Where in the World…?

Give an educator a summer break, and they’ll travel somewhere — to relax, work, learn. We received a robust response to our call to send in photos of you on break with your Educator magazines, and this year we noticed that more than a few members like to travel together. That proved to be the case with several of the contest winners, who each receive gift cards for school supplies. We also feature several Honorable Mentions. Keep an eye out for more educators with Educators in the next issue. Congratulations to the winners!


Kim Read-Smith, San Pasqual Elementary Teachers Association, Humanities/VAPA instructor

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“On our annual pilgrimage to decompress, 10 teachers from Escondido went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Here we are about to go down the Snake River on raging rapids. Left to right are: Bonnie Blanton, retired; our river guide, Alex; Lisa Gangel, first grade; Francis Juarez, kindergarten; Nicole Marshall, kindergarten; Kim Read-Smith; Carol Schiefer, kindergarten; Kris McLaughlin, fifth grade; and Teri MacDonald, retired.

“We went because a family at our school offered us their ski lodge in Jackson Hole as a thank-you for teaching their children. The best part was the white water rafting. Our group grows closer every summer and more united in our sisterhood. This bond helps us through the school year when life gets tough.”


Rachel Staab, Glendale Teachers Association, Special educator

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“Two of my colleagues and fellow GTA members and I went to Westhaven Children’s Home near Montego Bay, Jamaica. We volunteered several days at this residential home for children and adults who have moderate to severe special needs. We played with them, sang to them, fed them, walked them around, and just gave them our presence. From left are Andrea Fay, speech-language pathologist; me; and Mary Ann DeWitt, school nurse at College View School.”

Darcy Long, United Teachers of Richmond, Elementary technology coach  

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“Here I am with in Zanzibar, East Africa, in front of Freddie Mercury’s childhood home, known as ‘Mercury House.’ Next was an eight-day safari through the Serengeti and five days in Rwanda, tracking mountain gorillas in Virunga with two close friends. As a member of a nature journaling group, my purpose was to closely observe and document the flora, fauna and other surroundings through both scientific and artistic lenses — and to practice my drawing and watercolor painting. My time with this group was transformational. The consistent daily practice of being present with what was right in front of me changed how I see the world, literally. The most unexpected discovery for me was how gentle, kind and thoughtful the people of Tanzania were. Peacefulness and calm was observed and felt throughout my stay.”


Honorable Mention

Benny Heredia, Alhambra Teachers Association, CTE, soccer coach


“This summer I traveled to Barranquilla, Colombia, to visit family and relax.  This particular trip took us to the countryside, full of lush greenery and tropical humidity.  At a family gathering we celebrated to Afro-Caribbean drum music, typical of the region.”

“The musical group pictured is all female, a first.  They represent a break through in the stereotype that such groups should be only male.”

Nicole Naditz, San Juan Teachers Association, NBC French teacher

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“When I attended the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages convention last November, I won a raffle for two round-trip tickets to Paris. My mom and I went in June and added a trip to Luxembourg, which is where her paternal relatives emigrated from in the 19th century before settling in Iowa.”

“This photo is with Steven Kennedy, my former student, who reached out to me when he saw on social media that I would be in Paris. It was my first time visiting Europe as a tourist; usually I’m either a chaperone for student trips to Europe or enrolled in a study program there to enhance my language skills and cultural knowledge. My mom and I explored southwest Luxembourg. It was meaningful to walk the streets of these villages, knowing our family had been there before.”


Jack Hollander, Saddleback Valley Educators Association, Civics and American government teacher

EAE Jack Hollander 1

“Here I am at Green Gables (inspiration for the Anne books by Lucy Maud Montgomery) in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada. I went to the Maritimes following the NEA Representative Assembly in Boston. I’ve wanted to visit Prince Edward Island ever since I read the Anne books. I also visited historic Fort Louisburg on Cape Breton Island. The national park facility is set up as a French fort of 1745, including costumed soldiers and citizens. I found out that Alexander Graham Bell was born Canadian and had his summer (and retirement) home on Cape Breton Island; in fact, he was one of five pioneers who developed Canada’s first airplane. Baddeck, Nova Scotia, is the ‘Kitty Hawk’ of Canada, and there is a Parks Canada museum dedicated to Bell and his wife, Mabel, in Baddeck.”


Christy Ireland, Vacaville Teachers Association, Digital media teacher

EAE Christy Ireland 1

“I was on a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in June with three other educators from my school (one had to take the photo). Pictured left to right are Lindsay Wilson, me, and Gayle Morrison. This was taken right before our catamaran sail. We picked Cabo because of the beach, the price and location. I enjoyed relaxing and not being worried about work — and I got my first stamp in my passport!

“I teach introduction to digital media, so I am taking back to the classroom the variety of apps I used, such as Google Translate and Currency Converter.”


A Real Life-Saver

Last year, Richard McDowell got a call from a distraught teacher upstairs at Galileo High School in San Francisco: A substitute teacher had fallen on the walkway and was bleeding. Because McDowell runs the school’s Health Academy, which includes an emergency medical services class in its program, it’s not unusual for students and faculty to turn to him if they can’t reach the front office or find the nurse.

McDowell ran up, noticed the man had no pulse, and started doing hands-only CPR, considered as effective as mouth-to-mouth CPR in the first few minutes of sudden cardiac arrest. He continued to do compressions even after paramedics arrived. Ever the teacher, McDowell pointed out to his students that the device paramedics were inserting into the injured man’s mouth to keep his airway open was the exact same device they’d been covering in class.

On the annual American Heart Association lobby day: “Students get to see how government works, how citizens take action. They work on their leadership and communication skills.”

The man survived, and McDowell, a member of United Educators of San Francisco, was recognized in May by the city’s Department of Emergency Management for his life-saving effort.

“The irony is that the year before, my students and I traveled to Sacramento to convince lawmakers to support an American Heart Association [AHA] bill to include instruction in hands-only CPR in any required high school health course,” McDowell says. (The bill, AB 1719, passed and will go into effect next year.)

Every year for nearly 10 years, McDowell has brought up to 70 students by bus to the state Capitol to advocate for AHA policies. In June, he received the association’s Western States Affiliate 2017 Outstanding Advocacy Efforts Award, one of its top honors given to volunteers. “Hundreds of his students put a face to our issues, and are key to securing meetings with legislators,” notes the AHA release.

McDowell says the annual trip is “golden.” “Students get to see how government works, how citizens take action. They work on their leadership and communication skills.”

McDowell has been an educator and Galileo teacher for 20 years, starting the Health Academy in 2001 to “create a pipeline from school to work, or a postsecondary program or college.” Juniors and seniors learn about issues and careers in health science. The curriculum includes courses at City College of San Francisco and internships at California Pacific Medical Center.

McDowell has also been recognized by AHA for helping pilot a cooking nutrition class that brings in chefs to teach students how to make inexpensive, heart-healthy meals. The program has expanded to five other states and over 100 schools.

While his hands-on classroom contains everything from oxygen tanks to obstetric mannequins (to practice delivering babies), McDowell admits that his real-life life-saving feat had a big impact on his students. “It gave me cred for a couple of months.”