“I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.” –Ty Webb

My golfing pedigree is 30% interest in the sport, 20% why the hell not and 50% Caddyshack. Course I didn’t tell Bob (athletic director) that when I decided to be the SVHS girls coach but it really doesn’t matter. The natural Fall extra curricular position for me would be to take over the girl’s tennis team but Mary Katherine, the current coach, is loved by the students and as I’ve written 27 thousand times, it’s all about the students. The SVHS golf coach moved to Tahoe, I moved in, change is good.

“Be the ball SVHS.” This was my announcement in the bulletin. I spent the week hitting practice balls with my 9-iron in the field next to the basketball courts, waiting for the swarm of golfers and getting strange looks from the Football team. By Wednesday afternoon I was preparing to tell Bob that the team was not happening. Then I took a walk around campus with my clubs and four girls approached then two more then four more and before I knew it, my fears were allayed and the team was a go. Ty was only partially right-you just have to let things happen but when they don’t you have to do a little work to make them happen.

I’ve always liked golf but the combination of choosing a profession with little extra income and loving tennis (http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2017/06/11/nick-bolletteiri-original-baller/) has led to limited time on the golf course. But, so what? The goal, just like with tennis coaching, is to create lifelong golfers and I can do that without being Tiger Woods.


Golfing in Sonoma is not easy, the three par is gone, the driving range is gone and the only course available is private and sports team access has gone from three days per week to one (although I’m very thankful for at least one). Innovation time, a trip to Dick’s for golf nets and whiffle balls then maybe a little putting green work on the campus and some practice at the mini golf course and maybe a fundraiser at Nicholson Ranch… Innovation is my jam.


Which brings me to this year’s curriculum. Yes, I was able to pull myself out of my OCTD funk (http://valleytalking.blogs.sonomanews.com/2017/08/10/fire-fury-big-end/) and prepare for the school year. And yes, I did read some of the comments about my last column and I especially liked the student responses to the haters. But let’s get out of that excrement pool and move forward.


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Einstein was right especially when trying to teach others. There’s only one rule in my classroom: Maintain a positive learning environment. Simple direction is better; otherwise you risk becoming the teacher from Peanuts (Waa, Whaaa, Waa, Whaaa, Wah, Wah).


These are my curricular themes for the year:


  1. August 14-September 1: Neurobiology and pathways. How to learn and how to smile. Endorphins, opioids, alcohol, pot, homeostasis. Ropes course fieldtrip.
  2. September 5-September 29: Is technology controlling you? Screenagers, apathy, creating vs. watching. Videos for film festival. Facebook guest speaker-Richie Biggs.
  3. October 2-October 20: Modern slavery and prostitution. Lisa Kristine gallery fieldtrip.
  4. October 23-November 17: Do politics matter? Getting things done locally and globally. Panel with Rachel Hundley, Susan Gorin, Mike Thompson and Gavin Newsom (why not?)
  5. November 27-December 22: Be Present. Mindfulness for the holidays and all days, social media is an oxymoron.
  6. January 8-February 2: Pollution solutions. Plastic is making your penis smaller and other ways to wake people up. Creek cleaning vs. stopping extracting things from the earth. Plaza protest.
  7. February 5-March 2: Me vs. We at the Winter Olympics. A capitalist, a socialist and a communist walk into a bar-what is the punch line? Utopian societies/War/Overpopulation/PeyongChang 2018.
  8. March 5-March 30: SIFF 2018, SONOMAWOOD is only the beginning, movies heal. Kevin McNeely and filmmakers visit, Skype with Dan Dorrance.
  9. April 10-May 4: Transforming SDC. Costs, visions and realities of the Sonoma Developmental Center. Second ropes course and SDC visit (with permission). Discussion with John McCaul from The Sonoma Land Trust.
  10. May 7-May 31: Finding Jo-Jo. Empowerment, marginalization, and All Lives Matter. How to stop screaming into the darkness.


Now the trick is how to weave these 10 themes into the standards required for my Physical Science, Life Science, Algebra, Geometry and Art classes. I created an elective a couple of years ago called Social Responsibility that was the platform for the curricular themes but this year it was bumped by Physical Science (student credit deficiencies come first and there are only so many classes in a day).


Also the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) have changed the priorities in Physical Science since I last taught it in 2010 but the content really doesn’t change (matter and energy) and as you know, I kinda love change. And the year is kicking off with a pretty phenomenal scientific event: (http://www.sonomanews.com/news/7316131-181/sonoma-valley-high-teacher-educates?ref=most&artslide=0) which brings me back to Golf and Caddyshack and neuropathways and endorphins and how everything is connected.


Welcome to the new school year, same as the old school year only completely different. And if Charleston and Barcelona and Trump are messing with your homeostasis, remember the wisdom of Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield):



Tony D’Annunzio: [carrying Czervik’s golf bag] What do you got in here, rocks?
Al Czervik: Are you kiddin’? When I was your age, I would lug fifty pounds of ice up five, six flights of stairs!
Tony D’Annunzio: [puts down Czervik’s bag, exasperated] So what?
Al Czervik: So what?
[opens compartment in golf bag, revealing radio]
Al Czervik: So let’s dance!
[turns on Journey’s “Any Way You Want It,” high volume]






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