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Carlton Hills Elementary School receives $5,000 grant; State Superintendent of Public  Instruction Jack O’Connell joins tribal leaders at presentation

By Miriam Raftery

September 22, 2010 (Santee) – “Education is the foundation of our future. I urge you to get as much of it as you can,” Barona tribal chairman Edwin “Thorpe” Romero told schoolchildren at Carlton Hills Elementary School in Santee this morning. “My tribe, the Barona band of Mission Indians, and I are thankful that we are able to support your school.”


Romero presented principal Terry Heck with a check for $5,000 – surpassing the one million dollar mark for the Barona Education Grant program statewide.

“I am very appreciative of the Barona community and its long-standing commitment of the education community,” said State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, who joined with local leaders including Assemblyman Joel Anderson (R-El Cajon). “This money is needed more today than ever before,” he said.

Speaking with East County Magazine after the presentation, O’Connell expressed concern that the state has been “moving in the wrong direction” by “disinvesting in public education,” leading to large class sizes, fewer teachers, cuts in arts, librarians, and even bus transportation for students. “We need to make education a priority and return actual funding priorities to the local districts.”

O’Connell offered high praise for Barona, which has distributed grants to over 200 schools throughout California, helping more than half a million children with projects ranging from purchases of computers to text books. The Barona Education Program is the first of its kind in California created and administered by a tribal government, building upon the success of the Barona Indian Charter School.


“The Barona Education Grant Program is truly an innovative way of creating more opportunities for the children of California,” said O’Connell. “Programs of this kind help to ensure that California’s next generation will have the means to achieve academically.”

Candy Stotz, a second grade teacher at Carlton Hills Elementary, wrote the grant proposal that Barona funded. Grant funds have been used to purchase student responders for students in first, second and third grades. The high-tech, hand-held devices allow teachers to receive instant feedback to determine whether students understand lessons taught.

“You will learn in a fun and exciting way,” the principal told youngsters, who later tried out the new high-tech responders for the first time. The teacher posed basic arithmetic problems and kids quickly popped in their responses. A screen at the front of the classroom displayed cumulative results showing what percentage of the class got each answer correct. The teacher has the ability to see which students got answers wrong—so she knows who may need additional help.

“Santee is special, because you are here locally and you’re our neighbors,” Chairman Romero said. Barona also presented the school with copies of the book My Ancestor’s Village, which recounts the history of Native Americans in our region. Tribal councilwoman Beth Glasco read a portion of the book aloud to the children.

Assemblyman Anderson expressed his appreciation to the tribe. “Their friendships have exceeded every expectation,” he told students. “The Barona Band has stepped up because they care about education-- and they care about you.”

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