Exploring College, Careers and Beyond

college and career options

uPLANit is a video-based web site that allows students to learn about hundreds of careers. The web site offers help in applying for college financial aid. It also hosts many colleges. Make time to check out uPLANit with your children at


December 2011 Feature Teacher: Becky Perry

In 17 years of teaching, Richfield School teacher Becky Perry has remained true to the fundamentals.  “There are a lot of things that we as teachers can become distracted with, but the bottom line is that we teach because we love kids,” she said.  “I look at each student as an individual and teach to their specific needs.  I try not to teach to the ‘middle’ and aim to challenge kids to always strive to achieve more and learn more.  The excitement they exhibit when they reach a new level of learning is the icing on the cake.”

Perry was given the Feature Teacher award for her accomplishments in the classroom, which are impressive.  “Becky Perry is a nurturing teacher who has high expectations for her students.  She creates individual learning plans which are designed to engage each student and have them producing and learning at the highest possible level; their personal bests.  Students develop a true love for learning in her classroom,” said Rich Gifford, Superintendent at Richfield School.

She noted that real success in the classroom is a combination of things; with parent involvement and support from administration being high on her list.  “I believe that parents are our best asset and can benefit children in countless ways.  Our small school is welcoming and warm with parents and community that are actively involved,” said Perry.

Additionally, she said, “I have gained so much of what I know and do as a teacher from colleagues; and our administrators are instrumental in our success as teachers.  They set the tone in a school and encourage teachers and students to succeed.  I feel extremely lucky to have worked for some great administrators and I’m thrilled to have received this award.”

The Feature Teacher award is presented monthly, through a community partnership between The Tehama County Department of Education and Tyler Smail of Edward Jones to honor highly successful teachers.



Feature Teacher: Bonnie Baxter

Bonnie Baxter Awarded Feature Teacher for November

“I became a teacher because of my teachers,” said Bonnie Baxter, Agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Los Molinos High School.  “Teaching isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle.”

Baxter was recently recognized as the “Feature Teacher”, an award given monthly to Tehama County teachers through a community partnership between the Tehama County Department of Education and local Edward Jones Financial Advisor, Tyler Smail.

“Ms. Baxter has shown true dedication to her students and to the teaching profession,” said Larry Champion, County Superintendent of Schools.  “Her ability to inspire a love of learning and set the bar high for her students is the reason she is being recognized with this award.”

Baxter attributes her academic successes to her students’ enthusiasm for learning, saying, “The students are the reason I was honored.  It was their achievements and commitment to excellence that allowed me this recognition.”

She also points to the close knit community, and the fact that parents, teachers, administrators and the Los Molinos community as a whole all work together for the same goal: preparing kids to be successful in their future endeavors.

Baxter works tirelessly to educate her students in ways that prepare them for whatever career path they choose, saying “I am committed to engaging, inspiring, and challenging my students to achieve.”

“Ms. Baxter is an extraordinary teacher.  She has helped to greatly expand the FFA program at the school and the students consistently win awards and honors in their FFA endeavors.  At the same time, she teaches the Biology class which consistently produces extremely high test scores on the California Standards Test.  She pushes students to strive and then gives them to support they need to succeed,” said Charles Ward, Superintendent at Los Molinos Unified School District.


Why Reading on Grade Level is Critical

Do you know if your child is reading at grade level?  A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation entitled “Early Warning! Why Reading by the end of Third Grade Matters” found that a child who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate from high school by age 19 than a child who is reading on grade level.

Donald J. Hernandez, author of the study explains, “We teach reading for the first three grades and then after that children are not so much learning to read but using their reading skills to learn other topics. In that sense, if you haven’t succeeded by third grade, it’s more difficult to catch up than it would have been if you started before then.”  So in other words, first you learn to read, and then you need to read to learn.

According to the report, several factors contribute to low reading proficiency. Children must be ready to succeed when they get to school (cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically) before they can learn there. They need to be present at school because they can’t learn if they aren’t there. They need to have high quality learning opportunities, beginning at birth and continuing in school and during out-of-school time, including summers, in order to sustain learning gains and not lose ground.

If you’re not sure if your child is reading at grade level, make an appointment to visit your child’s teacher. There is a lot that can be done to catch up and parents can play a critical role.  Read with your child every day. This can mean having your child read to you AND you reading aloud to your child (at any age). Show interest in what they’re reading by asking questions along the way. “What’s happened so far?” “Who’s your favorite character?” “How did the book end?”  To improve their ability to read smoothly and easily, read books more than once until words become familiar. And find books that relate to their favorite topics like animals, sports, hobbies and places.

Expect More Tehama is excited to be a part of a new initiative called Tehama Reads which will work to encourage everyone to do what they can to help all of our students become proficient readers. Look for more on Tehama Reads in the New Year.


(Kathy Garcia is the Business Services and Marketing Manager at the Job Training Center and a member of the Expect More Tehama Leadership Team)



Expect More Tehama: No Excuses University network of schools


Last week I had the honor of joining Lianne Richelieu-Boren, Executive Director of College Options, and a group of educators and community members from Shasta, Tehama, and Siskiyou Counties in attending the “No Excuses University” conference in Chicago.  Other team members included, Kelly Salter with the McConnell Foundation, Marynn Kae-Munson, Nathan Zorn, and Becky Nail from College Options, Rob Adams and Brad Clagg from the Redding School District, Cheryl Olsen from the Enterprise School District, and Charlene Ramont, Shasta County Health Equity Coordinator. The mission of our group was to learn what the No Excuses system is all about and aid in the implementation of this system in schools across the North State.


The No Excuses University network of schools is the vehicle by which like-minded educators from across the nation link together to create school cultures and systems that ultimately result in every student being college ready. Educators at these schools are committed to coaxing remarkable academic success from every student, without exception and without excuse even students who bring the greatest challenges to the classroom.

Every No Excuses University has a well-defined process for identifying and creating the exceptional systems of Culture of Universal Achievement, Collaboration, Standards Alignment, Assessment, Data Analysis, and Interventions.

Staff members at No Excuses Schools are committed to insuring that every student is prepared for college, courageous in their endeavors to put the students’ needs first, collaborative as a staff to create the exceptional systems, creative, character centered – explicitly teaching and modeling behavior and academic expectations – and of course, college crazy as they promote college for all.

In addition, every No Excuses University campus works diligently to expose students to powerful college symbolism. This symbolism is seen in the college flags and banners hung on every door, felt through the close partnerships forged between classrooms and universities, and heard in the college chants that exist at each grade level.

The No Excuses University is the perfect companion to Expect More Tehama’s effort to assure that the students of Tehama County leave high school equipped with the tools to be successful in college and beyond.

Richfield School will be the first in Tehama County to implement the program with other schools following after a regional training in March. Our community is very excited to be Tehama County’s first school in this remarkable network.

It is the duty of every educator to assure that our students are given every opportunity for success in life. No Excuses means just that.

Rich Gifford is the superintendent and principal at Richfield School. This year Richfield qualified to apply for the California Distinguished School selection process.


Friday Inspiration

We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions can sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.

~ Charlotte Lunsford


Tehama READS! Launched this week…..grade 3 is critical!

Looking at current levels of reading proficiency in Tehama County, only 42% of students are reading at grade level.  Studies show that 74% of those who do not read at grade level by third grade will never catch up.

In addition, these students:

  • Statistically will have lower self esteem
  • Are likely to have poor school attendance
  • Typically have behavior problems
  • Are at risk for dropout
  • Struggle in the workplace
  • Become involved in the justice system.

In response to these sobering statistics, and realizing that improving early literacy is an urgent need in our county, Expect More Tehama+ is launching Tehama READS!, Tehama County’s “Readers by Third Grade” Campaign.

This ten-year initiative is a collaborative effort, by multiple stakeholders across the county; from the individual efforts of the mayors of our cities to the parents of students served.

Tehama READS! Will help to ensure that all children in Tehama County can read at grade level by the end of third grade.


Tehama County Farm Bureau

Farm BureauTehama County Farm Bureau (TCFB) is committed to helping our youth understand how important agriculture is to our daily lives.  As Kenny Watkins, Chairman of California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom  states, “From the cotton in our jeans and the food on our tables, to our landscaped yards and playing fields, we all depend on agriculture.”  It is the goal of TCFB for every child, as well as adult, in our county be given the opportunity to learn the truth about where their food and fiber come from.

On an annual basis, TCFB organizes and participates in events in our county that provide fun, educational opportunities for school age children.   By organizing activities such as the fourth grade Farm Day, sixth grade Education Day at the Tehama District Fair, classroom visits and partnering with the Safe Education & Recreation for Rural Families (SERRF) program, attention is drawn to the local agricultural industry.  It is one of TCFB’s goals to increase the understanding and awareness of agriculture to students.   However, without the support of the Tehama County Department of Education, other agricultural organizations and venues, as well as teachers who welcome the opportunity to assist us in teaching agriculture, these events would not be such a success or possible.  Some examples of our participation and events are as follows:

Classroom and SERRF visits provide hands-on activities for students in the areas of the beef industry, Tehama County tree crops, Junior Livestock projects and many more.  By SERRF sites participating in the Create-A-Ewe contest for the upcoming Farm-City Celebration, not only will they learn about the importance of the sheep industry, students will also have fun creating and decorating their wooden sheep.

Fourth Grade Farm Day and Sixth Grade Education Day allow students to experience hands-on activities related to Tehama County agriculture.  Whether it be watching stockdogs in action, tasting fresh olive oil, learning how agricultural products fit into their daily nutritional diet, understanding why cattle are branded and that it is not harmful to the animal, or taking their chance at roping, students gain an understanding of the variety of products raised and produced in their county.  Eighth Grade Career Day is a time when eighth graders can gain a better perspective on the jobs and careers available in the agricultural industry as well as the importance of education.

TCFB feels that it is because of the lack of everyday experiences on farms and ranches that we need to connect our youth with agriculture.  The students that we educate today are the future of agriculture, if not as a farmer or rancher providing our food and fiber, then possibly as a decision maker that could determine the outlook for agriculture.

Once again, Tehama County Farm Bureau would like to thank all those organizations, businesses and community volunteers who aid us on a regular basis to be sure these educational opportunities are available to the youth of Tehama County.  The old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” stands true when it comes to education.  We are so very fortunate that Tehama County has a wonderful village for the youth of our community.

(Kari Dodd  is the Tehama County Farm Bureua Manager  and Shelley Macdonald is a Tehama County Farm Bureau Board of Director and the Ag Education Chair)