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New Teachers Bring Diversity Of Talent
From a teacher whose degrees include math, music and linguistics to another who's a former insurance adjuster and a minister in a local church, the seven new teachers joining the Riverbank Unified School District this year have a wealth of life experience and diverse abilities.

They gathered with returning staff members on Thursday at Riverbank High's gymnasium to meet with principals of the district's schools, hear an inspirational speaker and attend orientation classes for the start of the new school year.

The chosen seven are Lupe Galindo teaching Spanish, Travis Cardoso instructing in agricultural mechanics and welding, Nena Wood teaching home economics and Jeff Seibert handling computer science, all of them at Riverbank High; Kevin McBride Luman and Linda Lizarraga both teaching at Riverbank Language Academy; and Fred Wood instructing in math and science at Adelante High School.

Galindo comes to the Riverbank district after two years teaching for the large Clark County school district including Las Vegas. Before that he served 11 years in Idaho.

"I'm delighted to be moving to a small agricultural community and smell new mown grass again after rock and desert," he said.

Galindo attended Boise State University in Idaho and majored in physical education with a minor in Spanish. His wife's name is Aimee and they have two daughters, Celia and Amabel, who attend school in Modesto.

Cardoso is tackling his first teaching appointment, having an agricultural science degree with an option in education from California State University at Chico. A native of Modesto, he still resides there but has attended leadership conferences in agricultural studies in New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Nena Wood recently went back to school and graduated in home economics from Fresno State after raising a family of five girls. She has taught for two years at Merced High School and this last year at Los Banos High and lives in Merced.

Seibert, by contrast, is a veteran in education with 23 years to his credit. He has taught nine years at Lincoln High in Stockton and will continue to divide his time between teaching computer science at Lincoln High and Riverbank High. His bachelor's degree is in theology and music with a minor in math from Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. A resident of Valley Springs east of Stockton, he also has a master's degree in math from Columbia University in San Francisco.

McBride Luman will be teaching at the Riverbank Language Academy after eight years instructing in math and web design for the Stockton Unified School District. Born and raised in Turlock, he attended Trinity Western University in Canada for a bachelor's degree in cross cultural studies and linguistics with a minor in music. He then attended University of California Los Angeles for a master's degree in history before teaching elementary school in Los Angeles and then transferring to the Stockton district. Now a resident of Oakdale, he has a wife Marian and two teenage daughters, Fiona and Soraya.

Lizarraga, the other new teacher at RLA, graduated in 1998 from Riverbank High where she and her siblings excelled at tennis. She has been teaching in the Hayward Unified School District for the last seven years. Now covering kindergarten through eighth grade, RLA works on a dual language immersion principle. Teachers start by instructing Spanish speaking newcomers 90 percent in their native language and then gradually introduce more English until by eighth grade they are instructed 90 percent in English.

Fred Wood (no relation to either Nena Wood or Monte Wood, the longtime physical education teacher and cross country coach at RHS) has been teaching at the Valley Community in Merced for the past two and a half years. It is an alternative education school like Adelante, where he will teach math and science.

"I enjoy the challenge of working with students who need some additional help," he said.

Wood has only recently become a teacher. He was an insurance adjuster for 12 years before that. A resident of Riverbank, he is also a minister of a local church, the Riverbank Holiness Church on Patterson Road.