News


Classes cut? Not for dedicated Harvest Park teacher

Formed nonprofit to offer programs for gifted students

Cuts that eliminated special summer school programs for gifted students weren't enough to stop Lynn Gatehouse, a teacher at Harvest Park Middle School.

Gatehouse, on her own, created a 501(c)(3) charity and put together her own program, holding two two-week sessions and bringing in more than 160 students from Pleasanton, San Ramon, Dublin and Livermore with some coming from as far away as Fremont, Santa Clara and Cupertino.

"I knew there was a need and I knew there was an interest," Gatehouse said. "Usually in summer school programs the focus is on mastering skills."

She said programs for gifted students were cut in the Pleasanton school district two years ago.

'It took about a year of planning and finding out what paperwork needed to be filed," she said, adding that finding insurance was a particular challenge.

"Anything dealing with childcare is a problem," she said.

Gatehouse also recruited some of her colleagues to teach everything from art to robotics.

Kevin Kiyoi taught Introduction to Digital Imaging and Web Page Development.

"I made a website using HTML code," said 10-year-old Liam O'Flynn, who's entering fifth grade this fall. "He gave us these subjects and we had to make a website."

O'Flynn's site featured Bigfoot being spotted at a Starbucks.

Neil Bello taught Brain Fitness Through Art, inspiring students to think and solve problems with clay and offering them the chance to use a potters' wheel.

Kevin O'Dea taught Intro to Music Production, where the students created electronic musical compositions using GarageBand software and MIDI keyboards.

Randy Lomas taught Creative Problem Solving, incorporating logic puzzles and Math Olympiad and MathCounts challenges.

One popular program was put together by Gary Mansfield, a semi-retired scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Mansfield taught robotics using LEGO Mindstorms NXT, which included simulations and the Mars Laboratory Challenge. Students demonstrated their robots on the final day, as they made their way through a series of steps to rescue a trapped astronaut. Intern Scott Miller, an incoming freshman at UC Berkeley, helped Mansfield out.

Young volunteers were integral to Gatehouse's program. She brought in 12, students who this fall will be either eighth-graders at Harvest Park or freshmen at Amador Valley High, some of them the siblings of students taking the classes.

"They volunteered to be here," she said.

The programs were such a success that Gatehouse is already making plans for next year.

"This year we offered classes for incoming fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. We plan to add classes for incoming seventh-graders and possibly incoming eight-graders next summer," she said.

Comments

Posted by Ennis Pipe, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Both of my kids had Mrs. Gatehouse. Wonderful teacher, fantastic person. Somehow, I'm not surprised at this!!! Thank you Mrs. G for all you do...


Posted by Steve, a resident of Parkside
on Jul 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Thats my point! All teachers could do the same thing. They're work hours are almost nonexistant and there mostly lazy. They should tear a page out of Mrs. Gatehouse's book. Its sad.


Posted by Mitch, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jul 21, 2012 at 10:54 am

Interesting comment, Steve. Regarding teachers, I find that there English lessons aren't effective enough, so they're students never get a chance to learn how to use "there", "they're", and "their" correctly. It's a sad thing when grown men can't understand simple vocabulary and grammar.


Posted by Be Positive, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2012 at 11:19 am

I'm sorry Steve you only believe that one teacher in this community is doing any kind of summer program for children. Just because it's not reported in the news certainly doesn't mean it's not taking place. I know of many programs being organized by teachers all over this community. It's easy to simply put the word lazy out there, yet seems to me it better reflects your research and writing effort on this topic.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Mitch, that's fake Steve. Misspellings are intentional.

This kind of creative thinking is wonderful. It would be interesting to know whether this effort can be supported and expanded.


Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jul 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I have to agree with Staceleen here (feels weird to say that!). Steve, your misspellings are both creative and wonderful; do you think you could be persuaded to expand your output? You'd have the support of both Staceleen and myself!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Support and expand the program Lynn Gatehouse has started.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm

If more teachers and other public servants would adopt this attitude toward their work instead of selfishly focusing on securing unreasonably high pay and unsustainable benefits for increasingly less work, then the public, I predict, would become highly supportive.

Mike


Posted by Gladys, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Jul 22, 2012 at 6:28 am

Mike from Highland Park echoes perfectly Steve's point, only Mike spells his words correctly. Which is to say, I think, that spelling doesn't make the village idiot; rather, a dearth of reason does.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Gladys,

I take it that you disagree with my post, which is fine. I think, however, that it would be more cricket, certainly more mature, if you were to address the argument rather than insult the author.

Cheers,

Mike


Posted by Paul, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Mike,

"selfishly focusing on securing unreasonably high pay and unsustainable benefits for increasingly less work"

I think that is an absurd generalization. Have you had much contact with teachers in Pleasanton Unified School District? I so, have you found them to be focused on that? I haven't.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Paul,

I did generalize, though I wouldn't say absurdly so. I taught in the public schools, so yes, I do know these people. I believe strongly that if more teachers and other public servants would adopt a more selfless attitude toward their work, there would be more support in the community for measures such as parcel taxes.

Mike


Posted by Gladys, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jul 23, 2012 at 7:35 am

I wouldn't call that which you put forward an argument, Mike. Rather, you rather simply (and simplemindedly) put together a string of resentful exaggerations that lack any supportive evidence or reasoning. Perhaps your inability to distinguish a spew of generalizations from an argument is why you had such a difficult time in the public school system with "those people." Nice. You and Steve should get together. You can teach him how to spell while you both vent about "those people" in public education who have been relatively successful versus the minority (Steve and yourself) who weren't able to cut it.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 23, 2012 at 7:46 am

Gladys,

I understand. Thank you.

Mike


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 23, 2012 at 8:33 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Gladys, you may choose to differ with Mike, but fake steve is trying to write sarcastically and misspells on purpose (and under many other names as well).

Putting that part of the discussion aside for a moment, how do we support this teacher and her efforts more broadly?


Posted by Hallie, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 23, 2012 at 9:49 am

Pleasanton students are extremely lucky to have Lynn Gatehouse in their corner. Her energy and devotion to our kids never cease to amaze me. Thank you Mrs. Gatehouse for making our community a better place!


Posted by Gladys, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jul 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Re. your comments, Kathleen. Thank you for permitting me to speak without calling me names (e.g., "Fake Steve").

As to your call for solutions, obviously a parcel tax is out of the question. In fact, any tax is. We're broke! Everything has been stashed in offshore accounts (32 trillion!) Perhaps if we broke the union and cut teacher salaries and pensions? Ah, but we'd need to get something really "good" on somebody, and then you or any of the other witchhunters with a nose for dirt might do a number on them and thereby indirectly make people less disposed to support teachers. Or something like that...


Posted by Lynn Gatehouse, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Jul 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Thank you to those who posted positive comments about enGAGE! Summer Enrichment Camp. I need to point out that this program took many years of thinking, planning and dreaming to come to fruition. I also wanted to be sure that I was well-trained in best practices for gifted and talented education. I was inspired by my own two sons and I truly wanted to provide the kind of program that I wanted for them. They are now 25 & 22, so I having been working on this idea and trying to get all of my ducks in a row for many years. (Location, insurance, rent, licenses, etc.) It took other teachers who shared my vision and who also understand what it takes to bring out creativity, to challenge and to provide engaging activities for children. Not all students in our program were officially identified as gifted, because most school districts' identification assessments are narrowly focused. By observing the behavior of our students and seeing what they produced, it really didn't matter if they had the "GATE label" or not. What mattered is that they developed their creativity and talents with the inspiration and guidance of outstanding teachers. It also took the advice and support of a totally dedicated and supportive Board of Directors. I look forward to enGAGE! Summer Enrichment Camp 2013. In closing, please refrain from throwing teachers under the bus. I am fortunate to have supportive people working with me. I also have a passion for talent development and saw an unmet need. Gifted and Talented Education is neither mandated nor funded by the State of California, therefore there is no way for school districts to provide services for these students. With the recent passage of AB 165 and budget cuts, public schools are even more limited in the services that they are able to provide. We have many amazing teachers who are doing incredible things that I can't do. Just as in any profession, there are people who work harder and care more deeply than others about doing their best. Because I am a member of this profession, I can honestly say that most teachers do work hard and care deeply about doing their best for their students. I would prefer to read constructive criticism about my program rather than unkind remarks regarding teachers and my profession. Thank you.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Gladys, Don't know how much you read out here but there is a pattern of either one person using multiple names (usually taking another poster's name) or a tactic used by a few where misspelling is intentional. I have said repeatedly that I will vote for a parcel tax when it is specific, be that CSR, X counselors, Barton reading, PE teachers, vice-principals--whatever parents believe they value keeping the most for the three or four years of the tax. Any subsequent vote to continue/increase the tax could include a change in priorities for the re-up duration.

Lynn, Can your 501(c)(3) accept donations (maybe a scholarship for students unable to pay fees?). If so, it would be wonderful if you could post the information for those who would be interested.


Posted by Sandy Piderit, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

Well said, Lynn. My experience with the profession is like yours -- most teachers are hard workers and want to create valuable educational experiences for their students. Even the "bad eggs" usually want to do better, and they don't always get good coaching about how to improve.

Kathleen, good suggestion about asking for donations. I would like to see more summer activities with scholarship options, so that we can be sure they are not just open to those who can afford them.

Lynn, if you hear of other similar teacher-led initiatives in the making, please let me know. Teachers are not always natural entrepreneurs, nor should they have to be. I'd love to offer my support to educators who are intent on improving their ability to connect with students even better than they do now.


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