California Educator

April / May 2018

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Page 8 of 75

T H E R E ' S A C O M M O N misperception that schools in rural communities must be in bad shape, what with the isolation and poverty, declining enrollments, and teacher turnover. It's true that challenges students face in the small towns that dot California's farmlands, deserts and remote areas are daunting. But many educators based at these schools tell a different story — of tight- knit communities that embrace them, of bright and happy kids eager to learn, and of their commitment to student success. " We choose to live here," says Mari- anne Boll-See, president of the Black Oak Mine Teachers Association in El Dorado County, in "True Grit" (page 24). " We work hard. We have a lot of pride. We are a family. We don't let children slip through the cracks. We love what we do." O n e of th e bi g ge st o bst acl e s r ural educators must overcome is geographic d i s t a n c e t o re l e v a n t re s o u r c e s a n d quality professional development. The Instructional Leadership Corps (ILC), a partnership of CTA, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and the National Board Resource Center at Stan- ford University, addresses this with its focus on rural areas and teachers training teachers. ILC helps educators take charge of their own professional development and stay at the top of their game. Read more at "CTA Reaches Out" (page 51). Speaking of educators at the top of th e i r ga m e , " C re a t i n g t h e C a m p u s Hu b" ( p a ge 33) sh ow ca se s th e way s f o u r t e a c h e r l i b r a r i a n s are transforming school libraries into welcoming, modern places to learn . As well as being reposito- ries of physical and digital books and research mate- rials, these hubs draw in stud ent s se ekin g multi - media experiences, Maker spaces, social activities and more. "I call this the happiest place on campus and the heart of the school," says Sue Navarro, teacher librarian at Fresno High School. Educators like Boll-See, Navarro and Amy Wilkinson (see photo) strive to make students the center of what they do. We profile others who are being recognized for this, including Bradley Upshaw, a UTLA member bound for the National Teachers Hall of Fame ( pa ge 6 4), and Carol Courneya, Beverly Hills Education Association, who is CTA's 2018 Education Support Professional of the Year (page 60). Both are extraordinarily devoted to their students and elevate the profession. Also recognized are CTA's 2018 Human Rights Award winners ("Champions for Change," page 61) — educators whose excellent work extends to social justice. For example, the Sacramento City Teach- ers Association (SCTA) helped develop district policies to protect immigrant students from removal and deportation. SCTA member Elizabeth Villanueva was honored individually for outstanding work with these students. Mary Levi has been a strong advocate for the American Indian/Alaska Native community for years. Lucia Lemieux cre- ated safe spaces for and fostered pride in LGBTQ+ students. Julie Zeman Brady mentors aspiring teachers while aiding communities in need. Ann Betz ensures her special education students have the same access and opportunities as others. Estella Owoimaha-Church seizes every chance to let her students practice peace, justice and empathy. And Cecily Myart- Cruz has long been acknowledged as a social justice warrior in her community and at the state and national levels. We applaud these activist educators. ey, like all educators, are always there for students, from classroom teaching to demanding action on gun violence. At the top of their game, indeed. Katharine Fong E D I T O R I N C H I E F At the Top of Your Game W E A L L K N O W educators have superpowers. Some are idealists and dreamers, Makers and mentors. Others are advocates and problem solvers. We celebrate your superpowers with " The League of Extraordinary Educators," our special poster (see page 71), in time for California Day of the Teacher, May 9, and CTA ESP Day, May 22. What's Your Superpower? Many of Amy Wilkinson's students at Avenal High School are children of farmworkers. "If they work hard, they can be the first in their family to go to college," she says. "I want to help with that." 7 A P R I L / M AY 2 018 E D I T O R ' S N O T E

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