Pictured: Eva Cherrie of Elmhurst Elementary School is the 2020 Ventura County Teacher of the Year. 

by Kimberly Rivers


Eva Cherrie Ventura County teacher of the year

Eva Cherrie, a 20-year veteran teacher who is  currently teaching second grade at Elmhurst Elementary School in Ventura, has been selected by the Ventura County Office of Education as 2020 Teacher of the Year. 

The announcement came as a surprise during the end-of-year drive-through celebration at Elmhurst. 

“She is the kind of teacher that every district desires, every principal appreciates, and that all students and parents love,” said Deanna Baczek, Principal at Elmhurst Elementary. She said Cherrie’s students learn “that to grow your brain you must persevere when challenged, and to be a good human you must practice kindness and understanding, and that you can always find wonder in the world around you. This is modeled by Mrs. Cherrie every single day.”

Cherrie holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge and obtained her Master of Education degree from Pepperdine University. 

Oxnard Union High School District (OUHSD) is providing free meals once a week to all children 18 and younger every Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., through July 31. 
Channel Islands High School – cafeteria windows
1400 Raiders Way, Oxnard
Hueneme High School – cafeteria windows 
500 W. Bard Road, Oxnard
Oxnard High School  – cafeteria windows 
3400 W. Gonzales Road, Oxnard 
Pacifica High School – cafeteria windows 
600 East Gonzales Road, Oxnard 
Rio Mesa High School – cafeteria windows 
545 Central Ave., Oxnard 
Garden Acres Mutual Water Co 
2838 Friedrich Rd, Oxnard 
For more information, contact OUHSD Nutrition Services at 805-385- 5749.
Several school districts are also offering meals at no cost including Hueneme, Oxnard Union High School District, Ventura Unified, and Rio. For a list of locations, visit www.vcoe.org/meals.

When school campuses closed due to COVID-19, Cherrie volunteered to create online lessons for the entire district to use. She has also been using the school’s 3D printers to create plastic face shields for healthcare workers during the coronavirus crisis. Cherrie was instrumental in setting up Elmhurst’s science lab and makerspace by working with colleagues to purchase and organize necessary equipment. She brought an innovative birdwatching program to Elmhurst after winning a grant to attend an ornithology training program at Cornell University

Each year, a local committee of educators selects the county teacher of the year, who then becomes eligible for 2021 California Teacher of the Year. 

DACA program upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

On June 18, 2020, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

“As of 2017 in Ventura County, there are an estimated 12,000 people protected by DACA,” said V. Starrett, attorney with the Ventura County Public Defender’s office, responding via email to the VCReporter. 

In 2017, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors estimated that of the 27,0000 agricultural laborers in Ventura, 75 percent were undocumented. 

Camarillo City Hall reopens

As of Monday, June 29, Camarillo City Hall is reopened after being closed for several months due to the pandemic. Face coverings or masks are required. 

Online services are available and the public is encouraged to use online options whenever possible. 

Floor markers are used to instruct the public on where to line up to maintain social distancing, furniture has been moved, Plexiglass shields have been installed and hand sanitizing stations are placed throughout the lobby. High traffic areas and touch services will be cleaned. Camarillo City Council meetings are expected to reopen to the public in August. 

Burn area on Santa Cruz Island closed for restoration

The 1,411 acres of the Scorpion Fire burn area on the eastern portion of  Santa Cruz Island are closed until further notice for restoration. 

Smugglers Road will remain open to foot traffic, but boaters will be barred from Little Scorpion Canyon due to the closure. 

A historic grove of cypress trees planted in the early 1900s by the oldest child of Justinian Caire, the former island owner, sustained some damage in the fire. The historic grove of olive trees at Smugglers Cove was untouched. 

“We are in the process of assessing and understanding resource impacts from the fire and deciding which methods are best to restore the burn area,” said Ethan McKinley, superintendent of Channel Islands National Park. 

Three die after being swept into ocean

On June 25 at approximately 4:40 p.m., three people who were on the rocks on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway near Deer Creek Road were swept into the ocean. Active water rescue efforts were unsuccessful; all three people were dead at the scene and their bodies were removed by the Ventura County Coroner’s Office. As of press deadline their identities had not been released. 

1980 murder case closed

On June 22, the Ventura County District Attorney’s office announced that Lenard Chester of Oxnard was found guilty by a jury for the 1980 first degree murder of 81-year-old Leah Bullis. 

Over the course of November 30 and Dec. 1, 1980, Chester beat and raped Bullis. She was found by neighbors and died later at the hospital. 

In 2018, DNA evidence tied Chester to the cold case being investigated by the Oxnard Police Department. 

Chester is subject to a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. He is being held in county jail with no bail until sentencing scheduled for July 20, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. in courtroom 48 at Ventura County Superior Court. 

Art Council accepting nominations

The Arts Council of the Conejo Valley is accepting nominations for eight open positions on its 15-member board of directors, which meets once a month. Board members serve two-year terms. One of the open positions has one year remaining. 

The council has an urgent need to fill the positions of treasurer, director at large and director of electronic media. 

Interested persons should feel free to reach President Ed Smart with any questions at 805-358-3708 or ed@edsmartmusic.com and submit their interest and backgrounds via email.


CSUCI gets new director for online business program

Maria Ballesteros-Sola, Ph.D., current assistant professor of management, will serve as director of the online business bachelor’s degree program at California State University, Channel Islands, while the current director, Ekin Pehlivan, Ph.D., is on sabbatical. 

Ballesteros-Sola holds a masters and a doctorate in business administration, was a Fulbright Scholar (1998-2000), Paul R. Lawrence Fellow (2016) and enjoyed a career in financial services and management consulting on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean before joining CSUCI as a lecturer in 2007.

“What we are learning now — especially in the middle of this crisis created by the pandemic — is that the most important aspect of online learning for students is connection with your instructor and your peers,” said Ballesteros-Sola. “It’s not about the technology or using fancy tools, it’s about connection and creating empathy online.” Online learning can be immensely rewarding, she added, because “it encourages students to engage in learning that doesn’t reward short-term learning and memorization.”

The online business program is for students with two-year associate degrees from community colleges and is offered by CSUCI’s Extended University, which is headed by Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs and Extended University Osman Ozturgut, Ph.D. Those who graduate from the online program will receive the same degree as other business and economics majors pursuing their degrees through the Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics on the Camarillo campus.