Seventy Impact100 Sonoma members enjoyed a gracious menu, fine wine and, of course, the fabulous venue at Suite D thanks to owner and chef, and impact member, Sondra Bernstein. Members shared in the delightful evening, making new friends and getting to know others better with no lack of fun and conversation.
The highlight of the evening was a fascinating account by Sonoma’s own Louann Carlomango of her personal and professional journey to Sonoma, through the Sonoma Valley school system, a career at Genentech and eventually ending up as Superintendent of Sonoma Valley Unified School District.
Louann moved to Sonoma from San Francisco with her parents, first generation Sicilians, as she entered seventh grade at Altamira. There she met her husband to be, another of Sonoma’s own, Brian Wyrick, a local chiropractor (also known as “The Healer”).
Her journey through high school was typical for most kids except for the fact that her parents, not being high school graduates themselves, only encouraged her with “behave and do well”. Unbeknownst to them, Louann chose not to take a chemistry class. In her senior year she learned that that naïve decision prevented her from applying to a four-year college. She realized then that the school was not coaching kids on what they needed to prepare for college.
After making up chemistry requirements at Santa Rosa Junior College, Louann and Brian both ended up at UC Davis and, not knowing anyone else there, a fast friendship grew. They were married shortly after graduation, 32 years ago, with a Sicilian celebration planned by her mother.
Louann’s Biochem/Genetics degree led to her work at Genentech where she eventually designed a course for science teachers in biotech and gene splicing. Seeing her potential in science education, her high school science teacher, Gary Neville, asked her if she would be interested in being a science teacher. Louann took a 50% pay cut and never looked back.
Fast forward through jobs at Sonoma Charter School and Altamira, Louann is now in her eighth year as Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s Superintendent. And about kids being coached? She spearheaded changing the requirements so that every child is on a path to college or other post-high school education. “When you set high expectations,” says Louann, “our students rise to those expectations. And when you ask a parent, ‘What do you want for your child?’ They answer, ‘I want them to go to college, I want them to succeed’.”
Louann’s roots and her passion have improved education here in Sonoma Valley for our kids, benefitting our entire community. And for that we are truly grateful.
A big Thank You! to Sondra Bernstein for donating 10% of the proceeds from the dinner to Impact100 Sonoma. And a special thank you to member Zanne Clark who put the entire event together!