February, Message from the Principal

posted Feb 9, 2015, 7:50 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Feb 9, 2015, 7:50 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,


February is bringing a few challenges as well as the usual assortment of successes our way. We will do our best to meet the challenges head-on and keep moving forward.


Measles Update

Measles is making a comeback in the news these days and we want you to know we are watching the situation carefully. Our very efficient and knowledgeable nurse, Lori Oxman, is monitoring our children's health and providing informational updates to office staff. We have had no cases of measles at Walnut Acres as of this writing. In fact, no cases have been reported in Contra Costa County. The Contra Costa Health Services states, "Although measles is very contagious, it is highly preventable through vaccinations. If your children have been fully vaccinated, they are well protected from catching measles. However, California's measles outbreak serves as an important reminder that everyone needs to be vaccinated if they have not had the disease." Over 98% of TK-5th grade Walnut Acres students have received a measles inoculation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine are more than 99% effective in preventing measles. For more information, link tohttp://cchealth.org/measles/pdf/Update-and-FAQs-2015-0204.pdfand  http://www.cdc.gov/features/measles/index.html.


If your child shows measles symptoms, which include a fever that may spike as high as 105 degrees and rashes that are red, blotchy, and maculopapular (spotty and bumpy), typically starting on the hairline and then spreading downward, keep your child home from school and call your doctor to get a diagnosis. If a child at school has these symptoms, we will isolate the student and send him or her home immediately.


WA Website Down

While we have avoided measles, we are victims of a malware attack and consequently our school website is not functioning right now. Mrs. Galindo is doing her very best to get Walnut Acres back online. At this juncture, she has figured out how the attackers infiltrated the server, so now she is trying to repair the damage they created and make the server as impenetrable as possible to new attacks. Then she will need to locate a host for us. Thank you for your patiencewhile Patty gets us back in business!


Follow WA on Twitter!

Though our website is down, you are welcome to follow Walnut Acres on Twitter. Stay aware of WA activities and updates by following the Twitter feed@techPGal. This is a fun strategy to share with you what's happening in classrooms and show you 21st century work in action!


Results of Student/Parent Survey

When the website is back up and running, you will see the Parent and Student Survey results on the "Current News" section of the front page. What I still don't have ready for you yet is the general categorization of parent and student comments. There are so many ideas (20 pages of student comments alone) that a little organizing would make the product much more readable and user-friendly. I just haven't found the time to complete the task. If anyone would like to volunteer to help with this project, please let me know! My hope is to create a columned Excel spreadsheet to group similar comments.


School Climate Activities

Ms. Finn, our new counselor, is working at Walnut Acres on Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. She has visited all classrooms at this point and she is starting to work with students. If you would like to contact her, you are welcome to do so. She is here to serve our children and by supporting you, she certainly is helping our children. Please share with her any questions or concerns related to your child's well-being you would like to discuss. Feel free to contact Ms. Finn through the office (939-1333). Any child who works with Ms. Finn on an ongoing basis will have a permission form sent home for parents to sign.


Along with twenty-one of our 3rd-5th graders, Ms. Finn has recently completed a six-hour peacemaker training led by our Soul Shoppe representative. Peacemakers are now assigned to support conflict resolutionat 3rd-5th grade morning recesses on Monday, Thursdays, and Fridays. Ms. Finn is out on the yard with the students to guide them in this initial implementation phase of our problem-solving process.


We are reinstituting the Chill Out Zone because it was so successful last year.Every Thursday at lunch recess, students are invited into the counselor's room right off the playground to say hello, play games, do some art, and just generally relax.


Academic Progress

We are continuing to strengthen our Writer's Workshop implementation with support from our amazing coach, Nicole Padoan, and lots of practice facilitating the writing process with our wonderful authors in TK- 5th grade! As you know, every child will have experience writing in the genres of narrative, informational and argument writing.


We are also focused on enhancing math talk in every math lesson and teaching multiple approaches to solving problems. I hope those of you who came to the last PFC meeting and heard Mrs. Bellendir and Mrs. Diebel share a little about their math programs will recognize these practices.


Our reading practices focus on basic decoding skills, depending on the skill level of the child, as well as comprehension strategies, such as close reading, read-alouds, and finding evidence in text. Students are then being asked to apply their skills to read across the curriculum. We are beginning to discuss ways we can strengthen our reading curriculum and we are looking at Reader's Workshop as an opportunity to enhance student joy and ownership of reading. Many teachers will observe colleagues in other schools using Reader's Workshop later this month.


Valentine's Day Wisdom

As we continue our own professional growth to better serve the children of Walnut Acres, we thank you for your generous time, talent, and treasure to support our efforts, the humor you share with us, and the beautiful children you entrust to us every day.  


I leave you with Valentine insights straight from our cherubs in kindergarten. According to these wise souls, love is...

...when you want to hang out a lot with someone.

...when you're kind, then you get love back.

...when you like someone so much you want to be with them forever.


...being thankful for what you have.


...when you are OK kissing someone even if they haven't brushed their teeth.

...when you want something so badly that you want to marry it!


Happy Valentine's Day,

Colleen Dowd

Chuckling Principal