A fifth-grade service program at Cipriani Elementary in Belmont, a personal-learning program at Half Moon Bay High School and other educational programs throughout San Mateo County have picked up honors for their innovative efforts.

The San Mateo County School Boards Association gave out J. Russell Kent Awards to those programs deemed as promoting student success and showing a high degree of creativity.

"We are excited to celebrate the wonderful and innovative school programs across this county," association President Shelly Masur said in a news release. "Despite ever declining resources for public education, innovation is alive and well in San Mateo County schools, and we applaud all of those who devote their life to the service of our children."

This year's 19 winners are programs that focus on improving learning models, community service, environmental stewardship and other areas.

They include an after-school enrichment program at Sandpiper Elementary in Redwood City, the Fernando Rivera Intermediate School Peacekeepers program in Daly City and the Proud to be Healthy and Green program at Rollingwood Elementary in San Bruno.

The association will also honor Kate Nasse of the San Mateo-Foster City School District with the 2011 Emily Garfield Preventive Counseling Award, which recognizes those doing outstanding work in the fields of substance-abuse prevention, youth development and community wellness.

An awards ceremony will be held May 23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Foster City.


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For more information, visit the association's website at www.smcsba.org.

Commencement speaker

Sister Roseanne Murphy, executive director of planned giving at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, will serve as the commencement speaker Saturday to more than 400 graduates.

"For more than 45 years, Sister Roseanne has been a major presence at NDNU," university President Judith Maxwell Greig said in a news release. "She has touched the lives of innumerable students, many of whom still keep in touch and treasure her as part of their lives."

Murphy is credited for helping foster the school's social-justice focus not only through her teaching and bringing in noted scholars to campus but also through her writing.

She authored "Martyr of the Amazon," a biography of Sister Dorothy Stang, who was murdered in Brazil in 2005 for defending the rights of the poor against corrupt government officials and greedy landowners.

In 1965, Murphy joined then College of Notre Dame as chairwoman of the Sociology and Psychology Department -- a position she held for 37 years. She also served as director of alumni relations.

Chalk Talk is a regular feature with items about schools, students, teachers and administrators in San Mateo County. To submit an item, write to Chalk Talk, San Mateo County Times, 477 Ninth Ave., Suite 110, San Mateo, CA 94402; send a fax to 650-348-4446; or e-mail education reporter Neil Gonzales at ngonzales@bayareanewsgroup.com. Also visit the Chalk Talk blog at www.ibabuzz.com/chalktalk.