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Pleasanton teachers do great things

Original post made by Sandy, Mohr Park, on Feb 12, 2011

I'd like to create a place here on the forums where we can recognize the quality, professional work that Pleasanton teachers do to help our children learn and grow.

I'll start -- Mr. Meunier is a physical education teacher at Alisal Elementary. He has been working with his fourth-grade students on building their endurance on longer running distances. His instructions, the first time the kids ran a full mile at once, were to set a slow and steady pace. Many students could not resist going faster at first (out of a sense of competitiveness) but then had to walk later because they ran out of breath or got a stitch.

Mr. Meunier took the time to praise the students who finished with a slower time, but had kept a steady pace. He pointed out that if they were to run for 2 miles, or 5, it is those students who would be able to win the race.

One girl who did not think of herself as particularly athletic because she had not won any sprinting races is now considering trying out for track and field in a few years. She has begun to do training runs on her own outside of school hours.

Mr. Meunier inspires students to discover their strengths and develop well-grounded confident individuals.

Please add your personal stories about how teachers play positive roles in our community.

Comments (36)

Posted by Bart Hughes
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

Excellent idea!

I'll add Mr. Richey at Foothill High School. He has a proven track record of helping kids to improve their critical thinking and writing skills of any kid fortunate enough to take his class.

He may be tough, but the skills kids pick up with last a lifetime and extend well beyond English.

Posted by Michele
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Yes, it's a good idea, Sandy! My hats off to Mr. Acheson and Mr. Lomas at Harvest Park Middle School. Great math teachers who make math easy to learn for average math-brained kids! Mr. Acheson has been known to call some of his students at home, the night before a test, to make sure they are prepared! Mr. Acheson was the golf coach at HPMS for many years, too. Mr. Lomas leads the Math Counts club. Harvest Park has finished in the top three places at the regional level for each of the last 7 years as well as finishing in the top 12 in Northern California for the last four (including a 4th place finish). My kid does not participate in Math Counts but she really enjoys Mr. Lomas' sense of humor in the classroom to make math fun! Actually, I could name quite a few great teachers at HPMS. They communicate with parents promptly and are genuinely concerned about the kids understanding the material. Thank you teachers!

Posted by member
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I know this is supposed to be a positive story but I have to say I am so disappointed with the Pleasanton School District. To the point where we are considering moving because of the negative impact the school system has on our lives. Homework is out of control. There is no life balance here at all and much of it is busy work. Beyond that, most teachers don't teach! I do math homework every night with my daugher after working a 12 hour day. Isn't this what we are paying teachers for? Some topics have never even been covered by the teacher and my daughter quoted a teacher as saying "ask your parents" when asking a question about the math. Outrageous. There are exceptions but the vast majority of teachers are just punching the clock and waiting to collect their pension. Most of the teachers my kids have had are lazy and don't care. Sorry - but the truth hurts. Most Pleasanton parents wont' say anything although they all experience the same frustration. Sigh.

Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Please, I beg you -- say something to the principal! They cannot take action if they don't get feedback.

Have you attended any of the homework forums? Jane Golden has been working very hard to gather and interpret community feedback in order to revise the homework policy.

Information is here: Web Link

Posted by too many whiners
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I'm sorry Birdland resident, I disagree most parents feel this way. Homework is manageable and the teachers do teach (and teach well). The only parents I've heard complain are those that don't have time to help their kids or whose kids can't keep up. Yep, as you said, truth hurts.

We moved here from San Jose and couldn't be happier with the schools.

Posted by member
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Welcome to Pleasanton "Another Pleasanton". Sorry - but you are in the minority. My kid's are my #1 priority and I make the time to help my kids. Also make the time to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. That is pretty arrogant to refer to kids who "can't keep up" as a problem. Unfortunately, this is what our community has become. How about celebrating each kid for who they are? You should re-evaluate what you are teaching your children because even those "who can't keep up" are special.

Posted by I agree!
a resident of Avignon
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I agree. To member of Birdland neighborhood-move then. The teachers here are amazing and they teach. Try being a parent and getting involved. You did decide to have a child or children and cannot expect others to take control of their future.

This is a positive forum about how lucky we are to have such amazing teachers. Go to another thread.

Posted by too many whiners
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Looks like I struck a nerve here. Please re-read my post Birdland, there's nothing in there that says that the kids are a problem. I said the parents of those kids are the usual complainers. I guess we all know now where you're coming from now...there's nothing wrong with that, but please don't try to project your issues unto everyone else.

In any case, this is a supposed to be a positive forum. All the other parents I've spoken to are very appreciative of the great schools we have here, and of course, the teachers that make it so. Thanks guys!

Posted by member
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm

[portion removed] I stated very clearly that there are amazing teachers. I'm simply relating my experience with 2 kids in 2 different schools in Pleasanton. Like I said, this is the problem with this community that instead of discussing the issue you want those who disagree to leave.

Posted by member
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 12, 2011 at 9:07 pm

why is this supposed to be a "positive" forum?? Gimme a break - we should be discussing issues that affect us all.

Posted by Happy Parent
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I was lucky enough to grow up in Pleasanton. I had wonderful teachers that I will never forget. Some of my teachers were so inspirational that I vowed to someday be a teacher and give back the enthusiasm for learning that was passed on to me. I moved back to this town when I became a parent so the wonderful gift could be passed on to my children. I left my job in the private sector so I could work with the wonderful children in this community. THANK YOU to all of the teachers who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of the children in Pleasanton! Your influence is priceless.

Posted by Happy Camper
a resident of Val Vista
on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I agree with Bart Hughes...Mr. Richey at Foothill High school is a fantastic English teacher. My son had him last year for Freshman english. My son complained constantly about the class because my son is not a great writer but Mr. Richey taught this important skill of writing and it was just what my son needed.

Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm

how some teachers are so cynical that they are starting to take it out on their students. My neighbor's child, an AVHS student, was told by his AP world teacher that not all essay type tests would be graded. Now, my neighbor says that in this class there are no big projects or assignments. Most of the homework has to do with preparing for two types of tests: a multiple choice one which is graded by a machine since they use scantrons, and the essay type test, which now the teacher has announce she may or may not grade. Why does this teacher even bother giving this test if she will not bother gradint it and give feedback to students?

Many teachers are great, but the AP World teacher at AVHS has a bad policy: the fact that she told students that not all essay type tests would be graded because she does not have time is outrageous. What does she do between 3-5 pm every day and on work days? The scantrons don't take that long to grade. Unbelievable.

Posted by member
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 12, 2011 at 11:25 pm

To "too many whiners" - you need to re-read your own post and do some soul searching. Your post clearly states that only parents of children who "can't keep up" usually complain. That is a pretty elitist perspective and implies that those with special needs should just be left behind because they can't handle the level of homework. The fact that there is too much homework has nothing to do with each child's different learning abilities. You should know that I am complaining about the level of homework and the lack of balance with other life skills *and* I have a child who is currently on the honor roll.

Posted by Yet Another Teacher
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Feb 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm

So much for keeping things positive. The "good vibrations" lasted about as long as an ice cream cone on a hot July afternoon.

Posted by Bart Hughes
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

Yes, it would be nice to get back to the original intent of this blog. I'm not suggesting things are perfect, but we could all benefit from sharing the positive examples of teaching that we have in this community.

Posted by Happy parent
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 13, 2011 at 10:53 am

We have had mostly good experiences with the teachers in PUSD. My "favorite" teachers are Linda Stanford and Beth Patock at Mohr. They are both dedicated professionals who are good at their jobs!! They do their best to help each student reach their individual potential, whether they are the highest or lowest achievers in the class. They work long hours and come to after school events and meetings. We feel quite lucky to have been in their classes.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 13, 2011 at 2:46 pm

"Member", while I think you were mistreated heinously and rudely, I must point out that the person who started this thread said it was:

"to create a place here on the forums where we can recognize the quality, professional work that Pleasanton teachers do to help our children learn and grow."

There's a lot of negative on these boards and I like the idea of the person who started it to begin something positive. You are correct, there are *plenty* of crappy teachers in this district. However, this isn't the place to discuss *them*.

My child has been very inspired by Mrs. Mistry at AVHS. She runs a "Biotechnology" class that really got my child interested in science. Many teachers have been unkind to my child/other teenagers, but not Mrs. Mistry.

Posted by Kitty Harvey
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 13, 2011 at 3:14 pm

We moved to Pleasanton for the schools years ago, best decision we ever made. Our family has been been fortunate to experience MANY wonderful teachers at Vintage Hills, Valley View, PMS, FHS and AVHS. I want to highlight coaches who are instrumental in helping athletes in their personal development....
Scott Berglin, AVHS asst. var. boys soccer coach, Rory Manley, Glen Davis & their team of AVHS boys lacrosse coaches are exemplary! Thank you!

Posted by fact checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2011 at 10:11 pm

AP means just that, Advanced Placement. It is supposed to be a college class in a high school setting. The amount of work is ridiculous and no teacher can reasonably keep up with all of it. I suggest you talk to the teacher involved. Some writing practice is peer edited and some homework is spot checked because of the sheer volume. If a student took this class in a real college there would two papers and a test and that's it. Part of AP is training the student to do college level work. Many kids take the class thinking it is like honors. It is not. It is exponentially more work since one has to adhere to college board standards. In some school districts in states that actually value education, the class loads are reduced for AP teachers or they get extra time to grade. The college Board sets up an incredibly difficult task for any teacher in CA secondary schools. Sounds like your child is in a class with way more work than expected. Oh yes, part of the school ranking is due to the number of AP classes offered.

Teachers work incredibly hard as a rule. I appreciate all the teachers who spent time with my kids whether I liked them personally or not. Thank you!

Posted by Michele
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

Unfortunately, a topic like this can attract those who are unhappy to post. But I will argue that the "vast majority" of teachers in Pleasanton are NOT "just punching the clock" like "member" said. While not all of my kids teachers are "perfect", they do work hard and my kids are truely learning. Middle school was not the easiest transition for my son, but because of his help at home and his teacher's support at school, he's excelling nicely. There's a reason why our API scores are some of the top in the state. It's not because teachers don't teach. Quite the opposite. I grew up in the East Bay and I wouldn't have my kids where I grew up.
While I don't have a particular teacher that I want to point out, I'd say most have been great teachers who are much more interested in seeing our children succeed rather than fail.

Posted by dancermom
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 14, 2011 at 9:59 am

I want to commend Mr. Clegg (AVHS) for somehow getting my son to an Advanced Proficiency in Social Studies on the STAR test--something he had never done in any subject ever! Also Mrs. Drain for PE and Mrs. Merritt for 4th grade at Vintage Hills, , Mr. Sims for Biology at AVHS, Ms. Acevedo for Math at AHVS, Mrs. Calestini, Mrs. Heller, and Mrs. Grewal for Health, Language Arts, and History at PMS.

These are just some of the many teachers who have inspired both my chiildren to "think." The other schools have great teachers and as a sub, I have seen many at FHS and Harvest Park who engage their students and make their subjects come alive. We are SO fortunate to live in a school district with so many high caliber teachers! Many in CA are not as fortunate.

Posted by hol
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 14, 2011 at 11:08 am

I would like to nominate Mr. Richey at Foothill High School. He is the best teacher that I have ever had. He is passionate about about what he does, and makes you think out of the box. Plus, he gets my dry sense of humor. The only problem is, once you get him, you realize how bad all the other teacher are. Sorry, but it's true.

Posted by POSITIVE feedback, people!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm

If you're here to complain, start your own thread. Seriously. Pleasanton teachers do a heckuva job, in my opinion and in twelve years dealing with the district I only ever took issue with one teacher.

Posted by I love Hearst
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Hearst Elementary is fantastic! All the teachers we've encountered are wonderful. Mrs Lounsbury is a fabulous passionate science teacher that the kids LOVE and they learn so much. Particular kudos to Mr Kuhfal, our wonderful principal for keeping everything together!

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Here is a way to recognize excellent teachers:

"Winning Teacher Will Earn $20,000 for School
Comcast SportsNet is bringing back the All-Star Teacher Award! Your vote will determine which Bay Area teacher is recognized as the All-Star Teacher and walks away with $20,000 for his or her school!

Nomination forms and official rules can be found online. E-mailed nomination forms are due to Comcast SportsNet no later than midnight on Monday, February 28th.

Voting begins April 18th and lasts through June 5th, at Comcast SportsNet's website. While online, you can check out biographies of all five finalists and play a short video for each one. The All-Star Teacher will be announced on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area during "Giants Pre-game Live" at a Giants game and will be presented with a check for $20,000! So, nominate your teacher TODAY!"

Web Link

Posted by reasonable parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

My personal votes are for Mr. O'Brien and Mrs. Reimer at Hearst, Ms. Castillo and Mrs. Snyder-Johnson at Vintage Hills, Mr. Dalldorf and Mrs. Sklar at AVHS, Mr. Habeker, Mrs. McLaughlin, Mrs. DeVries and Ms. Yeffa at PMS. A mix of older/younger,more and less experienced teachers -- all of whom have made a real impact on my kids! Thank you!!

Posted by Educated
a resident of Foothill High School
on Feb 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Let's see....
At Donlon, Ms. Draggoo and Ms. Pollack. And Ms. Ferreira, even though she retired several years ago.
At Hart, Mr. A, Ms. Lipman, Ms. Ludlow, Ms. Ottaway.
At Foothill, Mr. Lipman, Mr. Detamore, Mr. Dixon, Ms. Kelly.

Some of the signs of a great teacher...
-Even though students aren't crazy about the subject matter, they LOVE the class and grow to enjoy the subject.
-Siblings sign up for a class JUST so they can experience the teacher they've heard so much about.
-They make a subject that used to be hard, easy.
-Students don't complain about the homework being a waste of time.
-They teach important life skills in addition to the subject matter.
-They help students realize what they're capable of.

If all of our teachers could be like the list above, we would have the best school district in the country. How to make that happen?

Posted by Cameron
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 12:06 am

The teacher we feel luckiest to have had is Mr. Mark Macur at Harvest Park Middle School.

Posted by a little birdie
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 15, 2011 at 8:48 am

I'd have to give a shout out to Joanne Nix (retired) for her amazing ability to get kids to write. At HP, Carol Raimondi, Lynn Gatehouse, Chris Scarborough, and Randy Lomas are all fantastic teachers. At AVHS, several stood out for my children - Chris Murphy, Brian Ladd, Jon Grantham, Mark Aubel, Heather Pereira and Arick Little. These are just who come to mind right off the bat. Thank you!

Posted by wow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2011 at 11:02 am

Unbelievable- Your comment is UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! First of all, it is heresay...your neighbor's daughter was complaining so obviously things get exaggerated. I happen to know this teacher and she is a FABULOUS teacher who works EVERY DAY from 3-5 preparing her lectures for that class. You have absolutely no right to come on a public forum criticizing something you know absolutely NOTHING about, just that your neighbor's kid said something.

I grew up in Pleasanton, had great teachers, am a teacher myself now, and am so thankful to have had great teachers in my life through this district!!!!

Posted by Sandy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:08 am

Thank you to all who responded to the spirit of my request, to recognize our excellent teachers and describe their professional contributions in the education of Pleasanton's children.

Posted by Pleased as Punch
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:29 am

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers and staff at Alisal, Donlon, Fairlands, Hearst, Lydisken, Mohr, Valley View, Vintage Hills, Walnut Grove, Hart, Harvest Park, Pleasanton Middle, Amador, Foothill and are doing a fantastic job for our kids. I as a parent of two currently in the district couldn't be happier and I thank you!

Posted by Resident
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

First off one has to define "what is a good teacher". My definition is one that challenges the student without breaking their spirit. One who is there to support the student during times of difficulty without becoming their personal counselor. A good teacher inspires in their lectures and assignments - doesn't water down assignments to "busy work" and doesn't give A's that a child hasn't worked for because they're afraid of having to deal with an unhappy student or parent. A good teacher can relate to the age group they're working with but doesn't have to act like a kid in order to do so. A good teacher is respected and doesn't change their style because they're viewed as a hard teacher. I send my child to school to learn academics, expand their horizon, critically think through good assignments and interact within a diverse population. These are the teachers I feel have done a fabulous job. Some are now retired but not forgotten. They are all to be commended.

Mr. Kurt Richey - Foothill
Mr. Scott Gorsuch - Foothill
Mr. Cy Ogle - Amador
Ms. Lisa Fulton - Foothill
Mr. Dusty Collins Foothill
Ms. Debbie Harvey - Amador
Mr. Paul Rinetti - Pleasanton Middle
Mr. Buzz Valenti

Posted by Amy
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Many thanks to Ellen Gray and Jennifer Cohn who both had my daughter at AVHS last year. Amazing teachers who I am indebted to for challenging my daughter and requiring her to think about the world in new ways.

Posted by highschoolstudent
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 18, 2011 at 9:54 pm

To the whiny bourgeoisie parents on this message board,
You guys have no idea what's going on at Pleasanton schools. Stop whining about how much teachers suck, because they don't. You don't know what you're doing, you don't understand how the school system works. Teachers don't sit around waiting to collect their paychecks. If you've got a freaking problem with the way public schools are run, take your child to a freaking private school. Maybe if you all didn't start a damn riot every time somebody tries to raise taxes, public education could have some more funding. You don't even realize how hard teachers work, because you're too damn busy making millions of dollars to do a job much easier than teaching. It's sad that a high school student understands more than you
Stop being control freaks, and let teachers do their job. At least they're contributing something to society instead of sitting around bitching about crap on message boards (like you). Shame on you
To the parents supporting teachers,
Thank you. It means a lot to teachers, they appreciate it as much as you appreciate what they're doing for your children and society.
-high school student

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