California Educator

February 2016

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Artistic License A R T I S T W Y N E R I C S O N has always been drawn to outdoor settings and subjects. "I have found drawing and painting in nature is one of the most relaxing ways to live," says Ericson, who teaches art at River Middle School in Napa. In November, his painting of California's majestic redwoods won a statewide contest to design a new license plate for state parks. Proceeds from the sales of the ParksPlate, as the state calls it, go toward preservation and resto- ration throughout California's 280 state parks. T h e Na p a Va l l e y E d u c a t o r s A ss o c i a t i o n m emb er se em s genuin ely sur pri sed by th e att ention h e's received , including a sp eci al school assembly attended by state parks offi- cials to honor his achievement. Ericson's calling as an artist and educator runs in the family. His father is also an artist and taught middle school for 20 years. His aunts and a grandmother were teachers or artists. He has taught a wide array of students with diverse backgrounds and needs, including special education. "Everyone is unique, and everyone has a special way they can learn," he says. "My goal is to have every student succeed in the classroom." You can support state parks — and the work of a fellow educator — by ordering a ParksPlate at A total of 7,500 prepaid applications must be collected before the Department of Motor Vehicles can start production. Cost of the plate is $50, or $98 for a personalized plate. Matters of the Heart I N 2 0 1 4 , Loretta Beaumont was facing the end of her life. "When my cardiologist told me my diagnosis of end stage heart failure, everything went through my head — especially thoughts of protecting and insulating my family," says the Kennedy Elemen- tary School teacher. "I thought about how to say goodbye. e time clock started immediately. Could I survive the wait until a heart became available?" Fo r tu n a t e ly f o r B e a u m o n t , h e r u n i o n h a d her back. "I'm alive today because I am a member of the Santa Ana Educators Association," she says proudly. "I had three advantages facing heart transplant surger y that many oth ers do not b ecause I have a union." O n e w a s a r o b u s t h e a l t h care policy SAEA maintained, which ensured that she received excellent care by highly trained professionals. Another was the disability benefit. " When I was invited to sign up for our chapter's disability policy for members only, I never dreamed I'd have to use it, despite stories that were shared about the value of the program," Beaumont says. SAEA had also negotiated a third tier of member support years earlier : its voluntary catastrophic leave bank. "I had peace of mind knowing my sal- ary would not be impacted," Beaumont explains. "As I waited for a new heart, I cannot tell you how important it was to be able to just focus on my fam- ily and me." Her wait ended in January 2015, when she under- went a five-hour transplant procedure. "Everyone knows an elementary school is an extension of your family," Beaumont says. "I had a built-in support system that included my family, my friends and colleagues, and SAEA." Back in school now full time, Beaumont is eager to share her stor y. " When people ask what the union has done for me, I tell them that it saved my life — and it can do the same for you." —Ed Sibby Wyn Ericson Loretta Beaumont Extra Credit answers (see page 56) 1. c Aunt Elke loves words that begin with the name of an animal (ape, bat, bear, boar, cat, cow, dog, hare, mole, pig, rat, shrew, ox). 2. d Aunt Meg loves words that become different words when they are written backward (tuba, faced, stressed, reward, tang, mug, recap, tinker, deliver, peels, warts, gnus, know). 55 February 2016

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