LUSD board says good­bye to two mem­bers

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By John Bays NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

Dur­ing their Tues­day night meet­ing, the Lodi Uni­fied School Dis­trict Board of Ed­u­ca­tion bid farewell to Bon­nie Cas­sel and Daryl Talken, who are both fin­ish­ing up their fi­nal terms as board mem­bers.

First elected in 2006, Cas­sel rep­re­sented Area 1, which in­cludes Ansel Adams Ele­men­tary, Davis Ele­men­tary, Hous­ton School, Live Oak Ele­men­tary, Lock­e­ford Ele­men­tary, Mo­rada Mid­dle, Turner Academy at Tokay Colony and Vic­tor Ele­men­tary schools.

Cas­sel will be re­placed by Su­san MacFar­lane, a self-em­ployed in­surance ad­juster and for­mer Science Olympiad coach who won the Nov. 6 gen­eral elec­tion.

Be­fore she was elected to the board, Cas­sel taught at the ele­men­tary, mid­dle, high school and col­lege lev­els, board pres­i­dent Ge­orge Neely said on Tues­day night. She also served as a depart­ment chair, men­tor teacher, trainer of teach­ers, mas­ter teacher and ac­cred­i­ta­tion chair.

“Bon­nie 0has brought a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence to this board,” Neely said.

Dur­ing her 12 years as a board mem­ber, Cas­sel at­tended more than 300 meet­ings, voted on ap­prox­i­mately 3,500 items and ap­proved more than $3.4 bil­lion in bud­gets, he added.

“You taught me a lot about be­ing a board mem­ber,” he said. “You’ve made me a bet­ter board mem­ber, and you’ve made this board a bet­ter board. Thank you for your ser­vice, Bon­nie.”

One of Cas­sel’s proud­est ac­com­plish­ments was help­ing to im­ple­ment aca­demic in­ter­ven­tions, par­tic­u­larly for stu­dents who have dif­fi­culty read­ing at their proper grade lev­els, she said on Wed­nes­day.

“What I knew as a long-term teacher was that if a child could not read at grade level, that was a se­ri­ous detri­ment to their ed­u­ca­tion,” she said.

Cas­sel, a Na­tional Parks ranger, plans to spend her re­tire­ment work­ing on var­i­ous pro­grams to pro­vide un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren with op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore na­tional parks, along with other en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams.

“I’m con­vinced that progress needs to be made in the ste­ward­ship of the Earth, and that young peo­ple have to be re­ally in­volved in that,” she said.

Although she will miss work­ing with her fel­low board mem­bers, Cas­sel was grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to serve on the board, and be­lieves she will al­ways work in ed­u­ca­tion in some way or an­other.

“It re­ally has been a great priv­i­lege to serve the com­mu­nity as a board mem­ber, and be­fore that as a teacher,” she said. “I’m very pleased with how that’s worked out for me.”

First elected in 2014, Talken has rep­re­sented Area 4, which in­cludes Hen­der­son, In­de­pen­dence, Lake­wood Ele­men­tary, Millswood Mid­dle, Podesta Ranch Ele­men­tary and Wood­bridge Ele­men­tary schools. He de­cided not to run for re-elec­tion, and will be re­placed by Tokay High School teacher and wa­ter polo coach Court­ney Porter.

Be­fore he was elected, Talken worked as a teacher, coach, ath­letic di­rec­tor and prin­ci­pal of a high school, board mem­ber Ron He­berle said on Tues­day night.

“It was easy to tell your pas­sion for do­ing the right thing. I just love your fo­cus on the stu­dents, their fam­i­lies and our em­ploy­ees. That per­spec­tive re­ally had an im­pact,” he told Talken on Tues­day. “On be­half of Lodi Uni­fied School Dis­trict and this school board, we wand to thank you for your ser­vice.”

Board mem­ber Ron Fre­itas of­fered his own praise and con­grat­u­la­tions.

“With Dr. Talken, what you see is what you get,” he said. “He’s a great, big griz­zly bear of a guy who fights pas­sion­ately for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, and that big griz­zly bear is all heart be­cause he loves our kids.”

Talken, a man of few words, of­fered only four on Tues­day night: “Thank you very much.”


School board trustees, from left, Bon­nie Cas­sel, Ron He­berle, Ge­orge Neely and Daryl Talken are sworn into of­fice by Judge Lau­ren P. Thomas­son of the Su­pe­rior Court of San Joaquin County on Dec. 9, 2014. Cas­sel and Talken have fin­ished their fi­nal terms as board mem­bers.

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