OCDE’s alternative ed division focuses on empowering students, families during day of professional development

More than 350 educators and administrators from OCDE’s alternative education program, otherwise known as ACCESS, took part Friday in a day of professional learning focused on strategies for empowering students, families and staff in the COVID-19 era.

Al Mijares and Victor Rios

County Superintendent Al Mijares and college professor Victor Rios were among the featured speakers at Friday’s ACCESS All Staff 2020 event.

Reflecting the extraordinary changes and challenges brought on by the pandemic, the “ACCESS All Staff 2020” event enabled the department’s entire ACCESS division to participate virtually in the National Alternative Education Association’s annual conference, which featured a keynote address from motivational speaker and entrepreneur Dr. Sean Holland.

Locally, Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares and OCDE Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jeff Hittenberger also delivered remarks. And the OCDE contingent heard an ACCESS-specific keynote from Dr. Victor Rios, an award-winning college professor and author who speaks on such topics as equity, cultural responsiveness, resilience and opportunity.

“It was a really good day and illustrated the power of digital technology for professional learning, as our team got to interact with colleagues and hear speakers from across the nation, and then zero back in specifically on Orange County and the students and families we serve,” Hittenberger said.

ACCESS stands for Alternative, Community and Correctional Education Schools and Services. The division serves more than 10,000 students a year, including those who thrive in non-traditional settings and students who have encountered significant academic and social obstacles.