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A Teacher’s Perspective & Beyond!

As the 2nd semester of the school year got underway, I’m sure most of our educators were beginning to set plans for the summer. Vacations, completing ‘to do’ lists, and rest were more than likely prioritized. Fast forward to March, and COVID19 became the dominant thought, causing many of them to scrap lesson plans and forced them into an unprecedented time of virtual education here in the valley.

While many of us immediately shifted concern to the students, especially the graduating seniors, the teachers were knee deep in the trenches doing all they could to provide a quality, virtual education. Truly unsung heroes, because in hindsight we celebrated and honored our front-line workers (a well-deserved honor) but overlooked the efforts our educators put forth to ensure our children were able to complete the school year in a satisfactory fashion. For some insight, I reached out to Bella Vista’s own Mr. Randa.

“Upon learning that we had to make the adjustment to distance learning I was eager to meet the challenge head-on. I knew it was important for all of our students to get back to learning and establish a routine as fast as possible. PSUSD did a great job developing a plan and putting it into action to ensure that students had access to their teachers, important educational resources, and a network of support throughout the community.”

He continued, “I see distance learning as being something that will surely be improved upon and used as a valuable resource in the future. I feel that it will find a place to fit well within our educational framework across the nation. It is one more way to try and make sure educational access is equitable for all students in all locations.”

Thank you to you Mr. Randa, and all of your fellow educators!

A Few Thoughts…

I’ve had bad experiences with our Local Police Department, Sheriff, and our State Highway Patrol. In each case I felt inhumane, treated as if I was another proven career criminal. Each time I thought, “If I could just explain to them who I am, or even if they just make a phone call, they would realize I’m not the person they’re looking for”. Each time there were officers who would come to me after the fact and apologize for the behavior(s) of other officers. Each time there were officers on the scene watching the unfair treatment and saying nothing about it.


It is quite disheartening to know that you can work your entire life to build a resume, to build a voice in your community, be a leader of your family and have it all reduced to nothing based off an assumption of a man or woman wearing a badge. I can honestly say however, that these officers and these incidents represent the minority of the officers that I do know and have worked with, and the interactions I’ve had with them. Nevertheless, the minority can still leave scars and cause traumatic experiences.


However, I believe it’s time to rally in support of officers who serve with integrity. They have to go out and do their jobs in the midst of this unfortunate, heartbreaking, and anger stirring climate. Just as I wish the corrupt officers would see that not every black man is a threat, I wish that we would see that every officer isn’t a corrupt racist thug. I respect the work that they do, knowing that every morning that they put on a badge they could be considered a target. I appreciate the fact that many go out to protect and serve, in the midst of volatile circumstances.


This is a call to action. For the Chiefs of Police to identify officers that can serve as community liaisons, and if they already have community liaisons, to deploy them to action. With civil unrest happening all over the country, the community needs to know that their police are there to protect and serve. However, the onus is not solely on the Police Department. Our community leaders need to be proactive in bridging that gap between the community and the police. Active community policing is birth from relationships with the community and its leaders.


I am thankful for OUR Police Department. At a recent Police-Community Forum, Chief Henson addressed the fact that he and his staff are striving to build solid relationships within our various communities FORUM. DHS, we are on to something special.

Ophelia!

A few months ago, I wrote to you about a new mentorship program; the Ophelia Project. This program has made a positive impact in the lives of young women across valley High Schools and will finally launch at Desert Hot Springs High this fall. Prior to the pandemic, they were holding informational sessions for potential mentors here in Desert Hot Springs. As expected, due to the pandemic they had to pause operations like everyone else. A couple weeks ago I touched bases with them to inquire about the progress that was being made. Not only are they in full swing in preparing to launch here in DHS, they are still recruiting mentors. Here is an update:
“In these challenging times, now more than ever people are reevaluating their lives and priorities.  How can I make a difference in this world?  Is there a more meaningful way for me to help change the current world sentiment? The answer can be found in the small yet powerful steps you take to help another person.
The Ophelia Project is a group-mentoring program that focuses on building confidence and self-esteem in young women. We have been in the Coachella Valley for twenty-two years and are in all three school districts, serving six middle schools and eight high schools.  And we are pleased to announce that this fall we are expanding into four new schools. Three of them are here in Desert Hot Springs: Painted Hills Middle School, Desert Springs Middle School, and Desert Hot Springs High School. The other school is John Glenn Middle School in La Quinta. With that expansion, the Ophelia Project will be touching the lives of close to 600 girls here in the Coachella Valley.
Our program focuses on “life skills” topics with speakers, large group discussions and small group mentoring.  What benefits do the girls get from the Ophelia Project? Watch as Stephanie Bautista, Ophelia Ambassador, describes her Ophelia experience. But the effects of the Ophelia Project don’t stop when a girl leaves the program in high school; she carries them with her throughout her life!  Learn how the Ophelia Project impacted Loops Torres’ college years by giving her the skills to navigate her new world.

How would you feel if you could contribute to building the confidence and self-esteem of our Coachella Valley young women?  Would this one small step of volunteering as a mentor have a meaningful impact on your life and bring back a sense of purpose for you? Find out if mentoring is right for you by attending one of our Orientations. For more information, please contact Peggy Mengel at pmengel@jfkfoundation.org or read our Empowering Times Newsletter to learn more about why women share their time and talent as a mentor.”

As we enter into the heat of our summer, please be mindful of the fact that we will continue to do all that we can to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Remember, wearing a mask is not about you necessarily… it’s about our fellow residents as well.The number of reported infections are rising, but together… we can do this.

Advancing DHS will be taking a brief break to rest and re-calibrate it. However, you can still keep up with us throughout the summer on social media by clicking the tabs at the bottom of this article.

Finally, we still need your support! To our partners, we thank you. Your support has allowed us to continue to spread the wonderful news about our beautiful city. In a day where negativity seems to find us wherever we go, publications like Advancing DHS can prove to be a much need breath of fresh air. Want to donate? Just follow this link https://advancingdhs.com/donate/

Until we meet here again, remember this: If we love our city and each other, we will ADVANCE DHS!!! #DHSstandUP

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