Science teacher Daniel Schalk has been on leave during the fall semester because of health issues regarding his son. At December’s school board meeting, several parents expressed concern that his absence was affecting their children’s studies.
Coast Unified Superintendent Vicki Schumacher told the board Thursday, Jan. 12, that a solution had been found: She said Cynthia Bens has accepted a position as temporary teacher. She was scheduled to take over Schalk’s classes Jan. 18 to finish out the fall semester and will teach them during the spring, as well.
Schumacher said Schalk, who teaches advanced-placement biology and other classes, will continue on staff as a teacher on special assignment.
“Sometimes he’s out, sometimes he’s in, so that will not impact students in the classroom,” she said.
She said the district has also purchased five books to help students who have missed out on instructional time catch up on their studies.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, district librarians gave a presentation on how the libraries at all three schools are working to promote literacy.
“Our school libraries are not a warehouse for books,” said Coast Union Librarian Shannon Sutherland, adding that their goal is “to support literacy in all its forms” and “integrate literacy skills into all areas of curriculum to help students become lifelong learners.”
Coat Union has programs including shared reading with Cuesta College, argumentative writing assignments and instruction in research skills — teaching students “to recognize data, apply prior knowledge and decode,” Sutherland said. She added that students are encouraged to avoid unintentionally plagiarizing other works through a computer program called Turn it In.
Santa Lucia Middle School students take part in projects such as an eighth-grade living history museum, book fair, “Battle of the Books,” and a novel —“The Running Dream” by Wendelin Van Draanen — read by every student at the school, librarian Suzanne Kennedy said. Van Draanen also gave a presentation at the school. They also design their own book trailers.
At Cambria Grammar School, librarian Bodhi Hodges said, students take part in a year-end book exchange, extended library hours for families and an accelerated reading program followed by a comprehension quiz. There’s also a “shredded book contest,” in which books are cut up and students are asked to figure out which books the fragments have come from.
The libraries at all three schools are popular places, Sutherland said: “I think one of the biggest problems is when (students) are cutting classes, they’re going to the library. (It’s) a very busy place.”
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Schumacher announced that the board would hold a full meeting in the high school gym Feb. 14 to allow students an opportunity to see the board in action and interact with trustees.