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 SDCOE Employees Share Strategies with Baja State Officials

Baja California state officials were at the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) main campus recently to discuss gang- and violence-prevention efforts.

Two workers with the Office of Violence and Delinquency Prevention and Citizen Participation in Mexicali met for a few hours Oct. 2 with personnel from the Student Support Services unit.

“We had a very lively exchange of ideas and resources and hope to continue to support each other in our efforts to reduce gangs and violence in our geographic areas,” said Anthony Ceja, a coordinator with the unit. “It’s a good thing to help out your neighbors.”

Angel Roberto Mejia De la Peña, director of the office in Mexicali, sent an email recently asking to set up a meeting so his team could learn more what SDCOE is doing in schools to help prevent violence.

“There’s a great need in the schools, the streets, the communities, and in some way we can contribute to people’s happiness,” Mejia De la Peña said.

The programs they talked about included PASS AmeriCorps, Project AWARE, Mano a Mano, as well as Restorative Practices and Trauma Informed Care.

PASS AmeriCorps volunteers work to help keep kids in school and out of gangs with one-on-one and small group mentoring, tutoring, as well as involving students in community service projects. The program is implemented in 21 schools across the county, including campuses in San Diego, Oceanside, Vista, and Valley Center.

Project AWARE focuses on social development, problem solving, and emotional literacy skills as ways to help students avoid violent behaviors.

Mano a Mano focuses on Spanish-speaking parents, helping them find ways to get more involved with school, talk to their children about drugs and alcohol, and learn important parenting skills.

“They were really quite impressed,” Ceja said.

Photo: Pictured are (from left) Angel Roberto Mejia De la Peña, director of the Office of Violence and Delinquency Prevention and Citizen Participation; Anthony Ceja, SDCOE Student Support Services coordinator; Mara Madrigal-Weiss, SDCOE Student Support Services project specialist; Dr. Beatriz Villarreal, program director at the Mano a Mano Foundation; Monica Tinajero, Student Support Services community aide; and Gabriela Mora Puente, psychologist with the Social Center for Violence Prevention.