Who would you like to see in the Tribune?

morning paper
Photo from Hitchster’s photostream at Flickr.com/creativecommons

Every once in awhile, someone sends me a news tip on a person who’s doing important work with little attention or press, or someone who has a story to tell. Do you know anyone like that — someone in your school or district that has an interesting job, or who’s been doing it for a gazillion years and has a formidable (and rare) institutional memory?

Now’s your chance! Let me know — by tomorrow morning, if possible — if you have any ideas for one of our regular profile features. You can post them here or email me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

I look forward to hearing them.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Student Teacher

    Katy: I would love to see teachers in Oakland public school classrooms who are differentiating course work for struggling, grade level and gifted / advanced students in the same class. I would like to hear how they learned, improved their craft and what they continue to do vs. what they change.

    Surely in a district as large as ours there must be teachers that we can profile.

    Also, I would like to know how the former finalist candidates for the superintendent position are doing and where they have landed. They were quite talented.

  • Sue

    I love Student Teacher’s idea, and I have the name of a teacher – Mrs. Slater at Carl B. Munck. At least, I hope she’s still there!

    Our now-college-sophomore was in her combined 4th and 5th grade class during the first year that the district started the ASIP (Autism Spectrum Inclusion Program), along with two other students on the spectrum. Mrs. Slater was handling two grade levels, while she was differentiating for learning-challenges that go with ASD, and she was working with the inclusion teachers and aides who were all figuring out how the whole program was going to work.

    I’ve posted more than enough about how successful the program has been, and I’d love to see anyone from ASIP get profiled…

    But Mrs. Slater is a really remarkable general education teacher who would be interesting to a much wider audience than the ASD community, and she would make a great subject for a profile.

    I really, truly hope she’s still in the district, since our family has watched so many other great teachers leave over the years for retirement or greener pastures.

  • Katy Murphy

    These are great ideas — keep ’em coming! The more specific (names, schools, etc.) the better. I’ll see if I can find out whether Mrs. Slater is still in OUSD.

  • Jessica Stewart

    Helena Jack is an amazing educator who has been teaching and leading music education for students in East Oakland for decades. I worked with her at Elmhurst and the music program was fantastic. I have her email address if you need it.

  • Katy Murphy

    Yes, please!

  • Sue

    Okay, I’m embarrassed to have confused the names of two different teachers who taught my son three years apart. The general ed teacher I was thinking of above (still at Munck according to their web page) was Mrs. Ellen Shaler. Awesome! I’m so glad to know she’s still here!

    The misidentified Mrs. Slater was Julie Slater, a Speech and Language handicap teacher who had our boy in 2nd grade at either Tilden or Marshall in a Special Day Class for communication handicapped students. She was pretty good too. Although her use of food rewards (M&Ms) in the classroom was very effective with our son, it coincided with the beginning of his weight problems.

  • Yazstremski

    @Sue…your comments about Julie Slater are inappropriate. You could have just as easily said you spelled the name of the teacher incorrectly instead of what you have done. Shame on you for even intimating that she had a hand in your son’s weight gain.

  • Yazstremski

    Katy Murphy, Your idea to solicit names is wonderful, but “Sue” should not be allowed to name a teacher like that and make those claims. That comment should come down, it is very unfair to Ms. Slater, as well as being unsubstantiated.

  • Sue

    Well, I’m certainly not going to violate his privacy by releasing my son’s pediatric records from 13 years ago; although doing so would substantiate his doctor’s concerns about his sudden transition during 2nd grade from a slightly-below-average weight to being significantly overweight.

    Yaz, you don’t like my stating my experience – that an introduction of a new reward system that was effective in teaching my son, also coincided with a negative consequence to his physical well-being – but I’ll stand by the facts and truth of my earlier statement. It never even occurred to me to lie, or make up some sort random cover story about my teachers’ names confusion. I like simple truth, since I never have to keep track of which “fiction” (i.e. lie) has to be maintained with whom and where.

    Parents and teachers should be aware of all the potential positives and negatives of a teaching technique when they’re using it or considering trying it with a student.

    Oh, and the teacher checked with parents (and possibly with the principal or other district staff too) before she began giving the rewards. Anyway, the “shame” of our kid having a weight problem rests at least as much with us, his parents, as it does with any teacher. Even with the benefits of hind-sight, I think we’d have made the same decision – give the rewards – because it *worked*.

    Since our then-little guy had a build like mine (naturally thin) at the time, we didn’t foresee any problem with trying it to see if it got him talking more after a completely stalled 1st grade where he made no progress. Boy did it! After 3rd grade, he was out of SDC and in a regular general ed classroom because his language skills had progressed to age and grade-level appropriate.

    Oh, and I would have given the 3rd grade Communication Specialist teacher’s name for Katy, too, because she was brilliant (she had her class competing at the M. L. King Oratorical that February). But she took early retirement at the end of the school year when the state took over the district and moved to So. Cal. so she’s not available.

    And now, I really hope we’ll get back on-topic, and Katy will get a long list of people in the district who would make great interview subjects.

  • Ann Joseph

    I would like to see Geneva Peare recognized for just what Student Teacher mentioned in his/her entry. She is way below the radar at Montclair Elementary (in a good way, and the principal seems to really know Mrs. Peare’s worth), but is an exemplary teacher in how she mastefully teaches and challenges all levels (emotionally and academically) in her classroom. She is especially good at science and math instruction. If my child could only have more teachers like her!

  • Yazstremski

    Sue-What I don’t like is that you named a teacher, not to nominate for her excellence in the classroom, but to take a jab at her, without her being able to defend herself. Julie Slater is a class act and I’m sure she would not even dignify your post with a response, at least not on-line. You claim her rewards worked, you’d make the same choice again, yet your child’s weight issues are her fault?

    You should have stayed on topic…you could have praised Shaler without mentioning Slater…period. Like anyone would have known (or cared) about your error as you praised a worthy teacher who obviously knows her stuff.

    As for some “truth”…your 7-year old second grader ate what you, the parent, provided. So it totally “rests on you”, especially if you gave Ms. Slater permission to give your child candy. And you are truly fooling yourself if you think a few M&Ms had any impact on your child’s weight gain. As a Pediatric Nurse for the past 20 years, I’d change my pediatrician immediately if he allowed me a “free pass” as a parent to assign blame to another, rather than accepting the consequences of my family’s eating habits. And, unless your son “coincidentally” lost all of that weight the next year, after leaving Ms. Slater’s class, then get a mirror and take a long look at the cause of your son’s weight issues.

  • Educator

    It’s “whom,” Katy. Not “who.”

  • Special Ed Parent

    Please profile experienced and committed Special Education teachers in OUSD, especially those who teach in Special Day classrooms.

    Also, please profile the principals at the schools who embrace those classrooms (e.g. Sankofa, Howard, Bella Vista, etc.) There are so many structural disincentives for schools to protect these valuable and essential educational settings, especially in times of lack. We should celebrate those principals and school communities who do.

    We need real portraits of Special Education experiences. What gets reported is usually just numbers and not the every day lived reality of educators and families. That reality swings between hopeful and grim.

  • Julie

    Sue–Julie Slater here. I’ve thought long and hard about this and whether or not I should reply but I don’t think it is fair for you to blame me for what is ultimately your responsibility. You make it sound like I fed my students M&M’s by the handful. I stand behind my teaching and the technique of offering instantaneous gratification during the first few months of school. As the year progresses, that part of the program tapers off and it is replaces with a point earning system. It’s worked for me for the 16 years I have been an educator. As a teacher, I look at my families as my team members with the common goal of success for their children. I encourage you to take your concerns directly to your child’s teacher immediately rather than publicly call them out, years later, for something that they had no idea was a problem. It’s hurtful. That being said, I am happy to hear that your son is doing so well and I wish him all the best in his academic career.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Well . . . that went well!