Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Math teacher thank you

Radio Commentary

A math teacher in a Dallas High School received a wonderful present recently, in the form of a thank-you note that was reprinted in the Dallas Morning News.
The letter reads, in part, quote: “Before school even started, I dreaded your class. I honestly hate math and I didn’t want to repeat Algebra One again.
 “Over the year, you’ve shown me what it’s like to have a teacher that truly cares. I walk into your class every other day willing to learn and do my work, not because I enjoy school or math.  I do it because you deserve it.
“I see the effort you put into you job.  I don’t know much about you and you don’t know much about me … I don’t talk in your class but I do sit back and learn from you every day.
“It was not only coincidence that I was placed into your class, but a great learning opportunity. I am thankful I was placed into your class. 
“Thank you for teaching me what no other teacher has.”
It’s easy to see why teacher Jennifer Davis considers this one of the best gifts of all time.  How nice for all of us to see a teacher acknowledged so movingly for her skills and caring.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Children's future

Radio Commentary

            Each year, some 350,000 children are born to mothers who are addicted to cocaine. And 40,000 children are born with alcohol-related birth defects. 
Those staggering numbers have tremendous implications for our health care system and our school systems.
            These children are likely to have strikingly short attention spans, poor coordination, and language problems. They are almost two times more likely to need special education. 
Their ability to learn is severely hampered by their physical challenges. Yet so much of these consequences are preventable, which makes the situation all the more tragic. 
For example, one-fifth of America’s preschool children have not been vaccinated against polio. Yet the heartbreak and consequences of this terrible disease are completely preventable.
            One-fourth of all pregnant women get no physical care of any sort during the crucial first trimester of their pregnancy.
It is estimated there would be 20 percent fewer handicapped children if their mothers received just one physical exam in the first trimester. 
Modern medicine can detect all sorts of potential problems. And basic care can prevent many common maladies.
            We know that children are our future. We know that they will lead our world. We know our future is in their hands.
What are we doing about their future, right now, while we can?

Monday, April 28, 2014

New babies

Radio Commentary

This is a special message for first-time parents.
If you have a new baby in the house, you are no doubt a very proud parent.
You probably feel excited but also a little nervous about taking care of something so small and seemingly fragile. If so, you are like most parents. It is very normal to have those feelings.
To start with, newborn babies don’t usually look like the cute babies in diaper ads. Newborns’ heads are often more pointed than round. Their skin may be wrinkly and reddish. This is completely normal.
You’re devoted to your new child, and it’s good to know that even in the first few days of life, your baby is starting to find out who you are.
Research has found that even very young babies know the difference between their parents and strangers.
There are many changes that take place and new things to learn when you become a parent. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Be patient with yourself. The love you have for your baby will help you learn to become a good parent.
Just as no two babies are exactly alike, no one takes care of a baby in exactly the same way. Remember to ask questions whenever you need help.
Be a loving parent. Do your best. Enjoy your baby. Everything else will follow in due course.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cirone on Schools

April 2014
Kate Carter

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Awards breakfast honors top students in career education Nonprofit Partners in Education to host 33rd annual event May 22

Nearly 80 diligent students who have demonstrated excellence in career education will be recognized May 22 at Bacara Resort & Spa during a breakfast organized by Partners in Education, a nonprofit organization administered by the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
The annual Student Awards Breakfast also provides Partners in Education with the opportunity to highlight the ways that its three main programs — Computers for Families, the Internship Program, and the Volunteer Coordination Program — engage local businesses in efforts to ensure a more prepared future workforce, for our community and the world at large.
The students who are recognized have demonstrated excellence in career education, either through one of 60 paid internships coordinated each year by Partners in Education with local business partners, or through Academy or ROP/CTE courses. 
Regional Occupational Program/Career Technical Education (ROP/CTE) classes, administered by SBCEO, provide high-quality career technical education, career education, career development, and workforce preparation for about 3,500 high school students each year in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. 
Dr. Richard Fulton, chairman of the Partners in Education Career Education Committee and a member of the county Board of Education, describes internships as “the critical bridge from classroom to career.” 
“They are,” he said, “the most effective way for young people to apply the concepts they learn in class. We hope more employers will be inspired to get involved as a result of attending this event and hearing students’ stories.”
Students from both San Marcos High School and Santa Barbara High School who have completed internships with local businesses through Partners in Education will be featured in videos produced by the ROP media arts class at Dos Pueblos High School. Thanks to a partnership with TV Santa Barbara, the event will be broadcast on community access television in late June. 
All guests are welcome at the breakfast, which is scheduled from 7 to 9 a.m. May 22 at Bacara. Presentations begin at 7:45 a.m., with awards being presented throughout the program. Tickets may be purchased at for $30 until May 5, and $40 thereafter. Proceeds help support the event, allowing student award recipients and two family members to attend for free.

For more information, go to or call 964-4710, ext. 4413.

Air Pollution Control District honors Santa Barbara County Education Office

A grant program that supports teachers who develop innovative approaches to teaching about the environment and resource conservation was the subject of a resolution adopted recently by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District.
The district’s board unanimously passed the resolution in recognition of the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) and its 10-year partnership with the district in a program that helps support science education.
For the past five years, teachers throughout the county have applied annually for Care for Our Earth grants, funded by the Air Pollution Control District (APCD). The grants are awarded to teachers who create innovative approaches to teaching students about air pollution, traffic issues, energy, and water conservation.
Since then, other parties including Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the Santa Barbara County Water Agency have joined the partnership, thus expanding the number of grants that are awarded. This year, 42 Care for Our Earth grants of $250 each were awarded to local teachers. 
“The Air Pollution Control District’s long-standing support of teachers countywide has had an enormous impact on student learning,” said county Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone. “By supporting innovative local teachers, this grant program has engaged students in new ways, showing them how science can be both fun and important.”
The 10-year partnership promotes awareness of environmental issues among students, families, and members of the community, added Steven Keithley, the director of SBCEO Teacher Programs and Support. It also shows students and families some practical ways to protect natural resources and to conserve water and energy.
“We so appreciate the County Education Office’s outstanding commitment to teachers, and to students who gain an appreciation for our air and our earth through this program,” said APCD Director Dave Van Mullem.
“These projects have resulted in clean-air benefits as well as benefits to schools by reducing energy use (and electricity bills), raising awareness of the need to cut traffic and pollution at school sites, helping students understand how to take public transportation, training students in bike safety, and much more,” he added.
Teachers receiving this year’s Care for Our Earth grants will be recognized at the annual Education Celebration on May 8 at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.

For more information about the grant program, contact Keithley at or 964 4710, ext. 5281, or go to and click on the “Grants” tab.

Warning signs all parents should know

Newspaper column

Many parents worry about their children experimenting with drugs, but very few parents know the warning signs that could indicate a child is actually abusing or addicted to drugs. It is powerful and important information.
Addiction can ruin a child’s life, and it can also ruin the trust that is so necessary for a family unit to thrive. That’s why early detection and intervention become so vital. 
Here are eight major warning signs:
First, there are usually physical clues, such as a change in eating habits and unexplained weight loss or gain. You may notice your child’s inability to sleep or wake up at usual times. There could also be red or watery eyes, pupils larger or smaller than normal, a blank stare, or constant sniffing. You might see excessive sweating, tremors or shakes; cold, sweaty palms or shaking hands; nausea or vomiting; extreme hyperactivity or excessive talkativeness. The key is to look for more than one of these signs, and to notice if they persist over time.
Sudden and sustained emotional changes are also warning signs. These could include loss of interest in the family; signs of paranoia, such as being overly secretive or hiding behind locked doors; a general lack of motivation and energy; or chronic dishonesty, moodiness, irritability, or nervousness. 
Another sign is a pattern of change in school attendance or grades. Schools sometimes use automated phone messages to inform parents of an issue, but young people can delete the message before a parent can hear it. Talk to school officials directly if you suspect truancy or tardiness is becoming an issue. 
If you see several instances of your child having unaccountable money or unexplained loss of money, that could be another warning sign. Drug users can become drug dealers to make the needed money. Or a user could start stealing from parents or siblings to support the drug use. Watch for lies like “I’m just holding this money for a friend,” or “I lost the money you gave me.” Check debit card statements.
Another warning sign could be a dramatic change in friendships. If a child is abusing alcohol or drugs, it’s common to have old friends drop away and new friends enter the scene. Or a child could suddenly have multiple sets of friends. At the same time, children might become ultra-secretive about their cell phones.
Depression or other uncharacteristic changes in mood or personality can also be signs of addiction. Depression can arise from many other causes as well, so if it persists it is best to seek professional advice.
If you notice prescription drugs missing from your medicine cabinet, that could be another alert. Young people with drug problems will often search the medicine cabinet at home, or while at relatives’ homes, with friends, or even while babysitting.
Finally, parents should look for deterioration in a child’s appearance. Addicted young people pay less attention to how they look and to their hygiene. Lack of sleep can make them look especially drawn or tired. 
Dr. Leslie Adair, director of mental health and family services at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Adolescent and Young Adult Services program, offers this advice about trusting your own instincts: “Parents are usually the first to sense a problem, even if they don’t know what it is.”

The important point, if you have concerns, is to talk to a professional who can help determine whether your child’s actions indicate that further assessment is needed. It can be tempting to hope the problem will take care of itself as a child matures, but when it comes to drug abuse, the earlier the intervention the more likely the outcome will be positive.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reading maps

Radio Commentary

Reading maps is an important skill for everyone to master, whether the map is on paper, a computer, or a GPS screen.
Help by putting your child’s natural curiosity to work. Even small children can learn to read simple maps of their school, neighborhood, and community.
Go on a walk and collect natural materials like flowers or leaves to use for an art project. Map the location where you found each item.
Create a treasure map for children to find hidden treats in the yard or inside your home. This can even be a great idea for birthday parties. Encourage children to play the game with one another, taking turns with hiding the treasure and drawing the map. 
See if your child can find your street on a county or city map. Point out where your relatives or your children’s friends live.
Point out different kinds of maps, like state highway maps, city or county maps, and bus route maps. Discuss their different uses.
Before taking a trip, show your children a map of where you are going and how you plan to get there. Look for other routes you could take and talk about why you chose the one you did. 
Children sometimes like to follow the map as you travel. If you are on a long trip, you can point out what town you have just reached and ask children to find the next town on your route.

All these activities help with geography skills year-round.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Winners announced

Ten outstanding educators in Santa Barbara County will receive the 2014 Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Educator Awards on May 8 at the Education Celebration that is hosted each year by the Teachers Network of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
For 12 years Venoco, Inc. and the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) have partnered to present these awards to five exceptional educators from the North County and five from the South County. The celebration takes place at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton.
The Crystal Apple recipients are chosen for their dedication; instructional and motivational skills; ability to challenge and inspire students; and their ability to interact with students, staff, and community members.
“We are so pleased to be able to acknowledge the exceptional work of these outstanding educators,” said county Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone, whose office coordinates the program. “They represent the hundreds of professionals working day in and day out to make a difference for the students of Santa Barbara County.”
Each year, school employees, parents, and students are invited to nominate educators who have provided exceptional service to students. Crystal Apple winners receive a crystal apple plaque and a $500 stipend, generously provided by Venoco.
“Venoco is proud to acknowledge the exceptional accomplishments of this year’s Crystal Apple honorees,” said Marybeth Carty, Community Partnership Manager for Venoco, Inc. “This peer-nominated award allows us to recognize the best of the best, and express our thanks for the daily dedication and faith our local educators apply to the supremely important task of helping our children thrive.”
This year’s Venoco, Inc. Crystal Apple Educator Award winners are:

North County
Elementary Teacher: Gordon (Kenji) Matsuoka, Alvin Avenue School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District
Secondary Teacher: Tina Hughes, Fesler Junior High School, Santa Maria-Bonita School District
Classified Employee: Dennie Upton, Joe Nightingale School, Orcutt Union School District
Certificated Support Provider: Shannon Lopez, Joe Nightingale School, Orcutt Union School District
Administrator: Bridget Baublits, Principal, Los Olivos School, Los Olivos School District

South County
Elementary Teacher: Robert Cooper, Adams School, Santa Barbara Unified School District
Secondary Teacher: Carolyn Teraoka-Brady, San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara Unified School District
Classified Employee: Leslie Grieve, Canalino Elementary School, Carpinteria Unified School District
Certificated Support Provider: Rebekah Wagner, Cold Spring School, SBCEO Special Education
Administrator: Felicia Roggero, Principal, Brandon School, Goleta Union School District

For more information, call Steven Keithley, Director of SBCEO Teacher Programs and Support, at 964-4710, ext. 5281.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Work ethic

Radio Commentary

              Author and child advocate Marian Wright Edelman wrote a book for her children, “The Measure of our Success,” that outlines 25 lessons for life.
            In it, she states: “Don’t be afraid of hard work or of teaching your children to work. Work is dignity and caring, and the foundation for a life with meaning.”
            She writes that far too many children of privilege, of the middle class, and of the poor, are growing up without a strong work ethic, and too many are growing up without work at all.
It once was a given that children would work, sometimes after school, sometimes during weekends, always during the summer.
Though the goal was to earn money, these jobs were also a way to instill a work ethic, providing meaningful use of a young person’s time.
            Edelman said too many people today are obsessed with work for the sole purpose of “ensuring their ability to engage in limitless consumption.”
            She also says: “An important reason much of my generation stayed out of trouble is that we had to help out at home and in the community, and did not have time — or energy — to get into trouble.”
            This is not the case with many of our children today. Leisure pursuits are highly valued by young and old alike.
Recreation, sports, and entertainment have filled the space once reserved for employment. And many of the values learned in the workplace are finding no method for delivery in a society obsessed with fun and pleasure.
There is dignity in work, and it’s never too early to learn that lesson. We short-change our children if we imply that fulfillment can be gained only from activities that are fun.