Our Longwood Elementary Counseling Enriched Classroom in Hayward celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month with the Hayward Mayor!
On Friday May 12th, Mayor Mark Salinas came for a surprise visit to our 6th grade classroom to read the book The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho, a Korean-American author. Mayor Salinas then took the time to speak to our students about diversity, inclusion, and acceptance and AAPI Heritage month. He also encouraged students to ask questions about what it is like begin the mayor, took pictures, gave autographs, and provided motivation to our youth about their futures in education. It was an exciting and unexpected surprise that our Longwood staff and students will be talking about for a long time! Thanks for visiting us Mayor Salinas.
Blog Post Written By: Bunny Rutherford, Assistant Director of School Partnerships
I am excited to have an opportunity to introduce some of you to our amazing partnership in the city of San Lorenzo. Hidden on a residential street Grant Elementary is our 2-year-old partnership. After starting from the ground up and experiencing quite a trying year, this year the team set the standard on strong communication and providing a safe space for our clients and families.
We are thrilled to share some remarkable highlights of the positive progress taking place at our beloved school. It is with great pride that we reflect on the collective efforts of our dedicated students, passionate educators, and supportive community members. Together, we have achieved significant milestones and created an environment where growth, learning, and success flourish. Join us as we celebrate the wonderful achievements at Grant Elementary School!
Our students continue to shine academically, demonstrating exceptional progress and achievements. Through the dedication of our amazing teacher Ms. Chelsi, a former SFA counselor then TA, and the unwavering commitment of our classroom staff we have seen students spending more time in the classroom and accessing their education. This is a testament to the effectiveness of our innovative teaching methods and the strong foundation of knowledge our students are building.
We are so fortunate to have a school team that provides our students access to mainstream (general education) activities. On any given day you may find our students in a music class, or one of my favorites to have witnessed, buddies. This is a partnership that our students have made with the kindergarten classroom where they serve as positive role models and display positive interactions and friendships.
Our counselors are continuing to work hard and creatively to meet the needs of our students. Working with a variety of students and their varying needs, the counselors in our classroom have done wonderful at thinking outside of the box. Ms. AJ, Ms. Evelyn, and Ms. May are the model of a great team. They communicate their needs, advocate for one another, and meet the students where they are while providing clear structure, but also maintaining a fun environment.
Our dedicated therapist, Ms. Nikki, provides guidance and support to students, ensuring their emotional needs are met, and creating a nurturing environment where they feel safe to learn and grow. As her 2nd full year as a therapist, Nikki is great at pushing and challenging our students where needed, being the voice for them and a listening ear for our staff. Ms. Nikki continues to build amazing relationships with our families as well as school partners, continuing to foster the strong foundation necessary to maintain our partnership.
As we reflect on these achievements, we acknowledge that they are the result of the collective effort of our entire school community. We extend our heartfelt appreciation to our exceptional educators, CEC staff, supportive parents, enthusiastic students, and generous community partners. Your unwavering dedication and commitment continue to make these successes possible.
Blog Post Written By: Anthone Jackson, Director of School Partnerships
Nestled in an East Tacoma neighborhood stands Impact Commencement Bay Elementary School (CBE). CBE offers Transitional Kindergarten to 2nd grade, with plans to add a grade each school year until 5th grade. Seneca’s partnership began with Impact CBE when they first opened their doors in Fall of 2021. CBE is part of Impact Public Schools, Washington’s first homegrown charter network that currently operates two other elementary schools in the Puget Sound region with plans to open another one in the Fall of 2023.
Similar to their mascot, The Unicorns, the school team at CBE is magical and rare. Our Seneca staff at CBE include – Dr. Alivia Kremer (School Psychologist), Mollie Ito-Washington (Occupational Therapist), Abby Hall (Speech Language Pathologist) and Natalie Greben (Speech Language Pathologist Assistant). Our team of specialists work closely with CBE staff to support the school in identifying students with disabilities, conducting evaluations, providing speech and OT therapy, and working alongside the school to ensure scholars receive the services they need. See what a Seneca staff says makes CBE unique:
“Commencement Bay Elementary (CBE) school is unique in that it has teaching teams that allow students to get more individualized attention in the classroom, as well as preparing a new generation of teachers through mentorship and hands on teaching. CBE is growing with the mindset of inclusion and equity for its scholars and families, as well as a willingness to try new avenues and gain perspective from others who work with scholars in a different capacity. “
As a newer school, CBE’s processes and systems are developing. This year, the team has made monumental progress in the pre-referral process. Guidance Team meetings are held for students of concern, and it is standard practice that the School Psychologist is present for every one of those. If there is a concern around speech or OT, we also invite those specialists to join. During the Guidance Team meetings, the team discusses strengths, concerns, data available and interventions tried. They then discuss next steps for support including Response to Intervention (RTI) and progress monitoring, referring to the 504 Accommodation team or referring for a special education evaluation. This process has been so helpful in supporting students with Tier 2 interventions and has allowed for scholars to receive support within the general education setting without a special education evaluation. While we are constantly improving and making changes to the process, the overall foundation has been a huge success at CBE.
The Seneca specialists work closely together with the school’s learning specialist (special education case manager) to approach situations as a multi-disciplinary team. The learning specialists, Seneca specialists, Seneca partnership manager and Impact’s special education administrator meet bi-weekly to discuss scholars, processes and systems, and problem solve together as a team. Read what a Seneca specialist says about the team at CBE:
“At CBE, the case manager is quick to include the whole team when a scholar needs extra support including the scholar’s classroom teacher, paraprofessional when applicable, the principal, any specialists on the team, and parents when they are willing and available. Every member of the team contributes both what they’ve observed and brainstorms solutions together. I feel it is helpful to have all the necessary context and information when making decisions from trying new strategies to recommending further support like an FBA or counseling.”
The multidisciplinary approach greatly supports scholars in accessing the education, care and services they need and deserve at school. Seneca specialists report about the impact our multi-disciplinary team has on scholars:
“When the team works together, scholars get consistent instruction across providers. This makes them feel safer and more in routine, which leads to more space for learning and progress towards goals rather than spending sessions managing behaviors. Teachers’ input informs our treatment decisions and our input informs their teaching. This includes sped teachers and paraprofessionals, too!”
We are excited to continue our work with the pre-referral and multi-disciplinary team approach at CBE again next year to better support the scholars and families at CBE.
Blog Post Written By: Gini Sanders, Director of Specialized Services
I’m excited to highlight our ongoing partnership with Caliber Beta Academy! Seneca began its partnership with Caliber seven years ago and we are still going strong. Our Seneca team at Caliber includes two Clinical Intervention Specialists, one Behavioral Support Specialist, and one Student Support Assistant. Meet the Seneca Caliber Team!
Behavioral Support Specialist – Justin Vizinau
Clinical Intervention Specialist – Edward Vasquez
Clinical Intervention Specialist – Azaleah Goose
Student Support Assistant – Yitzel Ramirez Morales
One unique aspect of our partnership at Caliber is our Collaborative Model – “Collab” for short. The Collab model takes a wrap-around approach to supporting high needs students that might otherwise be referred for a more restrictive educational placement. The Behavioral Support Specialist coordinates communication and collaboration between all members of the student’s treatment team including the youth, caregiver(s), general education teachers, education and program specialists, administrators, Clinical Intervention Specialist, and Student Support Assistant. Treatment team meetings are held twice a month to update members on student progress, to assess and plan intervention strategies, to identify areas of immediate need, and to connect with outside resources. The philosophy underlying this approach is that students thrive when their needs are met, and they can build strong relationships within their community. To this end, the Collab model aims to bring necessary academic, behavioral, and social-emotional support to the student in their general education setting rather than removing the student and placing them in a different setting. Last month, our Collab team was recognized by the larger Caliber network for demonstrating exemplary “Empathy and Kindness”. They were selected for this award through a nomination process across all four Caliber campuses!
In addition to the students in our Collab model, the clinicians at Caliber hold a caseload of Medi-Cal eligible youth and work closely with their families, teachers, and admin to support holistic, healing-centered engagement*.
“Seneca’s partnership with Caliber has had a huge impact on our community. As a charter school with an emphasis on Social Emotional Learning, Caliber prides itself on its commitment to serving all students of any need in the general education environment. While some students present with more needs than a typical public school would have capacity to serve, Seneca staff on campus makes it possible for students to remain in our classrooms and community. The collab model is particularly special based on the focus it offers for select students with exceptional needs. The collab model supports Caliber staff who so often are juggling 50-100 students, focus in on specific students with incredible detail to discuss, learn, understand, and plan for their growth and success, with consistent regularity. The collab model offers clear collaborative methods for supporting students academically, disciplinarily, socio-emotionally, as well as collectively with their families and caregivers. These Seneca efforts are noticed on Caliber campus as the standard of teamwork and efficacy to impact students who need support most and can be seen through the on-going growth and success of their students.”
*For more information about healing-centered engagement, please read the article The Future of Healing: Shifting from Trauma-Informed Care to Healing-Centered Engagement, by Dr. Shawn Ginwright
Blog Post Written By: Robyn Ganeles, Clinical Supervisor
Did you know that UE Alhambra's Counseling Enriched Classroom (CEC) program is located in Martinez, California, and that we work with high schoolers on a public campus? We are a one classroom, eleven student, and all Seneca staff program. There are amazing happenings at the site. Below are some that my team and I want to highlight.
Meeting clients where they are at: We work collaboratively with our school partners to create a truly individualized treatment that includes (1) aligning their class schedule (between mainstream and CEC) to match their identified strengths and needs, (2) incorporating a clinical focused lens to school based discipline, and (3) providing additional academic resources such as online credit recovery courses to help bridge gaps in school credits. Most importantly, the program is based on offering a supportive atmosphere environmentally (see pictures) as well as therapeutically (see pictures) that invites each student to be themselves and get the support they need.
Development of real-world skills: We work to support the young folks to create resumes, apply to colleges and jobs, and navigate commitments that help to prepare them for life after high school. Currently, over 30% of the students are holding a part-time job and actively maintaining a work/school life balance.
Blog Post Written By: Khom Sai J. Ounniyom, Clinical Supervisor and Assistant Director of School Partnerships
The sun is finally out and you can see the flowers blooming! From what I hear, the past few months have been challenging in our school communities due to rainy weather, an increase in challenging behaviors, and the fact that this work can be really exhausting. In the midst of all of that, we are seeing student progress and teams supporting one another through challenging times. This week I want to lift up Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School, located in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. At Drew, we have Katy Krogstad (Unconditional Education Coach), Mickey Rosenberg (Clinical Intervention Specialist), and Oscar Prieto (Student Student Support Assistant). The team and school staff are rooted in demonstrating love, community, and joy for their students, families and school partners.
Here are a few words from the Seneca team at Dr. Charles Drew Elementary School:
What helps you collaborate as a team?
“Caring about each other as human beings first and also as colleagues. Taking the time to check in, listen, give a hug and center our meetings around topics that feel relevant and authentic to the growth of our students and ourselves for where we are at in our path in this work.”- Katy Krogstad
What parts or moments of your work with students, families and staff bring you joy?
“Hearing from teachers, families and students that students have been growing towards their goals, receiving positive rewards and encouragement and are feeling successful. Having an environment where building joy is possible whether it be outside in the school garden, having bubbles in the Wellness center, playing laser tag on the stage as part of our earned PBIS rewards, or family photos and positive affirmations around a mirror to start each day in the classroom.” -Katy Krogstad
“A lot of this work can bring me joy, for instance, when I hear that a student is using coping skills and feelings language outside of sessions, when I'm able to connect with parents and share a laugh or genuine appreciation for their child with them, and when I get to share a more relaxed moment with staff at a work happy hour and just be a person with them!” -Mickey Rosenberg
“What brings me the most joy working with students, families, and staff are their presence. Seeing them all everyday and communicating with them is always a positive experience for me. I also learn a lot from them! Everyone is very nice and welcoming!” -Oscar Prieto
Thank you team and school staff for your commitment and care in creating a supportive and empowering community for students and families!
Blog Post Written By: Cristina Sanchez-Cruz, Assistant Director of School Partnerships
Hey y’all, for those of y’all of that don’t know the HEART program, we are a collection of 8 CECs (counseling enriched classrooms) ranging from Elementary to High School across Hayward Unified School District. HEART stands for Hayward Empowering Advocacy and Radical Transformation, and one of the programs that especially embodies these values is our newest addition, the Ochoa Middle School CEC. The Ochoa CEC opened this school year and the team is comprised of Haddie Smith (classroom therapist), Milele Hare (clinical intern), Brisia Calderon Flores (MHC), Rosi Barboza (MHC), and Alexine Luna (MHC). We recently interviewed them to find out how this brand new team became so dope:
Blog Post Written By: Jesse Wiltey, Assistant Director of School Partnerships
Happy March! Most of us educators are finishing off one of the seemingly longest months of the school year and are on the verge of spring break. In Elena Agular’s book Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, she encourages us to tap into play and creativity during the month of March, “When we are creative, we are resourceful, and we problem-solve in new and original ways, which fuels our courage.” School breaks can be a great time to explore play and imagination so we can integrate this joy and flexibility into our work lives.
I am reminded of creativity as I reflect on Seneca’s second year partnership with Nystrom Elementary School, a TK-6th grade school located on the southside of Richmond. Our Unconditional Education Coach, Kelsey Corrales has worked intentionally to create a culture of joy and celebration where community members are welcomed and invited back on campus, to develop a space for student leadership, and to bring the school community together through monthly assemblies.
At the end of last school year, the Nystrom Culture and Climate Committee (C3) teamed up to dig into several data sources and identify culture and climate goals for the following school year. In many public schools the C3 teams are limited to meeting once a month. Kelsey tapped into her creativity to develop targeted teams that could push the work for individual goals. In addition to the C3 team meeting once a month, the family engagement team also meets once a month. This has allowed the Family Engagement team to dive deep into getting information from families on the type of events and classes they would like to have on campus. So far the team has planned a winter festival and monthly coffee chats that have supported in educating families. They have brought in speakers from adult ed to talk about English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes and provided a Triple P Positive Parenting Training on cultivating resilience in children.
Creativity and imagination has not been limited to the Family Engagement team. This November, the halls of Nystrom were abuzz as students ran for a spot on the student council. Each class watched a campaign video of the students running and then voted on ballets with the students' photo accompanying names. On the same day that some adults were taking ballots to the polls, students were taking their ballots down to Ms. Corrales office and proudly displaying their “I voted” stickers. The student council is enjoying fundraising on campus. They also supported the winter festival and starred as newscasters in the Positive Behavior Intervention & Support expectation video reteach. Outside of the student council, other student leaders have gotten to have their voice heard through participation in biweekly student announcements and teaming up with the Risk Resilience Research Lab at University of Berkeley to be ambassadors for a video game that is aimed at building skills to reduce aggression.
I recently had the pleasure of joining a professional development that Kelsey had prepared in collaboration with the Occupational Therapist and Psychologist to support teachers in developing calming places in the classroom. As I walked out the door, a teacher turned to another staff member and said, “that was so much fun!” Kelsey has worked hard as an Unconditional Education Coach to get important systems up and running while at the same time tapping into the joy and creativity of the staff, students and the community. As educators take time away from their sites this upcoming spring break, I encourage you to tap into your creative side and think about what parts of that you might want to carry with you into everyday life.
Blog post written by: Jenna Evans, Assistant Director of School Partnerships
For this week’s blog post, I’d like to introduce our newest partnership here in Los Angeles: Alliance Piera Barbaglia Shaheen Health Services Academy (or “HSA” for short). HSA is one of twenty-five schools in the Alliance College Ready Public Schools network here in LA. Opened in 2009, HSA employs the theme of health care to provide high school students with rigorous college-preparatory instruction and application-based curriculum. The school’s mission is to equip students in South Los Angeles with the tools necessary to excel in high school, to prepare them to enter and succeed in college, and to motivate them to select health care-related majors and careers—areas where students of color like those in HSA’s community are grossly underrepresented.
Through the support of a grant from Los Angeles Unified School District, we’ve partnered with HSA to implement the Unconditional Education model beginning this school year through the support of a full-time Unconditional Education coach. HSA’s Coach, Risha Buntyn, hit the ground running this fall and has since lifted a number of new school-wide initiatives with the support of several HSA teams. Some highlights of this work include:
Blog Post Written By: Sean Murphy, Director of School Partnerships
One of the values that we hold as UE Berkeley Public Schools Program is building community with our students. This year our teacher, Mrs. Nautu and Mental Health Counselors are collaborating in having a weekly cooking class with our life skills students. Every week students choose a different dish to cook, make a grocery list, and practice budgeting when prepping for cooking class. Aside of learning new dishes, students are encouraged to share and teach other dishes from their cultures and family traditions.
For the first time this year, we collaborated with another Special Education program on campus and hosted a community Fall Celebration. We had many of our students, staff, and school staff participate. It was beautiful to see our students cook up so many amazing dishes while engaging in community with their peers and teachers. We hope to make this an every year tradition!
Blog Post Written By: Lucero Torres, Assistant Director of School Partnerships
School Program Partnerships
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