Mark D. Pitchford, Has Been Elected Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of California Casualty


Mark D. Pitchford, has been elected Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of California Casualty Management Company (“CCMC”) effective July 25, 2022. In this role, Pitchford will lead the marketing and sales efforts of the company.

Pitchford has more than 30 years of wide-ranging experience, including in marketing, service, and sales, as a senior executive in the insurance industry. He holds an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Harvey Mudd College.

Pitchford was most recently head of the insurance practice for Afiniti, applied artificial intelligence provider. Prior to Afiniti, Pitchford was the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Esurance. In this role, he was responsible for Esurance’s advertising, sales and customer service operations, customer experience, and digital transformation. His other previous experience includes leading Allstate’s direct business and time in various senior-level marketing, sales/service, and product management positions at Lumen/Qwest and AT&T/Pacific Bell.

“I am excited about this opportunity,” Pitchford said. “The mission of California Casualty to serve those who are heroes in our communities is inspiring.”

Jonathan D. Adkisson, CCMC’s President & CEO, stated, “Mark brings incredible experience and capabilities which will strengthen our executive management team. I am looking forward to working with him again as we move forward.”

California Casualty is an affinity-based auto and home insurance provider with group partnerships across the nation, offering the highest level of care, service, compassion, and understanding, to people who make a difference for our communities – educators, education support professionals, peace officers, firefighters, and nurses.

Carl B. “Beau” Brown, CCMC’s Chair, commented: “Adding Mark to our team will help ensure that California Casualty can keep delivering on our promise to our members who serve our communities.”


About California Casualty: Founded in 1914 and headquartered in San Mateo, CA, California Casualty has service centers in Arizona, Colorado, and Kansas. The company provides auto and home insurance with special rates, generous discounts, and unique benefits not available to the general public to educators, education support professionals, peace officers, firefighters, and nurses across the country. To learn more about California Casualty, or to request an auto insurance quote, please visit or call 1.800.800.9410.

Lesson Planning – Classroom Transformations!

Lesson Planning – Classroom Transformations!

Written by Casey Jeffers, Owner of Fair Winds Teaching & MSEA Second Grade Teacher


Check out how I morph my classroom into an engaging learning lab for any subject! Anytime you can change up your student’s routine to engage them in a new learning experience is well WORTH IT! A classroom transformation creates an immersive experience for our students without having to leave the classroom.

I know that pulling off a classroom transformation can be stressful and overwhelming, however, if you follow these guiding points, you will be able to better understand what your day or week will look like beforehand.


classroom transformations guest blog


First things first… ALWAYS START with the instructional goal/problem when planning a classroom transformation. You must have a standard or group of standards in mind to successfully complete a transformation. This is NOT about a theme or turning your classroom into an underwater shark tank, just because. You need to have a purpose…


classroom transformations guest blog


My suggestion is to start by laying out the content you have been teaching and figure out what you are assessing your students on. This process will start about 2 weeks beforehand. Most subjects and content have the potential to lead to a classroom transformation idea. You just need to create those creative juices flowing!


classroom transformations guest blog


For example, my class and I spent weeks learning how to measure distances and comparing lengths. We asked a lot of questions about diving into the water and compared two divers. This helped with the idea of having a Shark Diving day to help measure and compare sharks and divers. I started with the content and let the idea come to me. I would not suggest scrolling through Pinterest and just selecting a circus theme because you think the kids will like the circus.


classroom transformations guest blog


If you are teaching elementary measurement standards this school year, check out this Shark Classroom Transformation here!

Next up, here are 5 questions you should ask yourself when planning your own classroom transformation or buying someone else online.


5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Classroom  Transformation


  • What time frame will you have available to complete your classroom transformation? Is it a one-day or a week-long unit? Plan so you know how many centers, activities, or lessons you will need. 
  • What decoration resources/materials do you already have available to you that connect with your standards? Selecting the theme is the fun part! Think about – (kids’ birthday parties you have leftover decorations from, companies that can partner with to provide materials (Crumbl Cookie, Starbucks), or what is currently available at the dollar store) If you don’t have anything to start with, ask yourself… What are your students interested in? Poll them and see what is fresh and new! This might help spark an idea that connects with your standards. 
  • Can this theme/topic be connected over multiple content areas? Math, reading, and writing? Can you extend a restaurant theme over the science content you are currently working on? Can you add a STEAM or physical education component to your day?
  • What expectations do I have for my students on an “out of the box” day like this? Make this clear to them beforehand. This will help plan your centers/activities accordingly. 
  • How many center/rotations or groups can they handle? Do you run a teacher-led group? Do you have other adults to help you on that day? Is a worksheet their best use of time or does every station need a recording sheet?


classroom transformations guest blog


If you ask yourself these questions while designing or buying a classroom transformation, you have already set your students up for success. The day will go amazing and the kids are sure to remember the experience and content learned for years to come. 

Let’s dive into some of the classroom transformations I have created for my 2nd and 3rd graders. We have transformed our room into a backyard BBQ and restaurant to have a book tasting or barbeque.


classroom transformations guest blog


We have dressed up for the 101st day of school and transformed into the 101 Dalmation movie for the entire day!


classroom transformations guest blog


We’ve taken on the world of road construction to assess area and perimeter for our all-week classroom transformation. Hard hats included!


classroom transformations guest blog


My favorite of all time was our sweet-smelling bakery for our Crumbl Cookie day to learn about shapes and fractions! They had a blast and it also tasted amazing!


classroom transformations guest blog


Whether you are ready to start designing your own classroom transformations or using someone else’s idea, here are some tips and tricks I have learned along the way! 


10 Tips and Tricks for a GREAT Classroom Transformation:

  1. Showing your work is a must 
  2. Label all of their supplies and papers BEFORE you start (things will get left around the room)
  3. Have a visual timer to show rotations
  4. Have a checking-in process (team leaders or individual students)
  5. Review expectations before the day starts
  6. Set up the room beforehand (but not too far in advance (they will move and ruin your stuff) – Here is a FREEBIE to show you are working on the process
  7. Fun background music is a must! It is fun and keeps everyone quiet (Spotify – Follow me here)
  8. Decide what you are keeping (to use again) and what the students are able to keep (let them know ahead of time)
  9. Have a clean-up crew ready at hand
  10. HAVE FUN – take a step back and spend some time listening to them work in groups, you will be amazed at how engaged they are! (take lots of pictures to remember it by)


classroom transformations guest blog



guest blogger

Casey Jeffers is a second-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary in Frederick County, Maryland. She was recently recognized as the national winner of the NEA Foundation’s 2021 Teaching in Excellence Award. Casey is the proud owner of the Education Resource Blog, Fair Winds Teaching, and loves to connect with her education community through her TeacherPayTeacher’s business.


Swimming Pools and Your Homeowner’s Insurance

Swimming Pools and Your Homeowner’s Insurance

There’s nothing like a refreshing dip in the pool on a hot summer day. That’s why a swimming pool can be a great investment for your property. However, pools come with their fair share of risks, which is why protecting them with the right insurance is so important.

Swimming pools are covered under your homeowner’s insurance. They are covered in two ways: (1) other structures or personal property coverage and (2) liability insurance. The first covers damage to the pool. The second covers injuries to guests—both invited and possibly trespassers.


Other Structures or Personal Property Coverage

If your pool is in the ground or installed permanently above the ground on your property, it is covered under Coverage B – Other Structures. This is an insurance term describing a detached structure on your property. Other structures include pools, fences, gazebos, sheds, etc. However, if your pool is above-ground but portable, it is considered part of your personal property and covered by Coverage C – Personal Property insurance.

    • Coverage B – Other Structures – insurance covers open perils. That means a loss is covered unless it’s excluded. Typical exclusions include flood, earthquake, or wear and tear.

    • Coverage C – Personal Property – insurance covers named perils. That means the loss is only covered if it is one of the 16 named perils (for example, fire, explosion, theft, etc.).


If a tree falls on your pool and damages it, your policy would help with repairs, minus your deductible, the amount you chose to pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in.

    • The coverage limit for other structures is generally set at 10% of your home’s coverage limit. That means if your home is insured for $200,000, the coverage limit for your pool would be $20,000. For an additional premium, you can add an endorsement for additional coverage: Other Structures – Increased Limits. You may wish to do so if your pool is worth more, such as if it has a deck, waterslide, diving board, or waterfall. (Note that some companies will not insure pools with slides and diving boards, as these can present additional risk.)

    • Portable pools are covered under personal property. Depending upon the personal property limit that you set for your policy, you will get reimbursed if your pool is damaged by a covered peril. If your home is insured for $200,000, and your personal property coverage is 50%, 25%, your policy will pay up to $100,000 for repairs for covered perils. Personal property coverage for homeowners is 50% or 75%; renters may choose the amount that they wish for Coverage C.

This coverage comes with stipulations. You need to shut off the water supply and drain all systems and appliances of water at the end of the season. The loss may not be covered if the pool’s plumbing freezes. Insurers do not cover loss of property caused by faulty, inadequate, or defective maintenance.



Liability Coverage

If someone is injured — or tragically dies — in your pool, your liability policy can help to cover expenses from medical bills to lawsuits. This doesn’t apply to you or the members of your household but potentially covers any invited guests or even uninvited strangers.

Typical homeowner’s policies include $100,000 for base liability coverage. You will want to increase to the highest limit available if you have a swimming pool Alternatively, you can purchase a personal umbrella policy for additional coverage. An umbrella policy kicks in when you’ve reached the limits of your homeowner’s policy.


An Attractive Nuisance

Attractive nuisance is a term used to describe anything that might attract children and present a potential danger to them. Swimming pools are classified as attractive nuisances. As a homeowner, and owner of a pool, you are responsible to secure your pool to keep it as safe as possible from curious kids—or anyone else. Under the law, you may be found liable for any incidents even if you didn’t give someone permission to be on your property or in the pool.

    • Install a fence around your pool and a locked gate to secure it.
    • Install a locking pool cover that will hold the weight of an adult.
    • Move the ladder away when your pool is not in use.
    • Install an alarm that alerts you when someone is in the pool.
    • Consider a security camera to help you monitor the pool.
    • Follow any local laws on pool construction and safety.



Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

If the pool is portable, it is eligible for replacement cost under Coverage C. If it is not portable, you will insure it for actual cash value (ACV). ACV is the amount the item is worth, minus depreciation for its age. In a loss for other structures such as a pool, you will not receive more than the amount required to repair or replace it.

Refer to your policy to know what is covered and what is not covered so that you aren’t surprised in the event of an injury or damage. Choosing the right insurance will help give you peace of mind as you enjoy your pool this summer.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or

Summer Travel – Common Collisions and How to Avoid Them

Summer Travel – Common Collisions and How to Avoid Them

The open road, the sunshine, and vacation time—it seems that summer is meant for road trips. With so many of your fellow travelers on the road, though, there’s a chance for collisions. That’s especially true if you’re on a long drive, on unfamiliar roads or distracted by confusing signs, or even the passengers in your car.

So, how do you avoid a vacation-spoiling accident? Knowing the most common summer collisions – and their causes – can help you take action to avoid them. Here’s what you need to know.


Rear-end Collisions

These common types of collision can be caused by tailgating or distracted driving during stop-and-go traffic. Rear-end collisions also happen when motorists drive too fast or aggressively. To avoid a rear-end collision:

    • Slow down and watch your speed.
    • Increase your following distance between your vehicle and the car in front.
    • Avoid stopping suddenly or swerving.
    • Make sure your taillights and turn signals are working.
      Pro Tip: If your car has one, an automatic braking system or forward collision warning system can help prevent these types of accidents.



Front-end Collisions

When the front end of your vehicle strikes another vehicle, tree, telephone pole, or other object, it’s a front-impact collision. These types of crashes are common during rainy weather. To avoid a front-end collision:

    • Drive more slowly in the rain. Roads are slippery. Fog can impair your vision. Give yourself time to adjust.
    • Increase your following distance in inclement weather. This will help give you more time to react.
    • Avoid distractions; even playing with the radio or talking to passengers can divert your attention.
    • Lane keeping systems can help. They alert you when you’re drifting out of lane, and can even steer your car back into the lane.



Side-impact Collisions

You know these as T-bone collisions or sideswipes. They often occur at intersections, as a result of confusion about which vehicle has the right of way. However, they also can occur if you run a red light or change lanes without warning. To avoid a side-impact collision:

    • Look both ways as you approach a stoplight. Slow down when you see yellow; don’t speed up. You could risk running a red light.
    • Come to a complete stop at every stop sign. Know where other traffic is before proceeding.
    • Check your blind spot before changing lanes.
    • When passing cars, be alert for other drivers changing lanes unexpectedly.



Highway Construction Collisions

Construction crews are out on the roadways, often sharing space with vehicles traveling at high speeds. That’s why it’s especially important to watch for signage and adjust your speed as you navigate past a construction site. To avoid a highway construction collision:

    • Pay attention to construction site speed limits and follow them.
    • Watch for signage and personnel directing you where to go.
    • Slow down as you are passing workers and be alert.
    • Increase your following distance for the car in front of you.



Interstate Collisions

High speeds coupled with distracted, aggressive, or drowsy drivers can cause accidents. When a crash happens on the highway, it can sometimes have a chain reaction effect. Make sure to use due diligence when you’re traveling at high speed around other vehicles. To avoid an interstate collision:

    • Follow the speed limit and maintain a safe following distance from other drivers.
    • Clearly indicate with your turn signal when you wish to change lanes. Check your blind spot before doing so, and make sure cars in other lanes aren’t heading to the same place you are.
    • Maintain your distance from cars that are driving aggressively or dangerously.
    • Limit distractions. Your priority is to drive safely.



Parking Lot Collisions

We may not think about it, but parking lots can be dangerous. When the lot gets busy, it’s easy to have multiple cars moving in different directions. Inattention or simply a bad decision can cause a collision. To avoid a parking lot collision:

    • If possible, park in a spot away from other cars.
    • Check your surroundings before getting into your car to pull out of your parking space.
    • Don’t rely on technology alone (such as rearview cameras). The image can be distorted by sunlight or shadows. Use your mirrors.
    • Move slowly and be aware of pedestrians and cars in the immediate area.



General Tips for Safe Summer Driving

  • Don’t drive when you’re drowsy. If you’re feeling tired or having a hard time staying awake, pull over in a safe place and take a power nap.
  • Don’t use your cell phone when driving except for emergencies.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything in spillable containers while you’re driving.
  • Don’t drive when you’ve had a few drinks. Use a designated driver or call a ride-share service instead.
  • Avoid driving during high traffic times.
  • Take your car in for a maintenance checkup before you go on a road trip. This will help avoid equipment-related accidents.


Finally, make sure your car is insured so you are fully covered in case of an accident.

Safe travels!



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


The BEST Grill Cleaning Hacks

The BEST Grill Cleaning Hacks

It’s time to break out the barbecue. July is National Grilling Month, a great time to host a backyard get-together!

Whether you prefer hot dogs or halibut, cheeseburgers, or charred veggies, everything tastes better on the grill. What’s even better than a mouthful of delicious BBQ? There’s no need to worry about a big mess, too, after you eat. Just clean the grill and you are good to go! Here are some of our favorite easy grill cleaning hacks to try all summer long.

1. Steam it! Use a handheld clothes steamer over your grill and watch it cut through grease. Then wipe it off. Don’t have a clothes steamer? Fill a metal container with boiling water. Place it inside your grill when it’s still hot. The resulting steam should loosen that stuck-on grease.

2. Use wet newspaper: When your grill is still warm, lay a sheet of wet newspaper over it. Then close the lid. Come back in a half hour and you’ll find a greasy, dirty piece of newspaper, which did much of the cleaning work for you. Simply finish it off with a good wipe. Repeat as needed.

3. Clean your grill with an onion: Cut a raw onion in half. Stick a BBQ fork into the rounded part and rub the cut side along the grill grates while they’re still hot. The onion’s juices will create steam and help to remove the bits of food residue.

4. Use leftover beer: If you have half a bottle or can of beer left, don’t throw it out. Pour it over a warm grill. Then scrub with a long-handled wire brush. A scrunched-up piece of aluminum foil works well, too, if you don’t have a brush. If you choose the foil, use tongs to move it around so you don’t burn your hands.

5. Spray it with vinegar: Fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water. Spray the solution on a warm grill and leave it for 10 minutes. Then scrub it down. Vinegar is a natural cleaner that’s also food-safe.

6. Scour it with baking soda: Sprinkle some baking soda on the grill. Dissolve some more in water and make a soft paste. Then use a long-handled wire brush to apply the baking soda paste to the grill. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Then wipe it off with a dry cloth. Baking soda’s sandpaper action will have your grill sparkling before you know it.

7. Soak it in coffee: Coffee is naturally acidic and therefore great at loosening up caked-on dirt. So, brew a pot of cheap coffee and pour it into a large container. Then soak your grill grates and utensils for one hour. Rinse and dry the grates and utensils before replacing them.

8. Use an espresso machine cleaning solution: Espresso machines use special cleaning tablets and powders that work on grill parts. Add the tablet to hot water, immerse the grill parts, and let them soak. When the grime has loosened, scrub and rinse them clean.

9. Use your dishwasher: Some grill parts are small enough to fit into a dishwasher. This is an easy hack that will get those parts squeaky clean. For the best results, put them in when they are still warm (remember your pot holders).

10. Extreme temperatures: Fire up your gas grill and close the hood. Let it come to full temperature. Wait at least 30 minutes. Then turn off the heat and scrub it with a wire brush dipped in a bucket of soapy water. Disconnect and remove the tank and let the grill cool completely. Wipe as needed.


Other Grill Cleaning Tips

    • Don’t throw water directly on your grill. On charcoal grills, it will make a mess. On any hot grill, it could cause scalding steam to fly back up at you.
    • Do not lean over a warm grill while cleaning or you could be hit with that same burning steam.
    • If you use a wire brush to scrub your grill, be sure to remove any loose wire brush bristles. Otherwise, they can get in your food.
    • Before you use your grill, give it a good coating of sunflower or olive oil. It will help prevent food from sticking to it, and also protect against rust.
    • Practice fire safety at all times. Grilling is the most fun when it’s done safely.

Bon appetit!



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


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