Mailbag: I can see the difference in my kindergartners since Mariners Elementary reopened

Rebecca Peranio
Rebecca Peranio, left, with her daughter, Serafina, along with other parents, wait for their children following the first day of in-person school at Mariners Elementary School on Sept. 29.
(Daily Pilot)

As the debate continues on whether in-person learning during COVID-19 is safe, one thing is certain: I will never forget the look of joy on my children’s faces when they took their very first steps on a Newport-Mesa campus and walked off with their teacher. After a month of distance learning, transitional kindergarten through sixth-grade students began the process of resuming on campus education last week.

During these challenging times, parents seem to be at the mercy of the school board, district and their teachers.

With Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees voting 7-0 on Sept. 10, the district began the process of instituting a hybrid model for in-person learning. However, in recent weeks, petitions, rallies, letters and social media drives have shown that some teachers, mostly at the high school level, are not comfortable returning to the classroom.

Fortunately, at Mariners Elementary (where my twins attend kindergarten), that sentiment didn’t seem to carry over. Parents and students arrived last Tuesday to balloons, banners and excitement from their teachers.

Through their masks, you could see the pure love these teachers showed during drop-off and pick-up. They shared pictures with parents and did everything possible to provide a great experience, even under tough circumstances.

I am so proud of our elementary school teachers for their hard work these past few months. And while students are only receiving two-and-a-half hours of in-person instruction, I have already seen a difference in my children’s interest in education.

During distance learning, my children woke up every morning asking to watch TV. Now every morning they wake up asking to write letters or count numbers. I am grateful to the teachers who are working so hard for their students.

As the days draw nearer for secondary schools to resume, it is important for our school district to work with teachers to ensure their safety and comfort. The teachers need proper communication from the district to not only meet expectations but to recognize the district has their support and backing.

One suggestion I might provide is to resume trustee board meetings in-person. The meetings can still be live-streamed. We are asking teachers to be in the classroom; it is only fair that board members follow suit.

I am running for school board to help bring a healthy discussion to the table. We need fresh leadership and a strong communicator.

Someone who can work to bring trust and compromise between our teachers’ union and the district. We face many challenges, but we can deliver results that will strengthen relationships throughout our school community and put the education and well-being of our students at the forefront.

Last week was a special day for me. I am sure this occasion will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life. It is my hope everyone will get to experience this feeling soon.

Krista Weigand

Newport Beach

The writer is a candidate for school board.

I’ll tell you where Jeff Herdman’s been

A new political action committee cropped up in Newport Beach last week called “Where’s Jeff: No on Herdman for City Council 2020.” What a farce.

As someone who’s very involved in our community, I can tell you exactly where Herdman has been for the past four years:

  • Fighting the expansion of John Wayne Airport and turning the city’s aviation committee into an efficient and effective entity for the first time ever.
  • Helping promote a public-private partnership so Newport could have its very own animal shelter.
  • Working on water quality, the General Plan update and the homeless crisis, among other issues, and keeping his constituents informed with excellent newsletters.
  • Meeting with residents from across the city to discuss their concerns about development, traffic and the need to preserve the character of our neighborhoods.

One person I have not seen once in the many years I’ve been involved in city affairs is Herdman’s opponent, Noah Blom. So I’d say a better question is, Where has Blom been while Herdman was working to make our city better?

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Blom could lead to a new majority

Why are three of my council colleagues endorsing an unknown candidate who has never shown any interest in local issues, has never attended a City Council meeting or served on a board or commission or even a homeowners association?

A healthy council comprises independent thinkers who only want what’s best for the city; the majority shifts depending on the issue. If the three members who endorse Noah Blom get their way, then the four will have a majority vote on the council.

Furthermore, if Councilwoman Diane Dixon wins her race for an Assembly seat, then that majority bloc could appoint someone to fill her seat, giving them a super-majority.

Will this appointed council member represent the interests of the bloc that appointed him or her rather than the interests of the city and District 1, Lido and the Peninsula specifically?

Joy Brenner
Newport Beach

The writer is a Newport councilwoman.

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