December 2012

posted Dec 10, 2012, 8:46 AM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Dec 10, 2012, 8:46 AM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,

It’s the season of caring and I thank you for all the ways that you practice compassion and kindness.  I particularly want to thank all parents for breaking our record of Jaguar Fund contributions by soaring to a 72% rate of participation! That community spirit is much appreciated and sends an important message to our children whatever your donation level. I wonder if we can increase that rate to 75%? No donation is too small.  

Conference time is a great way for teachers and parents to collaborate in caring for students and I encourage every parent to actively participate in your upcoming teacher conference. Here are some tips for a successful conference from the National PTA:

    1.      Ask your child to share any concerns before you go to the conference.

    2.      Bring written notes and questions.

    3.      See your child’s teacher as your partner. Avoid antagonism.

    4.      Share any home challenges that might be impacting your child’s learning.

    5.      Ask teachers to explain any educational jargon you do not understand.

    6.      Ask for specifics about your child’s work, including data (eg. CA results) and samples of classroom              activities (eg. writing notebooks).

    7.      Keep the conversation focused on your child.

    8.      Discuss strategies to support your student.

    9.      Take notes on plans or common goals you develop together.

    10.  Ask for follow-up conversations or e-mails as needed.

A few staff members have developed new plans to support further collaborative caring for children as we enter 2013. Consider participating in one or all of these options:

  • Our industrious reading specialist, Lindsay McCormick, is offering 2 evening workshops for parents and their children on the topic of reading support at home. On 1/22/13 from 6:45-7:30 p.m., Mrs. McCormick will present strategies to promote early literacy skills at home. Children are invited so that parents can immediately practice the strategies presented. On 1/29/13, during the same timeframe, Mrs. McCormick will present techniques to expand and deepen comprehension. Again, parents are encouraged to bring their children to the workshop.    
  • Our creative site technology II, Patty Galindo, would like to form a Walnut Acres programming club to include both students and adults in our community. She is hoping that some parents employed as programmers will provide some expertise for the group. Mrs. Galindo hopes to create a group interested in experimenting.  Dates, times and formats (skyping or videotaped lessons) for meetings will be decided by the group once she has a sense of interest. To join this adventure, contact Mrs. Galindo at with programming club as your subject.  
  • Our compassionate counselor, Alma Spring, is developing a list of strategies for parent playground volunteers to use in response to parents who have expressed the need for more direction when supervising children on the playground. Mrs. Spring will provide specific guidelines and contexts for using those strategies during an hour-long workshop offered on 1/17/13 at 1:30 p.m. in A-1.  The problem solving ideas that Mrs. Spring shares with you will also be valuable for resolving sibling conflicts and peer relations.

 Our caring for our students leads us to 2 new activities that require parent volunteers…  

  • MDUSD has received a grant that will allow our students to have a salad bar on Tuesday and Thursdays. This is a welcome addition to our lunch fare. We will need parents to help supervise little hands at the salad bar, so if you are signed on to be part of the volunteer lunch patrol, you will have another duty to perform on salad bar days.  Hopefully, current numbers of lunch volunteers will be adequate to cover this Tuesday/Thursday duty. More details on this plan will come in 1/13.
  • We would like to have the library open at lunch for interested students. We are piloting a program in which parent volunteers supervise the library on Thursdays and Fridays from 12:15-12:55 p.m. so our 4th and 5th graders can browse the library as a recess option. (The library is being used for classes during the lower grade lunch times.) If you are willing to provide supervision on Thursdays or Fridays during upper grade lunch, please contact Heather LeBlanc at or Giselle Stein at If this pilot is successful, we will try to expand the lunch library plan.
I thank you for the many ways that you practice caring for students and our Walnut Acres community! It is your diligent work borne of the caring you share for our children and our school, that creates our vibrant Walnut Acres community. As Vera Nazarian submits in The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration, “The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte.”

Here’s to a memorable holiday season for all master gardeners and the uniquely exquisite flowers we are cultivating!

Colleen Dowd, Principal