April 2021

Cooking and Racial Justice

Are you a community member who would be interested in getting an in-depth look at our local education system? Contact Les Forster at [email protected] to join Inside Education’s next round.

Chef Andrea setting up a home kitchen for Zoom calls and instruction videos. Selfie: Andrea Mollenauer

Every year, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education welcomes a diverse group of locals—businesspeople, educators, government employees—to come together monthly and learn about education in Santa Cruz County. The program serves as a bridge between public education and the wider community, promoting understanding and connections to benefit both sides.

This month’s Inside Education started with an important subject for parents to hear: the hot topic of “learning loss.” Debi Bodenheimer, Associate Superintendent of the County Office of Education, and teacher Stephanie Sumarna presented an important message about reframing this debate:

  • It has been a challenging year for all students
  • The COE has done its best to keep stability as a priority
  • Some students are thriving in distance learning, and the COE plans to integrate more flexibility into public education in response to this finding
  • The COE is using an “assets-based” model rather than focusing on “loss”
  • Schools will be resuming CAASPP assessments with a focus on meeting students “where they’re at” in the next school year.

Culinary Arts instructor Chef Andrea Mollenauer did a wonderful presentation that tied in well with this attitude of meeting students “where they’re at.” She said that instead of bemoaning the loss of hands-on learning at the start of the pandemic, she got to work. She hauled a commercial prep table up the stairs of her Victorian and got to work helping her students integrate cooking and health into their home lives.
Cabrillo instructors Nikia Chaney and Raina Chelise presented on the college’s Amplify podcast project, which promotes the voices of Cabrillo students of color and focuses on racial justice.

“Because our campus spaces and structures don’t visually reflect a lot of cultural diversity, our students of color don’t feel like they belong on our campus,” explains Chelise.

The podcast hopes to create a more inclusive atmosphere for all.

Hayley Mears of the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership presented information about a new career website aimed at local high school and college students, MBCareerConnect.org. The site has tools for students to assess their interests, learn about careers, and even build resumes.

Finally, Rachel Kippen, Executive Director of O’Neill Sea Odyssey, showed how the program has not only risen to the challenge of providing distance education during the pandemic, but has reached thousands more students than usual through virtual assemblies. Although the staff is eager to get back out on the water, they feel that the pandemic has challenged them to learn new skills in reaching their target audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *