Horizon Hills Parenting Program: A Gem Worth Saving

eilene_landscapeI was given a tour of the Horizon Hills school and its Parenting Program and Preschool by Eilene Green (the director). The philosophy there is that the parents are the students while they fully engage in the pre-school experience with their children. This is an opportunity for parents to learn and put into practice proven, successful parenting skills in a warm, supportive environment. Parents who participate in this program learn important skills that often help them continue being very actively involved in their children’s education throughout their K-12 education.

The setting for this school is truly special. Each of the classrooms are inviting and have access to outdoor spaces – which is an important part of the learning environment the school creates for the children. It is also tucked away in a neighborhood where the playgrounds are private and with plenty of parking for the 200 plus families that attend each day.

This award-winning school serves approximately 700 families at any given time. The Horizon Hills Parenting Program and Preschool is a program that makes CVUSD special. It is impossible to completely understand what this school offers parents until you explore it for yourself. I encourage anyone with young children – who is interested in learning and developing proven parenting skills – to go and take a tour.

The Horizon Hills Parenting Program is a gem in our community.  We need school board members who understand how much this program means to the parents and families of the Conejo Valley.  The incumbents cannot be trusted to keep Horizon Hills in its highly successful current form.   It is time for school board members who listen to and value community input.  I would be the only member of the school board with children currently attending our CVUSD schools.  This is a perspective that is currently lacking and may account for why some programs that are very important to the community do not seem important to the current board.

Please consider voting for me on November 8th so that I can advocate for the Horizon Hills parenting program.

Sandee Everett, MSEd
Candidate for CVUSD Board of Education

The Importance of Helping At-Risk Students

There has been some discussion recently regarding the relocation of the CVUSD continuation high school. Since I have worked with at-risk students, I think it would be valuable to add my perspective to the conversation.

I believe that each student is capable of achieving his/her potential if provided with appropriate tools and opportunities. I have direct experience working with public school students who were at-risk for not graduating (for a variety of reasons), and this has provided me with a lot of insight into the mission schools play in the community. Helping all students to succeed in school helps the whole community to succeed.

A number of years ago, I had the following internship opportunities to work with at-risk students in multiple settings to help them learn skills to cope with their difficulties while preparing for their personal and professional futures.  Because school counselors advocate for children and adhere to a code of confidentiality, barriers often can be overcome even where other interventions have been unsuccessful.

I worked at the high school level exclusively with at-risk students. I helped ensure they had appropriate teachers and classes to meet their needs. I counseled with them one-on-one about personal issues to ensure they could stay focused at school and could do their best. In addition, I worked at an alternative high school site in group settings. I facilitated small counseling groups for teen moms in this setting. I thoroughly understand the issues facing students who are at-risk for not graduating.

I also had the opportunity to work with a group of middle school students that were placed in the alternative program. Each week I provided approximately eleven students with a small group counseling experience where they were able to discuss topics such as bullying, relationships, and stress. I also did individual counseling for several members of the group. I saw how receiving unconditional positive regard can provide children with support they may otherwise be lacking. I learned first-hand about a whole host of struggles these children face and I saw them learn and grow throughout the group process. On the last day the students gave me thank you notes. The following examples from among those notes reflect how important supporting these students is:

“Dear Ms. Everett,
I liked when we did the yarn ball and liked you coming because I could tell you anything and I could trust you and we will miss you!”

“Dear Ms. Everett,
Thank you so much for taking time and your patience with class because it can get a little mean. I love having you come and we talk about what’s been bothering us, also getting our feelings out. Come and see us soon!”

I am passionate about the mission of helping continuation high school students and at-risk students succeed and go on to become productive members of society. The current site of the Conejo Valley High School (CVHS) has been sold, prompting debate on where the continuation high school should be relocated.  The students and staff of CVHS deserve better and should not have been put in this controversial situation with no prior plan for where their school would be relocated. If I am elected to the Conejo Valley school board, I will work to ensure that the CVHS has the best possible facility to meet the needs of these important students, their teachers and staff.

– Sandee Everett, MSEd

Schools Win When Parents Are Involved

sandee-everett-2016Our schools need engaged parents. I had an experience as an elementary school PTA president that brought this fact home to me. I was asked to speak at career day and share my career as a parent volunteer and full-time mom. All presenters were asked to give a short speech to the entire student body and staff before breaking off into smaller groups to hear from us. I was positioned between the stunt man and the doctor. After the stunt man, I got up and showed my pie-chart entitled “Mom and Volunteer: 24/7/365” which I had divided up into how I used my time each day. I had barely gotten the title out when, to my surprise, the entire gym erupted into applause, then the teachers and staff stood on their feet and gave a standing ovation. Given my apprehension about being compared to the stunt man or the doctor, I was quite shocked by the response.

However, upon reflection, I started to understand their reaction a little better. Schools need parents and parents need schools. When teachers, parents and administrators collaborate and understand each other, children win. When parents invest their time and energy into supporting their children’s education, children win.

I will be a critical voice for parents on the Conejo Valley school board. More important than being the only board member with an advanced degree in education, I would also be the only member of the board with children currently attending CVUSD schools. I will bring unique insight into the issues facing real students and real parents every day. For me, the issues are not hypothetical. They are not theoretical. This is real life.

As a licensed school counselor, I am trained to advocate for the educational needs of every individual student, and as a member of the school board, I will advocate for you and the individualized needs of your child. I want every student to be challenged and succeed in school. Through better communication between school board, parents, teachers and staff, our children will enjoy even greater success.

– Sandee Everett, MSEd