Ceres’ new elementary school named for teacher, to be led by her daughter

naustin@modbee.comDecember 26, 2013 

— A new elementary school will open south of Central Valley High in the fall, named in honor of teacher Patricia Kay Beaver and dedicated to developing future leaders.

The leadership and character development magnet program will help create the next generation of good citizens, said Principal Libby Holmes. Her mother – Patricia Kay Beaver – would have loved that.

Beaver died on Mother’s Day 2001 from breast cancer. She was 49. The Ceres High teacher remained in the classroom as long as her illness allowed.

“My mom was always really involved in the community. She participated in PTA. She was in boosters before either one of us was in high school,” Holmes said. After returning to teaching, Beaver helped found the “S” Club at Ceres High, a service-oriented club linked to Soroptimist International of Ceres.

Beaver’s name was picked by trustees from a list of community submissions. “Her former students filled out the nominations. We got to hear from other former students about the impact that she made on their lives,” Holmes said. Being chosen as the new school’s namesake “will do more to honor what she did for students than anything else.”

Holmes had a decision of her own to make, and admits the familiar name helped her decide to apply for her first principalship. “For me, it’s very much an honor to be given the opportunity to open a school that has her name on it,” Holmes said.

A product of Ceres schools and a Ceres High grad, Holmes went to work as a preschool teacher before getting special education and administrative credentials. She does double duty with administrative work this year while attending principal meetings and preparing for the school’s opening, scheduled for Aug. 15.

Shells of a cafeteria-multipurpose building, a classroom wing and a kindergarten-administrative building rise above leveled dirt at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Grayson Road. As a magnet school, its students will come from throughout the Ceres Unified district.

Beaver Elementary will have off-white walls accented with faux bricks and teal trim, doors and roofs. Classrooms will have carpet, but polished concrete with visible pebbles will serve as a stylish and low-maintenance flooring in other rooms.

The concrete, for district construction inspector Mike Centreno, “is the wow factor.”

But for Holmes, the wow will be developing student potential. “We have this idea of what the magnet will look like. Parent involvement, getting our families engaged, will be a huge piece,” she said.

She hopes to forge ties with service clubs, community and faith-based groups, and business partners. “There’s so many places it could go. But we want to really focus on what’s going to benefit students the most,” she said.

The school’s theme – a first in the region – lines up with the push to teach by doing, Holmes said.

“It’s about focusing learning on developing leadership skills. Critical thinking and collaboration will be a big part of what we do, developing skills to have careers in the 21st century,” she said. “They have to take some risks, try new things to learn them.”

While the structure is new, she added, the concept incorporates much of what her mother tried to instill in students. “The whole idea of leadership and character development speaks to who she was,” Holmes said.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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