Monthly Messages From Dr. Dowd

February 13, 2017

posted Feb 21, 2017, 3:42 PM by Vice President Communications

Happy February, Walnut Acres Parents:

Your voice is requested!

IT’S TIME TO COLLECT YOUR INPUT about how well Walnut Acres is activating the 6 Cs (collaboration, communication,  critical and creative thinking, global citizenship and content mastery; implementing the instructional practices we have been learning; and creating a safe, nurturing, and challenging learning environment!

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey by clicking here or going to the front page of our school website under Current News. If you don’t see the survey, do a search for ‘survey’ on the search icon. (We have been having compatibility issues, but the survey is there!) Your opinion matters, so give us your input by 3/3/17. We will also collect opinions from our students and teachers.

The data results will inform our progress analysis. Grade level teams, the School Site Council, the Safety Committee, and the Innovation Team will analyze the results of the parent, student, and teacher surveys and use the insights to inform their next steps. This year, for example, the first grade team modified their newsletters to include more information about curriculum activities. Meanwhile, the Safety Committee decided to focus on enhancing our emotional/ social support system for 2016 based partially on results indicating teasing/bullying at school.

As we do each year, the survey results will be shared graphically on our website this spring for stakeholders to view.

Your student may get an extra recess if you take a few minutes to complete the survey! Here’s the way it will work… sign the leaf or leaves your child(ren) brings home after you complete the parent survey. Send the leaves back to school and we will place them on our survey tree. The grade level that returns the most leaves with parent signatures will earn an extra recess!

Your survey input will be valuable data as we analyze our achievement, define our needs, and target next steps toward our 21st century transformation to become a dynamic, student-owned, challenging, nurturing, 6-C learning community.

The superintendent wants to hear from you, too!

The State Department of Education is requiring all districts to identify a local indicator for assessing school climate and parent engagement. So MDUSD has developed a district survey to gather information from all parts of the community. At this point you should have received an email from the district inviting you to go online to complete the parent survey. The survey link will close on 4/1/17. Hard copies of the survey are available in the office in both English and Spanish for those without internet access.

Safety matters...

The most basic aspect to our successful learning community is to establish safety at school. To that end, an updated safety plan has been approved by the School Site Council and is now being reviewed by district officials. Once approved it will become a public document. Within the plan, there are two categories of goals, those related to The Social Climate, People, and Programs and those that fall under the heading of the Physical Environment. We have written three goals within each category. In the area of Social Climate, goals focus on enhancing student emotional safety, creating a welcoming environment to parents and other visitors, and maximizing student choice and ownership. Physical Environment goals center on AED (automated external defibrillator) upkeep, classroom safety checks, and safety plan sharing.  

 

Our 2017 Safety Plan is designed to set the foundation for a physically safe and emotionally nurturing environment for all community members. Our character focus enhances that groundwork, and events such as our upcoming Sing-out on Wednesday, 2/22/17 help us promote the traits of respect, responsibility, caring, fairness, trustworthiness, citizenship and diversity celebration. We work to infuse these traits every day, and though we are definitely not perfect, our safety plan goals and our character trait activities provide guidance and direction.

 

Embracing inclusiveness…

As we live our character traits, we welcome and include every student.  We prize diversity and believe that all students benefit from the rich cultural perspectives we can share with one another. Conversely, we denounce bullying behavior, setting consequences for it and assessing cause(s) for such conduct, so that underlying needs can be addressed and bullying behavior can be extinguished.

 

We realize that federal and state laws mandate that state and local educational agencies provide all children with access to public education. Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits states and school districts from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Nor can a student be denied equal access to free public education based on the student’s or parent’s citizenship or immigration status, as ruled in Plyler vs. Doe (1982) 457 U.S. 202.  We abide by these laws and intend to move beyond simple access to treasure all of our unique and beautiful children as we promote tolerance, kindness, and inclusiveness at Walnut Acres.We will continue to seek your input to gauge our successes and challenges, in this and all areas of school activity.

I’ll close with a recent message from our State Superintendent of Schools, Tom Torlakson, confirming California’s concern with safety and inclusion:

I want to let all of California’s 6.2 million public school students know that keeping them safe from discrimination and bullying at our great state’s 11,000 public schools is a top priority.

In California, diversity is strength. Our students come from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, languages, and religions, and they all come together to learn on their way to success in 21st century careers and college. California already has, and will always maintain, strong legal and state constitutional protections against any and all kinds of discrimination, regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identity. And I want to tell young women and girls that they will always be safe, be respected, and be protected at school. As the proud father of two daughters, I know that girls can achieve anything, succeed at anything they choose, and earn the respect that they deserve every day at school, in the workplace, and in our communities.

Yours in making Walnut Acres the best school it can be to serve all our students,

Colleen Dowd, Principal

January 9, 2017

posted Jan 30, 2017, 6:15 PM by Vice President Communications

Happy New Year, Walnut Acres Families!

We welcome students back to school with enthusiasm and renewed energy after our holiday! The upcoming cold months are crucial focused learning times and we will make the most of them.  To support our efforts, I would like to introduce new personnel, request your support in filling a few positions, share good facility news, update our school climate work, and remind us all about basic school safety habits

Staff updates

There is some great personnel news as we start our 2017 routine. We have a new music teacher, Sally Anderson, who will provide weekly music classes to our 1st-3rd graders on Thursdays and Fridays. Mrs. Anderson is a member of the Northgate community, her children attended Walnut Acres, and she currently provides support to the band and orchestras at Northgate High. Until we have space for a music room, Mrs. Anderson will be teaching in our Colab. (This is feasible because Mrs. Galindo, our site tech who works in the Colab, will student teach one day a week and she will push into classrooms the other day.) 

Meanwhile, our friend Sandy Villers, who served as science lab assistant for 1st, 4th, and 5th grade students, will be student teaching at Westwood, and Faye Mettler has taken on those science lab assistant responsibilities. Mrs. Mettler was the Walnut Acres PFC president when I first came to Walnut Acres, and we feel lucky to have her back with us. 

We have a new nurse, Cathy Kora, who will be with us once a week. I’ve been asked recently what a school nurse does. It is the responsibility of our nurse to ensure that we are up-to-date with all immunizations, that vision and hearing screenings are completed, that emergency medications are maintained for individual students, and that particular students are monitored as needed, which includes participation in specific 504, attendance, or special education meetings. 

We also need to fill a few positions at our site. We are seeking another Noon Supervisor to work a 2-3 days a week and we are looking for 2 special education assistants to serve in our SDC classes. If you would like to know more about either of the jobs, just check in at the office or give me a call.

Facility Updates

Over the holiday, the MDUSD Maintenance & Operations employees worked on our library renovation. The old desk and half-walls are gone, and there is a new carpet in the library that cost almost $17,000 (including prep work on the floor). The district paid for the labor and the new carpet (actually carpet tiles so that if there is a spill or other problem, a portion of the carpet can be replaced to bring the carpet back to its current unblemished status.) The MDUSD workers also built new double-sided, mobile bookcases which we purchased with 2015-16 Fund-A-Need money. Now our librarian, Mrs. Ritthaler, will work with parent volunteers to redecorate and reorganize the library. She will also cull books from the fiction section and set some books in themed tubs as prescribed within the workshop approach.

Climate Work

We are continuing our efforts to maximize a strengths-based approach to serving our students. Towards this goal, our 3rd-5th grade selected students are currently receiving peacemaker training, while our noon supervision staff, including lunch patrol volunteers, are invited to receive an adult version of the training led by Soul Shoppe personnel.  

Meanwhile, our teaching staff will participate in Restorative Justice training over the next 2 months during staff meeting times. Restorative Justice is the process of helping our children to take responsibility for their poor behavior choices and make amends with the input of the people they offended. It is an extension of the class meetings (or circles) that we are implementing this year. Our goal is to build our children’s ability to communicate, problem-solve, and collaborate regarding their interpersonal challenges just as we are teaching them to do so with academic challenges.

Safety Plan

This is the time of year when we are asked to review and update our Safety and Emergency Plan. If you are interested in joining a committee that will analyze our current plan and develop a 2016-17 plan, let me know this week via email or with a call to the office (939-1333.)

As we focus on safety, it’s an appropriate time to remind our community about basic safety in our community!

  1. Drop your children off at 7:45 a.m., when we have adult supervision for children. Remember that we do not have supervision on the playground after school. If you want your child to play on the playground, you need to provide supervision.
  2. Sign in at the office when you visit during school hours and wear your name tag so children know that you are a safe person on campus.
  3. Follow all drop-off and pick-up rules as detailed in the Walnut Acres Handbook you received and acknowledged reading with your signature at the beginning of the year.

To reduce drive-thru traffic, save gas money, and take positive action for our environment while adding fun and exercise to your student’s routine, consider a New Year’s resolution of walking or biking to school. Whether walking, biking or driving, let’s keep our students safe!

As we hit 2017 running, our staff will work collaboratively to refine our safe environment, enhance our strength-based approach, and guide our students to rigorous, engaging learning experiences. We look forward to sharing the joys and struggle of our valuable work with you in 2017 because we appreciate your input on this learning journey! As President Woodrow Wilson once commented, “We should not only use the brains we have but all that we can borrow.”

Here’s to a successfully collaborative learning year for the entire Walnut Acres community!

Respectfully,

Colleen Dowd

Walnut Acres Principal

December 12, 2016

posted Jan 30, 2017, 6:14 PM by Vice President Communications

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,

Practicing Our Values

During the months of November and December, we focus on understanding the parameters of our CARING life skill. We have practiced gratitude, shared random acts of kindness, and sung songs about the power of hope. You are welcome to join us to celebrate the life skill of CARING at our Sing-Outs on Wednesday, 12/14, at 8:00 (upper grades) and 8:30 a.m. (lower grades) in the MUR.   

Here at Walnut Acres we will continue to promote our life skills of Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Fairness, Trustworthiness, Citizenship, and Diversity Celebration across our campus and do our best to live up to the standards we endorse. As we articulate, role play, model, and practice these skills in collaboration with our parent community, we expect that our children will pursue these values. We will treat one another with respect and kindness, consistently problem-solve challenges together, and celebrate diversity so that every child feels safe at school!

Our life skills are not meant to be just words on a page, a Sing-Out event, or an occasionally earned Bee award. Instead our life skills should consistently guide our interactions and our thinking about our world. If your child is feeling uncomfortable at Walnut Acres because we are not living our life skills, please contact me immediately so that we can address your child’s concerns. 

Site Tech II Status Update

I’ve been asked about site technology support at our school while our Site Tech II, Patty Galindo, is earning her teaching credential. Our amazing Mrs. Galindo is getting her license to teach in order to continue her real vocation as an educational technology specialist. While she has long fulfilled that role at Walnut Acres, she will soon have the formal paperwork to document her expertise. She is attending St. Mary’s College and student teaching at our site. Although Patty tends to work 6 days a week, officially she has always been a .8 FTE (full-time equivalency) employee. That means she works 4 days a week.

Currently, she is taking advantage of her assignment parameters to student teach one full day per week plus two partial mornings. In order to fulfill her time commitment as site tech, about 6 hours of her work is completed after school and on weekends. (For example, she has used her after-hours time to format new devices, install new printers, and troubleshoot user equipment issues.) As with everything we do in working with children, there is some flexibility to that plan. (For example, Patty focused on the school-wide International Hour of Code Week and technical support for the 4th grade performance last week, so she did no student teaching. Conversely, she will spend more time student teaching in mid-January, when she takes over a class for 2 consecutive days.)

For her second student teaching experience, Patty is going to have a creative assignment. She will spend a day with each grade level in a round-robin fashion. She will be rigorously learning the curriculum, as SMC requires, but to our advantage, she will focus on applying her deepening knowledge of each grade level’s core standards to further enhance our technology transformation. Any official hours that she cannot complete during the school day she will once again fulfill after school.

Teacher of the Year Nominations

If you would like to honor a teacher, now is the time to nominate a candidate for Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year. TK-12th grade teachers who have been teaching at least 8 years(not necessarily at our site) and who exemplify personal growth, commitment, personal attitude, and professional skills are being sought! Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) will select 2 representatives to participate in the County Teacher of the Year competition. Winners of each county competition will represent their counties at the state level competition.

Administrators, teachers, parents, and/or students may nominate classroom teachers who have demonstrated a passion for teaching, an ability to differentiate instruction to meet students' needs, and teachers who connect with and support their school community.  Below is a description of the Teacher of the Year process and the brief nomination form:

Teacher of the Year process

Nomination Form

Forms are also on our website under Current News.

Best Wishes for the Holiday Season

May you enjoy the holidays with family and friends, celebrating the beliefs and traditions that bind you. May you relish time with your beautiful children to laugh and hug and celebrate their uniqueness. And may you feel the joy of the season that one young student shared recently when he bounced across the playground to me, threw his arms open wide, and proclaimed, “It’s the season of love!” Or as the less exuberant writer Victor Hugo wrote, “You may give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.”

Here’s to a memorable season of love!

Colleen Dowd,

Lucky Walnut Acres Principal

November 14, 2016

posted Jan 30, 2017, 6:13 PM by Vice President Communications

Happy Thanksgiving month, Walnut Acres parents!

We are enjoying the cooler weather at school as we cultivate student brain power and nurture our learning family.

Instruction and Curriculum

We continue to teach reading and writing strategies through Workshop, practice Number Talksand multiple method strategies in math, provide hands-on science lab investigations, and experience the world of programming with Spheros, Ozobots, littleBits, and assorted enticing devices. Every class has spent some exploration time in our Colab and we will soon be shifting our focus to create or enhance the rigor of a project-based learning activity at each grade level using our Colab space and tools.

One ongoing and longtime component of our programming instruction is our annual Hour of Code; this year, it takes place the week of 12/5-12/9. Students at every grade level will have an opportunity to learn and practice some coding skills and we hope to have Foothill and Northgate students join us to support the fun. If you are interested in participating to help our young programmers, watch for a Konstella volunteer invitation coming soon. 

Assessment

While we are teaching we are also focusing this month on assessing student progress in advance of report cards and parent conferences coming in December. Teachers will be sharing various assessment results with you, including observations and daily work products, to give you a picture of your child’s progress.

As a site we also want to monitor student progress in order to assess our schoolwide programs and instructional choices. As we do each trimester, we will be collecting Teacher’s College Running Records and iReady diagnostic tests to analyze whole school progress, and we will be reviewing the advancement of students in specific support programs, including our classes for our English Language Learners and our reading intervention program.   

Our running record data at this point tells us that across grade levels 80% of our students are meeting or exceeding beginning-of-year grade level reading benchmarks. According to research-based standards for success (Response to Intervention criteria), that means our instructional curriculum (Workshop) is effective. The same body of data also indicates that our intervention work is successful, with fewer students starting in the at-risk category compared to last year. We conclude that the additional reading intervention support to upper grades, as well as the purchase of an intervention program that aligns with Reading Workshop, helped to make that difference.

Now a note of appreciation is in order, because last year PFC paid for extra reading intervention and indirectly supported our intervention program purchase. You funded another part-time reading/ELD intervention teaching position (12 hours per week) which allowed us to broaden and deepen our intervention services. Site funds purchased the Fountas & Pinnell reading intervention program aligned to the Workshop Model last year, but as a site we could expend limited funds on the materials because PFC took responsibility for other instructional supplies.

Preparing for your child’s conference

Our official conference days are 12/5-12/16, and we will have early dismissal on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during those two weeks so teachers can schedule time to dialogue with parents. Our early dismissal times are as follows:

TK/K early friends—8:15 p.m. to 11:17 dailyTK/K late friends 9:36 to 12:38 daily

1st, 2nd & 3rd grades—7:55 to 12:59 p.m. M, T, TH, F  (Wed. pick-up is 12:29 p.m.)

4th & 5th grades—7:55 to 1:06 p.m. M, T, TH, F  (Wed. pick-up is 12:33 p.m.)

Below I am recycling some tips for preparing and participating in an effective parent teacher conference from the Harvard Family Research Project:

Before the conference checklist

  • Schedule a time to meet. If you can’t go at the scheduled time, ask the teacher about other times.
  • Review your child’s work, grades, and progress to develop questions.
  • Talk with your child about his or her progress in school.
  • Talk with others—family members, after school staff, mentors, etc. (and your child I have to add)—about your child’s strengths and needs.
  • Make a list of questions to ask during the conference.
  • Think about ways you would like to be involved in your child’s learning so that you can discuss them with the teacher.

During the conference: “BE HEARD”

Keep these principles in mind for a great parent–teacher conference:

  • Best intentions assumed
  • Emphasis on learning
  • Home–school collaboration
  • Examples and evidence
  • Active listening
  • Respect for all
  • Dedication to follow-up

District Community Meetings

Starting this year, in place of the regular LCAP (Local Control & Accountability Plan) presentation at the district Community Meetings, these meetings will be presented as a Speakers Series.  Each month, a different outside speaker will present on a different topic.  At the end of each meeting, members of the community will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on MDUSD schools with Dr. Meyer, and this feedback will be used for future LCAP revisions. I will share dates for these meetings as I receive the information and the presentations will also be advertised on Peachjar.

Thanksgiving

To all of you who send your unique learners to Walnut Acres every day to be challenged and encouraged and engaged, thank you for your trust. Thank you as well for your educational passion expressed through PFC Jaguar Fund donations, event participation, and volunteering to help our school become a place in which every child feels empowered and excited about learning.  Thank you for believing that our work together is a mission of profound import both on the grand scale of shaping the future and in our seed work of instilling a love of learning and self-confidence in each child. Thank you for showing our children a vision of hope and possibility because in the words of T.S. Eliot, “It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time—for we are bound by that—but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.

I wish you and your family a memorable Thanksgiving!

Respectfully,

Colleen Dowd, Principal

October 11, 2016

posted Jan 30, 2017, 6:11 PM by Vice President Communications

Happy October, Walnut Acres Parents!

Your children constantly amaze me! The enthusiasm they shared during our recent ‘Kindness in Chalk’ Day and the chalk messages they produced were heartening. We will continue to emphasize life skills within our curriculum and at special events. We thank you for modeling life skills for our children. Those of you who give time weekly to our school, and those who volunteered at our site during last Saturday’s Walnut Creek Community Service Day: Thank you for your sense of volunteerism!

Life skill events

Our Sing-outs are a fun and memorable way to reinforce our monthly life skill focus. Our October Sing-out is moving to 10/31 so that we can piggyback on our Halloween parade. We will hold our parade on the blacktop and convene to the tables in the foyer for our Sing-out since our Book Fair will be kicking off in the MUR. Whew! We are a happening place! Parents are welcome to join us at our parade, and at our Sing-out, but please remember these events are experiences for the children, not performances for parents. All students are invited to wear costumes to school for our celebration (no toy weapons or masks, please.) Students will change out of costumes following the event so the costumes will be in good shape for trick or treating. We encourage students to wear their school clothes under their costumes for ease of changing.

Grade level performances coordinated by our choral music teacher, Mrs. Ryken, are designed to entertain parents. Each grade level will have an evening performance complete with songs that will delight an audience and provide wonderful oral presentation experience to the students while reinforcing a life skill message. For the dates of each grade level performance, check the calendar on the PFC website or click here.  

 Ongoing life skill activities 

We encourage positive life skills every day at school directly through instructional activitieswithin the classroom and indirectly through modeling. Some classes are implementing class meetings on a routine basis to build a sense of community and enhance student social problem solving skills.  We also maintain specific, ongoing, schoolwide behavioral supports.

Positive behavioral rewards include our bee awards, our Positive Discipline Referrals, and our zaps awards. Zaps are given to students who complete some good deed, whereas bees are simple paper bees given to students for being a helper, a great worker, a friend to others, or modeling a particular life skill. The first bees of the year will be taken from the bee board and presented to bee earners this week. The bee board is on the east side of Wing C near the PFC thermometer. Every month new bees are placed on the bee board and the previously mounted bees are presented to the students. I make the presentation at lunch with the recommendation that the owner place the bee somewhere at home where he or she will see it and feel proud.

Our Positive Discipline Referral form, given to students who model our life skills in a way that resonates with a teacher, is another method of rewarding students for positive life choices. The teacher completes a Positive Discipline Referral form and sends the student to the office for a talk with the principal. I add my comments to the Referral and send a copy of the Referral home for parent signature—and parent congratulations.

Our recently-acquired buddy bench provides a new strategy to support positive student social interaction. Any student who needs a friend at recess is invited to sit on the buddy bench. Students are being taught in classes to be “bench watchers” and if they see a student sitting on the bench, they are encouraged to ask that student to join them in an activity. I observed a student waiting on the buddy bench last week at recess and she was quickly surrounded by a group of girls who scooped her up and skipped away with her to play. So far, so good.

Meanwhile, our Peace Path work continues with our peacemakers helping peers to practice active listening and I-messaging on the playground and in the classroom.

School Plan for Student Achievement

Our life skill focus is designed to build and maintain a safe and positive learning environment and teach our children to make positive social choices. This goal and our academic goals are detailed within our School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) recently approved by the School Site Council and now sent to the MDUSD School Board for approval. Once the plan has board-approval it becomes a public document online for all to read.

Our SSC-approved SPSA has 3 major goals:

  1. Students will be prepared for 21st century citizenship through active engagement in deep and meaningful STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and language arts learning experiences. 
  2. Students will feel emotionally safe, comfortable, and supported at Walnut Acres while parents feel welcome and informed. 
  3. Staff will enhance personalized learning for each student through data-driven instruction. 

School funds that we spend and activities in which we engage should all be related to these goals. Our Reading and Writing Workshop implementation, our reconstituted computer lab, our engineering exploration with devices such as Little Bits and Spheros, our hands-on science lab experiences, Math Talks, and multiple math methods focus, as well as our parent volunteer Art Awareness program all support our efforts to achieve Goal #1.

We are lucky to have our district-funded counselor with us 2 ½ days a week to support our efforts with Goal #2. The previous section of this message refers to many activities designed to help us achieve this goal. Besides supporting our classroom activities, such as class meetings, and schoolwide efforts such as our buddy bench and peacemakers, our counselor works with individual and small groups of students. She is also available to any parent who wishes to contact her for another perspective or to problem solve. Our counselor is Joanne Finn, and she is with us on Mondays, Tuesdays, and every other Wednesday. You are welcome to contact her.

Goal #3 documents our efforts to expand differentiated learning opportunities in our classrooms daily. Differentiation is integral to Reading and Writing Workshop based on skill level needs and student choice. Running records, conferring, and guided reading groups allow the teacher to assess student needs and respond accordingly whether the student needs more challenge or extra help. We also use our data collection processes to reteach within the classroom and provide extra intervention within our reading lab as needed. We will continue our personalization of our curriculum over time with math as our next major area of focus.

News from WA and the Larger Community

You may have heard of the social media hoax called "clowning" in which threatening clowns appear in public places. I’ve alerted you to the phenomena via a phone message and Konstella, but please know that there have been no threats or sightings at Walnut Acres.

There has been lots of conversation about our upcoming Carnival on 10/22, however. It will be loads of fun and I recommend this annual Walnut Acres family event to you! I have the privilege of kicking off the afternoon of fun with a parade around the neighborhood at noon. That same weekend (10/20-22 at 7:00 p.m.), Curtains Up Youth Theatre presents “The Aristocats” in the MUR and then our much-anticipated annual Book Fair is in the MUR from 10/31–11/4.

The 6th Annual Bay Area Science Festival (BASF) is coming soon, 10/27–11/5. The festival will provide a wide range of science and technology activities—lectures, debates, exhibitions, concerts, plays, workshops, etc. —at a variety of locations throughout the Bay Area. Discovery Days, Signature Events, and Explorer Experiences are designed so that young people will understand that science is fun, exciting, and important, encouraging them to pursue careers in science. Based on similar festivals throughout the world, the 50+ festival events are expected to attract over 50,000 active participants. Go to the BASF website for further information: http://www.bayareascience.org/. These sound like great family outings!

Here’s to events that promote family connection, help us achieve our academic goals in support of our children, and encourage us to model positive life skills. As one chalk-author wrote on Kindness Day, “You can never have too much kindness” while another wrote, “Keep calm and Walnut Acres on!” You ‘gotta’ love our kids!

Respectfully,

Colleen Dowd

Lucky Principal

September 12, 2016

posted Jan 30, 2017, 6:10 PM by Vice President Communications

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,

Thank you for sending your student to us for another year of learning and growing together! 2016-17 is off to a great start with a total of 648 unique and wonderful learners. Accolades to all our active parents, and in particular our dedicated PFC leaders and volunteers for working with Walnut Acres staff to create a smooth and dynamic launch!

Kick-off Events

Our pilot online Homelink program was very successful, and I encourage those of you who did not complete your paperwork online to do so now. If you do not have access to a computer at home, you are welcome to use a school device. For those of you who choose not to complete the tasks online, we are sending home paperwork for you to complete and return.  

Your attendance at our Back to School Nights made our teacher/parent events a success as well. I enjoyed the chats I had with parents and guardians, and I hope you enjoyed learning about the curriculum, activities, and procedures in your child’s classroom. If you did not attend the principal’s welcome and “State of Walnut Acres” presentation prior to your classroom visit, I invite you to check out the principal’s PowerPoint on the Walnut Acres website homepage under “Current News.”

Withun the classroom, our teachers have been leading the students through beginning-of-year activities. They have focused on setting a positive, welcoming tone in their classrooms, establishing positive relationships with students, and routinizing daily procedures. They then added baseline data collection to that mix along with introducing students to our curriculum. I-ready Diagnostic Assessments in grades 2-5 are a part of our data collection process, along with Reading Running Records collected on every student in 1st-5th grades. With expectations in place, a safe learning environment established, and data collected, our classrooms are now focused on academic instruction

Our Ice Cream Social, what I consider to be our last introductory event of the year, was delightful. It was a low-key, old-fashioned opportunity to interact and connect as a community. I always enjoy the Northgate Band that marches through our school with happy children in tow. My appreciation to the hardworking parents who coordinated the lovely evening so our community could enjoy the Social.

 WA Updates

* Please remember that daily, on-time attendance is crucial to support your student’s success at school. Overwhelming research indicates that improving attendance has more impact on literacy and math skill acquisition than any other single change in a child’s academic program. I am available to help brainstorm solutions to any tardiness or absence issues. If your child is sick, thank you for keeping them home. Otherwise, we hope they are with us every day on time to learn and grow.

* Our new classroom teachers are happily ensconced in their classrooms and working collaboratively with their grade-level teams. The district is still searching for a music teacher to serve our 1st-3rd grade students but there is a plan to soon provide instrumental music to our 4th and 5th grade students. You will hear more about the instrumental music rollout this week.

Thanks to our PFC, our library is in the midst of a shift to become a cozier, more inviting spot. It is still a work in progress, but we are transforming the room with new lighting; comfy, lightweight furniture; and moveable shelving. Over winter break, we will continue our revamping by removing the half-walls, losing the huge circulation desk, and putting in new carpeting.  

* Our traditional computer lab has been dismantled, and in its place we have a fledgling Colab (our technology-based Maker Space) for students to use as they learn programming and practice design thinking. We have already begun providing students with hands-on coding experiences and look forward to more engineering exploration. Routine use of computers, iPads, and Chromebooks will take place in classrooms as teachers check out devices for their classes. Eventually, we hope to have more than the current number of devices designated in each classroom, but at this point our carts of devices help us infuse technology into our work. The PFC is again complimented for funding this transformation of our traditional lab into a new kind of learning space for our students to practice the 6Cs of learning. (If you are not familiar with the 6 Cs of learning, check out the principal Back to School Night presentation on our website.)

* You will soon see a new Reading Bench and Buddy Bench on our playground. The Reading Bench is a gift from the Grant Family and will be available to our children as a cozy place to read on the playground. The Buddy Bench, a gift from Girl Scout Troop #32210, is a spot for children to sit when they need a friend to play with at recess. We will be teaching the children to be ‘bench watchers’ so that a child who needs someone to play with will be asked by a ‘bench watcher’ to join in some fun. Our buddy bench will be our focus topic at our first Sing-outon Wednesday, 9/21, at 8:00 and 8:30 a.m.   

Staying Up to Date and Thanks

The CAASPP state test results were recently released publicly. Here is the link to the CAASPP website to check out the findingshttp://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2016/default.

If you are the parent of a 5th grader, please note that in Spring 2017, our 5th grade includes a family life unit. The focus is on how human bodies change at adolescence. Materials used are available to parents for inspection and preview at the District Instructional Media Center, C-2, Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane, Concord, Monday through Friday, October 3, 2016 through October 7, 2016, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Monday through Friday, January 23, 2017 through January 27, 2017, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

A local scout earning his Eagle Scout rank has built tables and chairs for our students. He has asked me to thank Ace Hardware and Ashby Lumber for donating the materials he used to create the gift for the 4th and 5th grade corridor.

And since I am spreading thanks, my appreciation to all who donated or plan to donate to the Walnut Acres Jaguar Fund! Your support is invaluable in the growth of our instructional capabilities and our ability to begin to personalize learning for our students. Without you there would be no science lab, no technology Colab, no assistants at any grade level, no vocal music with Mrs. Ryken, and no pull-out intervention support. Classroom teachers would be the only staff providing any intervention, and each teacher with an English Learner would need to provide 30 minutes of English language learning daily. We would not have the technology that we now have available, and nearest and dearest to my heart, we would not be a Reading and Writing Workshop school because we could not have afforded the training and coaching required to implement the process. Parents and staff are a team in growing our school, and as a member of PFC, YOU play a crucial role. I salute your commitment to education! If you would like to make a contribution and haven’t done so yet, here’s the link: http://walnutacres.schoolauction.net/jagfund2016.

 I encourage you to keep yourself up-to-date about Walnut Acres news that affects your children, through the PFC website, Konstella, the Walnut Acres website, and the MDUSD website. My door is open to you if you want to share ideas or concerns. Meanwhile, remember that the best way to build student success for your child this year is to work collaboratively with your child’s teacher. As the old saying goes, a teacher is a child’s third parent!

Here's to a great 2016-17 school year!

Colleen Dowd, Principal

May 16, 2016

posted May 18, 2016, 9:09 PM by PFC Webmaster

Happy May, Walnut Acres Parents:

 As the school year ebbs, we are experiencing familiar bittersweet endings as well as the promise of new beginnings. Here's what's happening... 

Open House Festival Please join us on Thursday, 5/26/16, from 5:00-7:15 p.m. to celebrate a successful year of student growth! Our event will start with a family dinner option at our picnic tables, along with some entertainment. After you've enjoyed a meal with friends and family visit our specialty rooms such as the counselor's room, the library, as well as the reading lab, from 5:45-6:45 p.m. and chat with the personnel who coordinate specialty services...many of whom are funded by PFC. During the last hour of Open House from 6:15-7:15 p.m., classrooms are open so children may proudly share their work spaces and some of their work products. You may also want to take advantage of this opportunity to check out classrooms at your child's next grade level. 

Personnel 

Allison Aguilar is retiring after 36 years of teaching, 32 of which were at Walnut Acres! We will miss her, but we wish her much joy as she begins a new phase of life. She plans to improve her golf game and do some traveling with her husband after she says good-bye to her classroom. 

Mindy Rogers, our resource teacher, will also be leaving us after a year at Walnut Acres. She will take a special education position closer to her home on the other side of the tunnel. We wish her happy days and shorter commutes. 

Cheryl Gerbacio will join us as a 2nd grade teacher. She is an MDUSD teacher from Delta View who comes highly recommended to us. She is excited to join us on our quest to enhance student choice, build student ownership of learning, deepen rigor, and infuse technology. Given our current student registration numbers for 2016-17, we will be hiring three more teachers. I'll keep you posted as we select new staff members. 

Class size and placement 
While one of our soon-to-be-hired teachers will take over the resource room, the other two teachers are needed because the district is planning for an average 24:1 ratio in TK through 3rd grade classes this fall. That means that while each class size may vary, the average ratio of students to teacher across TK through 3rd grade, must be 24:1. Class sizes in 4th and 5th grades will remain at 34 as of this date. 

With our increase in numbers at the kindergarten level and our new ratio guidelines, we will add another kindergarten class in 2016-17. We will also close our 2nd/3rd combination class, and instead we will have four 2nd-grade classes and four 3rd-grade classes. At this time we plan to keep the kindergarten classes a little larger so we can maintain our slip schedule plan rather than switch to a separate morning and afternoon kindergarten. The kindergarten teachers do not want to forfeit the valuable small-group time that slip scheduling provides with our youngest children. (Reducing class size would mean five kindergarten classes and require morning/afternoon use of rooms, which would preclude time for small groups.) 

Our growth requires us to reassess and reorganize our school classroom layout. We are using the design thinking process to plan out the best scenario for classroom placement. We will alert you when the 2016-17 school map is ready. 

Instructional Planning for 2016-17 

As of 2016-17 we are a full-fledged, committed Workshop site. We use Writing and Reading Workshop extensively across our school, and our children can anticipate articulated, coordinated Workshop instruction in every classroom at every grade level. We will continue with one more year of strong guidance from Nicole Padoan, who is providing us with rigorous coaching offered with a gentle, patient hand. We are very lucky to have her commitment for 2016-17! 

We will continue to focus on the 8 Math Practices (perseverance, reasoning, argument construction, modeling, strategic tool use, precision, pattern observation, and regularity in repeated reasoning) that describe the varieties of expertise teachers at all levels seek to develop in students. In elementary school, these practices are applied most frequently to the crucial mathematical concepts of number sense and procedural fluency. Dr. Ruth Parker, math educator and writer, shared at a recent conference that automaticity of facts and algorithms are "the bread and butter of mathematics." She added, "However, if children do not understand why they are following certain protocols with numbers, they will be stymied with the more sophisticated mathematical concepts beyond elementary school." We will continue to explore Math Talks (developed by Dr. Parker) Singapore Math procedures, Engage NY, and other strategies to build a strong foundational understanding of number concepts. For the "bread and butter" of math, we will continue to rely on games and online programs, such as Reflex, which provide a motivational gaming format to the drill-and-kill of memorizing facts. 

We will also explore the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) this coming school year. While publishers are scrambling to develop new materials for the updated Standards, we are reviewing the new Standards, keeping effective units that are still applicable, and developing new units to meet Standards expectations. Many grade levels have already begun their explorations. Design thinking activities, student discovery experiments, and hands-on lab learning will be preferred strategies for science, while an embryonic robotics component to our science curriculum will begin to form in 2016-17. While we will continue our transformational efforts to prepare our students academically to be strong citizens and valuable leaders in a fast-paced, dynamic, and ever-changing world, there is one other aspect of our educational program that we will address in 2016-17. We know our students need to be prepared with the 6 Cs of critical and creative reasoning, collaboration, communication, global citizenship, along with content mastery, and we are doing our best to promote those skills. However, the pace and dynamism of our society suggests that in our efforts to teach the whole child, we need to redouble our efforts to prepare our children emotionally for the stress that often accompanies the vibrancy and rate of change in today's world. 

To that end, in 2016-17 we will be researching mindfulness strategies to support our children and we will reflect as objectively as possible on our own school practices to ensure that to the best of our abilities we provide a nurturing, positive learning environment with a strength-based educational approach. I'll be sharing our progress and insights with you through this monthly note, and keeping you in the loop as we continue our work to become the best we can be. 

Until then, I wish everyone who mothers a child a belated Happy Mother's Day. You do the most important job in the world! Thank you for allowing the Walnut Acres staff to share that responsibility with you. I hope that together we will continue our joint task of preparing our children for life in the 21st century, and as we educate the whole child, may we remember the words of the Dalai Lama, "It is vital that when educating children's brains that we do not neglect to educate their hearts." 

Here's to our kids, 
Colleen Dowd Walnut Acres Principal

April 2016 Message from the Principal

posted Apr 21, 2016, 11:51 AM by PFC Webmaster

Happy April, Walnut Acres Parents!

What's happening at school...
We are happily engaged here and crafting learning experiences both in and out of the classroom. Our creative students just shared their talent at our annualArt Show and practiced philanthropy through last week's Food Drive. (Thank you to the parent volunteers who coordinated both these valuable events for our children.)
 
Our annual Read-A-Thon just ended and prizes will be distributed on 4/20-22, depending on grade level. Our students had fun reading and we used the event to remind our learners how crucial reading is to enhance their lives. Our children will have a chance to gather some new reading materials at the upcoming Book Fair on 4/25-29 in the MUR.

Our 2nd-5th graders will be completing Math and Reading i-Ready diagnostic testing over the next few weeks to assess what skills our students have mastered and can apply at this point in the year. This is one of the assessments that we use to decide what we need to teach next.

In May, our 3rd-5th graders will complete the state-required SBAC assessments that are part of CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) testing. Grade levels will provide you their specific testing schedules. Meanwhile, if you would like to try your skills at taking a Practice Testclick here, click "Practice and Training Tests," then "Student Interface Practice and Training Tests," scroll down and click on "Sign In" (that's all-you don't need a user name or password,) then scroll down and click on "Yes," select a grade level, then make your content area choice and have fun on the CDE (California Department of Education) website!
 
The district wants you to know that CAASPP is a system intended to provide information that can be used to monitor student progress and ensure that all students leave high school ready for college and career. CAASPP includes computer adaptive assessments in English-Language Arts and Mathematics for students in grades 3-8 and 11 and paper-based tests in science for students in grades 5, 8 and 10. For more information about testing options for parents, please visit the Assessment, Research and Evaluation tab of theMDUSD web page at http://www.mdusd.org/departments/r-n-e/CAASPP, or go to the  Current News section of the Walnut Acres webpage.
 
On Wednesday, 5/4, we will join Foothill in hosting a "Walk & Bike to School Day." We hope that updated safety features to streets that frame our school will be completed for that event. Encourage your child to participate if feasible in order to improve fitness, build community, reduce traffic as well as pollution, and give children independence and responsibility.  Sign up here to lead or join a walking or biking group near you! Here's the map. When you arrive on campus, check in to be counted and receive a prize! Students are reminded to use Street Smarts by wearing helmets when riding, ride on the right side of the road, stop when signs dictate, make eye contact with drivers, use crosswalks when walking and stop, look and listen when crossing streets. As drivers, please be extra cautious due to increased pedestrian and bike traffic to both Walnut Acres and Foothill on 5/4.

The first week of May is also Teacher Appreciation Week, whereas Friday, 5/6, is our opportunity to thank our volunteers for your generous and dedicated contributions to our learning environment. Have you purchased supplies for a party, worked stations in a classroom, organized library books, or raised money for our educational program? If you have volunteered in any way at all, large or small, we invite you to join our Volunteer Appreciation Event. Come spend a little time with us from 8:00-9:00 a.m., starting with our Trustworthiness Sing-out.
 
And planning for next year...
As we focus on these many upcoming activities, we are also planning for the new school year. Please help us plan accurately and effectively for the 2016-17 school year in four ways:
  1. Complete and return the annual "green sheet," which is available in the office and must be returned by 4/22, if you would like to share your thoughts on your student's academic needs for the coming school year. While requests for particular teachers are not appropriate, parents are welcome to note any particular challenges your student has, and make suggestions about the kind of environment in which you believe your student will thrive. Notification of class assignments will be provided on Jaguar Day.
  2. Complete and return a "Moving from WA" form available on 4/20 and return ASAP, so that we can track our grade level numbers and plan accordingly for new students registering at our school.
  3. Review the proposed PFC 2016-17 budget and attend the 4/19 PFC meeting to learn the thinking behind the budget development. Share your insights and perspective regarding the budget plans.
  4. Complete the California Healthy Kids Survey sent to you via Konstella, go to the front page of the school website, or click here. The district requests that you take the CA survey in order to gather information about our school culture. If you want a hard copy of the survey, you are welcome to pick one up from the office.
 
As we enjoy these last months of our 2015-16 school year, I thank you for sharing your beautiful children with our staff, and specifically, with me. I enjoy working for them and the truth is that I learn from them daily. Poet Angela Schwindt wrote, "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about." My greatest insights often come from my efforts to see the world through their eyes and they are so generous in sharing their perspective. Every day I am reminded of the value of a growth mindset perspective as I interact with our continuous learners. They have such amazing potential! I hope that you join me in appreciating the words of past Stanford President Dr. Ray L. Wilbur, when he urged us all to realize that "The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation."

Your lucky principal,
Colleen Dowd

February 15, 2016

posted Feb 23, 2016, 11:15 AM by PFC Webmaster

Happy February, Walnut Acres Parents!

Your voice is requested!

IT'S TIME TO COLLECT YOUR INPUT about how well Walnut Acres is activating the 6 Cs

(Collaboration, Communication, Critical and Creative thinking, global Citizenship and Content

mastery), implementing the instructional practices we have been learning, and creating a safe,

nurturing, and challenging learning environment!

 Please take a few minutes to complete the survey on the front page of our school

website (or click here). Your opinion matters, so please take the time to  share your thoughts

with us by 2/26/16. We will also be collecting survey results from our students during

computer lab, and the data results will add to our progress analysis. As we do each year, the

survey results will be shared graphically on our website this spring for the public to view.

Meanwhile, compiled responses will support analysis of our current safety plan and school site

plan. (Both these plans are public documents on the district website.) The Safety Plan

enumerates annual goals to promote physical and social/emotional site safety as developed

by our school safety committee and School Site Council (SSC). This plan also details

emergency procedures.

The site plan, known as the School Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) is a 3-year plan,

reviewed and approved annually by the SSC, which dictates budget development, professional

growth topics, and types of materials and supplies (including technology) to be purchased.

Three-year goals and annual objectives target our transformative vision and guide us to

appropriate budget expenditures to support our work.

 Your survey input will be valuable data as we analyze SPSA and Safety Plan goal

achievement, define our needs, and target next steps toward our 21st century

transformation to become a dynamic, student-owned, challenging, nurturing, 6-C

learning community.

The superintendent wants to hear from you, too!

Our Superintendent,  Dr. Nellie Meyer, also  wants your input regarding district goals. She

has been facilitating a series of meetings around the district to share the district LCAP (Local

Control Achievement Plan) and gather community input about these plans and potential

improvements to them. There are two meetings left this year, and  you are invited to share

your input at either of them as your schedule allows:

 Thursday 2/18/16 5:30 p.m. Willow Creek Center

Wednesday 4/6/16 6:00 p.m. Northgate High School

And the state has information for you...

California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) brochures are available to parents,

guardians, and other community members. The eight new brochures, four in each subject

area, are organized by grade spans (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) and provide insights into what

students will be learning. The brochures were developed on behalf of the Consortium for the

Implementation of the Common Core under the leadership of the Curriculum Frameworks and

Instructional Resources Division of the California Department of Education and the

Sacramento County Office of Education.

The brochures on the mathematics standards showcase example problems, and the brochures

on the ELA/Literacy standards highlight the progression of learning through the grade levels.

Each brochure also provides suggestions for parents/guardians to support their students'

learning and a list of additional resources.

The brochures can be downloaded from the Sacramento County Office of Education Web page

individually and they are provided to you below:

English Language Arts/Literacy (Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

Mathematics (Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

 Almost last, but not least...

My thanks to all who are planning to support the  PFC Auction on 3/4/16 at the Hilton! I

understand that the PFC savings funds (known as "Strategic Planning funds") have been

spent each of the last few years as the PFC continued to maintain a very high level of support

to our school with expenditures that exceeded intake. The Strategic Planning Committee has

now met and officially determined what PFC budget-watchers knew was coming: The savings

account is too small to continue drawing from the account for next year's PFC budget. They

recommend that the remaining funds be kept for a "rainy day" account. I realize that means

inevitable cuts to the 2016-17 PFC budget. I appreciate that parents are valiantly working to

make budget reductions as painless as possible with a very successful Auction.  I salute the

dedicated Auction leaders, the hard-working volunteers, and the many folks who plan to

support the event. I look forward to seeing you there.

What it's all about

One of our children wished me a Happy Valentine's Day early last week. I asked her why she

was sharing Valentine wishes so far in advance, and she responded that she had  so much

love inside her that  it would take more than one day to share it all!

I hope you and your beautiful children enjoyed a very Happy Valentine's Day and that you

appreciate that it will take a lifetime to share your love with one another. As the wonderful

psychologist Virginia Satir once wrote, "Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere

where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open,

and rules are flexible-the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family."

With affection,

Colleen Dowd,

Walnut Acres principal

January 11, 2016

posted Feb 22, 2016, 4:44 PM by PFC Webmaster

Happy New Year Walnut Acres Parents!

Although I dreaded rising early last Monday morning to face the cold, dark day, it

was absolutely delightful to arrive at school and connect with the children. They

exuberantly shared the details of their holiday adventures, and they all seemed

excited about their return to school. We will do our best to make their 2016

learning experiences as valuable and rich as possible, because they deserve no

less.

This month I want to talk to you about a plan we would like to pursue that

would help enrich learning at Walnut Acres for all students. I was recently

reminded of the not-so-funny joke that if Rip Van Winkle were to wake up today

he'd recognize only one thing-the classroom-because schools are so slow to

change

Our Current Status

I hope you know that is not the case at Walnut Acres, where we are transforming

into a school that rigorously implements the 6 Cs of critical and creative thinking,

communication, collaboration, and global citizenship, along with content mastery.

Whether this transition is labeled as Common Core, 21st Century, STEAM or STEM,

it is a sea change from traditional instruction and we are plowing ahead,

determined to prepare our students for success in a society that will require the 6

C skills.

However, we are shackled by the traditional setting of our school, with small rooms

designed to house groups of students seated at desks all day. We need to

develop more open, collaborative spaces that will better serve our vision

for student learning. Tom Murray, state and district digital learning director for

the Alliance for Excellent Education (www.all4ed.org), states that "It really is a

mindset shift. There's a disconnect if the (school) spaces don't practice what we

preach in terms of the 21st-century skill set." We are currently in that state of

disconnect. Many of the instructional strategies and programs we need to

implement for students require more space and flexibility than is currently

available. (In fact, we are running tight on space even for a traditional educational

structure.)

In a traditional classroom, students are seated at individual desks quietly

responding to teacher direction and input. Just as the technology and tools

available to our students have become mobile, so too should our learning spaces

become more flexible. As we transform into a learning community that often

encourages both formal and informal student interactions, research in many

formats, hands-on experiences, and student creation opportunities both in

collaborative teams and individually, we need to differentiate our learning spaces.

As we build students' capacity to own their own learning, make choices in

their learning plan, and show what they know, we need a space that

provides opportunity for student movement, research material options,

and room for teamwork using a variety of materials and tools.

The Innovation Team is leading the charge to pursue the potential of a

new building at Walnut Acres that would provide open, flexible space for

student learning. Since it would be a place for student collaboration and

communication, we are using the working title of Colab for the building.

The Colab Dream

The Colab is envisioned as a 21st-century library with rooms for groups of

various sizes to complete a multitude of tasks, including, but not limited

to, producer/consumer technology learning and application activities on a

variety of devices, research using books or technology devices, student

collaborative projects, hands-on science experiments, maker space

activities, robotics, coding, green-screening, and art. Ideally, the large main

room would have a light, inviting feel with books on walls and comfy, studentmovable

furniture. Various rooms sized for 10 to 34 students would open from the

large room. We want to avoid labeling each room by function, because rooms

would be multi-purpose.

Students or small groups of children sent by their teachers to work on a project,

whole classes with teacher, and even entire grade levels could use the Colab for an

endless variety of purposes. Our current library would be moved to the space, and

science lab classes could be housed there, as well as art classes. A variety of

technology devices would be available for technology skill development and

application of those skills to student content assignments. The space would be

ideal for project-based learning, which is a staple of a 21st-century school.

Specialists such as our librarian, site tech, and science assistants, would "live" in

the space and be available to learners.

Next Steps

There is an old saying that if your dream doesn't scare you, it's not big enough!

Having said that, we have to consider the realities of our situation and see what is

possible on our site. The building we envision would cost millions and could not be

raised by the PFC. It would likely be funded through grants from corporations that

choose to support 21st century learning.

The Innovation Team has received approval from the district to get a

feasibility study completed for the Colab Project. The team has decided that

the next step is to form a feasibility committee to complete two goals:

1. Learn the facts about the function and potential costs of the Colab.

2. If the plan proceeds, find funding for the feasibility study, which is

estimated to be about $28,000.

Mr. Jeff de Lucia has agreed to lead the team along with Mr. Todd Silva. If you

are willing to join the feasibility team to research these dual goals, please

contact me at 939-1333 or via e-mail at dowdc@mdusd.org. Anyone who is

interested in helping with this process is welcome to join. We are particularly eager

to get help from those who are familiar with the construction and planning process

as well as those who have experience with capital campaign fundraising.

Intradistrict Transfers

The district has asked me to remind you that intradistrict applications were

available beginning 10/15/15 and that the application window will close on

1/15/16 for 1st-11th grades and 3/1/16 for TK and K. You may pick up an

application in our school office or at the district office. The application is also

available on the district website at mdusd.org. No applications for an intradistrict

transfer will be accepted after the deadlines specified.

Please remember that all current intradistrict transfer students remain at Walnut

Acres through 5th grade. If Foothill is not your home school and you wish to attend

there, you will need to follow the intradistrict transfer process.

Best Wishes

George Eliot wrote that, "It is never too late to be what you might have been."

Guiding our children provides a wonderful opportunity to enrich our own lives. May

2016 be a year in which each of us continues to become the best that we can be

as we partner to support our children's learning in a safe, nurturing, engaging and

challenging environment.

Respectfully,

Colleen Dowd

Walnut Acres Principal

Walnut Acres Elementary, 180 Cerezo Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598


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