Tag Archives: Schools

Shoreline School District discuss budget options

With a September 30 deadline looming, a well-attended ad hoc budget committee meeting was held on Monday, September 8, at Tomales High School. As Superintendent Stubbs explained in his opening remarks, “Tonight is an opportunity for the Shoreline community to deal with the structural deficit….. Concrete ways of dealing with the problem must be presented to the county by September 30, or we will lose control of the process. The board will make the ultimate resolution about the budget, but all comments will be considered.”
A comprehensive handout included a list of possible budget reductions generated at an earlier meeting, multi-year budget projections, enrollment history and average class size, and many more items. At the next board meeting on September 11, the board will review budget reduction proposals for the last time, and at another special board meeting to be held the week of September 15, the board will take action on budget restrictions.
There was much discussion about combining classes because Shoreline has the smallest class size in the county. Most of the parents who spoke want to keep it that way. Those who had been in districts with combined classes felt that it improved the quality of education. An online survey, which was posted on the district website in both English and Spanish, garnered 114 responses

A long list of suggested budget reductions was discussed in addition to combining classes with low enrollment. With staffing costs and benefits at 85 percent of the total budget, reductions in staff must be considered. Although the number of students has declined from 660 in 2004-5 to 509 currently, the staff has increased. Some additional ideas generated by the survey and during discussion at the meeting include:

*Sell property that the district isn’t using

*Eliminate the hot breakfast program at the elementary schools

*Reduce spending on office supplies

*Cut the superintendent position back to 50 percent

*Eliminate/reduce counseling and intervention teachers

*If staff reductions are not achieved through attrition, issue layoff notices.




West Marin and Inverness Schools gear up for 2014-2015


West Marin-Inverness begins the 2014-15 school year with a charged iPads, a robust garden, and a full time music teacher for the almost 150 students, which is a slightly larger enrollment than last year. Students have used iPads in all classrooms, but this year, each 2nd-8th grade student will have their own iPad on which to do much of their work. Skilled maintenance worker Giloberto Rodriguez has worked with the district groundskeeper to maintain the resurgent gardens at both the West Marin and Inverness sites and staff and students will be able to pick fruit and vegetables right off the plants. Music teacher David Whitney has also been working during the summer break in order to prepare his schedule and lessons for all students at both schools. Thank you to all of our parents who worked so hard to make these things happen.

We also have a few new faces at West Marin. Ashley Steward is the new 5th grade teacher and comes to us from Richmond. Emilie Klein, who taught at West Marin a few years ago, is the new resource teacher at West Marin and will serve all K-8th students. Kelsy Henke, who was the resource teacher and special day class teacher last year, will only be the latter this year. Chris Eckert is the new 6th grade teacher and will continue his position as the West Marin physical education teacher.

Parents and guardians can meet all the teachers and visit the classrooms in just two weeks on September 4 during our annual Back to School Night, which will begin at 6pm at Inverness and 7:30pm at West Marin.

Matt Nagle
Inverness/West Marin School



Breaking news: missing cat

TiggerThe West Marin School’s cat is missing!  It was last seen Tuesday morning.  It did not return to the school  Tuesday night to be let in.  And it has not been seen since.
Volunteers are combing nearby fields and searching the streets of Point Reyes Station.
The tabby cat is distinctive looking – it has no ears.  It had ears at one time but somehow they were lost.  It still has its mittens, though, hopefully.
If anyone sees the ginger tabby they should note the location and call 911 to report the sighting.
However, if the cat is found deceased, please do not report.  Too many hearts will be broken.

Shoreline Unified Struggles with Personnel Issues

As of press time on June 25, it is unclear if, technically, the principal of Tomales Elementary School and Bodega Bay School has resigned or was fired. There may be clarification at the regularly scheduled Board of Trustees Meeting, tonight, June 26, at 6 PM at the West Marin School.

Jane Realon, who has had this job for fifteen years, declined to offer a statement until her return from an out-of-state trip on July 10.  E-mails to Jane Healy, President of the Shoreline Board, were not returned. Superintendent Tom Stubbs responded to WMC’s queries stating that he would make an announcement “soon”.


Deep learning in a natural classroom


As a society we want our youth educated. We want them inquisitive, creative, persistent, resilient, and most importantly we want them to problem solve. The collective experience tells us that our youth hold the keys to our future, and investing in them is investing in the future of our territories and our species.
How best to do this remains elusive. A great many people invest time, money, and effort into what they believe works best. What follows is not a scholarly article citing a myriad of studies and authorities lauding one learning regime over another; instead it is one educator’s opinion on a positive alternative to the status quo.
Island High School is a continuation school in Alameda. Students enroll at Island because they are credit deficient and are at risk of not completing high school. The deeper reasons for this are many, varied, and beyond the scope of this piece. However, a common thread is a disconnection between lofty societal ideals, what the students receive, and their readiness to receive it. Island does many things differently inside the classroom and out. The description of what follows would not have been possible without The Alameda Education Foundation, Bay Area Community Resources, and the faculty and administrators who help make what follows possible.
One program is our annual four-day field trip to the Point Reyes National Seashore where students investigate their food sources, the math and science of nature, and develop self-reliance. Students visit local dairies, cheese factories, and spend time cooking their own recipes for the group. They go on day and night hikes through the park, and investigate many of its wonders. Regular lessons that pertain to the activities are peppered throughout. Students start their day around 7am and are busy until about 11pm.
The Point Reyes National seashore is an excellent classroom. Muir woods and the forests of Inverness ridge provide a perfect laboratory on the role of trees and carbon capture. Students estimate tree height, bole volume and weight. They infuse this with data from NOAA to better to understand carbon emissions and carbon capture on a local, global, and geological scale.
Standing on the beach near Coast Camp students can use geometry and trigonometry to investigate earth curvature. Further, looking down the miles of beach toward Limantour, they use area, volume, and exponents to estimate quantity of sand grains on the beach and then compare this to the known quantity of stars during nighttime astronomy lessons. Being in a setting where questions arise organically and then are applied in cross-curricular lessons helps students make connections. They are connecting lessons in one subject to the next while also making connections between what they are learning about, the world around them, and classroom instruction.
Learning about the distance to nearby stars and their size relative to our Sun is reinforced with nighttime hikes and stargazing. Our ancestors looked up for millennia at one of the greatest nighttime shows. Reintroducing this show to our youth who have become far too accustomed to night-time gaming and video viewing inspired some to invent their own constellations and go out for additional night hikes to watch for shooting stars and orbiting satellites.
Many students view equations about logarithms and exponential growth as arcane, and graphs on the white board or video models as too abstract. However, visiting the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake in Bear Valley and seeing the amount of earth that moved, and the geology of those great tectonic shifts, helped students gain an appreciation for the power of a 7.0 earthquake. With these fresh images in hand, students start to better understand the Richter scale as a logarithmic measurement of sinusoidal force waves. On a hike to Divide Meadow students compared earthquake magnitudes to distances walked and get a solid kinesthetic understanding of how much larger a 9.0 is than a 4.0.
Students investigated properties of nasturtiums (The Lotus Effect) and butterflies and experience how technological innovations flowed directly from observing the greatest teacher of all, Mother Nature. Bio-mimicry generates many questions from the students, piques their curiosity, and gets the students primed to observe nature through a new lens.
The lessons are multi-faceted. For example students study the geometry of how the eye works in the morning using a head-sized pinhole camera. In the afternoon sun they use magnifying glasses to understand their focal properties. In the darkness of night they use lasers and colored light to understand the physics of additive and subtractive color and how eyes interpret them.
When cooking, students investigated the thermal dynamics of ice cream churning and the chemistry of jamming. They visited the sources of production for the foods they use. The Nunes and Mendoza diaries, Nicasio Cheese factory, Drake’s Bay Oyster Company, and Marin Sun Farms have all graciously allowed my students to visit and learn from them. Tim and Betty Nunes, Joe Mendoza, David Evans, Ginny Lunny, and Lynette Lafranchi have not only been extremely gracious over the years, but have been instrumental in sharing their expertise and life experiences with my students who are far removed from the production process.
A common sentiment amongst the students was captured in one student’s reflection: “I made my own jam! I learned about what’s in cheese! I learned about milk. I feel like learning about where my food comes from. And coming from an unhealthy family, I went home and told my mom that we need to be more cautious about what we eat.” Certainly, in the days and weeks after the trips students follow up with me and share stories of how learning about cheese, aquaculture, or dairy process fomented permanent changes in their dietary habits.
Part of the group’s family time is eating together. For some students cooking, eating together, and engaging in face to face conversations that don’t involve tweeting texts about Snapchats or Instagrams while sneaking Facebook pokes and youtube views is a new experience. “This is the longest I’ve been without my phone, and you know what, I don’t need it as badly as I thought I did.” quipped one student after last year’s trip. According to another, “Family time allows us to get out of ourselves, and bond on a more real level.” When I told a student going on this year’s trip about family time, he exclaimed: “How are we going to have family time without watching TV?” Separating students from their environment allows them to shed some of their image, and recreate themselves in a more positive manner.
This physical and digital separation leads to connections. Students hold nightly Socratic seminars where all topics are on the table. Students have what one student noted as: “Real-talk time.” Uninterrupted by sirens, ring tones, or televisions, a space is created for a forum of communication about panoply of topics. The students open up to each other, problem solve, and frequently offer counsel. There are conflicts and stress; however they become close. In our closing activity on the last night one young woman said: “We were all hella separated in the beginning, and now we are so close, what happens Monday morning?” (In case you are wondering, many stay close, and remain so today.)
While it is true that many of my students have experienced far too much violence, poverty, indifference, and detachment, I find that taking students out of their comfort zones and giving them unfamiliar challenges in a natural setting is key to the success of their education. Having them hike in the park at night without flashlights, hiking trails blindfolded with one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them, hiking back from the beach in the rain, opens their mind and willingness to experience. More often than not, the students who resist taking notes, participating in class, or complain relentlessly about why, turn out to be the first students to volunteer for extra cleaning, asking questions during lessons, or show a level of engagement that any teacher would appreciate.
I watched my students stand respectfully, attentively, and mesmerized to John Littleton’s animated recitation of Miwok and Pomo stories at Kule Loklo while the heavens dumped rain and hail on their heads. This motivated one young man to write: “I learned things I never really thought I would be able to learn. I even got to learn about the native tribe that my family is registered as. It made me feel good about myself and my people and made me really want to learn more about everything.”
One student confided to the group last year: “This is the longest period of time in years I gone without smoking, I feel so clear.” To me that is what this trip represents: a moment of clarity – the moment when we realize something important. For me it’s this:
Many concepts taught in schools are the product of centuries of thought and intellectual evolution; people in my profession sometimes forget this. Great ideas that propelled us forward were the products of cross-curricular synthesis by people who thought deeply and at great length. Newton said: “If I see farther, it is only because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” Spoon-feeding youth algorithms and factoids between bells, without the time, reason, or context to absorb them undermines curiosity and learning. There are important things to learn in the classroom, but we can’t shake our heads in dismay when a student says they are bored, or that there is no point, or even that they don’t get it. We need to offer more authentic learning experiences outside the classroom. We need to bundle their education with meaningful life experiences. Our youth are worth it.
“This has been one of the best learning experiences I’ve had.” Is a comment I frequently see in closing essays. It has been for me as well.

Dan Goldfield,
Math Teacher Island High School, Alameda Ca



Laura Rogers celebrated at Nicasio School

(A)LauraRogersMay there be a Laura Rogers in every child’s elementary education experience. To borrow from psychologist Rollo May, good teaching, like therapy, is one-third art, one-third skill and one-third friendship. Laura is a teacher with just these skills, and knows before the kids themselves do when to reach out a calming hand. Her past, present and future students will miss her.

Announcements – Week of 06/19/14

Tomales High Graduation Revamped

The 102nd Tomales High School graduation, an annual rite of passage and community event, was invigorated at last Friday’s ceremony. Gone were the bleachers, replaced by hundreds of white plastic chairs on the gym floor with plenty of room for standees and photo ops after the ceremony- which started at 7 pm instead of 8. The gym stage became a real stage, with wings for the support staff and technology.

The best change of all was the old hoary chestnut of a graduation processional, Pomp and Circumstance, given new life as performed by Tomales High School’s Pan Band. The Pan Band, put a spring in everyone’s step and the graduates stepped lively while approaching the stage.

Congratulations to members of the class of 2014:

Ivan Aceves, Julie Bibee, Jake Brady, Judith Bravo, Manny Brazil, Anthony Feliciano, Matt Fisher, Angel Flores, Geena Garcia-Wagner, Dania Gomez, Jonathan Gomez, Ricardo Gonzalez, Yessica Gonzalez, David Guerrero, Chris Gutierrez, Leticia Hernandez, Giana Lawson, Whitney Lawson, Joselin Macias, Omar Macias, Alondra Martinez, Briana Martinez, Mayra Martinez, Tyler McFadden, Alexis McIsaac, Marissa Mehr, salutatorian Danny Moretti, William Nunes, Juan Padilla, Edgar Palomares, Sierra Parr, Nate Passantino, Maddy Pitt, Jackie Rodriguez, Eduardo Romo, Yesenia Sanchez, Micah Smith, valedictorian Holly Soreng, Jack Strozzi and Dalal Wakid..

New Transit Option for Tomales and Dillon Beach

Big news for Tomales and Dillon Beach! Marin Transit has added a Stagecoach bus service run on Tuesdays that will launch June 10. Make that three runs; the Route 65 Stagecoach will pick up folks at the Dillon Beach day beach parking lot, the western terminus at 10:29 am 2:00 pm and 4:49 pm each Tuesday with other stops including downtown Tomales, the Coast Guard station, Two Rock Presbyterian Church and several stops in Petaluma, plus three return runs. Riders are even offered free transfers with Petaluma Transit services. The buses are equipped to handle up to two wheelchairs or two bicycles, but not surfboards. For full fare and schedule information, see http://marintransit.org/routes/65.html#info.

Book Launch Party

The Hankins family, members of the Petaluma and Tomales communities, are celebrating William Hankin’s book, Alpha Guard, the True Story of California’s First Prison Gang Investigator with a book launch party at the Hideaway, 128 Kentucky Street, Petaluma from 5 to 9:00 pm Friday, June 13.          “Our father was special, at least to us, but we have discovered through the publishing process that our father was a legend according to law enforcement and inmate sources”

Everyone is invited to attend this event, which features a special presentation at 6:00 p.m. to honor Hankins and the work he did in law enforcement.

Kick-off Classic Honors THS Football Legends

Friends of Tomales High School Football host the third annual Kick-Off Classic Monday, June 23rd at Lagunitas Brewing Company, 1280 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma from 5 to 8:00 pm. This event honors the “Gridiron Greats” of Tomales High School’s football history, names famous in their day such as Gary Cheda, Ron Petroni, Joe Lopes, Andy Bordessa, Jr., Darren Evans, Chris Ludlow and Kevin Ballatore. Pre-sale tickets are $25, at the door, $30 for this fundraiser, with all proceeds going to the Tomales High football program. Dinner, live music and a 50/50 raffle are all part of the fun.

For tickets or more information, call any of the following folks: Fred Gilardi, (415) 663-9427, Joe Moreda, (707) 529-0836, Renee Renati, (707) 477-7352, or Leon Feliciano at either of two numbers, (707) 575-3520 or (707) 889-0694.

Moving Tribute to Ana Maria Ramirez

Inverness school staff

On Tuesday June 3, the Inverness School gathered to celebrate Ana Maria Ramirez who is retiring from her position as teacher’s aide.

Ana Maria has been working at Inverness School for 22 years- in the classroom, on the playground, and in food services. She raised her own children in Inverness Park, and her grandchildren also attended Inverness School. She is well known by all the children and families of the school community.

Many of those she taught in the early years have grown up now, with children of their own. When they see her around town, they always ask, “Are you still working at the school?” “Yes!” she laughs. “Are you still ringing the bell?” “Yes!” she laughs again. She feels blessed to have received so many gifts while working in the school. And while she is sad to be leaving, she knows it is time for a change.

Ana Maria once dreamed of traveling during her retirement years, but now her sister is sick and needs her care. Her number one priority is to be there to support her. However, she will still work part-time at the Marin Literacy Program.

Parents, staff, family and friends were invited to the Inverness School to thank Ana Maria for her many contributions. After sharing food and conversation, people gathered in a circle around Ana Maria. The youngest children ran to huddle in her arms. One by one people spoke of their gratitude.

“Hundreds of youth have been touched by you, and that has made our community strong. You bring people together,” said first grade teacher, DeeLynn Armstrong.

“You moved through the school every day with grace and calm,” spoke School Administrator Chris Greene.

Kindergarten teacher Melissa Riley said, “Ana Maria, you have always been very generous with your time and love, creating hand-made gifts for the children each year.  My daughter who is now 18 recalls that following a field trip to the Teddy Bear Factory in San Francisco, you crafted a hand-knit sweater for each child’s bear in the school.  That’s how much you care about the kids.”

Eileen Puppo, who worked with Ana Maria at the Marin Literacy Center for 10 years said, “You are a marvel! A great storyteller. You passed these things on to the children. Every child you touched felt everything in your heart that went out to them.”

John Littleton, a former teacher of both Inverness and West Marin School, said, “Ana Maria touched so many hearts, because she has a Huichol Indian heritage that fills her with spirit.” He then thanked her in Huichol from his heart. “Pom pas dias.”

When asked what she will miss the most on leaving the school, Ana Maria said, “Always the kids.” Her eyes filled with tears as she told how much she has enjoyed watching the kids grow through the school, and how rewarding it has been to see them succeed in their lives, especially the Latino kids who have in the past had less hope. Ana Maria said she was happy to see that the professional support and programs for second language have improved over the years, and that this gives her even greater hope for the future.

As a final act of thanks, Ana Maria was presented with a beautiful hand-made book, Memories for Ana Maria of Inverness School, filled with photographs and personal thank you messages from the school children and staff over the last 10 years.

At the closing of the circle, Ana Maria thanked everyone from her heart. “I will miss everybody” she said “but I am still here!” With that she laughed, as she joined her four teaching colleagues in blowing the whistles from around their necks one last time, as they tossed their hats into the air.

By Raven Gray