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SM Rotary Honors Local Teachers
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
At its Tuesday, April 20th meeting at the Senior Center, Rotary Club of Sierra Madre honored teachers from each of Sierra Madre's schools. The principal of each school introduced the teacher they were honoring. Selected to be honored this year were: Joann Harabedian from St. Rita's, introduced by Principal Sister Patrice Cantrell; Helen Pontarelli from Sierra Madre School, introduced by Principal Ty Gaffney; Marianne Ryan from Gooden School, introduced by Co-head of School Sandy Towner; Nabil Gurguis from Bethany Christian, introduced by Principal Jim Lugembeuhl; and Tim Lewis from Alverno High School, introduced by Principal Ann Gillick. Ms. Gillick oversees the program to honor teachers for the Rotary Club.
After Rotary President Rudy Hayek called the meeting to order, he called on Ann Gillick, chair of the Teacher's Committee for Rotary, to begin the honoring of the teachers. Ms. Gillick spoke briefly about the importance of teachers, and among other things, quoted Lee Iacocca, who said that "In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else." Gillick stated that she agreed with Iacocca, with one exception, she feels that "Right now, the best of us ARE teachers."
Gillick then introduced Sister Patrice Cantrell of St. Rita's, who was there to honor Joanne Harabidian, who oversees the schools computer science class. She is Cantrell's Ass't. Principal, has helped grow the computer science lab from ten computers to 35, all networked. She has also instituted the LEAPS after-school program for St. Rita's.
Next was Principal Ty Gaffney of Sierra Madre/Mesa School. He noted that his nominee, Helen Pontarelli is a mentor teacher, recognized by both PUSD and the County of Los Angeles for being a "teacher of excellence." He praised her for listening to her students in 1994 when they told her about a Japanese Garden that used to be on campus, and her "willingness to let kids dream" as they researched the garden, raised funds and re-built the garden. He applauded her for continuing to write grants and hold fundraisers to maintain the garden, and for the benefit of the school.
Gooden School's Co-head of School Sandy Towner then introduced Marianne Ryan, praising her for her 8 years of teaching kindergarten, and greeting a new class of 5-year olds each year as they venture into "Big School." She stated that one of the most distinguishing things about Ryan is the "model she sets for our (Gooden) community of community service." She also praised Ryan for overseeing a buddy program which bonds the older students in the school with the younger ones, teaching the older students responsibility for the younger ones, while teaching the younger ones that the big kids are "not something to be feared."
Bethany Christian principal Jim Lugembeuhl noted that he remembers especially his music teachers, because "music teaches the soul" while other studies are more intellectual. He praised music teacher Nabil Gurguis for his work with Bethany students, noting that for the last several years under Gurguis direction, Bethany School's choirs have achieved near perfect scores in competition, his piano students have received near perfect scores in their recitals, and that for the last few years, Bethany has submitted an audition tape to Disney, and been invited to perform at Disney each year. He also noted that the choir had been invited to perform at the Wistaria Festival this year, and had represented the City and the school well under Gurguis' direction.
Then it was Gillick's turn to speak as principal of Alverno, noting that one of the things she enjoys about teaching in private schools is that they can offer things that "make people whole...and that is the Arts." She praised Tim Lewis, for teaching a variety of art classes at Alverno, including photography, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and painting, 2D design, Introduction to Art, and Women in Art. She praised him as a healthy male role model, and took special note of an Earth Art program he conducts, where students are encouraged to create art from products of the Earth, such as fallen leaves raked into artistic patterns, stones and rocks laid out in spirals, or piled into pyramids.
Sierra Madre News Net would like to thank all teachers for their gifts to their students, most especially these who have been singled out by their bosses for their special talents. And thanks to Rotary, for taking the time and making the effort to acknowledge these special people who help shape the lives of our children and so, ultimately, our world.
In other Rotary business, Rotarian Michael Avila
was recognized for being named a Paul Harris Fellow, President-elect
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