UTLA president speaks on school reform; media event for businesses; senior health fair; community safety meeting

BY GEOFF MALEMAN

Westchester’s Tony Keith has spent so much time as an AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) referee working as a mediator and trying to teach the game that it only makes sense for him to use soccer as a metaphor for peace beyond his own backyard.

Keith, executive producer of the critically-acclaimed television show The Soccer Academy, recently filmed an episode in Playa Vista and he hopes the show — which airs in 22 countries around the world, mainly in Africa and Asia — can help bridge the cultural divide through the sport of soccer by showing everyone that people on every continent have commonalities.

Part travelogue, part instructional soccer show aimed at children, the show airs at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays on KJLA-TV in the Los Angeles area and incorporates history, tourism, food and travel into each episode.

While Keith’s Manhattan Beach-based Capistrano Productions has filmed the show locally in Playa Vista and Carson, the show has also been shot in such far-off places as Jordan, the Cayman Islands and Syria.

While in Syria, the host and co-producer of the show, Antonio Soave, was invited to meet the Syrian minister of information, Dr. Muhsin Bilal. Antonio and Minister Bilal spoke candidly about improving peace relations between Syria and the United States.

The minister also indicated his interest in creating more meaningful bilateral dialogue and in welcoming more U.S. diplomatic visitors to Syria, similar to the recent visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Additionally, The Soccer Academy delegation met with the minister of tourism, Dr. Saadalla Agha Al Kalaa, who talked about the wonderful historical aspects of Syrian tourism and focused on how tourism can and should be used as an opening for peace, particularly in the case of Syria, with its rich culture and heritage.

The delegation of The Soccer Academy filmed in a variety of sites such as the ancient Ummayad Mosque in Damascus (home of the tomb of John the Baptist), the Melkite Christian Convent of St. Serge in the long-standing village of Maaloula, and the Souk (marketplace) in old Damascus.

They also filmed with members of Syria’s Youth National Team, and with the professional soccer team, Al Jaish.

After the trip, Soave said, “The hospitality and generosity displayed by the people of Syria was amazing and incredible. What struck me the most was the kindness of the people and their desire to have a meaningful relationship with Americans.”

For more information, www .SoccerAcademy.tv/.

UTLA PRESIDENT TO PRESENT SCHOOL REFORM MODEL — A.J. Duffy, president of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), will be the guest speaker at the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey Education Committee at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 23rd, in the Westchester Municipal Building Community Room, 7166 Manchester Ave.

Duffy will present UTLA’s model for school reform and local control. UTLA has submitted a proposal to the Innovation Division of the Los Angeles Unified School District to assume control of Woodland Hills Academy, the former Parkman Middle School.ÝThe UTLA model would provide for increased funding to the school site, and, in the words of the proposal, “absolute control” over financial resources, hiring, curriculum, professional development and bell schedules.

Public schools in Westchester and Playa del Rey have been invited to submit their own reform proposal to the Innovation Division as members of the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Family of Schools.

The board of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey has voted to support such a proposal, provided that local schools report to the Innovation Division rather than LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) Local District 3, are governed by a board with significant local community representation, and follow the best practices of successful independent charter schools, such as Palisades Charter High School.

Teachers, parents and community members are invited to attend the event and will have an opportunity to present their questions and comments to Duffy.

GET YOUR MESSAGE TO THE MEDIA — TVGuestpert is holding a special three-day conference to help business owners gain momentum in the media. The event includes presentations by a wide variety of television producers and reporters as well as entertainment attorneys and Internet marketing gurus, all focused on helping business people raise their profile in the media.

The event will be held Friday through Sunday, October 19th to 21st, at the Marina International Hotel and Bungalows, 4200 Admiralty Way in Marina del Rey.

Panelists will include Brad Pomerance of CNN Headline News; Farrell Hirsch, president of Playboy Radio; John Hensley of KTLA; and Sandra Clark of Star Magazine.

Participants will learn effective strategies for promoting their businesses and themselves as well as ways to be sure the media contacts them first to be an on-air “expert” in a given field.

Admission to the workshop is $995 per person, and net proceeds go to the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and Food on Foot.

Information and registration, (310) 376-1456.

SENIOR HEALTH FAIR — The Westchester Senior Center along with Home Instead Senior Care and the City of Los Angeles will present a Senior Health and Education Resources Fair from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, November 8th, at the Westchester Senior Center, 8740 Lincoln Blvd.

The fair, which is free to the public, will give seniors and their families an opportunity to benefit from the many community resources available, and it is aimed at seniors who live in the Westchester, Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey area.

Information, Gloria Johnson, (310) 542-0563.

COMMUNITY SAFETY MEETING — The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey Public Safety and Governmental Affairs Committees will hold a Community Safety Meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, October 23rd, in the community room of Westchester Christian Church, 8740 La Tijera Blvd.

The event will be an opportunity for the public to meet Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Area Commander Capt. Joe Hiltner and Senior Lead Officer Tony Ramos and hear from other LAPD departments.

Hiltner and Ramos will discuss ways in which members of the public can avoid becoming victims of crime and can work together to protect the community.

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