California Educator

April 2017

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M any of us find it intimidating to be evaluated by peers — those who know what we do and, often, how it can best be done. e flip side is that peer advice and support can strengthen our skills and our networks, and make us better equipped to do our work. That's the concept behind Peer Assis- t a n c e a n d R e v i e w ( PA R ) p r o g r a m s , described in our story "Peer Assistance Make s a C om eb a ck" ( p a ge 22). Aft er nearly succumbing to Great Recession bud- get cuts, PAR programs are now included in many locals' bargaining agendas, and educators are happy to have them. Why? As many educators know, PAR is a win-win. A Harvard University Graduate School of Education project found that PAR helps new and struggling teachers succeed, increases retention, and promotes a cul- ture focused on sound teaching practice. PAR professionalizes teaching by allowing teachers to be responsible for mentoring and evaluating their peers. S o m e t i m e s PA R c a n b e p e r c e i v e d as a negative, and it can be dif ficult or embarrassing to ask for help. "I tell [other educators] to have an open mind," says Oakland Education Association member Vu Nguyen, who went through the pro- gram. "For me, PAR was a blessing." Our other feature story, "Peanut Free" (page 16), looks at rising food allergies and how educators are coping with them. It's a tough balancing act: Schools and educators must protect students with food allergies, while accommodating those who enjoy foods that trigger allergies. ey must also create an environment where children with food allergies are not excluded or blamed. Teachers Association of South Pasa- dena member Julia Johnson believes the peanut-free policy at her school helps all students develop positive character traits. "Our students here are learning tolerance, empathy and compassion," she says. Also teaching and modeling tolerance, empathy and compassion are CTA's 2017 Human Rights Award recipients (page 44). These remarkable educators demon- strate courage and activism every day in the classroom and in the community. Kim Geron advocates for immigrants and the undocumented; Reagan Duncan assists women in need; Naomi Violet Forsberg creates safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students; George Melendez, a CTA Board member, c h a m p i o n s Na t iv e Am e r i c a n c u l tu re ; Jared Rio pushes for peace and human a n d c iv i l r i g h t s ; a n d B e tty R o b i n s o n - Harris promotes equal rights and students' social-emotional growth. Oscar Ramos, the son of migrant farm- workers who toiled in the fields as a child, now works with the immigrant students and families he knows so well. And Marty Meeden, a CTA Board member, has long been a fearless advocate for cultural aware- ness and all students of color. Meeden is also this year's recipient of NEA's Leo Reano Memorial Award for his work to enhance the education of American Indian/Alaska Native children and youth. And speaking of honorees, we meet up with Teri Roots, CTA's Education Support Professional of the Year (page 43). Known for growing leaders in the Ventura ESP Association, where she is president, Roots makes it a goal for her chapter to reach out to its nearly 800 members every year — to listen, engage and connect. at is what educators do, in a nutshell, with one another and with their students. Our hats are off to you. Katharine Fong E D I T O R I N C H I E F Peerless Advice 7 April 2017 CTA 2017 Human Rights Award winners. Standing: George Melendez, CTA Secretary- Treasurer David Goldberg, President Eric Heins, Vice President Theresa Montaño, Jared Rio and Kim Geron. Seated: Marty Meeden, Naomi Violet Forsberg, Reagan Duncan, Oscar Ramos and Betty Robinson-Harris. Photo by Mike Myslinski

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