Meet Our Redwood Middle School Assistant Librarian, Mrs. Joni Brown
Mrs. Brown has been working at Redwood Middle School since October of 2002. She currently works 30 hours a week as a Librarian at Redwood.
Joni’s first library job was at Grinnell College, where she worked in Government Documents and earned her B.A. She has an M.S. from Simmons College, where she worked in the graduate school’s library science program library. After that, she worked in the library at Wheelock College for a year, working with reserve materials and technology, including some technology teaching and workshops. She has been working supporting and troubleshooting technology on and off at various jobs for decades.
Joni is always available to help students answer their questions. She loves to gather and organize information, and use her search skills to make the information quickly available. She helps students look up the next book in a series, or put together a collection of books and links for a class topic. She has developed an organizing and labeling system to help students quickly find program icons on the computer desktops, and also instituted the ‘Redwood Library Lab Links’ <http://www.redwoodlibrary.blogspot.com/> to make links teachers use quickly available to students. Additionally, she helps students develop their own research skills.
Students go to her if they can’t figure out a program or if the computer, printer, or projector is acting strangely.
Her favorite thing about working at Redwood, is the smile on a student’s face when she’s helped them find an answer or a solution, a book to read for fun, information that ties their report together, or just something interesting that they didn’t know before.
She lives with her husband, Garth, who is an engineer at SLAC and their two cats. She and her husband are slowly fixing up an Arts and Crafts bungalow when they are not distracted by technology, reading, cooking, hiking, camping, and traveling, and of course their cats!
Thank you Mrs. Brown for all you do for our children!
SEF SPOTLIGHT on: Mr. David Chisler!
David Chisler is the music teacher for K – 3rd graders at all three elementary schools. Mr. Chisler enjoys teaching a diverse curriculum of music, and musical instruments. The students get to learn about many different types of music such as European folk dance, percussion instruments, triple and duple meter, pentatonic Tawainese folk songs, and many others. The music program is a combination of Kodaly and Orff, with an emphasis on movement, pitch, basic music notation, and dance. Mr. Chisler also likes to incorporate body movements and singing, as much as possible. He studied in the US and holds several degrees in Child Development and Music Education. Mr. Chisler has traveled quite a bit and even spent several years teaching in England; particularly the Cotswolds area where he taught at Oxford. Mr. Chisler says that “teaching music and theater in Oxford was a life changing experience!” It was also in the UK where he met and married his wife. We are happy to have someone as talented as Mr. Chisler teaching our children……thank you for coming back to California to teach Mr. Chisler!!
Meet Our Elementary School 3-5 Music Teacher, Mrs. Margie Alejandro
Mrs. Alejandro has been teaching music for over 25 years, more than half of which have been with Saratoga district students. Margie instructs our 5th, 4th, and 3rd grade students on a weekly basis.
Margie received her F.S.E. in Music from the University of Arkansas and her M.A. from U.S.I.U. She holds many honors in recognition of her teaching skills: SUSD’s Teacher of the Year, San Jose Magazine’s “Teacher of the Month”, Houston, Texas PTA Lifetime Membership Award, mentor Teacher for 3 years in the Arts, and PTA recognition awards from all four district schools.
Margie directs the 5th graders in their annual winter concert and leads the 5th grade district choir. For many years she was the Musical Director for Redwood Middle School and Argonaut’s musical productions. She just recently retired from directing the musicals, but is still very involved!
From an early age music has been a strong force in Margie’s life. Growing up in the Ozark Mountains, Margie recalls being in awe of her grandmother, a minstrel, whose folk songs have been recorded by the Smithsonian Institution. Margie believes that music and the arts make memories that change a person’s life forever.
Thank you Margie, for making wonderful memories for our children!
Meet Our Argonaut Elementary Librarian, Mrs. Jennifer Guidry
Mrs. Jennifer Guidry is the energetic, ever cheerful and very resourceful Librarian at Argonaut Elementary School. This is her sixth year and she spends 19 hours per week firing up the imaginations of the students through books and helping to fill their worlds with information and knowledge. She enjoys most of all being able to help kids build their own reading skills for their individual learning needs.
Mrs. Guidry worked in various companies until the arrival of her second child, and then became a stay-at-home mom and eventually a parent volunteer. She has studied Economics from Taiwan University and received her MBA from the London Business School in England.
The Guidry household includes two children who attend Redwood Middle School and Saratoga High School. They also have two cats. If she has any spare time, Mrs. Guidry enjoys reading, watching movies and travelling.
Meet Our Redwood Middle School Art Docent Coordinator, Ms. Jean Skamra
Ms. Jean Skamra started at Redwood Middle School as the SEF Art Docent Coordinator in 2005. She works 13 hours a week training the parents of our 6th, 7th and 8th grade students, and teaching art docent lessons. Ms. Skamra integrates social studies curriculum with art lessons, and teaches parent docents to assist with the projects in the classrooms.
Ms. Skamra enjoys all of the art docent lessons, but her favorite docent to teach is the 8th grade landscape painting project. In class, the students learn about the American Westward Expansion and are introduced to the Hudson River School painters with a short power point presentation, before being taught how to paint a landscape. Because this lesson is done in the spring, when the weather is nicer, the students get to paint outside 'plein aire' looking at the surrounding foothills for inspiration. It's a wonderful lesson that teaches the students the basics about painting a landscape using acrylic paint on canvas. She really enjoys seeing the finished projects because each student’s work turns out so different and unique.
Her most rewarding memory from teaching at Redwood is all the “Thank You's” she receives from the parents and most importantly the students. She loves seeing the students get excited about art and being creative.
Ms. Skamra started her education at a Jr. college in Chicago before moving to California in 1996. After graduating from San Jose State University with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Painting, she went back to study ceramics for two years at De Anza College. She then earned her Early Childhood Education certificate so she could teach art to children of all ages. One day, she plans to go back and earn her Masters degree.
In 2006, she opened up an art studio with a business partner in San Jose called Hidden Talent Art Studio. They currently bring art classes to 11 different school sites and one studio, and have plans to expand. They have the wonderful opportunity of teaching all ages how to be inspired, get creative and how to have fun, while learning the basics of art with a variety of mediums. They also have the means to give back to the community by helping neighboring schools raise money for art education and other recourses, as well as holding free workshops with different organizations.
Jean grew up in Chicago with her mother, younger sister and large Italian family. She was the first one in her family to go to and graduate college. In 1996 she met a boy and fell in love. His job moved him to San Jose, California, and she followed. This summer they will be celebrating 17 years as a couple and they get to do that in one of the most gorgeous places on earth, California! Jean is a nature girl and spends any extra moment she has outside. Her favorite outdoor activity is hiking all the beautiful trails out West, but you can also find her at the beach or on a golf course. And, whenever it is allowed, she brings along her rescue mutt.
Doing her personal art has always been important to her and she has been lucky enough to continue showing her work annually for the past 22 years in various group and solo shows. This summer she will have two small pieces, with some of her newer work being shown in New York and San Jose. Someday she hopes to show internationally!
We want to thank Ms. Skamra for all she does and wish her luck with her own art endeavors!
Meet Our Music Teachers...
Margie Alejandro has been teaching music for over 25 years, more than half of which have been with Saratoga Union School District students. Margie instructs our 4th and 5th grade students at all three elementary schools. Margie directs the 5th graders in their annual December concerts where students play a variety of instruments and sing. She also teaches recorder and leads the district choir. Margie also plays an instrumental role in the Redwood Middle School Spring Musical Productions.
Margie received her B.S.E. in Music from the University of Arkansas and her M.A. from U.S.I.U. From an early age, music has been a strong force in her life. Growing up in the Ozark Mountains, Margie recalls being in awe of her grandmother, a minstrel, whose folk songs have been recorded by the Smithsonian Institution. Margie believes that music and the arts make memories that change a person's life forever. Thank you Margie for making wonderful memories for our children!
David Chisler teaches music to our K – 3rd graders. Mr. Chisler enjoys teaching a diverse curriculum of music, and musical instruments. The students get to learn about many different types of music such as European folk dance, percussion instruments, triple and duple meter, pentatonic Tawainese folk songs, and many others. The music program is a combination of Kodaly and Orff, with an emphasis on movement, pitch, basic music notation, and dance. Mr. Chisler also likes to incorporate body movements and singing…. as much as possible. He studied in the US and holds several degrees in Child Development and Music Education. Mr. Chisler has traveled quite a bit and even spent several years teaching in England; particularly the Cotswolds area where he taught at Oxford. Mr. Chisler says that “teaching music and theater in Oxford was a life changing experience!” It was also in the UK where he met and married his wife. We are happy to have someone as talented as Mr. Chisler teaching our children……thank you for coming back to California to teach Mr. Chisler!!
Meet Our Redwood Middle School Lead Librarian, Mrs. Mary Thomas
Mrs. Thomas has been working at Redwood Middle School for 13 years! She began as the Library Media Teacher and is currently a full time Librarian at Redwood.
Mary holds quite a few degrees, with a BA in Literature from Cornell University, AA in Ornamental Horticulture from City College of San Francisco, MA in Library and Information Science and Single Subject English Credential and Library Media Credential from San Jose State.
After college she studied horticulture and was hired by East Bay Municipal Utility District. After her third child was born, she took time off to stay home with her children, a son and three daughters. Fifteen years later she went back to school to study Library and Information Science and complete her English teaching credential. She graduated in December 2000 and began work at Redwood that spring.
While Mary helps the students with a wide range of things in the library, she is most proud of her purchase and implementation of the software NoodleTools. NoodleTools is currently used by all 7th graders and many 8th graders in their CORE and Science classes. She is always encouraging teachers to integrate the program into one of their units of study. She updates the library blog, Redwood Library and Lab, and has put the blog, NoodleTools and the library catalog online so students can access them from home. When classes come in for the first time each year, she and her assistant help the students through the sign-up process and troubleshoot problems with user names and passwords. She teaches students how to navigate the site, create projects, make citations, and more. If the classroom teacher does the instruction, she acts as back-up and one-on-one support. When students come in to work independently on their projects, she answers questions and reteaches things they might have missed or misunderstood. NoodleTools is integrated with Google Docs at SUSD, which allows students to share their citations, note-taking work, and papers with their teacher, giving the teacher the ability to monitor and comment on a student’s work online and throughout the project as the work develops. As the students continue work on their projects, she continues to be available to help with locating resources, technology issues, forgotten passwords, and questions about NoodleTools. Her favorite thing about Redwood is the people – the teachers, staff, students, parents and administrators, who make working here a pleasure and a challenge.
Mary’s children and their families, including 5 granddaughters and a grandson on the way, all live on the West Coast, and she feels lucky to be able to spend lots of time with them. She loves to read – mysteries, cookbooks and popular fiction, and always has an audio book playing in the car. Genealogy is her hobby because she likes its orderliness and its messiness.
Thank you Mrs. Thomas for all you do for our children!
Meet Our Elementary School Technology Instructor, Ms. Doris Watson
Ms. Watson works with all students in grades 3-5 at Saratoga, Argonaut and Foothill Schools. The curriculum she teaches incorporates digital technology as a tool for learning, while recognizing the importance of Digital literacy and citizenship.
Grade 3 Computer Foundation Overview
Starting in 3rd grade, students learn the experience and skills necessary to use technology to learn, to communicate, to increase productivity and become increasingly competent users of technology. Some things that Doris focuses on for our children are:
• Basic Computer Operations and Keyboarding
• Desktop Publishing, Multimedia and Graphics
• Data Organization and Processing
• Introduction to Digital Literacy and Citizenship
Grades 4 and 5 Instructional Technology Program Overview
Students in 4th and 5th grade expand on the foundation gained in previous years. The instructional technology program strives to support achievement of the academic standards in the classroom, District curricular goals, and ultimately for lifelong learning and success in the digital world. With these students, Ms. Watson creates computer programs/activities that relate to the classroom learning environment.
Doris collaborates with classroom teachers and customizes projects to support curricular goals (see project examples below)
· Design projects to integrate National Educational Technology Standards
· Digital Literacy and Citizenship: Cyber bullying, protecting your online reputation, online etiquette, respecting creative work, research skills, plagiarism, and more.
• Participate in Classroom Literature Response Blogs
• Create a virtual tour using Google Earth to navigate the different routes to get to the Gold Rush cities
• Simulate the process of the Water, Rock or Life Cycle through animation or stop-motion video
• Create a public service announcement movie or poster to reteach internet safety
• Reinforce Geometry concepts using Google SketchUp
• Communicate with the community on classroom happenings through podcasting or website creation
• Research and bring to life the life of an explorer or field trip through digital storytelling
• Research California Missions and create a multimedia presentation
All of our children look forward to the computer instruction they receive from Doris Watson and you can feel the excitement in the halls when they are heading to the computer labs! Doris has been teaching at SUSD for 17 years, beginning when her son was in Kindergarten at Foothill. She has taught 4th and 1st grades prior to concentrating on technology for our students. When Doris isn’t in front of her iPad or computer, she enjoys traveling, swimming, golf and participating in cultural events in San Francisco where she currently lives. Thank you Doris, for all you do to teach our children!