July 2012

posted Jul 20, 2012, 9:34 AM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Jul 20, 2012, 9:34 AM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,

I hope you are all enjoying a lovely family summer. I am disturbing your vacation time in order to update you on a variety of changes that came our way towards the end of the school year. Some of these changes I’m sure you’ve heard something about and I would like to make sure you have accurate information, and other changes may be new to you.

First, the personnel news:  Mr. Remmers is leaving Walnut Acres. This is very sad news for our community, but he is leaving for a very good reason. As Mr. Remmers shared in the last 5th grade newsletter, “only one thing could make me leave Walnut Acres – love.” Our wonderful Mr. Remmers is moving to Marin to marry, live, and work with the love of his life. We wish him well, but we will miss him dearly!     

I am happy to report that Mr. Reilly McBride will be joining the Walnut Acres team as a 5th grade teacher.  His major teaching focus for the 2012-13 school year will be writing. Mr. McBride has been with us as a long-term substitute in Mrs. Otsuka’s class. We are delighted that he remains part of our learning community.

Meanwhile, our beloved Mrs. Ryken is reducing her teaching load so she can focus on providing Tuesday grade level choral classes to all our students. She will also continue to create the wonderful grade level performances we all treasure, she will support our Sing-outs and other special events, and she will offer after-school enrichment classes, including the 5th grade play. Her new home is in the MUR which provides more room for her large group choral and performing work. The PFC will continue to fund Mrs. Ryken in providing one music class a week for our students.  The second music class that our 1st-5th grade students receive each week will be taught by district-assigned music teacher, Sherri Bensen. Mrs. Bensen has taught in the district at Monte Gardens for 10 years and at Woodside for 1 year. She and Mrs. Ryken have been friends and musical colleagues for 30 years, so they will collaborate well on behalf of our students. Mrs. Bensen will provide music and add an instrumental flavor to the children’s music classes.  (Right now, Mrs. Bensen is working with our dedicated volunteer grant writer, Tonia Morr, to place a grant for ukuleles on Donor’s Choose.) Mrs. Bensen’s service is paid by the district. I know you will welcome her to our site.

I also want to share with you that Walnut Acres has been assigned two intensive autism classes. One class will be for students in grades K-2nd and the other class will service students in 3rd-5th grade.  These classes will have 9 students each, and the experienced teachers, Ms. Robin Louchis and Ms. Christine Cerullo respectively, will work along with their district-provided assistants to support student learning. I am told that mainstreaming will be limited, but I hope our students will have some opportunities to interact with these newcomers and expand their understanding of diversity. As the school year begins, we will take some time to introduce our student community to our newcomers.  I know that you will join me in welcoming our new community members.

Our additional classes, a few teacher grade level shifts, and an effort to maximize our air conditioning for optimal student coverage, have led to some classroom changes. Although I reserve the right to modify this plan, I am sharing the current room/grade level assignments with you:


K1 - Erdiakoff                    

K2 –  Ireland                       

K3 –  Datzman                               

1st  grade                 

A4 – David                     

A8 –  McGoldrick              

A9 -   Hartman                                      

Autism classes                               

A6 - Cerullo                          

A7 –  Louchis                                                                                                

2nd grade                    

C1 – Ng                                

D2 –  Aguilar                                

D6-    Garcia-Roy                                           

3rd grade                  

B2 – Amundson               

B3 –  Bangs                         

B4 –  Bellendir                                         

4th grade                    

D3 – Reamy                       

D4 –  Rubenstein              

D5 –  Otsuka                                 

5th grade                              

B5 – McBride                     

B6 – Clark                            

B7 - Grebe

I understand that some parents helped teachers with their classroom moves. Thank you so much for your assistance! I appreciate that our school community spirit is alive and well through the summer months.

And speaking of our incredible parent volunteers, I welcome Mrs. Halverson, Mr. Moler, and Mr. Wu to our School Site Council for the 2012-13 school year.  I thank them for their willingness to serve.

As you return to your summer activities, please enjoy your family time and know that while Walnut Acres staff members are relaxing, we are also preparing for a great 2012-13 so that your children have a super learning year ahead!  For those of you who feel unnerved by changes at Walnut Acres, I will ask you to consider the words of one of my favorite ex-bosses…  “No institution remains the same. It is either growing or it’s dying.”  Here at Walnut Acres, we’re growing…and thriving!


Colleen Dowd