March 26, 2015

Alison Bailey Streich ’87 Hits High Note as OUSD Teacher of the Year

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves her job as much as Alison Bailey Streich ’87.

A music teacher in the Oakland Unified School District, Bailey radiates with pride when talking about the accomplishments of her elementary, middle and high school students. “My students play joyously,” she said.

Recently Streich was recently recognized for her ability to provide students a transformational music experience when she was named a 2014-15 Oakland Unified School District Teacher of the Year.

Teachers of the Year are selected using a number of criteria including the recommendations of nominators, candidates’ personal statements of teaching philosophy, and the observations of candidates’ teaching practice, classroom environment and student conduct.

OUSD Music Coordinator Phil Rydeen said Streich “engages her students with creative songs that teach students to read and perform music at high levels.”

Streich has worked within OUSD for 21 years. She’s taught a K-3 special education class, first grade, kindergarten and led the district’s Community Immersion program for special education students aged 18-22.

“Music demands your concentration and effort. You can’t be self-conscious, you just have to be brave.”

She is currently teaching music at four West Oakland schools including Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, Lafayette Elementary, West Oakland Middle School and McClymonds High School.

Streich also developed and continues to instruct the Oakland Spirit Orchestra, a student orchestra that partners with the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

Being honored as a top teacher is simply icing on the cake of a fulfilling career. “To me, it doesn’t matter if I’m ‘Teacher of the Year’ or not. I just really like my job. I’ve found my niche,” she said.

Early Love of Music

Streich’s love of music, and the violin in particular, was fostered by her third grade teacher, Dorothy Lee at Corpus Christi

We have this law ‘Check the drama at the door – just come in and let’s make music’

School. “She played the violin and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up,” she said. “I give Ms. Lee a lot credit for showing me a life path.”

At O’Dowd, Streich participated in orchestra under Leonard Rossi’s direction. “It was the only class that I got an ‘A’ in every single grading period all four years,” she said. “For me, that class was where I was my best. It was my home base.”

Streich went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music from Holy Names University, where she later pursued a master’s in education along with a multiple subject teaching credential and a learning handicapped teaching credential.

Prior to becoming a full-time teacher, Streich was a member of the Golden Bough trio, playing violin, and lived on the road playing gigs throughout the world for two years.

Fostering Joy, Confidence and Compassion through Music

Streich says the importance of music in the life of a child can’t be underestimated. “A kid may come into the band room in a really bad mood – they got a bad grade on a test or they’re grumpy – but we have this law ‘Check the drama at the door – just come in and let’s make music’,” she said. “They come into class in a certain mood, but by the time they leave their energy has changed.”

Music also provides an avenue for students to learn about teamwork and respecting others, Streich said. “There’s so much strife and conflict among people in general. It’s important for them to be in an environment where there is no yelling and no conflict. Coming together to create music facilitates this connection of humanity,” she said.

Oakland Spirit Orchestra (OSO) was borne from Streich’s desire to offer a musical experience to children from all corners of the city. But launching the orchestra was also a way for Streich to channel her energy and grief after the death of her mother. “I had been talking about starting this orchestra for a long time. I finally started it in memory of my mom,” she said. “It’s been wonderful. The kids have become really close with one another and look out for each other.”

“I’m addicted to the joy.”

Streich is grateful for the support of community members, particularly fellow O’Dowd alums Ann Lovi ’89 and Tina Ramos ’87.

Lovi provided the funds to buy T-shirts for all of the members of OSO, while Ramos is holding a fundraiser at her new restaurant, LaSnackeria (815 Washington St. in Old Oakland), on April 1, from 4-8 p.m., to benefit the orchestra.

Streich says that learning music can be very difficult and frustrating for a child. “Music demands your concentration and effort. You can’t be self-conscious, you just have to be brave,” she said. “I like helping kids get through those super frustrating times. I feel super vital and really needed here.”

Streich says staying inspired is easy. “I’m addicted to the joy,” she said.

The award-winning teacher continues to pursue her own music, performing regularly with a quartet called the Rusty String Express. And she encourages students to maintain music in their lives regardless of what profession they eventually choose. “If you have something that brings joy to your life you just can’t give that up,” she said.

Streich has a 15-year-old son, Eli, who is a drummer and bassist. She is the sister of Meghan Bailey Wallingford ’89 and Elena Bailey ’92.

March 25, 2015

Eskrima – Filipino Martial Art Demo

Action starts about 2:10.

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel »

Is an embryo a person? – Great Lecture

What makes a person a person?

Dr. Peter Hess recently spoke in Lina Schoendorf’s “Atheism and Faith” Class. Dr. Hess has a BA from Cal, MA from Oxford, and PhD from G.T.U.

This is a classic example of the use of the Socratic Method to teach by asking a series of fascinating questions that lead a student to a deeper understanding of “What is a person?” Guaranteed to challenge your understanding.

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel »

March 20, 2015

Earthworm Observation in Mr. Brammer’s Class

Students were instructed to observe and record what they saw as live earthworms crawled around on trays with towelettes. Several kids felt very grossed out by the worms, but then…

She doesn’t want to touch it, but it’s an important part of learning to observe.

Mr. Brammer showed photos from atrip to the rainforests of Ecuador where he had found 4 foot long earthworms crawling around on the ground. Apparently they killed by constriction like a python (just kidding). Anyhow here are some shots he shared with me.

Apparently the earth worms are quite strong as well.

Nicholas Adgar ’15 and Samuel Wu ’15 Earn Eagle Scout Award

Seniors Nick Adgar and Sam Wu recently earned the highest rank in scouting, the Eagle Scout Award, from Troop 89 in Alameda. They completed their Eagle Board of Review in October and December respectively and celebrated their Eagle Court of Honor on March 3, 2015.

Nick’s Eagle Project was the construction of compost bins at the Alameda Boys and Girls Club garden. This project aided the green garden initiative of the club.

Sam’s Eagle Project designed and created an outdoor science classroom at Amelia Earhart School in Alameda. The work included the clean up of the outdoor garden and the construction and installation of benches and a teaching table to accommodate 32 students.

Each boy earned 26 merit badges and held several leadership positions in the troop. Additionally both boys completed the National Youth Leadership Training program.

March 19, 2015

Sea Urchin Egg Fertilization in AP Bio

March 19, 2015

This is an addendum to a post made last year. Read that post below this one.

AP Bio students examine fertilized sea urchin eggs under microscope.

The eggs have been fertilized. The “shield” is up to to keep other sperm from inseminating the egg. The dark spot is the beginning of cell division.

24 hours later, the eggs aren’t looking so good. They have been attacked by protozoa, super tiny organisms. The cell division has gone horribly awry.

Roll over the image below to see the magnified view.

The eggs are the large things that are all mangled. High mobile organisms are moving in among the eggs, however they are still much larger than the protozoa that are swarming the eggs. They appears as a fuzzy little halo around the eggs.

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March 24, 2014

The original post:

AP Bio students think of names for the sea urchins. The sea urchins provide eggs and sperm for the fertilization experiment.

Definition: Cytokinesis is the process in which the cytoplasm of a single eukaryotic cell is divided to form two daughter cells.

Cytokinesis is Halfway Complete

Sea Urchin eggs in Various Stages of Cytokinesis

Upper Right: Sea urchin with fertilization membrane (thin circle) that protects the egg from being fertilized by additional sperm after initial fertilization.
Bottom Left: Egg begins to elongate as cytokinesis begins.
Bottom Right: Egg has is about half way through cytokinesis. Remnants of fertilization membrane (thin circle) remains.

Sea Urchin Egg has Divided into 8 Cells

Microphotographic Video of Blastula

The really cool stuff I shot kicks in after 15 seconds. You can get this same effect by putting your iphone or camera over the microscope lens.

Pluteus Stage

Photo by Chris LeBoa.

Student uses iPhone to take pictures of sea urchin fertilization through microscope.

Brief description of sea urchin fertilization

Fertilization is the union of two gametes, the sperm and the egg to create a new organism. Although some unicellular animals reproduce asexually, sexual reproduction is the preferred method of propagation in most multicellular animal species. The resulting zygote contains genetic information from both parents. Sea urchins and other echinoderms have long been favorite subjects for the study of fertilization and early development. They produce large numbers of gametes which can be combined to create embryos which rapidly develop in real or artificial sea water. The embryos are transparent, allowing the direct observation of internal and external structures.

Learn more…

Cheerleader Tryouts

March 18, 2015

Shimpei Takahashi: Play this game to come up with original ideas

Shimpei Takahashi always dreamed of designing toys. But when he started work as a toy developer, he found that the pressure to use data as a starting point for design quashed his creativity. In this short, funny talk, Takahashi describes how he got his ideas flowing again, and shares a simple game anyone can play to generate new ideas. (In Japanese with English subtitles.)

March 17, 2015

Clay Club Hosts 3rd Annual Pottery Luck

On Friday March 13 the O’Dowd Clay Club hosted its 3rd Annual Pot(tery) Luck. Students, staff, teachers, parents and the O’Dowd community came out in full force to eat, play with clay, glaze, had a “find the Golden Clay O contest and just had some creative fun. Also the Clay Club sold $400 worth of pottery which goes to their Compassion with Clay project which helps educate a teen in a Third World country. Thanks to all the many parent volunteers, staff, teachers, and, of course, the students….it could not have happened without them.

Click photo thumbnail to view full size. Images can be right clicked and downloaded at 1024px wide by 768px.

O’Dowd’s Center for Environmental Studies Awarded LEED Platinum Certification

Bishop O’Dowd High School’s recently completed Center for Environmental Studies (CES) has been awarded the highest Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification possible – platinum.

This certification is significant for two main reasons, O’Dowd Director of Sustainability Andra Yeghoian said. “Unlike conventional buildings, which are the largest source of greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions, major consumers of energy and materials, and notorious for unhealthy indoor air quality, LEED certified buildings reduce their impact on the planet and provide a safe environment for their occupants,” she said. “Additionally, receiving LEED platinum certification at this time puts O’Dowd at the forefront of schools committed to sustainability, as only two percent of all schools nationally have achieved any level of LEED certification on their campuses.”

“It is extremely rare and particularly laudable that the O’Dowd CES project, a privately funded high school facility is LEED platinum certified.”

There are approximately 100 LEED platinum certified facilities in all of Northern California, and most are commercial and residential projects. Only a handful of other school projects have achieved this status including those at Stanford University, UC Davis and Mills College.

“It is extremely rare and particularly laudable that the O’Dowd CES project, a privately funded high school facility, is LEED platinum certified,” Buildings and Grounds Chair of the O’Dowd Board of Regents Kerwin Allen said. “It underscores O’Dowd’s commitment to lowering the school’s carbon footprint.”

Completed in the spring of 2014, the 5,000-square-foot CES features two indoor laboratory classrooms, outdoor classroom space, restrooms and an office, and boasts expansive views of San Francisco Bay.

LEED, a third-party verification program through the U.S. Green Building Council, aims to make buildings healthier and safer for occupants and the planet. The platinum certification verifies that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving the highest levels of performance in key areas of human and environmental health. Points are awarded for achieving distinction over a broad spectrum of building elements, including site selection and development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, waste management, indoor environmental quality, innovation and educational value.

There are four levels of certification, and the number of points a project earns determines the level of LEED certification that the project will receive. O’Dowd achieved 87 points out of a possible 110.

Some of the LEED certified features in the CES include:

  • An in-floor radiant heating system, which recirculates heated water through a series of tubes embedded in the concrete
  • Natural ventilation openings and overhead cooling fans that keep rooms comfortable without the need for an energy-extravagant electrical air conditioning system
  • One-third of the entire electrical demand for the CES is provided by the sun through a series of photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof
  • Building systems are monitored and displayed in real-time on a “dashboard” screen mounted on the terrace, and the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing system “control room” is accessible to teachers who wish to use the building as a teaching tool with their students
  • A 4,300-gallon rain water harvesting system that reduces domestic water consumption.


“All of these features have enhanced our ability to offer cutting-edge sustainable education to our students. The building will be used as a teaching tool across the curriculum to demonstrate sustainable systems design, core ecological principles, and sustainable policy and decision-making practices. Additionally the building serves as a model for sustainable practices that will be implemented across O’Dowd’s campus in the coming years,” Yeghoian said.

This is the third important certification for the Living Lab/CES space earned during the past six years. In 2009, O’Dowd received a Wildlife Habitat Certification from the National Wildlife Society. The CES project also received Alameda County Waste Management Authority Bay-Friendly Garden (2012) and Bay-Friendly Landscaping (2014) certifications.

For more details on the CES LEED features please check out the “CES Design and Certifications” on the Living Lab and CES page:

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Finding God in All Things

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