California Educator

March 2015

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feedback Y O U R O P I N I O N S A N D L E T T E R S A R E W E L C O M E ! There is a 250-word limit, and all letters will be edited. If you send photos or other materials, identifications and permissions are required. Letters must include your name along with your address, daytime telephone number or email address. Email Vista scholarship fund The teachers of Vista deserve recogni- tion for a 27-year endeavor to provide scholarships to deserving students. Two-time VTA President Len Defabio believed if hundreds of us donated a small amount monthly through voluntary payroll deductions, we could reward and encourage many Vista students beyond teaching them in our classrooms. Thus, the Vista Teachers Association Scholarship Fund (VTASF) was formed as a California Public Bene- fit Corporation in 1988. From its modest beginning, when six seniors shared $4,125, the VTASF has grown immensely. Last year, $38,000 was divided among 94 recipients. In its 27 years, the VTASF has provided nearly $634,000 to approximately 1,500 students! Perhaps a voluntary scholarship fund isn't exactly unique. However, VTASF is exceptional in several ways: • The majority is given to graduating seniors. • Dependents are allowed to apply for three years after high school graduation. • A $250 scholarship is set aside yearly for a graduating senior from each of the district's three continu- ation high schools. • $1,000 is provided yearly to the high school for students with dis- abilities who need financial help for wheelchair repair, field trips, etc. Each year, several recipients are the first in their family to graduate from high school and attend college. Vista teachers, like educators every- where, can be proud of their efforts to help their students. I'd like to think that we in Vista have gone way beyond. Paul Farrar, VTASF Chair Vista Teachers Association (retired) Blogging: Take it to the limit Blogs are a terrific way to document your experiences as a teacher, create a forum for discussion of education-re- lated issues, and help other teachers in any number of ways. Truly, as your headline notes, "The globe's the limit." (December/January). I began blogging in the 2007-08 school year, focusing on my experienc- es as an AVID teacher striving to guide more students to college. I published High Hopes on the Edublogs site, which is still thriving. Later, I published a blog about my interests in politics and literature called Politerati. When my teaching assignment changed a couple years ago, I began a personal blog about literary fiction by women authors called Read Her Like an Open Book (, using Wordpress. RHLAOB has gained a following in the thousands, allowing me to interact with people around the country and the world, as we share our love of reading and writing. It has enriched my life beyond my expectations. I encourage teachers to consider starting their own blog. Using Word- press, Blogger, or Edublogs, the learning curve is very manageable and blogging takes only as much time as you want to invest in it. You might find it more gratifying than you expect. Bill Wolfe, Taft Union High School Teachers Association Blogging is best when shared As twin teachers, my sister Jody and I have been blogging for two years and found it has reinvigorated our careers. Yes, blogging offers a wide commu- nity wellspring of ideas and support, but the time commitment can be dis- couraging. We found that by sharing the blog, the work was halved and the fun was doubled. Brainstorming topics first energized, then improved our posts. Frankly, sometimes it's hard to know if you are doing a good job. Our blog gave us so much positive feedback from other teachers. We love sharing what we've learned and are learning from others. We realized our tips, les- sons and special interest in California history actually had value. It wasn't such a big step then to won- der if we could translate that into some extra summer cash. We shaped our unique lessons, tools and content into digital downloads for sale on education websites. Our love of California history dovetailed with fourth-grade social stud- ies curriculum, and we found our niche. We won't lie — the extra money is great and surprisingly validating. Blogging is a fantastic way to indulge your professional interests, feel part of a community, and share problems and solutions. Try it. LeAnn Leyden, San Diego Education Association,www.thankateacherblog. Correction In the introduction to David Goldberg's campaign statement in the February Educator (page 60), his local chapter was incorrectly identified. Gold- berg is a member of United Teachers Los Angeles. 3 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 7

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