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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-86
October 28, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Applauds Expanded Learning Leaders in Honor of National Lights On Afterschool

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today congratulated the California Department of Education (CDE) 2021 California Expanded Learning Leadership Award winners.

“Congratulations to our four chosen leaders today. Research has shown that high-quality Expanded Learning programs create the conditions for students to develop caring relationships with program staff from their own neighborhood and look like them,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “The Expanded Learning program offers a safe place emotionally and physically. Students lend their voices to the design of the program and exercise leadership skills to shape their own experiences. The California Expanded Learning Leadership awards celebrate these four amazing individuals for their hard work and dedication to support students in Expanded Learning programs, especially during the pandemic.”

Studies show that Expanded Learning programs increase student attendance, cut dropout rates, reduce juvenile crime, and boost academic success.

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

Superintendent Thurmond and the CDE have prioritized closing the opportunity gap for students who need additional support beyond the K–12 instructional day. With the new Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P), local educational agencies can benefit from $1.75 billion dollars in funding to holistically support students before school, after school, and during intersession.

In July 2021, a number of historic budget investments were signed by Governor Newsom to invest in California’s future and expand opportunities for every child across the state, with $123.9 billion to reduce barriers and increase opportunities from transitional kindergarten through community college.

The Expanded Learning Leadership awards are divided into three areas: Visionary Leadership, Inspirational Leadership, and Emerging Leadership, with winners selected for each category.

The four recipients were chosen based on their outstanding commitment to improving and enriching the lives of young people through Expanded Learning.

The California Expanded Learning Visionary Leadership recipients are leaders who have amassed a record of achievement and innovation.

Scott Payne, Director of Expanded Learning Programs, Hemet Unified School District

As Director of the S.A.F.E. (Students Achieving in Fun Environments) Expanded Learning Opportunities Program at Hemet Unified, Scott and his team currently operate at 19 school sites across the district and serve approximately 2,000 students each day. It is Scott’s core belief that exceptional Expanded Learning Opportunities Programs are the combination of a hardworking, dedicated staff and site/district support. Working together as a team with the S.A.F.E. staff, the school site staff, students, and parents, the S.A.F.E. program offers numerous enrichment and academic opportunities to engage and build a sense of belonging for all of the Hemet Unified students.

The California Expanded Learning Inspirational Leadership recipients are those whose leadership has inspired continuous quality and innovation. This year, there are two recipients of this category:

Martha Pena, Coordinator, Expanded Learning Programs, Oakland Unified School District

Martha’s role involves managing and supporting 13 community-based organizations and 72 Expanded Learning Programs providing high-quality afterschool programs to her hometown of Oakland. For over 13 years, Martha has dedicated herself to encouraging girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through her work at Techbridge Girls, a nationally recognized nonprofit, and has inspired many of today’s female engineers. She brought her passion for afterschool programming to Oakland Unified School District four years ago and has since implemented new structures and protocols that have created safe and supported spaces for expanded learning staff to share best practices and support one another.

Beth Pine, ASES Coordinator I, Expanded Learning Programs, Fort Bragg Unified School District

Beth has dedicated more than 20 years to working in Expanded Learning with experience as an After School Education and Safety Program coordinator and Site Lead at Dana Gray Elementary in the Fort Bragg Unified School District.

The California Expanded Learning Emerging Leadership category recognizes an emerging leader dedicated to serving the children and youth in the California Expanded Learning field.

Sandra Mendoza, After School Site Lead, Fullerton School District

Sandra is an After School Education and Safety (ASES) Program Site Lead/Site Coordinator at Raymond Elementary School and has enjoyed every moment of it since coming into the role in 2011. Sandra loves seeing her students' faces as she arrives on campus and they are already shouting her name across the blacktop. She makes sure to acknowledge and validate them, and little do they know how their excitement positively impacts the start of her day. In her fifteenth school year with the Fullerton School District, Sandra and her team continue creating and facilitating opportunities for the students and love seeing them engaged and excited to be in the ASES Program.

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. or watch the full event on the California AfterSchool Network YouTube page External link opens in new window or tab..

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

Last Reviewed: Monday, April 24, 2023
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