"It would be hard to spend much time around El Cerrito High School or Portola Middle School without hearing about, or seeing, parent volunteer Todd Groves.
And if you attend the 24th Annual Excellence in Education Gala on May 18, you'll see him honored with the "Distinguished Citizen Award" from the Ed. Fund.
The Ed. Fund (West Contra Costa Public Education Fund) calls him a "phenomenal school volunteer" on its Web site. A nomination document listing his contributions runs five pages, single-spaced. It was submitted by the principals of El Cerrito High and Portola, former Mayor Janet Abelson and 15 other leaders in the local schools and community. (The nomination is attached to this article.)
Those outside the schools may have seen Groves with a clipboard at community events over the past two years soliciting support and volunteer coaches for the WriterCoach Connection. He's been the chief organizer for expanding the program – which began at Berkeley High in 2001 and had been operating only in Alameda County – into West Contra Costa and making El Cerrito High the largest program among the organization's 12 sites. The program trains volunteers from the community and arranges for them to work one-on-one helping students with writing.
He also helped local schools in many other ways.
The nomination submission said, "He has served on every committee at ECHS that is concerned with raising academic rigor and student engagement, including the School Site Council (he is the current President), the Instructional Leadership Team, the Master Plan for Academic Change, the PTSA, GATE, and many others over his years of involvement."
Prefacing a long list of contributions, the nomination said, "For the past several years, Todd Groves has been working tirelessly and persistently to advocate for the improvement of education offered to ALL students in this district. Those of us nominating Todd for this award have witnessed the results of his on-going efforts at ECHS and Portola Middle School, the results of which are starting to influence policy and programs throughout WCCUSD."
We at Patch are glad to note that he has also been one of our contributors, providing guest columns, blog posts and numerous comments on articles related to local schools and education.
Those interested in attending the May 18 Ed. Fund gala can find information on purchasing tickets and/or sponsorship opportunities at this Web page.
According to the School Accountability Report Card (SARC), Ohlone Elementary has recently had 11% of their core classes taught by teachers who are not NCLB-compliant. Hannah Ranch and Lupine Hills has had zero % classes taught by non-compliant teachers.
Why is Ohlone getting stuck with these less qualified teachers? Will supporting this tax address this deficiency at Ohlone? The average teacher salary at Ohlone and Lupine is $56,000. For Hannah Ranch, it is $67,000.00. I assume Hannah Ranch has the more experienced teachers.
Until our district can fill every classroom with a qualified teacher, what is the district doing to minimize the negative impact that these less-qualified teachers are having on our children? 11% of these non-compliant teachers in one school is way too high.