I started as a Mentor Teacher with Mountain Oaks at the start of this century when we worked out of a warehouse on Pool Station Road in Calaveras County and at Woods Creek Park in Tuolumne County. I came with a dozen years of experience as an educator in self-contained classrooms at 2nd grade and junior high up here in the Sierra and as a classroom teacher, independent study coordinator and counselor/interpersonal skills instructor in schools in the California Delta town of Pittsburg. Highlights of my time as an educator in the Delta included working with the Lawrence Hall of Science developing curriculum, the National Park Service doing living history and training student mediators.
The education that qualified me to do this work includes earning a Liberal Studies BA from Sonoma State and a Counseling Psychology MA from Cal State East Bay with a credential in Pupil Personnel Services. During college and my early career, I had work experience as a river guide, a potter, caterer, landscaper, mason, warehouseman, program director, salesman, and musician.
I was raised in a family of seven who resided across the US following my father's government employment as a sanitary engineer and administrator. I've been married nearly three decades to Mary Pino who has recently retired from teaching 2nd and 3rd graders for 30 years. Our twins, Taryn and Aidan, were in infants-in-arms when I started with Mountain Oaks and now attend college: Taryn at Evergreen College in Olympia, WA and Aidan at Columbia College with his sights set on Southern Oregon University to continue pursuing his interest in theater. I also have a son in his thirties who lives in Portland, has real estate in Sonoma County and has studied Chinese medicine for a decade with an aspiration to pass licensing exams to begin a practice.
Presently I serve Mountain Oaks as a school counselor and visit all three sites weekly helping students steer toward academic progress by troubleshooting issues with emotional regulation, executive functioning, social relations, behavior and coping with life changes, learning challenges, over-exposure in cyber-space and vocational pursuits. I work with students individually and in small groups. I often get direction from a student's I.E.P. team in setting goals for my work.
I have a program that I started here and run in partnership with high school students called Life Skills In Action that is designed to raise awareness of lifestyle talents that lead to success beyond school. I hope that it provides a way to spotlight people, strategies, and tools that lead to success in life.