Focus on Education (07/16/14)


Two Modesto grads have joined Teach For America, committing to teach for two years in high-needs schools near New Orleans and in the Bay Area. After graduating from Yale, 2010 Enochs High graduate John Gonzalez will teach in the Greater New Orleans Louisiana Delta region. Tomara Hall, a 2009 graduate of Davis High, will teach in the Bay Area, with school placement yet to be finalized. Gonzalez said his Ivy League experience was possible because of strong academic and personal support. “Others are not so lucky, and I am serving in Teach For America because I want to be an advocate for those who did not have the opportunities I had,” he said. Founded in 1990, Teach For America placed 11,000 teachers in 48 high-needs urban and rural regions in the 2013-14 school year. For more, visit


Lambpen Homeschool Ministries will hold an introduction to home education seminar at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 4 in Escalon. A home-schooling veteran with more than 20 years’ experience will lead the class, which will be open to those considering home-schooling, parents wanting to change school direction, or family and friends who have questions and concerns about home-schooling. The seminar will cover deciding if home-schooling is a good fit, organizing the home, legal options, resources and approaches, record keeping, and finding support and socialization. The meeting is free. For more information, contact JulieBeth by email at, call (209 838-6062 or visit


The Stanislaus County Division of the California Retired Teachers Association claimed top honors for 2014 in membership recruitment. Modesto’s Cathy Wooley, division membership chairwoman, accepted the Richard A. Hoffmann Memorial Award for the division with the greatest membership gain statewide, as well as the greatest increase in membership among all other divisions of similar size. The local group has a membership of some 880 members and gained 63 members last year. Wooley is a former Beyer High teacher. Stanislaus Division Past President Jim Sterling of Modesto was recognized by the state group with this year’s Ruth Q. dePrida Award for “dedication and devotion as an educator and community leader.” Sterling taught at C.F. Brown Elementary in the Sylvan Union district in north Modesto.


Retired elementary school principal Robert Evan Foster of Turlock has published a book for parents on becoming informed about their children’s education. “Does Your Child’s Teacher Measure Up?” was released in paperback by Amazon this spring and sells for $8.95. It includes chapters on what discipline and instructional strategies should include and gives a checklist for lessons observed and teacher quality indicators. It also covers homework, parental involvement and advocacy.


The nonprofit Common Sense Media has pulled together a list of the best apps, games and websites for kids and families to find engaging and educational content this summer. Every platform on the Best Summer Ever guide has been rated and reviewed for educational content by educators at Common Sense Media.


SCHOOL SUPPLIES: The nonprofit Kids In Need Foundation, dedicated to providing free school supplies to economically disadvantaged schoolchildren and underfunded teachers, is offering grants to improve preschool to 12th-grade students’ reading levels. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s sponsorship of the Reading Scholars grants will award $100 to $500 to teachers who wish to conduct innovative classroom projects but lack the funds to do so. Applications will be available on the Kids in Need website, The deadline for submission is Sept. 30.

FINANCIAL LESSONS: CompareCards, a credit card comparison company, has added an education center on its website with free financial lesson plans and launched a grant program for financial education programs. Financially Literate Youth, or FLY, will offer four $5,000 grants to eligible K-12 schools that have already implemented, or are looking to implement, a financial education program. For more, visit

ENERGY TEXTBOOKS: The Northern California public-television station KQED has added a free iBooks Textbooks series on energy. “ Energy: The Basics” and “ Energy: Use and Efficiency” have accompanying iTunes U-courses created by KQED in partnership with the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University. They align with “Energy Literacy: Essential Principals and Fundamental Concepts of Energy Education,” published by the U.S. Department of Energy. The books expand KQED’s Multi-Touch science book collection, which includes “Biotechnology,” “Earthquake” and “River Delta,” and support the Next Generation Science Standards.


Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., and the By Kids For Kids organization will offer a competitive $1,000 scholarship to kids ages 9-16. The Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Program and Challenge asks students to envision the challenges of the future and design a helicopter that overcomes them. Free materials are available for for teachers. For more, visit


Camp Green Meadows celebrates 50 years of outdoor education in 2014, and the Merced County Education Foundation is holding a fundraiser Sept. 6 at the outdoor school in Fish Camp, near the Wawona entrance to Yosemite National Park. The Merced County Office of Education runs the camp, an outdoor school for Merced County students and a recreation camp in the summer. The $100-per-person ticket includes round-trip travel from Merced to Fish Camp, appetizers, an authentic Western barbecue, a hosted bar, cowboy poetry and an optional tour of Camp Green Meadows. Proceeds benefit the MCE Foundation, supporting Green Meadows, foster youth, the arts, agriculture and science-math education. Camp Green Meadows is asking past students to share their stories on its Facebook page, For tickets and information, call (209) 381-6602.


The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, based in Aberdeen, Wash., will visit California ports this fall, offering K-12 education programs, public ticketed sails, and walk-on tours at each stop. Lady Washington will visit Oakland Oct. 10-19; San Francisco Oct. 20-Nov. 5; Half Moon Bay Nov. 6-19; and Moss Landing Nov. 20-30. Hawaiian Chieftain arrives in the port of Oakland Sept. 12-14. The ship will travel up the Sacramento River, visiting Antioch Sept. 16-21, and spend from Sept. 22 to Dec. 5 in Sacramento. Title I schools may be eligible for discounts on education programs. For more information, call Historical Seaport at (800) 200-5239 or visit