California Educator

APRIL 2010

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chance to bond with so many students. “I re- member so many things about them. I am able to remember their interests.” A former art teacher at the De Young Mu- seum in San Francisco, Harris also appreciates that the school’s art supply closet is fully stocked — without teachers having to pay money out of pocket to stock it. Like all Miral- oma classrooms, hers is adorned with the lat- est art assignments, having to do with earth- quakes and other themes. She grows as a teacher during staff collabo- ration meetings. “We share lessons, we share students’ work. We get to flush things out. We say to each other, ‘Why don’t you try this, why don’t you try that.’” Principal Ron Machado fought to get Miraloma on the QEIA list, and credits the law with raising the school’s test-driven API score by roughly 150 points. He attributes a team ef- fort by teachers and parents for the school’s stellar score of 851. “What QEIA has helped us do is reach that goal without having to sap money from other programs,” says Machado, who has been at the school for four years now. “Our kids are happy, they are really happy.” How well-regarded is Miraloma today? Last fall, the school had 33 kindergarten student RIGHT: Fourth-grade teacher Laura Mazotti reads to her students at Miraloma; elementary students having fun at break in the gymnasium. openings — and 480 parents rating the school as one of their top choices, Machado says. Trouble may loom on the horizon Only two of the 900 preliminary teacher pink slips issued this spring by San Francisco Unified were to Miraloma teachers. But the district is facing a deficit of $113 million over the next two years, and Machado fears its fi- nancial crisis my result in Miraloma being dropped from QEIA because smaller class siz- es will become too expensive for the district to subsidize and maintain. For now, the law is working as designed, showing that proven reforms and teacher- driven programs help student learning. Teacher Howard recalls how the extra re- medial classes helped one boy last year who could barely speak English. “Now he’s com- municating. He’s really keeping up in class.” She is proud of getting her kindergarten students to “publish” a story in one classroom exercise. Howard holds an “authors brunch” and invites parents to class to hear excited stu- dents proudly read their works. What makes a good school? Patrice Harris, English teacher, Rancho Verde High School, Val Verde Teachers Association A great school provides an environment where students feel safe and respect the teachers on campus. The teachers on campus maintain good student-teacher relationships so that students who have been in their class during previous years are still influenced by disciplinary ex- pectations that were established in the past. Some schools have traditions which are passed on from year to year and modified to encourage the next set of students to embrace that tradition. I can remember traditions that my high school passed on to our generation, like our homecoming pa- rade and football game against the crosstown rival played in the Rose Bowl every year. Each year alumni attend the game in their letterman jackets and cheer on the new generation. The school where I work established a tradition which holds students accountable for getting to class on time. It is referred to as TNT (Tardy Not Tolerated). When students are constantly late to class, there are consequences ranging from detention to suspension. This teaches students that punctuality is es- sential for academic success. It also prepares them for the workforce. They learn how valuable time will be for them as adults. The bottom line is that a great school provides an environment which maintains tradition, helps students excel academically and prepares them for society. It is a place that a student looks forward to attending each day. Visit us online To read more comments on good schools by these CTA members, see the Web exclusive at Delma Caunday Delma Caunday, special education aide education aide, R.J. Fisher Middle School, Los Gatos Union Classifi Employees Association Fisher Middle Los Gatos Union Classifi ed Janet Barker Janet Barker, language arts teacher, Parras Middle School, Redondo Beach Redondo Beach Teachers Association Lesley Legakis Lesley Legakis, kindergarten teacher, Sheppard Elementary School, Roseland Educators Association d Elementary Roseland Educators as Middle School, “It’s just an incredible moment in their lives.” Thanks to Miraloma’s teachers, parents and administrators all working together, the prom- ise of extra resources and smaller class sizes from CTA’s QEIA law is being kept at this school and hundreds more across California. To view a video of Miraloma teachers talking about the difference QEIA is making at their school — as well as a video of educators at another successful QEIA school, Martin Elementary in Santa Ana — visit APRIL 2010 | 23

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