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Local resident to launch academic life coaching program for teens

  • Written by Shannon Michael Features Writer

There’s the famous saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." As adults we can look back on our own childhood and think of special adults who weren’t related to us who had a positive influence on who we are today — coaches, teachers, church leaders and youth leaders.

They were there for us when we needed to talk, learn valuable life lessons, and to mentor us each in their own unique way.

Mentoring youth is what Bothell resident Michael Pizzo has devoted his life to for over 30 years.

Pizzo has been a youth pastor, is a well-known and respected tennis coach, and has worked in local high school and junior high classrooms for years. Now, he has combined his behavioral science degree and experience working with teenagers with a rigorous training program to become the first certified Academic Life Coach for teens in the Northshore area. 

Academic Life Coaching (ALC) is a one-on-one program designed specifically for teens. The 10-session course covers 32 concepts ranging from academic skills, stress management, organization, leadership, motivation and communication to the college application process.

"I was drawn to ALC for a couple of reasons. First, the word ‘Coach.’ Since I have devoted a large part of my life to coaching sports, I was intrigued. Another reason was the opportunity to work with teens," said Pizzo.

The purpose of ALC is to equip teenagers with the tools they will need to succeed now and in the future. The training focuses on empathy, leadership, communication, organization and other key emotional intelligence and life coaching skills, according to ALC’s website academiclifecoaching.com.

John A. Williams, a Portland, Ore. resident and former high school Latin teacher, founded ALC in 2005. Since then, he’s trained and certified over 100 people from all over the world to become Academic Life Coaches, including Pizzo.

The International Coaches Federation (ICF) officially approved ALC in October 2012 as the first coaching program specifically focused for teens. "It was a year-long process to get approval by them," Williams said.

Williams’ program has garnered national attention, having been featured by such news outlets as The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, CNN Money and Newsweek.

A recent survey done by Williams determined the three problems that students and parents identify as the biggest and most common during the high school years are:

1) Stress about grades. If they are too low, the stress is how to get them higher. If they are high, the stress is usually about all the hard work that it took to keep them there; 2) Frustration about the quality of the relationship they have with their child; 3) Anxiety about the college application process and paying for college; and 4) Worrying if their child has all the life skills they need to be successful in the world.

For Pizzo, the training involved six months of phone meeting sessions with other Life Coaches around the country. "One of the greatest components of ALC training was practicing what we were learning with other coaches," explained Pizzo.

"One of the biggest strengths Michael brings in his coaching is his level of empathy and pure heart to the teens I’ve heard him mentor as a coach," said Williams.

Pizzo is enthusiastic about the positive benefits the ALC program will have, not only for the individual teens he will mentor, but also for the parents and the teen’s school.

"Teenagers work on how to improve essential skills that will lead to success in and out of the classroom. Parents and schools get the benefit of teenagers who are now more confident, competent and motivated," Pizzo explained.

He added, "One of the many factors that parents can expect from using this 10-session program is a more confident and motivated student. Our program builds from the inside out. When students finish this program they have a very positive perspective about life. This healthy perspective overflows into all areas of their life."

Pizzo meets with prospective teen clients and their parents first to see if the ALC program will be a good fit. Then, he works with the families to set up meeting times that work for well for the teen’s busy academic schedule.

Success, said Pizzo, will be measured by the results in the classroom and in the home. "Each student who participates in this program and applies themselves to the skills learned will be a successful student and adult," he said.

"I have had the opportunity to mentor and coach many students over the years. In all of these encounters that I have had, my goal has always been to encourage each student and to create positive change," he explained.

Parents interested in enrolling their teen in the Academic Life Coaching program can contact Michael Pizzo by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone (206) 817-6395.

Screaming Reels : Fall Salmon Run

  • Written by Screamin’ Reels Guide Service

The latter part of August brings the early stages of the fall salmon run.

King salmon in Puget Sound has been very good fishing as well as fishing for the 6.2 million pink salmon due to return.

Our local Snohomish River opened for salmon fishing on August 16th. This local fishery is excellent for introducing your kids to salmon fishing.

Pink salmon are averaging 4 to 7 pounds which is just perfect for kids to reel in. The fish are very aggressive which makes it a popular fishery because everyone catches.

The go-to gear is an ultra-light rod about seven feet in length paired with a 2500 series spinning reel spooled with 10-pound test. The fish love Dick Nite Spoons size #1 in all colors starting with pink, and the 50/50 nickel and brass work very well. Visit your local tackle store for getting rigged up at a very reasonable price. While there you can pick up the required fishing license.

You can also go to Screaminreels.com and click on the picture of the week for tips and to see how to rig up for great success.

The pink salmon are now in the river and will peak the third week in September. From there we will roll right into Coho salmon season which extends well into October so be sure to get your family out for a day of fishing fun. There is nothing like seeing your child’s eyes light up and hear them giggle as a pink salmon pulls on the end of their rod. It truly is a lot of fun for everyone!

Tight Lines,

Screamin’ Reels Guide Service

Poet, songwriter, performer too busy for retirement

  • Written by Shannon Michael Features Writer

Italene GaddisItalene Gaddis, 88, brought her songs and poetry filled with positive messages to the residents at Chateau at Bothell Landing recently. Gaddis became a performer after winning a songwriting contest and recording contract when she was 62 years old. Since then, she’s performed over 325 concerts, making “retirement” an obsolete word in her dictionary.Most people who are 62 years old are probably looking forward to retirement and slowing down a fast-paced life. Not Italene Gaddis.

A lifelong writer of poetry and songs, Gaddis’ sons encouraged her to enter a songwriting contest that offered a recording contract to the winner. Gaddis was the winner out of 84 contestants. That was in 1987 when she was 62 years old.

"I really thought I was too old to be entering the contest!" Gaddis explained.

Fast forward 26 years, and Gaddis, now 88, is performing in concerts with her autoharp all over the Puget Sound region, has a book of poems released in December 2012, "From My Heart to Yours" available on Amazon, a CD of her music available for sale, and her own website, italene.com.

Gaddis often performs at retirement homes and senior centers. She went back recently and counted how many concerts she’s performed since winning that recording contract and stopped counting at 325.

She has a few concerts in the area coming up, including September 9 at 3 p.m. at Aegis of Redmond, and October 1 at 2 p.m. at Life Care Center in Bothell.

If you need a positive pick-me-up experience, seeing her perform is a must.

"I’m really not 88, I’m Italene! I still do what I used to do at age 38," Gaddis said, adding, "I’ve had more fun now than when I was young!"

She went on to say that her attitude has changed since she started doing concerts. "I believe the word ‘retirement’ should be banished!" she declared.

Gaddis was born in Souix City, Iowa. Her mother wanted a name that couldn’t be turned into a nickname, so she made up the name Italene. To her knowledge, she’s the only one with that first name in America.

"I tell people to pronounce my name like you’re saying, ‘It’ll lean!’" she explained.

She lived in Iowa until her father left the family when she was two years old. Her mother moved the four children to her family’s farm in Arkansas where she lived until they moved to Chicago when she was nine.

There, she met her husband, a man from Kentucky, and after a brief six-week courtship they married and lived in Kentucky until his death in 1982. Gaddis already had her oldest son living in the Seattle area, so she and her youngest son moved to the Puget Sound region in 1983 to join her other son. She lives in Newcastle now.

"I think this area could teach the South about hospitality. People are very helpful here," Gaddis said about her early experiences living so far from Kentucky.

Gaddis started writing songs for her mother when she was about 14 years old, so her mother bought her a guitar. That song she first wrote was the first one she recorded after winning the recording contract.

Writing songs has always come easy for her. "I can write a song in about 10 minutes because I think they’re given to me from my Father in Heaven," she said.

To date, she’s written about 300 songs.She chooses to write about positive experiences rather than negative ones.

"Everyone needs to be encouraged. That’s what I try to do through my songs," she said. She loves writing in rhyme as a way of expressing herself.

Her performance is sprinkled with positive words of encouragement and testimonials on the power of love versus negativity. At a recent concert held at Chateau at Bothell Landing, her song, "I Don’t See You With My Eyes, I See You With My Heart" brought tears to a few of the seniors in attendance. It was a love song she’d written for her mother when she was 98 years old.

Gaddis gives most of the credit for her positive outlook on life to her mother, Sarah Elizabeth. "Mother’s rule always was I can do anything I want to do as long as I don’t hurt myself or anyone else," she said. Her mother taught her that life lesson when she was just nine years old.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Gaddis shared with the Chateau audience as she wrapped up her performance with some more pearls of wisdom, including this gem: "Life is like a ladder. Every day we learn something we take a step up. Everyone’s on the ladder standing on a different step."

Donations of old treasures to help women in need

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Brenda and Sue at Purse Party 2012Brenda Hale and Sue Johnson enjoy the 2012 Purse Party fundraiser in 2012, to help benefit a women’s transitional shelter in Duvall and LifeWire’s programs for women.The Duvall Civic Club is looking for donations of jewelry, purses, and totes in new or like-new condition, for the September 26th "Purse Party and Jewelry Jazz" fundraiser, to benefit local women in crisis. It will be held at Match Coffee and Wine in Duvall from 5 to 8 p.m.

"We’re asking everyone to dig through their jewelry boxes and closets for those treasures we all have but don’t use," event organizer Maura VanNess said. "They can really do some good for women in need."

If you have jewelry, purses, or totes (in good condition) to donate, you can drop them off anytime from now to the day of the event, at Match Coffee and Wine (15705 Main Street, open Tuesday through Saturday).

Funds from the Purse Party will also help sponsor the Fifth Annual Walk 4 Women, on Saturday, October 5.

For more information about the Purse Party and Jewelry Jazz or the Walk 4 Women, see duvallcivicclub.org or call Maura at (425) 788-9249 or Barb at (425) 788-5769.

Farm dinner puts diners in touch with fresh food

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, Staff Writer

Heathman farm 0108It’s rare to sit down to eat a seven-course meal, complete with wine pairings, in the same place that almost all of the food was grown. But a Kirkland restaurant and a Woodinville winery have made it possible.

This Thursday, Trellis Restaurant and Sparkman Cellars will partner to host a farm dinner at South 47 Farm, with an optional tour of the farm.

Trellis chef Brian Scheehser grows much of the produce for the restaurant at his 10-acre South 47 farm.

For this event, he’ll craft the fresh fruits and vegetables into dishes such as an heirloom tomato gazpacho, a new potato salad and, for dessert, an apple galette.

"Everything served, except for the meats, is from the farm," Scheehser said.

The dinner will begin with a reception at which guests can sip on lemonade with fresh blackberries from the farm.

Diners will then sit down to a seven-course meal with six wine pairings from Woodinville’s Sparkman Cellars, including a barrel tasting of the winery’s 2012 Wonderland Grenache.

The menu includes artisan cured salumi, salmon with green garden dressing, lamb chops with tarragon and tomato tapenade and shaved Jack cheese with pepper crackers.

Scheehser began farming out of frustration with food purveyors when he was the chef at the restaurant at Sorrento Hotel in Seattle.

Ordering from suppliers often required him to buy in bigger quantities than he needed, pay more than he wanted or go without certain hard-to-find items — for example, zucchini the size of his thumb.

Now, he said, "I’m spoiled because I can pick as much as I want or as little as I want. I’m no longer held hostage to the produce companies ... We’re picking baby lettuces when they’re so small they can fit in the palm of your hand."

His farm has grown to 12 acres, although he’s become more specific about which crops he grows. Scheehser has kept the raspberries, blackberries, apples and pears from the farm’s previous life as a you-pick orchard, and he also grows vegetables and herbs. He spends Mondays and Tuesdays working on the farm; the rest of the time he’s at Trellis Restaurant at the Heathman Hotel.

"I don’t look at the farm or the restaurant as work," Scheehser said. "There’s just something amazing about having a tiny seed, putting it in the ground and nurturing it, then having 30 pounds of tomatoes and slicing them to put on a salad."

Scheehser also manages to incorporate food from the farm into Trellis’s winter menu. Although he buys some produce from California for guests who want fresh fruit, he cans tomatoes and jam from the farm to use throughout the year.

"The minute we start harvesting at the farm, we start processing," he said.

He stores thousands of pounds of winter squash; hundreds of quarts of canned tomatoes; seedless blackberry, blueberry and strawberry jams; pickles and relishes; and apple puree and reduction. He also freezes berries for pies and muffins and dries herbs from the farm.

And some vegetables, such as chard and beets, can still be harvested in the winter.

Scheehser believes it’s important to know where food comes from, and the farm dinner will give diners that familiarity.

"We forget sometimes," he said. "We’ve become out of touch with the things we eat, and farming brings that awareness back."

For reservations, call (425) 284-5858 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before 5 p.m. August 21.

The dinner will take place Thursday, August 22, at South 47 Farm in Redmond.