does being a SPSSC member/chair mean to you?
It is such an honor to work beside such passionate, dedicated educators. When I was new to the committee, I was welcomed with warmth and camaraderie. SPSSC members operate some of the least understood programs in the state. What a relief it was to find like-minded educators with so much knowledge and experience! Becoming the Chair of SPSSC has been a gift. I have broadened my perspective, continued learning, and supported my county counterparts in new and unexpected ways. Working with the CCSESA staff has also been incredibly rewarding. I have appreciated the encouragement and support CCSESA staff have provided, especially regarding sharing the SPSSC perspective on potential legislation and changes in the educational landscape.


California educator recruitment & retention virtual symposium

On June 11, 2021 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, CCSESA and the California Center on Teaching Careers will co-facilitate the California educator recruitment and retention virtual symposium 2.0. For more details and to register for the virtual symposium, please see the flyer linked here.




One-time Funding Resources for LEAs

CCSESA convened a One-Time Funding Workgroup to develop tools and resources to assist in the planning and effective use of one-time funding to Local Education Agencies (LEAs).  These tools support an effective use of funds for initiatives and efforts that meet the short and long-term needs of students, build LEA capacity, and strengthen systems for equity.  They encourage LEAs to build on and strengthen existing initiatives, especially those goals and actions identified in the Local Control Accountability Plan, expand learning opportunities, and leverage resources available through the California System of Support. To access these resources please click here.

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