Inside Education S20 Ep5 | Blue Ribbon Schools and Mars Maps

On this edition
of Inside Education, Blue Ribbon Schools.We talk to the principals
of two CCSD schools
that received
this prestigious award.
What does it mean
and why does it matter?
Then walking on Mars.“Yeah, I like space. “I like rockets
and stuff.”Why this giant Mars
map is helping
students learn
here on Earth.
Plus, careers
in cosmetology.
We go inside
the state’s only
public school
cosmetology program.
And learn about the
District’s FACES program, Week of Respect
and more. Inside Education
starts right now. ♪♪♪ Thanks for joining us
for this edition of Inside Education. I’m your host,
Mitch Truswell. Well, imagine taking
a trip to Mars or even living there. It sounds like
science fiction, but it may not be
as far off as you think. The Aldrin Family
Foundation– as in astronaut
Buzz Aldrin– along with the Public
Education Foundation and Desert
Research Institute are helping bring Mars
to Earth in the form of some giant
vinyl maps. Inside Education’s
Kathy Topp has more on this initiative
designed to inspire students about space.
Kathy? (Kathy Topp)
Mitch, in total there
are 19 giant Mars maps that will be donated
to CCSD schools along with four
traveling maps. The goal is to spark
kids’ creativity and get them thinking
not only about careers in space but also
careers in science, technology, engineering,
the arts and math. “With the map you feel
you can actually “touch it and see what
you’re experiencing.”Jan Jones Blackhurst
Elementary School
here on Earth is
a long way away
from the planet Mars,
yet these 5th graders
are experiencing what
the red planet is like.
(Alice Brooks)
I was the Earth
and my best friend Emory was the Sun. I learned that Mars
apparently is a really small speck of dust
compared to the Earth.The Aldrin Family
Jim Christensen
is guiding the kids
through an interactive
lesson using a giant
25-foot by 25-foot
vinyl map of Mars.
(Jim Christensen)
Having the map
is a whole different world because
what the map does of course is it
represents this globe, but it lets you
put names on places. When you go out
in the night sky and you look at Mars,
you’ve got this little dot of orange,
and here’s this map and you can walk
around on it and there’s place names and there’s
unique features, and you can start
thinking about it and say, these places
exist right now. (James Mendoza)
We’re learning
about the craters, about the rovers
and how long something is in
longitude and latitude.The map also sparks
important questions,
says astronaut
Buzz Aldrin’s son
and president of the
Aldrin Family Foundation,
questions like
is there life on Mars?
Can humans live
on another planet?
(Dr. Andrew Aldrin)
Part of what we’re
trying to do, a big part of it,
is to kind of light the fire
of inspiration, create a passion
for learning.Because it could just be
that one of these
5th graders or someone
just like them
will be able to one day
answer those questions
and perhaps
even visit Mars.
Probably sometime
in my lifetime. I do not expect it
in the next five years, but probably
in my lifetime I expect someone
to go on to Mars. -Absolutely.
I think that any one of the kids
in this school, especially this
school really, could be the first
person to step on Mars. I mean, it’s probably
20 or 30 years away, so yes, the timing
is absolutely right and I’m convinced
that we will have people
living on Mars in the next 30 years
and when they go there, they’ll go there
to stay. -When Dr. Aldrin was
speaking to the kids, he talked about
being a kid himself when his dad
walked on the Moon and how he felt
watching that moment. These giant Mars maps,
by the way, are in schools
all over the globe. ShareSpace Education,
the organization that donates the maps,
is one of the Aldrin Family Foundation’s
key initiatives. So far ShareSpace
projects have reached more than 300,000
children worldwide. Mitch?
-Thank you, Kathy. Joining us now
to talk more about the giant Mars map
initiative here in Clark County
is Jan Jones Blackhurst Elementary GATE
teacher Mike Smith. Mike, how are you?
-Good. How are you? -Well, I’m doing well
and I’m glad to have you here today. So first of all,
I want to say you have actually had a map,
this Mars map, at your school
for four years. Let’s start with how
you got that map so early. (Mike Smith)
I believe I saw
Buzz Aldrin on Facebook doing some stuff
with kids on the map, so I followed that
to their web page and I saw that
you could apply and you get a free map. I mean, you can’t
go wrong there. So it took me
three tries, but the third time
was a charm and I got the map. -Well, wonderful.
That’s good to know. So you’re
an early adopter, I guess we might say. So let’s talk about how
important this map is. We saw how huge it was. From your perspective
as a GATE teacher, Gifted and Talented
Education, right? -Yes. -Why is this so
important to have something like this
available to students? -It’s a unique tool first
of all for teaching, and it’s kind of
the direction we’re heading
in space eucation. I’ve been infatuated
with space ever since
I started teaching. I grew up
in the Apollo era. This is the way
we’re headed. We’re headed
to other planets, and moons possibly,
the search for life. -So how do you use it
with the students, specifically? Are there projects
that are directly tied back to the map? Tell me about that. -Well, it comes
with a guidebook or lesson plans but
they’re kind of generic. So for my 4th graders,
and that’s the group I typically use it with, I have to come up
with my own things. So I got inspired
by Buzz Aldrin’s book,Welcome to Mars
because he talks about where we’ve been,
where we are, and where we’re going
to get to planet Mars. So in 3rd grade,
I teach my kids about the Apollo rocket
and the Apollo era, so that’s
where we’ve been. In 4th grade, I take
them to the planet. We actually start out
with a game that we play that takes us to Mars. When we get there,
we use the maps as kind of
a scavenger hunt and we learn
about the planet, and then we land
on the planet. That’s another
NASA idea I got. You take a piece
of cardboard and a cup and you put two
marshmallows in the cup. The marshmallows
are the astronauts and the kids have to
design a shock absorber system under
the cardboard. They drop it from
a 6-foot ladder on top of the map, and your marshmallows
cannot bounce out. If they do,
they have to redo it. And then from there
we move on to designing a rocket engine for their
escape rocket of course, you need
an escape rocket in case something
goes wrong. We use film canisters
and put an Alka-Seltzer tablet and some water
in those canisters, and you’ve got yourself
a rocket engine. We shoot it up a tube,
and at the top of the tube
is a ping-pong ball. I give the kids
10 pennies, and we hot glue a cup
on the top of the rocket. They have to figure out
how many pennies they can actually get
to knock off that. And then lastly they
build their habitat. We take those same cups,
turn them upside down and glue them to a piece
of black foam board, and we use old parts
of broken up computers that we’ve taken apart
because kids love to take apart things. We make those parts
into the machines and the things we need
to survive on Mars and they have
to explain it. -It’s great that you
have so many inventive and engaging
activities for them. I want to point out
that 19 CCSD schools are receiving this map. There are going
to be four, as I understand it, that are going
to travel around. Your map, you’re
hoping to get a new one because you’ve had it
for four years. -And it’s already
outdated. -Yes, already outdated. Just briefly
before we go, we saw the demonstration
with 5th graders. I know you’re using it
a little bit earlier. Why is 5th grade
so important? -Well, I guess
5th grade is kind of the anchor of
elementary school. You could use this map
in kindergarten to 5th, but for 5th graders
this is going to be the seed that leads to
middle and high school. Neil Armstrong
in 3rd grade and Buzz Aldrin
in 3rd grade, I’m 99.9% sure they didn’t
whip out a Moon map and say, here’s our
first guys on the Moon. But everything
they taught, the math and science
and all the subjects, led to the hundreds
of thousands of people who put humans on the
Moon for the first time. So the same thing
is happening now. Our map, when
we bring it out, it’s not the one person
we’re looking at, it’s all the kids
we’re going to inspire through middle school
and high school. That’s the seeds
that are going to lead to putting humans on
Mars for the first time. -It’s that team
approach. Mike, I know
you’re into this. I love the way
you talk about it, and I love that you–
I am sure your kids really benefit from
how you teach it. We appreciate
your time today. We want to let you know
if you’d like to learn more about the Aldrin
Family Foundation and its mission
to cultivate the next generation
of space leaders, you can go to Well, as we’ve
highlighted career and technical
education programs in the School District,
we’ve focused on how these programs
give students options. They can take the skills
they’ve learned and immediately
enter the workforce or work part time
while attending college, but there are other
benefits as well. For those interested
in cosmetology, students enrolled at
Southeast CTA can easily save $20,000 or more
on their education.Kirsten Miller
plans to go to college
after she graduates
from SECTA,
possibly pursuing social
work or criminal justice.
Because she enrolled
in SECTA’s
cosmetology program,
she will earn
a high school
diploma in May
as well as a master
cosmetology license
once she turns 18 and
passes the state exam.
The ability to
earn her diploma
and also earn an income
right after high school
is why she chose
this program.
(Kirsten Miller)
One of my goals is to try
to get into a college and then hopefully try
to do this on the side so I can make money
during college, and then even if maybe
I try to go back to this, it’s something
I can fall back on.The program at SECTA
is the state’s only
public high school
cosmetology program.
It helps students
master the skills
they will need
to become licensed
including manicures,
acrylic nails,
haircuts, styling,
hair color, perms,
chemical relaxation
and skin care.
The total cost in lab fees
for the two-year program
is approximately
Those funds provide
students with the kits
they’ll need,
including tools
to complete
all the courses,
and includes
the enrollment fee
in the Nevada State
Board of Cosmetology.
Although the fee
may sound expensive,
it’s about 10%
of the cost to enroll
in a private
cosmetology program.
(Janet DeSimone)
The student that goes
after high school is going to pay
somewhere between $18- and $28,000
for the same master license that
our students are able to earn for
a minimal kit fee price. So they’re very lucky to
come to Southeast Tech and have
that opportunity.Chloe Nixon is a senior
in the SECTA program.
She plans to pursue
a business degree
after high school,
ultimately opening
her own salon
or barber shop.
She felt a traditional
high school experience
was not in
her best interest.
(Chloe Nixon)
I didn’t see myself
going far and reaching my full potential
in my zoned high school, and I know if I spent
the time and the money coming to this school
all the way over here, I’d be able to grow
my career faster and more efficiently.Lindsay Wendl is working
on her color technique.
Like all students,
she will be graded
on how well she does.(Lindsay Wendl)
They’re going to look
for neatness, skill, technique,
using my brain, trying to figure out
how I can get someone to this color
and being creative.Garrett-DeSimone
says the program
not only technical
but academic
and soft skills.
Anytime you
formulate a color, you’re going to be using
fractions and ratios. When you’re
doing a haircut, 90 degree, 180 degree,
a 45 degree, so you really need
to know your math skills. We also need
to know science because what is
the oxidation process? How are bonds broken
in the hair strand? And then English skills,
learning to communicate both orally and written.Junior and senior
students track their time
learning and
working in the salon.
They will need
to reach 1,600 hours
before they can apply
for their license.
SECTA’s cosmetology
program is regulated by the Nevada State
Board of Cosmetology as well as CCSD. There are six
staff members, all of whom are licensed
cosmetology instructors as well as
licensed teachers.The salon, we should
let you know,
at SECTA is open
to the public.
You can make
an appointment
or learn more about
pricing and services
by calling
If you have a student
interested in attending one of the District’s
magnet schools, applications are being
accepted right now. For the first time since
magnet schools debuted in the District,
kindergarten magnet programs
are now available in all 11 elementary
magnet schools. Another change,
the District has a limited admission
criteria for many high school
magnet programs. The exceptions are
those rigorous programs that are related
to science, technology, engineering
and math fields.Also, students hoping
to enter a high school
performing arts
program will still need
to perform an audition.Magnet applications
can be found online
at,and the deadline
for entry is coming up
on January 7, 2020.Two schools in the Clark
County School District have been recognized as National
Blue Ribbon Schools. It’s an incredible
achievement, as just 362 public
and private schools around the nation
received this honor.Charles and Phyllis Frias
Elementary School
and Advanced
Technologies Academy,
known as A-Tech,
were both recognized
for their outstanding
academic achievement
as well as the hard work
of educators, families
and students in meeting
very high standards.
We have
representatives from both
schools with us. Pamela Lindemuth
is principal at Frias
Elementary School, and Jonathan Synold
is principal at A-Tech. First of all,
congratulations. (both) Thank you.
-Yes, that’s awesome. Pamela, let’s
start with you. The National Blue
Ribbon designation, well, in both schools,
it’s rewarding student achievement,
and you’d mentioned it takes a real cohesive
team to make this work. I think we get that,
but what other characteristics make this
work so well at Frias? (Pamela Lindemuth)
A big piece of that
is collaboration: Collaboration
amongst the staff, collaboration
with families. When we look
at collaboration with the staff,
we’re talking about how do we come
together and identify those standards
that students may be struggling with
and collaborate together on really
unwrapping those and diving deep
into those standards to make sure we’re
providing instruction at a really rigorous
and high level. And then with parents, having them
be part of our team. They’re such a critical
piece of our school. I also think the culture
plays a huge role. When you walk
into a building, you kind of feel
that culture, and we’re a culture
of achievement. We’re all there
for all of our students. Every minute matters,
every student matters, and I feel like
we walk the walk every single day
with that. -And that’s important to
get across to everybody. Jonathan, A-Tech. We should
point this out: This is the third
Blue Ribbon that A-Tech has
received in 25 years. You’ve been at
the school for six, four as principal. What do you believe is
the strength of A-Tech? My goodness. (Jonathan Synold)
A-Tech is an
incredible school. It’s got a long legacy
of high achievement, but we’re really excited
about this Blue Ribbon award because in
the past eight years since the last
time we won it, our demographics have
completely shifted. Since we are one of
the few magnet schools that recruit from
across the valley, we have students
from every zip code. Our demographics
look like CCSD’s, so over 50% free
and reduced lunch, 45% Hispanic,
and we’re proud of that because
that has shifted as CCSD’s demographics
have shifted. So even with the
changing demographics, we’re still
seeing huge results and amazing things
are happening. -Right, despite
those changes which sometimes people
think hmm, is that going to be
a complicating factor? You’ve proved
that it’s not. -No, and I think our
teachers have risen to the high
expectations that we have set
for our students, and they really
assist them in making sure they
can reach those goals. Students come in and
they know this is going to be a challenging
environment, and after they see it
for first time, they realize and they
meet those expectations. -That’s awesome.
Pamela, this is your third year
as principal at Frias. One of the things,
in my quick visit over there, part
of the culture is it’s okay to
make a mistake. Students,
when it gets hard, it’s okay because that’s
part of the learning. Explain that, would you? -Absolutely.
We really started talking about having
a growth mindset with our students
a couple of years ago. We did a study
as a staff on what that really means,
and we talked to kids about what
perseverance means, what it means
to have grit, to really work through
problems that are tough. -It’s going to be hard,
but it’s okay. -Absolutely, and when
we make a mistake, it’s okay. We learn from
that mistake so when we are faced
with a similar problem or challenge,
we can overcome that. -One of the other things
that I remember from your school is
the mindfulness room. Tell me about that. -Sure. That started
as the brain child of our counselor,
really looking at what does
mindfulness mean, and she started
a mindful room. Students are able
to go in there with their class and
have mindful sessions. It’s really about
centering themselves. There’s so much
noise out there, and really
letting that go and thinking
about their day, setting goals
for themselves, learning breathing
techniques. When we’re faced
with tough things, how do we get
through that, and that’s really
the heart of that room. -Oh, my gosh. Jonathan, you’ve said
obviously A-Tech has high expectations,
we know that, but you believe that
you’ve really changed the trajectory of
many students’ lives. Can you explain that
briefly before we go. -Yes. We’ve seen
at graduation, a lot of students
would talk about this is their
family’s first person to ever graduate
from high school, and then we went
a little beyond that and we found that
it was about one-third of the students that
were the first student to actually
get into college. What’s amazing is
that students, we don’t just get
them into college, we’re seeing them
graduate on time and they’re
coming back now to help mentor
some of our students. -That’s awesome. I just want to say
congratulations again to both of you. We want to let the
people watching know if you’d like to learn
more about either one of these schools,
you can go online. You’ll find A-Tech
at, and Frias
can be found at A CCSD teacher was
among those recognized by Clark County
Commissioner Lawrence Weekly
at a recent commission meeting in honor of
Hispanic Heritage Month.Leonardo Amador
is principal
at Von Tobel
Middle School,
but he’s been
with the District
in various roles
since 1996.
He started as a
support staff member
and became a special ed
teacher in 2002.
After receiving
his master’s degree,
he became a dean,
an assistant principal
and then a principal.Congratulations to
Leonardo on the honor.
Teachers are important
to a student’s education, but they aren’t
the only ones responsible for helping
kids grow and succeed. Families and
community involvement are critical as well,
and that’s the goal behind CCSD’s FACES. Joining me now is
Debbie Palacios, acting director of FACES,
which stands for Family and Community
Engagement Services. Welcome to
Inside Education. -Thank you so much
for having me. -You know, I’ve heard
about the organization for a while but I’ve
never been sure exactly what it is. I couldn’t tell you
what it stood for, Family and Community
Engagement Services, but I know you’ve got
an important job so let’s start with what
is it that you provide. (Debbie Palacios)
We are a department within Clark County
School District. We’re a relatively
new department, started in 2015. What we do is we work
alongside schools to help them engage
their families, but also we help
families get the tools and the resources
that they need to support
learning at home. We work with our
community partners and really thinking
about how can we work with all of
our stakeholders for the same goal which
is student achievement. -Right. So you’re
kind of like a bridge. -Absolutely. -Between community
and home like that. So one of the things
you try to promote is to kind of talk to parents
and the community, but parents
to engage them more, to help shadow
what is happening at school but at home.
-Absolutely. Is that difficult
sometimes to get parents involved? Not because they
don’t want to, but work schedules,
single parents? -Yes, there’s
many challenges that our families face. A lot of our parents
want to help but they might not
know how. But we always tell them
and we empower them when we say you are
your child’s first and most
important teacher, and you’re the
expert on your child. So how can we take what
you know and combine it with all the expertise
of our educators, our teachers
and our schools and really come together
for our students? So we help them that way
with tools at home, things they can do to
support learning at home whether that’s checking
grades and attendance or helping with homework or different
things like that. -And we should point out
that a lot of parents have said wait a minute, the math is
so different now. You actually
provide tools to help parents
understand that, or how do you talk
to them when they say wow, this is
really different? -Absolutely,
and we recognize that. Education looks
very different. The classrooms look
different today than they did when
we were growing up, and math is a funny one
because they say it’s the new math,
the new math, and we always tell them the math has
stayed the same but the strategies
are new. So how can we help you
understand that so you’re doing
some things at home that really
kind of mirror what’s going on in
the child’s classroom? -Okay. So one
of the things– we’ll talk about
some of the centers where people can go
to find out more, but I want to talk
about Super Saturdays, because this is just what
we were talking about. I want to know,
I need some tools. How do I do that? You have things called
Super Saturdays. A couple of them
have already happened, but you have
more coming up. What should people
expect to happen on a Super Saturday?
-Absolutely. We have had such great
success with what we call our University
of Family Learning, or UFL,
but traditionally we’ve offered these
classes, courses and workshops during
the school day, which is great. We’ve gotten some great
feedback but some parents, as you mentioned,
can’t be there. -Yes. -Work schedule
or whatever it is. So part of the District’s
strategic plan, Focus: 2024,
one of our goals is to really expand
those opportunities to evening and weekends. So in came
Super Saturday which is an opportunity
for families to either attend
a community location or a high school
on a Saturday and get resources,
attend a workshop, learn about new things
in the community. It’s an opportunity
for families to learn together
because on a Saturday, that’s the beauty of it,
students can come with. -Right. Give me an idea,
a typical workshop would be something
like what? -One of our most
famous workshops is internationally
renowned because we actually have
shared it with people in Canada and other
places in the world, our100 Ways
to Raise a Reader.
These are great tips
that any parent can do for any child
at any level that really just
promote reading, make reading fun,
really gives that child those opportunities to find what
they love to read, how they read,
all those great things. They’re fun ideas that
parents can do anywhere, not just at home,
on the go, because we know that
that schedule is hectic for everyone. As a parent myself,
I totally understand so it’s very much
practice what I preach. I do it with my
kids at home too. -Okay. So bottom line
before we go, education is never
just limited to the school, right? It has to happen
at home. It has to be reinforced
at home, right? -Absolutely. It’s really all about
the relationship. We want to help
build relationships between home
and school because we know that
kids will succeed if they know
that everyone is working for them
together on a team. So it’s really all
about helping schools understand how to build
those relationships, helping families
and students understand how to build those
relationships too, and then all of us
working together. One team, one goal
again for that end goal which is that student
being successful. -That’s great. Couldn’t have said
it better myself. Thank you so much. We appreciate your time.
-Thank you so much.If you would like to
learn more about FACES,
you can visit
Before we go, we
want to take a moment to recognize
Week of Respect which happened the
first week of October.As part of
the special week,
various activities
happened throughout
the District to
inspire all of us
to work together
on respect,
inclusion and
good citizenship.
The week culminated with
Get Your Blue On Day
with students and staff
wearing blue to show
that bullying is not
going to be tolerated.
The District encouraged
everyone to share their
photos on social
media using
#CCSDGetYourBlueOn.Remember that you
can catch this episode of Inside Education
and past episodes on the Vegas PBS website
or YouTube page. From all of us here
at Inside Education, we thank you
for watching and we hope to
see you in two weeks. ♪♪♪

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