Newspaper Archive of
The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
August 5, 2011     The Catalina Islander
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August 5, 2011

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Does LB Unified Care About Avalon? I've lived in Avalon almost my entire life. It's an interesting town. We are part of California, but in- ternational waters separate us from the rest of the state• We have Los Angeles County Sheriffs, Fire Fighters, and Life Guards. And we have Long Beach Unified School District. It oversees our K- 12 cam- pus, and the one room school at the Isthmus. Long Beach Unified has won big awards as one of the best big school districts in the USA, but I have to won- der if the district cares about Avalon at all. I was privileged to graduate Avalon High school, and I'm proud to now have children on that same path. I have seen many teachers and principals come and go over the years, and that. trend continues today. For years now, the district has sent new principals out here to "cut their teeth," and then trans- ferred them to schools overtown. Some of the principals have had "me first" attitudes, simply want- ing to advance their own careers. Others have cared about the kids and the community, and the differ- ence has shown, every time. Our last principal, Joe Carlson, was one of those. He cared about my kid, your kids, and the town. He made a difference. His love of the island was obvious. He was such a good principal, teachers and students tell me, that he was Jennifer Leonhardi-Merkley transferred to a big school on the mainland where he was "needed more." Part of me understands the act of triage. You put your best where you need them the most, and let the safest, loveliest school in the dis- trict fend for its little old self with your rookie principals. But part of me wants to scream every time some politician says "No Child Left Behind" - the federal saying, or "Every Student, Ev- ery Day" - the district motto. Really? We are, as one employee of the school told me, the ugly stepchild of Long Beach Unified. Last in line for resources, but the first to be celebrated and pa- raded around when our teachers and students make impressive test scores. When we make Newsweek we get attention, but we are always last in line when it comes to assis- tance from the District. This is not intended to insult our new principal, Mrs. Gonzales, she sounds great. I like that she speaks Spanish, but she is a rookie principal, and the district took our principal away from us because he did too good of a job, and was "needed more" somewhere else. I hope Mrs. Gonzales does a good job and stays for more than a few years, but I get the feeling if she does too good of a job, she too will be taken away. One of our best teachers, Paul Gathering to Honor Dale Maeder As reported here last November, Dale Maeder, a long-time Avalon summer resident with many friends in Avalon, passed away unexpect- edly on Oct. 23, 2010 after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 55 years old. A gathering is being planned in Avalon on Sunday, Aug. 14, to remember and honor Maeder, his music and his faith. Maeder is survived by his wife Carolyn, brother Gary, sister-in-law Sue, niece Charlene (all of whom plan to be in attendance) and other family mem- bers. Everyone is warmly invited. For more information and to RSVP, please contact Gary Maeder, at (213) 892-5846 (weekdays) or (310) 390-2682 (evenings/weekends), or by e-mail at Sammon, applied for the prin- cipal's job when Mr. Carlson was transferred involuntarily. He knows the campus, he knows the kids, he knows the job, and he's as good an educator as they get. He wasn't even given an interview. Then, they transferred him to a school on the mainland as well. This isn't just any teacher, this is the boss of the Special Education Department. These are the kids who need their relationships with their teacher the most, trust me,. and we don't even know who is going to replace him. Except you can't replace Paul. He was in tears he was so shocked• Go tell his kids it's "No Child Left Behind." At the beginning of last year's school year, we were asked to wel- come several new teachers, one of which was my sons new teacher. Now after a year of hard work and trying to fit in and make Avalon their new home, we find out that some of them will not be return- ing this fall. More victims of the infamous "pink slip" handed out by LBUSD. What message does this send to the other teachers here? Do a good job, but don't do too good of a job, or we will transfer you overtown. What is trickling down to our chil- dren? Another staff member at Ava- lon Schools that will not be return- ing this next year is school nurse Karla Parsons. Now, I am com- pletely partial to my objection of this one, because after all, I am her daughter. But I know how many years of hard work and dedica- tion she has put into that school. She knows every student, what ails them, their challenges and triumphs, and celebrates each of them as if they were her own child. How can the school district justify sending a part-time nurse to the Is- land a few times a week to take her place? What service will this do to our kids?. why did Brenda Hoefs get laid off?. She's an amazing, kind wom- an who lives here, who knows the town, who loves the kids. And her replacement? I'm sure she is nice enough, but the District pays thou- sands of dollars for a new teacher to commute every day, when Bren- da was here and already doing a greatjob. It makes no sense. Some say it was because of union rules. Which is my last complaint - the teacher's union. Remember all of those fliers in our mailboxes during election time? It's for the children••. It's the future... Really? The teacher's union had a choice between taking a few percent pay cut, or shortening the school year when the budget crashed. Guess what they voted to do? Next year will be even shorter. I would do the same thing if my boss told me I had a choice between less hours or less pay for the same hours. So it's not really bad. But don't think we believe you when you tell us it's "for the children." You're as self- ish as the rest of us. Maybe Mrs. Gonzales will be as good as Mr. Carlson, maybe the new school nurse will learn ev- erythmg about the kids like Nurse Parsons knows, and maybe the new Mr. Sammon will be as good as the old one. For the sake of our children, I sure hope so. Maybe my kids are getting the education they deserve, that my taxes pay for, but for once I'd like the district to prove that when it says "Every student, every day" it applies to Avalon, too. Jennifer Leonhardi-Merkley is a native of Avalon. Do we have photos of you or your friends and family?. Check our facebook page to find oufi ]SL00tDD00 NEWSPAPER Visit your doctor m not just any doctor. 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