Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Antioch School Board honors district 2020 Teacher of the Year Becky Barnett

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Dallas Ranch Middle School teacher Becky Barnett is the Antioch Unified School District 2020 Teacher of the Year. Photo courtesy of Leslie Scudero.

But, she’s retiring so Runner Up Robert Vieira will represent the district and compete at the county level

Antioch Middle School teacher Robert Vieira. From AMS webpage.

By Allen Payton

During their online meeting on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 the Antioch School Board honored the district’s 2020 Teacher of the Year Becky Barnett and Runner Up Robert Vieira. Barnett is a teacher at Dallas Ranch Middle School and Vieira teaches at Antioch Middle School.

In an effort to acknowledge and honor the contributions, commitment, and excellence of its most outstanding teachers, the Antioch Unified School District participates in the Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the California Department of Education. Individuals selected as the District’s Teacher of the Year and Runner Up are initially nominated by their peers. After the District Teacher of the Year is selected, his or her application is forwarded to the Contra Costa County Office of Education for consideration as the 2020 Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year.

“Ms. Barnett’s passion for teaching…is second to none,” said Christine Ibarra, Associate Superintendent for K-12 Education Services. “I’m sending you a virtual hug and we’ll have a plaque for you in recognition.”

“Yeah, 39 and this is my last one and I’m going out with a bang,” said Barnett. “It’s bittersweet, really just to go out this way. I’ve been teaching 39 years and 38 in Antioch.”

“Wonderful, wonderful. On behalf of the board I’m very excited for you. Congratulations and best to you in your next chapter,” said Board President Diane Gibson-Gray.

“I will just say, when I started in this district 21 years ago, Becky, you were my idol,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. “You really are remarkable.”

Trustee Gary Hack said, “We shared a lot of jokes and good times. You’ve been a sweetheart from day one. You’ve done a lot of good work for kids over the years. Enjoy retirement.”

“Congratulations and I commend you for all your years of teaching,” said Crystal Sawyer-White.

“I can’t even tell you how honored I am to have you be our Teacher of the Year, not just for the site but for the district,” said DRMS Principal Bridget Spires. “You’ve helped so many students have success. I appreciate you, the staff appreciates you. We love you and wish you the best in retirement. But today is about congratulating you for your hard work.”

Mary Rocha said, “You’ve done a great job with the young people in giving them mentorship. You certainly are a person we admire.”

“I just want to thank you for your years of service,” said Trustee Ellie Householder.

In her bio on the district’s website, she wrote, “I have been teaching for 39 years, 17 of which have been here at Dallas Ranch.  I am currently teaching 6th grade students and all subject areas.  I have a cat, Felix.  I love teaching and really love being home with my critter.  Any questions, please email me or phone me at DRMS.”

Vieira was honored next.

“Mr. Vieira is a gamechanger for our site,” said Principal Lindsay Wisely.

“I’m extremely humbled,” Vieira said. “Thank you for those kind words. Coming over from a small district to a larger district has been a challenge. I’m just kind of blown away in this honor. So, thank you very much. I appreciate the respect and honor bestowed on me.”

“I came over from River Delta,” he said in a response to a question by Gibson-Gray. “I’ve been in Antioch…this will be the end of my fourth year.”

Each of the board members congratulated him.

“Let me just congratulate you for making the best decision in your life for coming to Antioch Unified School District,” said Anello. “I remember hearing about this new teacher at DRMS and all the wonderful things you’re doing. I’m still hearing about it. We’re so happy you’re here…and congratulations.”

“You build that trust and safety in the classroom,” he added.

“The next level is for the teacher of the year to be forwarded to the county,” said Ibarra. “Ms. Barnett, in her retirement has graciously decided to remain local. So, we will be forwarding Mr. Vieira to the county for consideration.” (See related article)

“It’s a great honor to be able to go on, so thank you,” Vieira added.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Antioch Council honors Jack Roddy for 50 years of community service

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

“There’s not a prettier place in the world than right here, in Antioch. We’re going to miss Antioch.” – Jack Roddy

Jack Roddy. Herald file photo.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 the Antioch City Council honored Jack and Donna Roddy for their contributions to the Antioch community with a proclamation. Supervisor Diane Burgis and Congressman Jerry McNerney also provided proclamations honoring Jack Roddy. Jack Roddy Proclamation Antioch City Council 05-12-20

“Using a basketball analogy, it would be like having Michael Jordan in your community,” Mayor Sean Wright said about Jack Roddy.

Jack Roddy joined the council meeting by telephone from his new home in Stephenville, Texas.

“I feel very humbled by all these accolades. I’ve been proud to be a resident of Antioch,” he shared. Whenever I traveled for rodeo, I was proud to represent Antioch.”

“We’ve had 50 years of friends. But I’ve had too many injuries to keep the ranch going,” Roddy explained. “But, we’ve left it in good hands. It will be a park for people to enjoy that ranch like we have. We’re going to miss Antioch. Anytime anyone from there comes to Texas, we live in Stevensville. You’re welcome to stay.”

“I appreciate all the kind words and we’re going to miss Antioch,” he added.

“We have a special video that’s been made to honor Jack,” said Wright.

“It was fun, I got to go out and watch them make this video of Jack. For him to tell his stories. For him they’re not stories. He has a book out. He’s just a legend. We’re going to miss him,” said Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock

In the video Roddy said, “There’s not a prettier place in the world than right here, in Antioch.”

Mayor Pro Tem Joy added her thoughts. “Jack and Donna have given their support and life to this community,” she said. “It’s just been remarkable. I really hate to see them go. I wish them the best of luck.”

“Jack you’re just a super nice person who has done great things for our community,” said Councilwoman Monica Wilson. “I remember whenever I’d see you, you always had a smile on your face. Thank you for everything you’ve done.”

“Thank you, Jack and Donna,” added Councilman Lamar Thorpe who was wearing a cowboy hat in the Roddy’s honor. “When I first moved to Antioch, one of the very first names you hear about is Jack Roddy. Thank you for your philanthropy. I still remember taking my daughter to your ranch and seeing all the cattle. Thank you for opening your home to us and the community. Best wishes in Texas.”

“Jack, it’s been great. I’ve had the honor and privilege of bringing my friends from Chichibu, Japan out to your ranch…to have that real Western, cowboy experience,” Wright added. “I’m excited for Deer Valley Park and your ranch for being a place of education. You will be remembered in Antioch and you and Donna will be missed.

Following is the proclamation approved unanimously by the council:



MAY 12, 2020

WHEREAS, Jack Roddy was raised in San Jose’s eastern foothills and became a rodeo legend following a nationally renowned career including several national titles and Hall of Fame recognition;

WHEREAS, Jack and his wife Donna settled in the beautiful valley on the southern edge of Antioch at the base of the Mt. Diablo foothills where he built a very successful cattle and ranching operations;

WHEREAS, Jack Roddy has dedicated his time, money, and personal resources to making Antioch a better community since his arrival;

WHEREAS, in 1989 Jack was a founding member of the Delta Advocacy Fund, which was created to bring needed resources to those residents facing life emergencies and has provided

more than $500,000 to families throughout Antioch and East Contra Costa County;

WHEREAS, Jack willingly opened up his ranch for fundraising events and personally welcomed

thousands of guests that shared his desire to support many community efforts;

WHEREAS, in 2013 Jack hosted a Barbecue to support Antioch City Councilman Gary Agopian, who was battling brain cancer, Jack raised over $40,000 to support Gary and his family during this difficult time;

WHEREAS, Jack has been instrumental in raising additional funds to assist the Antioch Police Department, Chichibu Sister City Program, Mayor’s Cup golf tournament, Mangini Agriculture Museum and Gardens, and many other city programs; and

WHEREAS, for decades Jack participated in efforts to preserve his ranch lands, including Roddy Ranch Golf Club, to protect the habitat and to expand recreational opportunities in East Contra Costa which will provide a 3,254-acre, regional park for everyone’s enjoyment.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, SEAN WRIGHT, Mayor of the City of Antioch, do hereby honor Mr. Jack and Donna Roddy for more than forty years of service, support and land stewardship that enriches the Antioch community and all its residents.


Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Antioch’s last cowboy Jack Roddy and his wife Donna head to greener pastures in Texas

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Jack Roddy sings “The Last Cowboy Song” with the California Cowboys at Delta Advocacy Foundation’s 2012 Roddy Ranch Roundup. Photo by Allen Payton.

Book about his life “Wrestling the World” published last year available on Amazon

Jack Roddy. Courtesy of Wrangler Network

By Allen Payton

Antioch’s last cowboy, Jack Roddy and his wife, Donna are heading for greener pastures. On May 15th they will be moving from their home south of Antioch to Stephenville, Texas, known as the Cowboy Capital of the World, about an hour southwest of Fort Worth. The Antioch City Council will honor the Roddys and their contributions to our community with a proclamation, during their meeting next Tuesday, May 12th. Jack Roddy Proclamation Antioch City Council 05-12-20

Jack Roddy wrestled the world, as a new book published last year about him, reads. The six-foot-five native Californian and U.S. Marine was the All-Around Cowboy National Intercollegiate Championship and the World Champion Intercollegiate Steer Wrestling title in 1959, while studying for a bachelor’s degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Then as a two-time world champion steer wrestler in 1966 and 1968, “Roddy and the Rodeo Cowboys Association board members turned professional rodeo into a multi-million-dollar sport” as the book has it. Roddy is credited for turning the sport of rodeo into the big business it is today.

“Arena wrecks and broken bones, were nothing compared to the tragic death of friend Malcolm Baldrige,” the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, when the horse he was riding fell on him while participating in a calf-roping competition at the Roddy Ranch in 1987.

Jack would continue to wrestle with local government in Antioch and Contra Costa County as a landowner, to see his dream of The Roddy Ranch Golf Club and new home community become a reality.

Jack and Donna Roddy speak with former Antioch Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Devi Lanphere at her farewell party in January 2011. Herald file photo.

He won his first major round of local land wrestling when he and his partners opened the golf club in 2000.

Jack also battled radical environmental extremists, claiming to be Luddites, who killed his cattle using bow and arrow, and threatened him, as well.

Jack won another major round in 2005 when the people of Antioch joined him and his partners in fighting back against the county, after the Board of Supervisors moved in the Urban Limit Line and cut out his property that the voters had already included. We passed Measure K overwhelmingly giving the approval for the 700-acre new home development surrounding the golf course. It was to be the Blackhawk of Antioch.

He battled a partner who came to town and said he “had more money than God” but instead got Jack embroiled in a controversial funding scheme with a school district from the Central Valley to finance a water line to the Roddy Ranch property. As a result, that kind of “roving joint powers authority” is now illegal in the state.

Jack also battled with a neighbor who stole his water, illegally tapping into the water line.

But after 20 years of work to obtain approvals for the Roddy Ranch housing development, due to delays by city staff and a mayor who ignored the will of the voters, Jack lost another round of wrestling. He and his partners sold the land to the East Bay Regional Park District in 2013. (See related article)

Worse, his young protégé, to whom Jack leased the golf course to run like his own business and whom he treated like a son, took it down as a result of financial fraud. (See related article) Shortly thereafter, the golf course closed in 2016 giving Jack what appeared to be a final defeat. (See related article)

Jack Roddy at Salinas in 1978. By Brenda Allen

But, ultimately, Jack who was used to picking himself up, dusting himself off and getting back on the horse, won his final round of local land wrestling, when and his partner sold the remaining property including the Roddy’s 40-acre homestead to the East Bay Regional Park District in 2017 and the golf course in 2018. Combined, all 1,885 acres will be permanent open space and one day open as the Deer Valley Regional Park, which will be Jack and Donna’s legacy for the region. (See related article).

A few years ago, Jack wrestled with pneumonia after being bucked off his horse and cracking three ribs. He’s been down, but never out and has always managed to get back up.

He has continued to live life as a cowboy, running cattle on their land over the years, bringing in cows from Hawaii, fattening them up on the grass, then shipping them to Texas to be fattened on feed before being sent back to Hawaii for butchering.

Jack and Donna have contributed to Antioch and East County through the years, hosting many events at their place, including fundraising barbeques entitled the Roundup at Roddy Ranch every two years which helped raise $400,000 for the Delta Advocacy Foundation, which he helped found; the Antioch Rotary Club which he was a member of for decades; as well as the Antioch-Chichibu Sister City farewell dinners when the Japanese delegation was in town for their semi-annual visit.

In 1991 and 1992 Roddy was the Seniors Steer Wrestling World Champion. He went on to serve on the Rodeo Cowboys Assocation as Steer Wrestling Director for over 16 years and in 1997 Roddy was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. He won the Steer Wrestling title at the California Rodeo in Salinas in 1962, 1964 and 1966 and was inducted into the California Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2010, as well as the California State Fair Hall of Fame. Today, he mentors future rodeo champions and carries on the traditions of the West.

In 2017, Jack was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame, along with Dwight Clark of the 49ers. (See related article) See video introducing him for the presentation, below:

The book about Jack published last year, entitled Wrestling the World: The Life and Times of World Rodeo Champion Jack Roddy, available on Amazon, tells the story of Jack’s tough upbringing in San Jose with a “hard driving Irish father who forbade rodeo dreams.”

He’s been in several movies including a documentary that earned an Oscar. A few years ago, Jack, Donna and friends traveled to Ireland, where his father was born, and made his own movie about their trip.

Then last year, Jack appeared in an episode of the TV show, Man vs. Food when the host took on the 49er Club Steak Challenge at Vic Stewart’s in Brentwood. Some of Jack’s memories and accomplishments can be seen inside the restaurant, owned by former U.S. Secretary of Energy and Assistant Secretary of the Navy, John Herrington, where a few of his championship saddles and photos of his steer wrestling days are on display.

Among their other influential friends, the Roddys can also count Stephen Hearst, with whom they take horse rides at the Hearst Ranch in San Simeon, each year.

According to their property sales agreement with the park district, the Roddy homestead will become a public museum dedicated to his rodeo history once he and Donna pass. It will include trophies, buckles, photographs of Jack with President Reagan and celebrities, and other memorabilia for future generations to enjoy.

To learn more about Jack Roddy’s life visit

We now say farewell to Antioch’s last cowboy, Jack, and his wife Donna as they head off into the sunset. Actually, the sunrise since their heading east! It’s been great having you here, getting to know and serve the community with you, through the years. God bless you in your new home. You are loved and will be missed. Just know, Antioch will always be Roddy Country!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Antioch native and Deer Valley High grad serves aboard USS America

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Damage Controlman 2nd Class Sammy Cohen. Left – U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vincent E. Zline. Right – from his Facebook page 11-21-19.

By MC2 Jackson Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach, Media Outreach Department, Millington, TN

200331-N-RU810-1009 PHILIPPINE SEA (March 31, 2020) Damage Controlman 2nd Class Sammy Cohen, from Antioch, California, assigned to amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), dons a self-contained breathing apparatus during a damage control drill.

America, flagship of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit team is operating in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Cohen is a 2006 graduate of Deer Valley High School in Antioch.

“We’re very proud of my little brother and the man he has grown up to be,” his sister Natasha Esther shared.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Principal Tim Cooper of Antioch’s Live Oak High School named association’s Administrator of the Year

Friday, February 7th, 2020

Live Oak High School Principal Tim Cooper.

Article & photo y Antioch Unified School District

The Association of California School Administrators has named Antioch’s Live Oak High School principal, Tim Cooper the Region VI Continuation Education Administrator of the Year. According to their website, ACSA Region 6 represents School Administrators from Alameda and Contra Costa counties. ACSA serves educational leaders in the pursuit of equity and excellence to meet the diverse needs of all California students. Region 6 has local charters that meet regularly to support administrators in our region.

Although, he notes he didn’t get into education for the accolades, the ACSA nonetheless has recognized Cooper.

He was taken aback when he learned he had been singled out for his work at Live Oak High School.

“I was like, ‘Oh really?’”, Cooper said.

He’s in his fourth year of overseeing one of Antioch Unified’s two continuation high schools, an alternative for teens who are floundering in a mainstream setting. Students transfer to Live Oak after failing classes and falling at least the equivalent of one semester behind their peers. Mostly juniors and seniors, the vast majority are here because of truancy, not disruptive behavior, Cooper said, noting that there have been virtually no fights on campus over the past three years.

“The vibe I give off has an effect,” he said of the correlation between the conduct of the young people in his charge and his attitude toward them. “Students don’t care what you know until they know you care.”

And they do. Cooper knows the first and last name of every one of Live Oak’s 160 students, a feat he achieves in part by visiting classes every morning.

Sometimes he simply observes the action from the sidelines; on other occasions he’ll join a group of kids in a trivia contest or other activity. Teens who feel anonymous lack a sense of accountability for their actions, he said. And because Live Oak has so few students, he has more time to have a conversation with each instead of just comments in passing, Cooper said.

He began his career three decades ago as a substitute teacher in Pittsburg before coming to Antioch Unified in 2001 as a Deer Valley High Vice Principal. Cooper then opened Bidwell Continuation High School as its Vice Principal and did a stint as Black Diamond Middle School’s Principal before returning to Deer Valley High.

At Live Oak he shapes the curriculum by bringing in guest speakers, arranging field trips and developing the school budget.

One of the toughest aspects of his job is the frustration of drawing up a to-do list only to walk into the office the next morning and find everything has changed.

Then again, the element of surprise “kind of makes it exciting,” he said.

A highlight for Cooper is Live Oak’s graduation speeches, when seniors describe the obstacles they’ve overcome.

“I meet so many students who are super stars — they do well inside the classroom, they get involved in their community,” he said. “And some didn’t think they were capable of that.”

Cooper, who’s married with two grown children, is a fiend for golf and has played all over the Bay Area as well as at Lake Tahoe, the San Diego area and even Vancouver, Canada.

“Wherever I can tee it up, I’ll tee it up,” he said.


Allen Payton contributed to this report.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Antioch’s “Birdman” named for flipping off people dies at age 29

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Kenny ‘Birdman’ Booker with his usual greeting (photo from Facebook) and with reporter Luke Johnson and Marcus Malu. (Photo from Luke Johnson)

By Luke Johnson

One of the most legendary figures in Antioch has died.

Kenny Booker, 29, better known as the “Antioch Flip Off Guy” or “Birdman” passed away Saturday from congestive heart failure, the family confirms.

Booker became a local legend for saluting people with his middle finger in Antioch and parts of Pittsburg.

“He was a loving kid,” said his father, Kenneth Booker Sr. “Never hurt no one. He just did that thing with his finger, but that was his way of saying, ‘Hi.’”

Kenny Booker was dealing with borderline bipolar and schizophrenia disorders, his father said.

Although he was notorious, Kenny Booker was “well liked.” After his death was reported to the public Monday, his father said many people came to his house to give their condolences.

The Contra Costa Coroner and Pittsburg Police Department also confirmed his death. Pittsburg PD said Kenny Booker was dealing with ongoing health problems for the past few years. His father said he thinks it was caused by his son’s recent weight gain.

Kenny Booker was described by many to be a “gentle giant.”

“He was smarter than people thought he was,” said Marcus Malu, a close family friend. “I had full conversations with him. He loved to talk smack. He was also a big Niner fan.”


Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Wanda Hom, Ralph Garrow chosen Antioch Citizens of the Year, Rick Fuller Real Estate Team is Small Business of the Year

Monday, January 13th, 2020

2019 Antioch Citizens of the Year for Most Impact Wanda Hom and for Lifetime Achievement Ralph Garrow. Photos from Facebook.

Antioch Chamber announces annual awards; winners to be honored at annual gala, March 13

The Antioch Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 2019 Annual Award winners:

Citizen of the Year

Lifetime Achievement – Ralph Garrow

Most Impact – Wanda Hom

Veteran of the Year

Denny Hollison, US Army Vietnam Veteran, VFW Commander

Youth of the Year

Chris Garcia, Antioch High School

Non-Profit of the Year

Fellowship Church

Jennifer and Rick Fuller and the Rick Fuller Team real estate brokerage, 2019 Antioch Small Business of the Year. Photo courtesy of Rick Fuller.

Business of the Year

Large/Corporate Business – Travis Credit Union

Small Business  – Rick Fuller Team

Ambassadors of the Year

Tom McNell, Edward Jones

Jose Solorio, SERVPRO of Antioch

“I’m honored but I don’t necessarily believe I deserve it. I care a lot about Antioch, so, maybe my life has reflected that,” Garrow said, when reached for comment.

Hom is the Accounting Activities Specialist for Deer Valley High School and works with the student clubs and athletics to manage all the funds they bring in.

“Oh, man, I don’t believe it,” she said with a laugh. “I’m very honored and don’t feel deserving. There are so many others in Antioch who are more deserving. But, I’m happy to highlight Deer Valley High School and all of the things we do, here.”

Asked about her activities this past year, Hom responded, “it would be our educational foundation and its support for the school and the Every 15 Minutes driving safety program.

“The Deer Valley Educational Advancement Foundation, which was started by the parents, has been around about 14 years, supporting the school,” she explained. “This year they’ll be raising funds for the choir to pay for risers with backs on them for safety. We’re always a place for homeless and foster students providing them with supplies and materials, such as backpacks.”

Fuller offered his thanks for the honor.

“I have a lot of respect for local businesses in Antioch and it’s very humbling to featured. I’d like to give thanks to my incredible team, amazing clients and my wonderful family,” he said. “I thank the Lord for His blessing and favor on our lives.”

Fuller has had the Rick Fuller Team for over 10 years and served 250 families and about $125 million in sales, last year. He also shared they have almost 1,000 five-star online reviews and have sold over 1,000 homes in their 10 years of business.

The annual Chamber gala will be held on Friday, March 13, 2020 at 6pm. Tickets are $75 per person, or $600 for a reserved table of eight. Purchase of gala tickets can be made online at, by calling (925) 757-1800, or emailing Ticket sales will end March 2, 2020 at 5pm.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Park Middle School’s Kai Montgomery named administrators association’s Vice Principal of the Year

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

Kai Montgomery Vice Principal of Park Middle School. Photo: AUSD


She had wanted to be a teacher all her life, so Kai Montgomery went after the credential … and then another … and finally a graduate degree. But after those qualifications helped her land a couple of jobs in Antioch Unified’s District Office, Montgomery realized something was missing amid all the paperwork and policy making: The children.

These days the former instructor is back on campus, for the past four years as a vice principal at Park Middle School where she has won recognition from the Association of California School Administrators.

“I really missed being with students because of the individual conversations,” she said.

Montgomery moved around a lot as a child but even though she had attended 10 schools by her senior year, the environment offered a comforting routine in her ever-changing world. “School can be a solace for you when there’s a lot of other things going on,” she said.

Now she’s trying to foster the same caring environment, which makes it easier for young people to learn, Montgomery said. It’s a goal she always carries with her: Tattooed on the inside of her wrists are the words “empathy” and “kindness.”

Children must have their emotional needs met — to be understood, for example, or know how to cope with anxiety — before they can tackle academics, Montgomery said.

To that end she assembled teachers, a special education instructor, a psychologist, therapists and academic counselors last year. Some are Park Middle School employees, others are from outside agencies, but they all work together on behalf of the students who are referred to them for behavior or academic problems.

CARE, as the group is known, meets twice a month to map out ways of getting youngsters back on track. The practical help ranges from putting low-income families in touch with organizations that provide food, clothes or other necessities to arranging for a kid who’s having trouble managing anger to work out that aggression at a boxing center.

In addition, Montgomery is establishing the so-called “restorative” approach of moderating conversations between students who have caused trouble and the classmates or teachers they have hurt so each can share his or her point of view, come to a mutual understanding and repair the relationship.

She also is planning to train teachers how to diffuse conflict in their own classroom using these practices. Montgomery readily acknowledges the difficulty of continuing to pursue help for students when previous efforts have failed. “You just don’t give up,” she said.

And the best part of the job is when that persistence pays off.

“You try five different things and the sixth works. You feel great!” Montgomery said.

Montgomery is the married mom of a 17-year-old daughter and 21-year-old stepson.

She is also a travel bug who goes “anywhere I can have good food.” Dreams of sampling culinary delights have taken her on cross-country road trips in the U.S. as well as a month’s trip to Europe and, most recently, a week-long cruise to Mexico. Next stop? Bangkok, Thailand’s on the short list!


Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter