January, Message from the Principal

posted Jan 21, 2014, 11:10 AM by Jana Corral   [ updated Oct 6, 2014, 1:08 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Happy 2014, Walnut Acres Parents!


Welcome to the new year and to a long period of focused learning before spring break. Here are a few highlights of our activities and plans over the next month and beyond:


Curriculum and Instruction

  • We were invited by the state to apply for an update to our Distinguished School designation. With the help of parents from our School Site Council, our innovation team, our current and past PFC executive council, as well as school teachers and staff members, we developed an application packet that is now with the State Selection Committee. In the application we described our school and we shared 2 signature practices that we believe mark us a Distinguished School. The first practice that we detailed is our ongoing 21st century transformation and the second is the active role of our parents in helping us to thrive during the Great Recession. If our written application is successful, we will be asked to host a Distinguished School team to observe our work for a day. I will let you know if the state asks us to schedule a visit to our site.
  • Nicole Padoan, our Writer's Workshop coach, is reoffering her parent workshop on Tuesday, 1/28, from 3:15-4:15 p.m. in the library. The workshop is designed to guide parents who volunteer to support writing in the classroom and to assist those who would like to help their students with writing at home. We are especially hoping to get 5th grade parents to the training!
  • Our 21st century work continues in the form of teacher training including Common Core workshops, coaching, and grade level Symposiums. Remember that on 1/27, students will not attend school because that Monday is an all-day training for teachers. 
  • Parents have an opportunity to observe some Common Core lessons in action during Common Core Night on Tuesday, 2/4, at Pleasant Hill Library from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Our own Mrs. Otsuka will be on the teachers' panel! Check out the details here.
  • Our Hour of Code was a great success with a few unanticipated benefits. The Northgate STEM club assisted our students with their programming exploration and would like to continue to supporting student practice. We are discussing future potential collaborative efforts. We also had our efforts highlighted in the Times.  Patty Galindo, site tech II extraordinaire, spearheaded our Hour of Code and she offers her thanks to you...


Dear Walnut Acres Community,


It has been a month since the Hour of Code. Thank you to all the parents and volunteers who helped make it such a wonderful experience for the children. It is exciting to see how the students were able to take on new challenges in an exhilarating environment, and collaboratively generate creative solutions. The spirit of the event was to allow the students to see the potential they have to become creators of digital solutions instead of just consumers. It was my hope that they view the digital tools as a possible means to make a change in this world and become a part of the problem solvers. Through this coding experience, the students were able to "write" programs that achieved a desired goal such as leading the "angry bird" to where the pig was hiding, or lead the "robot" to light up a tile or make an interactive scene come to life. I plan on repeating this adventure next year with your assistance as well as that of Northgate High School students and Foothill Middle School students - our community.


For the news article that came out in the Contra Costa Times, click here.


To keep the creativity going, click here for continued coding adventures.


To find more resources and give your own input, click here


Thank you again,

Patricia Galindo

Site Tech II @ Walnut Acres Elementary


  • Walnut Acres is slated to offer a Transitional Kindergarten class starting in 2014-15.
  • Take a look at the PFC enrichment classes on the PFC website. Check out the fun and innovative new offerings for our students. Registration is open and classes start next week!

Facility Updates

  • Hooray! Our ball wall is complete except for painting and students are happily putting it to good use!
  • Measure C funds are being used to upgrade facilities, and we are slated to get improved security system infrastructure and a new security system. Work began on 1/20 and is scheduled around student class times over the next month so that there will be no negative impact to learning.
  • Jeff McDaniel, M&O Director, has directed that our gophers be eliminated, our holes filled and our bald spots reseeded on our playground field.   


Budget News

  • The Governor has proposed more money for K-12 education in his latest budget. His plan includes an elimination of deferrals which means that school districts would get money from the state in a timely manner. For further information regarding the proposed budget check out Governor's Proposed Budget - Year 2014 (CA Dept of Education).
  • The funding formula and its interpretations are complex. Dr. Meyer plansto lead a meeting with parents from each feeder pattern to discuss LCFF and the MDUSD budget. The Northgate feeder pattern meeting will be Tuesday, 2/25, at Northgate Little Theater at 6:30 p.m.  Click here for further information on the website.
  • Here's some budget-related news that's closer to home... Congratulations to Read-A-Thon student participants!  Collectively our students read over 6791 hours and raised over $19,000. Aren't they amazing! I was "silly-stringed" on 1/14 at the end of the school day by students who read the most hours within their K-5 grade levels  - Robyn, Sophia, William, Jocelyn, Luka and Gillian respectively, and top fundraisers per grade level - Brook, Patrick, Colin, Aaron, Nathan, and Gillian.


Personnel/Materials requested...

  • The PFC is looking for someone with accounting/book keeping skills to serve as treasurer in 2014-16. If you would like to consider this crucial volunteer position, check out the PFC website for the treasurer's duties. (Scroll almost to the end of the list.) For a contact to answer questions, email nominating@walnutacrespfc.org.  
  • We are still looking for another lunch duty supervisor to work 2-3 days a week. If you have any interest, give the office a call and we'll be happy to answer questions and give you an application.
  • We would like to put a microwave oven in the teacher's lunchroom. Anyone remodeling and getting rid of a microwave?


I close this message with a heartfelt note of thanks to you all.  I have been sharing with various committees that the Distinguished School process encouraged me to reflect deeply on our vision, our progress, our challenges, and our successes. Whether or not the state recognizes our status, I want you to know that I consider you all distinguished! The time, energy, and dedication that you devote to our school is inspiring and our students benefit from your love and devotion every day. As the great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, has pondered,"Some people care too much...I think it's called love."



Colleen Dowd, Principal