Professional Learning Plan 2022-2023
Associate Superintendent, Educational Services
Debi has been working in education since 1993, when she started as a middle school English teacher in San Jose. Since then she has been a middle school assistant principal, a K-8 school principal, a Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and an Assistant Superintendent. She has also worked as an instructional coach for English/Language Arts and as an educational consultant. She joined the Santa Cruz COE team in 2019.
Working collaboratively with the Santa Cruz County School Districts, to support their students and their academic success, is the main priority of the Educational Services Division. Building collegiality, creating networks, initiating new endeavors and bringing people together are just a few of the ways that the Santa Cruz COE supports our districts. Debi is proud of the work her team does and how receptive they are to the needs brought forward to them. For this coming year, the focus will be on supporting schools as they transition back into in-person learning, and continuing the best practices that were brought forward during the pandemic.
Executive Director, Santa Cruz County College and Career Collaborative (S4C)
Cristine Chopra is the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz County College and Career Collaborative. She began her career in education in 1996 as a high school English teacher in San Jose before moving to Seattle. While in Seattle she served as the Director of the Collaborative for Instructional Development at the Washington State GEAR UP Project as well as supporting the Center for Curriculum Transformation and the Center for Multicultural Education. Dr. Chopra earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington in 2014. She has taught undergraduate and graduate students at UCSC, and CSUMB but is happy to have come back to K-12 work.
The College and Career Collaborative aims to increase post-secondary access and attainment for students in Santa Cruz County. Through partnerships with K-12 districts, Cabrillo College, UCSC, and CSUMB, the Collaborative provides early college experiences for students, professional development for educators and counselors, and monitors K-16 data to help districts track their progress. Additionally, Dr. Chopra champions other initiatives in the county that affect equity such as grading practices and Ethnic Studies courses. She strives to assist districts to think of their students’ futures beyond high school graduation and bridge the divide between K-12 and postsecondary institutions.
Suzanne began her career in education in 1988, as an elementary school teacher. She taught in the classroom for 30 years, and has been a curriculum leader in Social Emotional Learning (SEL), mindfulness, and Readers and Writers Workshop. For the past few years she focused on supporting district-wide implementation and integration of SEL practices.
In her role as the Social Emotional Academic Development (SEAD) Coach at the Santa Cruz COE, Suzanne collaborates with several schools across the county to implement a deeper dive into SEL Systems Work through a partnership with CalHOPE. She also co-facilitates the SEL Community of Practice, for district and school leaders, teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, and coaches to network, learn, and share about Transformative SEL conditions and competencies.
Kevin began his teaching career as a math teacher at Santa Cruz High School in 1988. Since then, he has been a leader and an advocate for hands-on, engaging math instruction for all students in his roles as a classroom teacher, an instructional coach, and as a math specialist in the non-profit sector.
In his role as Math Coordinator for the County Office of Education, Kevin strives to support educators across the community to develop high quality, student-centered teaching and learning opportunities, where all students can acquire a healthy mindset and excel at grade-level math content and practices. He works with educators to create socially and emotionally safer spaces for students to engage with math content and with each other. He helps to network local universities and organizations with educators, and works with district leads to implement math-focused state-level policies in ways that support their communities.
Senior Director, District Support and Leadership
Angela began her career in education as a bilingual social studies teacher at Watsonville High School. She joined the staff at Branciforte Middle School teaching in their Humanities Core program. In response to the growing numbers of multilingual students in Santa Cruz, Angela began teaching English Language Development in 1992. She has served as a principal and as the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services at Santa Cruz City Schools, before joining the COE in 2020. In addition to working in K-12 schools, Angela has mentored new teachers as adjunct faculty at UCSC and doctoral students at SFSU.
In her work with Educational Services, Angela supports districts with the development of their Local Control Accountability Plan. She is the director of the Tier II Administrative Credential Program and continues to support site leaders as the facilitator for principal networks. Angela collaborates with districts participating in Differentiated Assistance, providing technical assistance that includes protocols for data dialogue. Angela brings a strong commitment to ensuring that our work ensures equitable outcomes for all students and their families.
Senior Director, Santa Cruz / Silicon Valley New Teacher Project, Director of Equity
Melissa started out as a public school teacher for thirteen years. Teaching in California, Louisiana, and Connecticut, she worked primarily with students in grades 5-8 and Alternative Education. Melissa has her National Board Certification in Early Adolescent English Language Arts, and she is a literacy specialist. She has a Masters in Education from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and her clear administrative credential.
For the past ten years, Melissa has been part of the Santa Cruz/Silicon Valley New Teacher Project (SC/SVNTP) working with new teachers, mentors, and instructional coaches. In the spring of 2020, after reviewing program data, reflecting on our core value of equity, and given the socio-political context, the SC/SVNTP set forward a goal to “achieve educational equity by developing antiracist educators who focus on student outcomes.” A year into this laser focus, Melissa is now in a split role as the Senior Director for SC/SVNPT and Equity for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. As the Senior Director of Equity, Melissa supports the Santa Cruz COE’s internal equity work and partners with districts to explore and expand their development as educational leaders for equity.
Environmental Literacy Coordinator
In her role at the County Office of Education, Amity leads countywide efforts to build environmental literacy of K–12 students and teachers. Amity works to provide equitable access to outdoor learning experiences that inspire all students to develop the vision, skills, and motivation to create healthy communities and a healthy planet. She also supports teachers in using local environmental connections to increase relevance of core instruction across content areas and to create opportunities for civic and environmental action.
Her 25+ year career in education has focused on equitable access to environmental education, inquiry-based science programs and integration of school and community-based education programs. Amity has served as regional coordinator for the California Department of Education’s California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network; director of BioSITE (Students Investigating Their Environment), a nationally recognized watershed monitoring and cross-age teaching program serving youth underrepresented in STEM fields; and program coordinator for the Pitzer College Experience in Nepal Program. Amity currently serves on the California Environmental Education Initiative’s Leadership Council and on the board of the California Environmental Education Foundation.
Audrey began her career at the age of 8 when she held her first summer camp in Chicago, teaching play-based lessons to 12 neighborhood children and earning $50.00 for her work that summer. Many lessons were learned in that first summer of teaching and learning including the importance of creativity; social and emotional learning especially individual and community expression; contextualizing instruction in what students knew and brought to the group; collaboration and joint activity; explicit and clear communication; infusing the arts into everything. Thus began a decades-long journey of teaching and learning spanning preschool through university.
As the Arts Coordinator for the Santa Cruz COE, Audrey focuses on issues of equity and access to the Arts as well as the great importance of the Arts on social and emotional learning. Working with many local and state-wide Arts organizations in addition to our districts, Audrey collaborates to bring high quality, systemic, standards-based Arts residencies and programs to our students.
Coordinator, Multilingual Achievement
Sofia has been working as a professional educator since 1995 when she started as a bilingual second grade teacher in Redwood City. SInce then, she has been a teacher in grades 1-3, a dual immersion teacher, a dual immersion program coordinator, site ELD coach, district ELD coach and EL coordinator. She also worked as a grant coordinator, curriculum writer and as a peer coach. She joined the Santa Cruz COE team in 2013.
In her role as Multilingual Coordinator, Sofia supports districts and schools to strengthen programs and services for students to develop proficiency in multiple languages. She serves as the county’s representative at the statewide Bilingual Coordinators Network and is responsible for disseminating information on state policy for English learners. She facilitates the Instructional Coach Network and Communities of Practice to support EL RISE for Elementary ELD, Dual Language Programs, and Secondary ELD. She also started and coordinates the county’s Language Ambassadors student recognition program to promote and celebrate multilingualism as an asset for all students. She is passionate about students developing their abilities to advocate for themselves and their communities. She appreciates opportunities to partner with schools and districts to develop ongoing professional learning opportunities for teachers in pursuit of this goal. She provides training in Designated ELD, dual language programs, Spanish language arts and collaborates with her content area colleagues to provide Integrated ELD training.
EdTech & Innovation Coach
Stephanie Sumarna has been in education for more than 11 years. She started as a middle school CORE teacher in Gilroy, teaching an integrated course on English Language Arts and Social Studies. From there, she went on to work as both an upper and lower elementary teacher. She joined the Santa Cruz COE team in 2020.
Her life as an educator changed when she attended her first CUE Conference in the Spring of 2014. She has always been passionate about utilizing EdTech and innovative teaching practices to support her students, but it was at this conference that she realized there was a bigger world of like minded educators. She implemented Genius Hour in her third grade classroom at Bonny Doon Elementary School right away and never looked back. At the Santa Cruz County Office of Education she is realizing her dream of building networks within her community to foster that same excitement for what school could be. Stephanie works with both the Educational Services and Tech+ Teams to help bridge curriculum and technology as an EdTech and Innovation Coach. She aims to support, empower and inspire teachers and administrators.
Heather Wygant has been in science education for 26 years, teaching geology, environmental sciences, physics, biology, chemistry and engineering, primarily at the high school level. She served as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) for several years working with K-12 science teachers to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). She was actively involved in the NGSS rollout training as a presenter and facilitator. She joined the Santa Cruz COE team in 2021.
Heather’s passion for equitable science instruction and learning, and goal to engage traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM fields is focused on the full implementation of NGSS. In her role as the science coordinator, she supports science instruction that is aligned with the NGSS by supporting districts and teachers with the equitable implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. As the NGSS person, she is also the director of the Santa Cruz County Science and Engineering Fair which serves all students in the county in investigating phenomena and solving problems that are of interest to them.
Executive Assistant, Ed Services
Crystal has been working in schools and at the COE for the last 9 years. She has worked as a school site secretary, as an auditor for an Alternative Education site, and as the Executive Assistant for the Educational Services Department She enjoys working in education because she loves to work with children and the people who support them.
Administrative Assistant, S5C
Gina started working in the educational field at the Career Center while attending Watsonville High School. This experience led her to a position with Granite Construction Company which gave her extensive knowledge of working in the capacity of an Administrative Assistant. In 2001, She started working at the County Office of Education in the Human Resources Department. Gina has assisted in many roles in the COE including work with multiple departments such as Alternative Education, CDRC, Spelling Bee/Mock Trial, and the New Teacher Project. Having worked in various capacities within the county office of education has given her a greater understanding of how the SCCOE supports all 10 of our districts.
In 2017 Gina began working as an Administrative Assistant in the Educational Services Division with the Santa Cruz County College and Career Collaborative (S5C). In this role, she provides multiple supports for the S5C collaborative in both fiscal and event management. Through this work Gina aids in promoting college and career readiness by assisting in publications and promotion of college and career-related materials and data, and in celebrating our local high school graduates.
Administrative Assistant, Ed Services
Laurie has been an Administrative Assistant for the COE for 22 years. She has supported Educational Services, the ROP Program, the Santa Cruz/Silicon Valley New Teacher Project, and TICAL. She has worked with many wonderful Administrators, Directors and Coordinators. The most fun she has had in her support role is assisting the Coordinators with our student academic events. She will continue in her support role for Educational Services until her retirement.