California Educator

December 2015

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Julia Jameyson, a teacher at Solano Middle School, hands out supplies. I T ' S A L A B O R O F L O V E that Vallejo teachers named "Helping Hands," and it clearly gives needy students a hand up. Solano County families in the Bay Area have come to depend on the free school supplies that educators pay for and distribute each year. For the seventh year in a row, Vallejo Education Association (VEA) mem- bers representing educators in the Vallejo City Unified School District in Solano County gave back to their community and the children they teach, spending two full afternoons in October handing out the much-needed school supplies to hundreds of students. "It's a very rewarding thing to do for our kids every year," says Loree Tackmier, a transitional kindergarten teacher at Dan Mini Elementary who coordinated the team effort this year. "We wouldn't be teachers if we didn't value our community. And it really fills a need. We have a lot of poverty in our district." As in many districts, student poverty is a hardship here. In Vallejo, 74 percent of the district's 15,000 students qualified for free or reduced-price meals last school year. Basics for Those in Need H O T E L R O O M S U S U A L L Y come stocked with complimentary mini-bottles of shampoo, lotion, small soaps and other toiletries. Most of us use and toss them without much thought. But Bea Montoya has made it her mission to collect these items and distribute them to the homeless, providing the less fortunate with basic necessities we take for granted. Montoya, a clerical assistant at CTA's Region II Headquarters, leads CTA's Toiletry Program in the Sacramento area. She and her colleagues collect hundreds of boxes of personal care items, the majority of which are distributed to the homeless community at the annual AFL-CIO/United Way Loaves and Fishes Labor Day lunch. Earlier this year, AFL-CIO/United Way selected Montoya as a Community Services Award winner for her work. Vallejo educators give back to their community and students Helping Hands By MIKE MYSLINSKI Tackmier says more than 1,000 Vallejo students this year received f re e p e n s , p e n c i l s , n o t e b o o k s , coloring pencils, crayons, erasers and bookmarks at two locations in town. They lined up in a local library and a Boys and Girls Club facility to pick items stacked on tables, and also took home books d o n a t e d b y t h e Fr i e n d s o f t h e Vallejo Public Library. VEA will keep the tradition alive in years to come as well, says President Sheila Gradwohl. "As educators, we understand and appreciate that investing in our students and schools means investing in our community's future," Gradwohl says. "We are proud of this tradition that's about giving back and providing extra help by giving school supplies to help our kids suc- ceed in our classrooms." e association spent more than $5,000 on supplies this year. In a CTA video, four t each er v olunt eers shared their feelings during the event about why giving back to Vallejo this way is important work for educators. ey are Tackmier ; Hulan Barnett, Vallejo High School teacher ; Katie Vevoda, fifth-grade teacher, Federal Terrace Elementary ; and Nancy Turner, kindergarten teacher, Elsa Widenmann Elementary. Watch the video at this link: From left: Katherine Catanzerite, Everest Academy; Nancy Turner, Widenmann Elementary; Dave Tillay, Vallejo High; Ruscal Cayangyang, Vallejo City Unified School District school board member. 56

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