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It All Began With a Job In Beauty School

Kathy DeFloria, a new associate executive producer of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, has a special interest in school dropouts: 33 years ago, at age 15, she was one. DeFloria says that she dropped out of school for the same reason kids do today—lack of self-esteem and motivation. "It didn't matter to anyone if I stayed in school," she says. Her road to success began with a job at ta beauty school; she did the cleaning up in exchange for tuition. After becoming a beautician, DeFloria decided she wanted to teach high school cosmetology. So, after earning a high school equivalency degree, she went on to college and ultimately received a master's degree in education. She has been a teacher and counselor, and in 1989, she became the principal of Metro Vocational Institute in Phoenix. In her new job, DeFloria manages six major educational programs and is the director of personnel.

Young At Heart

Ben Rosenberg, a teacher's assistant for emotionally disturbed children in Woodland Hills, Calif., says his philosophy of life is to take it "one day at a time.” It's a philosophy that has served him well. In October, the 90-year-old Rosenberg (at right) was honored as the oldest employee in the Los Angeles Unified School District. When Rosenberg retired from the business world at age 55, he had everything he wanted: a Ferrari, a villa in France, and a home in Malibu. But, he says, he grew “tired of retiring.” So, at age 72, Rosenberg volunteered as a teaching assistant at a school in Los Angeles. He quit a short time later, however, after a 3rd grade boy called him an "old drunk.” The experience was sobering. With the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, Rosenberg gave up drinking and, at age 75, returned to his job as a teaching assistant, this time as a paid employee. Kicking the booze has helped Rosenberg in his work with emotionally disturbed children. "You relearn in AA that if you can't change a person, you should love and accept them the way they are,” he says.

If You Can't Stand The Heat ...

Thomas Gilhool, the former Pennsylvania secretary of education who made a highly publicized leap into public school teaching last year, has left the classroom to resume his law practice. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Gilhool said that his $25,000 salary was too low and that he was frustrated with bureaucratic rules, drug abuse, and students' problems.

Fighting Mad

As a middle school special education teacher, Sofia Pandazides has had to cope with many learning disabilities. But the one giving her the most trouble these days is her own. She suffers from “auditory-visual process delay,” making it, she says, impossible for her to complete fast-paced, timed exams. Last year, Pandazides lost her job with the Prince William County (Va.) Public Schools after she failed eight times to pass the National Teachers Examinations, which are required for permanent certification in the state. Angry and wanting her job back, Pandazides filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that she was discriminated against because of her disability. A federal judge dismissed the suit in October, but Pandazides' lawyer, Steven Stone, intends to refile. Federal law, he says, prohibits employers from using tests that "prey upon” an applicant's disabilities. The new lawsuit, he adds, will ask the state to make an "individual determination” for Pandazides that would take into account her teaching experience.

Vol. 02, Issue 04, Page 20

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