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TVEA School Board Spotlight

Vintage Hills Elementary Teacher Debbie Knapp reflects on her 40 years as a Temecula teacher:

Hello – for those of you who don’t know me I am employee # 013745 or otherwise known as Debbie Knapp and I am the only teacher to have taught in TVUSD for 40 years. I began here in 1977-with an interview from Joan Sparkman and Linnea Clark –in Linnea’s office—Linnea being principal and Joan a school board member who clerked at the local hardware store.

Have any of you read, Linda Ellis’ poem, “The Dash?” The Dash between two dates, is much more than a beginning and an end. It is what happens in between the two dates and that’s where I would like to begin

  • I began teaching in 1977 at TES-a K-8 school where the superintendent and principal each had an office. Our supplies were delivered in a red wagon. There were no traffic lights, grocery stores, high school or even a freeway. We used to drive thru Old Town as a part of 395. I received student #500 in my class for the district and that was a BIG Deal!

  • Our salaries were #1 in the county.

  • We opened many schools since 1977 and have witnessed the district and community growing by leaps and bounds.

  • Dianne Cooper and I were the first team to job-share in the district. At the time, we had an AP who told us that we couldn’t do both—mother and teacher and he did not approve. Guess whose wife job-shared years later?? Proved him wrong!

  • I have had the privilege of teaching over 1000 students—many of them becoming teachers.

  • Worked with numerous student teachers who are employed by our District.

  • Have had kids of kids- -and I think it wouldn’t be long before there are grandkids of kids coming my way.—As a matter of fact last year’s TVUSD teacher of the year was in my first third grade class.

  • Had a 5 year old student hit by a car and pass away

  • Witnessed the pendulum swing many times—phonics approach, whole language, ACE binders, the big yellow binder, California State standards and now Common core. I can only imagine what is in store for our 21st century learners.

As I continue to fill my dash, I would like to recognize what an honor it is and has been to stand side by side with the teachers and classified personnel of this district. It is these people who make the difference every day in the lives of our “kids.” The daily dedication of the staff of TVUSD made it possible for one of my children, a TVHS graduate to represent the US Navy at a Wounded Warrior ceremony and shake the hand of President Obama. Never forget the real power of education doesn’t come from the district office—it comes from the daily interactions staff has with our students.

Earlier I mentioned our salary ranking in our district in 1977 was #1 in Riverside County and one of the highest in the state of California—frankly that was the reason I choose Temecula over other districts. While our salary ranking has not remained at the top, the quality of our teachers and academic rating has. Our teachers take the motto posted at the district office to heart “Students first!” So… I say “shame on you for adjusting the salaries of the district office personnel in order to make them competitive with like districts.” Is it appropriate when TVUSD is distributing RIF notices to teachers and proposing cuts in Particular Kinds of Services? Mr. Ritter and Board of Trustees I personally would have loved a salary adjustment my last year to boost my STRS too!

In closing I would like to thank-you for the opportunities I have had to fill my dash, and I ask of the board members what will you do during your tenure on the board to fill your dash? Will yours be one that creates a feeling of worthiness among your employees and make them feel a part of the TVUSD team—or will you continue to minimize and even dismiss the expertise of your most essential employees?

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