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July 14, 2011

The technology department is particularly busy during the summer prepping systems and installing updates in advance of the school year. We continue to push forward with the re-imaging project, a process through which we are also collecting an inventory of existing systems. As a result, we are quantifying a large number of older machines that require, at the very least, memory upgrades to bring them up to modern standards, and reporting these deficiencies to the site administrators. For those that are viable, we are asking that site admins purchase appropriate memory upgrades. As many of the site administrators are on vacation, obtaining responses from a number of them is proving to be difficult. As such, we are prepping the machines to be imaged, so that we can initiate the process at any time after the memory upgrades, even if that proves to be after the new school year has begun.

Additionally, each summer we clean up and update all of the netbook carts, which include roughly 2500 machines. As these devices are used extensively throughout the school year by students, they tend to require a good deal of "refreshing" to get back into shape for the new school year, including fresh software updates, antibacterial wipedown, and often a thorough rewiring of the carts whose wiring has worked itself loose through regular use. This too is a rather time consuming and labor intensive process, but is vital to the continued effectiveness of the SWATTEC program.

As part of the SWATTEC program, we continue to work with U.C. Irvine to plan and prepare for using the new LiveInk system in some of our SWATTEC classrooms. As part of this process, the instruction department has been coordinating the volunteer teacher pool, and we have been providing materials and prepping the software for deployment in the research classrooms. We are looking forward to getting these new tools in student/teacher hands next year, and expect impressive results as part of this exciting program.

Finally, we are updating our server and imaging infrastructure in preparation for the new school year. First, we are adding support for Windows 7, as Windows XP reached end-of-life during last school year and is no longer available or supported. We are also applying a number of system software updates, updating Zimbra to the latest release, and reconfiguring our web server infrastructure in preparation for bringing the school websites under the district's system umbrella. As part of this process, we are working with Westcreek to pilot the system design and operation.

Obviously, this represents significant work for every member of our department, and we are pleased to have welcomed our newest member, Antonio Arana to the team. We look forward to bringing new innovation and greater support to the learning environment in the coming year.

Keywords: Summer, Technology, Update

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February 25, 2009

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Teachers who are interested in being considered for a Summer School Teaching Position should print out and complete the the attached Interest Form and return it to Jill Goldberg in Personnel Services by March 13, 2009.  (Positions available will be based on student enrollment.)

Keywords: Summer, teacher

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August 04, 2008

Nestled in the Ojai valley at the foot of Topa Topa Mountain, lies Thacher School—a unique boarding school whose values of hard work, honesty, selflessness, and concern for others are readily evident in its students and staff. It was in this beautiful setting that the Los Angeles Office of Education (LACOE) partnered with Thacher School to provide the “Digital Classroom”, promoting the usefulness of Web 2.0 tools and software programs such as Photostory 3, Comic Life, Movie Maker and iMovie, all of which can be used to enhance podcasts.   


I found myself surrounded not only by these magnificent wonders of nature, but also by spectacular, selfless individuals, who were willing to give their time and energy to solving problems that inevitably occur when working with new technologies. Five days were filled with classes, food to die for, recreational activities, and new friendships.


Here is a photo of the fantastic ladies I had the privilege of working with. Melissa is at my right, and Lori and Patti are to my left. You might notice we’re all wearing our Thacher Toad caps.

Below that is an enhanced podcast that Melissa and I created--
"Dr. Grammar's Search for the Missing Antonyms".

 Melissa, me, Lori, & Patti



Posted by Brenda Bixler | 2 comment(s) | Share This

April 11, 2007


Spring and summer are rattlesnake season, particularly if you live in areas where there is a large amount of brush nearby. But the danger is minimal if you understand

  1. How to keep rattlesnakes out of your yard; and
  2. What to do if you do encounter one.


Rattlesnakes are easily identifiable by their broad, triangular heads, narrow necks, relatively heavy bodies and rattle on the tail, or blunt tails if the rattles are missing. Baby rattlers can be as dangerous as adults. Rattlesnakes should not be confused with harmless gopher snakes, which are beneficial to humans as vermin catchers. (Both have blotch-like markings down the back.) Rattlesnakes will purposely attack only those animals smaller than themselves, such as rodents, unless they are frightened by noise, vibrations or certain odors. They are terrified by humans (mainly because of our size) and would rather run than fight if possible. Like all snakes, the body temperature of the rattlesnake depends on the air temperature, so you would be more likely to encounter a rattlesnake in the open during the warmest hours of a spring day and during the cooler hours (morning and evening) of a summer day.


Rattlesnakes come into residential areas for two reasons: food and cover. Take the following steps to eliminate the food and cover attraction by:

  • keeping your yard free of places where mice or rats might nest, such as piles of grass cuttings or wood and trash;
  • plugging all ground openings, such as gopher holes; and
  • using only covered trash containers.
  • making sure there are several inches of ground clearance under shrubs;
  • avoiding tall ground covering; and
  • eliminating hiding places such as large rocks or rubbish. If your property backs onto a canyon or other uninhabited area, you should clear a bare strip, from 30 to 100 feet, or cut back the chaparral to waist height and thin enough to let sunlight filter through. 
  • Construct, if necessary to protect children, a snake-proof fence of heavy galvanized screen, 36 inches wide with 1/4-inches mesh. Bury the lower edge a few inches in the ground and slant the fence outward at a 30-degree angle from top to bottom. The ground outside the fence should be kept clear of tall vegetation - ladders for snakes.


Be prepared, if you go hiking in brush, by

  1. Wearing loose trousers over boots or high-top shoes;
  2. Never stepping in or placing your hands in places where you can't see; and
  3. Never hiking alone.


If you see a rattlesnake on your property, call the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control hotline: (562) 940-6890. If a rattlesnake bites someone, transport the victim to a hospital as quickly as possible or call the Sheriff or Fire Department for help transporting the victim. Call Animal Care and Control for removal of the rattlesnakes. Do remember to stay calm, call for assistance and keep in mind that rattlesnake venom is of such a nature as to usually allow ample time for successful medical treatment.

Keywords: animal, grass, hiking, rattlesnake, spring, summer, venom

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