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School has changed a lot over four generations

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 | Posted by

Coby Haug and his mom, Danielle, stopped by Jefferson School to check out his new Kindergarten classroom. (Photo: Chris Chung)

By MARY JO WINTER / Cloverdale TOWNS correspondent

When 5-year old Coby Haug begins kindergarten at Jefferson School on Wednesday, he will be following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

He also has nine cousins currently enrolled, plus two others who have already graduated and a baby brother who will follow him to Jefferson in a few years.

Coby is one of many multi-generation students in Cloverdale schools, representing a family with deep roots in the area.

His great-grandfather, John Santana, was a descendant of famed Pomo basket weaver Elsie Allen and a 1934 graduate of Cloverdale High School.

That’s where Cody’s grandmother, Patty Santana Bird, met her future husband and where his mother, Danielle Bird Haug, went to school before launching her career as an elementary school teacher in Ukiah.

Haug, 30, and Bird, 56, have a unique perspective on the changes that have taken place since John Santana entered school.

For instance, when Santana was in school, manual typewriters were considered standard office equipment. Students didn’t learn to use electric typewriters until the 1960’s, and computers in classrooms didn’t come along until the 1980’s.

Unlike her grandfather, and even her mother, Haug, never knew school without access to computers.

When Santana was growing up, the land next to his family home was a prune orchard. Like other children of that era, he was expected to help out during harvest regardless of school, which probably meant he got up even earlier during the week to get his chores done.

Today, the prunes are long gone, and in their place is a baseball field. Family members, including Santana himself, have all been avid ball players. Bird was a Hall of Famer at Santa Rosa Junior College, and both of her sons were Hall of Famers at Mendocino College.

Currently, several family members coach local softball and little league teams so the field is often used for many of their practices, as well as by other family members just for fun.

Haug, who played volleyball, basketball and softball, fears school sports might die out with this generation, a pretty sobering thought for anyone in this sports-minded family.

Bird recalls, “When I was in school, teachers were also bus drivers, after school activity advisors and coaches.”

She says there were a lot more activities then, too, such as pep rallies, pep bands and concert bands, as well as classes like wood shop, auto shop, metal shop and agriculture.

Bird rode the school bus until she got into high school, then her dad drove her.

”I alternated between taking the school bus and riding with grandpa,” says Haug. “Now we have no school buses so mom does it.”

Bird lauds the schools for getting kids involved in community service projects, pointing to school groups like the Interact Club and Key Club and events like Community Unity Day, where students help clean up the cemetery, work in the History Center garden and at other locations around town.

“There is a lot more interaction like this between boys and girls now than when I was in school.”

At the same time, she notes she and her classmates had a lot more freedom than kids today. “We were able to leave campus for lunch and, if we had a permission slip, even go downtown.”

Haug credits her career choice to her second grade teacher, Claudia Plumley-Frandsen, who went on to become Superintendent of Cloverdale Unified before retiring in 2011.

“She really inspired me. She made learning fun in a way that made me to want to emulate her.”

Sadly, one of the things that has changed over the years is the physical interaction between students and teachers. No longer is it acceptable for a teacher to hug a student or give them a pat of encouragement on the back or arm.

“If one of my students hugs me, I hesitate to hug them back,” says Haug, “and that’s really kind of a shame.”

During Bird’s high school years, classes for girls were geared more towards home economics and learning how to care for a family.

“Boys were encouraged to go to college, but for us, having a high school diploma back then was sufficient.”

Haug believes schools are now going to be focusing more and more on technology and college readiness at an earlier literacy age.

“By the time Coby graduates from high school, he’ll probably need to pursue a Masters or beyond just to fit into the workplace.”




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Mary Jo Winter is our Cloverdale correspondent.
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