....1025 Old Farm Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360••••• Main, 805-497-2761Fax, 805-374-1167•••••• www.ConejoAdultEd.org••••••WASC-accredited

Kandy Ono

Kandy Ono’s passion is science, but she has made an art of her teaching career, helping at-risk youth and senior citizens alike transform their lives.

Kandy grew up in Canyon Country and was part of Canyon High’s first 9th grade class. She was the only Asian person there, which she notes was difficult. She attended Cal State Northridge, studying Health Science with an emphasis in Health Education, though she found she loved the areas of early childhood education and physical therapy and hence adjusted her studies to mirror those interests. While still in college, she had started working at an opthalmologist’s office; she would continue work there for 12 years before moving to Thousand Oaks to raise her children.

One of her daughters was attending classes at Horizon Hills Parenting Preschool when one of the teachers needed a sub. This started Kandy out on the road of substitute teaching. She then took the CBEST and earned her full-time credential through the Ventura County Adult Ed program. She began work at Conejo Adult School and 20 years later, she’s still teaching here in the Parenting Program, working with one- and two-year-olds and their families.

Seven years ago, she was asked if she might be willing to work with at-risk kids from Westlake High, T.O. High, Newbury Park High, and Conejo Continuation School. Kandy accepted the challenge and has, using her skills as a Parenting Program educator, worked with these students ever since, assisting and mentoring them in their independent study as they work toward graduation.

“If you give them hope, they see there’s a future and there is no ‘can’t’,” she says. “Everyone says they’re ‘troubled.’ All they want is someone to be there for them.”

In the recent past, Kandy has worked with senior citizens— many with Alzheimer’s—at a local assisted living center, facilitating crafts-making and being someone for the boarders to converse with.

Most recently, Kandy taught an 8-week beginning knitting class at Adult School. Her pupils enjoyed themselves so much that she agreed to starting the all-levels Wednesday Night Knitting Club, also offered through Adult School.

From teaching, Kandy feels that she gets just as much as, if not more than, her students do.

“You do it not for monetary reasons but for you and the want to give back to the community,” she says.





Student & Staff Spotlight
More testimonials in these programs:
Student... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Learning Center
Staff... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Community
'...[T]he personal, caring attention and support of my teachers...helped to motivate me.'--Student Joe Barrio
Joe Barrio, center, with teacher Sean MacDonald & counselor Sam Kane
Joseph Barrio, Student

Meet Joseph Barrio, an excellent example of focused determination and a role model for any student seeking to reach their goals. Almost daily, Joseph came in to our Learning Center, studying the course material and doing his assignments for many hours at a time, facilitated by an online learning program. When it came to finishing his high school course requirements for graduation, he persevered over a 7-month period, completing 14 semester-long classes, earning strong grades in each, and the 70 course credits he needed to obtain his Adult High School Diploma. This is a feat that would normally take about 1.5 years on a regular school-day schedule to accomplish.

When he was asked how he felt about his Learning Center experience, Joseph said "I really like the online program that allows for working at your own pace. It made the learning process much easier. I'd have to say it was the personal, caring attention and support of my teachers who helped to motivate me." As a result, what might be considered record-setting progress is pretty impressive by anyone's standard.

Joseph, who was born in Ventura and raised in Thousand Oaks, attended Conejo Valley District schools. He lives locally with his grandparents and has a younger sister living with his mom in the Valley, as well as an older sister who is a student in the animal program at Moorpark College. His older brother had served in the U.S. Army, an example that inspired Joseph to pursue enlistment in the military, in his case the Navy, which required his having a diploma upon entrance. After he finishes studying for the ASVAB career aptitude exam, his aim is to become a corpsman for medical training, which is similar to the field of licensed nursing.

His immediate goal is a position as a security guard, to which Joseph has applied, will be a stepping stone to further his career, while earning some extra money on the side. In his free time, it's activities like working out at the gym and watching historical and science-related documentaries that he enjoys the most. Joseph has certainly done quite a bit of real-life educational heavy lifting to attain his current success, and still has more to do in order to make history in achieving his own personal goals.

Interview/article by B. Kane
Ryan Przelomiec

Locally born and raised, 17-year-old Ryan Przelomiec, originally from Woodland Hills, grew up in Oak Park, where he will be entering his senior year at the local public high school. He lives with his dad, who is on the faculty at Cal State Northridge teaching photography and art courses, and his mom, an attorney. His brother is in law school, following his mother's career path, and his sister, who is finishing up at Moorpark College, will transfer to a 4-year college to study film production. The family's menagerie of pets, two airedale terriers, two siamese cats, and a rabbit, keep Ryan busy and entertained.

Sometimes the high school environment isn’t the most optimal place for students to excel in their studies. That’s why Ryan Przelomiec has found more success in Adult Education's Learning Center program than in the classrooms of Oak Park High. Through Adult Ed., he completed Physical Science, Life Science A and Life Science B. The classes paralleled those at Oak Park High, allowing Ryan to keep up with his peers, earn his diploma and graduate at the same time they will.

Ryan hopes to attend Moorpark College for two years and then transfer, possibly to Cal State Northridge. There, he hopes to pursue either a teaching credential in special education, inspired by his own learning experiences or a therapist’s license as a result of having counseled and helped out his friends on various occasions.

Free time for Ryan is spent learning photography, cooking, and even plumbing skills from his jack-of-all-trades father, who has instilled in him the values of hard work, honesty, and gratitude for one's life situation, values which Ryan intends to pass down to his own children. He is an athletics enthusiast, having played all types of team sports including cross-country, which he had joined to expand his friendships. Ryan also enjoys surfing at the local beaches, a sport he learned from his dad.

Now may just be the perfect time for him to catch a great wave into a future of fulfillment.

'The courses I am taking will prepare me to go to Moorpark college and give me the discipline I need to do well....I'm enjoying the program. The teachers are good, supportive, and give a lot of positive reinforcement.  I'm really grateful that this program is available.'
--Justin Pasko,
Adult School student
Justin Pasko

Justin Pasko has his sights set on Moorpark College, but a journey begins with one step.  That step for Justin is taking classes through the Adult School Learning Center program.  He is currently enrolled in English 4A and U.S. History, with English 4B next in line. His goal is to earn the Adult Diploma, the equivalent of a high school diploma.  Justin feels fortunate that he can still earn this degree.

“The courses I am taking will prepare me to go to Moorpark college and give me the discipline I need to do well.  Since I didn't finish high school years ago, it's like having a second chance,” he said.

With father Rudy, stepmother Carol, younger brother Tyler, and four dogs behind him, Justin plans to earn an AA in either psychology or culinary arts once enrolled at Moorpark.

"I'm interested in helping people and [learning] how and why people behave the way they do,” Justin said of a possible psychology degree.  Since Justin has been involved with food, having worked in the meat department of both Whole Foods and Vons, a degree in culinary arts is a strong possibility as well.

Justin is foremost helping himself; he enjoys reading self-help books such as The Power of Positive Thinking and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.  He keeps in shape by working out and hiking. He enjoys camping in his spare time, so far staking out Mojave National Preserve, the Redwood Forest, and Sequoia National Park.
As for the Adult School program, Justin feels good about where he stands.  “I'm enjoying the program,” he said. “The teachers are good, supportive, and give a lot of positive reinforcement.  I'm really grateful that this program is available." 

Jennifer Lane

Jennifer Lane enrolled in the Adult Diploma program, taking courses in business, math, health, and computer skills. She attends Moorpark College and plans to transfer toeither San Diego State University or UC San Diego. Ultimately, she would like to major in business and work in real estate.

Jennifer appreciates the studying atmosphere Adult School provides and finds the tutors helpful.

“It’s nice being able to come to the Learning Center to study,” she says. “There are no distractions and the people have helped me when I’ve had questions.”

In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with family and especially likes going out to lunch and shopping with her mother and grandmother. She also likes hanging out with friends.

Interviews & articles by
E. Kane & B. Kane

For more information, please call 818-203-0826, or e-mail Sam Kane at SamK@ConejoAdultEd.org
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