November, Message from the Principal

posted Nov 3, 2014, 6:05 PM by Jana Corral   [ updated Nov 14, 2014, 3:43 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,


Welcome to November and the season of thanks. I want to thank you for being engaged with our community and continuing to take an active role in your child's learning.  


21st Century Learning at Walnut Acres:  We need your feedback...


"Today students will face challenges we haven't even imagined, take jobs yet to be invented, and toil in a workplace constantly reshaped by the exponential progress of technology. Only one thing is certain: classrooms designed for the industrial age won't prepare students for this dynamic era. A new century calls for a new paradigm."  Excerpt from I have a question, why 21st Century Learning?


Our learning community is dedicated to our 21st century transformation. We want to prepare our children to be successful citizens and leaders in our quickly-evolving, dynamic, technology-driven society. To that end, we have been focused on the hard work of implementing curriculum and instructional strategies that promote critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, global citizenship along with content mastery, and infused technology. It is our goal that students will own their own learning as we engage them in deep and meaningful educational experiences.


While our vision is clear, making our evolution a reality is far more complex. Our Innovation Team, comprised of teachers, parents, and administrators, takes on the role of monitoring school progress. The team then analyzes that data to identify the next steps to take in our work. The Innovation Team would like to collect data from you regarding the current state of Walnut Acres in our 21st century transformation.


Please take the online Parent survey located on the Walnut Acres homepage

in the Current News section. The survey is open today, 11/3, and will remain open until 11/21, our last day of school before Thanksgiving vacation. Your perspective is critical and we thank you for the 10 minutes of your time the survey requires. Results will be calculated, contrasted with survey results from last year, and placed on our website for your information.


To promote parent participation in this survey, we are asking students to help us encourage you to complete it. Your child will ask you to sign a form stating that you have taken the survey. We will track the numbers of responses we receive from each class and will provide extra recess time to classes that return 90% of the forms.


This year the Innovation Team is also expanding the survey to our teachers and students. Teachers will take the Walnut Acres Survey at our December staff meeting, and students took either a 1st-2nd or 3rd-5th version of the survey during the week of 10/27.  


Thank you for helping us. We look forward to sharing our results with you!


Attendance Information


Check out the newly updated Report an Absence page on our school website. The page now provides information about California Department of Education regulations regarding student attendance and tardy regulations. Specifically, you can view the absences that are considered 'excused' and those that are 'unexcused'.  


Our community generally believes very strongly in the value of education so we have few families that keep children out of school for 'unexcused' reasons. The one caveat to that general statement is that families may choose to take a child out of school for a family event or vacation. Our official response to any request about family vacations, is that we recommend vacations be taken during vacation time.


Please note that a family trip is not a reason to excuse a child from school. This is not a school or district directive, it is a state law. According to California Education Code, excused absences are given for illnesses, medical appointments, funerals, quarantine, exclusion from school for head lice, 5 days to get immunizations, court appearances, and observance of religious holidays/ceremonies. Principals have some discretion to add to that list, but the exception needs to be in the same frame of reference as the emergency/health reasons delineated by Education Code. 


If you do plan to take a child out of school for 5 days or more, we request that you ask for an Independent Study (IS) Contract so that your child will complete some academic work while out of school. This will allow the student to feel less behind when returning and keep him or her progressing with class activities as much as possible in the circumstances. (Of course, an IS does not replicate our educational program, as instructional time does not equate to a packet of work.) A student who accurately and completely finishes an IS contract is recorded as 'present' rather than 'absent' and the school will receive ADA (Average Daily Attendance) for appropriately completed IS plans.  


Teachers need time to prepare an IS contract so we ask for at least 1 week notice of your IS request before your child leaves school.  Remember that the option for IS is for students missing 5-20 days of school. 


School Pictures


School pictures have been completed and your orders should be arriving in your home mailboxes. If you have not ordered yet, you can still do so by contactingCreative Imaging online or calling 925-485-6025. You will need to get your child's photo code from Creative Imaging before you can order online.


I have heard a few concerns about student photos and I have passed those comments to Kimberly Moss Williams, our representative. She wants to hear from anyone who had issues with student photos and asked me to share this statement with you, "Creative Imaging is proud to produce high quality portraits. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your order please contact us or call 925-485-6025."


Season of Thanks


People are the greatest resource in our educational community, starting with our awesome children, extending to our dedicated staff and teachers, and absolutely including YOU! As we focus on this season of giving thanks, I thank you, parents, for sharing your unique and marvelous children with us and for the dedicated support you provide to Walnut Acres through your time, talent, and treasure.


As you reflect on the blessings in your life, here is a little thought to consider, "The most precious jewels you will ever have around your neck are the arms of your children."



Colleen Dowd, Principal