Springs Eternal - Gina Cuclis


Third grade literacy, Highway 12 trash

Improving the Springs isn’t just an infrastructure issue. It’s a people issue. The foundation of that people issue is how we address the needs of our community’s children.

To help children succeed in school, Sonoma County educators and child welfare organizations are paying particular attention to third grade literacy. A 2011 study by The Annie E. Casey Foundation found that children who do not read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers who are proficient readers, and represent three-fifths of students who either drop out or fail to graduate on time.

United Way of the Wine Country and the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation are working with the Sonoma Valley Unified School District to improve third grade literacy through a program called Schools of Hope. The program operates throughout Sonoma County providing volunteer reading tutors. This is its second year in Sonoma Valley providing volunteer reading tutors for first graders at the five elementary schools.

Currently 58 volunteers are tutoring at Sonoma Valley schools, but more are needed. Jack VanOverloop, United Way’s Schools of Hope Literacy Coordinator, said the goal is to recruit 100 Sonoma Valley volunteers by February. A particular need is for bilingual volunteers at Flowery Elementary School.

A volunteer works one-on-one with a student for a half-hour. The shifts are between Noon and 1:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. I am a Schools of Hope volunteer at El Verano Elementary School. My tutoring time is often the most fun half-hour of my day. For many Schools of Hope students, the time they spend with their tutor may be the only one-on-one time with an adult they have all week.

Orientations for new Schools of Hope volunteers are being scheduled for December and January. For more information about volunteering, contact Alan Hernandez at 528-4485 x103 oralan.hernandez-lopez@unitedwaywinecountry.org, or visit unitedwaywinecountry.org.

Much accomplished at Springs Cleaning

On the morning of November 9, 25 of us collected nearly 50 bags of trash along Highway 12 between Verano Avenue and Agua Caliente Boulevard. The newly formed Springs Community Business Group sponsored the “Springs Cleaning.”

Among the Springs business people picking up trash were Sandi Miller from Lonesome Cowboy, Danielly Rocha-Iariter from New York Life, Salvador Cruz from CC Salon, Teresita Fernandez from La Michoacana, Juan Hernandez and Maria Calvillo from La Luz and three employees from Reyes Group Metro PCS. Al Lerma from the Sonoma County Economic Development Board also participated. Jennifer Yankovich from the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce helped organize the clean up.

Afterwards we volunteers were treated to pizza from Mary’s Pizza Shack and homemade Horchata from La Michaocana. Barking Dog Roasters provided coffee and Quinona Cleaning Service donated bottled water.

The most common trash items picked up were fast food packaging, particularly cups including lids and straws, and cigarette butts. Volunteers reported an especially prevalent spot for cigarette butts was the sidewalk and gutter in front of Andy’s Liquors.

A few days later I went into Andy’s Liquors and talked to owner Nand Dhungel. He said he sweeps the sidewalk once a day. He’s tried putting out trash receptacles and ashtrays, but they’re always stolen or vandalized. However, he said, because I brought the issue to his attention he will beef up his efforts and sweep at least twice a day. Thank you, Mr. Dhungel.

Meet your State Senator

With the redrawing of the state legislative districts we in the Springs are now represented in the state senate by Lois Wolk of Davis. She will be the guest speaker at Monday’s Sonoma Valley Democratic Club meeting. You don’t have to be a member of the club to attend. This is a rare visit by Senator to Sonoma Valley, so I highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity to hear her speak and ask her questions. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the clubhouse of Seven Flags Mobile Home Park at 1400 Watmaugh Rd.

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