Solutions in Education

Technology Skills for Rural Youths

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Yazmin Herrera and Jacob Martinez welcomed prospective enrolees to summer institutes intended to rapidly train youths to use various technology. Photo: Adia White

Yazmin Herrera and Jacob Martinez welcomed prospective enrolees to summer institutes intended to rapidly train youths to use various technology.
Photo: Adia White

By Adia White | KUSP -

In the seven months since it opened in downtown Watsonville, a new non profit has enrolled hundred of youths it hopes will acquire technology skills. The Digital NEST has big aspirations to improve job prospects for kids who grow up in rural areas.

At an event in the late spring of this year, Jacob Martinez, founder of the Digital NEST, welcomes female members to the first mini-conference.

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Growing STEM Experience in the Wetlands

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High schooler Rodrigo García teachers the ecology of Watsonville's sloughs and lakes to elementary and middle school students.

High schooler Rodrigo García teachers the ecology of Watsonville’s sloughs and lakes to elementary and middle school students. Photo: Jasmín López

By Jasmín López | KUSP

Significantly fewer women, African Americans and Latinos go into scientific professions, that includes the environmental sciences. One Monterey Bay area organization has been training youth in watershed ecology, and getting them to teach others.

In a bungalow-style classroom a group of fourth and fifth graders enter and take their seats. They’re greeted by their instructor and a group of mentors.

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Language Complicates the Common Core

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Teacher Maria Luisa Rios leads a lesson using an overhead projector. Photo: Claudia Melendez Salinas

Teacher Maria Luisa Rios leads a lesson using an overhead projector. Photo: Claudia Meléndez Salinas

By Claudia Meléndez Salinas | KUSP -
Tremendous changes are working their way through California’s education system. This year districts absorbed new formulas determining how much money schools get. Meanwhile, teachers adjusted to the Common Core education standard. At Freedom Elementary School in Watsonville, teachers face the extra challenge of translating many of the materials into Spanish.

The bilingual students of Maria Luisa Rios’s second grade class are studying ants. Early in the class, Rios warns them to pay close attention to the text. Students take turns reading about different types of ants, and when a new word shows up, Rios stops and quizzes the students.

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With Influx of Funds, a School Hires Art Teachers

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Music teacher Jessica DeRooy leads a class at Calabasas Elementary School. Photo: Claudia Melendez Salinas

Music teacher Jessica DeRooy leads a class at Calabasas Elementary School.
Photo: Claudia Melendez Salinas

By Claudia Melendez Salinas | KUSP - Language has a natural beat so music teacher Jessica DeRooy uses words to teach her students rhythmic phrases. They utter a sentence, clap it, and then clap without saying the words aloud. That’s how they learn to get the rhythm into their bodies before taking up an instrument.

“Both rhythms have to start at the same time to overlay in a way that feels right,” DeRooy tells the kids, “so listen to make sure we have the first rhythm as the base, so we need to always listen to that one. So let’ start again with the first student. One, two, ready, go….”

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Bringing Health Care to School

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By Lilly Sullivan | KUSP News

Photo: Lilly Sullivan

Photo: Lilly Sullivan

It’s a Tuesday morning and physician assistant Alicia Potes greets her patients. A teenage boy and his mom sit side-by-side in the exam room.

Alicia Potes: So, how are you?
Teen Boy: Good.
His mother: No muy bien.
Potes: No muy bien? Porque?

The boy’s been having stomach problems.

He explains: “It’s probably been for like…I don’t know, like five months ago? But now like every time I eat something…”

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Skills for Change

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Through Jóvenes Sanos Meztly Valenciano helped make healthier lunch options available for her classmates at Watsonville High School. Photo: Jasmin López

Through Jóvenes Sanos Meztly Valenciano helped make healthier lunch options available for her classmates at Watsonville High School.
Photo: Jasmín López

By Jasmín López | KUSP – In Watsonville, the Jovenes Sanos Program teaches youth skills like public speaking and healthy eating. One participant, Meztly Valenciano, has applied these lessons directly in her life. Beginning with how she starts her days.

“So, in the mornings as I’m getting ready my mom goes down stairs. And she makes me my protein shake, which has hemp seeds , banana, and soy milk.”

Meztly is 18, a senior at Watsonville High School.

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A School With Many Immigrants – A New Take on History

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Jose Guerrero shows off the art project he did in Social Studies at Watsonville High. Photo: Adia White

Jose Guerrero shows off the art project he did in Social Studies at Watsonville High. Photo: Adia White

By Adia White | KUSP - Teachers at Watsonville High School found a way to make their U.S. history classes a lot more interesting to their students. The majority of students at the school are Latino, and their demographic has been largely left out of the text books. Some history teachers created their own curriculum to make classes more relevant to students’ lives.

“This entire tree right here that’s filled with all colors that represents America, giving off of opportunity and then the monarch represents opportunity for all immigrants.”

That’s Jose Guerrero explaining his social studies art project.

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For Migrant Children, Hope and Struggle

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By Lilly Sullivan | KUSP News

May marks the beginning of picking season, and farmworkers are returning to Watsonville for the harvest. On May 1, 103 families moved into seasonal housing at the Buena Vista Migrant Camp. As farmworkers return to town for a new picking season, their kids prepare for their first days back at school.

Fifteen-year-old Cristian lives at the Buena Vista Migrant Camp. The camp, tucked behind Watsonville’s county jail and landfill, is one of California’s 24 state-run labor camps. Buena Vista has pre-fabricated plywood houses, with yards, a playground, even free childcare while parents work. Rent is just $350 per month—less than half the average rent in the area.

“Yeah, I like it. It’s pretty good,” he says of the unit he’s staying at.

But there’s a catch. A pretty big one.

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The 50-Mile Rule

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By Adia White | KUSP News

It’s May first; Buena Vista migrant housing center opens today for the summer and fall picking season. Only one housing unit remains available. A representative of the center shakes a raffle box while families wait hopefully.

She calls out numbers as she draws them. “Su número es 2664.”

The Buena Vista migrant housing center provides a subsidized home for farmworkers during the peak season. But workers have to move 50 miles away in the off season. Photo: Reid Ramirez

The Buena Vista migrant housing center provides a subsidized home for farmworkers during the peak season. But workers have to move 50 miles away in the off season.
Photo: Reid Ramirez

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Pitching In to Get Kids Reading By 3rd grade

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Vista Pickett [left] stands with Anita Silva. Photo: Adia White.

Vista Pickett [left] stands with Anita Silva. Photo: Adia White.

By Adia White | KUSP News

Three-fifths of Santa Cruz County 3rd graders fail to reach basic levels of literacy. The pilot Santa Cruz  Reading Corps project has seen promising results placing literacy tutors in preschool classrooms to get students an early boost. So far, these interventions look promising. Vista Pickett came out of retirement to participate.

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