November 9, 2015

posted Feb 22, 2016, 4:40 PM by PFC Webmaster   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 4:40 PM ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,

It's hard to believe that the holidays are around the corner, but here we are and I

need to remind you that our first trimester ends on November 18. That means

parent conferences begin soon after, and our students will be dismissed early

during parent meeting times to allow you and teachers to connect and discuss

individual student progress. Since my next message to you arrives in mid-

December, here's the conference scoop now:

Parent Conference Dates

We will have early dismissal for the two weeks prior to winter vacation. The early

dismissal schedule is in place from December 7-18 at the following times:

Kindergarten 12:38 p.m. Every day

1st-3rd grade 12:59 p.m. Except Wednesdays (Pick-up is 12:29 p.m.)

4th-5th grade 1:06 p.m. Except Wednesdays (Pick-up is 12:33 p.m.)

Students get nervous when they feel forgotten. Please remember to arrange for

your child to be picked up after school in a timely fashion during this shift in

our dismissal routine. I know the time changes may be confusing, but the process

serves a "greater good."

Teachers have sent or soon will send home times for you to register for your

conference. Please respond promptly so they can set their appointments.

I realize that many of you wouldn't dream of missing your appointment with your

child's teacher, but for those who are trying to decide whether you should

take the time to attend, I encourage you to use this conference to learn

about your child's progress during these first 12 weeks of school.

Parent-Teacher Conference Planning

Each parent-teacher meeting is a golden opportunity to support your child's growth

and achievement. Here are a few key ingredients that the NEA (National Education

Association) has developed to enhance the value of each parent conference:

1. Show up, please! "We know parents are busy, but it is important to carve out

time to invest in your child's education and ensure success at school," said

National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. "To get the most out

of parent-teacher conferences, parents need to take an active role in their child's

education year-round and come prepared to discuss how their child can reach their

full potential."

2. Get Ready. Do your homework prior to parent-teacher conferences. Think

about the questions you have and ask your child to tell you about relished and

disliked school experiences. Then prepare by writing notes to yourself concerning:

Any questions about the school's programs or policies.

Things you can share with the teacher about your child and his life at home.

Questions about your child's progress.

3. Ask Important Questions. Don't be afraid to engage in a frank conversation

with your child's teacher. Your goal is to develop an action plan for your child's

success at school. Good questions to ask the teacher include:

What are my child's strengths and weaknesses?

How does my child get along with classmates?

Is my child working up to her ability? Where could she use improvement?

What can we do at home to support what you are doing in the classroom?

4. Initiate the Action Plan. Start immediately on the action plan you and the

teacher put together. Discuss the plan with your child and track his progress. Stay

in touch with your child's teacher throughout the year and keep the communication

lines open.

Hour of Code

Our entire school (TK-5th Grade) is joining in on the largest annual learning event

in history: The Hour of Code, during Computer Science Education Week

(December 7-13). Our Hour of Code is a statement that Walnut Acres is ready to

teach these foundational 21st century skills. To continue bringing programming

activities to our students, we want to make our Hour of Code all-inclusive. You are

encouraged to check our website for volunteer opportunities at the end of

this month.

Our Caring Life Skill

During these holiday months of November and December we are talking,

modeling, and practicing the life skill of Caring. In December we will talk about

giving, but this month our focus is on being thankful. I've told the children

that giving thanks is a very healthy thing to do. People with attitudes of

thanks live happier and longer lives. An attitude of gratitude has been found to

"help people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their

health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships." (11/11, Harvard Health


Here's my most recent professional gratitude list. I am grateful for...

1. our dedicated teachers who are working intensively with our awesome

instructional coach to support implementation of Reader's Workshop.

2. the 160 parents who showed up on 2 cold evenings to learn more

about our sea change to Reader's Workshop and what it means for our


3. the dedicated PFC, who finances our professional development in

workshop methodology as we infuse the process into our daily routines.

4. our soon-to-be on-board part-time reading intervention teachers who

will help us support those children who need extra reading guidance,

financed by the endless efforts of our PFC and the comparatively

improved site fund coffers.

5. our Innovation Team parents who are helping us to get a feasibility

study completed for a new building on our site that would support

21st-century learning by creating more flexible learning spaces for large

and small groups.

6. our PFC parents who model caring by coordinating activities (like our

upcoming "Toy and Clothing Drive" on December 7-11) that show our

children how to share our gifts with others less fortunate.

7. our beautiful children who brighten my day with their enthusiasm and

hope, their potential, and their joie-de-vivre.

Count your blessings this Thanksgiving with your little miracle at the top of your

list! And if you want to pass along some of your gratitude, consider a donation

to MDUSD families in need through our district outreach. For further information

please read the letter from James Wogan, Administrator of School Linked Services

including Foster Youth Services and Homeless Outreach, on our website or click

here. (Click once on the letter to enlarge it for reading.) Your effort will model for

your children what President Kennedy wrote, "As we express our gratitude, we

must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by


Happy Thanks Giving, Walnut Acres families! I wish you a warm hearth, a

bountiful celebration, and a family attitude of gratitude.


Colleen Dowd


Walnut Acres Elementary, 180 Cerezo Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

PFC Webmaster,
Feb 22, 2016, 4:43 PM