OUSD forms Guiding Coalition to strengthen four community values in schools

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Members of the newly formed OUSD Guiding Coalition meet in groups at Chaparral Auditorium on Nov. 21.


Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter

Ojai Unified School District has taken the topics discussed at its three public forums, dubbed “Engage to Impact,” over the summer and formed four separate groups to work on each.

The first OUSD Guiding Coalition meeting was held Nov. 21 at Chaparral Auditorium.

The four topics the groups are discussing are environmental stewardship and regeneration, creativity and art, wellness, and creating an inclusive culture in our schools. 

OUSD superintendent Tiffany Morse said: “We looked at the areas of community values, and we have internal groups that are working on kind of the middle part of our new vision, which is social-emotional learning. We have groups that are working on the academic piece. The community’s role is to help us in those four community values that we want to be a meaningful part of our school district. From the Engage to Impact work, we analyzed everything that each group said at each meeting, and we came up with the areas where the community would like to be involved and would like to have a meaningful impact.”

All members of the community were welcome to apply by Nov. 1. The group was advertised around the district, with applicants having the option to select which of the four groups they would like to be a part of. Up to 12 people were selected for each of the four groups. An OUSD online post about the coalition stated: “Ojai Unified School District is striving to enrich the school experience of our students every day. One of our areas of focus is place-based education and developing learning that is locally rooted and community responsive.

“As part of this work, we have identified four values broadly held by our community that we are working to incorporate int our school system. These values are Creativity, Environmental Stewardship, Wellness, and a Culture of Inclusion.

“We are forming a team of powerful and enthusiastic volunteers to build a guiding coalition to collaborate with us in each of these areas. These coalitions will survey our current assets, work together to produce ideas for how we can enhance what we have, and present a strategic plan for advancing our work.

“Each Guiding Coalition will be composed of up to 12 representatives, from diverse backgrounds and stations. Current staff, students, parents, and community members are encouraged to apply. Each Guiding Coalition will meet four to five times over the school year for a one-year term of service."

At the first meeting, the purpose of the Guiding Coalition was discussed. Morse said: “The idea is that this year they do an assessment of what we’re currently doing. So there’s staff on each guiding coalition to help guide that work. Then they talk about what we might want to do in a one-three-year time plan. Then they’ll work on a strategic plan that they’ll present to me and I’ll share with the board.”

Members of the coalition and their groupings are:

Inclusive culture:

Nicolette Walker-Itza, Shannon Hull, Jessica Mendiola, Lisa Griffiths, Alexandra Mejia Holdsworth (teacher), Bronwen Cull-Michels (teacher), Catherine McKinnis, Chieko Ladawan Lopez, Martha Lepine (retired teacher).

Creativity and the arts:

Sami Zahringer, Susan Leech, Liz Fish, Linda Taylor (former OUSD school board member), John Hoj (teacher), Michael Addison, Laura Walter, Kim Hoj (teacher), William Wagner (teacher), Asli Ruf.

Environmental stewardship:

Lori Hamor (executive director of Food for Thought), Chris Danch, Chris Ando (teacher), Ray Powers, Zoe Jordan, Jonathan Reinbold, Greg Lepine (retired teacher), Aja J. Bulla-Richards, Marilyn Mosley Gordanier, Joan Kemper.


Dr. Sirena Pellarolo, Sheri Usher (teacher), Angie Genasci (president of the Ojai Federation of Teachers), Joan Yabrof, Marianne Ratcliff, Vanessa Zajfen, Kara Hooper, Beverlee Park-Sherbo, Jeanine Murphy, Sherrill Knox (OUSD assistant superintendent), Kathy Smith (OUSD executive assistant to the superintendent).




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