Whittell instructor named Teacher of the Year | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell instructor named Teacher of the Year

Axie Navas
Catherine Scully, 29, teaches a freshman English class Tuesday. Douglas County School District named Scully Teacher of the Year this year. Axie Navas / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Whittell High School English teacher Catherine Scully strives to take students’ learning beyond the classroom and into the community.

And it’s her drive to go beyond the expected that earned Scully the Douglas County School District Teacher of the Year award last week.

“She does a lot in the classroom, but she also does a lot in the community,” Whittell Principal Crespin Esquivel said. “It means a lot to us. We’re very excited for her to get this honor.”

Scully’s list of extracurriculars includes founding the school’s first literary magazine, serving as an advisor for the National Junior Honor Society and Whittell’s WEB, or Where Everybody Belongs, program and sitting on the scholarship committee. She’s working toward her master’s degree in literacy from the University of Nevada, Reno — a pursuit she said was inspired by a desire to help ESL students learn to love reading.

Since the 29-year-old native Nevadan transferred to Whittell in 2011 — she left a post at Carson Valley Middle School, where she had already been nominated once for Teacher of the Year — she’s raised eighth-grade writing scores by 20 percent and adapted to teaching both middle and high school students.

“We learn about the different stages you as a teacher go through. The first one is survival. But now I’m at the point where I feel comfortable in the classroom and I try to see what I can do extra,” Scully said.

Take a class she taught last year on the Holocaust. She tasked her students to pick an important community cause, campaigning to make the change and finally organizing a silent auction to raise money for the cause. From letter writing to public speaking, it was a project that incorporated all levels of English, she said.

“Being a young teacher and getting this award, it’s really the other teachers who have helped me. That’s really important in education. Being able to talk to a peer and learn from one another,” she said.

Every year, each of the 11 district schools nominates its own teacher of the year. DCSD staff members then make the final selection for the overall district-level award, according to the Douglas County Education Foundation website. The foundation honors the nominees with a recognition dinner and a golden apple classroom bell.

“Part of the selection at that level had not only to do with the variety of courses she teaches at Whittell all the way from seventh-grade to advanced placement, but on top of that the variety of things she does for children outside of the classroom. Probably the cherry on top is this amazing attitude and the love of inspiring children that she brings. She’s just a wonderful role model for schools, a fabulous, positive influence for kids,” DCSD Superintendent Lisa Noonan said.

Educational foundation awards scholarships

The Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation’s Celebration of Education will take place tonight from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Lakeland Village Lakeshore Pavilion.

“We changed it from not only honoring teachers and staff. We’ve broadened it and shifted it toward trying to let people know what’s going on in the education community,” foundation board member Chris Campion said.

The foundation awarded $24,614 to projects throughout the school district this spring. Recipients include a marine research program, a photography program, anti-bullying initiatives and cross country ski equipment for South Tahoe Middle School.

The nonprofit is run entirely by volunteers and donates money throughout the Lake Tahoe Unified School District twice per year. The foundation awarded $24,512 in fall 2012 and an additional $18,000 the previous spring.

It’s a competitive application process, according to Campion. The organization received 19 grant applications this spring, requesting a total of more than $36,000.

“The word is out that we’re assisting the schools. The budgets are still down and educators are looking for ways to fund their programs,” Campion said.

Students clean campus

Thirty-five South Tahoe High School students raked leaves and picked up 50 bags full of trash Saturday as part of a Clean Up Campus event. Students in the National Honor Society, Key Club, Ally, S-Club, Generation Green, Extreme Green, Order of Incus among others participated in the event, according to an email from STHS French and Spanish teacher Jayme Miller.

STHS Custodian Roger Letendre provided rakes, garbage bags, gloves and Domino’s pizza.

LTUSD: Solicitation for 2013 ‘California School Guide’ not linked to district

Lake Tahoe Unified School District issued a statement stating the 2013 ‘California School Guide’ is not affiliated with or recommended by the district.

The school guide is developed and distributed by School Publishing, an independent publisher located in Texas.

LTUSD Spokeswoman Angie Keil wrote in an email that local contractors may have received phone calls or invoices from the group. The publisher solicits companies that have done business with a school district to purchase an advertisement in the guide. The company claims that “the guide is a high-quality online publication that provides a valuable resource to school districts and educational agencies,” however, LTUSD cannot to confirm receipt of the publication either in print or online, now or at any time in the past, Keil wrote.

Building contractors may not be fully aware of what they are agreeing to, as the District’s name is discussed in the verbal and printed communication. Invoices received by contractors not only include a confirmation number and an amount due, but specifically name the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, according to the email.

Please contact LTUSD at 541-2850 Ext. 225 if you have any questions or email: info@ltusd.org.

LTCC celebrates publication of literary journal tonight

The Lake Tahoe Community College Writers’ Series will host a celebration for the publication of the college’s literary journal, “The Kokanee,” tonight at 8 p.m. in the LTCC library.

The event will feature short readings from students and faculty. Alec Holmes will be recognized for winning the Kokanee Award for his essay “Daunted by Bathrooms” and Ryan Row received an honorable mention for his short story “Johnny Copper Crime Stopper.”

District holds elementary open houses

The Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School will hold an open house Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m.

Bijou Community School, Tahoe Valley Elementary School and Sierra House Elementary School will hold the annual open house event Thursday, May 30 from 5:30-7 p.m.

The open house is the culmination of the students’ school year and a way for people to see what’s happening at the schools, according to a Lake Tahoe Unified School District release.

Retirement celebration set for Friday

The retirement celebration for J.J. Clause and Linda Kurek will take place Friday, May 17 at 5 p.m. in the South Tahoe High School gold gym.

A short concert will precede a tribute to the two music teachers.

To get involved, contact Casson Scowcroft at 530-541-4111 ext. 290 or email Bob Grant at bgrant@ltusd.org.

STHS hosts free student sports physicals

Lake Tahoe Unified School District, Tahoe Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and Barton Family Medicine will sponsor free student sports physicals Monday, June 3 at the South Tahoe High School blue gym.

STHS athletes are scheduled at 5:30 p.m., followed at 6 p.m. by South Tahoe Middle School athletes and at 6:30 p.m. by Whittell High School athletes. Pop Warner athletes will be seen at 7 p.m.

For more details, call 530-543-5537 or visit bartonhealth.org. Students must bring completed and signed history and parental consent forms or a parent or guardian must be present. Forms can be picked up in the principal’s office.

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