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Catherine Balestrieri Burton

I am an Italian/Spanish teacher.  I retired from Tomales High School in 2007, but I continue to teach part time as an adjunct instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College.  I love teaching languages and enjoy traveling.  My husband Spence and I travel frequently, especially to Europe.  This year’s trip (2010) was to Germany, the Czech Republic, the Bath area of England, and Normandy and Brittany in northern France.  We often travel to Italy where we have family (in Sicily). 

My paternal grandparents were Italian immigrants from Sant'Elia, Palermo Province, Sicily, and my maternal grandparents were from Oranmore, County Galway, Ireland. I have visited these areas more than once and loved being in the towns where my ancestors originated.  My family names include:  Balestrieri, Brennan, Bellante, Machi, Salvo, Carcione, Ryder, King, et al.   

I have been involved in numerous activities that promote both Italian and Spanish.   I have made several presentations to teachers in the foreign language field, and have reviewed several textbooks.  In 1994 I received the Adele and Albino Carollo award from the Italian School of Middlebury College, Vermont; and in 2001 I was a recipient of a Golden Bell Award given to outstanding Marin County teachers. 

In 2005 I was knighted by Italy's President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. At a ceremony on June 3, 2005 at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, I received the title of "Cavaliere dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana" (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) from the Consul General of Italy in San Francisco, Roberto Falaschi. The award is conferred to Italians abroad and foreigners for special contributions to the prestige and honor of the Italian republic. At this event, I was congratulated by Nancy Pelosi.  I was nominated for this award by Mirella Hemp.

In 2006 I was co-recipient of the Marin County Italian-American Citizens of the Year Award.  In 2010 I was a nominee for the American Red Cross Real Heroes award in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. 

From 1999-2007 my husband, Spence F. Burton, and I organized and led an exchange program between Tomales High School and Italian schools located in Sciacca and Marsala.  We led five groups to visit our partner schools and hosted three groups of Italian students here in California.  This was a very rewarding experience for us; we enjoyed sharing the land of our ancestors (we are both of Sicilian ancestry) with the students and providing opportunities for them  for international experience and appreciation.  We continue to be in contact with the exchange program participants; we recently had a reunion at the Union Hotel in Occidental on August 1, 2010.  

My husband and I live in Petaluma, California, where we have resided since 1976. 
For an article about my career see:

Consul General awarding Cavaliere to Cathy

Consul General of Italy in San Francisco, Roberto Falaschi conveying the award and Cavaliere status!

For additional photos of the event click on the following LINKS:
 Email Me

CLICK HERE to view my Santa Rosa Junior College Webpage

CLICK HERE for the Main Tomales High School Webpage

CLICK HERE to view my husband Spence's Webpage

CLICK HERE for the "THS - Sicily" Student Exchange Webpage

Below are photos taken at the 2010 Reunion held at the Union Hotel in Occidental

Old Sicily Map

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