August 18, 2015

posted Sep 2, 2015, 9:14 PM by Vice President Communications   [ updated Sep 2, 2015, 9:15 PM ]
Hello Walnut Acres Parents,

I hope your summer is providing some delightful family time and that your child is learning from your adventures while regularly getting lost in reading a book, a magazine, anything on a digital device, a graphic novel, a comic book or some other sort of text every day.
 
As your thoughts turn to the 2015-16 school year, I would like to share our preparations for the return of our wonderful students. Here's the scoop:
 
Jaguar Day
We are enthusiastically preparing for the arrival of our students on our first day of the school year on Tuesday, August 25. Meanwhile, Jaguar Day is our first official event for 2015-16 on Thursday, August 20, and we look forward to seeing you there between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. to confirm your demographic information, get your child's class assignment, and sign up for the myriad of opportunities available to support our school. These include options to volunteer in classrooms, the library, and in our Learning Center, and to donate to our crucial Jaguar Fund, which is pivotal to maintaining many of our personnel as well as programs for students. (Click here for the Financial pages of the PFC website to learn how PFC money is allocated this year.)
 
To learn all you need to know about Jaguar Day and get your "All-In-One Form" online, go to the school website or click here.
 
A volunteer opportunity
We need 3 parent volunteers to serve as School Site Council representatives for 2015-17. I will be sending out a ballot the first week of school if 1 more person will volunteer to be placed on the docket. Please e-mail me if you would be willing to make a commitment for each first Thursday of the month from 3-4:00 p.m. In case you are wondering, the ballot cannot be online according to regulations, which is why the ballot is sent home for your input.
 
Two learning opportunities
On August 22nd (Saturday), the District will host a Back-to-School Parent Conference at Loma Vista Adult Center (1266 San Carlos Drive, Concord). The conference, from 7:45-12:15 p.m., is designed to equip and empower parents to support children at school. Call 510 833-6396 to reserve childcare space or ask questions regarding the conference. School supplies and light refreshments will be available following the conference. Additional information will soon be on the district website.
 
Three parent forums on are being offered at Heather Farm by the Walnut Creek Police Dept. during the month of September. Topics are relevant and crucial to parents - Social media use (Wednesday, 9/2), marijuana, wax & vape pens (Wednesday, 9/9), and alcohol/popular drugs (Wednesday, 9/16) are the topics led by our Community Service Officer, Raquel Cantillon and colleagues at 6:00 p.m. each evening. The flyer for the event is on the school website under "Current News" with the heading "Parent Ed Night". Click here for immediate access.
 
New e-marquee
Have you noticed the electronic marquee brightly welcoming you to Walnut Acres? We hope it will provide you with valuable information soon! Getting that marquee in place was a coordinated effort and thanks go out to the Walnut Acres Student Council and PFC Fund-A-Need donors for financing, to our very patient Alex Webster of West Coast Sign for his guidance in ordering and placing the sign, and to our tenacious Susi Farmer, who coordinated the surprisingly daunting project.
 
Personnel
At this point in time we will have a 2nd/3rd grade combo class. Chrissie Cattalini will teach the group and we have included particular students whom we think will benefit from the challenges of the class. Parents of these students have agreed to placement, so if you have not communicated with me, then your student is not in the combo. With Chrissie's new status, Stephanie Dib, dynamic teacher from Woodside Elementary, will join Walnut Acres to round out the 3rd grade team.  
 
Our dedicated resource teacher, Mary Lou Richards, decided to retire at the very end of our school year, so we did not have the opportunity to wish her a formal bon voyage and best wishes. If you would like to write a good-bye note to her, pass it to me and I will see that it gets to her. Mindy Rogers, resource teacher from Sequoia Middle School, will join us to carry on the good work of resource support and coordinate our learning center. Due to an increase in resource student numbers, Mindy will be with us 5 days a week.
 
We also have a new SDC teacher for our 1st-2nd class. Nicky Clarke, who served as SDC teacher in East Contra Costa School District, will be joining us to work with our students with autism.
 
Cynthia Young, Emelie Patten, and, of course, Judy Ryken, will continue as music teachers, but Eva Albright will not be with us for the coming school year. Instead, Wednesday morning music classes will be taught by Giovanni Lamanna.   
 
School layout
Along with our changes to personnel, we have shifted a few rooms to better organize classes for access and security. Check out the 2015-16 Walnut Acres school map on our website (click here) for details.
 
Insurance option
Mt. Diablo Unified School District does not carry medical insurance for students injured on school premises so the district has approved an optional medical and dental accident insurance plan for parents. The District does not act as agent for any insurance provider. If purchased, it is a separate contract between the buyer and the insurance company. To view the letter regarding the plan and get directions to access an application for insurance go to the "Student Services" section of the MDUSD website, scroll down the list of options, then click on "Parent Information Packet" or click here to see the letter on our school website.
 
Here's to working together!
Thank you for sharing your unique and beautiful children with us. We will do our best to live up to the trust you place in us by bringing your children to Walnut Acres every day. We look forward to working collaboratively with you as we provide our unique learners with an opportunity to grow cognitively, socially, and emotionally, in a safe and inviting environment.  I am closing with the poem "Unity", previously shared with you, but worth repeating as we begin our collaboration for the new school year...
 
I dreamt I stood in a studio, and watched two sculptors there.
The clay they used was a young child's mind, and they fashioned it with care.
 
One was a teacher, the tools he used were books, music, and art.
One a parent with a guiding hand and a gentle loving heart.
 
Day after day, the teacher toiled, with a touch that was deft and sure.
While the parent labored by his side, and polished and smoothed it o'er.
 
And when at last, their work was done, they were proud of what they had wrought.
For the things they had molded into the child, could neither be sold nor bought.
 
And each agreed they would have failed if each had worked alone,
For behind the parent stood the school and behind the teacher the home.
 
Welcome to 2015-16 at Walnut Acres Elementary!
 
Your lucky principal,
Colleen Dowd

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