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Volunteer Teacher Takes on School's Biggest Challenges

May 16, 1991|LEE HARRIS

At the beginning of the academic year last September, Lincoln Elementary School student Ryan Feng, a recent arrival from Taiwan whose native language is Chinese, was unable to read in English.

But now, as the school year draws to a close, the 8-year-old is reading at the second-grade level.

Ryan is but the latest success credited to the Paramount school's "secret weapon," volunteer teacher Michael Storms.

"We send some of our biggest challenges to Michael," second-grade teacher Dorothy Poole said.

Storms has volunteered his time at Lincoln School for more than 13 years. He works with students who need extra help with their reading, spelling and math. Storms, who speaks Spanish, also tutors Spanish-speaking students in English.

Storms is confined to a wheelchair because of polio, suffers from diabetes, and has limited vision, but can be found in the classrooms for at least five hours during most school days.

"I just love teaching. I come when my health permits," said Storms, who has used a wheelchair since a bout with polio in the mid-1950s. "This also makes me feel useful. Hopefully, a student is a little better off because of my help."

Storms, 55, started coming to the school in 1977, while working toward his bachelor's degree in psychology and counseling at Cal State Long Beach.

"I came on a special program where college students tutored elementary students. They loaded me down with students. I loved it. I just kept coming back," Storms said. He received his bachelor's degree in 1979.

He also has a state teaching certificate, but has never applied for a regular teaching position. "I don't think my health would allow me to teach on a regular basis," said the Long Beach resident, who has six children ranging in age from 13 to 28. He is divorced.

On Tuesday, the Paramount Unified School District Board of Education honored him with a certificate of recognition and a plaque.

"He's a good teacher because he is a good listener," said Lincoln Principal Bertha Forsythe. "He explains. He provides the students with methods to solve their problems."

"And the students love him," said Poole, the second-grade teacher.

* Manuel Olivares, 26, who was born without arms and must rely solely on his feet to perform his job at Goodwill Industries in Long Beach, has been selected as the national Goodwill Achiever of the Year for 1990. He will be honored in July in St. Paul, Minn., at a ceremony for other award winners from throughout the nation, including the Goodwill Volunteer of the Year. Olivares was selected from more than 170 candidates from Goodwill Industries. He has worked at Goodwill since 1987, sorting donated clothes.

* Robin L. Koons, public affairs manager for General Telephone's Long Beach district, has been selected as Woman of the Year in the 58th Assembly District. Koons was nominated by Assemblyman Tom Mays (R-Huntington Beach), who represents the district. Koons serves on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors for the cities of Lakewood and Signal Hill, and chairs the governmental affairs committee for the Long Beach chamber.

* Harold (Ed) Malone is the new director of campus security at Whittier College. He replaces Jim Williamson, who retired. Malone, 44, was the chief of campus safety at Chapman College in Orange. Before entering law enforcement, Malone was pastor for 10 years of the Whittier Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational church.

* Douglas Aircraft Co. of Long Beach has named Renee P. Handler as its general manager of communications. Before joining Douglas, Handler was in charge of employee benefits, services and communications at U.S. Surgical Corp. in Norwalk, Conn.

* Lakewood resident Ernestina Osorio, a junior at UC Santa Barbara, has won a $2,200 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Osorio was one of nine students from California selected for the grant, which allows recipients to conduct independent research and writing projects during the summer months.

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