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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 16 ~ Nov. 8, 2000

When honorees are given a microphone, I hope they say, "Thank you very much; I appreciate it," and sit down. I cringe when they pull out a stack of three-by-five cards. But this time I was pleasantly surprised. If Monrovia's Teacher of the Year, Susie Koon, is half as good a teacher as she is a speaker, Plymouth School has a treasure.
~ Brad Haugaard (

SPEECHES ~ I figured Teacher of the Year Susie Koon (oddly, Teacher of the Year for 2001 - but I guess they figure she'll still be good next year) was pretty popular before the board meeting even started. It takes a lot to get a full house, but there it was - full. We had speeches (one person brought a baggie she called a "Susie Koon Kit" (an eraser shaped like a brain because she works on kids brains [I thought she erased brains for a moment], a candle because she shines brightly, and so forth). Someone else went over her career. Started at Mayflower as a kindergarten teacher, at Bradoaks, and now at Plymouth, mentor teacher, motivational speaker, etc., etc. There was even a choir that sang an ode to her, to the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown. But for all that, what I liked best was what came from Susie herself.

CHEESECAKE ~ Every morning, Susie said, she and her husband have a ritual. He asks, "Where are you going?" And she replies, "I'm off to make the world a better place." She's got to encourage herself that way, she said, because teaching is a hard profession. "But remember!" she added, "No matter how hard it gets, it can always be made better by eating a whole cheesecake at a single sitting."

FORMED & ESTABLISHED ~ Monrovia has a new school - Mountain Park School. It handles about 150 students, kindergarten through 12th grade, and is located at 950 S. Mountain Ave. Superintendent Louise Taylor said the school - which handles home-schoolers, independent study students, and students in other non-traditional programs - has been "a nomad" for the last decade, but has finally recieved its own campus. Teaching Assistant Principal Ellen Lavin, who helps run the place, said thank you to the board, and by the way, How about giving us more staff? Although the school was "formed and established" tonight (so it can get a state code), it's been functioning for a bit now. In fact, Taylor said the board couldn't take this action until the school was "formed and running." So... the board couldn't "form and establish" it until it was "formed and running?" I'm confused. Anyway, its mascot is the owl - for wisdom.

FRUSTRATED ~ I asked last time - after Board member Bruce Carter said the he has "never seen evidence" of textbook shortages in Monrovia schools" - if anybody had any direct experience with textbook shortages at their children's schools. One parent wrote to say her daughter, who is a sixth grader at Clifton (and "loves it") has not been issued a take-home science book, although at back-to-school night the teacher said that the books (classroom and take-home) had arrived. "We still have not seen the book," the parent wrote. Consequently, she added, "there have been no homework assignments in this class, which might seem okay, except the teacher has indicated that [my daughter] is struggling in this class and we feel helpless to help her because all work is done in the classroom. I do not know if this means there is a shortage of some sort, but I do know we are frustrated by this occurrance."

ELECTED OFFICIALS ~ With the presidential election on the top of my mind (Wow! What a wild one. Huh?), I've started thinking about what the ideal school board would be like. I think it should have one or maybe two people from the education field. (More than that would start to get a bit incestuous.) Plus a "social" member or two, by which I mean those folks who are members of a bunch of clubs and community organizations. They're great for keeping in touch with the community. Finally, I think you need one or two old-fashioned, hard-nosed business executives for that cut-through-the-nonsense, bottom-line orientation. Yeah. A couple business people - I think that's what the Monrovia board needs.

BADGER ~ Maybe the work order slipped behind somebody's desk at the nameplate company. I can't imagine any other reason that the nameplates for the staff members who sit up front still don't show their titles. How's anybody watching on cable or from the audience supposed to know who's who? Surely they're on order by now. Do you think if I stopped writing about it for a while they could get this done without it looking like I badgered them into it?

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next board meeting is on Dec. 13, 2000 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. Hey! I've just discovered that the city has a Web page that includes the agenda of the next board meeting, so you can see if there's anything going on that would make the meeting worth attending. It's at:, way down on the bottom left of the page.

Copyright (c) 2000, Brad Haugaard