Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 7:05 am | Fair 42º


Salute to Teachers: Lompoc Mentor Christine Petrone Has Taught All Over the Country

[Noozhawk’s note: Part of a series on the teachers who will be honored Oct. 28 at A Salute to Teachers, presented by Cox and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. Click here for a complete series index.]

Christine Petrone knew very early, in second grade, that she wanted to become a teacher. Today, several teaching assignments later, she is the fifth grade teacher and literacy coach for grades three to six at the Manzanita Public Charter School in the Lompoc Unified School District. With 24 years of experience as an educator, she is a mentor to new teachers.

The Chicago native graduated from Illinois State University with a BA in education and earned a master’s degree in teacher leadership from Lamar University. Her first teaching job was in San Antonio, Texas.

| Salute to Teachers | Complete Series Index |

As the wife of an Air Force officer, she was a teacher for the Department of Defense in Panama and in North Carolina, Florida and California schools for 24 years. Petrone believes these experiences have made her a better teacher.

Petrone always strives for the best ideas, practices and solutions to improve student learning, wrote Suzanne Nicastro, executive director/principal for Manzanita Public Charter School, in a nominating letter. As a mentor Petrone shares that knowledge.

Christine Petrone is being recognized as a 2018 Distinguished Mentor. Click to view larger
Christine Petrone is being recognized as a 2018 Distinguished Mentor. (Contributed photo)

“Chris doesn’t enable … instead she empowers her mentees to keep growing and defining and owning their own pedagogy,” wrote Nicastro.

Petrone mentors Andrea Wulfestieg who has been buoyed by Petrone’s support.  “She believes in me and has helped me build my confidence in this new teacher role,” wrote Wulfestieg in a nominating letter. “She is the definition of an awesome MENTOR: Meaningful, Encouragement, Noticed, Teamwork, Organized and Reflective.”

Eight educators are being recognized at A Salute to Teachers event Oct. 28, hosted by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cline, at Oak Valley Elementary School in Buellton, is Santa Barbara County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, and​ Garson Olivieri, a teacher at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, is being recognized as the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Distinguished new educators being honored this year include Desiree Hitch from Ernest Righetti High School in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District; Jani Lindberg from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and Santa Ynez Valley Special Education Consortium of the Santa Ynez Valley High Union School District; and Kelly Keene from San Marcos High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Distinguished mentors include Christine Petrone from Manzanita Public Charter School in the Lompoc Unified School District; Denise Stevens from Rice Elementary in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District; and Kevin O’Hara from Carpinteria Middle School in the Carpinteria Unified School District.

Noozhawk Q&A

Noozhawk: Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

Christine Petrone: I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a child playing school was my favorite activity. I would gather all the neighborhood kids and set up the basement as a classroom.

Noozhawk: How long have you been teaching?

CP: I have been teaching for 24 years.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite subject/lesson plan to teach your students? 

CP: My favorite subject to teach is reading. There are so many aspects to teaching reading, you can teach fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, word study, genre with any novel or informational text. I love to see the kids get so involved in a character's life, talking about what happened in the book at recess, disappointed when read-aloud time is over. I feel it is the one subject, that no matter your reading level, everyone joins in the class discussion and activities. It is the one subject all kids are excited about.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

CP: I love to see the excitement in a scholar’s eyes when they finally understand the concept they have been practicing. I love to watch them progress and grow throughout the year. I love to see them work through something that is challenging.

Noozhawk: What are the challenges of your job?

CP: The biggest challenge is meeting the needs of all the diverse learners in my class. They are at different academic and social levels, have different strengths and weaknesses and have varying ideas about what their role is in a classroom. Therefore at any given time during the day many different things may be going on in the class based on individual/group needs, which takes much planning and management so that each scholar can progress.

Noozhawk: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

CP: Our fifth and sixth grade team went to AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) training this summer. I am most excited to implement the ideas, lessons and values that the AVID program instills.

Noozhawk: Who are your mentors?

CP: I am a mentor. The past two years I was a mentor to Andi Wulfesteig and Josefina Cabrera.

Noozhawk: Who are the people in your life and work environment who support you every day?

CP: My principal, Suzanne Nicastro, is a rock star. She is always there to give guidance, support and challenges. My fifth and sixth grade level teammates are all awesome. We plan together, support each other, listen to each other and share grade level responsibilities.

Noozhawk: How does it feel to be honored as part of the Salute to Teachers? 

CP: I am truly humbled to receive this honor. I have really enjoyed being a mentor and being able to be there for first-year teachers. I also learned new techniques and gained new insights from my candidate. This isn’t a job that you can do alone. I think we all help each other to become stronger teachers.

Noozhawk special projects editor Melinda Johnson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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