Patti Rasmussen


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'Open Book' with Patti Rasmussen


Two Rosedell teachers come full-circle

Patti Rasmussen · September 27, 1997

When my youngest son Stephen was in first grade, his best fried Bernadette, who lived down the road, would come over just about every day and the two of them would play school. Bernadette was always the teacher, giving Stephen spelling words, math problems and putting together a list of activities for him to do.

Stephen is now in fifth grade, and playing school has been replaced by playing soccer, Sega and the computer. I'm not quite sure if Bernadette is still playing school — I hear she wants to be a professional dancer — but they were typical first graders imitating a teacher they adored.

Some kids never grow up. Take two teachers at Rosedell Elementary School in Saugus, Charlotte Menta and Connie Lindsay, two neighborhood friends, going through elementary school together and both having a first-grade teacher whom they admired and respected.

The interesting twist in this tale of two girls is that the elementary school they attended was Rosedell, and both are now teaching side-by-side in the primary grades with Marsha Wong, that first-grade teacher they admired so much.

Wong, who has been teaching at Rosedell for "over twenty years," remembers both girls fondly. "These two gals stuck with me from first through sixth grade," says Wong. Both Menta and Lindsay remember special times with their teacher, such as field trips to the beach and overnight camp-outs.

Lindsay believes that bonding with your students makes all the difference in the world. "I think that because she was able to do the stuff with us, we were able to bond on day one."

After elementary school, the girls went their separate ways. Menta (née Eichman) attended Arroyo Seco Junior High and Saugus High School. Graduating from high school in 1989, she attended College of the Canyons and Cal State Northridge. Menta did her students teaching with Wong and just completed her master's degree at Chapman University — to which she gives her husband Greg much credit for his support.

Lindsay (née Arbogast) attended private school in Ojai and then the University of Arizona. Lindsay taught in an elementary school in Texas and eventually came back home. "This is a good school. It was my dream to teach (at Rosedell)," Lindsay says. "The parents want what's best for their children, and this is a great education."

Both teachers visited Wong during their college breaks. While catching up on their current adventures, Menta would share a Pepsi and Lay's potato chips while Wong warned them about the long hours of educators.

Menta and Lindsay still listed to Wong's advice. Wong notes that the times have changed for education and family. "Expectations are getting higher," she says.

With both parents working and day care a high priority — Lindsay herself has two children, one in day care — Wong reminds parents to be very careful where they place their child. As a working mother, Lindsay considers herself an advocate for working parents and knows first hand how hard it is at the end of the day to fix dinner, work on homework and have a conversation with your child.

"Children are getting academics in day care, but they're missing the interaction with family," Lindsay says.

Wong has seen constant changes in teaching methods. With phonics a top priority at the beginning of her career, then a switch to whole language and back to phonics, she says, "It's like a pendulum. I used whatever worked."

As for class size reduction in primary grades, the teachers find that they have more time with individual students as far as academics and behavior management are concerned, but find that the amount of paperwork involved is very time-consuming.

Both Menta and Lindsay think today's first- and second-graders are more advanced than when they were in school. "It's the media. We spent more time playing outside and not watching TV when we were that age."

Wong is amazed at technical advances such as the Internet. "I see nothing wrong with it. That's just the way the world is going," she says.

Rosedell is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and much has changed around the neighborhood. Menta and Lindsay remember when all they had was Tapia Brothers, Lombardi's, a 7-Eleven, Chi-Chi's (which they still love) and Shakey's.

Some things never change, however. Wong is still driving her 1971 Super Beetle and little boys are still playing school, but at Rosedell they are naming their mascot, a roadrunner, who hasn't had a name in these thirty years. They are also planning some fun events for the students.

to the Rosedell community: Enjoy your anniversary, and congratulations for turning out two very dedicated teachers!

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©PATTI RASMUSSEN | PUBLISHED BY PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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