April 2016 Message from the Principal

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