Feature Teacher: Debbie Orange

“In September, our school applauds the achievements of our students at a STAR celebration.  Since I am an eighth grade teacher, several of my former students will return from high school to attend this special event.  One year, a freshman high school student who had been challenged by my classes at Lassen View School sat down next to me.  I could tell that he wanted to say something so I asked him about his high school classes.  He looked at me and said, “You know, Ms. Orange, in seventh grade we all thought you were the meanest teacher ever!  Then in eighth grade, we began to realize that you were not mean; you really cared about our education.  Now when I sit in my high school classes, I look around and see some of my classmates struggling.  You taught me that if I did my homework and tried my hardest, I could learn anything.  Now, I appreciate you.”

Debbie Orange has a lot of confidence in the abilities of her students.  She expects great things from them, so that they can in turn expect great things from themselves.  It is this dedication and belief that all students can learn and thrive that earned her the honor of being feature teacher for the month of January 2012.  “As a teacher, you must accept that at any given moment, you will have a student who does not like you, one that accepts your challenges and others who appreciate your efforts…” These are the words of wisdom that Debbie Orange offers fellow teachers.  School Superintendent, Mancill Tiss, recommended her for the award, saying, “Debbie is an excellent teacher who has taught at Lassen View for 17 years.”

Orange’s students’ test scores have gone up every year in both science and algebra, which is a significant factor in determining who will receive the feature teacher award each month.  “While we are pleased with the scores and know that Debbie is always improving, we know that Debbie is also very concerned about the well-being of each of her students and wants them to succeed in high school and beyond. We feel fortunate to have Debbie and feel that she is very deserving of this award,” added Tiss.

The feature teacher award is presented monthly by Tehama County Superintendent of Schools Larry Champion and Edward Jones Financial Advisor Tyler Smail, with the purpose of recognizing highly successful and talented teachers in Tehama County.


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)



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)


Expect More: Read and Reap Challenge Celebration Held at the Library October 15th

Heidi Mendenhall

The Tehama County Library is a gathering place, a learning place, a place to enjoy the printed word and on October 15th it is a place to expect more reading! The Tehama County Library is hosting the celebration of the Expect More Tehama Read and Reap Harvest Challenge.

The reading challenge originated at one of many brainstorming meals that have taken place at the Tremont Café.  How can we challenge ourselves to Expect More through reading? How can we capitalize on local resources to make this experience more meaningful? These are typical questions pondered by community members striving to Expect More from Tehama County. For two Tremont Café goers in August, the answer was simple. Host a reading challenge for parents and children, celebrate the reading rewards at the semi-annual Tehama county book sale and top it off with pumpkins from local growers for parents and children who complete the challenge.

The celebration for the Read and Reap reading challenge has grown to represent all the amazing opportunities reading can afford our children and families. Through reading we obtain connections to our community, understanding of local events and resources and often share experiences with others we may not otherwise have. The essence of Expect More Tehama is built upon the idea that these connections to and within our community can serve to raise the bar for our students.

In true Expect More fashion, the partnership list for this event is extensive to say the least. The celebration is hosted by the Tehama County Library and the semi-annual book sale will be held by the Friends of the Library.  The reading challenge is a partnership between the Backpack Project, SERRF, Expect More Tehama, the Tehama County Libraries and the Community Action Agency.  Local opportunities and information about reading will be brought to you by the Tehama County Reading Council, Expect More Tehama, Girls Inc of Northern Sacramento Valley, Sacred Heart School and SERRF.  Finally, the reading harvest raffle prizes are a symbol of the many local resources we have in our wonderful community.

So please join us  October 15th from 9-11 at the Tehama  County Library  in Red Bluff  where together we can continue to expect more and celebrate the local reading successes of our community.  For more information regarding the Read and Reap celebration email Heidi Mendenhall at For more information regarding the book sale call the Tehama County Library (530) 527-0604.

(Heidi Mendenhall is the California Preschool Instructional Network Region 2 Special Education Lead)


Sowing Seeds of Success

If you follow the faint sound of music in the mornings at Los Molinos High School, it will lead you to a modest greenhouse located behind the school.  Through the doors of this greenhouse you will find sleeves rolled up and hands busy at work, preparing for the annual FFA Plant Sale.  Each day the radio serenades these young horticulturalists as they sow, transplant and propagate their way through the class period.   At first glance the simple greenhouse can be quickly overlooked, however through the door months of preparation are evident.

The Los Molinos High School FFA will hold its annual Plant Sale on Wednesday and Thursday, May 4th and 5th from 1-5pm. The sale will be held behind the school, in the Ornamental Horticulture Unit, located through the second gated entrance of the school.  Plant Sale specials include Hybrid Bearded Iris, spring vegetables and colorful bedding plants.  The plant sale has been solely organized by students in the Plant Science and Agriculture Science classes, as well as the students on the Nursery Landscape Team.

Students enrolled in the Plant Science and Floral Design classes at Los Molinos are given the unique opportunity for hands on learning, while also receiving college credit.  In partnership with Shasta College, LMHS promotes Career Technical Education (CTE) through dual enrollment/concurrent courses.  This dual enrollment program facilitates the articulation of students into college CTE programs and enhances student academic rigor at the high school level.  These classes provide rigorous content, aligned with challenging academic standards and relevant technical knowledge needed to prepare for further education and careers in current or emerging professions.

“I’m eager to pursue a degree in Landscape Architecture, from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo next fall,” says senior Francis Ocampo.  “My agriculture classes have given me the skills and the opportunity to find a career goal that I am passionate about and helped me to earn scholarships to make that goal possible.”  Francis is among the over one hundred agriculture students at LMHS who actively participate in the leadership activities available in the Agriculture Department, through the FFA.

FFA students are given the opportunity to travel, compete in career development events and practice their public speaking skills.  This year the LMHS Nursery Landscape and Floral Design Teams are ranked in the top five in the state of California.  At the Chico State FFA Field Day in March, the Floral Design team earned 3rd place, ranking among FFA programs such as Galt and Lodi High Schools; whose combined attendance is nearly eight times the size of LMHS.  The Nursery Landscape Team earned 5th place, ranking among powerhouse central valley schools such as Hanford, Atwater and Clovis.  On May 7th each of these teams will compete in the FFA State Finals, hosted by Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Through the eyes of a horticulturalist, Los Molinos High School can fondly be compared to a seed.  Both are small, neatly packaged, distinctly different, with the marvelous potential to produce great things.