Jensen Ranch Elementary School in Castro Valley and Joshua Chadbourne Elementary School in Fremont have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

"Being named a National Blue Ribbon School validates the great work that occurs both in and out of the classroom at Jensen Ranch," Castro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Jim Negri said in a release.

The two are the only Blue Ribbon schools in Alameda County.

The 286 schools nationwide that received Blue Ribbon status will receive their awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in November.

Parents get financial guidance at Oakland middle school

The United Way is providing financial education and services for parents of students at Westlake Middle School in Oakland.

The SparkPoint center offers parents who are struggling financially guidance to get back on their feet. The help includes job training, career development, financial coaching and access to saving accounts. Each client gets a coach who creates a step-by-step plan for achieving goals.

A United Way spokeswoman said 75 parents will be taking advantage of the program this year.

Hayward teacher honored by county

Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle named Hayward teacher Kevin Cato as the winner of the District 2 Arts Leadership Award.


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Cato is director of instrumental music at Mt. Eden High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Hayward.

Cato was one of five award winners. The others are artist Jean Bidwell, of Castro Valley, a member of the Hayward Arts Council who specializes in public art murals; Jim Schmidt, of the Livermore Valley Opera; Jill McLennan, who works with the Museum of Children's Art in Oakland, the Stepping Stones Artful Steps in San Leandro and the Randall Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, both in San Francisco; and Karen Cusolito, of American Steel Studios in Oakland, which provides studio and gallery space to more than 100 artists and small businesses.

The awards were presented Tuesday.

New Haven Unified's 'Teacher of the Year' to be honored

A Union City kindergarten teacher has been named the New Haven Unified School District's Teacher of the Year for 2013-14, making her eligible for a countywide award to be announced next week.

Catherine Schoon, a longtime instructor at Pioneer Elementary School, will be honored for her achievement Thursday at the Alameda County Office of Education's annual Teacher of the Year Celebration. The awards ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts, 19501 Redwood Road, between Heyer & Mabel avenues.

The event will include an hors d'oeuvre reception, entertainment and award presentations, including the announcement of the county's Teacher of the Year.

Schoon and 19 other teachers are vying for the award.

Those teachers and their schools are: Annie Green, Hayward Community School; Tracy Corbally, Alameda Science and Technology Institute; Tamara Friedman, Berkeley High; Miriam Clare LePell, Castro Valley High; Keira Andresen, Dublin Elementary; Deborah Maynard, San Leandro High; Victor Doan, San Leandro High; Carol Balfe, Anna Yates Elementary in Emeryville; Judy Cuturrufo, Oliveira Elementary in Fremont; Kimberly Booker, Ochoa Middle School in Hayward; Regina Brinker, Christensen Middle School in Livermore; Laurie Erceg, Granada High in Livermore; Lehua Lee, Mission Valley ROP Center in Fremont; Corina Resendez-Rojo, Bridgepoint High in Newark; Jenny Clark, Oakland High School; Zachary Pitt-Smith, Edna Brewer Middle School in Oakland; Christie Carnahan, Valley View Elementary in Pleasanton; Rick Santi, Royal Sunset High in San Lorenzo; and Melody Mayer, Sunol Glen Elementary in Sunol.

Admission to the ceremony is $20 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger.

Tickets can be purchased at www.acoe.org/toy. For more information, contact Daisy Clark at dclark@acoe.org.

Homeroom is a weekly roundup of news from schools in Alameda County.