June, Message from the Principal

posted Jun 1, 2015, 2:05 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 1, 2015, 2:05 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,


As summer approaches, it is time to thank you all for sharing your uniquely beautiful children with us and encourage you to make the most of the summertime options for family time. Whether you travel across the globe or hang out at the local pool, summer is a special opportunity for family fun, laughter, and informal learning. As you explore local museums and art galleries, and the many natural beauty spots in our area, don't forget that the local library is an exciting and worthwhile destination as well.


Nothing offers a more engaging, shared learning experience than a good book read together, and if you seek further personalized learning opportunities, consider Reflex Math to support your child with math automaticity or i-Ready for adaptive math and reading lessons. Here's our link to "WA Favorite Websites" on the 'Students' page. Every student has access to these sites, but contact your child's teacher if your child does not have his or her user name and password. Our office shelf also holds flyers related to further summer learning opportunities...check them out as you choose.  


Before we head off to vacation...


Goodbye to Mrs. Bangs: We will have a farewell reception for Mrs. Bangs on Tuesday, 6/9, in the library at 3:00 p.m. Mrs. Bangs has spent most of her career teaching WA students, and we want to send her off to her well-deserved retirement by showing her our affection and appreciation. If your children had Mrs. Bangs as a teacher, come join us!


Last day of school: Note that our last day of school is Thursday, 6/11, with dismissal at 12:00 p.m. Only bag lunches will be served on that day. Bag lunches can still be ordered on 6/1 in person, by phone 925-682-8000 ext. 86210 or email walnutacrescafe@mdusd.org 


Reminder to pay fees: And speaking of lunch, please pay negative lunch balances by the end of the year. As of 6/1, lunches must be purchased with money on the school account, cash or money orders. In that same vein, turn in any overdue library books if you have any outstanding at this point. 


School Site Council volunteers: We need three parent volunteers to serve as School Site Council representatives for 2015-17. I will be sending out a ballot before the school year ends, if one more person will volunteer to be placed on the docket. Please email me if you would be willing to make a commitment for each first Thursday of the month from 3:00-4:00 p.m. In case you are wondering: The ballot cannot be online according to regulations, which is why the ballot is sent home for your input. 


Recycling leaders: Our community is also seeking a parent who is passionate about recycling and who is interested in sharing that avocation with 4th and 5th grade students as Recycle Coordinator. There is a small stipend for the position. If you are even mildly intrigued, let me know and I'll put you in touch with our previous parent leader to see if this opportunity may be a fit for you. 


Projects still ongoing: 5th grade is collecting EMPTY toilet paper, paper towel, and wrapping paper cardboard tubes. If you have any to offer please bring them to 5th grade teachers or drop them off to me.     


Promoting street safety: A previous newsletter informed you that the City Of Walnut Creek is seeking citizen input regarding the new draft Walnut Creek Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP). You may view the plan at www.wcwalks.org. The PMP is the first citywide planning effort focused on making walking in Walnut Creek safer, easier, and more popular. 


Particular attention has been paid to improving access to schools, to transit, and within the Downtown, as well as improved access to open space areas, parks and neighborhood shopping centers. The planning effort relies on the public's involvement to help shape the Plan.


If you have input regarding the PMP, please make your voice heard by clicking onto the City comment form  or contacting Walnut Creek Project Manager Jeremy Lochirco, at lochirco@walnut-creek.org or at (925) 943-5899 ext. 2251. Please consider requesting added crosswalks at Cedro/Cafeto and Cedro/Mi Elana as a short-term maintenance improvement, and emphasize the need for a traffic light at Blackstone/Wiget!


When we return from summer break...


You will see 4th grade instrumental music return for the 2015-16 school year if the MDUSD Board votes to approve that program at their 6/1 meeting at 7:00 p.m. 


We may have smaller class sizes with one or more combination classes (a 'combo' class is a class with a mixture of two grade levels.) You will be notified if/when we know we will have a combo class and your child appears to be a good candidate for a class of academically-skilled, independent learners who have exhibited collaboration strength and interest.) 


We will have the equivalent of two full days each week with our counselor, Joanne Finn, in 2015-16, thanks to MDUSD and our wonderful parent community.


The Writer's Workshop process will continue across all grade levels for every student!


We will implement Reader's Workshop this Fall in 3rd-5th grade, with kindergarten joining the process in January 2016. 1st and 2nd grade classes will focus on Writer's Workshop, which was new for them this year, and train to implement Reader's Workshop in 2016-17. 


Engage NY Math will be implemented across grade levels. The program is grounded in many of the Singapore Math strategies we have been implementing. 


My best wishes...


I heard a wonderfully heartwarming story on NPR the other day, although that was not the intent of the news piece. Families who lost their homes in the recent Texas rains were being interviewed about their crisis. One set of parents grabbed my attention and admiration. The mom shared that when she realized the waters were going to flood the house she went around picking up all the children's toys and books so the kids would have the comfort of beloved items when the family made it to a shelter. Her husband commented that they were determined to make the tragedy meaningful by turning it into a learning experience for the kids. He commented, "Someday our kids are going to face adversity as adults. We are determined to model for them the way to handle the situation with humor, patience, and determination- despite our grief." 


Happy Father's Day to all who take the role of father by instilling in our children that life brings much joy along with many opportunities to grow through adversity. Dads, you take on an awesome and wonderful responsibility! As one wise schoolmaster concluded many years ago, "One father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters."


I wish you all the sort of summer vacation that brings laughter and joy, but ifsmall or large misfortune should come your way, I wish you a positive attitude along with the realization that everything you do impacts your child's perspective on the world, and every experience shared, both positive and negative, provides an opportunity for bonding. 


Respectfully yours in vacationing,


Colleen Dowd

Lucky Walnut Acres 'Schoolmaster'