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Spotlight – Ms. Bueno, Northlake Elementary School

Where were you born? I was born in Mexico. My family moved to the United States when I was 6 years old.

Did you speak any English? I knew three words my dad had taught me. The three English words I remember were door, window and bathroom. I felt super cool because I knew those three words. I was coming to the United States and I thought I was ready.

Where did you live? I lived where now the Walmart on 7th Ave is; it used to be a trailer court.

Where did you go to school I went to school at Northlake.

Is Northlake a special place for you? This school is very personal to me, I was an English Language Learner (ELL) student, and now I am in the ELL program. Some of the teachers I had are still currently here. Now my daughter Yaritza goes here.

What grade is your daughter in? Yaritza is in first grade in Ms. Davis class. Ms. Davis was my reading teacher in elementary school – she’s great!

How many brothers and sisters do you have? I have one sister and three brothers.

Did your siblings attend Northlake too? Yes, all my brothers, sisters and cousins came here. I have always loved this school. It is a dream come true to work where you loved going to school.

What high school did you attend? Mark Morris class of 2011.

Where does your sister attend school? My sister moved in with me this year, she goes to Monticello.

So you have your little sister living with you? Yes, it is very interesting because she is a teenager. There is such a big age gap between her and myself.

How old are you and your sister? I am 26 and my sister is 13. It’s as if I am raising a child. It has been tough sometimes, but we are starting to adjust to each other.

Is it difficult parenting your sister? She sometimes does not like it but I tell her as long as you are under my roof I control you – you are 13.

Does your family value education? Education is not something my family knows a lot about. They know it is important, but they have never made it a focus.

Do you make school a high priority? I make it very high priority because I know how important it is. I know how hard it is to try to catch up if you get behind.

Were you absent from class much during high school? I missed a lot of high school. I was always out translating for my parents. My dad got ill when I was entering my sophomore/junior year. Nobody around the house spoke English besides me, so I had to go to his appointments.

How did you catch up for all the absences? I went to Discovery High School and took 11 credits the last semester to catch up.

What did you do after high school? After school, I got pregnant and had a daughter.

Were your parents upset about having a child right after high school? Yes. I always try to take negative stuff and make it positive. My dad said now all you are good for is changing diapers. I took that very personally and said, “I am going to prove you wrong dad.” I put my daughter Yaritza in Head Start from 3 months to 3 years old and went to Lower Columbia College without letting my parents know.

Did you earn your associates degree? It took me three years to get my associates degree, but I did it.

Was getting your associate degree tough? Yes, partly because I became pregnant again.

Why was it so important for you to go to college? First, I wanted to prove my dad wrong. Second, my dad got sick and was near the end of his life. I wanted him to see me graduate and be proud of me.

Did you want to prove your dad wrong, or be proud of you? My mentality changed and I wanted him to be proud of me. Also, my mother worked so hard and I wanted to thank her for the sacrifice and show her I was worth it.

What is your son’s name? Mateo. Mateo will go to school at Northlake next year. My girl is good tempered, soft, sweet and kind. Mateo is completely opposite.

What did you do after earning your associates degree? Before graduating, I accepted a job at Northlake as a paraeducator for English Language Learners.

Did you always want to work with English Language Learners (ELL)? Yes, I was like exactly, that’s what I want to do, it is my passion. I was an ELL student, so I take it personally.

Prior to working at Northlake Elementary did you volunteer in schools? Before working at Northlake, I had been involved in schools for a long time. Mary Carr-Wilt is my mentor. She would get me to volunteer at different schools at events she had.

Were you excited to come back to Northlake as a staff member? Yes, so many of the people already knew me it made it easy to fit in. It feels like I am home.

What do you like to do outside of work? I recently took a part-time job. Being a paraeducator doesn’t pay real well while raising my sister and two kids of my own.

You have an associate’s degree, are you going to pursue a bachelor’s degree?  Yes, I am signing up for the bachelor’s degree program at Lower Columbia

College to be a teacher.

When do you plan to start school? I will start this spring. I was determined that an associate’s degree was good enough. It was more than I thought I could do, but now I know I can do more.

Are you going to be a part of LCC’s new teacher certification program? Yes, I have met with them and they said my application looks good. They said that my GPA looked high; I graduated with honors. I always put my family before me every single time and I feel that that will always be me, but I am trying to be selfish and do something for myself.

Is putting family before yourself tradition? Family is very important in our culture. Family before anything, even before myself. I was raised that way; my parents always put their parents first.

Does your family watch soccer together? We like to watch soccer. We spend Sunday watching soccer together as a family.

Does your family play games together? We like to play board games as a family. We play Dominoes, which is our top game. Then we play some Mexican games that we had at home that we try to have the kids grow with, to pass on some of the traditions. They love it. The kids do not speak fluent Spanish but they understand it, so they are able to play the game.

Do your children speak English at home? Yes, my daughter actually hates Spanish. We had some friends visit from Indiana and they had a little girl and she only spoke Spanish. My daughter was like, “Mom, I need to learn Spanish! What do I do?” So now, she is really trying to learn it. Which is kind of funny, all of my family speaks Spanish but my kids don’t speak it.

What is the best part about working with ELL students? The connection that I have with them, because I understand what they are feeling, I understand their frustration. I understand where they are coming from.

What are the frustrations and feelings ELL students have? It is frustrating because you know what you want to say but cannot say it.  You want to do well, but it doesn’t come in, like you can’t translate it.

Do you work with families too? Yes, I connect with them so much and it is nice because I can help families. They call all the time and we talk personal conversations because of the relationships.

How many ELL students does Northlake have? We have 58 ELL students right now.

When a student is frustrated and is struggling with words, what do you tell them? First, I sit with them one on one. I tell them, “I know this is hard, let’s sound it out together” We do the 95% so we stretch the words out with our fingers.

Do students know you attended Northlake? I tell the students I know it’s hard, I was an ELL student and I went to school here. Their face brightens up because I was went to school here too.

Do the kids ask you if you make mistakes speaking English? Yes, they ask, “You do make mistakes?” and I say – we all do.

Does it help students to know you were an ELL student years ago? We give them our story so they do not feel like they are alone. ELL students sometimes feel that because they speak a second language they are less instead of being more.

What do you tell kids to encourage them? We tell kids they are worth double, some kids only speak one language and you are trying to learn two languages and read and write both of them.

Do ELL kids get enough recognition? We know many of our ELL kids feel less because they are not as celebrated as they should be. We just try to get them to know they are important because sometimes they are embarrassed to go to ELL. We tell them you need to be proud, you need to celebrate.

Are all the ELL students from Mexico? No, we have a little girl from the Philippines and she asks, “Teacher am in Mexican because everyone speaks Mexican here.” We tell her no, it is Spanish not Mexican, but you are a Philippine.

Is working as in the English Language Learner program in your heart? Yes, an honestly I try to advocate for them to everybody. They are super smart kids that have trouble expressing everything.

What would you tell the public about ELL kids? I would say visit a classroom. The ELL classroom is so important and special.

Would you tell us about some of the special moments? When you are talking to the kids and are experiencing the, “Oh my gosh!” moments.

Has life been tough for you? I am not embarrassed whatsoever about my roots or living on 8th Avenue. I am proud of my background. I am making a good life. I am happy and comfortable, I am very thankful. I am grateful that I get to be here at Northlake with my daughter.

What would you want people reading this to know about you? If I can do it anyone can do it. I came from a low-income family. We always had food but we were very limited growing up and it was not easy. I cried so many hours, but it was worth it. Anything is possible with hard work and passion.

What is the key to your success? Perseverance. Sometimes I get angry and think – I have to do this, there is nothing stopping me.

Can you give an example of perseverance? When I was pregnant and days from birth, I had to take my final exam at LCC. I was like; you stay in there Mateo, you cannot come out! I gave birth on the weekend, was released Monday morning and took my finals in the afternoon.

What makes you so determined? I did not want to be picking berries in the fields anymore; I did not want to work at fish canneries anymore. I wanted to be at a job where I could sit, dress nicely, not come out of work dirty and tired for minimum wage. If one door closes, you have to open another door.

Do you have a strong will to succeed? Yes, sometimes I remember something that hurt me, that makes me angry and I ask myself – do you want to be that person that keeps reliving that moment or do you want to change it? I give myself options because that is the way.

Is education helping you improve your life? Yes, in my case I am not happy with picking berries, I am not happy about going to a fish cannery – but I am happy about going to school.

Are you a role model for your family? Yes, I am the oldest of the cousins. We have a big family and I have always felt that I am a role model for them.

Is being a role model for your family hard? Sometimes I don’t make the best decisions for them to model. When I got my associates degree my cousin put on Facebook, “Because of you I am going to go to college.”

Did your cousin go to college? Yes, she is finishing her degree in early childhood education. She helped me with my program, with my projects, and saw how much I put into it.

What message are you trying to give your family about education? I want to keep showing them that you can keep going, it is never too late. Two of them are not married and now they are going to school.

Are you a competitive person? I am very competitive. My cousins are almost done getting their associates degrees, so I need to get busy and get my bachelors!

2019-04-09T16:48:56-07:00April 9th, 2019|

Family Resource Center opens at Monticello

Teachers and support team members across the district are seeing a growing number of kids and families who lack a stable food source and/or housing. To help the kids and families the district opened a Family Resource Center at Monticello Middle School. The resource center gives parents a place to get help and connect with food, housing, mental health or other services. It doesn’t matter which school a child attends – the family resource center is open to help them. The resource center was put together through donations and did not require district funds.

The Daily News wrote a front page story about the resource center that published March 2. This is another example of the district putting extra effort towards helping our kids be successful.

The Family Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 11 am and from 1 pm to 3 pm.

 

2019-03-08T14:24:07-07:00March 7th, 2019|

Calendar information 2019-2020 school year

Planning for vacation and family celebrations is important. While final details of the next year’s school calendar are not yet finished, several important key dates are set. To help you with planning below are important dates for the 2019-2020 school year. These dates have been finalized and approved by the School Board. (Please note the calendar for Broadway Learning Center is different and parents should check with Broadway for 2019-2020 calendar dates.)

Event Date
First day of school August 28, 2019
Winter holiday December 23, 2019 – January 3, 2020
Spring Break April 6-10, 2020
High school graduation June 6, 2020
Last day of school June 11, 2020

A more detailed 2019-2020 school calendar will be sent to parents and families in the Spring. If you have questions please contact your local school.

2019-01-25T15:05:18-07:00January 25th, 2019|

Capital bond information and input sessions

Longview Public Schools plans to put a capital bond measure to voters later this year. Capital bonds raise funds for school districts to upgrade facilities and build new schools.

To provide citizens information about the bond measure three community input sessions will be held. At the meeting you will get information on the facility upgrades and changes the district’s Facilities Advisory Committee has recommended.

Thursday, January 24 at 6 pm, district administrative offices next to RA Long High School – 2715 Lilac Street.

Wednesday, January 30 at 5 pm, Mark Morris High School.

Tuesday, February 5 at 5 pm, Mint Valley Elementary School.

We hope to see you at one of the community input sessions.

2019-01-25T11:07:08-07:00January 15th, 2019|

“Education has set me free.”

At the age of 25 Natasha Cauley hit rock bottom. She sat in the Emergency Support Shelter with her two boys and no money. She said to herself, “I won’t accept this, it’s not good enough.”

After struggling through life for many years Natasha is using education to improve the lives of her two boys and herself. She made up her mind she won’t stop going to school until her standard of life is “good enough” to break the cycle of family uncertainty and poverty.

Natasha’s story highlights how important it is to graduate from high school.

Natasha’s troubles started with an uncertain home life. After attending multiple middle and high schools in Longview and outside the area Natasha was having trouble fitting into yet another new school.

Natasha earned good grades throughout school, but problems at home made life unbearable. “I’ll just drop out of high school, get my GED, and everything will be fine,” she thought.

With her mother’s written permission (she was told her father had passed away) Natasha dropped out of high school. Over the course of 12 months Natasha went from living with her mother and being a high school student to being a dropout pregnant with her first child.

Living with her boyfriend’s parents, and with no plans to go back to school, trouble arrived quickly. Complications with her pregnancy caused the baby to be born about 6 weeks prematurely. Her new baby boy Tristan weighed a little over 3 pounds at birth. The medical complications caused problems for Natasha too, she spent several weeks recovering while Tristan fought for life in the neonatal unit.

For two years after Tristan was born Natasha worked low level, low paying jobs. She didn’t qualify for better jobs without a high school diploma. She and her boyfriend broke up around Tristan’s third birthday.

Natasha started living with friends in Longview, and at about the same time noticed something wasn’t quite right with Tristan. Doctors said Tristan was fine. Being born prematurely had set Tristan back, but he would catch up over time the doctor said.

It wasn’t until after enrolling Tristan at Kessler Elementary that she received confirmation something else might be wrong. School personnel asked Natasha to take Tristan to a specialist – where she found out Tristan has autism.

Life was tough. Natasha, now 22 years old with an autistic son, was working at the Kelso Red Lion making coffee and waiting tables in the restaurant. Then she became pregnant with her second child. Nine months later William was born.

With a second child Natasha’s life became miserable. She stayed in the house for days at a time taking care of William, while Tristan was often agitated or crying. She suffered from post-partum depression, and felt cut off from the community.

And just when Natasha felt at her wits end, she and her boyfriend split up after a domestic dispute. Natasha took her two boys and a duffle bag of clothes to the Emergency Support Shelter (ESS) in Longview.

“Friends will only help for so long, then you need to help yourself,” Natasha recounted.

A counselor at the ESS gave Natasha a piece of paper and asked her to write some basic, achievable goals. Imagine trying to write goals when you don’t know where your next meal will come from.

With no driver’s license, no car, no job, no high school diploma and two boys to raise Natasha hit rock bottom. She thought something had to drastically change or she’d be forced to accept a life of hardship.

“I needed to fix things,” she said – it was her defining moment. 

The counselor started Natasha working on short-term goals with a promise that once the goals were achieved a new list of goals would be written down.

She wrote down basic needs – get a driver’s license, find a job and get an apartment. At the bottom of the list was education, she wanted to get her high school diploma.

Natasha completed almost all the goals in 90 days.

With her initial goals mostly done Natasha’s focus came back to education. She went to Lower Columbia College and earned her high school diploma in three months – but that wasn’t enough.

She signed up for more classes at LCC with a goal of getting her associate of arts (AA) degree. With one quarter remaining she needed to pass a math class to get her AA degree – and flunked the course.

Instead of quitting she re-took the class and received an “A”, and earned her AA degree. But she wanted a better life for her family, so she enrolled at WSU – Vancouver.

Natasha Cauley will graduate from WSU – Vancouver with a bachelor’s degree in English in the spring of 2019. She reunited with her past boyfriend, William’s father, and life is good. She will be pursuing her master’s degree come next fall.

About her education Natasha said, “Before going back to school I was sleep walking through life. Education has set me free.”

2018-11-19T17:08:28-07:00November 19th, 2018|

Longview teachers have class

We’re proud of our educators and are taking this opportunity to introduce you to two of them, in their own words. They have different interests but share a passion for preparing Longview students for successful futures!

This is a supplement to the Longview Public Schools annual report. Both Gail Wells and Sam Kell are featured in the printed version of the annual report.  

Gail Wells, math teacher, Monticello Middle School.

Gail Wells believes everyone can do math. She works the room and uses technology to gauge how much each student understands, even those who never raise their hands.

Where did you grow up and go to school? I was born in North Dakota and grew up in Federal Way, Washington. I was in the first graduating class at Thomas Jefferson High School in Auburn and went to Western Washington University for a degree in home economics.

How did you get from home economics to math? My passion was food and nutrition, but math is completely entrenched in home economics—measuring food, finance, sewing …

Why do people think math is so hard? Society doesn’t allow people not to be “readers,” but for some reason it’s OK to not be good at math. The mindset should be that “I can do it,” because everyone can.

How long have you been teaching? Twenty-six or 27 years—10 years at St. Helens and 10 years at Robert Gray, with four years as a math coach at Kessler and Robert Gray. Now I’m finishing at Monticello Middle School.

How has teaching math changed? When I was in school, it was, “Here is how you do it. Now copy what I do.” We don’t do that anymore. Instead of just handing students an algorithm or a way to do something, we do a lot of concrete building of understanding before moving to the abstract.

What is the best thing about being a teacher? That look on a student’s face when they “get it”—it’s priceless.

What are some of the keys to being a good teacher? Number one is understanding what the goal is. For me it’s the state standards—I have to know what the students need to know. Also …

  • Making sure the students get the needed feedback so they can self-evaluate.
  • Being ready when they walk through the door—knowing where you’re going and how to get there, not just turning the page on the book and teaching them what’s on the next page.
  • Adjusting if the students are not getting it.

The big thing here at Monticello is I have an amazing teaching partner, Phil Hartley. We collaborate, do assessments, reflect on student work, talk about the goals and are transparent about our work. Today we are going to share kids and do some interventions, so we can get them where they need to be right now.

To be a good teacher, it’s everything, including a great administration that supports you. It’s not just one thing.

What advice do you have for new teachers? Don’t think you already know everything. I’ve been teaching for 26 or 27 years, and every year I learn something new. Every year I get better. So listen to your colleagues, listen to your students, and be willing to adapt. Be a part of the team.

What’s something people might not know about you? I’ve been making gingerbread houses for 30 years. I have two sons who were in the armed service—one still is. I send gingerbread houses to Afghanistan and Bosnia. My daughter taught English in South Korea, so I sent one to her.

What would you tell the community about what life is like in school? When those kids come up the stairs and say hi to me, it’s wonderful. It’s the best place in the world to work.

What are students like today? Students are considerate of each other. They want to do their best—they want to succeed.

Anything else? This is my last year of teaching. I want to have more time with my family and visit my grandchildren—I have six. My career as a teacher has been an amazing journey. I feel deeply blessed by every student I’ve ever had.

 

 

Sam Kell, industrial arts teacher, Mark Morris High School

Sam Kell practices what he teaches. At school, he introduces pre-apprenticeship students (pg. 3) to technical skills like carpentry. In his spare time, he works on his own fixer-upper house.

Where did you grow up and go to school? I spent my childhood in Kelso and Longview, and went to Catlin Elementary, Columbia Heights Elementary, Cascade Middle School and Mark Morris High School. I spent one year at Lower Columbia College and finished my final three years at Central Washington University in the industrial arts program.

Why did you get into teaching? I always liked working with people and going through the learning process. My mom is a pre-school teacher.

Who introduced you to industrial arts? My dad is a self-employed residential contractor. He flips houses and owns rentals. I started working with my dad when I was 10 or 11 years old. I was just a helping hand with sheetrock and roofs. In school I excelled in shop classes and was happiest in project-based learning.

What’s the best part about being a teacher? Building relationships with the students. Teaching is all about the relationships and the growth.

What are the students of today like? They are hard-working and task driven. People may assume students never get off their smartphone or think, “It’s not like when we were in school.” But I still see the drive in students to get things done. Sometimes it takes different teaching styles to motivate different students.

What is one thing you want to teach every student? One thing I’d like to teach every student is lifelong learning and self-evaluation. To be able to reflect on the job you just completed is a very important skill no matter what you do. I learned a long time ago, “reflect and do better.”

What would you like people to know about school? School is about learning, and failure is okay.

 Do you have hobbies? I love hunting, fishing and hiking, and I share season tickets to the Trailblazers. I’ve been a Blazers fan since elementary school. I watched Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler play. I also own a house in Kelso—it’s a fixer upper.

 Anything else? It’s important for young people in our community to recognize their own skills and recognize what Longview has to offer. Longview is a great place.

2018-11-07T15:28:50-07:00November 6th, 2018|

Northlake Elementary students love Harvest Festival!

Colder weather is on it’s way which means it’s time to harvest the garden bounty.

On Friday, October 5 kids at the Northlake Elementary Harvest Festival were laughing and having fun while pressing freshly harvested apples into cider. Other students were enjoying a taste of roasted veggies harvested from Northlake’s garden, while some kids prepared squash for cooking.

After singing songs, eating healthy food from the garden and drinking just pressed apple cider kids ran through a hay bale obstacle course.

Lower Columbia School Gardens (LCSG) introduces and connects kids to food in a hands-on and fun way. LCSG also coordinates curriculum so kids can be exposed to the world of fresh fruit and vegetables.

According to the Lower Columbia School Gardens web site (lowercolumbiaschoolgardens.org), over 4,000 kids each year are taught about cooking and nutrition through hands-on activities in one of the school gardens.

 

 

2018-10-08T11:22:58-07:00October 8th, 2018|
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