District News

Tech tinkering to send Lodi students to Google robotics competition

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2017 12:08 am

Tech tinkering to send Lodi students to Google robotics competition By Christina Cornejo/NEWS-SENTINEL STAFF WRITER Lodi News-Sentinel

Tyler Smeenk, an eighth-grade student, held what appeared to be a gaming controller while moving a robot across a foam mat with his thumbs. He and other members of the Lodi Middle School Robotics Club were prepping their new robots for competition on Thursday afternoon.

The robot was equipped with a large wide fork attachment to a moveable arm which he used to pick up a foam star-shaped piece.

“It’s based on a forklift,” said Nicolaus Hilleary, an eighth grader who was also working on the robot.

He tried to flip the fork up to send the star up and over the height of 25 feet, but it got stuck in the bend of the robot’s arm for the first few runs. His group worked to rearrange parts and adjust a gear chain before trying again.

The robotics program headed by teacher Steve Box at Lodi Middle School is still in its infancy. Although students are already eager and very engaged in using tools and programming skills in the classroom, the competitive team has had a slow start due to the need to gather funding. GOT Kids Foundation, the Robotics Education and Competition (REC) Foundation and several local businesses and organizations have lent their support to Lodi Middle’s program.

Donations were especially important as the Vex Robotics sets needed to get started cost between $1,000 and $1,200.

Students received the first three VEX Robotics sets in December of last year and have been working diligently to put together functioning robots for a big competition this coming Saturday.

Their destination is the Google campus in Mountain View to compete in the Google VEX Starstruck tournament against schools from all over Northern California. The goal is to build a robot that can toss cubes and stars over a fence at a 20 foot height and 29 foot height to score points for their team and also robots that can block the opponent from tossing items over from the other side of the fence. Rounds are timed and the ones who toss the most items over the fence by the end win.

“It’s like sports for the nerds,” Hilleary said.

Given the short amount of time they’ve spent with the robots, the team is not expecting a big win right away, but instead are hoping to gain experience to bring back. With that the team can be better prepared for future competitions.

In addition to putting their robot building and programming skills to the test, students will also get to tour the Google campus to see what it’s like inside the giant technology company.

Students spent Thursday testing the controls of a fully-constructed robot, which was hand-programmed by a seventh-grade student in the class. They had to record logs of everything they changed or did during the preparation for the competition in an engineering notebook.

“One team went to nationals just because they had a great engineering notebook,” Hilleary said.

In another group, three seventh-grade girls were working on tightening bolts and nuts to attach a metal panel to a set of two robotic arms.

The panels were meant to block enemy fire of stars and cubes over the fence.

“We had some minor mistakes. When the arm comes up, it’s too flimsy and is not able to block,” said Madison Gallard, a seventh grader.

Classmates came over to offer suggestions as they tinkered such as, “can you add another motor here” and “what if you extend this part?” Despite being sectioned off into groups, there was a sense of working together ever present in the room.

The troubleshooting and creativity that students apply to figure out how to make their robots work are invaluable skills for them to learn, according to Box.

Until they experience failure and have to solve those problems, they won’t know how they’re doing, he said.

They build, test and then evaluate if the robot is doing what they need it to do.

“The kids have learned a lot. It’s a very student-driven process,” Box said. “When you own the learning process you get more out of it.”

Box is also working on creating an engineering course at Tokay High School so students who move up from Lodi Middle School can continue to build on what they’ve learned in his robotics class and in the after school competitive team. Outside of robotics, Box also teaches the Manufacturing Principles class at Lincoln Technical Academy and coaches basketball.

He is glad to be able to offer this kind of program for students and get them engaged in school in their middle school years.

“The kids have learned a lot. It’s a very student-driven process,” Box said. “When you own the learning process you get more out of it.”

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodi news.com.

Lodi Middle Robotics team members Justin Weber, 14, and Nicoulas Hilleary, 14, adjust the robotics as they test their competition robot Thurs, Jan. 19, 2017. The robotics team will be traveling to the Google campus in Mountain View Saturday for its first competition.

District News


Independence High graduates cross finish line By Danielle Vaughn/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

The Charlene Powers Lange Theatre at Hutchins Street Square was filled with family members, teachers and mentors anxiously awaiting the moment that their graduate would walk across the stage and receive their diplomas during the Independence High School Class of 2017 graduation ceremony Thursday afternoon.

After so much hard work and overcoming so much adversity, 55 students made it to the finish line and were excited to share this moment of accomplishment with all who supported them over the years.

“Family members and friends, thank you so much for coming today,” Dr. Dominee Muller-Kimball, Independence High School principal, said. “It means so much to the students. It means so much to the faculty and staff and also Lodi Unified School District.”

After the graduates made their way into the auditorium, three of the students each welcomed everyone in their native language. Jayla Washington welcomed the crowd in English, Sayra Briano in Spanish and Shorook Hassan in Arabic.

Muller-Kimball took a moment to address the students and the crowd while conducting the ceremony Thursday afternoon.

“This year the students who are sitting on this stage are the true definition of the term game-changer,” Muller Kimball said. “Students come to Independence for a variety of reasons. Irregardless each student came to independence to start a new game plan.”

She recalled the first time she met with the students and learned their stories.

“What’s so amazing and this common element with all of these students is that each was determined to graduate from high school and each was determined to earn a diploma,” Muller-Kimball said. “To me that means everything.”

During the ceremony, graduate Jayla Washington shared her story and how she came to be a student at Independence High. Washington came to Independence from Bear Creek High School in her junior year after getting pregnant. Washington continued to pursue her education while juggling motherhood and a part-time job at McDonald’s. She credited her son as well as her family and teachers as motivators to keep her going even when she wanted to give up.

“It’s been really hard,” Washington said. “There were times when I wanted to give up. About a month before graduation what changed my mind was everybody telling me I could do it and seeing my baby smile when I put my cap and gown on. Now I know I can go to college and have the life that I want for Demarcus and me.”

Valedictorian Shabana Ahmed addressed her fellow classmates as well as the audience during the ceremony.

“As a group, we did start from the bottom. I can see now the whole team made it,” she said. “I can’t believe that the day has come for us to finally say our good-byes and begin a new chapter in our lives. ”

During the ceremony Adam Paulin was recognized as the class’s salutatorian while Athena Campero and Sunnie Jamieson received art awards, Samone Mouton received the English language arts award, Zoe Martinez received the social science and mathematics awards and Victor Nemecio received the mathematics award.

Eight students were recognized for maintaining honor roll all four years of school. Those recognized included Romana Ahmed, Shabana Ahmed, Cayley Duncan, Malak Hassan, Destiny Jones, Alexis King, Zoe Martinez and Adam Paulin.

Malak and Sharook Hassan were presented with the Alfred C. Platt Scholarship award, Shabana Ahmed was the recipient of the Charlotte Elias Scholarship award and Romana Ahmed was the recipient of the Matilda Alcalay award.

The Job Redi Foundation also awarded $10,000 grants to Malak Hassan, Shorook Hassan and Christine Chavez.

As Muller-Kimball called out the names of the graduates, school counselor Susan Rosales presented the students with their diplomas. The students shook hands with Rosales as they were presented with their diplomas and then paused for pictures.

The graduates were congratulated by Lodi Unified School Board Trustee Bonnie Cassel and board Vice President George Neely on the way to their seats.



Liberty High School graduates record senior class By Kyla Cathey/Lodi Living Editor Lodi News-Sentinel

A hum of excited conversation and an air of expectation filled the Charlene Powers Lange Theatre at Hutchins Street Square on Thursday morning.

When the first notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” rang out, though, the audience turned in their seats to watch the stream of seniors slowly marching toward the stage, and the murmurs turned into cheers of excitement.

Clad in white and light blue graduation gowns, the excited teens couldn’t keep the infectious, proud grins off of their faces as the procession curled through the theater to their seats on the stage.

They had a lot to be proud of, Principal Tamara Dillon said.

“Today marks an important milestone in the lives of these young people,” she told the families and friends gathered to celebrate the record-breaking 70 graduates.

But the students at Liberty High School, a continuation school in Lodi, have faced challenges many of their peers did not, she said.

Many transferred to Liberty at the beginning of their junior or senior year, because they had struggled in traditional high school or fallen behind on coursework for a large number of reasons: they had lost one or both parents to illness, death, prison or addiction, they were in a situation where they had no steady home, they had to work to help support their families and fell behind in academics.

All 70 of the graduates had met with her for an orientation when they began attending Liberty, Dillon said.

“At that first meeting, they often looked frustrated and tired,” she said. “But every student has a desire to be successful.”

Some had their own personal hurdles to face; some were the first in their families to attend high school and had no support network at home when they struggled with school work.

But every one of the students on stage had overcome those hurdles to earn a high school diploma.

“They are champions,” Dillon announced to cheers. “They have survived, thrived, overcome and achieved their goals.”

Student speaker Adilenne Ruiz thanked her family and friends, especially her mother, who pushed her when she needed it, she said. Then, she spoke to her fellow graduates.

“We all had one common goal: to survive and graduate,” she said.

They entered Liberty feeling like they were facing an overwhelming amount of work, but with the support of the school’s staff and their friends and family, they were able to prove to themselves — and those who thought they could never do it — that they could overcome.

“We learned through hard work and perseverance that we could reach our goals,” she said.

It was fitting that graduate Blakeley Halloran’s performance of “Rise Up” should follow Ruiz’s speech. When Dillon introduced her, she said Halloran should be on “The Voice,” the singing competition show — but the audience wasn’t prepared for her powerful rendition of Andra Day’s soulful hit.

“That was awesome!” one man in the audience screamed out as the last note faded, unleashing a wave of cheers.

Then, Levana Ascencio Barrios, gave her valedictory speech, opening with a nod to her own personal struggle.

“Dad, losing you didn’t make me give up,” she said. “It made me work harder.”

She thanked Liberty’s teachers and the audience before offering a few words of advice to her fellow graduates.

“No matter how hard life gets, no matter what bumps we hit, never give up. That’s the easy way out,” she said.

Jose Santillan offered one final performance before diplomas were handed out. He’d never played guitar before transferring to Liberty in the fall, but took the guitar classes the high school offers.

Now, 10 months later, he was able to navigate the tricky melody for “Cherry Wine,” to the delight of the audience.

Afterward came the most triumphant part of the ceremony, as each student stepped forward to accept their diploma and shake hands with Lodi Unified trustees George Neely and Bonnie Cassel.

And then, diplomas in hand, tassels dutifully transferred to the left sides of their caps, and the notes of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” filling the theater, all that was left to do was file onto the grounds of Hutchins Street Square for hugs and photos — and their next adventure.




By Nicholas Filipas
Record Staff Writer

LODI — There’s a good chance that if you attended school in Stockton and Lodi over the past 45 years, you’ve probably crossed paths with Bill Toledo.

A gentle and kind man with a warm presence has quite the legacy, considering he’s been working in education for almost a half-century.

Serving the past seven of those years as director of the Child Welfare and Attendance department of the Lodi Unified School District, he’s not one that is necessarily comfortable with a lot of attention. Although it’s hard to go anywhere around town without being recognized by any number of former students, many now with kids of their own.

Toledo is set to retire on June 22, and while speaking from his office in the outskirts of west Lodi, he said he has mixed feelings about the end of his working career. But, he said, it finally feels right.

“I’ve set forth to retire three separate times, I’ve always thought ‘I’m not ready;’ I think I’m ready now,” Toledo said.

Toledo, 68, originally made his way to Stockton in 1968 from Azusa, a town northeast of Los Angeles, on a football scholarship to University of the Pacific.

Working directly in education was not a career that Toledo had thought he would take up; he enjoyed being around young people and shaping them to be the best people and athletes they possibly could be. At Pacific, he earned several degrees in psychology, physical education and counseling.

In 1973, while in a program at Pacific that assisted in earning teaching credentials, Toledo got a call from a former Tigers football coach who had moved to Franklin High School about an open teaching position, made available by someone on maternity leave.

“In those days, you could arrange things like that,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a little bit different now.”

He took the offer at Franklin High and aside from coaching, taught Spanish and history for a year. Toledo caught wind of a counselor opening at a high school in Hollister, and wound up spending a decade there, working his way up to vice principal.

Toledo then came back to Stockton in 1984 to become vice principal at Lincoln High School. From there, he served as vice principal at Sierra Middle School and principal at Sture Larsson High School, with a second stint at Lincoln High.

It wasn’t until 1996 when Toledo said he sought out a career change to venture into a new field: business. But a year removed was enough time for him to realize, he said, that education was his calling.

“It was what I enjoyed doing,” he said, and he came back to take head administration jobs at Lodi High, Bear Creek High and Plaza Robles High until 2013, when he took over the Child Welfare and Attendance department.

Toledo and his team of nine attendance advisers worked to improve school attendance rates and overall school climate while keeping an eye on the 32,000 children enrolled in Lodi Unified, especially those who are chronically absent.

“Kids always come first,” Toledo said. “Policies and (regulations) are made to govern kids, but I think it’s got to be more of a learning process for them rather than just a consequence.”

Lodi Unified Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer said the community has been fortunate to have Toledo serve in the district.

“Lodi Unified greatly appreciates Mr. Toledo for the many years of service he has provided to students, parents, and staff. He is an outstanding administrator and a wonderful person,” she said. “Mr. Toledo has a heart for students and has worked hard to make sure that all students have every opportunity possible to succeed.”

Bear Creek High Principal Hillary Harrell added: “Few educators are as well-regarded as Mr. Toledo. He is a man of great integrity and he is known throughout the Bear Creek community as someone who cares deeply for all students. He will be missed.”

Toledo said the district, which has schools from north Stockton to Acampo, is seeing steady increases in student attendance and expulsion rates trending down.

When asked what he’s most proud of during his years in the department, he highlighted the push in reintroducing an attendance review board, where parents come to a hearing once a child has reached a certain level of attendance violations to find solutions and be reinstated in the classroom.

“It may seem negative, but it’s a real proactive state that we’re holding parents accountable,” Toledo said. “There’s not a 6-, 7- or 8-year-old that doesn’t want to go to school. In most cases, it’s the parents that are not making the effort to get them there. It’s not the most positive thing I’ve implemented, but a very needed process.”

Current Bear Creek High Vice Principal Allen Dosty is set to take Toledo’s place as director, and Toledo has all the confidence in the world that the district can further develop alternative solutions to keep kids in school.

Once his retirement is official, Toledo said he’s most looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Claudia Toledo, their 10-year-old son Joseph, two adult children and his five grandchildren. He said he has no desire to return to Southern California.

“I want to rekindle old friendships with some of colleagues who have retired and spend more time with my grandkids,” he said. “It’s been a long career, I really don’t think there was any other field I would’ve wanted to go into. I never regretted going into the decision to go into education.

“It’s been a good, good career ... a wonderful career.”

Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or nfilipas@recordnet.com. Follow him on recordnet.com/filipasblog or on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.





Posted: Monday, August 29, 2016 11:23 pm

Lodi high schoolers look to the future By Christina Cornejo/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

The timeless question of “What do I do after high school?,” was made a bit clearer for some students who were grabbing pamphlets and watching demonstrations at Bear Creek High School on Monday night.

Thousands of students, parents and family members streamed into the two gyms at the high school for Lodi Unified School District’s annual College and Career Night.


“Even if you don’t want to go to college, you should go to one of these,” said Izaak Gabriel, a senior at Tokay High School. “All these people help you to find out what you want to be. They give a lot of advice.”

His friend Eric Gonzalez, also a Tokay High student, also found it useful as a senior thinking about where he wants to go to college.

More than 100 presenters arrived from state and private colleges, technical schools and local places of employment to give students guidance on career paths that might be of interest. New this year were several presentations helping students navigate applying for financial aid and for those interested in applying to out-of-state colleges.

The goal in putting this together is to show students that there are a lot of opportunities out there that they might not have known about in areas such as fitness training, aviation mechanics arts and music, according to Cindy Mettler, one of the program organizers and district coordinator for the AVID program.

Representing a unique career in the wine and agricultural industries was David Langone, an assistant viticulturist from Vino Farms. On display were several examples of typical diseases and pests that afflict grapevines — fungal pathogens like botrytis.

“It’s like being an advisor or a consultant,” he said.

A typical day for Langone is riding on ATVs through the fields looking for signs of potential pest problems. He then would go back and make a report on the sightings and recommend treatments.

For this job, he recommends students go to college and study a science degree while also looking into getting a pest control adviser license. This requires 42 units of classes and study of pest management.

Local schools like Humphreys College in Stockton, which has degrees in business and law were also represented at the fair, offering a free summer class in any subject to all high school students. “Not many people seem to know about us. We’re the best-kept secret in Stockton,” said April Huerta, assistant director of special programs at Humphreys.

Representatives from their court reporting program had brought out equipment to show their unique keyboard for typing down court proceedings and depositions.

“It’s a career that’s very much in demand and is not expected to be taken over by technology. It’s challenging and financially rewarding,” said Kay Reindl, department chair of court reporting at Humphreys College.

The program teaches legal and medical terminology and the language of the oddly designed keyboard they use, which only has a few consonants and all the vowels except for “I”. Average wages for a court reporter range from $45,000 to $65,000, Reindl said.

In another building, a technical school based in Oakland called the Aviation Institute of Maintenance was promoting a unique career in working on the mechanical parts of planes.

“I always tell the guys who like working on engines and cares that it’s three steps up from that,” said Thomas Rhymes, community outreach coordinator for the school.

The 21-month program, which only accepts 25 people per class may lead to jobs at major air carriers such as United and Boeing. Average salary for an aviation mechanic is on average $56,000 in the nation and $64,000 in Northern California, Rhymes said.

High schoolers enjoyed looking for other careers throughout the fair as well, such as nursing, electrician work and accounting. But even younger kids marveled at robots from Lincoln Technical Academy and learned more about careers themselves.

“It’s nice to see young people of all ages — not just high school students, but young children, coming to this,” said Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer.

The career fair is put on about the end of every August, so if your family missed this one, another opportunity will arise next year.

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodinews.com




By Nicholas Filipas
Record Staff Writer

Posted Aug. 29, 2016 at 8:41 PM
Updated Aug 29, 2016 at 9:05 PM

STOCKTON — Before the doors to the main gymnasium and theater at Bear Creek High School were set to open at 5:30 p.m., thousands of Lodi Unified students and their families were ready to begin the process of asking questions and gathering information about the next level in their education.

Bear Creek High was the site of the ninth annual College and Career Planning Night on Monday. The yearly two-hour event enables juniors from the district’s four high schools and their families to meet with more than 90 representatives.

The free event had booths set up for students to connect with six University of California schools, nine California State universities, as well as private and military representatives and businesses like Lodi Electric about potential careers.

“It’s a well-rounded representation,” said Kim Collier, a Lodi Unified district official who helped plan the event. The main gym was already bustling 10 minutes into the event and Collier said vendors would be answering questions until the doors were closed for the night.

“It’s a madhouse. It ends pretty early, but there will be people here talking to a rep until we lock the doors — which I think is great,” she said.

Several colleges and universities that were available included California State University, Chico, the University of San Francisco, Seton Hall and Oregon State. Fliers were given and many students carried plastic bags to hold booklets and information cards. In the theater next door, presentations on financial aid were given.

Dennis Jones, a West Coast regional admissions coordinator with Maryville University, a private college in St. Louis, said students who are starting to think about applying for college should apply for as many as they want so they have options.

“Apply anywhere they are interested in, even if they think the price tag or sticker price looks too expensive,” Jones said. “I would still apply to whatever you’re interested in. We always tell students because you might be surprised where you get into for a lot of reasons.”

Sixteen-year-old Chris Shout, along with brother Nathan Shout, 14, and mother Tonya Shout, were eager to browse booths and get some of their questions answered about admissions and academics.

Chris Shout said he plans to major in mechanical engineering.

“I’m interested in just knowing the colleges are here and seeing what kind of majors they acquire and admissions,” he said.

— Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or nfilipas@recordnet.com. Follow him on recordnet.com/filipasblog or on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.



By Kyla Cathey/Special to the News-Sentinel Lodi News-Sentinel

Melissa Zermeno, a teacher with Lodi Unified School District, got a pleasant surprise this week: She is one of five California teachers to win an AVID Teacher Advocacy Award.

With the award comes $10,000 that Zermeno and the Lodi district can use to expand the AVID program at local schools.

“I’m still somewhat in shock over it. I’ve been in shock since I got that first phone call,” Zermeno said.

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Most of the winners are surprised, said Rob Gira, executive vice president of the AVID program. They’re supposed to be.

“It’s a statewide competition. They don’t put their names in for this. They’re nominated by someone who knows their work,” he said.

Zermeno was nominated for the honor by the district AVID coordinator, Cindy Mettler.

The award was established in 2013 by an anonymous donor who wanted to give back to educators in California, especially those who work with the AVID program, Gira said.

Competition is stiff, he added.

“This award is one of the great joys that we have,” Gira said.

What is AVID?

AVID — short for Advancement Via Individual Determination — is a nonprofit college preparation program.

At Lodi Middle School, where Zermeno has taught for the past five years, there is an AVID elective class students can enroll in, as well as programs and workshops to help teachers implement AVID techniques in their own classroom.

The techniques students learn in the elective class include how to read texts critically, how to take notes, the best ways to participate in classroom discussions, and other academic, study and interpersonal skills such as networking.

“Every kid is learning how to write at a higher level, how to read critically, how to ask those questions whether to find out a piece of information or push that group discussion,” Zermeno said.

The students also get a hands-on look at life in college, both through field trips to visit local campuses, and from visits by college students who come to the class as mentors and tutors twice each week.

The college-aged mentors help tutor students with their classwork, as well as sharing information about college classes, application tips and more, Zermeno said.

Field trips go to area Universities of California, California State Universities, and private colleges like University of the Pacific.

When the kids first step foot on campus, “They get the widest eyes,” Zermeno said. By the end of each trip, they’re enthusiastically discussing going to that college, and even asking other students if they want to be roommates.

“It’s been a fun class to teach the past few years. I’m kind of sad I won’t have my own class to teach next year,” Zermeno said.

While Zermeno has been a dedicated AVID teacher, she has been invited by Lodi Unified to serve as an instructional coach for other teachers as the district rolls out a new English arts curriculum next year.

Next steps for Zermeno

As an instructional coach, Zermeno will serve as a guide for teachers as they work the new curriculum into their classroom lessons and implement new learning strategies, she said.

The move may not be a surprise to anyone who knows her. According to Gira, nominees for the award are selected based on their achievements in leadership, overcoming a professional challenge, or advocating for students.

“Melissa was chosen for leadership,” he said — though he noted that all of the winners stand out in all three areas.

As for the monetary prize, Zermeno hopes to use it to help train more non-AVID teachers in AVID organizational and study skills, so they can pass it on to their students, as well as funding more field trips to colleges.

“There’s also the idea of purchasing binders for the students,” she joked. “A lot of people associate the AVID students with big binders. We kind of joke that we love big binders and we cannot lie.”

Zermeno was grateful for the recognition.


Posted: Friday, June 10, 2016 11:41 pm

S.J. County honors LUSD teacher By Christina Cornejo/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

Adrianne Go-Miller, a fifth-grade teacher at Elkhorn School, works hard to challenge her students in the classroom and give them important life skills to take with them throughout their lives.

This past school year, she was able to offer her class an exploratory learning experience in coding with tiny robots called Ozobots, with help from students and their parents and other teachers.


Students spent a week working together in figuring out how these robots worked on their own before she directed them on what they could do. It’s part of her philosophy in getting students to learn from “failures,” which she models as something they can fix and grow from.

“It’s something you can’t learn from a book,” she said.

This project was an opportunity for students to learn and find a more meaningful experience in new discovery, rather than being told what to do. It is one of the many projects and ways that Go-Miller has enhanced the learning experience of students in her classroom.

Her passion and dedication to teaching in the classroom and beyond were some of countless reasons why the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) named Go-Miller the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year on Thursday night. Earlier this year she was also named Teacher of the Year within the Lodi Unified School District.

“She takes the best approach to assist every student, knowing that every student learns in a different way,” said Elkhorn Principal Pat White, who nominated her for this award.

White offered several compliments to Go-Miller’s teaching in her nomination including the way she introduces the Socratic method of questioning to engage students in critical thinking to inviting a therapy dog named Rosie into the classroom during book discussions to encourage students to participate.

That dog has moved away with her owner, but will occasionally make an appearance in the classroom through Skype video conferencing, Go-Miller said.

Before becoming a teacher, Go-Miller received her bachelor’s in journalism from California State University Fresno and once had a brief summer internship at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She eventually migrated to education, where she found a passion for working with children. Teaching is in her family — her mother worked as a kindergarten teacher in Lodi Unified School District for many years. She knew she wasn’t cut out for teaching kindergarten, but found a nice fit with fifth graders.

“Maybe in my heart, I’m still a 10-year-old,” she said jokingly. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Go-Miller credits the many great mentors she’s had who have helped her along the way to becoming the teacher she is today.

She pays it forward by mentoring and teaching other teachers as an instructor at the SJCOE’s Teacher’s College, with the Making Sense of Science team and on a teacher training team for Next Generation Science Standards.

Her advice to aspiring teachers: “Learn from everyone around you. Everyone has something to offer. It’s what has gotten me to where I am. Take every opportunity to learn, because we never stop learning,” she said.

Go-Miller continues to learn as a student herself. She holds two masters degrees — the first in curriculum and instruction from the University of the Pacific and the second in educational psychology with an emphasis in gifted education from the University of Connecticut. She is now studying to receive a doctorate in educational administration.

On Thursday, she was honored along with several other nominees for the award. Go-Miller also received $1,000 from Premier Community Credit Union, a long-time supporter of educators in San Joaquin County and co-sponsor of the annual awards banquet for teachers and classified school employees.

As the San Joaquin County Teacher of the Year, her application will be submitted to the state for consideration as the California Teacher of the Year.

“I’m honored by the recognition. It was humbling as I sat there (Thursday) night and watched videos of the other finalists. I’m in awe of the work other teachers have done,” Go-Miller said. “Teaching is a tough job. It’s nice to be recognized.”

Contact reporter Christina Cornejo at christinac@lodi news.com.


Middle College High student to graduate later this week

  • Lodi Unified senior earns nine college degrees

Lodi Unified senior earns nine college degrees


Dangelo earned 9 associates degrees


Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2017 6:00 am

Lodi Unified senior earns nine college degrees By Danielle Vaughn/News-Sentinel Staff Writer Lodi News-Sentinel

Middle College High School student D’Angelo Martinez is back at it again. The high school senior has earned three more associate degrees from San Joaquin Delta College making it nine degrees total since the beginning of his high school career.

Over the years, Martinez has earned associate degrees in the areas of arts and humanities, Spanish, teacher education preparation, business, retail management and merchandising, mathematics and science. He is now adding degrees in social and behavioral science and business along with an additional degree in Spanish to his roster.

“I had the opportunity to take college classes in the morning and it was just up to me how much of a big work load that I wanted to take,” he said. “With that I took the opportunity and made the most of it by packing in as many college classes as I could to try not only get the degrees done but also save time and money as the classes are also transferable to my university.”

Martinez feels that getting a college education at a younger age was very valuable to him and taught him a lot. In order to complete all of his degrees Martinez was forced to make several sacrifices including giving up football and missing out on various social events like school dances. Despite the many sacrifices he had to make he doesn’t regret a thing.

“My whole time was consumed by school work, but it’s not that it was a burden because it obviously helped me become who I am today, and I enjoyed learning so all the time I had to give up was worth it,” he said.

His family and his desire to help others fueled his motivation to complete his associate degrees.

“I just want to help others and inspire people, and I really want to help my family and community but also want to help make an impact much bigger than that,” he said. “I knew that with hard work and dedication if I could just impact one life I would have accomplished my goal.”

Martinez is set to receive his final three associates degrees when he graduates from San Joaquin Delta on May 25. He will graduate high school May 26.

Not only will Martinez be graduating high school with nine associates degrees but he was also accepted to at least 12 universities including all nine of the Universities of California as well as University of the Pacific, San Diego State and San Jose State.

He will be attending the University of California Davis in the fall.

“I was definitely going to go to a UC, but out of all of the UCs I felt UC Davis was the one that will help me grow more and prosper more because it had more opportunities not only with research but just as way to develop better,” Martinez said.

At UC Davis Martinez will major in biological sciences with the goal of becoming a physician. He did want to be a doctor at first but after participating in the Decision Medicine summer program he changed his mind.

“It introduced me to the medical field and I saw just how much help a doctor can give not only with medicine but the impact they can have on someone’s life. That’s something I feel like I won’t get tired of and I can do everyday.”

Martinez hopes his accomplishments will encourage others to reach their goals.

“I just want to show that no matter what your current situation is or what you’re going through anything is possible and don’t try to set your limits low just shoot for the moon,” he said. “ Anything is possible with dedication and hardwork. I just want to show that even though you feel like you’re not privy or you’re in area or situation that you can’t prosper that it can be done. I just want to help not only younger people but show people it’s never too late to just do what you want to do and enjoy your life.”