CTA & You

Paradise Educators: A Lounge of Their Own

Paradise educators get a special space from California Casualty

In the horrific Camp Fire in November, educators in Paradise did a miraculous job of ferrying students away from the inferno that consumed schools, churches, stores and houses — getting kids to safety in nearby communities. While no students were harmed, all but one of the Paradise Unified schools suffered significant damage or were destroyed. The fabric of the tight-knit town was stretched to the limit with homes of educators, retirees, school board members and students in ashes.

Eager to get their students back into a school routine, Paradise Intermediate School (PINT) set up classes 25 miles away in Chico in a vacant Orchard Supply Hardware store. It is not the most inviting environment: Overhead signs still show where the garden supplies, paint and appliances once were, and aisles still divide the space. Educators did their best to make it comfortable and conducive to learning.

Knowing the emotional and physical trauma the wildfire inflicted on Paradise educators, California Casualty is providing a School Lounge Makeover to PINT.

Celebrating the gift (from left): Reiner Light, Camp Fire education administrator; David Smith, TA of Paradise president; Mike Greer, PUSD board member; Christy Forward, CalCas field marketing manager; Kat Stevens, teacher; Cris Dunlap, principal; Valerie Murufas, educational specialist; Larry Johnson, co-principal; Susan Green, CTA Board member; Michelle John, PUSD superintendent; Mark Leach, Chico area UniServ staff.

California Casualty, which provides auto and home Insurance to CTA members, is gifting the $7,500 makeover to offer a more soothing, useful area for instructors and support personnel to take a break, relax and recharge.

Principal Cris Dunlap, one of 35 PINT staff members who lost a home in the fire, says the offer means a lot to everyone. “We’ve focused so much on giving students a learning space and place to be with their teachers and friends. As educators, we put others ahead of ourselves. It’s so nice that California Casualty recognizes the valor of our teachers and everything they are doing to be there for our kids and to keep the district going.”

She added that it’s important for staff to continue to bond with students, providing a sense of normalcy for a community that has been decimated.

California Casualty field marketing manager Christy Forward, who dedicated time working at the Chico Regional Resource Center during the fire, lives and works in the area. “This is our way to give back. We realize there are many needs, but this is something that we could do. This group is the most positive, resilient people who I have had the opportunity to work with.”

“We’ve seen the dedication of administrators, teachers and staff firsthand, and we’re proud to show our appreciation,” adds Mike McCormick, California Casualty senior vice president.

Eon Office designers will work with PINT staff to create the school lounge of their dreams. The finished project will be revealed later this spring. The lounge will be relocated back at Paradise Intermediate School once repairs there are completed.

California Casualty will be giving a School Lounge Makeover to another lucky school this year. CTA members can enter at NewSchoolLounge.com/CTA. The entry deadline is July 12, with a winner announced later that month.

California Casualty has partnered with CTA to provide members auto and home insurance tailored to their professional needs since 1951. Headquartered in San Mateo, California Casualty has been led by four generations of the Brown family. To learn more, or to request an auto insurance quote, visit CTAMemberBenefits.org/calcas or calcas.com/CTA, or call 800-800-9410.

From the Ashes

In a scene in the video “From the Ashes,” Dan Owen teaches seventh-grade history in a makeshift classroom in a vacant Orchard Supply Hardware store in Chico. The video, by Tava Kessler, documents how Paradise Intermediate School educators and students are resilient in the face of challenges at their temporary site. View it at tinyurl.com/PINT-video.

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