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Program launched to bring
San Franciscans
back to public schools

Sharing parent ideas and mutual support with teachers is now easier,
Interim School Superintendent Gwen Chan explains.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Pat Murphy

May 10, 2006

San Francisco teachers are better positioned for parent collaboration and mutual support through a citywide program launched Tuesday.

It also aims to retain teachers who remain on the job an average of only three years, organizers reported at the 'Thank A Teacher' campaign kick-off at Sheridan Elementary School.

The network enables parents to share their ideas by internet with teachers as well encouraging private section financial support.

How to bring "the public back to public schools," was the goal of a two-year study recently completely, explained Katie Albright.

School Board President Norman Yee embraces the effort.

"We specifically worked on the issue of teacher quality and recruiting and retaining teachers to our great public schools, said Albright who serves as director of the Public Engagement Initiative.

"We interviewed teachers, we talked to parents, we talked to community stakeholders, and we learned that San Francisco like school districts around the country are facing a challenge in retaining teachers - particularly to our lower performing schools.

"We also found that among the critical issues that is often overlooked is teacher appreciation. Teachers just want a pat on the back... about the job they are doing for our students every day."

The program permits parents and the public to thank teachers in three ways.

"It gives the community three easy ways to thank teachers," Albright continued.

"They can thank teachers by sending an email card or writing a handwritten note. They can donate to bring a teacher's idea to life or support their professional development. They may share their story about a great teacher they have."

Interim School Superintendent Gwen Chan noted her lifelong involvement with San Francisco public schools and the role teachers play in child development.

"I graduated and then worked in the San Francisco Unified School District for 38years and I have experienced and seen first-hand the difference a teacher can make in a student's life," stated Chan.

For the City's part, Mayor Gavin Newsom began monthly special recognition of individual teachers which carries need school supplies, gifts, and a $500 check.

Teacher Ann Lew, a 30-year veteran of San Francisco teacher tanks,
receives first monthly City Recognition of excellence.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Teachers are enthused by the project, echoed the teachers union.

San Francisco Educators of San Francisco union president Dennis Kelly.

"We are pleased to see that teachers are being given thanks for the work that they do and having their dedication recognized," acknowledged Dennis Kelly, president of United Educators of San Francisco.

"Teaching, with the thousand daily decisions it entails, is one of the most demanding jobs in our society."

Private sector sponsors hope to raise $250,000 for the effort by the end of this month. Lead sponsors include The San Francisco Giants and the Bank of America.

Teacher's role is critical, recognizes Larry Baer of the San Francisco Giants.

""The Giants have a long tradition of investing in the local community and in education," recalled Giants Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer.

"We are value the critical role our City's educators in preparing our children for the future."

The program is accessible in English, Chinese, and Spanish with donors able to contribute online.




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