Thursday, May 30, 2013

MCOE hosts workshop about California education budget

The Monterey County Office of Education will host a free workshop to discuss the most recent developments in state education finance and other topics from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Friday May 31 at the Monterey County Office of Education located at 901 Blanco Circle in Salinas.

The workshop will be provided by Capitol Advisors Group, a Sacramento-based education advocacy firm. The workshop is open to anyone who wants to learn the latest on education funding in California. Topics of discussion will include the governor’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), Proposition 98, school accountability, school energy funding, and more.

For additional information on this budget workshop, call Kevin Gordon (916) 847-9454. Register here.

Monterey County high school students: be creative, make a difference

Are you 13 to 18 years old and live in Monterey County? Would you like to apply your creativity to making a difference in your community? Would you like to develop new problem solving and communication skills in a small collaborative team environment?

Enroll in iLead + Design, a Community Action Studio to be held at Monterey Institute of International Studies' Digital Learning Commons from June 17 to June 28.

Under the guidance of skilled coaches from York, Robert Louis Stevenson and MIIS, you will learn and apply the problem solving and innovation processes used by modern entrepreneurs. Experience a preview of graduate school!

You’ll walk away with the ability to design models and prototypes, create new visions for existing problems. You will apply your talents to make a difference related to problems in our community. This experience will make an eye-catching addition to your college applications. Information and details here. Scholarships available.

Deadline to apply for MPUSD open seat is Friday

The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District will receive applications until 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, for people wishing to be considered to be appointed to represent Area 1 in Marina.

Curtis Parker resigned effective April 22, and the provisional appointment would serve his remaining term until the end of the year.

The application packet and map to determine residency requirements is posted on the MPUSD website or interested people who would like to be considered for appointment to this office should request an application from the Office of the Superintendent, 700 Pacific Street, Monterey, (831) 645-1204, or e-mail Tricia Westrick at

Requirements for Appointment
1. A registered voter residing within Trustee Area 1
2. 18 years or older
3. Not an employee of the school district.

Postmarks will not be accepted. All completed application packages should be returned to the Office of the Superintendent, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.

The Board of Education will interview qualified candidates at a board meeting on Monday, June 3, 2013, 7:00 p.m., at the Instruction Materials Center (IMC), 540 Canyon Del Rey, Monterey, CA. A provisional appointment will be made at that meeting to fill the term of office which will expire in November, 2013.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mark Stilwell to fill vacancy on Carmel Unified School District board

Mark Edward Stilwell Sr., executive vice president for the Pebble Beach Company and a 12-year resident within the boundaries of the Carmel Unified School District, has been appointed to fill a vacancy on its board of education.  The appointment was confirmed late Tuesday at a special meeting.

Stilwell and his wife Susan have three children who attend Carmel High School. He's been an involved parent, volunteering as a youth sports coach in soccer, basketball and baseball for the Monterey YMCA and Carmel Unified Youth Baseball. In addition, he volunteers as an alumni interviewer for Yale and has interviewed seniors at Carmel High and other local schools for many years.

Mathew Fuzie has resigned from the board effective June 5, and Stilwell will be in office until the next election scheduled for November.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Carmel Unified board to interview and appoint candidate to fill vacancy

Trustees with the Carmel Unified School District will hold a special meeting today to interview candidates and appoint a new member of the board of education.

 Mathew Fuzie has resigned from the board effective June 5, 2013, and officials with CUSD will fill the vacancy by provisional appointment. The appointee will hold office until the next regularly scheduled Board election in November of 2013.

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the district office, 4380 Carmel Valley Rd. Interviews will take place during open session for six candidates: Mark Stilwell, Gordon Freedman, Kristy Downing, Bill Leatherberry, Leslie Ann Cooley, and Jamie Devon Shrabeck.

Trustees will vote on their selection right after the interviews.

CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa will stay for a while -- what do you want to know about his plans?

Now that Ochoa was been confirmed to stay at CSUMB, I'll be sitting with him for an interview this week.

What do you want to ask him about the future of the university? Let me know and I'll include it in my questions.

Call me at 753-6755, email me at, send me a tweet @MelendezSalinas.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pacific Grove High graduate, Moss Landing Marine Lab student, earns top state science honors

Brian Maurer, a graduate student from San Jose State University and Pacific Grove High alumnus received this year's California State University’s top award for graduate student research in Biological and Agricultural Sciences.

This year’s competition was held May 10th and 11th at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Maurer, who conducts his research at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories’ Biological Oceanography Lab, was one of three graduate students from San Jose State University at the statewide event.

The twenty-seventh annual CSU competition gave awards in 10 categories for student excellence in scholarly research and creative activity. Maurer presented his research on the optimization of bulk FDA, a water quality analysis technique developed for ballast water testing by his advisor, Dr. Nick Welschmeyer. Maurer has improved the method, which is critical for both scientific and public sectors, as it provides a way to determine if living organisms are present in water samples.

Maurer received a cash prize of $500 for his First Place award.

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is the graduate program in marine science for California State Universities East Bay, Fresno, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Stanislaus. To learn more information about MLML and Brian Maurer, click here.

Submitted by Brynn Hooton-Kaufman

Learning for Life Charter in Marina earns full accreditation

Learning for Life Charter School has just been notified by the Western Association of School and Colleges that it has received full accreditation through 2019.

 "The timing of the notification is extremely fortunate," said Cindy Dotson, the school's executive director. "It means that this year’s graduating seniors will have the WASC accreditation annotated on their transcripts and diplomas."

The tiny, alternative school in Marina had come under scrutiny in recent months by the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, the chartering agency, and California Department of Education officials, who believed MPUSD was not keeping adequate tabs on it.

At a meeting in March, MPUSD officials heard a report that discussed possible charter revocation if things did not improve. MPUSD administrators presented trustees a plan to keep better tabs on the school and work with representatives to make sure it overcame obstacles.

Common Core Standards for Parents!

Martin Cisneros, techology czar at the Monterey County Office of Education, put together this page on information and resources about the Common Core Standards.

Many schools in Monterey County (and the entire state) have begun the transition to the new educational system, which will need to be fully implemented in 2014, with students tested in 2015.

You can find the page here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Monterey County's children: if you love Mexico, this is your chance to show it!

“Éste es mi México” a drawing contest organized by Mexico Foreign Relations Ministry, is seeking entries for its 17th annual installment.

Children ages between 7 and 11, regardless of nationality, are able to participate.

Make your drawing on a 12" by 12" sheet of cardstock using any type of paints.

This year, the theme is "Mexico's Wings." What do you remember about Mexico? Are your memories from your travels or from your parents' experiences? How are its colors and flavors reflected in the country where you live?"

Make your drawing, and write its title, a brief explanation about it and what it means to you on the back of the entry. Include also your name and date.

Send your drawing or bring it to the closest Mexican Consulate. In the Central Coast, the closest consulate is Consulado General de México en San José, 2125 Zanker Rd, San José, CA 95131.

Find and print an entry form here.

Last day to enter is July 15.

MPUSD -- the new and improved?

If you missed Monday's meeting of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District trustees, it was quite a sight. A group of parents who had previously complained seemingly non-stop about not being heard, got up and praised an existing program that will be revamped coming next school year, thanks to their input.

They were finally being heard, they said. The program, once in peril, will now go on and thrive.  (I'll save details for another edition of the Herald).

It was as if I'd been transported to another dimension. Is this the MPUSD I've covered for nearly four years?

I sat for a chat with new Board President Jon Hill, and he told me things are going to change. And one of the things he said will change is planning. So they're starting to plan now for the selection of the new superintendent next year. Based on their public conversations, they'll leave the selection to a new board of trustees (there will be at least three new board members come November). But by the time the new elected officials are sworn in and seated, it'll be December -- not enough time to start a process anew.

Hill's thinking ahead. He wants the process to be as transparent and pain-free as possible. I don't blame him.

And recently, I came across this bit of information: the Wake County Board of Education in North Carolina just announced its THREE finalists for the job of superintendent. Candidates will tour the 150,000-student system, and presumably, give the community a chance to get to know them before they're voted on.

I say what's good for Wake County, should be good for MPUSD. Having three finalists publicly announced would save the district a lot of headaches. It's a process that was followed at MPC and Hartnell, and it's worked.

Monterey County's Women's Fund -- empowering girls

Roxanna Sanchez grew up in Greenfield, where health education classes were hard to come by. As a participant in Girls Inc., a program which empowers young women from all over Monterey County, she was invited to the Women's Fund breakfast in 2010, which gathers power ladies from all over the county to donate for a good cause.

Sitting next to Roxanna was one of these power ladies who listened attentively to what Roxanna said. Check out the video: the young woman didn't know what to do with her life back then. To her surprise, the attentive lady who had been listening to her the entire morning got up to speak, and told her in front of the audience: if you don't get into the health profession, I don't know what I'm going to do with you.

Roxanna immediately realized what she needed to do with her life, she told an audience of about 400 people at Thursday's Women's Fund breakfast in Monterey. Her comments made the entire audience laugh, bringing some levity to a morning full of sobering statistics.

More than one in four Monterey County women over age 25 did not have a high school diploma in 2009. More than one in six Monterey County girls drops out of high school.

And women, who hold up half the sky, need a lot of support. 

Supporters of the Women's Fund believe that, when women succeed, they lift the boats of their entire families. So they're raising money to endow the program, to continue supporting programs that empower women all over the county.  They're halfway through their goal of $1.5 million.

Listening to Roxanna, who now studies at San Jose State University health science and child adolescent development, was truly inspiring. She even made some of the powerful ladies in the audience tear up.

But it was Roxanna's turn to tear up when the woman who inspired her came to hug her at the end of the breakfast.

It was Morley Brown, decidedly one of my most favorite power ladies in Monterey County.

They embraced, Roxanna teared up, and they promised each other to keep in touch.

It was sweet, magical moment, and I feel so lucky to have witnessed it.

Girls do need a lot of help, specially in our rural, highly immigrant, highly agricultural community. If you'd like to learn more about the Women's Fund, click here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CSUMB's Eduardo Ochoa here to stay

Eduardo Ochoa, interim president of Cal State Monterey Bay, will be interim no more.

The California State University Board of Trustees today appointed Ochoa as the permanent president of CSUMB, effective immediately. Ochoa has held the position on an interim basis since July 2012.

“I am honored by the action taken by the Board of Trustees in making permanent my appointment as president of Cal State Monterey Bay," Ochoa said in a statement. “Since arriving in July, I have been most impressed with the people I have met on campus and in the community. I believe this university is poised for great things, and I look forward to continuing to serve as its president.”

Ochoa returned to the CSU after serving from 2010 to 2012 in the Obama Administration as the U.S. assistant secretary for postsecondary education – advising the secretary on higher education issues, administering more than 60 programs and overseeing financial aid policy and accreditation.

“President Ochoa brought to Monterey Bay his unique blend of national expertise and a homegrown connection to the university mission,” said CSU Board of Trustees chair Bob Linscheid. “He has connected with students and faculty to move the campus forward on its core values of diversity, sustainability and community service.”

Ochoa grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving to Portland, Ore., with his family while in high school. He has earned degrees in physics, nuclear science and economics from Reed College, Columbia University and the New School for Social Research, respectively. His plans to return to work in his native Argentina were sidetracked by a military coup.

He refocused his energy in California, teaching at Fresno State as well as at California State University, Los Angeles, where he was a full professor and chair of the economics and statistics department. He also led the university’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, and served as acting dean of its School of Business and Economics.

In 1997, Ochoa was hired as the dean of Cal Poly Pomona's College of Business Administration, where he served for six years. This was followed by seven years as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sonoma State University.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Colton students learn and have fun at California Academy of Sciences

It's a trip that Walter Colton Middle School Science teacher Justine Hochstaedter organizes every year -- and that students happily vote to take as their year-end celebratory trip.

It's a $10,000-trip for which Hochstaedter spends many hours fundraising -- to bring prices down and make it affordable to students. The 10-hour trip translates into countless hours of arranging transportation, purchasing tickets, organizing groups, and fundraising.

All in  Hochstaedter's spare time.

"It is many, many extra hours of work," Hochstaedter wrote in an email. "I do get the support of my school site, our PTA, from the principal Kim Cooper and fellow teachers. I couldn't do it without them,"

This year, 214 students took the trip, along with 40 chaperons (10 Colton staff, 30 parents) in five passenger tour buses. What a odyssey!

They all had a great time, she said of the trip in early May. That's how Hochstaedter celebrated teacher's day. What a class act!

Here's some of the testimonials Ms. Hochstaedter shared with me, and now with you. Enjoy!

“One of my favorite exhibits was the rainforest. I really enjoyed the butterfies. I also like the planetarium show and the glow-in-the-dark fish. This was one of my favorite field trips. I will never forget this experience!” – Ella

“We had a great time at the museum. We even felt an earthquake. We learned so much that we did not know at the California Academy of Sciences.” – Ashley

“My favorite part is that there is a rainforest and there are animals and fish I have not seen before. I got to learn about them. Without your donation of money we wouldn’t have been able to go”. – Fernando

“I had fun beyond comparison to any other museum. I didn’t know that fish could get so big or what an earthquake felt like. Plus it was amazing how big the building was. Thank you for helping us”. – Devin

“Thank you for your donation to our school. On this trip I reconnected with friends, ate delicious food and most importantly I learned a lot about earthquakes and different kinds of animals. I absolutely loved the rainforest. I saw butterflies I had not seen before. I learned about how earthquakes start. I now have a better understanding of faults and how an earthquake feels>” – Ingrid

“A big, big thank you from me and my classmates. Because of your donation some students who couldn’t afford the trip went because they had to pay less money. Thank you for making our day.” – Hashir

“I had many favorite exhibits, for example the giant pendulum that swings and hits a peg every 39 minutes. The sign said it wouldn’t move unless the Earth was spinning, which I found extremely interesting.” - Mattie

“I really enjoyed the museum and I learned a lot about how earthquakes happen. It’s very interesting. It happens when two tectonic plates moves past each other.” - James

“I really enjoyed watching the planetarium show. It felt like I was flying. I was learning and entertained at the same time. I will definitely remember this for the rest of my life”! - Jasmin

“I want to say thank you to the donors and chaperones who helped make this trip happen for us. I got to see a lot of really cool things and learned a lot of new things. I had a great time seeing the white alligator which I took many pictures of. I had a great time with my friends. The museum was really big and entertaining. I definitely want to come back again.” - Robbie

Carmel students pick the local non-profits they want to benefit

It's kind of complicated. The Rotary Club of Carmel Valley gives $1,000 to its local schools. But the money's not to keep -- it's for the students to allocate to the non-profits they think are most deserving.

So Carmel Middle School gave $1,000 to the Kinship Center; Tularcitos Elementary School $1,000 to the American Red Cross; Carmel River School $1,000 to the Make a Wish Foundation; All Saints’ Episcopal Day School $1,000 to Voices for Children, formerly CASA; and Junipero Serra School, $500 to First Candle and $500 to Meals on Wheels specifically for the Save Our Breakfast campaign.

The "Partners in Community Service" process, now in its seventh year, begins in January when leadership members at the five schools are provided $1,000 each by the Rotary Club. The students then begin a planned procedure to select recipients of the money. They learn first hand about the work of many local charities and non-profits and how to help them financially.

“Recipients are thrilled that there’s a whole new generation that’s becoming aware of the needs in the community and doing something about it,” says Rick Shea, the Rotarian in charge of the program. “I enjoy it because I get to see young people make decisions and form a consensus.”

“PICS cultivates that connectedness that children have to their community,” says Carmel River School Principal Jay Marden. “It also promotes their awareness of the good they can do in terms of having a direct impact on the lives of those who are served by the charities and are fortunate to receive the grants.”

Over the years, organizations chosen to receive the money have included Meals on Wheels, Dorothy’s Kitchen, CASA of Monterey County (Court Appointed Special Advocates), the SPCA, the Salvation Army, Shelter Outreach, American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society and First Candle.

To learn more about the project, watch this video:

Carmel Valley Rotary PICS from Rotary Carmel Valley on Vimeo.

Carmel Unified looking for new trustee -- apply today!

It's not to late to apply to be considered for a trustee position at the Carmel Unified School District.

Trustee Mathew Fuzie has resigned from the board effective June 5, 2013, and officials with CUSD will fill the vacancy by provisional appointment. The appointee will hold office until the next regularly scheduled Board election in November of 2013.

Persons interested in being considered for the position may request an application at the district's office, 4380 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel, CA 93923, at either (831) 624-1546 ext. 2021, or by e-mail to or via the district website here.

Applicants must reside within the District boundaries and not otherwise be disqualified from holding a civil office. Applications must be submitted no later than 4:30 pm on Tuesday, May 21, 2013.

Candidates for the Board appointment will be interviewed by the Board of Education at their meeting on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 in the Carmel Middle School Library. The community is invited to provide input, either in writing or in person at the meeting.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Soledad Unified School District Appoints Rupi Boyd as Superintendent

Rupi Boyd, a top Los Angeles education administrator, has been named the new superintendent of the Soledad Unified School District.

Boyd, who received a bachelor's degree from UC San Diego and doctorate in educational leadership from San Diego State University, will take on her new role in June. She replaces Deneen Newman, who moved on to work for the Monterey County Office of Education as deputy superintendent of instruction.

“Dr. Boyd emerged as our top candidate though a process that involved community and staff,” Soledad Board President Fabian Barrera said. "Dr. Boyd comes to us with a wealth of experience and is a wonderful fit in our organization and community. She will guide building our new middle school with the Measure C Bond that was passed by our voters.”

Boyd’s experience includes serving most recently at the as the instructional superintendent of LA’s Promise in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District for the past three years. She is an instructional leader with a distinguished record of accomplishment in raising student achievement and of turning around low performing schools. While in Los Angeles, Boyd drove an aggressive plan to shift the educational outcomes for thousands of students who attended West Adams Prep High School, Manual Arts High School and John Muir Middle School.

The Soledad Unified School District will host a community reception to welcome Boyd at 3:30 p.m. on June 3 at the Soledad High School’s Cafeteria.

It's awards season, and the California Teachers Association are handing some out

The California Teachers Association and its Central Coast Counties Service Center Council handed out their We Honor Ours awards last Friday at a lovely dinner at the Best Western hotel in Monterey.

Besides honoring Leon and Sylvia Panetta (the dynamic duo seem to be everywhere after Secretary Panetta returned to the area) as "Friends of Education," CTA honored Blanca Gutierrez and Ray Muñoz of the Alisal Teachers Association, Velma Hawkins of the Aromas/San Juan Teachers Association, Terri Baker of the Live Oak Elementary Teachers Association, John Colombo and Virginia DeVaux of the Monterey Bay Teachers Association, Monica Agpaoa-Gonzales of the Monterey County Office of Education, and Michelle Ross and Carol Rodrigues of the Salinas Elementary Teachers Council.

The WHO awards are given to teachers who, in addition to their work in the classroom, take on leadership positions within the union. It's double duty, and a lot of hard work. It was very touching to hear the awardees being introduced by their colleagues, people who deeply know of their hard work and dedication.

A special award was given to Jill Lowe from the Monterey Bay Teachers Association, whose work doesn't stop at the local, but reaches into statewide spheres.

Incidentally, the gracious union folks also gave me a diploma for having won the John Swett award for my education reporting. Allyson Schweifler of the Monterey Bay Teachers Association gave a really nice speech about my work. It was touching, and humbling. Thanks from the bottom of my journalistically jaded heart ;-)

Interim provost named for Cal State University Monterey Bay

Julio Blanco, dean of the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering and professor of physics at CSU Bakersfield, has been named interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for Cal State Monterey Bay.

Blanco succeeds Kathryn Cruz-Uribe, who is leaving CSUMB to become chancellor of Indiana University East.

“I am pleased that Dr. Blanco has agreed to come to Cal State Monterey Bay to fill this leadership role,"  said in a prepared statement Eduardo M. Ochoa, interim president of Cal State Monterey Bay. " He has a strong academic background and excellent experience within the CSU system. I am confident he will be a great addition to our campus."

Along with his role of dean at CSU Bakersfield, Blanco serves as associate provost for grants, resource management and planning within the Division of Academic Affairs.

He moved to CSU Bakersfield from CSU Northridge, where he began his academic career as a teaching assistant in 1974 and advanced through the ranks to full professor in 1997. He served as department chair from 2001 to 2006.

Blanco earned his Ph.D. in physics from Penn State University and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in physics from CSU Northridge.

He will assume his new duties July 1.

“CSUMB is a great university and I feel privileged to join it and to get to know everyone on campus and in the community. I look forward to working with President Ochoa and the administration leadership, faculty, staff and students,” Blanco said.

The university plans to launch a nationwide search for a permanent successor to Cruz-Uribe at the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Monterey teens: your help is needed at the library

The Monterey Public Library is looking for student summer volunteers.

Teen Library volunteers help with the Summer Reading Program by assisting with sign-ups, crafts and programs, and by shelving and helping with computer work. Volunteers should enjoy working with children and must be at least 14 years old. This is an opportunity to gain workplace experience, earn required academic community service hours, and build resumes for college.

Interviews begin May 29. Applications are available at the library help desk or here. For more information contact Jane Ward at 646-5660.

The Monterey Public Library is at 625 Pacific Street, Monterey.

Hartnell approves lease-leaseback agreement -- and project labor agreement

At a crowded meeting Tuesday, Hartnell trustees approved a "lease-leaseback" agreement to develop the colleges new science building in the heart of the main campus.

But the agreement wasn't approved as originally proposed. Administrators proposed the lease-leaseback agreement to be approved without requiring project labor agreements. That original proposal failed 3-4, with Trustees Erica Padilla-Chavez, Pat Donohue and Candi DePauw for and Bill Freeman, Ray Montemayor, Demetrio Pruneda, and Elia Gonzalez-Castro against.

Montemayor then amended the proposal to include requirements of a project labor agreement, Spokeswoman Terri Pyer said. Project labor agreements demand union shops be brought on board for the construction part of the project. Critics had said this process could end up driving up costs, but friends of labor prevailed. Besides Montemayor, the amendment was supported by Pruneda, Freeman, and Gonzalez-Castro.

The amendment also requires that three trustees will participate in the negotiations of the project labor agreements.

The room was packed, mostly with supporters of project labor agreements, according to Hartnell Spokeswoman Terri Pyer.

CSUMB's Capstone Festival coming up next week

It's probably hard for the common folk to get out to CSUMB, but if there's a good time to do it, it's next week. During Capstone festival, the public gets to be impressed by the work students have put together to graduate.

At CSUMB, all students must complete a capstone project in their final year, publicly presenting and defending the project or portfolio of work that demonstrates what they have learned. They do this each spring at the Capstone Festival, which is organized by academic departments. The festival takes place May 16 and 17.

Presentations will be held all day on both days throughout campus. The festival ends May 17, with the Teledramatic Arts and Technology (TAT) students showing their work in the World Theater starting at 6 p.m. Sixteen short films will be screened. Admission is free.

A matinee showing of the TAT students’ work is also scheduled a 1 p.m. on May 17, in the World Theater. The theater is located on Sixth Avenue near the intersection with A Street.

A complete schedule is available here. Driving directions and a campus map are available here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

York receives handsome donation for scholarships, professional development

Philanthropists Peggy and Jack Baskin of Carmel and Santa Cruz have just donated $770,000 to the "Campaign for York" for scholarships and professional development.

The Baskins were appropriately cheered by students and faculty at an all-school assembly last week at York School, when the announcement was made.

The Baskins are huge supporters of education, and they have also contributed to the Monterey Peninsula College Foundation and other worthy educational causes. It's nice to have caring people in our midst.

Mea culpa: an apology to MPUSD trustees

If you were present at the emotional meeting of April 22, in which hundreds of you packed the meeting of the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Board of Education, you no doubt saw my performance.

I accused the trustees of being unfair, of preventing me from talking to superintendent candidate Alain Guevara and allowing another media to take first and only dibs.

Completely untrue, I later found out. The only reason Mr. Guevara agreed to talk to KSBW is because he promised an interview ahead of time. By the time the board went into close session, and Guevara had a chance to hear what the community had said about his presence in the district, all he wanted to do was leave. Nonetheless, he kept his promise to give an interview, even though he didn't really feel like staying another minute in Monterey. And I don't blame him.

There's a reason why we reporters are not supposed to be taking the microphone during public comments. We have our own forum (with my blog, I probably have a bigger one than most). I should not have allowed my emotions get the best of me, and I'm deeply sorry. I've already apologized twice for my boorish behavior to Tricia, and I'm just hoping she'll eventually smile to me again.

So now for the second round of apologies: Mr. Curt Parker, Mr. Jon Hill, Ms. Diane Creasey, Ms. Debra Gramespacher, Ms. Regena Lauterbach, Dr. Bettye Lusk, Ms. Helen Rucker, I accused you of being unfair, and it turns out, it was I who was being unfair. I truly regret it.

Now, next time you see me approach the microphone, please drag me back to my "desk." Thank you very much. 

A bear hug to all teachers in Teacher Appreciation Day!

After I finished writing my profile on Wendy Williamson, teacher extraordinaire at Ione Olson in Marina, I realized I could not do justice to her. We spent so much time talking, I learned so much from her perspective, and naturally, not all of it fits in 800 words for a newspaper article. I didn't mention her class project on writing to U.S. troops deployed overseas. Of her science projects. Of how she juggles two grades in one classroom. On how she achieves sanity by having balance in her life.

So here's to Mrs. Williamson, and to the many other teachers who were nominated to be profiled. Thank you so much to the nominators! And of course, thank you very much to all the teachers, nominated or not. You do wonders day in and day out, and we cannot thank you enough!

Have a great Teachers week!

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's National Teacher Appreciation week!

Teachers, I appreciate you! And so do many people around you, and I sure hope they tell you this week!

Thanks to all the people who nominated their favorite teacher to be profiled in the Herald. My editors helped me pick the best entry, so stay tuned for Wednesday's edition of the Herald, where I'll profile this amazing teacher. 

And I know who else appreciates you: the Monterey County Office of Education, several local mayors, and the Masonic Lodges.

On Wednesday, this group is inviting teachers and educators to attend an informal reception near their school or home to celebrate “The Day of the Teacher." Pick your local Masonic Lodge and attend an informal reception from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided.

Receptions will take place at:

Carmel Lodge On Lincoln, Between 7th and 8th Streets

Monterey Lodge, 525 Pacific Street

Salinas Lodge, 48 East Joaquin Street

Santa Lucia Lodge, 424 ½ Broadway Avenue, King City

Pacific Grove Lodge, 130 Congress Avenue

Teachers and educators are encouraged to RSVP with name, school and Masonic Lodge they plan to attend to Gene Bassett at

Happy Teachers Week, teachers! You deserve all the love in the world!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Save lives! Pitch in for sober grad parties!

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. When you add to that the excitement of having finished high school, and the peer pressure to consume alcohol or drugs, the combination can be lethal.

That's why parents in the Monterey Peninsula -- and throughout the country, really -- put together Sober Grad nights, alcohol free, late-night extravaganzas where graduates can let their hair down in a safe, supervised, atmosphere.

And like most events sponsored by PTA, the events rely on donations from the community.

All 3 of MPUSD Sober Grads are the evening of June 7. All three are organized by the PTA. They all need cash donations and prizes for the prize wheel and games etc.

So please donate! For more information you can call Joanna Greenshields, Monterey PTA, at, Constance Constable, Seaside PTA,, and Jesse Tamayo at Marina High PTA,

And thanks!!!!

Ernie and Christina Camacho save the day for Salinas little leaguers

When Christina Camacho heard that the Continental Little League had been robbed of $3,000 in equipment, she turned to her husband, former baseball pro Ernie Camacho, and told him: "We have to do something."

And they did. They've organized a barbeque where they plan to sell 150 tickets $20 a piece to recover all the funds lost. Lo an behold, the tickets haven't even begun to sell, but the Camacho's have already raised the $3,000 the Continental Little League lost.

"There's a lot of nice people in this community," Camacho told me.

Camacho works in the maintenance department of Alisal Union School District, where he's been for about 20 years, ever since he ended his career in the majors in 1990. He played for six teams, including the Giants, the Astros, and the A's.

"I'm just trying to give back," he says. "This is probably one of my biggest saves ever."

If you want to pitch in to Camacho's fundraising campaign, send him an email at

Children! Give your mom the gift of your craft!

The Salinas Public Library will host a Mother’s Day Craft for Kids at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.

Children, come make a fun Mother's Day themed craft to take home as a gift.

At the John Steinbeck Library, at 350 Lincoln Avenue in Salinas.

For More information call 831.758.7311

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Monterey Bay Charter School will host its 15th annual May Faire, a day full of spring, food and games from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 4th, at the school, 1004 David Ave., Pacific Grove. All proceeds used to further the school's mission to raise amazing kids.

There will be breakfast, a cake sale, silent auction, a procession, games, storytelling, a puppet show, and more.

For more information, call (831) 655-4638 or click here.

Bay View Academy gets major makeover

Courtesy of one of the country's largest telecommunications corporation, Bay View Academy received a major makeover this past weekend.

During "Comcast Cares Day," now in it's 12th year, employees of the corporation spruce up schools in their local communities. Bay View was one of 16 schools in California to receive the help.

Comcast employees, alongside parents, teachers, and school officials spent the morning of April 27 planting, installing benches, painting and cleaning up the grounds. This is what it looked like, courtesy of Gordon Smith, who was there to witness it all.