Carver Elementary

Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
Dr. Steve Park was the San Marino City Club’s keynote speaker for its March meeting.

During his keynote address for the City Club’s March meeting, San Marino resident Dr. Steve Park provided an overview of his life which includes service as a United States Navy medical officer and career as a hospitalist.
In retrospect, an argument could be made that the subject of memory retention would have also sufficed, as Park’s is apparently as sound as the proverbial steel trap.
So is former San Marino educator Loren Kleinrock’s, Park’s former assistant principal during his days at San Marino High School and offensive coordinator for the Titan football team, for which Park was a record-setting wide receiver.
In vivid detail, Park recalled Kleinrock busting him for going to a buddy’s house for lunch even though he was not yet a privileged senior. Kleinrock, meanwhile, recalled one time Park didn’t perfectly execute one of his pass patterns. That these transgressions took place almost 30 years ago was incidental and only seemed to heighten the mutual respect that exists between them to this day.

As dedicated volunteers, working intimately at each of our San Marino School sites, we are devastated at the failure of Measure E. Despite PTA and community efforts to support the Measure E campaign, it failed to pass by 120 votes. On March 9, the School Board voted to eliminate 41.2 positions throughout San Marino Schools. We are heartbroken for our students, teachers and staff.

The library tower of San Marino’s Carver Elementary School is an impressive bastion in a school district once again named number one in the state, but it’s the transformation happening inside that foreshadows the successful futures of San Marino’s youngest students.

Renovations are underway in the library to gear Carver students for the future with a space centered on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, learning.

Soon, they’ll be creating, competing and experiencing hands-on activities in the flexible Makerspace that includes a Lego wall and table, robot kits, a SMART Board and whiteboard in addition to 12,000 new books in shelves, on wheels—and that’s key, because this space will soon be home to STEM, robotics and “First Lego League” competitions.

“This is the center of Carver, and it’s really become our learning hub,” Principal Michael Lin said.

It will be the first time the school will be competing in robotics and the First Lego League, an extracurricular afterschool program that asks student teams to investigate real-world problems and respond with innovative solutions. The teams will be coached by Carver parent volunteers and meet afterschool and on weekends. The initiative is supported by the San Marino Unified School District with contributions from League parents.

With bookshelves that fit seamlessly together and glide out of the way, students can be free to work and build within the library space, and outside of it, with STEM learning continuing throughout the campus.

Carver’s science lab has also been transformed into a STEM space, and students were busy inside creating with tape and popsicle sticks during a “free explore” lesson last Friday.

Structures built by student teams for a STEM lesson that revolved around hurricane infrastructure design. Photo by Camille Lozano

Students in another class worked in groups to design “hurricane towers;” especially relevant given the international destruction within the past month. The teams created structures that could hold a ball, then tested their models.

“Science is no longer science,” Lin said. “It has to be real, relevant and tied to real experiences—it’s so much more meaningful.”

Art is now integrated with engineering, science with language arts–fusions brought on through Next Generation Science Standards and explored through innovative programming at the elementary school.

Carver Elementary Principal Michael Lin showcases one of the school’s programmable robots in the STEM lab. Photo by Camille Lozano

“Even though [the district is] number one, there’s still room for improvement, we still have to experiment, take risks and try to innovate, we cannot sit still,” Lin said.

Colorful posters on the wall in the STEM lab spelled out a question: What’s in the “mystery box?” along with students’ steps to solve the proposed problem. Principal Lin stressed it’s not about finding the answer, but the steps involved in analyzing and critically thinking to work toward a solution.

And right next door to the library, the computer lab is equipped with a 3D printer for prototype creation and a green screen, “so kids can explore and be anywhere, even outer space.”

3D printed cup holder prototype designed by a 1st grader at Carver Elementary. Photo by Camille Lozano

Recently, 5 and 6-year-old students experimented with line forms in art class and creating 3D printed cup holders as gifts for family. With the help of technicians and teachers, the students were able to fuse the concepts into unique, personalized creations.

Experiences like this are what drive Principal Lin, who said he’s dedicated 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day to planning, communicating and organizing his goals, priorities and programs at the school.

“It’s a labor of love, and I think parents and staff see that,” he said. “I told parents this was an infrastructure building year, but it’s notjust building, it’s that human element of retaining professionals, experts and parents who are excited about seeing our students succeed.”

In memory of a treasured, longtime Rotarian, the Rotary Club of San Marino recently awarded more than $10,000 in grants to innovative teachers at San Marino-area schools.

The William G. ‘Bill’ Steele, Jr. Mini-Grants were presented to individual teachers from Carver Elementary School, Huntington Middle School, San Marino High School, Clairbourn School, Southwestern Academy and Sts. Felicitas & Perpetua School on Friday, Oct. 28 in the Crowell Public Library’s Barth Community Room.

Rotarians Calvin Lo and Mary Johnson co-chaired the mini-grants program this year.

“This is a wonderful program that Rotary Club is sponsoring,” Lo said.

“This year we did something a little bit different,” San Marino Rotary Club President Gilda Moshir said. “We didn’t let you know who the winners are.”

In previous years, the grant recipients were told they received the grant prior to the ceremony. Moshir said she hopes that those who applied and didn’t receive a grant aren’t deterred from applying in the future.

“We are so proud to be serving the community,” she said. “We’ve had this mini-grant now since 1998 and it’s what we give back to the community, to the teachers in the classrooms.”

The projects for the grants of as much as $500 apiece were to “encourage vision and creativity in the classroom.” There were 36 applicants this year.

Lo went over some of the guidelines that the William G. ‘Bill’ Steele Mini-Grant Committee were looking for, such as: “promoting a passion and curiosity for learning,” “presenting new challenges to encourage student creativity” and “enriching the classroom experience with innovation.”

Last year’s mini-grant Chair Fang Fang Ho said committee members rely on teachers and principals to work hand-in-hand with Rotary to make the program successful.

The grant money broke down to: $4,311 to Carver Elementary, $315 to Clairbourn School, $1,450 to San Marino High School, $1,159 to Southwestern Academy and $2,259 to Sts. Felicitas & Perpetua School.

Several of the teachers explained their projects.

“I applied for a program called Hands-on Equations,” Clairbourn School teacher Kimberlee Maltbie said. “I found it through the National Council of Math Teachers. What it does is it allows younger students to have time with algebraic equations without using variables. They actually have scales and different things that represent the numbers to balance the scale all through manipulatives.”

HMS teacher Rob Miller will use the grant funds for an interpretive speech mirror.

“In my speech program, the performers need a mirror when they’re rehearsing,” he said, also announcing that HMS will be hosting a TED Talk on March 17, 2017.

SMHS teacher Jamie Linton, who is the facilitator of the school’s Girls Who Code Club, requested funding for hardware for the club that encourages female interest in coding.

Sts. Felicitas & Perpetua teacher Jayne MacLellan talked about the LittleBits machine she will use the grant money to purchase.

“It’s a small machine that each group can re-build differently and make an art project out of it,” she said.

Lo said the club wouldn’t be presenting the mini-grants if it weren’t for Rotarian Andy Barth, who funded the majority of the mini-grant program.

He told the story of how the mini-grant program began. Barth, who served on the San Marino School Board for eight years beginning in 1997, asked then-San Marino Unified School District Superintendent Jack Rose if there was something that could be done to directly improve the teaching environment for the educators. He said Rose suggested donating money toward a mini-grant program to inspire teachers to think creatively, make up for the lack of funding from the state and to directly benefit the children in the community.

“I’d been fortunate and lucky enough professionally that at one point in time, I was able to set it up so this program is now endowed,” Barth said. “We never have to worry about mini-grants going away. Mini-grants will be here long into the future. As long as teachers keep coming up with great ideas on how to teach, we’ll have mini-grants to give to teachers.”

He said the Rotary Club of San Marino was the perfect organization to administer the grants, because of the connection it has with the community and the schools.

Barth added, “We’ve always had a great representation from our school board and from our administrators within Rotary.”

He also spoke about why the mini-grant program was named after Steele.

“If you looked in the dictionary under the words ‘wonderful man,’ you’d find ‘Bill Steele,’” he said. “He always had a great idea and the beneficiary of so many of those great ideas was our schools. Whenever we needed a distinguished member of the community to be a sponsor on our bond issues, our parcel tax or anything like that to help our schools, you could call Bill and he wouldn’t even ask about it. He’d say, ‘If you’re asking me and if it’s good for the schools, I’ll do it.’”

Barth said there was no better way to pay tribute to Steele’s memory and perpetuity than the mini-grant program that will go on forever.

Lo thanked his committee members who were Ho, Scott Kwong, Isaac Hung, Joseph Chang, Rob Feidler, Greg Johansing, Shawn Chou, Dan Maljanian and Fary Yassamy.


Husband-and-wife author team, A.J. Low, stopped by Carver Elementary School during their United States tour for the international “Sherlock Sam” book series.

Adan Jimenez and Felicia Low-Jimenez presented a special “Creating Your Own Heroes” workshop to third grade students on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The couple also signed copies of their two U.S. book releases, “Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning” and “Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong.”

While the A.J. Low team has 11 “Sherlock Sam” books out in Singapore, only two have been released in the U.S. so far.

“We started writing about four years ago now in Singapore,” Jimenez said, explaining that the couple responded to an open call from the publisher for authors.

“(The publisher) had an idea for a chubby, Singaporean detective,” Low-Jimenez said. “Food is very important to Singaporeans and to Singaporean kids, as well. They are huge fans of eating.”

Most of the “Sherlock Sam” books are set in Singapore.

“They’re really cool because they incorporate Singapore culture,” Carver Elementary Librarian Joyce Leckband said, adding that there’s a glossary in the back explaining dialect-specific words that readers might not recognize.

Low-Jimenez said she and her husband have gotten used to writing together.

“Because there’s two of us, we kind of plan the book in a lot of detail before we can start writing,” she said. “We worked all of that out from the beginning.”

The author couple met at a friend’s dinner party in Singapore and had both been working in the publishing industry at the time. Jimenez was born in California’s San Joaquin Valley and spent nearly a decade in New York before moving to Singapore. Low-Jimenez was born and raised in Singapore. “Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong” won the International Schools Libraries Network’s Red Dot Award in the Young Reader’s category for 2013-14. “Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning” received third place in the English Children’s Books category in the Popular Readers’ Choice Awards in 2013.

San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe and Carver Elementary have a partnership to bring authors to the school. The business donated copies of the “Sherlock Sam” series to the Carver Library.

For the first time ever, Carver Elementary will host a Jog-a-thon to raise money for technology at the school.

The Carver Jog-a-Thon 2016 will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the school. Una Battaglia and Jacki Chuang will co-chair the event.

“We typically always do a Math-a-thon at Carver, but we thought it would be fun to do something different,” Battaglia said. “This is the first ever time doing it here at Carver so we’re real excited about it. We thought it would be fun to do it during the week of the election and Veterans Day. We did a patriotic theme.”

She said San Marino police officers and firefighters will kick off the event during the morning of Nov. 9 at 8:15 a.m. with all of the students gathered on the playground. Students will then participate in the Jog-a-thon during their regularly scheduled physical education times during the day. Students will walk, jog or run to upbeat music on a grass field. Prior to the Jog-a-thon, students will collect sponsorships from family and friends. Parents are asked to ensure that their children are dressed in red, white and blue for the Jog-a-thon.

“We need lots of parent helpers, so we’re hoping Carver parents come to cheer on their kids and also help mark them as they complete their laps,” Battaglia said.

Students will receive prizes for most laps completed and for the most donations. Grades with a 75 percent participation level will be treated to an “exclusive ‘athletic’ performance” by Carver Elementary Principal Michael Lin during PE class.

“I think the Jog-a-thon is a good idea for kids who want to run more,” student John Battaglia said. “It will be a big challenge.”

“It’s a good idea to raise money for our school,” student Jack Fuerst said.

The Jog-a-Thon will raise money specifically to update classroom technology, such as Chromebooks and iPads. The goal is that every student raises at least $100 to reach a goal of $60,000.

For more information, contact Battaglia at unabattaglia@gmail.com or Chuang at geneandjacki@yahoo.com.

The phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally” is being put into direct action by more than 50 students at San Marino High School who are a part of Team Thailand, a school-authorized club which supports young people in the village of Mae Sot, Thailand.

A pretty ambitious project, but one close to the hearts of many San Marinans.

The group is in its third year of existence and bears a fascinating legacy. It all began with the energies of Sofia Tam, a 2013 graduate of San Marino High School who passed away on Aug. 17, 2013, just two months after receiving her diploma from SMHS after a courageous two-year battle against brain cancer. While a 5th grader at Carver Elementary School, Sofia’s teacher, Erin Terzieff, paid a visit to an orphanage in Burma that had been created by Sofia’s grandfather. Terzieff visited the orphanage as a last-minute invitee and remains impacted by what she saw during her journey in 2007.

“I was devastated,” Terzieff said recently at Team Thailand’s introductory meeting. “Seeing the way these kids live, I came back feeling a responsibility.”

Mae Sot is home to a substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees. Young people in both Burma and surrounding areas are frequently sold into slavery and taken into the world of sex trafficking.

After her visit, Terzieff started All You Need Is Love, a charity that supports the Good Morning School, a facility for Burmese migrant children living in Mae Sot.

Since its inception in 2007, the Good Morning School has grown from 40 students in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade to 300 students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. The school now includes a high school matriculation program, a 7th and 8th grade summer prep program, early education and arts, music and sports programs.

From its humble beginnings, Good Morning School is now accredited by the Burmese Ministry of Education and was recognized in 2014 as a standout migrant school by the Thai Ministry of Education.

All with the assistance of local students.

Team Thailand was founded at San Marino High School in 2014 by Sofia’s sister, Emma Tam, who was then a junior.

“I wanted to share a great cause that was so important and special to me with my schoolmates and spread awareness for Burmese migrants while keeping Sofia’s legacy alive,” said Emma from Notre Dame University, where she is a freshman. “We sold Thai pants and friendship bracelets that students at the Good Morning School had made. We also fundraised by selling food at Club Day. Eventually, it all went back to the kids at the Good Morning School.”

John Carter, a junior at SMHS, was among those who participated in the founding of the club and is now president. John, his brother Robert and sister, Grace, and their parents, Michele and Tom, have visited the Good Morning School on multiple occasions.

“The school is a safe haven for the young people,” John said. “Just by the mere fact that they wear uniforms. It lets those with bad intentions know that the kids are cared for and are watched over. It keeps them safe from those who would involve them in sex trafficking and slavery.”

Visiting the school has left a lasting impression on the new president.

“The students there are so mature,” John said. “You look at a 3rd grader from there and one from here and there is a huge difference. The young people there are so happy. Their attitude is so different. The kids also work very hard.”

The statistical fortunes of those growing up in Mae Sot are quite opposite to those of their counterparts in San Marino. In Mae Sot, only 1 in 100 children advance past 5th grade; 1 in 5,000 make it to college and 60 percent of young people never make it to school at all.

“The light is the Good Morning School,” said Terzieff. “It helps them get a leg up.”

John Carter hopes to “raise money and awareness of the issue” and said he hopes to be part of a delegation that returns to the Good Morning School.

More information is available at allyouneedislovecharity.com, and John Carter and Team Thailand can be reached at San Marino High School.

Susy Powert is 3 years old, battling cancer and needs your help. It’s as simple as that.

The daughter of Jason Powert, Carver Elementary School’s computer lab instructor, Susy is in need of a bone marrow transplant.

This Sunday, Sept. 11, the community can answer a vital 9-1-1 call by being screened as a potential donor by visiting the Thurnher House in Lacy Park between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Individuals of all races between the ages of 18 and 44 are encouraged to provide a non-invasive cheek swab in this initial screening to determine a potential match. It’s as simple as that.

Susy, daughter of Carver Elementary School computer lab instructor Jason Powert and his wife Patricia, was diagnosed with leukemia at 14 months of age. She has been undergoing treatment at the City of Hope in Duarte and is desperately in need of a bone marrow donor. Current and past Carver parents Diana Wolfrank and Jennifer Giles felt the need to organize this event on behalf of the family.

“I was on board right from the start,” said Wolfrank. “Whatever I could do to spread the word through our community of Susy’s need, I knew I needed to do it.”

Giles felt a similar calling.

“I was unaware of how easy it is to get screened as a potential donor; I’m just disappointed I don’t meet the requirements,” she told The Tribune. “With this event, I can still support the Powert family in their efforts to locate a donor for Susy.”

The search for a bone marrow donor is sponsored by Be The Match, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program – a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping patients get the life-saving transplants they need. Every three minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer like leukemia. For many, their only hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant.

Further information can be obtained at www.bethematch.org or by calling Joyce Valdez, community outreach specialist, at (626) 373-4000.

Community members may also be privately tested at home and have the sample sent to the lab. Call Valdez for home-testing info. For reference purposes, use the full name Susana ‘Susy’ June Powert.

Current Huntington Middle School Assistant Principal Michael Lin was named by the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education on Friday, June 3 to replace retiring Carver Elementary School Principal Liz Hollingsworth.

It is believed that Lin will be the first Asian American to head one of the SMUSD’s schools.

Lin was recommended by district Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss and was chosen out of a pool of 41 candidates.

Cherniss said he’s been really impressed with Lin this past school year.

“He came to us highly recommended and it took very little time to understand why,” he said. “Michael quickly established a rapport with the staff at HMS and gained their respect. The parent community also raved about his dedication to his job and to the students. I expect the Carver community to feel the same way.”

“He has the depth and breadth of experience that we thought would make him a great fit for Carver school,” School Board President Nam Jack said. “He had been an elementary principal, and he had done a great job as the assistant principal at Huntington Middle School. He had also been the director of technology at Temple City. We’re very excited to have him begin his tenure at Carver School.”

Lin said he was “absolutely thrilled” about his new position, which he will begin on July 1.

After working for the San Marino Unified School District for 38 years, Hollingsworth announced on April 12 that she planned to retire. She was principal at Carver Elementary School for 21 years.

Lin said he’s humbled to be replacing someone with such a successful tenure.

“She leaves behind a positive climate and legacy,” he said. “It’s a true honor to follow in her footsteps.”

Lin, who is a New York City native, joined the SMUSD this past school year and called the school district “fantastic.”

“We have four stellar schools here,” he said. “It’s a very tight-knit community with very supportive parents. We have a district office that is amazing and so are our students, schools foundation, PTA parents, families and the city in general.”

Before working at HMS, Lin was employed by the Temple City Unified School District since 2008 as an administrator, serving in such roles as curriculum coordinator, La Rosa Elementary School principal, principal for special projects and director of technology. He also has taught at Mark Keppel High School in the Alhambra Unified School District and School of the Future charter school in New York City. Lin obtained his bachelor’s degree in engineering from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in Manhattan and earned his master’s degree in business administration and computer information systems from the Zicklin School of Business. He also has a sixth-year degree in educational administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills and is seeking his doctorate degree from Azusa Pacific University.

After losing a former colleague and friend in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Lin changed his path and decided to pursue a career in education to make a difference in the world by teaching young people.

Lin lives in San Gabriel with his wife, Cynthia, and daughters Lydia, 10, and Joyce, 9.

A group of local women are getting fit for summer and giving back to Carver Elementary School at the same time.

Carver mom Michele Canon, who is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, is leading the four-week Carver Beach Body Challenge.

The contest was part of the Fixed Bid Parties at the Carver Hall of Fame Gala that guests were able to buy into to support Carver Elementary. The virtual challenge, which began last week, has participants competing for the title of “the fittest,” which will be determined by who earns the most points for working out and eating clean. Extra points can be earned during Flash Challenges, such as push-up contests, no sugar days and pop quizzes. A private Facebook page will be utilized for food and fitness reporting.

“There’s a score that you report for your nutrition and your daily workouts,” Canon said. “For food, there are guidelines and it’s clean eating. So it’s no sugar and no processed foods. What is allowed is lean proteins, greens and whole grains. It’s basically educating people on how to eat right.”

She said the ideal goal for a day is 10 points. If one happens to consume an unhealthy food, they subtract a point.

“After the food points, there’s the exercise aspect of it,” Canon said. “Fifteen is the perfect score. You give yourself between one and three points depending on the duration.”

A participant’s ‘rate of perceived exertion’ or RPE also factors into the points.

Canon also will offer workouts, fitness tips, nutrition guidelines and motivational support during the challenge.

She started the MC Fit Virtual Beach Body Challenge in early 2014 as a way to get her Michele Canon Fitness & Nutrition clients back on track after the holidays and ready for the beach.

“The first time I did it, I didn’t tie it into the Parent Party,” she said. “But it was so successful, I thought, ‘Hey it would be great if I could get a group of Carver moms and dads in this.’ I did and all the proceeds went to Carver.”

A few months later in 2014, she hosted the first MC Fit Carver Beach Body Challenge.

“I think there was a sense of camaraderie because everyone was at Carver and they all knew each other,” Canon said.

She said this year’s challenge has the most participants ever with 36. The buy-in cost was $50.

Canon herself is participating as well, keeping track of her points.

“The first time I joined the MC Fit Challenge, it was really with the intent of just getting in shape and losing some weight,” San Marino mom Jennifer Chuang said. “However, I quickly discovered that Michele’s simple, no-nonsense approach was more than a weight-loss program – it helped me build healthy habits as a lifestyle and have a ton of fun with other San Marino moms in the process. I love participating in the challenge each year, because Michele is generous with her knowledge – providing tips and recipes for flavorful, healthy eating – high on encouragement, low on guilt and judgments. There’s no shaming or bad feelings in the challenge, which is amazing considering the high accountability of posting your scores visibly to all the other participants.”

“It is so fun and inspiring to be working towards the same fitness and dietary goals with a group of friends, under the leadership of Michele Canon,” San Marino mom Laurie Modean said. “Michele motivates us, as well as gives us nutritional education and direction for our fitness aspirations for this fun summer challenge. It is something to look forward to every year.”

“This is my fourth time participating in Michele’s fitness challenge,” another San Marino mom Homeira Asghari said. “I do it because I always feel my best emotionally and physically after I have completed it.”

Canon has been a personal trainer for 10 years and started her own company approximately eight years ago.

“As a trainer there are different ways to motivate people to workout or workout harder, but the common ground that clients share is that they are all motivated by looking and feeling better,” Canon said. “That is the crux of fitness and nutrition.”

While exercise and eating a healthy diet has important benefits in preventing such ailments as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, Canon said physical changes are more of a motivating factor.

“Looking great in a swimsuit, being able to run a mile without stopping or lift a heavier weight are all things we celebrate and inspire us,” she said. “When we are grateful and proud of our bodies, it affects our entire outlook on life and relationships.”

Canon said she does indulge in the occasional glass of wine or piece of cake, but her diet consists mostly of lean protein, greens and complex carbohydrates (like quinoa, brown rice or sweet potato).

“As a result, I feel better, my skin is clearer, I have more energy and I have less digestive issues,” she said. “All of my clients, who have been successful in eliminating wheat, dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine and sugar, have seen the same results. It takes discipline, but I guarantee you once you make this lifestyle change you do not miss it.”

See the print edition of this week’s San Marino Tribune for “The Tribune’s Get Fit! With Michele Canon” for exercises, fitness tips and an amazing smoothie recipe!