In 2008 I retired after 28 years of teaching regular and special education in Oregon and California. My first class, in 1971, was a non-graded primary that I designed for a small rural school in Oregon. After six years, I started a class in a new residential treatment center for seriously emotionally disturbed youngsters aged five through twelve. The three years I taught there I discovered how much can be done for troubled kids when there are resources and energy available for them and for their families. The cold winters in Central Oregon finally drove me and my family down to California, where I took a few years off to raise my first son and work on our organic orange orchard. Then I got a job in a special day class of third, fourth and fifth graders, which I thoroughly enjoyed for nine years. My move to secondary began with two years of SDC at the Jr. High level, followed by nine years as a Resource Specialist for ninth and tenth graders in English, Pre-Algebra and Tutorial. In addition to working with many interesting students of all ages, I have been privileged to work with some talented and energetic student teachers.
I began my career by borrowing many ideas from the British Infant School model. I thought then, and still believe, that students learn well from each other and from being engaged in projects and activities that require collaboration and problem solving. Writers' Workshop, Jr. Great Books questioning strategies, and (dare I say it?) Mathlands approaches all worked for me and for my students. I also have a very strong background in phonics and the mechanics of written English. I incorporated those lessons in daily opening activities using the personalities and interests of the kids as our subject matter. The creative arts have been an important component of my instruction. For example, students in my English classes have come to know and love some of Shakespeare's plays as they have gone through all stages of producing puppet shows from adaptations I have written. They love the puppets they make, and they also love the dialogue their puppets use and the challenge of putting on a performance that entertains an audience.
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I earned my first BA from San Francisco State College (now University) with a major in Radio-Television-Film and a minor in Drama. My second BA was from Western Washington State College (now University) with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Speech. I then completed work at the University of Oregon in Eugene for my Special Day Class Credential. When I moved to California I earned the Resource Specialist Credential from California State University Chico. Along the way I went through the SIRC (Science in Rural California) training, and completed the SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English) program.
I currently volunteer four hours a day in a friend's sixth grade classroom, where I enjoy doing the work I've done for so long. When I am not at school, I work in our very large garden, write poetry and curriculum, read, take long walks, bicycle, swim, cook, play with the dogs, and attend plays, concerts, and movies when the budget permits. Being retired agrees with me. I highly recommend it.