March Message from the Principle

posted Apr 9, 2014, 2:55 PM by Jana Corral   [ updated Apr 9, 2014, 2:55 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Happy March, Walnut Acres Parents,


As I compose this e-mail a small army of parents are working behind the scenes to create an enjoyably memorable, financially fruitful auction fundraiser. At this point I have no idea how successful it will be, but I do know that the valiant effort, along with the dedicated labor of many parent volunteers focused on other fundraisers and events make it possible for us to continue to thrive at Walnut Acres. Our children are privileged because our parent body chooses to sponsor education over and above the basic monies provided via taxes. The determination of parents means that we may continue providing services and programs that Walnut Acres could not otherwise afford.  


Please join us on Thursday, 4/17, at 8:00 a.m. in the MUR as a VIP at our Volunteer Appreciation Day! The Walnut Acres staff would like to thank you for your volunteerism in and out of the classroom, your leadership skills, your creative efforts and your business acumen on behalf of our children. We picked the day and the time in the hopes of increasing the numbers of wonderfully supportive parents who join us for a little music, a tasty treat, a few tokens of our thanks, and some heartfelt words of appreciation.  The event will start with our April Trustworthiness Sing-out. 


The PFC is constantly planning support to our school and they listen carefully to what teachers, parents, and I have to say. They need to hear your voice! Please click here for the PFC survey or access the survey through the  PFC Website. If you have any questions or comments, please contact  Jana Corral.


And speaking of sharing what's on your mind, please note that our Superintendent, Dr. Meyer, is continuing her meetings at various sites to inform you about the new Local Control Funding Formula and collect parent input about how funds should be expended. I had the opportunity to attend the meeting held at Northgate and parents were actively involved in giving opinions about site needs verbally and through posting of input. Take this opportunity to let your voice be heard! You are welcome to attend meetings scheduled for:


3/18 at Concord High, choir room

4/8 at Mt. Diablo High, Romaine Hall

4/10 at Riverview Middle, MUR

5/20 at College Park High, library


Our Citizenship Sing-out is scheduled for 3/28 at 8:00 a.m. for 3rd-5th grades and 8:30 a.m. for K-2nd grade in the MUR. You are welcome to peek in at the students because I know that listening to them sing is a delight, but please sign in at the office first, and remember that the Sing-outs are not productions - they are capstone experiences for the children of various life skill discussions and activities.


Have you noticed the new gate near the large waste containers at the SE corner of our property? The MDUSD Maintenance & Operations team placed that tall gate for us at the request of the safety committee in order to prevent anyone from entering school grounds through that back area near the kindergarten playground where we do not have security cameras.


We are happily receiving other safety upgrades...Thanks to an industrious parent, Mrs. Omski-Salmon, and the hard-working engineers in downtown Walnut Creek, there are some changes afoot for the drop-off area on Cedro Lane. Traffic orders have been approved for modifications that include: a red-painted curb, posted signs, and well-placed stanchions to cordon off the pedestrian walk area on the south side of the street leading from Walnut Acres towards Foothill. These modifications will enhance safety for all students.


The Walnut Creek City Engineers are also studying the potential of placing a crosswalk nearer our back fence so students don't have to walk to Wiget or Cafeto to cross Cedro legally. The same engineers are going to paint the curb white and add loading zone signs as close to day care on Wiget as possible.


We are continuing our 21st century transformation as a learning community and signs of our progress are everywhere. Here is a small sampling of activities:

5th graders are teamed with Northgate design students to learn a few physics principles and apply their understanding to create a roller coaster ride in collaborative teams during design lab classes.
  • 4th graders are improving written communication skills as they complete research and write arguments that will persuade district personnel to return chocolate milk to the lunch menu.
  • 3rd graders are creatively applying their knowledge of Walnut Creek to develop Futuristic Walnut Creek projects that predict what our city will look like in 100 years.
  • 2nd graders are learning to practice persistence and choice as they participate in Daily 5 activities that support skill building.
  • 1st graders are expanding their critical thinking as students brainstorm ways to add numerals and keep math journals about alternative approaches.
  • Kindergarteners are working collaboratively with parent facilitators to design and create leprechaun traps.
  • Our 5th grade recycle club, led by Mrs. Cohen, organized and held a successful "Recycled Art" Contest for interested 5th graders.
  • 4th graders, led by Mr. and Mrs. Leach, formed an Odyssey of the MInd team and recently represented us proudly at the S.F. Bay Regional Tournament.
  • Our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders who expressed interest in Odyssey but did not join a team, had the opportunity to participate in 4 Odyssey of the Mind Saturday experiences recently with classes led by MDUSD teacher, Alex Pike.  The students participated in design thinking through creative problem solving challenges.


I look forward to showing the Distinguished School visiting team our classes in session when they arrive on 4/15 to observe and visit with staff, parents and students. They will see our Signature Practices in action. These include our 21st century transformation and our targeted, strategic PFC financial, volunteer, and leadership support. Our visitors will have a chance to watch our beautiful children at work- learning collaboratively, problem solving as they play, and communicating effectively to support one another. I am fiercely proud of our parents and our teachers as we work steadfastly to enhance learning at Walnut Acres, but it is our amazing children who fill my heart with their trust, their spirit, and their amazing capacity to learn.


You may know I like to close my messages with a quote, but today I'm signing off with a portion of a letter I just received from a 3rd grade student. The good citizenship and caring infused in the message is heartwarming and representative of the wonderful children who arrive every day at Walnut Acres to continue becoming the best they can be.


"Dear Dr. Dowd, I was thinking it would be nice for the school to plant an apple tree. So if you would plant just one, would it make our school a better place? I hope you will consider planting a tree. If someone forgets their lunch or snack, they could just pick an apple."


Here's to the global problem solvers of the future and the joy they bring to us in the present!



Colleen Dowd

Walnut Acres Principal