December Message from the Princple

posted Jan 16, 2014, 6:28 PM by Jana Corral   [ updated Jan 16, 2014, 6:28 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,


Our December school session tends to feel like a blur of activities between holidays, as we continue our busy schedule of helping our students to grow and learn.  This December is even more frantic than most due to our invitation to update our Distinguished School status. Here are some highlights starting with an upcoming unique adventure...


Hour of Code Experience

We are participating this week in a very exciting national event sponsored and Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Boys & Girls Club, and over 100 others organizations. It is called "Hour of Code" and it is offered during Computer Science Week so that every student has an opportunity to get a taste of the computer science world. We are participating in this innovative experience to give our students an opportunity to think in computer language, create in code and have a blast! The activity is a great next step to our 21st century transformation and it may challenge some students to learn more about coding. Did you know that new programming jobs are growing 3 times faster than the number of students entering the field? Did you also know that more than 50% of all math and science jobs are for computer scientists and that computer science positions are the highest paying jobs for new graduates?  


Our plan is to have students at every grade participate in one hour of code instruction in the MUR this week under the direction of our site tech II, Patty Galindo. The event organizers have provided many opportunities to investigate code, including tutorials featuring Mark Zuckerburg and Bill Gates. Below are the dates, times, and activities at each grade level:


M 12/9 @ 8:15-9:15 2nd grade          Angry Birds Tutorial and Hopscotch App

M 12/9 @ 9:45-10:45 K                        Light Bot (hands-on) & Light Bot app

W 12/11 @ 8:05 -9:05 5th grade       Scratch on laptop to make holiday card & Scratch programming lessons

W 12/11 @ 9:15 - 10:15 4th grade    Scratch on laptop to make holiday card & Scratch programming lessons                                                                      

Th 12/12 @ 8:15-9:15 3rd grade        Angry Birds Tutorial and Hopscotch App

Th 12/12 @ 9:45 - 10:45 1st grade    Light Bot (hands-on) & Light Bot app


I share the specifics of our plan because we invite you to be a part of it! Please consider volunteering to support our children as they embark on their coding adventures. For further information about the Hour of Code, please check out the wealth of information and support in Computer Science Education Week.  You can also view the videos here. If you would like to assist our children in their coding experience, please contact Patty at


Lifeskill of Caring
Our life skill continues to be caring and we are practicing and singing about caring for one another. PFC and scout drives support our message of caring for others and we will culminate our efforts with our Sing-outs on December 20th at 8:00 a.m. for students in 3rd-5th grade and 8:30 a.m. for our K-2nd grade students. If you would like to provide another opportunity to model caring for your family, consider the district food and gift card drive. The district is collecting food for homeless families in our community. To learn more about this drive, contact the office of James Wogan at 682-8000 extension 3054. 


Distinguished School Status and Other Educational Updates

We have been invited to apply to be a 2013-14 Distinguished School. A working group of parents, staff, and teachers, are initiating the written application process this week. Unfortunately, although we just received the invitation to apply, the application is due on 12/30/13. If you would like to help with rewriting or editing of our application, let me know.  


Our new parent representative for School Site Council is Erin Roeder.


The National PTA website has some great updates for parents regarding the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP)  posited by Governor Brown and approved by the legislature. Check it out if you want to know more about the new funding system for California public schools.


Parent Teacher Conferences 
Our Hour of Code will be followed very quickly by our annual parent teacher conferences. Each conference is a golden opportunity to support your child's growth and achievement. Here are a few key ingredients that the NEA (National Education Association) has developed to enhance the value of each parent conference:


1. Show up, please!
"We know parents are busy, but it is important to carve out time to invest in your child's education and ensure success at school," said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. "To get the most out of parent-teacher conferences, parents need to take an active role in their child's education year-round and come prepared to discuss how their child can reach their full potential." 


2. Get Ready.
Do your homework prior to parent-teacher conferences. Prepare by writing notes to yourself concerning:
  • Any questions about the school's programs or policies.
  • Things you can share with the teacher about your child and his life at home.
  • Questions about your child's progress.

3. Ask Important Questions.

Don't be afraid to engage in a frank conversation with your child's teacher. Your goal is to develop an action plan for your child's success at school. Good questions to ask the teacher include:
  • What are my child's strengths and weaknesses?
  • How does my child get along with classmates?
  • Is my child working up to her ability? Where could she use improvement?
  • What can we do at home to support what you are doing in the classroom?

4. Initiate the Action Plan.

Start immediately on the action plan you and the teacher put together. Discuss the plan with your child and track his progress. Stay in touch with your child's teacher throughout the year with regularly scheduled "report card" conferences that can keep the communication lines open. 


Van Roekel concludes his article by reminding us of the obvious, but at times overlooked reality that, "When teachers and parents work together, we can help a child have a successful school year."


Here's to collaboration between teachers and parents during this very special month of caring!



Colleen Dowd, Principal