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April 21, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Woodside PTA honors three women for service Woodside PTA honors three women for service (April 21, 2004)

The Woodside Elementary School PTA gave awards to three women in a March 24 Founders Day celebration before some 55 community members, including many current and past PTA presidents and school foundation members.

The PTA gave lifetime achievement awards to parent volunteer Michelle Stanley and U.S. history teacher Karen Arimoto-Peterson. Frances Geballe received a prestigious service award.

"Our school's PTA feels honored to have such dedicated parents and teachers who are so committed to helping young people in our area," said Woodside School PTA President Robina Riccitiello.

Michelle Stanley

Michelle Stanley received a PTA lifetime achievement award for her eight years of service to the PTA. Ms. Stanley has "worked tirelessly" at fundraising for school field trips, May Day celebrations and the annual auction put on by the school's foundation, says Ms. Riccitiello.

Ms. Stanley has spent many a Tuesday evening after work at the school's photocopier preparing issues of the weekly bulletin, Ms. Riccitiello says. As the PTA's hospitality coordinator, she has, on occasion, cooked lunch for 100.

Karen Arimoto-Peterson

The PTA also gave U.S. history teacher Karen Arimoto-Peterson a lifetime achievement award in recognition of her 32 years with the school. Ms. Arimoto-Peterson "started many of the school's important traditions," says Ms. Riccitiello.

One notable tradition is the student community service program, common in high schools but unusual for a middle school. The "Rebuilding Together" program (formerly "Christmas in April") enlists eighth-graders to help people in need with weeding, pruning and painting as they rebuild or remodel their homes.

Ms. Arimoto-Peterson has also organized students to collect canned goods for East Palo Alto families.

She is active at Woodside High School as well, serving on the school's foundation board and its athletic boosters club, and serving as liaison to the shared decision-making committee. She has chaperoned eight field trips to Washington, D.C., and manages the town's summer softball team.

Ms. Arimoto-Peterson was named educator of the year in 1992 by the California League of Middle Schools, and was once dean of students at Woodside.

Frances Geballe

For her efforts as a "dedicated parent volunteer," the Woodside PTA recognized Frances Geballe with the highest honor of the state PTA: the Golden Oak service award.

Ms. Geballe -- whose children and grandchildren attended Woodside -- reads to third-graders every day, says Ms. Riccitiello, and is a reliable friend of the school with gifts of time and money. Two years ago, she opened her home to Woodside parents to hear a presentation by the dean of Stanford's school of education.

"Frances shows that retired members of a community still have a vital role to play, educating and influencing the young people they encounter," says Ms. Riccitiello.

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