LVUSD Staff Shows Spirit at Annual Breakfast

By Peter Day
 
For the fourth year in a row, Lucerne Valley Unified School District Superintendent Peter Livingston enthusiastically welcomed staff members and shared what’s going on with the district. This year’s news is especially good: enrollment and test scores continue rising as new programs — and teachers — are added.
 
“We have a great staff coming back,” Mr. Livingston said.
 
The Welcome Back 2019 Teachers and Staff Breakfast, which was held on August 6 in Lucerne Valley Elementary School’s Goulding Hall, was catered by Cafe 247 whose staff also served the attendees eggs, potatoes, bacon and more.
 
Assistant Superintendent/Principal Nate Lambdin of the Middle High School introduced several new staff members including Jared Blevens, who will oversee the Middle High School’s Cadet Corp., James “Tom” Hodkinson who will teach the school’s Introduction to Medical Pathways course, new art teacher and former LVHS graduate Kristin (Smith) Czech, who is taking over from Hannah Loucks, who moved to be closer to her family.
 
Several other new LVMHS staff members are coming over from the elementary school including new intervention staff member Reuben Rivas, teacher’s aide Destany Cagle, former cafeteria worker Denise Quesenberry who will serve as the lead custodian. Denise takes over from beloved, recently retired lead custodian, Debbie Cosato, who recently retired. Custodian Clinton Emberson also is transferring to the Middle High School.
 
Each staff member was given a Lucerne Valley USD jersey, which they wore throughout the first day of school. The shirts were the brainchild of LVMHS Assistant Principal Kelly Boeing and Chief Business Official Doug Beaton.
 
“I think this is going to be a great school year,” Mr. Lambdin said.
 
Principal Burt Lambdin, who also serves as an assistant superintendent, introduced Ricky Anderson, the school’s new Assistant Administrator of Instructional Improvement and Academic Coaching. He also introduced Melissa Almodovar, custodian Joei Miller, who moved from another position, and campus aides Chyna Hite and Sara Koons. And two instructional aides Lorena Nuñez and Abygale Almeida.
 
Mr. Livingston also introduced Kimberly Snow, a state certified school bus driver instructor who will be the school district’s new transportation supervisor. She has served in the public school transportation field for nearly 30 years.
 
“We’re all on the same team,” said Ms. Snow, who shared that she originally wanted to become a California Highway Patrol officer but found her home in the transportation field. “It’s all for the kids.”
 
Food Service Manager Cindy Lattin-Oliveira introduced her staff. She lamented losing Ms. Quesenberry after 10 years of outstanding service but wished her well at her new position at LVMHS. Amanda Nichols will take over for Quesenberry. Keri Gasper will serve at the Middle High School cafeteria. Shana Moreno and Carissa Brandman also were introduced.
 
Mr. Livingston also introduced popular classified staff member Betty Chadwell.
Mr. Livingston handed out certificates of recognition:
25 years or more — Matthew Roehl, Cindy Lattin-Oliveira, Troy Van Bavel, Kay Hall
15 years or more — Billie Stebbins
5 years or more — Brandon Barkley, Patrick Petras, Marina Lopez, Micah Rowland, Amanda Nichols, Sandra Miller
 
Also attending the event were Chief Business Official Doug Beaton, new school board member Chelsea LaGrange and longtime school board member Tom Courtney.
 
Mr. Livingston also welcomed the “summer crew,” who worked busy throughout to get things ready for the new school year. Maintenance, custodial and office staffs, in particular, were cited for their contributions over the summer.
 
Livingston shared exciting news: Over the last four years district schools have climbed and are now in the top five among 11 High Desert school districts.
 
“That’s amazing. That’s super!” he said.
 
English Language Arts scores have improved 6% while math has gone up 9 points.
 
Enrollment figures also reflect growth. Since the 2015-16 school year, enrollment has steadily climbed by 90 students to 769 currently.
 
Livingston credited the dedication of district staff for making the difference. “It’s because of you that we’re having growth,” Livingston said.
 
Perhaps echoing teacher Naomi “Ms O” Oyadomari’s recent fellowship to Japan, the superintendent share the message of the Kaizen strategy, which states people should make some kind of improvement every day. He also shared thoughts from a book he read, “One Small Step Can Change Your Life.”
 
Board member Courtney talked about how the district’s charter school program helps both the district and the students the charters are educating. He also commended teachers and staff for all of their hard work.
 
“Good leaders are only as good as their followers,” he said. “And you guys are doing great.”
 
Peter Day currently is a social media advisor for the Lucerne Valley Unified School District.