Interview with Paulette Chaffee: Educator and Ambassador for Orange County 4th District invites voices to its platform by sharing their opinion that matters most. Opinion expressed by VIP contributors don't reflect the opinion of Vizaca or its employees.

Interview with Paulette Chaffee

Paulette Chaffee is a teacher, speech therapist, and attorney deeply involved in the Fullerton community. As an educator and member of various non-profit boards, her focus has always been on providing children with the highest quality education.

Ms. Chaffee holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, a California Lifetime Teaching Credential, and is admitted to the California Bar.

Why are gatherings like the California School Boards Association (CSBA) Annual Education Conference and Trade Show so crucial for teachers and students?

The CSBA conference and other conferences like those provided by the California Teachers Association (CTA) are essential for educators to learn best practices.

It is crucial to understand what programs are working well in other districts so valuable time and resources are not wasted in reinventing the wheel. In addition, hearing from fellow educators about possible pitfalls and being aware of challenges that have already been addressed is helpful.

Collaboration in the education space is crucial. New ideas can bring about more learning opportunities.

How can schools implement the Quantum 10 Framework, and how will it positively impact education?

Quantum 10 is about honesty, respect, trust, and transparency. Learning is best when it makes sense and does not take away from who the student is as a person. It is about celebrating every student and providing options for each student to succeed.

It is also about hearing less from teachers in the classroom and opening up dialogue between students. Teachers need to be more aware of their beliefs and allow students to talk about what is going on in the world.

Breaking students up into smaller groups of 4 or 5 to discuss a topic is often the way to begin the process. Research has shown that collaboration helps students learn the material more deeply and develop personal communication skills, like eye contact that will last a lifetime.

One of the approaches to minimizing disparities and increasing equity is the 5 Cs. Can you describe the 5 Cs and what that looks like in schools?

The 5 Cs are Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Compassion. The emphasis is on the whole child, including emotional intelligence. The better development of emotional intelligence and relational skills will lead to increased job satisfaction, happiness, and interpersonal relationships as the child goes through life.

The 5 Cs were developed by Dr. Michael Matsuda, the Superintendent of Anaheim Joint Union HS District, as part of the bridge to the future so students can achieve their unique potential, which is called “Unlimited You.”

How will learning the 5 Cs help a student pursue a fulfilling career in their adult life?

Learning the 5 Cs helps steer the child away from a “cookie-cutter” approach where the student is encouraged to go with their passion into an internship where the student can gain “real-world work experience.”

Many business partners in the community are on board, offering students an opportunity to learn beyond the classroom.

One of the areas of education we see significant disparities in is transitioning from K-12 to higher education. What is being done currently in California to bridge this gap?

California has the world’s largest higher education system, but many students who enter college do not finish. Although some remedial programs have been successful, access and awareness of the programs have been lacking.

The community colleges are now investing more in students because the colleges are now losing funding due to declining enrollment. A “hold harmless” provision in state funding ensures that colleges are funded at least at their 2017-18 levels plus a cost-of-living adjustment.

Colleges have also implemented Extended Opportunity Programs for underserved students, which provide tutoring and support for housing and financial aid.

The Career Preparedness Systems Framework (CPSF) is shifting focus to 21st Century Skills, Technical Skills, and Development. How do these three elements work together to create quality education for students?

The CPFS will provide technical assistance for school districts to create workforce pathways. It will provide professional learning opportunities for careers through a problem-solving curriculum. The CPSF encompasses three areas that schools need to focus on: the development of relational and emotional intelligence, technical skills, and Student Voice and Purpose development. This CPFS can help lead to job creation and innovation.

21st Century Skills [soft skills] are not something that traditionally is taught in school. How could this impact students as they prepare for the real world and their careers?

The twelve 21st Century skills are critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, and social skills. 

All these skills are essential in the age of the internet. They teach students how to adapt to the modern work environment. For example, in business settings, critical thinking is essential to improvement.

It is the mechanism that weeds out problems and replaces them with fruitful endeavors. It helps students figure things out for themselves when no teacher is around. Learning this important skill will help a student prepare for a career.

How does CSPF help specifically low-income and first-generation students prepare for college?

Low-income students and first-generation students will be helped dramatically by learning through the problem-solving curriculum provided by CPSF. Many of these students do not have access to high-tech devices and will be able to learn in a professional environment, where all the 21st Century skills are taught. In addition, they will be able to acquire the skills they need to succeed in college and have internship opportunities to learn in real-world work environments.

What are the first steps a school can take to address disparities and improve the quality of education for all students?

A starting point is to recognize that all students have a deep sense of belonging in their schools because the schools know who they are and uplift the students.

There should be an opportunity for every student to shine.

The educators need to communicate to all families that they are important, and quality of education is vital for all. Creating activities that allow families to participate in a mural painting, or a garden, or a cultural event brings the families together as we work to strengthen the bond between home and school to create community and trust.