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Jeffries wants more teacher support

Declining enrollment, bringing Sagebrush into district are priorities, he says.

October 17, 2013|By Tiffany Kelly, tiffany.kelly@latimes.com
  • Dan Jeffries is a candidate for La Cañada school board.
Dan Jeffries is a candidate for La Cañada school… (Roger Wilson / La…)

Dan Jeffries moved to La Cañada Flintridge more than a decade ago when looking for a community that offered great schools. Jeffries, 55, is a father of five with three children enrolled in elementary schools. By day, he is a prosecutor with the Los Angeles City Attorney's office, dealing mostly with DUI offenses. The Valley Sun recently sat down with Jeffries on the porch of his La Cañada home.

What is your motivation for running?

Jeffries: I've been thinking about it for a while. I think our schools are great. I would like to continue giving back to the community. La Cañada has been very good to our family.

What actually tipped me over the edge was when my youngest daughter, Sara, was in the transitional kindergarten program last year at La Cañada Elementary. [Pam] Daniger was her teacher and she's a phenomenal teacher.

One day, about four weeks into the school year, Sara said she just didn't want to go to school.

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But I kind of knew she was OK. When I got to school, I walked in and I said to Mrs. Daniger, “Sara is not sure how she's feeling today, if she needs to come home, just call me and I'll pick her up right away.”

Mrs. Daniger, without a beat, totally picked up on what was going on. She said, “You know, Sara, I feel that way, too. We've been working so hard. We've been working on our numbers, our letters and our colors and it's been a lot of work these past few weeks. Let's take it easy today. Let's just have some fun and do some fun things and not work so hard today. If we decide to go home, we'll all just go home.”

I knew she couldn't really mean that; she's not going to send everyone home. But my daughter Sara just ate it up. She was like, “Oh, OK, teacher feels like I do. If we don't like it, we can control it, we can go home ourselves.”

I thought, if we have teachers who are this good that know their students so well and are so able to deal with their emotional needs … then we need to support those teachers. We need to do everything we can to make sure those teachers have every resource that they need.

That was when I decided that I really wanted to do this.

What would you do to support teachers?

Their salary schedule is very difficult to advance through, so you could have a situation when a teacher takes a long time moving up the salary schedule in very small increments and you could also have a situation where a teacher tops out and reaches a plateau and can't go any higher.

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