The Star-News


Childhood friends follow same career path

Sat, Aug 27 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

In our series on interesting persons, we have often stated how one of the most pleasurable aspects of the entire operation is the conversation and interview we have with the individual. Imagine, then, if you please, the pleasure that one gets from speaking with not one, but two of those individuals at the same time. It is, like they used to say in the old Wrigley gum commercials, "Double the pleasure."

I had such an experience, the other day, when I met with Kari Nieves and Kate Snyder. I found them to be remarkable individuals. They both are lifelong residents of the valley. They were both born on the same day. They both are veteran teachers in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. They both are married and have children. And they both have been close friends since they were five years old.

I have known Kari much longer than Kate. Her parents, Jim Thompson and the late Carmen Thompson are sort of contemporaries of ours. Jim is active in the community in both the Bonita Museum and the Kiwanis Club of Bonita. Thompson, in fact, is the one that put me in touch with Kari and Kate and their close friendship over the years.

Kari teaches the kindergarten children over at Olympic View Elementary. I took a drive to Olympic View the other day, more or less, just to view it. I recall being there near its opening date just a few years ago. It is in one of those wooded sections of Eastlake, the ones that are carefully cared for with precisely manicured lawns and shrubbery. I mention this because I have often stated that a school's outer appearance can, very often, signal what is inside.

Nieves has been at Olympic View for six years. Prior to that she taught at Silver Wing School for six years, the initial years of her career. She, as well as Kate, told me that she had a mentor early in her teaching career. The mentor, generally an experienced educator, is the person that can, very often, guide the beginning teacher through actions but, more generally, through inculcation. Most of us, who have been in the business, come across such persons in our careers. They are the educators who put a positive stamp on the profession.

Snyder teaches at Wolf Canyon School. She says that, at the present time, it is a very highly populated school -more than 975 pupils - housing not only the students from Wolf Canyon, but also the ones from a school yet to be built. It is one of those schools in the southeast portion of the district that has been given a high grade by community members. It is one of the few schools in the state with a five star rating.

We spoke, the other day, of some of the many aspects of teaching young people. For one thing both Kari and Kate agree that their goal, for each pupil, is to educate, not train. They find it extremely gratifying when a child can say, "Don't tell me. I can figure it out." This is a prime example of a person mentally solving a problem. Somewhere along the line, someone, if not a teacher then a parent, got something across to the individual. The result spells success.

The two ladies told me that they were born four days after Christmas some years ago. They lived and were raised a few houses apart on one of the streets that runs off San Miguel Road. They attended Sunnyside School, were in the same Girl Scout troop and went to the Bonita Vista secondary schools. Kate went on to San Diego State while Kari attended Cal State at Fullerton. Both have major degrees and both will spend their education careers in the South Bay.

Kari and Kate assisted at each other's wedding, Kari when she married Ken and Kate when she married Jason. Both have children of their own and they both live in close proximity to one another.

The families, no doubt, give pleasure in their assistance to one another. We, therefore, know that two classrooms in our elementary school district are in good hands and they will culminate with excellent results.


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