Principal's Messages

Principal's Message - March 23, 2020

posted Mar 24, 2020, 6:43 PM by Vice President Communications

Hello Walnut Acres Families,

Being apart under “social distancing” does not stop us from sticking together.  The live auction on Friday night exhibited our strength to remain focused on the future and on our students as the PFC raised $173,000.  Thank you everyone for your tremendous generosity.  I would also like to express my gratitude to our incredibly hard working and amazing auction team: Veronica Velilla-Weisner (Auction Lead), Anna Halverson and Holly Guy (Co- Leads), and the other 23 team members and everyone in the community who made this event a success! Your philanthropic actions are truly valued.

I hope you are well.  Things are moving and changing rapidly every day.  The staff has been told to stay off campus and to work from home. I continue to go into school on most days to check on the safety and security of the site, and provide food service to students within our school feeder pattern.  I will make time available each week for teachers to check in or to retrieve materials from their classroom. 

Last week, the teachers union and the district came to an agreement on how teachers will proceed with instruction and learning during school closure, through April 13.   I am sharing some of those decisions made with you here:

“The recommended amount of student activity time to be provided by the teacher is listed below.  This time is for learning, connecting, engaging, and supporting students through digital content and instruction to ensure maintenance of learning starting the second week of closure:

  1. TK-Kindergarten       1 hour daily
  2. 1-3rd Grade                 2 hours daily
  3. 4th- 5th Grade             3 hours daily
  4. 6th- 12th Grade           4 hours weekly per content area”

Teachers are working diligently to connect and support students.  Along the way they are researching and gathering ideas and online materials while navigating this changing schema of how best to deliver instruction.  Some of us, including me, had to quickly learn how to use certain technology. While our teachers are required to give these many hours of learning daily, it does not mean you have to require your child to commit to study for this many hours.  We understand this may be a very difficult time for some families, and not all children have adult help at home.  This is an adjustment for everyone.  So, do what you can and communicate with the teacher if you need support.  Furthermore, we understand that some families may not have internet or a tech device at home.  If this is the case, please communicate with your teacher so we can provide your child with a Chromebook to use at home.  There is a contract agreement for this check out system.

Thank you to the families who participated in the survey, “Walnut Acres State of Tech,” that was sent out Thursday evening of last week via Konstella.  We appreciate your understanding that last week was our first week attempting to provide distance learning.  Your feedback, particularly the comments, is very helpful and we will keep this in mind as we move forward in planning for future at home assignments.  Based on the survey, parents indicated that the volume of assignments was: 56% Just right, 13% Too much work, 13% Not enough work, 5% Not focused on doing the work right now, and 13% other.

I have asked teachers to check in with students via email, Zoom, Google Meet, or other means of communication. This week, teachers will be communicating with you a time they will be available each day to check in if needed.  We are here for you, so let us know how we can help.

Be safe and healthy,

Principal Luong

Principal's Message - January 27, 2020

posted Jan 27, 2020, 9:26 AM by Vice President Communications   [ updated Jan 27, 2020, 11:33 AM ]

Dear Walnut Acres Families,
How fast January is going by.  Hope your 2020 is off to a great start.  Below are some reminders about ways you can help our children be safe, Kindergarten registration, and the PFC Survey. 

Walnut Acres Pick-up and Drop-off Rules for Student Safety 
Please drive s-l-o-w-l-y, especially on rainy days.  To keep our students safe while being dropped off and picked up at our busy site, the following rules are in place: 

  1. Parents will drop off and pick-up students only at the yellow, unloading zone curb. There is no parking at this curb. (This rule is designed to maintain the flow of traffic at busy times of day.) 
  2. Passengers are to exit vehicles on the curbside. (This rule is designed to keep children safe and car doors attached to cars.) 
  3. Parents will not double-park in turn-about. (This rule is designed to maintain traffic flow and ensure students are not walking between unloading vehicles to get to sidewalk.) 
  4. Parents will not drop-off or pick-up students in the staff parking area. (This rule is designed to ensure that students are not walking across a busy pathway and between unloading vehicles to get to the school sidewalk.) 
  5. Parents will not park in teacher-designated parking spots and avoid handicapped spots, unless handicapped. (This rule is designed to ensure that teachers have a place to park and vehicle access in our very confined parking lot. It will also ensure that we remain handicapped-accessible.) 
  6. Parents or a designated adult will supervise play after school. (This rule is designed to protect children from harm or abduction.) 
  7. Parents will observe that children play on blacktop, field, and play structures, NOT behind classrooms or sheds. (This rule is designed to keep children viewable to keep them safe and avoid high noise levels and distractions to classes in session.)

No Dogs on Campus
This is another reminder to leave your four-legged family member at home.  In addition to allergy concerns, we cannot be certain how a dog would “act out or react” and the situation could spiral quickly out of control.  Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated.

KINDERGARTEN & TK REGISTRATION FOR 2020-2021
TK and Kindergarten registration day will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 in the school Library. Registration is by appointment only. Appointments can be made after Kindergarten Orientation the evening of February 3, 2020 through SignUpGenius.

Kindergarten Orientation
Orientation for parents of incoming Kindergarten and TK students will be held at 6:00 pm on Monday, February 3rd. Registration appointments will be open after Orientation at approximately 7:00 pm at signupgenius.com.

Students born between 9/2/2015 and 12/2/2015 are eligible for TK.  Students born between 9/2/2014 and 9/1/2015 will be registered for Kindergarten. (Students born between 9/2/2013 and 9/1/2014 will enter 1st grade, even if they have not attended Kindergarten). Please check out our Walnut Creek Acres Elementary website for more info.

No Playing on the Big Playground After Kindergarten Dismissal
After picking up your kindergarten child during dismissal, please do not hang out or play on the big play structure and playground as first through fifth graders are still in session until 2:30 or 2:40.  We would like to keep the noise level to a minimum. Furthermore, PE classes may take place on the blacktop. You may wait for your child at the picnic tables or in front of A-1 and A-2. Thanks for your cooperation. 

PFC Survey
If you have not already, please complete the PFC survey but clicking HERE. The results of this survey will assist the PFC in making budget and fundraising decisions as well as the best ways to communicate to the families.  Your input is important. 

Important Dates:
1/28 Fourth and Fifth Grade Instrumental Music Performance, 6:30- 7:15PM, MUR
1/30 Third Grade Performance, “Go Fish,” 7:00- 7:45 PM
2/03 Kindergarten Orientation, 6:00- 7:00PM, MUR
2/04 Kindergarten Registration, 9:00- 11:00AM, 1:00- 3:00PM, Library
2/10 No School for Students, Teacher Work Day
2/14 and 2/17 No School, Presidents Holiday

Principal's Message - December 16, 2019

posted Dec 16, 2019, 8:29 AM by Vice President Communications

Season’s Greetings to You and Your Family, and Best Wishes for the New Year!
I wish the entire Walnut Acres community a peaceful, restful, and joyous holiday season.  May you enjoy spending time with your loved ones, and along the way, be able to do something special for yourself.  Most importantly, remember to take care of yourself as the holidays can be a stressful time.  Take a break and read with your children, cook with them, take a walk, or play board games and card games.  These precious moments build memories and fun for all.

Read-A-Thon
Thank you families and friends for your generosity and enthusiasm for reading. We raised about $34,000 and this money goes toward funding school programs and hiring personnel.  Congratulations to Ms. Beuchotte’s first grade class and Ms. Buckingham’s fourth grade class for raising the most money, and, consequently, earning an ice cream party. A special thank you goes out to M’Lissa Fleming and Carolyn Bargagliotti for leading this successful fundraiser and making it fun with a western theme.  Teachers and students displayed great school spirit by dressing in western gear on the last day of the Read-A-Thon.  Yippee-Ay-Oh!

Caring
How appropriate that our character trait of focus for December is “Caring.”  Two student activities that demonstrated caring for others are the Toy and Clothing Drive and the donation of our Lost and Found clothes.  The Girl Scouts created the posters for our annual Toy and Clothing Drive that were displayed around the school.  All donated goods and toys went to the families and students of Shore Acres Elementary School in Bay Point. Stephanie Balistreri, mom of Ella, spent many hours sorting and driving these donations to personally deliver them to Shore Acres.  Thank you to all who donated.  Thank you all for your care! 

The Student Council sorted and donated the school’s Lost and Found clothing to the fire victims. We appreciate the Student Council’s effort, care, and leadership in taking care of others, and also for cleaning up our Lost and Found bin.  Thanks to Faye Mettler, who is also one of our science teachers, for working with the Student Council. 

Spotlights on Our Learning
One of the most exciting parts of my job is being in the classrooms to experience firsthand when teaching and learning are happening. I love talking to students about what they are learning and doing. These moments are important because they remind me why I’m doing the work I do.  I would like to share some instruction and learning highlights that have been happening at Walnut Acres these past couple of weeks:

TK-K- One important component to reading is learning about letter names, sounds and putting them together to make a word. That is what our TK and K students are learning.  Teachers call this segmenting and blending sounds. Some students do this out loud because they need to hear it, while others can do this silently. 

1stgrade- The first graders are doing a great job using the base 10, subitizing numbers, and explaining their mathematical thinking. It is wonderful to hear students discuss about what they are doing and how they are solving the math with each other. 

2ndgrade – Teachers coordinated a day of fun and learning about various holidays when students from all 4 second grade classrooms were assigned to be with students from other classrooms.  They rotated through all four classrooms playing games, reading, engaging in arts and crafts activities. 

3rdgrade- Can you drop and egg and not break it? Ask the third graders and they will show you how.  Students designed and built an apparatus that could prevent an egg from breaking when dropped from a height of over six feet.  You should have heard all the excitement during the egg drops. 

4thgrade- Students sang beautifully at last Thursday’s grade level performance of “December in Our Town.”  It was wonderful to see families, grandparents, and everyone there.  Our MUR was full.  Thank you to the fourth grade teachers and Judy Ryken. Good job everyone!

5thgrade- I wish I had teachers who could scaffold instruction and show me how to do things as well as the teachers we have. As a part of the writer’s workshop, students learned to do research about their topic, take notes, sort their ideas into categories, write a flash draft, and that is just half way through the writing process.  Students are working on writing an opinion paper.  In pre-algebra, students could concretely see how one side of the equation equals to the other side by using manipulatives. Maneuvering the manipulatives around and balancing the equation helped students solve for the unknown variable.

Hour of Code- Students, TK- 5 grades, were motivated and engaged in exploring ways to create and design with coding.  I’m impressed by their ability to design a scenery with graphics that could move, change background, blink, and make sounds. The best part is they did not need my help.  I was actually learning from them.

Science Fair Kick-Off Assembly: Wow, what an amazing presentation by Michael Meneghetti, a retired science teacher and the husband of our science teacher, Julia Meneghetti. The performance was like a magic show, only we know there is no magic.  It is purely science? 

Early Dismissal for Dec. 16- 20
Please note for Friday, 12/20, TK and K dismissal time is 11:17AM, while 1st,2nd, and 3rdgraders are dismissed at 12:59, and 4thand 5thgraders are dismissed at 1:10.

Warmest Wishes,
Principal Luong

 

Upcoming Events
12/16- 20 Early Dismissal (See schedule above)
12/18 Sing Out, “Caring,” Wednesday, 8:00- 8:30 (3-5 grades), 8:30- 9:00 (TK- 2 grades)
12/19 TK-Kindergarten Sing-Along, 10:00, MUR
12/23- 1/06 Winter Vacation
1/07 Return to School on a Tuesday
1/09 School Site Council, 3:00- 4:00, Library

Principal's Message - November 21, 2019

posted Nov 21, 2019, 7:19 PM by Vice President Communications

Happy Thanksgiving Walnut Acres Families!

Today, I reflected on the beauty of Autumn, as I stood in front of the School, and watched the yellow and red leaves falling about the picnic tables while the students walked by.  I am so thankful on this Thanksgiving holiday to be your principal.  The Walnut Acres community is truly special. Thank you for everything you do for our school.

Minimum Days Schedule During Parent/Teacher Conferences for Dec. 9- 20:

Parent-Teacher conferences will be held December 9-13 and December 16-20, 2019. We will have early dismissal both weeks. Please see the chart below for each grade level’s dismissal times.

Parent Teacher Conference

The parent teacher conference is an opportunity for you to meet with your child’s teacher and learn about how your child is doing both socially and academically. Ask questions about your child’s strengths as well as areas for growth, and ways you can help your child.  This is also a time to share any pertinent information about your child’s home life with the teacher.  Remember, conference time is limited, so ask the most important questions first.  You can always ask to have another meeting with the teacher if necessary.  It’s important that you have regular communication with the teacher regarding your child’s progress.  Finally, share with your child what was discussed. 

PFC Fundraising

Each year, the PFC fundraises approximately $400,000 to support our school programs.  Much of this money is donated by families like yours.  What is this money used for? More than 80% of the money raised is used to pay for staff salaries, such as our reading and math specialists, the STEM teacher, vocal music and science teachers. All these programs are unique and important to Walnut Acres; they bring rigor, innovation, and extra support for our students. The remaining funds pay for operating expenses, curriculum support, and campus support.  So, please help us meet our goal again this year by donating to the PFC if you have not already done so.  Thank you so much to those who have already donated. 

Important Dates:

11/18- 12/2 Read-A-Thon
11/25- 11/29 Thanksgiving Break
12/2- 12/5 Toy & Clothing Drive
12/12- 4thgrade performance, “December in Our Town,” 7:00pm
12/18- Sing Out, “Caring,” 8:00- 9:00
12/23- 1/6 Winter Recess
1/7- Return to School

Principal's Message - October 14, 2019

posted Oct 14, 2019, 9:39 AM by Vice President Communications   [ updated Oct 14, 2019, 10:18 AM ]

Happy October Walnut Acres Families!
Excitement is in the air! Please join the staff of Walnut Acres for the Halloween Parade on October 31 at 8:15am, on the playground blacktop. All parents are welcome. Please keep costume weapons and sharp objects at home. Costume mask should only be worn during the parade. The kids will be just too cute to talk about. Great photo opportunities! Hope to see you there!

This past weekend we had a wonderful Community Service Day: about forty school members and community partners rejuvenated the outdoor area by staining, cleaning, planting, and weeding among other things. We also centralized the placement of our emergency supplies to the shed marked with a red cross on the playground. We greatly appreciate your help! A special thank you goes to Caroline Clerempuy and Justin Trana for spear heading this important event.

Sing Out
The Sing Out will be on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 8:00- 9:00 (8:00 3rd-5th grades, and 8:30 TK-2nd grades). We will be celebrating the life skill “Responsibility.”

Car Line at Drop Off
As drivers, please respect the car line in the parking lot. It is unacceptable to cut the line. Do not leave your car unattended in the car line. This can cause back ups into the street causing frustration and unsafe driving conditions. Also, do not park in the no parking
zones on the street parallel to the carline. This further backs-up the car line and the entire street. Pedestrians should use the marked crosswalk to avoid potential complications with automobiles.

No Dogs on Campus
This is a reminder to leave your four-legged family member at home.  In addition to allergy concerns, we cannot be certain how a dog would "act out or react" and the situation could spiral quickly out of control. Your cooperation in this matter is greatly appreciated.

CA ShakeOut
Walnut Acres students and staff will participate in this earthquake drill on Friday, October 18 at 10:25am. As a part of our safety plan, we hold monthly safety drills. During this drill, students will practice, “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” For Everyone Drop to the ground, take Cover under a table or desk, and Hold On to it.

Parent Advisory Council (PAC)
The Parent Advisory Council to the Superintendent (PAC) is comprised of parent representatives from each school. They meet with the Superintendent and other district staff on a monthly basis during the school year to help implement and monitor the elements of the Local Control Accountability Plan.  In addition, members also work
together to:

  • Identify common needs and goals among the parents/guardians of students enrolled in Mt. Diablo Schools and facilitate strategies to increase efficiency and effectiveness
  • Provide the superintendent with feedback and insight from the parent’s perspective on school process, policies and initiatives to ensure that the needs of parents and their families are included as decisions are made in the district
  • Serve as an advisory group that makes recommendations, encourages brainstorming, and provides opportunities for parent involvement on committees and task forces
  • Facilitate communication between and among the parents and parent organizations from different district schools and serve as a forum for sharing innovations and best practices from around the district

All parents are welcome to attend one or all the PAC meetings, which take place on Oct.17, Nov. 14, Jan. 16, Mar. 19, and May 21, 3:30- 5:00, at the Willow Creek Center on 1026 Mohr Lane in Concord. Childcare and light snacks are provided at all meetings. Please attend a meeting and represent Walnut Acres.

Future Events and Activities
10/15    PFC Meeting, 7pm, library
10/21-10/25 Fifth Grade Camp at Walker Creek
10/18    District English Language Advisory Council (DELAC)- 5:30pm, Willow Creek Center
10/ 24   School Site Council- 3:00- 4:00pm
10/25-26 CUYT 3rd/4th grade show “The Lion King”
10/29    Picture Make Up Day
10/30    Sing-Out 8-9am
10/31    Halloween Costume Parade - 8:15am
11/4- 11/8 Scholastic Book Fair
11/11    Veteran's Day - NO SCHOOL
11/19    PFC Meeting - 7pm, Library
11/18-12/2 Read-a-Thon

Principal's Message - September 17, 2019

posted Sep 17, 2019, 8:30 AM by Vice President Communications

Happy September Parents and Guardians, 

We are off to a good start to the school year. The students have become reacquainted with school routines and procedures. The teachers have worked diligently to build a caring and safe community, establish academic and behavioral expectations, and connect with every student. The newly completed reading and math data from student assessments will assist classroom and support teachers in understanding student abilities, assessing strengths as well as areas for growth. Teachers also use this data to deliver differentiated instruction, and provide extra support for students not yet meeting grade level expectations. 

Every Day Counts 
Help your child receive at least eight hours of sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and arrive at school on time everyday. When a child is late, s/he may miss many important information, direction, and instruction given by the teacher. This leaves the child not knowing what to do when s/he arrives late. Furthermore, for some classroom, this is the prime time when the teacher works on community building, when students can check in with each other as well as with the teacher to go over the daily schedule, check in how everyone is feeling, and what everyone’s goals are for the day. If this time is lost, it can cause students to feel disconnected to the classroom community and team. 

Absence
Please consider planning family trips during school holidays. No independent study assignments can fully replace the true experience of learning like at school. Independent studies are available if the student will be out of school 5 or more consecutive days. Please allow teachers at least 2 weeks notifications to create the work required. If your child is sick, report the absence by calling 925-682-8000, ext. 7242 or report the absence online at http://waes-mdusd-ca-schoolloop.com 

Keeping our Children Safe 
We need your help and cooperation to keep our students safe. When visiting the school during school hours, please check in and out at the office, obtain and wear a visitor’s sticker. When the school bell rings at 8:00, please make your way off campus. The playground needs to be emptied as PE classes begin. Especially on Wednesday after school, please sit at the tables in the courtyard until dismissal if you arrive early. This routine allows classrooms to have quiet space until class has ended for the day. Furthermore, although primary grades are dismissed at 12:30 on Wednesdays, upper grades are still in school until 12:40. All students need to be supervised by their parents if they play on the playground after school. 

If you and your child walk or bike to school, practice the following safety tips: Make eye contact with drivers, look left-right-left before entering the street, use crosswalks, bike on the right side, with the flow of traffic. 

If you drive to school or/and pick up your child, please slow down, yield to all pedestrian, avoid talking on the cell and making U-turns in the middle of Wiget and Cerezo Drive. The drive-thru is an idle free area for drop offs and pick-ups only, not parking. Idling is harmful to our air quality and our health. The Student Climate and Parent Safety Handbook contains information about the drive-thru procedures. Lastly, reserve handicap parking and blue zones for individuals with disabilities. 

Up Coming Events 

9/17 & 9/18: Picture Day
9/25: 8:00-8:30am Sing Outs Grades 3rd-5th /8:30- 9:00am Grades TK-2nd - “Respect” All are welcome (MUR) 
10/2: International Walk to School Day (Thank you Carolyn Bargagliotti & Meg Gibson Keese for heading this event)
10/12: 8:45-12:00pm Community Service Day (Thank you Caroline Clerempuy & Justin Trana for heading this event) 

Yours truly, 
Lang Luong 

Principal's Message - August 2019

posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:05 AM by Vice President Communications

Dear Families and Students of Walnut Acres,

 

Welcome back to the 2019-20 school year!  I hope you had a restful summer and are ready to begin another great year. Thank you to the families who attended the Meet and Greet the Principal in July.  It was a pleasure meeting everyone.  

 

There are changes to the staff. Please welcome Beth Beuchotte (1stgrade), Doug Martila (SDC), Preet Sohdi (psychologist), Deanna Nixon (librarian), and Nicki Clarke (SDC).  Chloe Park (long term sub office manager), and Marika Reisinger (long term sub attendance clerk) have done an amazing job running the office. Amanda Graves switched from fourth to third grade while Mariteresa Arenson moved from second to fourth grade. Heather Garcia Roy will be teaching a TK-K class.  The TK-K team and I have thoughtfully placed students who can work more independently into this class since there will be two grade levels. Our first grade teacher, Melanie McGoldrick, will be out until the end of September due to health reasons.  We already have an excellent long-term sub that has agreed to take the job.  I will announce her name as soon as the paperwork has been completed.  We wish Ms. McGoldrick a speedy recovery.

 

A few other changes also occurred over the summer to improve our campus.  The district upgraded our Wi-Fi network, providing better access to more computer programs and software.  Thanks to the passage of the measure bond, there is now a new fence along the side of the school parallel to Ebano Dr.  Trees have been trimmed, classrooms cleaned, and floors waxed.  Thanks to your support and donations, we have purchased 8 flat screen monitors and 17 iPads for classroom use.  

 

We are excited to dive deep into math instruction and learning this year as teachers attended a math training on August 8 and 9 for our newly adopted math curriculum, Bridges.  We thank all of you for supporting us in this new endeavor.

 

I invite you to attend Jaguar Day, 8/12/19, 3:00- 7:00 PM.  This is a great time to meet other families, sign up to help with the Parent Faculty Committee events and activities, and find out your child’s class assignment.  But first, remember to update your personal information on the district Homelink if you have not already.  You can do this by visiting:https://net.mdusd.org/parentportal/LoginParent.aspx?page=default.aspx. You will not receive your child’s classroom assignment until your personal information has been updated.  Assistance with Homelink will also be available on Jaguar Day.  If you are a new family, or have a student who is enrolling at Walnut Acres for the first time, please go to the office through Monday, August 12 to get your verification code to enter your new student in HomeLink. You will need to show a photo ID (such as a driver's license) to receive the letter that contains your verification code.

 

Below are important dates for the month of August:

 

8/12       Jaguar Day 3:00-7 PM

8/13       New Student Brown Bag Lunch (Grades TK-5)      

8/15       Back to School Coffee 8:00 AM, First Day of School

8/20       PFC Meeting Library 7 pm                              

8/20       4th Grade Back to School Night 5:45-7 pm

8/21       5th Grade Back to School Night 6-8 pm

8/27       3rd Grade Back to School Night 5:45-7pm

8/28       1st Grade Back to School Night 5:45-7 pm

8/29       2nd Grade Back to School Night 5:45-7 pm

 

School starts on 8/15. I look forward to seeing everyone on campus!  

 

Sincerely,

Ms. Lang Luong

Principal

Principal's Message July 2019

posted Aug 4, 2019, 3:47 PM by PFC President   [ updated Aug 4, 2019, 3:47 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Walnut Acres Community,

Hope your summer is off to a great start.  I am honored and excited to join the Walnut Acres Elementary School team as your Principal.  I have heard of many great things that are happening here and cannot wait to meet all of you. 

Previously, I served as a vice principal and an interim principal for three years in San Leandro.  Before becoming an administrator, I was a Response to Intervention Coordinator, a Math Coach, a science teacher, and a classroom teacher in various grade levels for 20 plus years in Union City, Lafayette, and Berkeley.  Currently, I live in Berkeley with my husband of 21 years. 

The best thing about being a principal is having the opportunities to interact with everybody and seeing our students thrive and enjoy learning. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing beautiful smiles and witnessing acts of kindness!  In my spare time, I exercise at the gym, watch black and white classic movies, and dine out.  But, the best luxury is sleep. 

As we work together, I hope you will help me maintain our school to be a safe, pleasant, and caring community, where all are valued and provided the opportunity and support to be their best.  My door is always open.  So, please stop by to say hello. My first day on campus will be August 1.  I look forward to working with you and continuing to grow the excellence that is happening at Walnut Acres.  Have a fabulous summer.

Sincerely,

Ms. Lang Luong
Principal

Principal's Message June 2019

posted Jun 26, 2019, 10:13 AM by Vice President Communications   [ updated Jun 26, 2019, 10:13 AM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Lovely Walnut Acres Families,

I am checking in with you one last time to thank you for your kind and gracious farewells to me and to fill you in on crucial personnel updates. I so appreciate the notes, the hugs, the gifts, the good wishes and May’s memorable sing-out surprises! Please wave when you see me out riding my beautiful Walnut Acres-colored bike and know that while tending my garden I will be thinking of you all! My prayers and best wishes remain with our children, our staff, and our families.  

New Walnut Acres Principal

By now you probably know that Walnut Acres has a new educational leader - Ms. Lang Luong! Ms. Luong has been a vice-principal and interim principal in the San Leandro School District. She is also an experienced teacher; she has a wealth of experience teaching Reading and Writing Workshop. I have no doubt that this teaching practice will guide her facilitation of continually-enhanced Workshop rigor. It is also gratifying to report that Ms. Luong has served as Math Coach in her district. Her conceptual understanding of how to teach math and her experience guiding teachers will powerfully inform her skill at leading the Bridges Math implementation.

There will be a Pot Luck Open House to meet Ms. Lang Luong on Sunday, July 28, 2019starting at 4 p.m. hosted by teacher, Rebecca Cowles, at her home. The address is 5367 Meadow Wood Place, Concord. Bring a favorite treat and drink to share as you join the fun, meet the new principal, and show her Walnut Acres hospitality in action!

I am going to turn this principal message over to Ms. Luong, but first there are a few other important personnel updates…

New Walnut Acres 1st grade Teacher

I am happy to inform you that we have a 1st grade teacher joining us named Beth Beuchotte. She comes to us from Strandwood Elementary in Pleasant Hill, where she taught kindergarten. She is delighted to be at Walnut Acres. She is already at work bonding with her new colleagues to create their 1st grade professional learning team. Thanks to our gracious Workshop coach, Nicole Padoan, Mrs. Beuchotte will get introductory trainings to Reading and Writing Workshop in September and October. She will also participate in the August “Getting Started” Bridges training at our site. Beth is married and loves playing and coaching sports with her own 2 children. Prior to becoming a teacher she worked as a sales manager in the fashion industry in New York. We welcome Beth Beuchotte to Walnut Acres!

New Walnut Acres Librarian

We also have an experienced MDUSD librarian joining the Walnut Acres team. Her name is Deanna Nixon and she has served students in the district for over 20 years as librarian, teacher, and administrator. She will be coordinating the libraries at Mountain View and Walnut Acres this year. Mrs. Nixon looks forward to supporting an inviting reading environment at Walnut Acres, enhancing student-owned learning, and supporting Workshop rigor. She has not had previous Workshop collaborative opportunities with colleagues, but her own 2 children benefited from the approach in Orinda and she will participate in the fall training to prepare herself for the work.  

Seeking Noon Supervisors

There is also a Walnut Acres personnel need I would like to pass along to you. Walnut Acres is seeking 3 new noon supervisors for the 2019-20 school year. If you would like a job that allows you to observe your own children at lunch and recess, while supporting safety and problem-solving strategy practice for all our students, please consider this 7 ½ hour-a-week job. You will work from approximately 11:15 a.m.-1:00 p.m. 4 or 5 days a week with some flexibility to your schedule. We also hope to develop a strong noon supervisor substitute list to enhance that flexibility. For more information please follow this link. You can apply on Edjoin.

And here is your new principal…

Dear Walnut Acres Community,

Hope your summer is off to a great start.  I am honored and excited to join the Walnut Acres Elementary School team as your Principal.  I have heard of many great things that are happening here and cannot wait to meet all of you. 

Previously, I served as a vice principal and an interim principal for three years in San Leandro.  Before becoming an administrator, I was a Response to Intervention Coordinator, a Math Coach, a science teacher, and a classroom teacher in various grade levels for 20 plus years in Union City, Lafayette, and Berkeley.  Currently, I live in Berkeley with my husband of 21 years. 

The best thing about being a principal is having the opportunities to interact with everybody and seeing our students thrive and enjoy learning. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing beautiful smiles and witnessing acts of kindness!  In my spare time, I exercise at the gym, watch black and white classic movies, and dine out.  But, the best luxury is sleep. 

As we work together, I hope you will help me maintain our school to be a safe, pleasant, and caring community, where all are valued and provided the opportunity and support to be their best.  My door is always open.  So, please stop by to say hello. My first day on campus will be August 1.  I look forward to working with you and continuing to grow the excellence that is happening at Walnut Acres.  Have a fabulous summer.

Sincerely,

Ms. Lang Luong
Principal

May 2019 Principal's Message

posted May 7, 2019, 4:12 PM by PFC Secretary   [ updated May 7, 2019, 4:12 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Welcome to May at Walnut Acres, Parents!

This may be my last message to you, and to say it is bittersweet is a considerable understatement. I will miss our collaboration, our problem-solving, and our dedicated work to transform our school into an ever more student-focused, engaging, and differentiated learning environment. I have no doubt that parents and staff together will continue the work with new leadership, but I will miss being part of the action. Please know that I have treasured our teamwork, and most of all, I have relished the privilege of working with your children. Every one of them is unique and beautiful and full of promise. Though I am leaving our community soon, I will take Walnut Acres with me in spirit, and wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I will pray that each of our children will receive the guidance, the love, and the encouragement they need to become all they can be!  

So onward we go, and here are the updates as we close out 2018-19 and prepare for another year of evolving, rich learning opportunities in a safe and nurturing environment - because our kids deserve no less!

 

Personnel Updates

Denise Calbeck, our wonderful Walnut Acres Office Manager for the last 17 years, is retiring this June, 2019. Denise has been a welcoming presence at the front office and the holder of all knowledge to support the entire community. She will be missed, but we all wish her well as she turns her attention to grandchildren and new endeavors. Denise wants you to know, “It has been a privilege and honor to serve the Walnut Acres students, parents, and staff for the past 17 years.  During my tenure, I hope everyone has felt the loving and supportive environment we have tried to exude at Walnut Acres.  It is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell.  My best wishes to you all.”

We are also saying a fond farewell to Libby Ritthaler, Walnut Acres librarian for many years.  Actually, Libby has pronounced them to be 15 wonderful years. She adds, “I have read stories and taught library lessons to over 1500 students – WOW that’s a lot of kids. The first year of 5th graders are now in their mid-20’s – where does the time go? I now have a 5-year-old granddaughter and her younger sister. It is time for me to help out in her kindergarten class and her school library in the fall. I will be retiring in June, so I can spend more time with the girls and do some traveling. My husband and I are looking forward to visiting the national parks, starting here in California. You may see me around, subbing in the library in 2020.”

Jean Condon is moving back east and we wish her well. She jumped in halfway through the year when we lost Mrs. David, and we thank her for bringing her skills to the classroom to support our students, while wishing her luck on all her upcoming endeavors.

These positions are not yet filled, but district personnel or I will be back to you with personnel announcements as they become available.

 

Be a Voice in Developing School Plans

Would you like to help shape the School Site Plan and Safety Plan, discuss the school vision as well as successes and challenges, and brainstorm ideas to enhance growth with the new principal? We need 3 parents to join the School Site Council for school years 2019-2021. School Site Council members meet on the first Thursday of each month from 3:00-4:00 p.m. Email me at dowdc@mdusd.org or call (925) 939-1333 if you would like to commit for a two-year stint as a SSC parent representative. If I get 3 volunteers within the next 2 weeks, we can vote on membership before summer vacation.  

 

Recent Events

Thank you to our community for your support of our annual Walk-A-Thon! That wonderful event is a great way to reinforce health concepts to our children, raise funds, and enjoy time together. Our recent fundraiser was another great success in achieving all three goals, and appreciation goes out especially to Brooke Giddings and Tracy Pajer in leading our annual Walk-A-Thon!

Our recent International Festival was solely a community event, and it was a delightfully engaging, purposeful, and fun experience for children and their families. Accolades go to Jenny Kim for her leadership in developing and coordinating the festival. Thanks to Kristin Shopp as well, for supporting our annual event, which celebrates our ethnic and cultural differences while realizing the many commonalities of our human nature!

The MDUSD Educational Foundation sponsored a recent “Drawing on Earth” Day in which artist Mark Wagner led our children in developing their artistic skills through chalk drawing on our blacktop. It was a beautiful day for artistic creativity and self-expression. The students all had a grand time and our playground looks mighty colorful!

 

Upcoming Events

Summative testing has begun, and 3rd-5th graders are completing CAASPP testing this month. Many K-5th grade students will also be completing the last of the already diagnostic testing for the school year. Please encourage children to “do their best and forget the rest” as they participate in these assessments. You can also support the process by making certain your students have a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast.

On Wednesday, 5/8/19, we will host a “Walk & Bike to School Day” in conjunction with the Contra Costa Street Smarts Campaign. Encourage your children to participate if feasible in order to improve fitness, build community, reduce traffic as well as pollution, and give children a sense of independence and responsibility. Students are reminded to wear 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/listen when crossing streets. As drivers, please be extra cautious due to increased pedestrian and bike traffic this Wednesday 5/8/19!

The week of 5/6/19-5/10/19 is our last recycle drop-off collection for the year. Please see us out on a high note by bringing your plastic bottles and CRV-labeled aluminum cans and plastic bottles to drop-off for our collection each day this week

Our MDUSD nutrition coordinators are providing a barbecue lunch for purchase on Thursday, 5/9/19. The menu will be hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers with chips and a cookie.    

Please join us on Thursday, 5/23/19, from 5:00-7:15 p.m. to celebrate a successful year of student growth at our Open House Festival! 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 STEM Lab, the library, and the reading lab, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and chat with the personnel who coordinate specialty services…many of whom are funded by your donations through the PFC. Classrooms will be open during the last hour of Open House from 6:15-7:15 p.m. 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 children’s next grade level.   

Our last Sing-out of the year will be Wednesday, 5/29/19, at 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. You are welcome to join us as we celebrate diversity together.

Note that our last day of school is Wednesday, 6/5/19, with dismissal at 12:00 p.m. Only bag brunches will be served on that day, and there is no Second Chance Breakfast. If you would like your child to have a bag brunch on the last day of school, you have until 5/31/19 to place your order by phone (925) 682-8000 ext. 86210 or email walnutacrescafe@mdusd.org


Preparing for 2019-20

If you are moving from our school community, please complete a Moving On form available in the office and on the homepage of our school website (just scroll down to Current News.) We are monitoring our student population to assess class sizes, and your input will assure that our numbers are accurate.  

As we prepare for 2019-20, we are purchasing materials as needed to continue our rigorous, differentiated and engaging Reading and Writing Workshop process. We have confirmed this year that our TK-3rd grade Fundations encoding and decoding program (sometimes referred to as “phonics”) is a valuable and effective support to our Workshop curriculum, so that program will continue as a solid support to our reading and writing work.

We have also turned our attention in 2018-19 to piloting a math curriculum that parallels our Workshop instruction by offering a more student-owned and conceptually-based approach. We implemented Bridges Math in our 4th grade and we intend to introduce the Bridges curriculum to other grade levels as funds will allow. We thank Kathy Vendel, local realtor, for kicking off our community donation fund which supports projects like this. Also, the Walnut Acres Children’s Center Board of Directors has just confirmed that they are sponsoring Bridges in all 4 kindergarten classes, and we are grateful for their support!  

Our science work in 2019-20 will be a continuation of our NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) implementation along with a renewed focus on integrated learning experiences with STEM Lab. You will see more instruction that allows children to develop a culminating project based on learning from both Science Lab and STEM Lab, such as the 3D animal adaptations project and the animal Claymation movie completed this year. Patty Galindo, our Site Tech, who is a technology infusion specialist, also plans to support grade level math and language arts content with STEM Lab activities in order to deepen student thinking and enhance standard mastery by assisting students to make connections across the curriculum.    

 

Over the Summer

You can assist your children to enjoy summer vacation while maintaining academic skills by encouraging them and spending quality time together. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Have fun exploring, playing and enjoying our amazing world with your children. Discover together, try something new together, fail together, and celebrate your effort. Be silly together, laugh together, and hug each other often!  
  2. Read daily! Children can read aloud, read chorally with you, video themselves reading, read at the library, have a family reading time, read to a stuffed animal, or read a script. There are countless ways to practice reading. There is also an almost endless variety of reading materials, including comics, game directions, graphic novels, close-captioned movies, cereal containers, letters, and texts. We ask only that you encourage your child to read in any form they choose.
  3. Use online programs to support practice and remember that we have some favorites on our school website or click here. Reflex is great for automaticity of math facts, and iReady Math provides differentiated math practice. Starfall is valuable for early phonics work, and iReady reading lessons support adaptive decoding and comprehension skills, as does RazKids. Be certain you have your children’s user names and passwords to access material over the summer.   
  4. Make math meaningful by finding mathematics in your child’s daily life. Young children can count out sets of cutlery for the table, older children can play basketball or darts to practice math facts and add up the bill at a restaurant or assist with frugal shopping decisions. If you have fun with your child around numbers, patterns, and problem-solving, you will go far to encourage your child to enjoy math (and please don’t let on if you don’t enjoy it yourself!)
  5. Find reasons for your child to write! Your children may want to send grandparents a funny family story, write directions to a babysitter about how to make their favorite sandwich, send in an article to a magazine, and/or create a song or play. Figure out what motivates each child and provide your budding author with an audience while verbally rewarding persistence and creativity. 

 

From My Heart to Yours…

True to form, I have long-windedly shared the news from Walnut Acres. A new leader will carry on this blessed work and continue our collaborative energy and ongoing communication. After 42+ years in education, I am off to new adventures, but I will hold the Walnut Acres community in my heart! I wish for our children that they discover the kind of passion in their professional lives that I have been so blessed to find. I close in agreement with the great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, who insightfully observed, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

 

With great fondness and high hopes,

Colleen Dowd

Lucky Walnut Acres Principal

1-10 of 97