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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #17-78
October 27, 2017
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Recognizes Expanded Learning Leaders in Honor of National Lights On Afterschool

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2017 California Expanded Learning award winners.

“Expanded Learning programs can play a critical role in motivating and engaging students and helping them succeed inside and outside the classroom,” said Torlakson. “These awards are a way to thank the dedicated staff members who work each day to teach, challenge, and encourage students to achieve their full potential.”

The awards ceremony is part of Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide event celebrating the role of after school programs in keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn, and helping working families.

Improving and expanding after school and other learning programs outside regular school hours has been a top priority for Torlakson since he entered public service. Torlakson has fought for adequate funding of these programs and created the CDE’s Expanded Learning Division. Torlakson has vigorously opposed President Trump’s proposal to eliminate all federal funding for Expanded Learning, calling it “counterproductive and short-sighted.” The President proposed eliminating all federal funding for Expanded Learning programs, which would take away $127 million or about 18 percent of the total amount California spends on Expanded Learning.

The awards are divided into two areas: California Expanded Learning Visionary Leadership and Emerging Leadership, with four winners selected for each category. The eight recipients were chosen based on their outstanding commitment to improving and enriching the lives of young people through their Expanding Learning programs.

The California Expanded Learning Visionary Leadership recipients are outstanding, dedicated leaders who have amassed a record of achievement and innovation in Expanded Learning:

Becky Shultz, Director of Expanded Learning, Whittier City School District

Becky Shultz started working in after school programming in 1999, when she secured a grant to bring an after school program to the Whittier City School District. Since that time she has expanded the programs so that they now cover summer, before school and after school. Under her hard work and dedication, the summer program Reach for the Stars, received the Golden Bell Award for Outstanding Student Services in 2009 and the Distinguished After School Health (DASH) Recognition Program Award in 2016.

Karla Stroman, Administrator II, Tehama Department of Education

Karla Stroman is a well-respected leader in the field of Expanded Learning. Her collaboration skills and connection to the rural communities she serves have been instrumental in the success of the Safe Education and Recreation for Rural Families’ (SERRF) Summer Learning Program. Under her leadership, the number of summer learning opportunities sky-rocketed to nearly 1,000 students.

Julia Fong Ma, Coordinator, After School Programs, Oakland Unified School District

Julie Fong Ma has served Oakland Unified School District’s Expanded Learning programs as a district grant coordinator for almost a decade. Under her leadership, the district was among the first to introduce programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Julie has helped create high quality programs by effectively working with her community to secure resources.

Mary Jo Ginty, Regional Lead, Los Angeles County Office of Education

Mary Jo has applied her creativity and expertise to directing and providing oversight to after school programs at the elementary, middle, and high school level. Her unit provides the training, development, and technical assistance to over 1,300 federally funded school sites providing after school programs.  She has experienced the power of change that Expanded Learning brings to students and their families. Mary Jo believes that after school programs have the potential to assist youth to gain the skillsets, tools, and knowledge and have the experiences necessary to make a life for themselves and their families.

The California Expanded Learning Emerging Leadership recipients are the leaders of tomorrow, who are bringing fresh ideas, leadership, and enthusiasm to the field today:

Brisa Huerta-Price, Expanded Learning Programs Coordinator, Calexico Unified School District

Brisa Huerta-Price is a dedicated educator who has applied her experience as a classroom day teacher to Expanded Learning. She has implemented a variety of changes that have improved the Calexico District Expanded Learning programs including starting parent orientations and creating professional development training opportunities for staff members. Brisa says that she loves creating safe spaces after school where children can continue to learn. She also loves working with her line staff and seeing them turn into amazing educators and role models.

Chris Perez, After School Program Director, California State University Fullerton ASES Titan Program

Chris Perez entered the world of Expanded Learning in 2002 and has said it has been one of the greatest experiences he personally and professionally has embarked on. Chris is thankful to work every day with colleagues who share his passion for providing today’s youth with high quality after school programming. Chris has created a strong collaboration with the school district and his site, helping to provide high quality programs that serve their students.

David Constancio III, ASES Program Manager, William Land Elementary School Sacramento Chinese Community Service Center

David Constancio has first-hand knowledge about the benefits of Expanded Learning. He was in the first student group to participate in the Sacramento START program when it began in 1995 and his mother was the site coordinator. David believes the benefits of Expanded Learning helped open up economic and educational opportunities for himself and his family. David’s experience drew him to a career in the field so he can now help others.

Francine Stewart, Director, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District

Francine Stewart brings a lifetime love of learning and effective leadership skills to her role as the Director of Expanded Learning programs. Having spent two decades in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, Francine has established a strong relationship between the district and the Expanded Learning programs to ensure students are receiving quality enrichment and academic services in a safe and supportive environment.

Expanded Learning programs provide after school and summer learning to nearly 500,000 California students at almost 5,000 sites. The CDE Expanded Learning Division oversees all of the Expanded Learning school sites for the state. The division started the award ceremony in 2013 and receives nominations from county education offices that have Expanded Learning services.

Lights On Afterschool was launched in October 2000 with celebrations in 1,200 communities nationwide. Lights On Afterschool is a project of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that all children have access to quality, affordable afterschool programs. For more information, visit the Lights On Afterschool website External link opens in new window or tab..

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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