The 2010 Eddy Awards
Honoring Excellence in Education
We are pleased to present the recipients of the 2010 Eddy Awards. It is our honor to recognize the outstanding commitment and devotion exemplified by these individuals and to have had the pleasure of celebrating with them on April 27, 2010 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. The many nominations we received were poignant and inspiring. We are fortunate to have a community so dedicated to our children. Teachers, staff, parents – you are all unsung heroes and we thank you for all that you do for our students.
Special thanks to our event sponsors Whole Foods, the O’Hara Family and Bonny Hawley. We are also grateful to our generous donors Surfrider Cafe, LaPosta/Soif, Lightfoot Industries, GoodEye Photography, Kelly’s Bakery, Ristorante Avanti & The Garden Company.
- Outstanding Teacher, K-3: Alice Cato, Bay View Elementary School
- Outstanding Teacher, 4-5: Alison Woolpert, DeLaveaga Elementary School
- Outstanding Teacher, 6-8: Jenny Nixen, Mission Hill Middle School
- Outstanding Teacher, 9-12: Ron Indra, Harbor High School
- Unsung Hero, Classified Employee: Fe Silva, Branciforte Middle School & Nereida Robles, Costanoa High School
- Unsung Hero, Parent: Janet Edwards, Soquel High School
- Green Award: Gault Elementary School
- Wellness Award: Jamie Smith, Food Services Manager
- Innovation Award: Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program
- Community Supporter of the Year: Rick Linzer, Alan Heit, Steven Bignell, Colin Alder
- School of the Year: Santa Cruz High School
Alice Cato is an amazing teacher. She is a compassionate person, a collaborative partner to her colleagues, a true expert in learning issues, and a miracle worker when it comes to changing student’s lives.” A Resource Program Teacher for over 28 years, she has worked at Bay View for the last 20 years. Alice consistently puts the welfare of the children first and is always there to help staff manage children with multiple disabilities.
Alice excels at teaching children who have struggled with reading since day one of their education. Children who do not seem to “get” the reading process do under Alice’s care. One bright boy who despite a great deal of work to get him to read, remained at the 1st grade level for several years – until he was placed with Alice. Within a year, he learned how to read and improved to within striking distance of his grade level. Now you cannot stop him from reading! Alice also gives concrete and very helpful advice to teachers and parents who are struggling with learning issues. She provides flexible approaches to help children with math phobias to learn addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The most outstanding thing about Alice, however, is her work ethic. She rarely leaves school before 4:30 or 5 and because Special Education requires a lot of paperwork and she does not want to take time from her students, her paperwork is often done on her own time. Alice has changed many, many lives, making readers and students out of children that no one else seems to be able to help.
“Ms. Cato is a really kind person. She is never mean to kids. She always teaches them the way they need to learn and never makes them feel bad. I loved going to her class.” Graham Swann, Class 0f 2014
“Alison has been an incredible teacher to my son this year. He has learned so much and been so excited about school. I know she has been teaching for many years, but she is still so excited about watching her students learn and grow. How lucky I have been to have my child experience such an incredible teacher.”
Alison Woolpert has been teaching for 31 years and still has fun doing it. In addition to over 25 years in the classroom, she has been an ELD (English Language Dvelopment) Specialist in Pajaro Valley, has been heavily involved with the Writing Project, and served as an advisor for new teachers for 1 1/2 years through The New Teacher Project. She has mentored countless student teachers – always through UCSC- and learns valuable lessons from each one during their time with her.
Alison sees teaching as working a loom to create a beautiful cloth: weaving it all together – drop a thread, add a new color, keeping it beautiful. Her students inspire her – she sees that all learners are here to learn and believes that guiding children to explore the mystery of knowledge and celebrate learning in a joyful setting leads to success and fun! She also likens the challenges of teaching to tending multiple spinning tops – focusing on the balance of one or another and constantly tending all to keep each top spinning!
“My father told me when I went off to college that I should find a real career, a career that I could support myself in should I need to. (No more drama classes). He was right on several accounts, but he didn’t live long enough to know that I would become a teacher. He didn’t live long enough to know how much I’d love my profession.
My mother, on the other had, served as a board member on the Desert Sands Unified School District for 16 years while I as growing up, and she lived to the ripe old age of 102. She happily saw both of her daughters choose teaching, never tired of hearing about our classrooms, and always kept up with the latest issues in education.”
Jenny Nixen has always loved kids but didn’t always like school herself. A few special teachers in high school and college who shared their positive values about life and education and loved their jobs were her inspiration. After earning an Early Childhood Education degree, she came to UCSC to study Environmental Education. She worked with the original Life Lab program at Green Acres Elementary School, KIDPOWER self defense program, and the SPECTRA program. After working in elementary, middle school, and high school, Jenny found her true place in middle school. “I truly enjoy students this age and like encouraging them to appreciate learning, to develop their self-confidence, and empowering them as learners and individuals.” Now in her 26th year teaching, she taught math for 10 years and currently teaches Sheltered Core, ELD, and Leadership at Mission Hill.
“Each spring I attend SCHS graduation to see past students cross the stage. Often students come back to visit or I see them in the community. Some of my past students are in college, others are working, and others have their own children. I currently teach with one of my past students. I enjoy teaching at my neighborhood school, being part of the community, and seeing students and their families when I am out. My son attended Bay View and MHMS, and is currently at SCHS. My husband is a local business owner and city lifeguard. When I am not at school I spend time with my family, skiing/snowboarding, running, gardening, and volunteering with Ride A Wave.”
“Jenny Nixen is one of the most tireless educators in Santa Cruz. The breadth of her commitment to her students extends far beyond the classroom. Her students trust her to help them with their work in all of their classes, so most of her students turn to her for office hours over their regular classroom teachers. She will also advocate for her students when they need a voice with other teachers, administration or peers. Jenny knows her students in and out of the classroom and is constantly making time and finding ways to help support the whole student and his or her family. As the Leadership teacher, Jenny has to help organize MHTV, weekly games and incentives, rallies, dances, and regular campus maintenance such as garbage, recycling and the MH marquee. “
“Jenny has been teaching for over 20 years and has been an enormous influence to all that she has touched. Her peers and administrators know that they can turn to her for help and support, hence Jenny’s constant presence at Mission Hill. She is the most exemplary teacher I know.”
Ron Indra has taught at Harbor since 1983. Ron is widely heralded as not only a role model and mentor to gay and straight students– but as an outstanding human being. He is the ‘go to’ for students struggling with their personal and loved ones’ adjustments to coming out. He is a star and a shining example of what it means to devote your life to student success. BTW, those students often stay in touch with him over the years and identify him as THE trusted adult who generously and respectfully have them the time and support that saved their lives.
“How do you measure connection? Is it students laughing across the dinner table as they relay the latest great history story their teacher shared with them? Is it the community service that your student begins and persists with after many years of ignoring your parental input to serve? What I can say is that connection, or “spark” defines Ron Indra, Social Science teacher at Harbor High School. He is a dedicated teacher, who is loved by all. As a teacher myself, I have rigorous standards for my students and our school district. Ron meets and exceeds these with grace, humor and humility that underlies his brilliance. He is helping so many young people to be effective communicators, informed, productive thinkers, self-directed learners, contributing citizens, collaborative writers and effective information processors. As a U.C. Berkeley graduate, I can honestly say that I have been exposed to some of the most brilliant professors in the world. I am thrilled to say that none shine brighter than Mr. Indra. He is a jewel and deserves our community’s highest recognition and deep gratitude for a job well done indeed.”
Just a few of Ron’s projects: Director of the Santa Cruz County Safe Schools Project , started the GSA at Harbor 14 years ago, member of the SCCS LGBT task force , helped draft the district’s anti discrimination/harassment policy, California State Senate certificate of recognition: Educator of the year 2001-2002 , Chairman of the Academic Council at Harbor, Union rep for Harbor High for many years, Member of the Monterey Bay Regional Partnership, connecting students to the world of work and careers , Member of the Tec Prep program thru Cabrillo College (school to career program), Master Teacher for UCSC student teacher program, Over saw the Grove Scholarship program at Harbor High. Scholarships for student going to college for 2 years and then out to work , PAR member, Mock Trial teacher.
Nereida and Fe have been leading the Grupo de Danza y Baile Centeotl for 9 years. It has grown into a large district-wide club for students and families to learn indigenous arts and traditions in a safe, physically active, family oriented, wholesome atmosphere. Vive Oaxaca, Centeotl’s annual local showcase event, attracts thousands of people from Santa Cruz County and across California and even Mexico. The work of Fe, Nereida, and all the involved students and families enriches our community and builds strong, healthy, and confident children and youth. Fe and Nereida are the school community coordinators at Branciforte Middle School and Costanoa High School, respectively. They volunteer hundreds of hours a year to create this free program for students and families. The students perform in dance competitions throughout the state and at various Santa Cruz community events each year.
Nereida was born and raised in a small town Santiago Laxopa, Oaxaca, Mexico. She immigrated to the United States in 1985. Her parents, Atilano Robles and Natividad Vasquez were both teachers in Oaxaca and they have been her greatest inspiration to work with children, families, and youth to make a little difference in lives. During ten years of hard work, while raising her daughters and working at low paying jobs, she obtained an Associate Degree in Science and then a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in spring 2009 at San Jose State University. Today she is working toward Master’s of Social Work.
As a Latina immigrant whose second language is English, I have experienced the barriers many encounter when coming to the United States with no money or English skills. One of my goals as a social worker is to provide information, support, and encouragement to marginalized teenagers so that they too can gain control of their lives through a pursuit of higher education. At Costanoa, I work with students who are very bright and eager to learn, yet they have many needs. Their families live in situations that often do not provide adequate food, transportation, or clothing. I work with these families to get their basic needs met through social welfare agencies. I also work to help them understand that education is crucial if they want their children to have successful lives. The needs of my students and their families motivate me to gain an education so that I can help them.
One of my greatest inspirations to become a social worker was my father. He was a teacher in Mexico who worked in villages to bring literacy to children. He inspired many of his students to pursue a higher education so that they could take charge of their lives and the lives of their families. Although I lost him at age 13, he taught me the value of education and the rewards of helping others.
My father also taught me the value of retaining and passing on our cultural heritage. My sister and I with our daughters started a folkloric dance program in Santa Cruz nine years ago. Many of the people who join our group are teenage newcomers. It is difficult for this population to “fit in.” Often they drop out of school to work, join gangs or be a parent. Our folkloric program offers an alternative that helps teens to feel proud of their heritage. The members in the program support each other in their common goals to graduate from high school and continue to college.
“Fe Silva Robles works in the office at B40 Middle School, but her job goes way beyond her daily office duties. Besides the fact that she is committed to supporting each and every one of the students that she interacts with at school, she has also dedicated thousands of hours to the youth in our community by giving students a safe and positive place to be after school through her Mexican folkloric dance group, Grupo de Danza y Baile Centeotl. Through this group, young people don’t just learn to dance, they learn about a new culture or learn to embrace their own, have support and guidance from caring adults and are shown the importance of responsibility, hard work, respect and finding a positive path for their futures. Fe is an incredible asset to SCCS and her dedication to our children should be acknowledged and honored!”
“Janet helps out at Soquel High school in so many ways. She is a key member of the Soquel High Fund, our parent support group. Janet helps the Fund raise and donate money to our academic, arts, and athletics programs via a direct mailing campaign, our golf tournament and for the first time this year, our concert featuring the White Album Ensemble on September 11. Janet is always willing to provide tech support, volunteer hours, and to do whatever else is necessary to get done the job at hand.
Janet goes beyond all this by acting as the treasurer of the Soquel High Fund. Besides the funds raised, the Fund handles thousands of dollars on behalf of arts, academic, and athletics programs here on campus. Each week, Janet helps the advisors of these programs keep their program’s money accessible but safe.
Janet also volunteers her time in our front office, answering phones, assisting students and parents, or taking on special projects. Janet has been a huge help in getting information back and forth from one of our feeder middle schools, which always takes some doing since the school is not within our district.
Janet is always upbeat and fun to be around. Her level of commitment and energy are second to none. I have never met a parent so deserving of recognition!”
“Janet has been the treasurer of the Soquel High Fund for the past two years. Janet works countless hours managing the money going in and out of the Fund account to subsidize the academic, arts and athletic programs for Soquel High. Janet not only does these duties but always goes above and beyond to help with many after hour school events and all fundraising events. She is also happy to help many faculty members, club and team representatives with the details of their program. She organizes the all the Humanities Academy meetings and maintains a google group page for them, she volunteers every week in the school office helping the administrators with clerical duties, and she helps the athletic department with financial and organizational duties. Janet does all of this while dealing with her own challenges of being a disabled person in a wheelchair. You will often see Janet happily wheeling herself along 41st Ave on the way to the bank from her home to make the many deposits for the Soquel High Fund. Janet also has two sons, one of whom has special needs. Janet can also be seen at her son’s school volunteering (New Brighton Middle School). It seems unimaginable that someone would have enough time to do the many things Janet is able to accomplish in a given day, but somehow Janet is able to successfully accomplish all the tasks she commits to with a smile on her face.”
“Janet Edwards is a disabled parent of a Soquel High sophomore and an incoming freshman. She is the treasurer of the Soquel High Fund. This is a demanding job that requires 20 plus hours of volunteer work a week managing the deposits and withdrawals of the sports teams, performing arts programs, and various school groups. Janet also volunteers 2 full days a week in the school office. She is a valuable parent at Soquel High who goes above and beyond the call of volunteerism. Soquel High is a better place because of her.”
“Janet is a parent who has consistently devoted her time and business skills to the Soquel High Fund as treasurer which has become a full time job. She has also assisted in the front office of Soquel High on a weekly basis filling in wherever they need help. Her attitude is positive, always can do and as a disabled individual her energy puts us all to shame! In this day of sarcasm and cynicism her fresh willingness and plain overall kindness is so inspiring. She influences us all to stay the course and believe we can make a difference.”
Gault School began its green journey in 1985 with the installation of the school’s Life Lab Garden. When the Nutrition Program came to Gault 6 years ago after the Branciforte Elementary school closure, Nutrition/Life Lab Coordinator Jessica Silverman-Curcio and Life Lab Instructor Susan Dahlgren were able to integrate it into the existing Life Lab program and soon the green outdoor kitchen idea was born in an afterschool GATE class. In 2003, a bond project provided funds to run electricity for to the beautiful kitchen, which also features on-demand hot water, recycled glass countertops, hand-powered blenders, and low-flow faucets.
Here are some of the other ways that Gault teaches its students to value and take responsibility for their environment:
- School-wide classroom and school yard recycling
- Lunchtime scraps are composted and compost used in Life Lab Garden
- Solar panels on classroom A-1 provide school electricity
- Students use solar oven in Life Lab to cook foods grown in their garden
- Life Lab garden perennials watered from Life Lab greywater treatment bed
- Kindergarten classes have committed to a no-waste daily snack program
- Participation 2 times a year in Bike-to-School week
In eight short but packed months, Food Services Manager Jamie Smith, with the willing help of his devoted staff, has reintroduced scratch cooking at all of our schools. Before becoming a master of compliance, Jamie made his mark as a chef.
Jamie’s love for Italian cuisine began in New York City at Zagat’s top-rated Union Square Café, where he worked under Chef Michael Romano. A 1997 graduate of The French Culinary Institute in New York, Jamie honed his skills under such distinguished instructors as Alain Sailhac, Jacques Pepin, Jacques Torres, and Andre Soltner. Upon graduation, he spent the next two years working at the Union Square Café, as well as the Lenox Room, serving Charlie Palmer’s Aureole-inspired New American Cuisine.
Jamie made his way west, landing as Sous Chef at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco. He joined the Left Bank Restaurant in Menlo Park in 2002, where he became executive chef in August of 2003. Jamie also assisted in the wildly successful opening of the Left Bank at Santana Row in San Jose. At the Left Bank, Jamie met John Mootz, an industry veteran of the Chart House and Landry’s. Together they purchased a vacant restaurant space in January 2004, renovating the modern design to a timeless style reminiscent of the Italian Riviera with a menu Smith tabbed as Inspired Italian cooking. Sestri was quickly recognized as “the hot, hip new restaurant” where “every dish seduces the senses” and received three and a half stars from the San Jose Mercury News for Smith’s seasonal menu of “bold and unexpected flavors… from top-quality ingredients…[that] sets Sestri apart.” Sestri won recognition as Best New Restaurant, Best in Santa Cruz and Restaurant of the Year from the Good Times “Best of” issue, 2005. Sestri was equally lauded for giving back to the community, raising money for Dominican Hospital’s cancer resource center, Jacob’s Heart and the Red Cross, among others.
Jamie sold his share of Sestri to the remaining partnership in March of 2006, and joined Bon Appetit Management Company as Chef de Cuisine at Cisco Systems, where he oversaw significant growth and expansion by bringing his trademark seasonal fresh fare and creativity to corporate dining. In April of 2007, Jamie joined the Dining team at the University of California Santa Cruz as Chef de Cuisine, where he and his team have garnered accolades and awards from local and national publications and organizations for their commitment to quality, local and sustainable food, and reducing their environmental impact. Jamie has assumed an additional role as Executive Sous Chef under UCSC Executive Chef Dwight Collins.
The AVID program takes the “fall trough the cracks” kids and gives them the tools, the vision and the motivation to succeed in school today and to lay a path to college and career.
AVID targets students in the “academic middle” for college preparation. The AVID student may be a B, C or even D student capable of rigorous college preparatory curriculum, but falling short of their potential. They are often the first family member to consider college. Beginning in 7th grade at Mission Hill or Branciforte Middle School, students opt into an elective class with challenging coursework. Parents also commit to support their efforts. The AVID elective offers organization and study skills, academic help, college tours, career education, speakers and motivational activities. The AVID elective continues at Harbor High School and Santa Cruz High School.
Congratulations to AVID teachers: Ave Cope, Jessica Olamit, Jamie Wales, Greg Spear, Julianna Perry, Kathy Sandige with support from administrators Jason Tovani, Diane Morgenstern, Valerie Quandt, Karen Edmonds, Dick Davis and Kris Munro.
Music has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. My life revolved around music all through school from early piano lessons to taking up the saxophone in 3rd grade, from playing in all the bands in High School (Concert, Marching, Jazz and Pep) to All-State Band and Chorus, through college and graduate school.
Watching over the years as the state budget for school music programs got thinner and thinner, I became alarmed. I wanted to help support music programs in the schools as directly as I could. So I decided, in the summer of 2008 to “put on a show” to raise money. The show would feature local, young, talented kids who could sing, play, dance and do other performing arts. The four goals of the show were, and are:
1. To raise funds to support music programs in the Santa Cruz City Schools
2. To educate the public as to the value and importance of music programs in the schools
3. To give young, local, talents performers and opportunity to perform in a concert hall setting to a large audience and
4. To provide, high-quality, fun, family-oriented entertainment to the Santa Cruz community.
I enlisted three dedicated and hard-working friends to help put the show together. We reached out to the community for sponsorships and enthusiastic support. We’ve been blessed with such an extraordinary group of donors and volunteers. We’re thrilled by the success of our Show and honored, after just two years, to receive the Eddy Award for Community Support.
I am a Marriage and Family Therapist and have been providing counseling and psychotherapy with individual adults, couples, families, teens and children in the Santa Cruz area since 1970. I was a Music Major in undergraduate and graduate school, studying saxophone and music literature.
Of my two sons, one (now 40) went to Gault, B-40 Jr. High and Harbor HS. He is now a n ER doctor living with his wife and 3 kids in Florida. My other son, (now 26) went to Bayview, Traveling School and Santa Cruz HS. He is currently in graduate school at SF State studying Communications.
I’ve practiced general dentistry for 28 years, over 25 years here in Santa Cruz. I have played music for 45 years and have found it to be a constant source of fun, joy and an amazing gateway to meeting new people and new experiences. I believe that all children should have the opportunity and exposure to music appreciation and as much so, to have the chance to play an instrument. Beyond all of the cerebral, cognitive reasons for providing music exposure to kids, it is profoundly human an a social medium that makes people feel great. That alone in my estimation is reason to support it. My son and daughter attended Bay View Elementary and Santa Cruz High School in the 1990’s. Both of them played instruments at Bay View.
To this day, I recall how unhappy I was when the elementary school I attended stopped the music program due to financial concerns. My parents were not in a position to buy a trombone or pay for private lessons. I would hope that we can continue to provide our students with these programs.
Steven Bignell: Steven Bignell is the Publisher at Journeyworks, a health promotion publishing company in downtown Santa Cruz.
He has no musical talent, but his two kids prove that it is nurture not nature that makes all the difference. His kids got interested in music when they attended Gault School in the late 90’s (where Steven was also on the School Site Council for four years). At the time, all of the kids at Gault, starting in third grade, were given instruments to play. His son Alex, who is now a jazz musician and vocalist studying in Seattle, got his start playing clarinet in the Gault School Orchestra and saxophone with the Gault Jazz Band. His daughter Maggie played flute with the Orchestra and sang in the Chorus and has continued singing in both Chamber Choirs and Jazz Ensembles ever since. Thanks to the Gault program, music has been a big part of both kids’ lives.
Colin Alder: Designer/Technician; CSA Cabinet Systems, CruzTone Steel Guitars. Producer; Digital Media Factory, Lapstravaganza Steel Guitar Showcase Series.
In 5th grade my teacher, Grace Garretson told me “You have a good voice” or words to that effect. I believed her and have spent my life as an amateur singer, guitar player and sometime songwriter. Music has been a continuing joy in my life, and many of family and friendship times involve the sharing of music in some way. I started producing shows to feature the instruments I have designed and built. When Rick Linzer asked me to work with him on this project, it seemed like a natural fit.
I have many friends who are professional and amateur musicians, I drew on those relationships to get support and participation in the Young Performers Showcase. My daughter, Jessica Alder, is a Harbor High graduate.
Santa Cruz High, established in 1895, is rich with history and tradition. Santa Cruz High is the only school in the district using the Excel Program. Under this model, students take three (or four) ninety-minute classes each day for eighteen weeks in the fall, and three (or four) different classes for eighteen weeks in the spring. The ninety-minute classes, which meet daily over the eighteen weeks, are equivalent to year-long classes in the more traditional two-semester system. This intensive block system, implemented at SCHS in 1995, has proven to be highly effective.
So much recognition goes to an area school of choice for its academic excellence. Few appreciate that with the Excel schedule, students at SC High can opt to take the equivalent of nearly 8 years of academic courses! College admissions counselors note that SCHS students are particularly well prepared for college given the rigor of their high school schedules. The format is challenging, but pays great dividends for students who challenge themselves to get the most from the program.
Santa Cruz High faced a tragedy this fall that challenged the entire school and the surrounding community. Through outreach and collaboration, the school staff has supported students in dealing with grief and prevented escalation with sensitivity and gentle guidance. Students were able to express their feelings in their individual ways without losing focus on school. There is a new level of awareness and understanding of each other within the student body.
“Santa Cruz High School has demonstrated tremendous courage this school year; excelling in academics, the arts, and their athletics, while at the same time leading the fight against violence in our schools. All this while mourning the loss of one of their students. While other schools have achieved excellence and are not to be diminished for their achievements, none has faced as much as Santa Cruz, and shone as brightly in the face of tremendous adversity. Karen Edmonds, her staff, and most importantly her students, deserve every accolade possible.”
Through the Eddy Awards, the Santa Cruz Education Foundation provides a way for the community to recognize the outstanding commitment made daily by the dedicated educators and staff of Santa Cruz City Schools. Nominations for the 2010 Eddy Awards are now open; we will accept nominations through April 2, 2010. Award recipients will be announced in mid-April and will be presented at the 2010 Eddy Awards on April 27 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.
Nominations will be accepted in the following categories:
- Outstanding Teacher (4 awards: K-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12)
- Unsung Hero (2 awards: one classified staff member, one parent)
- Green Award (school, individual or program)
- Wellness Award (school, individual or program)
- Innovation Award (school, individual or program)
- School of the Year
- Community Supporter of the Year (business, individual or organization)
We want to hear your stories: the teacher that changes kids’ lives; the parent and employees that give 110%; a program making a real difference…this is your opportunity to acknowledge the people and programs of Santa Cruz schools.
Community members may make multiple nominations in each category; we ask that you complete a nomination form with a short description supporting your nominee. Submissions will be evaluated by the Santa Cruz Education Foundation board of directors; award recipients will be announced in mid-April; awards will be presented at the 2010 Eddy Awards, 6:30 p.m. on April 27 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center ($15 suggested donation at the door).
View the 2009 Eddy Award recipients & news here.