A Tribute to Independent Booksellers
Independent booksellers have provided me, along with thousands--hopefully millions--of others, with countless hours of discovery and shining moments of serendipity.
It is in the stores where the booksellers are as engaged in the loving of books as they are in the selling of them that small treasures await discovery. So, those are the places I love to go hunting for what I don't know I don't know about.
I will always remember the kindness and caring Norman Brock showed a scrawny, freckle-faced junior high red-head. His cave-like San Antonio maze of musty shelves was a wonderland. He took great effort to respond to my first query, leading me down ancient stairs and around and around to one little old book that cost almost nothing and was exactly what I was looking for.
PLEASE REMEMBER NORMAN BROCK If you have any memories you would like to share, I would love to hear about them. Just send me an e-mail by clicking on the La Vergne Rosow on the far right hand side of this page to respond.
I have received so much feedback on this call that I must say it is heartening to know that the power of one book lover has traveled across the decades. The store is gone. The man is gone. But the impact that his passion made on generations of readers continues.
In more recent times, Patty and Ren Taney of Bookman Too (now closed), Randy McDonald of Sandcastle Books, Larry and Birthe Wagner of The Book Junction, and Davis Dutton of Dutton’s Books (now closed) have enriched my literary life immeasurably.
The Huntington Beach Sandcastle specializes in autographed editions.
Thankfully, the Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood has survived a move and now thrives, offering readers a place to peruse fine familiar titles and those always welcome surprises. This is a fine place to find grown-up pop-up books.
Sadly, this celebration of the founding of the Women's National Book Association marked also the closing of Dutton's Books in Brentwood.
One of the many values of the independent bookseller is that you can find books not ever available in the big box stores.
Too, the independent book seller is more likely to remember customers and their preferences from visit to visit.
CHAIR, PROFESSIONAL GROWTH COMMITTEE This is the committee that distributes to faculty the funds for conferences and tuition. To maintain a vibrant academic community, faculty must maintain currency in both their fields and in the academic world in general. Because of the work of this committee, more faculty than ever before are interested in active participation in conferences and study programs. Frustratingly, the funds now run out faster than ever before.
FOUNDING and PAST-CHAIR, SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE The work of this committee is some of the most challenging and interesting of my career. During my tenure, Los Angeles Valley College became California’s first (and continues to be it only) Tree Campus USA, a designation made by the Arbor Foundation and California Forestry Service.
ACADEMIC SENATE and DISTRICT ACADEMIC SENATE The Senate is responsible for reviewing curricular planning and academic policy. That is to say, it is the responsibility of the Senate to assure that the courses offered both comply with statewide requirements and offer community members the kinds of study opportunities they need and want.
Former CURRICULUM CHAIR Two Years Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD). The work of this committee is to provide academic courses that serve the needs of students at each of the 9 colleges in the LACCD, the largest community college district in the world. Part of the challenge is to achieve consensus for campuses that have very different student populations, all of whom are served by one mission.
Former DIRECTOR, TEACHER PREPARATION ACADEMY (TPA)
California has experienced a severe teacher shortage and anticipates more shortages as waves of retirement pull experienced teachers from the classrooms over the next few years. To help solve the problem, some community colleges are offering programs for future teachers. I directed one of those programs.
I teach English and English as a second language classes.
The books listed in the "Annotated List of Good Books" of In Forsaken Hands and annotated in Light 'n Lively Reads and Accessing the Classics are the same as those I use in my classes...authentic literature. For more on this topic, see "Authentic Text" on the My Works pages.
TEACHER - WATTS MIDDLE SCHOOL
When I returned from Thailand, I thought I would put myself out of the adult literacy business by getting closer to the root causes.
I began teaching 6th grade at a middle school in WATTS. The reading scores were below the tenth percentile.
On the first day of school, there were over 50 children in my classroom designed for fewer than 30. None read above the third grade level. There were not enough desks.
Because there were not enough of the assigned out-of-date texts, the children had to share them.
We had block scheduling and team teaching. I taught English and social studies and my teammate taught science and math. For two hours I had the same students for English and ancient world history. Then my first group went next door and my teammate's students came to me.
During one 9-month period I had five different teammates and, because of structural problems, I had to change classrooms five times.
I have not written this book yet, but I do miss those children…every day.
FOUNDER BEAUMONT LITERACY PROGRAM
As founder of the Beaumont Library District Adult Literacy Program in Beaumont, California, I designed a program that allowed community volunteers to become tutors of adults
• who were just learning to read for the first time or
• who had always had a hard time understanding printed words or writing them.
The tutors learned the reasons behind reading problems and taught those theories to their adult students in one-on-one sessions. Every tutor/learner pair was a new experiment. The adult learners were actively involved in literacy research.
Eventually we added a family literacy component. But, I was often asked to help home schooling parents with reading issues.
The library computer system now allows members of the public access to many answers anonymously.
First Global Community College
Nong Khai, Thailand
FIRST TEACHER FGCC
The First Teacher of
The First Class of
The First Global Community College
in Nong Khai, Thailand.
Dr. La Vergne. Until recent times, the Thai people used only first names.
One of the most enriching opportunities of my life came when I joined the California Community Colleges Fourth Delegation to Thailand.
In Nong Khai (that's in the Northeast just across the Mekong River from Laos) I became the first teacher of the first class of the First Global Community College (FGCC).
This rainforest region, with magnificent trees, gentle water buffalo, majestic elephants, and the warm waters of the Mekong make up what can only be recalled as Paradise.
During subsequent visits, I conducted teacher education seminars all over the country and taught English at Khon Kaen University.
My students from the First and Second Classes had an opportunity to study in the Computer Science Department at Khon Kaen University (KKU).
At KKU, I taught my First Global Community College students, KKU seniors, and KKU faculty.
Before coming home, I designed an Internet composition and research class. Then I taught my students, who were at their computers in the Northeast of Thailand from my computer in California. Though there are much more sophisticated Internet lesson delivery systems now, back then this was the cat's meow.
I continue to correspond with those Thai citizens, some of whom have moved to the US and elsewhere.
PS If you have a chance to visit or teach in Thailand, take it. If you go, be sure to find your way to Nong Khai and to go across the Mekong River to Laos (pronounced Lao). The Thai people are gentle, kind, and welcoming. The rainforest is spell-binding. The temples are inspiring.
Academics and Lifelong Learning
Making good my escape from high school when I was 16, I never intended to return to school again. I swore off after every degree, too.
Probably the most important part of my formal education has been at the community college. For a reasonable cost a student may try out options, make mistakes, and continue with lifelong learning. So it is that I think my AA degree from Orange Coast College has made all other academic work possible.
At Chapman College (now Chapman University), I earned a BA in art and education an got interested in photography right at the end of my program. So I went to California State University, Long Beach, where I earned an MA in photography and instructional media.
In my book In Forsaken Hands I give the long story about literacy volunteerism. Here I will simply say that it led me back to school, the University of Southern California, where I earned both a master degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages, MSTESL. And then a doctorate of education, Ed.D., as a major in intercultural education with an emphasis in language teaching and family literacy.
I continue to work on my lifelong learning. I’ve taken geology in Yosemite National Park, studied endangered California plants in the mountains, wilderness survival in Costa Mesa, and opera as literature and scriptwriting at a community college.
In celebration of the 2005 wildflower bloom bonanza—the result of record-breaking rains, I accompanied some science profs to the desert region called Anza Borrego and found fantastical photo opportunities. Alas, now California is one of the longest droughts in memory.
Recently, I took a geometry through paper folding course. Why wasn't I taught that way before?
I have my eye on a math class, but that calls for a bit more courage.
The design of this website is also a work in progress. If you discover any errors or have any suggestions, please use the e-mail link on the right to send me a message about it.