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Rowe teachers want their children to attend school

The RSF Faculty Association President Amanda Valentine is seen walking with her daughter last year during a teacher demonstration.
(Karen Billing)

R. Roger Rowe School teachers are hoping that the district will consider amending its policy regarding allowing teachers’ children to attend Rowe School.

As part of ongoing negotiations with the Rancho Santa Fe School District, the Rancho Santa Fe Faculty Association (RSFFA) has proposed adding language to its contracts allowing teachers’ children to be enrolled. Previously teachers’ children were allowed to be enrolled per Board Policy 4111. That policy was amended at the end of the school year in 2016, limiting the enrollment to only teachers’ children previously enrolled and their siblings.

“Since I was a fifth grader myself, my goal in life was to become a teacher and have a family,” said fifth grade teacher Kristin Gerding, whose son will be a kindergartner in the 2018-19 school year and her daughter will start school in 2021-22. “Last year, I was heartbroken when I was told my children might not have the opportunity to come to school with me.”

Gerding and drama teacher Heidi Moreno both advocated for the board to continue to allow teachers’ children to attend the school during public comment at the May 4 board meeting.

Moreno’s daughter will be in kindergarten next year and she and her husband Tony, who has been involved with the school as the theater photographer for four years, want her to be a part of the “dynamic” and “incredible” school.

“To be able to have our daughter join us in this community would give us a chance to be even more invested in R. Roger Rowe as parents,” Moreno said. “Serving as a PTA member, volunteering for arts and sports programs, and supporting our daughter’s future teachers is something I care deeply about. And it would make me a better educator for your children if I don’t have to split my time between two different schools.”

Moreno said her mother was a theater professor who wrote and directed countless plays and assemblies at her elementary and middle school.

“I know firsthand that my mother’s passion for teaching was elevated when I was allowed to be a part of it,” Moreno said, growing emotional speaking about having that same opportunity with her own daughter.

Gerding said of all the memorable moments at Rowe, her favorites have come during eighth and fifth grade promotion ceremonies when teacher-parents are allowed to hand over certificates and share a warm embrace with their promoting child.

“It wasn’t until I became a parent four years ago that this moment brought tears to my eyes,” Gerding said, hoping she could participate in the same tradition with her children.

As both teachers noted, teachers with students in the school are very invested: First grade teacher Jen Olson coordinates robotics after school hours, computer teacher Jackie Mendez coaches volleyball and is the yearbook coordinator. Principal Kim Pinkerton often eats lunch with her daughter and her little friends, and teacher Steve Riviere often hosted his daughter and her friends in his classroom at lunch, an open-door policy that has continued even after his daughter graduated.

“It seems so natural for teachers to have their own children in school with them,” Gerding said.

Parent Amy Brown also spoke in support of the teachers. She shared her own experiences bringing her daughter to work with her and the impact it had.

“I hope all teachers have that same experience, it is so meaningful and important and one of the great things that this district has always offered,” Brown said.

The faculty association and the district cannot comment on ongoing contract negotiations, but Amanda Valentine, president of the RSFFA, said they are hoping for a positive outcome on this topic.

The board is also set to discuss the revision of Board Policy 6028 regarding the continued enrollment of children whose parents are temporarily not residing in the district at the June board meeting.


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