For 37 years, Patsy has typified the “freeway flyer” and has taught in four Contra Costa County adult schools for all these years. She first began teaching for adult education in 1975 at Martinez Adult School and then was employed at Pittsburg Adult Education Center (PAEC), Antioch Adult School and Liberty (Brentwood) Adult School in 1976. She continued teaching in all those schools through the years until 2007 when Martinez Adult was forced to downsize due to a reduction in funding. In 2012 her long tenure ended at Liberty Adult; but she continues to serve students at PAEC and Antioch Adult.
Patsy has taught for both Older Adult and Adults with Adult with Disabilities (AWD) classes, helping her students improve their mental, emotional and physical fitness. She has taught in residential care facilities, assisted living facilities, an independent living facility, a memory care unit and community centers. One of her most unique classes has been a bowling class for the visually impaired. Patsy says, “No matter what group I work with, my goal in teaching is engaging all my students.” As an extension of her classes, she has organized and executed numerous field trips to places such as the zoo, county fairs and wineries. This is no small undertaking to coordinate transportation and guide students at the venues when numerous wheelchairs, canes, and faltering eyesight present many challenges.
At PAEC, Martinez and Liberty Adult, Patsy has been an active member on the school Leadership teams, providing leadership to Older Adult and AWD instructors. She has participated in numerous WASC committees for the four schools and also been a member on the visiting committee to other adult schools. She has served as Department Chair for Older Adults/AWD at PAEC and Liberty Adult.
At PAEC, for 12 years she has been the principal organizer of the PAEC Art Show which showcases the art of students in Career Tech, Older Adult, AWD and Community Interest classes. Students were able to exhibit their quilts, paintings, ceramics, upholstery, flower design, crafts and other art to the Pittsburg community. For eight years she has coordinated “Living Better After 50” workshops for the East County Senior Coalition and PAEC, which provided informational seminars on topics, such as the benefits of yoga, eating healthy foods and consultations on their current medications.
For approximately four years through Liberty Adult, Patsy led a special project to increase the participation of older adults in the Brentwood community. She routinely met with community members to discuss older adults in Brentwood and devised ways to help them find meaningful roles in the community. As a result, she developed a “Speakers Bureau” which recruited older adults with unique life experiences. Patsy then met with principals and teachers of K-12 students and scheduled older adult speakers to address curriculum related topics in the classroom. Patsy remembers a gentlemen who had visited Mainland China several times; it was a closed country at that time—he was able to visit Social Studies classrooms and share his real life experiences in that country to help create a more real sense of life in China to teens.
Wherever there is a special school event, Patsy has been there to participate and help make the event a success. She is much beloved by administrators, staff and students for her unfailing service, kindness and readiness to support the mission of those schools.
For about 10 years, until 2007, she participated in a network group of Older Adult teachers serving Contra Costa and Alameda counties. This group met on a regular basis and sponsored six, 1-day workshops for teachers of Older Adults. She was also part of the AWD Network for Solano, Contra Costa and Alameda county adult education teachers which was held for four years.
Patsy has been a member of CCAE for over 20 years--since 1993. She values being able to have her CCAE dues deducted on a monthly basis from her paycheck so that she never has to worry about forgetting to renew her membership.
Patsy’s commitment to CCAE comes with a strong emphasis on serving. Patsy has attended numerous section and state conferences through the years and presented at one. She has also served on numerous Section and State conference committees and helped at registration tables or covered whatever task needed doing at the conferences. What raises Patsy’s commitment and service to the extraordinary is that she teaches Older Adults and AWD and often there are very few workshops for her to attend at conferences—she doesn’t attend and serve on conference committees primarily because of what she gets out of it for herself, but because of her love and commitment to CCAE.
Patsy has been a committed board member on her local Contra Costa Chapter board for five years helping to organize award events, recruit members, plan and hold fundraising events and again filling whatever needs there were. She also has represented her four adult schools at the CCAE Leg Day in Sacramento several times, once bringing older adult students to share with state legislators on why those programs are so critical to their well-being.
Patsy feels that service to CCAE is important because it is the only adult education organization that represents people from all facets of adult education schools: teachers, students, classified, and administrators. She says, “CCAE has a wonderful lobbyist who is advocating for adult education. CCAE also has local workshops, section and state conferences to help provide tons of information and materials for teachers to use in their classrooms. It is an important part of who I am to belong to and serve organizations that are positive and promote activities for older adults.”