Education in the Victor Valley – December 2015

Light Shines On Victor Valley College Nursing Students

  Victor Valley College’s Fall Semester Nursing Graduates participated in a Pinning and Candlelight Ceremony inside the VVC Performing Arts Center, Thursday evening, Dec 17, 2015. The 27 future registered nurses wore identical uniforms and each recited the International Nursing Pledge. Class President Romualdo Sia Kho delivered a speech to his fellow graduates. Student Excellence Awards were given to Kho, Jessica Crego, Manuel Zavala, Melissa Wheeler, Jennifer Reed, Sandra Polliard, Michelle Gonzales, and Melissa Godwin. Renate Longoria, Interim VVC director of nursing, explained the symbolism and meaning, “The Candle Lighting and Pinning Ceremony is over a hundred years old with some roots that trace back to Florence Nightingale, who was influential in establishing compassionate healthcare. Giving personal care during the night time to the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War she became known as the lady of the lamp because of her dedication and compassion. The shining light is symbolic of the care and devotion of nurses everywhere. Therefore, with the lighting of the candles tonight we will pass on to our graduates to be compassionate, empathetic, and safe when caring for their future patients.” The College’s program is among the nation’s elite. The last class of nurses to graduate received a 97 percent pass rate on the NCLEX licensing exam.  

Lakeview Leadership Academy Teacher Named Regional Educator of the Year

  Lakeview Leadership Academy teacher Andrea Gonzalez has been named the 2015-16 California League of Middle Schools Region 10 Educator of the Year. Gonzalez, an eighth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Lakeview Leadership Academy as well as the school’s AVID coordinator, was among 11 teachers nominated for the award and one of two from the High Desert (Hesperia Unified’s Janet Orloski was also nominated). Each nominee gave a speech with their own intro music; Gonzalez chose “Eye of the Tiger” from “Rocky III” and compared the determination of a teacher to that of a prize fighter. At the end of Monday’s ceremony at the Riverside Marriott, Gonzalez drew a standing ovation and boisterous cheers from the Victor Valley Union High School District contingent, which included the district’s top administrators and three board members.Dr. Williams was accompanied by Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dr. Ratmony Yee along with board members Lisa Crosby, Penny Edmiston and Barbara Dew. Gonzalez will be in the running to win the CLMS statewide Educator of the Year award in Sacramento at the organization’s annual conference Feb. 26-28. Gonzalez, who has taught at the school for eight years, was nominated by Lakeview Principal Lonnie Keeter, who also attended and accompanied her to the stage. “I nominated her because she has the ability to bring the fullest potential out in all students, and that is not seen in very many teachers,” Keeter said. “She assists her students toward a path in life and allows them to feel their worth along the way. It’s a privilege to be her principal.”  

Taylion High Desert Academy Welcomes New Site Director

Taylion High Desert Academy is proud to announce the addition of Derek McDowell, Site Director for the High Desert locations. “We are very excited about adding Derek McDowell to the Taylion team,” said Taylion’s President Timothy Smith. “Derek has over twenty years of experience in education working with students as both a teacher and an administrator. Specifically, Derek has worked in independent study environments working with at risk students and led students to dramatically improve academic achievement. Derek has worked in the Inglewood School District, Compton School District, and the Silver Valley School District.” McDowell holds an Associates of Arts degree from Truckee Meadows Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Central Washington University, and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Cal Poly Pomona. Starting out as a Teacher’s Aide, McDowell worked his way up to a Teacher’s Assistant, Teacher, and Assistant Principal throughout Southern California. “I think this is a field where teachers are rewarded when students come in at one level and then they end at a higher level,” said McDowell about the educational field. “They have all kinds of problems and situations, and you are able to help them navigate through some of their issues, some of their challenges, and that is rewarding for me. I think this is a great place for me to help students on a greater level.” McDowell is the Site Director for Taylion Academy’s High Desert locations, which include Adelanto and Victorville. Taylion Academy is a K-12 free public charter school, offering programs in home school and independent study. Accredited by the Western Associate for Schools and Colleges (WASC), Taylion has flourished since its inception in the High Desert in 2013. Alumni from the school have moved forward and created a better life for themselves- including gaining employment locally and attending higher education in order to reach their goals. “Derek is passionate about serving and mentoring students and is looking forward to helping many more students in the community of Adelanto,” said Smith. For more information on Taylion Academy, follow the school on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and their website at  

Christmas Arrives Early for Local Elementary Students

The nonprofit organization Benefit Everyone, Assist Recreation & Sports, also known as B.E.A.R.S., gave away over 150 bicycles and helmets, to children who showed a need and achieved high performance in school.  The event, known as the Doris Davies Memorial Bicycle Giveaway, took place in Victorville on December 2nd, at the High Desert Event Center, formerly the San Bernardino County Fairgrounds. Each public elementary school serving Victorville students participated in nominating the lucky students. It was an exciting day for many children who received a bike, visited with Santa, and enjoyed cookies sponsored by the Victorville Police and the Citizens on Patrol.  Special thanks go out to the Victorville Police and Fire Explorers, the High Desert Event Center staff, and many volunteers who helped with the event. Cyndi Spadafora, B.E.A.R.S. Vice President said, “This event would not be possible if it were not for the support of our community year-after-year.  On behalf of the B.E.A.R.S., we want to thank our financial contributors including Doo Wah Riders; Your Community Bingo; Swanson, Graham, Russo & Thomas Accountants, Inc.; Midway Home Solutions; Green, De Bortnowsky & Quintanilla, LLP; Marimac Development; Shear Realty; Stanley Hodge; Donna Taylor; Ben & Becky Wasserman; Caldwell, Kennedy & Porter; and City of Victorville employees.  Doris Davies would be so pleased to know her legacy of serving the community continues to live on through the generosity of these caring sponsors.” For more information on B.E.A.R.S. , please contact the City of Victorville Recreation Division at (760) 245-5551.

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