Fielding Grad Mallory Price Leads for Literacy

Mallory Price, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Mallory Price, From Schools of Thought, Santa Barbara Independent, November 7, 2019.

Adams Elementary School’s Literacy Coach Is New Breed of Educator

Mallory Price is part of a new breed of educators out there, one that’s not anchored to a classroom or a particular grade’s curriculum but rather to skilled listening, problem solving, and relationship building. 

“My primary role is to support teachers,” said Price, who is in her third year as the literacy coach at Adams Elementary School. With some support from Santa Barbara Unified School District, she received her doctorate from Fielding Graduate University, which inspired her “to see beyond the walls of my own classroom, ultimately leading to the realization that I can have a greater impact if I step out of the classroom and expand my reach in a new role.” 

Price worked closely with former Adams principal Amy Alzina to become the district’s first literacy coach, and she was then then supported by the new principal, Kelly Fresch, who came from a school that had literacy coaches. “The stars were aligned for me,” said Price, “and she was the perfect principal for them to hire at that time!” 

Price works with teachers in cycles and allows them to determine which areas they want their students to focus on. “If the teachers don’t trust you, it’s going to be hard to have them open the door and trust you,” she explained. 

Price grew up in Summerland, attending Summerland School, Crane School, and Santa Barbara High, and is the daughter of retired Cold Spring superintendent/ principal Tricia Price, also a Fielding grad. Education may be in her blood — her grandfather Jim Thorsell was a teacher at Washington School for about 30 years — but she had zero interest in teaching when she was growing up. 

But after graduating from the University of Washington, Price started working as an instructional aide at Summerland School. “I just needed a job and wasn’t going to stay long, but it’s the classic story — I fell in love with teaching,” laughed Price, who then got her teaching credential and master’s from Antioch University in Santa Barbara. 

Eight years ago, she became a kindergarten teacher at Adams. It wasn’t the grade she wanted, “but I just kept surprising myself. I ended up falling in love with kindergarten too, and I did that for five years at Adams.” 

During that time, she also traveled to New York every summer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. “It’s the best professional learning experience I’ve ever had; it’s transformational,” said Price. “It’s based on some research from some of the smartest literacy experts from around the world, and it really treats teachers like professionals. You feel like you’re with the best people who are really passionate about what they’re doing.” 

Now she’s using that model here in Santa Barbara. “Kids learn and grow and fall in love with reading when they can choose their own books. I never really loved reading until I got to choose my own book and I chose to read Harry Potter for the first time,” said Price, who added that one of her favorite activities has been helping teachers set up their classroom libraries. “The district has been amazing and has purchased libraries for every single classroom.” 

Thanks to Price’s success, the district now has literacy coaches at each elementary school: Barbara Conway (Washington/Franklin), Courtney-Firth Williams (Cleveland/Roosevelt), Sandy Robertson (SBCA), Amy Gates (McKinley/Monroe), and Lindsay Alker (Harding). 

“I love it,” said Price of transitioning from traditional teacher to coach. “I don’t think I could ask for it to go any better with my colleagues. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but they’re so supportive, and I feel like all of them welcomed me and want me there.” 

Click here to read this story as it originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 7, 2019. SB Independent Schools of Thought Insert 11.7.19


Legacies: They Can, We Can, iCAN

Courtesy iCAN

Courtesy iCAN

The Incredible Children’s Art Network Picks Up Speed
By Leslie Dinaberg

in-cred-i-ble: [in-kred-uh-buhl] adjective
1. so extraordinary as to seem impossible: incredible speed.
2. not credible; hard to believe; unbelievable: The plot of the book is incredible.

Flying mostly under the radar until recently, the art-minded philanthropy of the Incredible Children’s Art Network (iCAN) has been quietly lending support to a handful of local elementary schools since 2005. Now, with a large new facility in the works at 222 E. Canon Perdido St. and an even bigger vision for the future under the direction of new executive director Jeffry Walker, iCAN is set to soar even higher.

Collaboration is a big part of that vision for Walker, a recent transplant from Carmel, whose youthful excitement about iCAN belies his more than 35 years of community arts education leadership.

Looking to the future of iCAN—which currently has visual art programs in place at Adams, Cleveland, Franklin, Harding University Partnership, McKinley and Monroe elementary schools, as well as an afterschool program at Franklin providing free music instruction to 90 students, five days a week—Walker says, “It’s not just around art and music as discrete disciplines, but really around youth development issues and community building issues. We have a pretty wide view on who we think we would work with or be aware of what they’re doing… At this point, it’s fair to say that most of our preliminary conversations are focused on creating a through-line for kids in elementary school and beyond.”



Jackson Sierra, whose son Dakotah is a third grader at Franklin (with both the art and music program, which is inspired by Venezuela’s renowned el Sistema model) says, “The program as a whole is awesome… My son has benefited from his music education by being able to read sheet music and write his own music, as well as his love for musical instruments.” In addition, “It has helped him with his math, also with his timing, and helped with his team player skills.”

Indeed, there is overwhelming evidence that involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking and verbal skills, as well as improvements in motivation, concentration, confidence and teamwork. Unfortunately, nearly a decade of painful budget cuts have decimated funding for these programs in public schools, leaving parents frantically fundraising to fill in the gaps. Not all schools have a population that can do this, which is one of the reasons iCAN was founded: to bring high-quality arts programs to children in Santa Barbara County, particularly to those least likely to receive them.

iCAN also seeks to affect positive social change in the communities it serves, which seems to be working.

“iCAN has really made our school into a more confident and creative place,” says Shannon McCain Jaffe, iCAN art teacher at Franklin. “iCAN has really contributed to change the climate at our school with the art and music…giving the students these kinds of materials and saying, ‘You’re worth this, and you deserve this, and now see where you can take this, where you can go.’ I think iCAN really just planted that seed that they are important, that this is a valuable thing, art, and gave them that opportunity.”

“Plus, it’s wonderful to see the kids delighting in what they know today that they didn’t know yesterday,” says Walker.

“We’ve been lucky enough that all of our principals…have made a point to show their support constantly in any way they can to our program, and that’s not something you necessarily get with nonprofits working with schools. We’ve been really, really lucky,” says Hillary McCall, iCAN communications and development manager.

“So many times…in the arts, we struggle in an environment of scarcity all of the time, not only financial resources but in terms of level of air space that is even given in the community dialogues…So to come into a community where arts education is already on that radar and already worthy of the conversations is pretty brilliant,” says Walker.

“Our project for the next few years will be to realize those aspirations.”

For more information about iCAN, call 805/845-5142 or visit 

Originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.

Caines named La Cumbre principal

Students graduating from Adams Elementary School and going onto La Cumbre Junior High will see a familiar face in the halls. Adams principal Jo Ann Caines will be the new principal at La Cumbre, replacing Eugenia Walters, who resigned for unnamed reasons. Walters has been on personal leave since early November.

Under Caines’ leadership, Adams earned recognition as both a California Distinguished School and Title I Achieving School. A GATE Cluster Magnet School with 78 percent minority students and 72 percent of the students below the poverty level, under Caines’ leadership Adams has often been held up as a model for low-income schools.

Caines, who is a product of Santa Barbara public schools and a Santa Barbara High grad, said she is eager to engage staff, parents, and students in building a “new La Cumbre.” In a sense she will be “going home” to La Cumbre, where she taught for many years and served as an assistant principal.

La Cumbre’s enrollment has declined to approximately 430 students and it is hoped that Caines’ solid reputation in the community, creativity and skills as a team leader will help turn that trend around.

In recent years, an exodus of students and administrative turnover has challenged La Cumbre. In 2003, Michael Gonzalez, the school’s principal for several years, was reassigned to the district office after mediators could not resolve conflicts with some members of the staff. Walters, who was then an assistant principal at the school, replaced him that year.

Under Walters, the school worked closely with the school board and other district officials on a plan to bring back many of the students who had left, in part by reinstating many of the enrichment classes.

Matt Zuchowitz will replace Caines as the interim principal at Adams.

“I am delighted to be joining the Adams School Community!” said Zuchowitz, who began this school year as the assistant principal at Franklin Elementary School and has also taught at McKinley Elementary School and Peabody Charter School.

“Having worked with Jo Ann Caines, as well as a number of Adams teachers, I know how hard she has worked to build a cohesive team of staff, parents, and community partners that are focused on the academic achievement of Adams’ students. I am looking forward to working with Ms. Caines during this transition. I know that because she will be only a stone’s throw away at La Cumbre Junior High, this will help ensure a smooth transition.”

Also getting a new assignment is Patricia Santiago, who was named interim principal at Washington Elementary School, where principal Beatrice Rubio-Cordeiro is on a long-term medical leave.

Santiago taught at several local elementary schools, including Peabody Charter School and Franklin Elementary School and most recently served as assistant principal at La Cumbre Junior High.

I’m excited about becoming a member of the Washington Elementary School team,” said Santiago. “Washington has a long history of academic excellence which can be attributed to its dedicated teachers and committed parents. It is my hope that my experience as a leader at Peabody Charter School and La Cumbre Junior High School will enhance the strong educational program already in place.”

In addition to these changes, the Board of Education also promoted Santa Barbara Junior High School’s interim principal Susan Salcido as the permanent principal at that school on Tuesday.

“I am pleased that we are able to draw from our exceptional pool of district administrators to meet our mid-year school site administrative needs,” said Interim Superintendent Brian Sarvis.

“Leaving one school for another is never easy because of the relationships that are formed. But, these are professionals who saw the larger need and accepted the challenge that accompanies change. Jo Ann Caines, Matt Zuchowicz, and Patricia Santiago will provide effective leadership and are committed to making the new transition as seamless as possible.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon