Connie Tushla (left) hosted the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee luncheon, where those who make a difference were recognized. Receiving certificates were (second from the left to right) SPUHSD Superintendent Dr. David Gomez, Renaissance School Principal Lorenzo Moraza, SPHS Principal Paul Marietti, and SPHS Athletic Director Danny Guzman, shown with Mayor Jim Tovias and City Manager Jaime Fontes who presented the recognitions.

Chamber Education Committee Luncheon thanks educators, supporters

July 14, 2010
Santa Paula News

The efforts of educators and supporters to improve area schools were celebrated at the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee Thank You Luncheon, hosted by Connie Tushla at Glen Tavern Inn. Elected and appointed city officials as well as Chamber President Nan Drake were among those in attendance at the June 25 luncheon, held at Glen Tavern Inn.

Tushla said the event was meant “to celebrate all the wonderful things going on” with education in Santa Paula. Receiving special kudos were Chamber officials and Education Committee Chairwoman Ginger Gherardi and members Marcia Edwards and Rob Corley “for the wonderful work you have done.”

Mayor Jim Tovias and City Manager Jaime Fontes presented a series of certificates to educators and community members, “those who do a great job,” said Tushla, in improving education. Tushla took a minute to address “why the chamber is involved in schools... good schools bring good companies to town,” with the promise of a top-flight education for all students.

Former Mayor and Limoneira Company Board President Alan Teague and Santa Paula High School Athletic Director Danny Guzman urged support for athletic programs. A noted high school athlete, Teague said in his experience all sports for girls and boys instill teamwork in all phases of life. “It’s great for people to get behind something,” not only positive, but with benefits beyond the playing fields; and Teague urged the community to become more supportive of sports programs.

Guzman thanked Limoneira for their community support including sports facilities and noted, “Everybody in this room directly or indirectly contributes to our success.... Our job is to put Santa Paula back on the map” of outstanding athletes and programs.

Guzman said showing support by attending events is positive, as “The kids want to perform for their town. They are the pride and joy and heart or our town.” Academics remain the number one focus: “The talent is here” and, Guzman noted, “with your help we would like to take it to the next level of excellence.”

“I am a diehard Cardinal,” said Santa Paula Union High School District Trustee Diana Ponce Gomez, who gave an update on the Alumni Association, which presents scholarships to students and preserves school history and memorabilia. The mission of SPHS “Is to produce citizens for a global society,” as well as retaining strong links between SPHS graduates and the larger community.

Plans are in the works for more online collaboration with community organizations, encouraging alumni to become involved in giving to meet specific needs, and reviving profiles of graduates in the Santa Paula Times. Also being considered is an Educators Hall of Fame event, another tool to raise community awareness. “These are just some of the ideas of how we can work together,” said Gomez, to benefit “our high school on the Hill.”

John Chamberlain and Rodney Fernandez addressed the new strategic communication plan for area schools. “Image,” said Chamberlain, “is as important as bricks and mortar... we know there are lots of great things in Santa Paula,” from education to cultural events, that must be shared with a wider audience. And, he added, citizens must strive “to be advocates,” spreading the news both inside and outside the city of all things positive about Santa Paula.

“We must work on partnerships and build new ones,” said Fernandez, to “get our success stories out” and educate the real estate industry on the quality of local schools. Fernandez said a volunteer committee of journalists - including former Star Opinion Editor Marianne Ratcliff and Jannette Jauregui - has been consulted about the best way to spread the positive word, starting with Isbell Middle, Santa Paula High and Renaissance High schools.

Santa Paula Elementary School District Educator Jeri Mead urged participation in the Santa Paula Foundation for Youth, which promotes arts and cultural programs through small classroom grants.

SPUHSD Superintendent Dr. David Gomez gave an update on bond measure spending to create a new science/technology building and to expand/upgrade sports facilities, among other improvements. Although the $39 million bond has suffered due to the worldwide financial crisis, Gomez said, “The good news” is construction costs have declined considerably.

Gomez also introduced the SPESD Interim Superintendent Dr. Joe Condon, who noted when he pulled up area school state testing results “I was really impressed” with the “very high scores,” although improvement is a constant goal.

Tushla later said she appreciated those in attendance who came together to “celebrate the many Santa Paula school success stories and to honor the educators who create and implement, on a daily basis, these success stories... who give their all for our children,” as well as those who addressed future plans to better local schools.



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