It’s not unusual to see stars at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, home to the Gladwin Planetarium. But they’re usually not twinkling during daylight hours. Thursday afternoon was an exception made possible by the Santa Barbara Partners in Education.

The occasion was the 11th annual Computers for Families “Celebration of Stars,” which honors the educators, donors and volunteers who are the heart of a program providing students from low-income families with computers, instruction and Internet access.

This is a pivotal year for the joint venture between Partners in Education and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. The program is just $225,000 shy of raising $4 million for a Sustainability Fund to ensure that Computers for Families can operate in perpetuity.

In a surprise announcement Thursday, Ben Romo, the Education Office’s director of community education and special projects, revealed that a $50,000 donation had been made in honor of three CFF mainstays, county schools chief Bill Cirone and longtime volunteers Joe Howell and Peter MacDougall.


Bill Cirone

The gift was made possible by the generosity of Marlys and Ron Boehm, Cox Communications, the Hutton Foundation, the Santa Barbara Foundation, Jo and Ken Saxon, Maryan and Richard Schall and Dinah and Winfred Van Wingerden.

Meanwhile, at the reception at the Natural History Museum’s Fleischmann Auditorium, Computers for Families recognized the hard work of its teachers and liaisons at the 24 participating South Coast elementary schools. Among the teacher liaisons honored were Michael Alvarez, Adams School; Karine Anderson, Monroe; Mike Anderson, Hope; Barbara Barr, Roosevelt; Tia Blickley, Washington; Lori Lee Collins, Carpinteria Family; Judy Cortright, Hollister; Celeste Darga, Washington; Julia Dearborn, Monroe; Leah Diamond, Foothill; Cindy Everman, Monte Vista; Hortencia Corral Garcia, Roosevelt; Jen Hardin, Santa Barbara Community Academy; Lisa Lisle, Brandon; Barry Nitikman, Harding; John Padfield, Solvang; Leanne Patterson, César Chávez Charter; Margaret Saavedra, McKinley; Janis Smith, Aliso; and Kathleen Tomscha, Canalino.

Among the Computers for Families teachers recognized were Alice   Bingham,  Canalino School; Pat   Boyer,  Canalino; Cindy   Calvin,  Canalino; Bobbe   Daigle,  Harding; Susan   Fredrickson, Aliso; Dru   Frick,  Harding; Mary Lou Furrer,  Washington; Mary   Hernandez,  Brandon; Laura   Herrera,  Brandon; Rusty   Ito,  Aliso; Cecilia Long,  Aliso; Monica Shugart,  Canalino; Andrea Soto,  Canalino; Cesli   Vierra,  Washington; Terry   Walker,  Aliso; Vicki   Walton,  Canalino; Brett   Weiberg,  Aliso; Laura   Wood,  Aliso; and Linda   Zandona,  Washington.

Each liaison received a $20 gift certificate from Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, thanks to general manager Dean Feldmeier, and a Santa Barbara Axxess book, compliments of company president Karim Kaderali, a Partners in Education board member. For teachers, Coldwell Banker donated a gift bag of classroom items and a $20 Staples gift certificate.

Bill Macfadyen

William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.