Archive for the ‘People’ Category

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.

#WeAreAUSD

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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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.”

 

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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 https://antiochchamber.com/2020-inaugural-gala-and-awards-ceremony/, by calling (925) 757-1800, or emailing frontdeskadmin@antiochchamber.com. Ticket sales will end March 2, 2020 at 5pm.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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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

By 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!

#WeAreAUSD

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BART employee who saved man’s life is from Antioch and former Panthers football coach

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

John O’Connor and his wife, Tere.

By Luke Johnson

A man fell into the trackway – about 30 feet in front of an oncoming train – and a BART employee immediately thought:

“Oh, he ain’t gonna make it.”

However, the employee got on his knees and reached over the trackway – putting himself in harm’s way. He then grabbed the fallen man and pulled him to safety with inches to spare. This all happened in a matter of three seconds. (See BART video)

Photo courtesy of John O’Connor.

The hero: John O’Connor, 55, who has lived in Antioch for 28 years. He’s also a former assistant football coach for the Antioch High Panthers and has worked for BART for the past 24 years.

He was working at the Coliseum Station after the Oakland Raiders game Sunday, Nov. 3 to provide extra supervision for the overflowing postgame crowd – which was needed to say the least.

“That’s what I’m here for,” O’Connor said. “God was with us at that moment.”

He added that it doesn’t sound right to be called a hero, because people in the military, police and fire department save lives all the time and he doesn’t believe he belongs in that category.

It seemed a lot slower than it actually happened (on video), O’Connor said during a press conference. He came to the side, I figured he wasn’t going to make it so I grabbed him and pulled him up to the platform. That’s what we do. We got foreworkers, train operators, station agents who deal with this on a daily basis. We preach safety, and we practice it.

Although he may not identify as a hero, this Thursday the Raiders will honor him as one. The team will host him in front of the Thursday Night Football audience as this week’s “Hometown Hero.”

O’Connor during the press conference. Photo by BART.

BART said the young man who stumbled onto the trackway was intoxicated.

After O’Connor pulled the young man to safety, he lifted him from the ground, embraced him with a hug and said, “It’s OK.” Meanwhile, other BART riders cheered for O’Connor for saving the young man’s life.

The moment was captured on video and posted to Twitter – which quickly went viral and can be seen, here.

The story has been all over the news and has even garnered national attention. O’Connor said if it weren’t for that video, many people would not have known what happened, and it would have become “just another good drinkin’ story.”

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TreVista Antioch Senior Living hires local lady to lead the team

Monday, October 7th, 2019

TreVista Antioch’s new Executive Director, Sonya Smith.

By Allen Payton

The city’s premier assisted living facility, TreVista Antioch recently made a change in leadership with the hiring of Sonya (Gonzalez) Smith as the new Executive Director. She replaces Neal Torres who has moved on to another position in the industry.

A native of Antioch, Smith is a graduate of Antioch High and was on the varsity teams for both cross country and track. She was track and field team captain in her freshman year. She was the starter for the 4×100 relay team, but her specialty was the 200-meter. They wouldn’t let her run the hurdles, as she wanted, out of fear of getting hurt and not being able to be the relay team’s starter. But Smith got her chance to deal with hurdles, later in her career.

“I got my running from my dad. He was a runner. I’m an Army brat and he would enter me in all the kids’ mile runs, over by the fairgrounds,” Smith shared. “Tom Torlakson was my cross-country coach. We always participated in the Kiwanis Club’s Holiday Run.”

She still loves to run and runs around Contra Loma at least once a week.

Smith attended Marsh Elementary “when Mr. Reed was principal,” she shared. She then attended Antioch   Junior High, when it had 7th, 8th and 9th grades, before it became the middle school. Smith continued the family tradition of attending Antioch High, “the home of the Panthers”, she said, proudly.

Her favorite subjects in high school were home ec, government and science.

“I loved being in jazz dance,” Smith said.

Health Care Career Begins

“After high school I became a nurse and fell in love with the seniors,” she shared. “I’ve always been in geriatrics, senior care.”

Smith specialized in pain management, working for a private practice doctor in Walnut Creek.

Then she became a community nurse at an assisted living facility in Brentwood.

“I just fell in love with it and knew this is the kind of nurse I was meant to be,” she said.

An LVN, for four years she was in charge of all the health care plans, assessing all the residents, supporting them in their day to day care, visiting them in the hospital, staying in contact with their doctors, and making sure their medications were correct, “to ensure a good quality of life,” said Smith.

Sonya Smith interacts with the residents.

Agemark Career Begins

She was then hired as the Assistant Director for the Agemark facility in Oakdale, California. That was short lived as she was then promoted to the Executive Director position three months later.

“I believe in the company and really believe in their values,” she shared. “So, it was really easy to jump on the team and go forward.”

“I think people in the healthcare industry get so task oriented that they forget about the person,” said Smith. “Our families, our residents have stories to share. They’ve been successful. We have veterans. They have done so much. We don’t see them as their diagnosis. We focus on the residents and the staff, as family.”

“That’s why I’m always here,” she said with a laugh.

Then, this year, she was offered the position at TreVista Antioch and began as Executive Director at the beginning of September.

Agemark, Owner of TreVista

The owner of TreVista is Agemark, based in Orinda. They currently own 21 properties, but they’re getting ready to break ground on five more properties.

The company’s first facility was in Vancouver, Washington. They have another location in Nebraska which is a renovated 1940’s hotel.

“It’s like a flash into the past,” Smith stated. “It’s so cool.”

“That’s what I love about AgeMark. They invest in their properties and some are original landmarks,” she said. “They save the buildings, rehab and give them a facelift and bring new life to them.”

They’re now coast to coast with another location in Maryland.

“It’s a smaller company in the industry, with     regards to the number of locations they own,” Smith shared. “We stay local and our philosophy is that we treat everyone like family. All of our facilities are intimate.”

Her daily responsibilities include ensuring her team provides their residents with the best quality of life. That includes their care needs, their dietary needs and most importantly, their social stimulation needs.

“We have happy hour, we go to the casinos, we go to the movies, we take them shopping. We let them try new things, like going to the beach, when weather permits,” Smith added.

There are over 80 staff members at the Antioch location, including her management team and line staff: servers, care givers, housekeeping and maintenance.

One of her managers is also the head chef, offering home-made, nutritional meals.

“You gotta have that home-style cooking, of course on the healthier side,” Smith said with a laugh.

“With our wellness department we also have two other nurses on staff to address the care needs of our residents,” she continued.

“I’m on the floor all the time. We have a resident council with regular meetings, which I attend when I’m invited in,” Smith said. “I think it’s important to be on the floor, to be visible. It goes back to our philosophy. Engaged in conversation, welcoming them.”

TreVista Antioch also has a dementia support unit, known as memory care.

TreVista Antioch is located on Lone Tree Way across from Sutter Delta Medical Center.

Community Involvement

Smith wants to help her residents enjoy their lives.

“We have one lady who wanted to ride a motorcycle. So, we made that happen,” she said. “That’s why I like working with Mary Chapman of An Elderly Wish Foundation. We sponsor their annual fundraising dinner.”

TreVista is also a member of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce as Silver Sponsors of the local business organization. Smith plans to be more involved, first as an Ambassador, then hopefully as a member of the board of directors.

“Now that I’m local, I really want to help with the community events, including the parades in downtown,” she said. “Our location in Oakdale won the Most Inspirational Float of the Oakdale Rodeo Parade.”

On the Personal Side

Smith is a big supporter of veterans and the military. Her son is a Marine serving as a diesel mechanic with one deployment under his belt, and her dad served 26 years in the Army and was a Captain in the infantry.

Her daughter is a cheerleader and is currently in high school.

For the Future

TreVista is in the process of adding a bistro where residents can grab a coffee or snack, plus a movie theater for residents to enjoy that kind of experience.

Soon they will become more high profile in the community

“My whole focus is to share our residents’ stories. They’ve had wonderful lives and want to invest that back into the community,” Smith said.

“The stereotype of what assisted living is, it’s not a place to go until you die. The misconception is that it’s the place where you’ve given up on life. But, it’s actually a new beginning. We’ve evolved because we know our residents need a support system in place. We get referred to as a standing cruise ship, where people go to live life.”

“We’re here to promote a healthy lifestyle, with the support and care to meet each individual resident’s needs,” she concluded.

To learn more about TreVista Antioch visit their website at www.trevista-antioch.com and their Facebook page, or call (925) 470-3395 to set up a tour. They’re located at 3950 Lone Tree Way in Antioch across from Sutter Delta Medical Center.

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Antioch JC Penney store at Slatten Ranch appoints new general manager

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Kayla Jennings new GM for Antioch JC Penney store. Photo by JCP.

PLANO, Texas – JCPenney has named Kayla Jennings general manager of its Orchard at Slatten Ranch store, which went into effect September 1. Jennings has been with JCPenney for more than three years and brings a wealth of retail knowledge to her position at the highest level of store leadership.

“I am thrilled to continue serving JCPenney, leading an extraordinary team of dedicated associates who are passionate about delivering great products and exceptional service to our customers,” said Jennings. “I look forward to continue serving the Antioch community and ensuring every customer’s shopping experience at JCPenney is worth their time, money and effort.”

Jennings is originally from Martinez, California, and began her career working at a Sephora inside JCPenney. She is married with three children and enjoys spending her free time with her family.

JCPenney first opened its doors at Orchard at Slatten Ranch in 2008 and has been committed to serving the needs of local customers ever since. JCPenney began in 1902 as the Golden Rule store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, and has employed some of the retail industry’s most innovative and passionate store leaders throughout its 117-year history.

About JCPenney:

  1. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE: JCP), one of the nation’s largest apparel and home retailers, combines an expansive footprint of over 850 stores across the United States and Puerto Rico with a powerful e-commerce site, jcp.com, to deliver style and value for all hard-working American families. At every touchpoint, customers will discover stylish merchandise at incredible value from an extensive portfolio of private, exclusive and national brands. Reinforcing this shopping experience is the customer service and warrior spirit of approximately 95,000 associates across the globe, all driving toward the Company’s mission to help customers find what they love for less time, money and effort. For additional information, please visit jcp.com.
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Antioch towing company owner to be inducted into International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Perry Shusta. Photo from his Facebook page.

The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee announced that it has selected seven recognized towing industry professionals for induction into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame, Class of 2019.

The 2019 induction ceremony, which celebrates its 33rd year, will honor:

  • Perry Shusta, owner of Arrowhead Towing & Recovery, Antioch, California, previously president of the California Tow Truck Association, who is a heavy-duty recovery instructor.
  • Quinn Piening, head of Central Tow & Transport in Fremont, California, president of the California Tow Truck Association.
  • John Coupland of Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom, who has spent a lifetime in the towing and recovery field, earning a Britannia Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
  • Michael Cherry, Land O’ Lakes, Florida, a towing and recovery equipment expert formerly associated with Jerr-Dan Corp.
  • Jamie Davis, Hope, British Columbia, Canada, the face of the Discovery Channel TV show Highway Thru Hell, about heavy-duty rescue along the Coquihalla Highway.
  • George Kuntz of Bismarck, North Dakota, owner of Ace 24 Hour Towing and Berg’s Towing and Crane Service, who has nearly 60 years of industry service.
  • Glenn Landau of Fryer’s Towing Service in Daytona Beach, Florida, president of the Professional Wrecker Operators of Florida.

Each inductee was nominated by members of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum for their many contributions to the towing and recovery industry, as well as service to their communities. Criteria for selection include towing equipment product innovation, exemplary dedication, industry leadership and professional achievement.

“Our Hall of Fame is not about single events but about celebrating those who have worked hard to support and grow our industry’s professionalism,” says Bill Gratzianna, president of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum. “This year’s group of inductees is no exception, as they are known for their work on behalf of the industry and their leadership inside and outside of towing and recovery.”

The Class of 2019 will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in a ceremony to be held on October 12, 2019, at the Chattanoogan Hotel in Chattanooga. A full weekend of activities is planned to celebrate the Class of 2019. For more information on the induction ceremony visit towingmuseum.com.

About ITRHFM

The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, houses an array of exhibits showcasing the history of the towing and recovery industry. The rotating collection includes early equipment by Manley, Holmes, Vulcan and Weaver. The Museum includes a theater, a library and a gift shop. The Hall of Fame honors individuals who have significantly advanced the industry. The Wall of the Fallen Memorial, located on the grounds of the Museum, is dedicated to towing operators who have died in the line of service. The ITRHFM Survivor Fund assists the families of the men and women who have died in the line of service by providing a uniform financial gift at the time of their loss. ITRHFM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and accepts donations for its programs and operations from individuals, corporations and groups.

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