‘School’s out’ with more than one common denominator

in Community/Education/Featured/Headline

Lori Longo and Teresa Anthony are two educators at Redwood City schools with more in common than long careers giving guidance to local children and their parents. Both live in the same neighborhood. Both create family albums and are mothers of twins. And both are retiring this month after 28-year careers.

Longo, who has taught parenting skills to hundreds of Peninsula moms and dads, will sing her final circle song June 7 at Open Gate Nursery School on Brewster Avenue, pack up her autoharp and start to enjoy the fruits of retirement. Her tenure at Open Gate and two other Peninsula co-op nursery schools brought her a lifetime achievement award this year from the California Council of Parent Participation Nursery Schools.

Longo’s philosophy is that the more parents participate, the more their kids will be successful and she tries to give moms and dads the tools to do the job well. Trying to be perfect, she says, is one mistake. “There are no perfect parents and their children don’t expect them to be.  Make a mistake and learn from it and try a different approach the next time.” Don’t say “No!” all the time or insist on sharing, and be sure to read and talk to your children, she advises.

“There’s no such thing as ‘Terrible Twos,’” Longo adds. “They’re ‘Terrific Twos.’ They need to be outside. They need parents who talk to them so they learn language. They are exploring, which leads parents to say ‘no’ all the time, which leads the child to say ‘no’ all the time. They don’t need to share; they’re not developmentally ready for that. Taking turns, yes. Parents can use many of the same tactics when the children are teenagers – acting like 2-year-olds.”

Just a few blocks away from Open Gate, school principal Anthony will be turning over the reins at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School to her successor, Deborah Farrington, a longtime educator and most recently on the faculty of Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton.  After 12 years as teacher and administrator at St. Charles School in San Carlos, Anthony became the first lay principal at 133-year-old Mount Carmel, which at the time was struggling with declining enrollment, a large debt and program reductions. As she departs, the budget is balanced, the endowment exceeds $1 million, the curriculum is comprehensive and rigorous and there is a healthy enrollment of children ages 3-14.

“I would be remiss to imply there weren’t a few (very few) times I wanted to run from the school screaming,” she wrote in a farewell letter. “But there were hundreds more times when I thanked God he had chosen to put me on this path at this school.”

MicroClimate wishes both Longo and Anthony an uncommonly rewarding retirement.

Thanks to some generous community donors, about 40 Sequoia High School students who have been trained in emergency response procedures have been provisioned with “go bags” that can be the beginning of their families’ home emergency kits. The students have been taught skills like how to put out small fires, evaluate and treat injuries and safely perform search and recues, but they also know how to prepare their own households for potential disasters, according to teacher Greg Schmid.  Many of the students are from low-income households, and donors responded to a fundraising appeal to purchase the go bag essentials, which the kids assembled May 21.  Kudos to the Sequoia Health Care District, Redwood City CERT, Sims Metal Management, Redwood City 2020, Dignity Health, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Target and other donors for chipping in.

The Sequoia Veterans Memorial – a granite monument amid a grove of trees near the Brewster Avenue entrance to the campus – was dedicated in 2005, designed to honor alumni who had died while in military service. Dee Eva, who spearheaded the project, spent countless hours tracking down names and checking graduation lists programs and other school records to assemble the list of more than 100 veterans whose names were engraved on the monument. Since then, two more have emerged and been verified, World War II veterans Walter VanderKamp and Norman Vance. Eva notes that during that war, many students left Sequoia before graduation to enlist, so documenting them as alumni has been challenging.

Before contracting for the engraving of the names of those two veterans, the alumni association  wants to know if there are others that should be added at the same time. A 1944 newspaper story lists the following Sequoians killed or missing in action whose names are not on the memorial: Jimmy Austin, George Hildebrandt, Fred Thom, Peter Virseo and Howard Davis. Anyone who might have information about these veterans can contact Eva at 368-4800.  The alumni association also welcomes donations to defray the cost of the engraving.

This article first appeared in the June 2018 issue of Climate magazine.