A teacher in El Cerrito is one of eight finalists competing for a $10,000 classroom grant in a national program called the Great American Teach-Off.

Madeleine Rogin, who teaches kindergarten and dance at Prospect Sierra School in El Cerrito, made it to the round of finalists for kindergarten through sixth grade teachers in the competition sponsored by online social platform GOOD (www.good.is) and the University of Phoenix. A second category offers a $10,000 for the classroom of a seventh through 12th grade teacher.

The competition is decided via online voting that narrows the field by two finalists each week. This week's voting ends at midnight on March 17 and Rogin is hoping for support from the community. People are allowed to vote once a day at www.good.is/GATO.

The final results and grant recipients will be announced this spring.

Rogin established a curriculum emphasizing diversity and a role for her young students as "change-makers" for a more socially just world.

The curriculum "includes challenging students to identify change-makers in literature, in the civil rights movement, and in their own communities" and she hopes to use the grant to expand the concept to other grades at the private school.

She also has students involved in environmental projects, including restoring plants and trees at Baxter Creek in El Cerrito and learning about The Greenbelt Movement, an organization that originated in Kenya.

To learn more visit the contest page at http://www.good.is/great-american-teach-off


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to see the videos of Rogin and the other finalists and cast your vote.

history events: As part of the 100th birthday celebration of the Contra Costa Library, historical societies in West Contra Costa will give presentations on their local branches at a free program from 1 to 3 p.m. March 16 at the El Sobrante Library, 4191 Appian Way. Details: 510-374-3991.

  • The El Cerrito Historical Society will be going out of town for its next program, a tour of the Alvarado Adobe and Blume House in San Pablo at 2 p.m. March 24.

    San Pablo and El Cerrito were once home to the buildings considered among the most historic in Contra Costa County. The Castro Adobe, which was built in the 1830s and stood at the edge of the boundary line of the Rancho San Pablo in what is now El Cerrito, was destroyed in a 1956 arson fire.

    Another home on the rancho, the 1842 Alvarado Adobe in San Pablo, fell into disrepair and as part of the city's civic center, was replaced with a replica that includes a museum furnished with pieces donated by the Castro and Alvarado families.

    Nearby is the 1905 farmhouse once owned by the Blume family.

    The tour, which will be led by docents from San Pablo Historical Society, is free, but space is limited.

    To RSVP contact Dave Weinstein at 510-524-1737 or davidsweinstein@yahoo.com.

  • The Berkeley Historical Society will hold a walking tour of St. Mary's College High School on April 6. The school is celebrating its 150th anniversary and its campus was also the site of a Peralta adobe and the Peralta Park Hotel. The tour is limited to 30 paying members and advance registration is required. To register or get more details visit www.berkeleyhistoricalsociety.org and click the "Walks" link.

    WEST COUNTY NOTES: A kickoff party for the annual El Cerrito Relay for Life event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. March 21 at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach, 10979 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito.

    The relay itself is scheduled for July 20-21 at Cerrito Vista Park.

    For details visit www.relayforlife.org/elcerritoca or call 510-697-0422.

  • The Watershed Project will present a screening of the documentary "Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves" at 6 p.m. March 21 at Bridge ArtSpace, 23 Maine Ave. in Richmond. Admission is $15, which includes movie ticket, oysters, beer, and popcorn, along with a panel discussion with local native oyster restoration experts.

    Proceeds will benefit the Living Shoreline Initiative of the Watershed Project.

    Tickets and details: www.thewatershedproject.org/post.php?postid=763

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com.