The Spotlight Newsletter – April 2024

CCEA Newsletter April 2024
A Monthly Newsletter From CCEA Plus | Ninth Issue, April 2024 | Download & Share PDF Version

A Message from the Board

To Our Alt. Ed. Community,

The 2024 CCEA Plus Annual Conference is just a few days away. We’re thrilled to celebrate our 50th year anniversary with you in the historic city of Burbank, California. Like many celebrities who have enjoyed the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, CCEA will be Putting a Spotlight on Alternative Education.

We’re pleased to announce two keynote speakers for the 2024 conference. To get us started, Dr. Sam Buenrostro will speak Friday morning. Dr. Buenrostro believes in living life with a purpose, the power of people and inspiring others to make a difference. From his humble beginnings, Dr. Buenrostro will share his remarkable career as a high school soccer coach, ELA and Spanish teacher, administrator, assistant superintendent and now the Superintendent of Corona-Norco Unified School District.

During Saturday’s Awards Gala, Gov. Newsom’s top educational advisor, Ben Chida will share his extraordinary story on how he has persevered through the most difficult of mental health challenges. Through influential people in his life, including a teacher from his alternative high school in Huntington Beach, Mr. Chida has forged ahead and has become a strong voice for providing wraparound services to students at the earliest stage possible. Currently, Mr. Chida is the chief deputy cabinet secretary for the governor and is a key member in the new California Master Plan for Career Education in high schools.

Equally exciting is all the breakout sessions filled with valuable takeaways for students, ourselves and our sites. Also, don’t forget to bring student art work to showcase and wear your CCEA Region Colors. Looking forward to seeing you there!

CCEA Plus Board | Meet the Officers

Updates for the 2024 Conference

Click the links below for important information for the 2024 Conference:

Event Details | 2024 Conference Schedule | Conference Theme and Party for 2024

Save the Date

Upcoming Dates for the 2024 Conference & Model School Applications, as part of the MCHS (continuation) program and the MCDS (community day) program:

  • April 25, 2024 — 2024 Conference Model School Visit Trip | Sign-up
  • April 25 – 28, 2024 — CCEA Plus Annual Conference in Burbank, CA
  • September 2024 — Intent To Submit Due
  • September 2024 — Application Due
  • October 4, 2024 — Northern Applications Reviewed & Rated | Apply to be a Reader
  • October 18, 2024 — Southern Applications Reviewed & Rated | Apply to be a Reader

CDE CCEA Model School Seal (MCHS)

This Month’s Spotlight is On…

Sierra High SchoolSierra High School

Focusing On Student Health & Wellness

Sierra High School is an Alternative Community School site focused on promoting Health and Wellness. Under the leadership of Principal, Hector Murrieta, Sierra has become one of the IE’s model programs for School-Based Health Centers, based on the California School-Based Health Alliance guidelines, with successful partnerships in all six areas of health and wellness. The school has spent the last seven years building systems to provide mental, physical, social, emotional, financial, and academic health services for all students. The wellness center services 150-200 students annually with mental, social, and emotional health as a practicum site for the doctoral students at Loma Linda’s School of Behavioral Health. Identified students (through MTSS, or self-identified) receive small-group dialectical therapy, and individual cognitive behavioral therapy, among other research-based mental health treatments.

Sierra High School

Recently, Sierra has opened a basic needs resource center for students, families, and the community called the Olive Branch. Partnering with the Inland Career Education Center, Community Action Project, IEHP, and other entities, the Olive Branch Resource Center provides basic needs and internship opportunities for students within Sierra’s Family & Human Services Pathway.


Location: San Bernardino, CA
District: San Bernardino City USD
District Pop: 46,693

Feeder Schools: 8
School Pop: 800 – 1,200
Certificated Staff: 34

Total Staff: 67
Model School Since: 2016

Next Steps

As the wellness programs find their stride, Sierra is now moving towards Linked Learning where students are not only receiving services but also learning how to access and educate their community about available resources within the school and community. The new Family & Human Services pathway opened in August 2023 under Sierra’s Health & Wellness CTE umbrella. As of February 2024, 371 students have participated in the Health & Wellness Academy with 9 CTE Pathway completers. Seventeen single-subject teachers have gotten CTE credentials to write and offer dual-purpose, skills-based, integrated courses offering students the opportunity to earn core credit for CTE courses. Sierra currently has six integrated CTE/CORE A-G courses approved by UC Doorways to maximize learning opportunities for students. The CTE team is diligently working to write four more integrated courses to begin in the fall. The next phase of the pathway is to train students to operate the Olive Branch as a student-run enterprise.

Tip of the Month

Traditional school models DID NOT WORK for our students, we have to think outside the traditional ideas and “grammar” of school to rebuild trust and value in education for these students. Rethink what “school” looks like, feels like, and sounds like. Connection above all else, and use every opportunity to collaborate WITH students on better choices, and opportunities.

Principal’s Message

Hector Murrieta, Principal of Sierra High School“You don’t know what ‘no’ means!” This pithy statement beautifully captures how we should approach our work. It was made by a first year teacher on her first WASC visit when it was her turn to share her findings. When I heard it I was flattered and deeply moved; I decided to make it a motto of sorts. All of us in the alternative education community should not know what ‘no’ means! Our students, guardians, educators, and programs have heard ‘no’ too many times. We are in an enviable position to be designated as alternative schools; we have license to be alternative. Be alternative. Refuse to know what ‘no’ means. Many of us are fascinated by the resiliency demonstrated by our students; we need to follow suit. We can and should be models for the educational community at large because if we can make it work at our schools then it’s very likely to work in other schools. Just like our students, though, we need to refuse to know what ‘no’ means…and like one of our counselors says at the end of his announcements, “Don’t let anyone steal your shine!”

– Hector Murrieta, Principal

Spotlighting Exemplary Programs

Somerset High School

2022 Exemplary Award Winner Somerset High School CTE/SkillsUSA Program

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. They help each student excel and is a nonprofit national education association that helps prepare students for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. The development of SkillsUSA at the Somerset Campus began in fall of 2016. Five students competed at the State SkillsUSA conference in Ontario, and three students advanced to the National SkillsUSA competition in Louisville Kentucky in the area of Residential Systems and Installation Maintenance or Smart Homes, & Robotics and Automation Technology. Students have won numerous medals at the state and national levels over the years at Somerset High School. The impact the program has on students is positive. The students not only learn, but they’re able to visualize real-world situations. Somerset HS has noticed a hesitancy in students to take part in SkillsUSA because of a fear of failure or lack of self-confidence. However, after students had success and won competitions they felt pride in themselves because they persevered and were successful. By utilizing the various CTE programs, students can visualize and see where and how the projects they created with SkillsUSA have a real-world application. A testimony of the effectiveness of this program is the story of Joe. His story began similarly to other continuation high school students. He was unsuccessful in his classes and had discipline issues. When he transferred to Somerset and found interest in the SkillsUSA program, he thrived! He made it all the way to the national competition and earned a Gold medal!! He has since gone onto work for many prestigious companies and is a highly sought-after individual. It only took one person with access to a great program to believe in him and help write a different ending to his high school story.

Recent News & Resources

Grow Kinder Podcast
The Economic Value of Social & Emotional Learning
Strategies for Teaching Adolescents with ADHD: Effective Classroom Techniques Across the Content Areas, Grades 6-12
Alternative Education Options: A Descriptive Study of California Continuation High Schools
CA lags behind other states in bilingual education for ELs
Implementing PBIS in High Schools
Integrating Academic, Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental Health Supports for Student Need
Scaling California’s School-Based Mental and Behavioral Health Infrastructures
The Science of Reading: The Importance of Comprehension

Upcoming Opportunities

2024 Conference Model School Visits | Sign-up
Volunteer at the 2024 Conference | Google sign-up form
“The Spotlight” Feedback Form | Google feedback form — want to be featured?
Contribute to The Spotlight newsletter | Sign-up
Sign Up | Want to be a Volunteer? — Let Us Know

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