OCDE Alternative Education looks to deepen connections with local families

As a principal in OCDE’s Alternative Education division, Vern Burton sees the bigger picture in his work.

“I really think our program can be instrumental in helping to transform communities, and that starts with investing in people, our parents and students, and building those relationships,” he says. “Our schools have the potential to be a cornerstone of the community.”

Staff and parentsTo that end, Burton, who oversees Area 3 of OCDE’s Alternative, Community and Correctional Education Schools and Services program, or ACCESS, recently invited parents and students over to enjoy some coffee, donuts and other goodies — and to discuss their educational trajectories.

The “Coffee with the Principal” event on Nov. 20 was billed as a way to express appreciation to parents for the support they provide. But it also offered families the chance to connect with staff and learn more about their educational options, including OCDE’s College and Career Preparatory Academy, a free charter school for young adults in need of a diploma.

Staff and parents
Vern Burton, principal of Area 3 in OCDE’s Alternative Education division, hosted a recent “Coffee with the Principal” event for students and parents.

“My team does a parent appreciation event every year,” Burton says. “In the past, we’ve done it outside the school sites and handed out coffee and donuts to the parents as they arrived with their children. This is the first where we have added other agencies like CCPA and made it more informational and really focused on building those parent-school relationships.”

Committed to meeting both the academic and social-emotional needs of students, OCDE’s ACCESS program offers an array of education options for Orange County families, ranging from transitional kindergarten classes to independent study and alternative programs. Area 3, led by Burton, is the ACCESS region that serves the Garden Grove, Orange, ​Placentia-Yorba Linda, Santa Ana and Tustin unified school districts, along with the Anaheim Union High and Fullerton school districts.

The “Coffee with the Principal” event was planned by Family Community Liaisons Guadalupe Leyva and Elizabeth Quintanilla with support from Administrative Assistant Lisa Cangelosi. Counselor Amber Hughes and Enrollment Tech Santiago Magallon participated along with College and Career Preparatory Academy Principal Dave Connor and CCPA Records Technician Sandra Quintanilla.