Class Act! 10 questions for Lori Quillen


Submitted by Denair Charter Academy

Name: Lori Quillen

Family: Married with two little boys

School: Denair Charter Academy

Subject taught: Sixth- and seventh-grade home-school independent studies

Experience and education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Azusa Pacific University. I have taught kindergarten in Southern California, second grade in the Turlock Unified School District and have home-schooled middle school for a local charter family. I also have been a youth ministry leader for 10 years.

What most inspires you about teaching? I’m inspired when students realize that they’re capable of more than they realized.  This might be academically, but could also be socially or emotionally.

What are your biggest challenges as a teacher? My biggest challenge is convincing students that their education is a priority when they have personal or family challenges outside of the classroom that are, understandably, distracting them from learning.

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? My favorite teaching strategy is called Power Teaching.  It’s a method of instruction that engages students with visual, auditory and kinesthetic interaction to maximize their learning potential.  Not only is it a fun way of learning, it’s a fun way to teach!

How has Common Core affected your classroom strategy? The biggest switch has been moving from teaching to the test, where student would regurgitate memorized answers, to teaching students to justify their thinking.  Students are now being challenged to provide evidence for their answers.  For example, this last week in math I asked students to become math lawyers and defend their answers by providing each other with a visual to demonstrate their thinking. Continue reading “Class Act! 10 questions for Lori Quillen” »

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Denair Charter Academy’s New Office Opens Up Space for First-ever Student Center


Submitted by Denair Charter Academy

Denair Charter Academy has a new office for Principal Brian LaFountain and his staff. And within the next month, the old office space will be renovated and remodeled into a much-needed student center for the independent study campus.

The shift is the latest domino to fall in a series of moves that began in the summer of 2015 with the relocation of the Denair Unified School District administrative office from a modular building on the east side of Lester Road to a refurbished former classroom just a few short steps across the parking lot. That project included an upgraded meeting space for the district’s Board of Trustees.

For many years, the board held its meetings in the building that now is home to the DCA office. Before it was the board room, it was a band practice area. Last year, it was used once again for music instruction. Given its proximity to the DCA classrooms, it made sense to give it a new purpose.

Walls were added to create offices, cubicles for staff, a reception area, meeting spaces and closets. A bathroom is waiting to be plumbed. Though there still are boxes to be unpacked and photos to be hung, everything is humming in the new building.

La Fountain took over as principal in July, so he spent only a few months in the old DCA office. And as much as he enjoys his new accommodations, what really excites him is what’s yet to come.

DCA prides itself on providing “personalized education opportunities” for its more than 300 students, but most of them spend only a day or two a week on campus working one-on-one with their teachers. The rest of their education takes place elsewhere. Parents use lesson plans created in tandem with DCA instructors to home school K-8 students; independent study plans are developed for high school students away from campus. Continue reading “Denair Charter Academy’s New Office Opens Up Space for First-ever Student Center” »

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Denair Gaslight Theater Holds Open Auditions for The Crucible

Denair Gaslight Theater

Submitted by Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory


There has been a change of direction! Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory will be doing The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, instead of The Crucible. Performances are still the last two weekends of October. Rehearsals should begin Wednesday Sept. 21, 2016, at 7:00 pm.

Parts available:

Ichabod Crane
Brom Bones
Baltus Van Tassel
Mrs. Van Tassel
Katrina Van Tassel
Mr. Van Ripper
Mrs. Van Ripper
Peter Vanderdonk
Headless Horseman

Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory will be holding open auditions for The Crucible, on September 15 and 16.

The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s tale of paranoia, comes to life this Halloween season at the Denair Gaslight Community Theater under the direction of local veteran director Joshua Morriston. Set against the backdrop of the Salem witch trials, The Crucible is about a quaint 17th century New England village, that is whipped into hysteria by a young woman who turns the community’s fear of invisible wrongdoing against its most prominent citizens. Fear, terror and witches abound in this extraordinary production aimed at all audiences.

Open auditions will be held on September 15, 7:00 pm and  September 16 at 9:00 pm.
Needed: 10 males (18-80 years old)
10 females (10-80 years old)
Performances: Last 2 weekends of October

More info can be found on the Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory Facebook page.

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Class Act! 10 questions for Zenobia Ochoa


Submitted by Denair Elementary Charter Academy

Name: Zenobia Ochoa

Family: Joseph Allen, Dylan Rasmussen and David Rasmussen

School: Denair Elementary Charter Academy

Subject taught: Kindergarten Dual Immersion

Experience and education: I worked for the Migrant Education Program for 15 years, taught  ESL for the Stanislaus County Office of Education for 12 years, Turlock Junior High for three, and dual immersion in Riverbank and Tracy. I also worked as a counselor assistant for the Modesto High School through Migrant Education. I graduated from Stanislaus State University with a double major in political science and education, and a minor in philosophy. Last, I finished my master’s degree in multilingualism, speak two languages fluently as well as some Russian, Italian and Portuguese.

Why most inspires you about teaching? My students feeling excited about learning and making progress at the end of the year.  That is my inspiration.

What are your biggest challenges as a teacher? My biggest challenge is to teach young students to think and explain every answer in a logical and sensible way. It is important to dig into ideas and add lots of details. Students at a young age have difficulties being rational, but have to be taught to think and have deeper understanding of the subjects. The task is not easy for me or my kids.

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? Using lots of large dice and household materials that help students make a connection between math and the real world. I try to do activities that are fun and motivating to kids. Learning is a lot more fun when you are experiencing the world of learning, not just sitting through it.

How has Common Core affected your classroom strategy? First, its goal is to prepare students for college or career. Collaboration and teamwork is one of my strategies I use in my classroom.  It teaches students how to be responsible for their learning and the learning of their peers. They learn to share ideas and work together. This prepares them for the future and the global business environment. Continue reading “Class Act! 10 questions for Zenobia Ochoa” »

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Denair Grinds its Way to 26-6 Win Over Brookside

DHS Coyotes Football

Submitted by Denair High School

There’s nothing like giving up a 99-yard touchdown pass to get a defense’s attention. Such was the case in Denair’s 26-6 victory Friday night over Brookside Christian, which shocked the Coyotes with a long throw-and-catch while backed up on its own 1-yard line early in the game.

They were the only points Denair surrendered.

“It was a 20- or 30-yard pass, kind of a jump ball, and their kid came down with it and got loose,” said Denair Coach Anthony Armas. “After that, we really settled down.”

Having scouted Brookside Christian (0-3) on tape, Armas and his staff were prepared for the Knights’ passing attack. Denair (2-1) replaced a lineman with outside linebacker Blake Davis, who helped secure some of the short zones on defense. And despite often rushing just three players, Denair got plenty of pressure on the Brookside quarterback, forcing him into hurried and off-balance throws that led to four interceptions – three by Justin Steeley and another by flu-ridden Chase Pritt.

On offense, the Coyotes relied on a consistent running attack the entire game. Despite being stopped on the 1-yard line on its first drive – the one that preceded the Knights’ long TD pass – Denair dominated up front, consistently opening holes for running backs Brendan Curnow (3 TDs) and Steeley (1 TD).

“We’re grinding (drives) out,” Armas said. “They were stacking the box. We had a couple of issues protection-wise, but we could run the ball when we needed to.”

Denair took the lead for good in the second quarter with a TD run and two-point conversion. The Coyotes expanded on their 8-6 halftime advantage with three more scores, all on the ground.

“They were definitely a first-half team,” Armas said. “They’re kind of in the same boat we are. They only had 19 kids. We figured we’d run the ball and wear them down.

“We ran the ball well, but I still think we’re not where we need to be. We still missed some assignments. Our running backs are running hard, though. The effort is there.”

This week: Denair has a bye, giving the team plenty of time to recover from a mild flu bug that slowed some players last week. The next game is the Southern League opener Sept. 23 at Gustine. Armas and his staff will have a chance to scout Gustine on Friday night at Modesto Christian. “We’ll try to keep the routine pretty much the same this week, but we’ll probably practice in shells (helmets, shoulder pads and shorts) on Monday.”

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