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PTA Coffee Break: Kicking off the season with thoughts from leaders

October 03, 2012|By Kate Rogers

Last month at the Aliso Creek Inn, PTA's Coffee Break kicked-off the season by welcoming leaders and parents alike to catch up on the latest developments for Laguna Beach Unified School District.

This year we welcomed two-year veteran Supt. Sherine Smith, and brand-new Asst. Supt. Deni Christiansen. Also present were high school Principal Joanne Culverhouse, Thurston Principal Jenny Salberg, El Morrow Principal Chris Duddy, Chief Technology Officer Victor Guthrie, Director of Special Education Irene White, Asst. Supt. of Business Services Dean West, and Shannon Soto, director of fiscal services.

Coffee Break spokeswoman Cindy Newman-Jacobs reminded all parents to consult the website: GoToCoffeeBreak.com. She emphasized that while all speakers are recorded and archived on the website, the flesh-and-blood attendance of parents in the room is a key part of what Coffee Break is all about — that is community.

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Also, Newman-Jacobs invited all to make suggestions as to what content they would like Coffee Break to pursue. This is parent education "for the people, by the people."

Smith stated her goal as promoting "high quality education as the gold standard" in Laguna Beach. She reported that standardized test scores, while not completely tabulated yet, suggest another year of improvement for our district, which speaks positively to efforts of all the staff in the face of the $6 million budget reduction over the past four years. She touted the unique "personality and passion" of Laguna Beach, which she believes makes this rosy picture possible.

The most galvanizing of the speakers was Christiansen. Her exciting mission is to transition the district to the new Common Core Standards which must be in place by 2014-15. These standards have been developed in response to private sector feedback that current schooling just isn't turning out highly effective participants for the global workplace. These standards stress the importance of critical thinking across disciplines, emphasizing thinking skills over simple content recall.

"Laguna Beach is poised to lead in the state implementation of the Common Core Standards," Christiansen said.

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