May, Message from the Principal

posted Aug 19, 2014, 12:52 PM by Jana Corral   [ updated Aug 19, 2014, 12:52 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,


Summer vacation is around the corner and we are enjoying our last 2014-15 learning adventures at Walnut Acres, 2014 Distinguished School. Yep, if you haven't heard from your students or read the recent E-news, we are officially designated with that title. Thanks to all of you who have helped us achieve that designation, with special appreciation to those of you who helped write our application and those who joined the Distinguished School Visiting Committee to tell our Walnut Acres story!


As you may know, one of our Signature Practices for the Distinguished School application was all about the dedicated efforts of parents to support our school and the collaborative work between staff and parents to target our efforts in building our positive learning environment. The PFC leadership is highlighting that work for you over the next few weeks before the 2014-15 budget vote occurs at the 5/20/14 PFC meeting. Watch for stars all around the school that will designate materials, supplies, programs, and personnel that YOU provide as a member of the PFC.  Then come to the meeting at 7:00 p.m. on 5/20 to share your voice about expenditures for the coming school year!  


Teachers Leaving

I need to share with you the poignant news that we are losing two dedicated and respected Walnut Acres teachers to retirement this year. Mrs. Gee Amundson andMrs. Elizabeth Hartman are hanging up their chalk and starting a new phase of life. I've asked them to share a few words with you all.


From Mrs. Amundson...

It's a bittersweet departure after dedicating 32 years of my life to teaching children. However, I am looking forward to spending more time with my family. With our first grandchild due this summer, I'm excited about all the new adventures that my new role will bring. I'll also spend some time traveling around the US and Mexico. I'll miss my Walnut Acres "Family of Friends" but know that I will see you around in the community. Thank you, everyone, for some great kids and some of the best years of my life!


From Mrs. Hartman...

I am entering a new season of my life after teaching for 34 years, teaching at Walnut Acres Elementary since August of 1989. I have enjoyed the children and families and will have fond memories of my time here. I am looking forward to spending time with my husband, Bob, daughter Jessica and family, my mom and five sisters and their families. I will spend more time with the horses, dogs, cats, and chickens, too! I plan on spending time doing a multitude of activities including traveling abroad, puttering around the house and garden, and reading from that long list of books.


We are also saying farewell for now to Mrs. McCormick who is taking a leave for her family in the coming year. We will miss her, too, although we hope to get her back eventually so she is not saying good-bye to us!


We will miss our colleagues and we wish them a wonderful journey forward!


Arriving Staff

As we say farewell to old friends, we welcome new colleagues to Walnut Acres.


You know that we said good-bye to Mrs. Teresa Poindexter, school secretary, awhile ago so she could focus on family. We now officially welcome Mrs. Amanda Smith to Walnut Acres as School Secretary. Mrs. Smith has been here as long-term substitute and we are glad she is now joining us permanently. 


Mrs. Leigh-Ann Andrada, will be joining the 1st grade team this coming school year. Mrs. Andrada comes to us with a master's degree in education and 5 years of elementary teaching experience. She is currently at Pleasant Hill Elementary where she teaches reading intervention to lower elementary grade students. The 1st grade team is excited to welcome Mrs. Andrada as they continue their 21st century transformation, which will include a shift to the Calkin's (Columbia Teacher's Project) Writer's Workshop approach and implementation of brain builder homework that will provide more student choice and higher level thinking. One personal tidbit from Mrs. Andrada, next year she will have 1 student at Northgate, 1 at Foothill, and 1 in 4th grade right here at Walnut Acres.


We welcome Mrs. Kaitlyn Diebel to our 3rd grade team. Mrs. Diebel is currently teaching 4th grade at Delta View Elementary. She has taught for 4 years, including 2 years of teaching 3rd grade. She looks forward to participating in Calkin's Writer's Workshop training and our 21st century transformative work. The 3rd grade team is excited to have Mrs. Diebel on their team as they hone curriculum and instruction to deepen critical and creative thinking, as well as collaborative and communication skills, this coming year. A personal tidbit from Mrs. Diebel, she has 2 young children and she grew up in our community. In fact, she attended Walnut Acres over 20 years ago!  


We plan to hire a new transitional kindergarten (TK) teacher this year, assuming we are not reduced to 2 kindergarten classes. If we are reduced to 2 kindergarten classes, one of our wonderful K teachers will take on TK. I'll let you know in my June message how we are proceeding. Meanwhile, if you know of someone who has a kindergartener to register for 2014-15, please send them in to the office at their earliest convenience!


I don't have a reading intervention teacher to introduce to you yet, because until the PFC votes on a 2014-15 budget, the position does not exist. Which leads us back to the initial focus of this memo - check out the stars shining all around Walnut Acres and join the budget vote on 5/20!


Before I sign off - On behalf of the teachers, thank you for making us all feel appreciated last week! And speaking of appreciation, come appreciate the learning your child has accomplished at one of my very favorite events - our Open House Festival on Thursday May 22nd, from 5-7:15 p.m. Bring the family to enjoy dinner, entertainment, and your child's classroom. Visit next year's grade levels, as well, to get a taste of life in 2014-15!  Meanwhile, take advantage of the service opportunity this week (5/12-16) in the form of our annual Darcie Jones Book Drive. (Darcie Jones was the parent who started the drive in 1994. The event was renamed in her honor when she passed away in 1996.)  Model for your children how to select a new or gently used book and encourage them to do the same. As always, collected treasures will go to children at Meadow Homes.


2013-14 has been a busy and valuable learning year in part because of ongoing collaboration between parents and staff. Thanks for all you have done to make this a successful and dynamic year of learning for the amazing students we share! As Helen Keller has aptly noted, "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much!"



Colleen Dowd, Principal