June 2013

posted Jul 29, 2013, 4:06 PM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Jul 29, 2013, 4:06 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,


Our dynamic 2012-13 school year is coming to an end and it is with great appreciation that I thank you once more for the time, talent, and treasure that many of you have given to our school. Your efforts have been crucial in supporting our successes and our opportunities for growth as we deepen learning experiences of Walnut Acres children. Our staff members will be taking a well-earned vacation soon, but planning for the new 2013-14 school year is well underway.


First, our dedicated teachers have made plans to collaborate over the summer as they develop common core learning opportunities for students and continue our transformation to become a 21stlearning community.  Many of our teachers will also be attending training offered through Mt. Diablo Unified School District this summer.


While Mrs. Genyk moves with her family to the Midwest and Mrs. Reamy stays at home next year with her baby girl, our 4th and 5thgrade teams welcome new colleagues. Mr. Bob Caldoni will join the 4th grade team. Mr. Caldoni was an insurance agent for many years before making the career shift that led him to us after 8 years of teaching 4th grade at Westwood Elementary.  We will also be joined by Mr. Steve Aring, a 17-year veteran from Meadow Homes, who has taught K, 1st, 2nd and 5th grades in his career. Mr. Aring will join the 5th grade team.  Both of our new teachers will be attending Writer's Workshop (Columbia Teacher's College) training this summer and they will work closely with a writer's workshop coach throughout the year as they focus on writing skill development for 4th and 5th grade students.


We recently asked 4th grade parents to respond to a survey regarding the rotations in 4th grade during the 2012-13 school year. Those results are on the home page of the Walnut Acres website. Another survey is being formulated to get input from all parents about our school program. Watch for that online survey to be sent to you next week. Your valuable input will be used to help the innovation committee develop next steps in our school's Common Core/21st century transformation.  


Also in preparation for the 2013-14 school year, we will add 3 new parent members to the School Site Council who will work with our team of teachers and parents to implement our school plan and oversee the SLIBG budget. A ballot will be sent home this week with your child. Please vote for parent member candidates and return the ballot to school by Friday, June 6th.


If the stars remain properly aligned, our playground will have a facelift when we return in August. Please remember that we must all remain off the asphalt for 5 days starting on June 14th. I have also been promised that our second ball wall will be ready for use when the new school year begins. 


In the first months of the new school year we will be saying good-bye to an old and dear friend of Walnut Acres.  Our longtime custodian and devoted guardian of our facility, Mr. Andres DeLeon, will be retiring on October 10, 2013. He will be very much missed by all stakeholders.    


As you prepare for a memorable family summer, I leave you with the perspective of Bruce Feiler, writer of a recent NY Times article entitled, "The Stories That Bind Us". (Click here to connect to the article.) Mr. Feiler reviewed the work of Dr. Marshall Duke, Emory University psychologist, who has spent years exploring the myth and ritual of the American family. Dr. Duke suggests that what holds a family together- what makes it resilient in times of stress - are family stories. The stories don't have to all be happy ones, but here's the bottom line, "If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family's positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones." This is called the oscillating family narrative and it is an effective tool to create in our children a strong sense of what sociologists call "intergenerational self." Knowing that they are part of something bigger than themselves, helps children develop self-confidence.


So here's to your summer vacation, and to memorable family adventures that will become fodder for family stories! May the fun that you have together, the conversations you share, and the laughter that connects you, work in tandem to build your child's sense of self, confidence and resiliency!


Happy summering, Walnut Acres clan!



Colleen Dowd