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Pope Francis' simple, artless actions resonate powerfully

'Who am I to judge?' Pope's remarks
do not change
church teaching

FACE scholar is on
her way to Amherst

Chautauqua celebration set
for October 12

Maryknoll offers mission training September 13-15

Principals change
in Fremont

Youth, young adult events on calendar

Younger sisters
see smaller orders ahead, but say
future still bright

Presentation Sisters' gathering

Rev. George Matanic, OP

Sister Nancy Teskey, SNJM

Sister Mary Thomas Magee, PBVM

Mercy Center
provides a home
for a lifetime

Sisters' bathroom remodel project
gets a boost from
SOAR! grant

Senior group 'Tuesdays with Larry' keep Assumption grounds neat

Latin America too
is facing an aging demographic earthquake

First signs of
Alzheimer's can
occur on vacations

Care fits health mission, but too
few aware of it

Different paths
bring doctors,
patients to palliative
care, hospice

placeholder August 12, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
Principals change in Fremont

Jan Cooper

Current assignment: St. Joseph Elementary School, Fremont
New assignment: Retirement

Since Jan Cooper announced this would be her last year at St. Joseph Elementary School in Fremont, friends and acquaintances have been inquiring: What's the plan?

Even before this reporter could ask, Cooper was ready with her answer: "I have no big plans for retirement," she said. But she is certain about one thing that the school — where she has worked for the past 44 years — will continue to be a part of her life.

Cooper was attending what was then called California State University, Hayward, when she was approached by one of her professors who suggested that she look into working in the Catholic schools. Cooper recalled the professor saying that "they are looking for teachers."

She intends to continue being a member of the school's "advancement" board, which oversees the school's finances and investments. Only now, she will be a volunteer.

After graduation, Cooper found herself on the faculty at St. Joseph School as the fourth grade teacher. Her class consisted of 52 students, she recalled with a laugh. Although the number of students per class has dropped since then, class sizes are still rather large — the biggest class has about 33 students.

During her four decades at the school, Cooper also taught fourth and eighth grades. Before becoming principal, she served as co-administrator to Sister Mary Virginia Leach, a Dominican Sister of Mission San Jose who was principal. The school was one of many in the diocese started by the MSJ Dominicans.

In addition to changes in the student body and the introduction of technology in the classrooms, Cooper noted that teaching techniques were very different than they are now. School was more regimented and teachers stood in front of the classroom to teach the "whole group" of students. Today students are placed in smaller groups. "There is more 'group work,'" she said.

If there were anything that she would "do over" if she got the chance, Cooper said, more attention would be given to children who were "slow learners" and those who were dyslexic. "At that time we didn't know much about special needs students," she said.

"We do a lot better job now" for students who learn differently and are able "to accommodate them," she said.

Cooper said that she will miss the children and everything else about the Fremont school.

Kelly Mendoza

Current assignment: St. Joseph Elementary School, Fremont
New assignment: St. Joseph Elementary School, Fremont

When Kelly Mendoza begins the 2013-2014 school year in August as principal at St. Joseph Elementary School she not only will be on familiar territory but she already knows everybody and most everybody in the Fremont community knows her.

That's because Mendoza, currently vice principal at the school, has worked at St. Joseph for the past 10 years, and prior to that her sons — now ages 22 and 26 — attended St. Joseph School. The campus is almost her second home.

"I am very excited (about becoming principal), she said. "I really love the community."

Mendoza had been working in the business world for nearly 20 years when she realized that she would rather be a school teacher. So while her sons were small, she went back to school and got her teaching credential, thinking that once her children were older she would begin her second career.

The call to the classroom however, came early — when her youngest child was in the seventh grade. "I wanted to wait but there was a need for teachers."

She was hired as the fifth grade teacher, a position which she held for five years. She also has taught the sixth grade, algebra and advanced math before becoming vice principal a year ago.

Over the years her students, especially her fifth graders, helped Mendoza learn to incorporate faith into teaching. In the process, "I learned about my own faith," she said. "Teaching helped deepen my faith."

Through her own children, Mendoza said that she felt a calling to teach and as an educator she is motivated to help make learning not only engaging and purposeful but enjoyable. She also hopes to engage the entire school community.

"I really feel strongly that I am here to serve and support both the students and their families, the entire school community," Mendoza said. "I am here for them."

— Carrie McClish

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