Monday, February 13, 2017

Success Story Jose Luis Vasquez Palacios

Recently, Teacher Laetitia ran into one of her former students, Jose Luis Vasquez Palacios.   Nine years ago, he was in her Beginning ESL class.  Now he is producing a television show and getting ready to attend San Francisco State University in the Fall.  He was kind enough to share his story with us about how he achieved his goals and what we can all do to achieve ours.

Jose Luis Vasquez Palacios

Jose Luis moved to the US from Guatemala ten years ago.  He attended San Mateo Adult School from 2008 to 2012. At that time, Luis had in his backpack a few books, some CD’s and several dreams despite an empty stomach. He started with Teacher Laetitia in Low Beginning ESL and finished with Teacher Elizabeth in Advanced class.  

At San Mateo Adult School, Luis found people who believed in him, and the support he needed to succeed. He learned not only excellent educational lessons, but also lifetime lessons that he took to his heart until today.

From SMAS, he went to College of San Mateo.  He took just a few ESL classes at CSM and then started taking regular classes.  He majored in Digital Media and TV Production at CSM.

He received a Phi Theta Kappa Key scholarship.  He graduated from CSM cum laude.  Cum laude means with highest honors.  Only 35 out of 152 students graduated cum laude at CSM that year.  He had a 3.4 GPA

He will start San Francisco State University in August of 2017 and major in TV and Radio Journalism.

We works at KCSM as a producer and host of “What’s Up, San Mateo.”  The show airs on Saturdays at 2 pm and covers community events.  Videos of it can be seen on Youtube.
He also creates the videos needed for the CSM Excel Online course.

Q:  What is the message you hope to convey through your work as a journalist?

To tell people we all have dreams and goals and all of them are possible if we set up a plan.  It’s not just having a dream.  It’s about how we start.

Q:  Do you have any advice for SMAS students?

To learn as much as you can.  Don’t take school for granted because it’s free.  Make the best of it.  Come and pay attention. Do your homework.  Get involved in school activities and culture is very important.

Q:  Successful people always someone behind him who loved and supported them.  Who is that person for you?

My mom, Elizabeth Palacios.  She made me the person I am.  She taught me to be open-minded and humble enough to listen to advice, but also strong enough to be independent.  She also corrected me.  She gave me the balance I needed in life.

Q:  Any last thoughts?

I will always be thankful to all SMAS stuff for being there for me and making every school day special. My achievements are theirs, too, because they are my road trip partners.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Meet Transition Specialist Angelica Esquivel!

Angelica Esquivel
Spring 2017 Schedule for Transition Specialists

Have you met our new transition specialist, Angelica?  

We have two transition specialists - college and career navigators - to help you:  Patty and Angelica. 

Patty works mostly in the daytime.  Angelica works mostly in the evening.  Their office is in Room 28, near the flagpole.  They share their office with Toshio, our CASAS clerk and school musician.

Angelica has a quick smile and is very committed to serving the community.  She knows about many resources to help students meet their goals and find solutions to their problems.  And she can help  in two languages:  English and Spanish. 

Stop by Room 29 to meet her or email her at to make an appointment to meet with her.  Her schedule is Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 9 pm.  And she is here on some Fridays in the daytime.

Get to know Angelica Q and A (Question and Answer):

1.  Where did you work before this job?

Before joining the San Mateo Adult School family, I worked in the nonprofit sector around immigration issues and financial empowerment.

2.  Where did you go to college and what did you study?  

I attended De Anza College in 2013 and transferred to UCLA where I obtained my BA in Sociology with a minor in Public Policy. 

3.  What has helped you meet your goals in life? 

 In order to meet my goals I had to be open to stay determined. Sometimes it is not easy, but it is still possible. I always found a way around all the obstacles.

4.  Where did you grow up?

I was born in Mexico City and grew up Sunnyvale, California. 

5.  What do you like best about working at SMAS?

I like learning about student's goals and help them achieve those goals. 

6.  Do you do the same job at La Costa Adult School?  (Angelica also works at La Costa - the Adult School over the hill in Half Moon Bay.)

I will be helping student at SMAS and La Costa meet their Education, Career and Community goals. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chigusa's Advice for ESL Students with Billing Mistake Problems

Distance Learning Student Chigusa Uematsu has good advice for ESL students with bill problems:

Have you ever had an unfamiliar purchase on your credit card
statement? Or have you been charged a fee that you shouldn’t have been  charged? I have and I managed to correct or get reimbursed for these charges by calling or sending e-mails to customer service.

If you are making a phone call to claim an inappropriate bill, be sure to prepare a note about what you want to say. It will make it easier for you to express yourself. It is OK to tell the operator that you are an English learning student and they might have difficulty understanding you. They will understand and speak slowly
for you.  Usually, I think customer service operators are kind and patient. They try hard to help you. So please don’t hesitate to make a call even though you feel  your English is not good enough to claim a complaint. 

However, a problem with making a phone call is it takes time to reach an operatorTherefore, if  you can and an e-mail address or help desk in a store web site, it might be wise to utilize it. Response may take few days. If you don’t get any response, you must remind or request for a reply over and over. If you quit, you will never hear from them. 
My advice to making a complaint is to overcome your fearfulness and be patient!  Soon you will get used to making complaints about errors and mistakes and you will receive good results for effort.
Thank you to Chigusa for sharing her good advice and excellent writing.  If you have advice to share, tell your teacher.  We can share it here on the blog with other SMAS students.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mr. T is retiring at the end of Spring Semester

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Big News!  Our wonderful "Mr T" - Larry Teshara - Director of our Adult School - will be retiring at the end of this Spring Semester.
Mr T is brilliant at creating good relationships with people. He used his talent to help people and help our school.

Mr. T helped many students find their way, encouraging them to find their strength and move forward.

Mr. T helped staff members in the same way. He was a mentor to Tim, our Assistant Director.  Tim was a teacher at our school and Mr. T encouraged him to move forward and become an administrator.

Mr. T built relationships with the SMUHSD school board, principals and directors of other schools, elected officials, and local community leaders.  His ability to forge strong relationships is part of why our school survived the difficult years of cuts so well. 

We will always be in his debt and appreciate all he has done for our school and the larger community.

Later this year, we will have a celebration for his retirement. 

Here is an announcement about his retirement.  It includes a "bio" - a biography - about his FIFTY years with San Mateo Union High School district.


Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Larry Teshara to Retire as Director of the San Mateo Adult School of the

San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD) After 50 Years of Educational Service

Teshara, who has been in education for 50 years, including 20 years as the Adult School Director, will depart the SMUHSD at the end of the 16/17 School Year

San Mateo, Calif. – Larry Teshara, Director of the San Mateo Adult School of the San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD), has announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2017. Mr. Teshara has been with the SMUHSD for 45 years, with the past 20 years as the Director of the San Mateo Adult School – a community asset and educational resource, especially for community members who arrive to the United States looking to improve their circumstances through education.

Teshara, affectionately called "Mr. T" by his students and staff, has been in education since February of 1967 when he became a full-time English teacher and counselor with the San Bruno Park School District immediately after earning his teaching credential at the age of 23. In 1972, he joined the SMUHSD as a counselor of the since-closed Crestmoor High. After four years at Crestmoor, he became the Assistant Principal of Aragon High for six years, followed by 15 years as Principal of Burlingame High School starting in 1983. In 1997, he became the much beloved Director of the San Mateo Adult School. He is known and respected for revitalizing Burlingame High School and the Adult School during tenuous times. Teshara leaves the Adult School a thriving learning center serving approximately 8,000 students.

Tom Mohr, past SMUHSD superintendent and current San Mateo County Community College Board President, states, "Larry Teshara has had a phenomenal career. No one in this county who has been responsible for thousands of students, has served students in a more professional and principled manner. He is the manifestation of all the qualities an educator should strive for."

When asked what he feels he did best in his career, Teshara shares, "I connected with people. I got out from behind my desk and made sure that everyone knew they were welcome, important and that they mattered to our school."

Dr. Kevin Skelly, Superintendent of the SMUHSD, thanked Teshara for his years of District service. "Larry is a community icon," explains Superintendent Skelly. "He is an extraordinary man who has done extraordinary things for so many people. He will be dearly missed from the halls of the Adult School and District leadership meetings."

The SMUHSD will soon commence the process to select a successor as Adult School Director worthy of his legacy.

More about the SMUHSD

The San Mateo Union High School District, in existence for more than 110 years, continues to be a vital community academic and cultural resource. With an annual operating budget that is funded primarily through local property taxes, it provides education to a diverse range of approximately 8,600 students attending six highly-rated comprehensive high schools, a special Middle College program in conjunction with the College of San Mateo, an alternative high school where students voluntarily recover credits, and a robust Adult School Program. The District has graduated an estimated 132,000 young people since its founding in 1902. To learn more about the SMUHSD, visit or find us on facebook and twitter @SMUHSD.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Student Success Story: Mario Dominguez

Mario Dominguez
January is a time when we think about our dreams for the future.  We set goals for ourselves.  A goal is a dream with a plan. 

Do you want to go to college?  

Mario's story can help you.

Mario Dominguez is a college student and SMAS success story.  You can learn from Mario how to go to college or accomplish other goals.

SASS Scholarship Winner

Mario is starting Canada Community College in January 2017.  He is the winner of a SASS Scholarship.  SASS stands for Sequoia Adult School Scholars.    You can read more about SASS and the SASS Foundation and Scholarships here.

Reading Books Helps

He completed his GED at San Mateo Adult School in six months.  How did he do that?  He focuses on one subject at a time, moving from easiest to hardest.  He didn't do everything at once. 
Mario reads books.  This has also been a big help to him. 

Goals Maintain Motivation

He stayed motivated by thinking about his goals.  He took the SMAS College and Career Exploration Class to learn more about which career would be best for him.  He decided a career in computer science would be best for him.  He likes coding. 

Hard Work and Determination

Mario worked while he was completing his GED.  He commuted "over the hill" from Half Moon Bay for classes here at SMAS.   After he completed his GED, he continues to attend GED classes to keep his mind sharp and ready for college in January.

Forward to the Future

Congratulations to Mario on his achievement!  We wish him the best of luck in his college and career.  We know he will do well.  He has discipline, focus, and heart.