October 3, 2011

posted Oct 2, 2011, 4:12 PM by Anna Saunders   [ updated Oct 2, 2011, 4:16 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,

Let me first thank you for your recent Gift Wrap purchases.  Payment and vouchers should be turned in THIS Tues. and Wed. before and after school at the picnic tables.

With school opening activities now behind us, including our Back to School Nights and our wonderful ice cream social, we have created fledgling class learning families, collected baseline data that should inform our instruction, and established routines and procedures.

As collaborators with us in educating our children, I’d like to remind you of a few of these policies and procedures:

  • Our Homework Policy, on our school website, explicitly defines the amount of time that students should spend on homework each weekday evening and supports the infusion of 21st Century Learning skill practice. If your child is spending more time than indicated on homework routinely, please contact your child’s teacher so that accommodations may be made. 
  • Attendance procedures are on our website. Please use them to report an absence. Independent Study procedures will soon be on the website, as well.
  • The MDUSD Board of Education has a very recently updated Strategic Plan Policy draft on the district website for review. Note the focus on 21st Century Learning. Share your thoughts with board members about this policy as you choose.

Because you are collaborators with us regarding your child’s education, I want to recommend an article to you entitled, “The Role of Mistakes in the Classroom” by Alina Tigund. She states that, “…we’re raising a generation of children—primarily in affluent, high-achieving districts- who are terrified of blundering. Of failing. Of even sitting with the discomfort of not knowing something for a few minutes.” This is an issue that I have observed frequently among gifted students. They become perfectionistic and choose not to try anything at which they may not excel. I’ve even counseled parents to encourage and celebrate children’s errors to get past this restrictive thinking. We need to help all our children to understand that failure is a part of the learning process. In fact, we sometimes learn the most from our failures! As we promote the 21st Century Learning component of creativity, I hope we will all help our children to view failure as exactly what it is…a step toward success as long as they don’t give up. As Thomas Edison responded when asked by a reporter about his many failed attempts to create a light bulb, “I haven’t failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work. Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results.”

Here’s to learning, growing and failing together along the way as we continue to help our children become all they can be. Special thanks to those who helped to get our school year off to a great start, including our dedicated PFC executive committee and our tenacious fundraising chairs! Thanks as well to the chairs who prepare our just-for-fun community events, such as the Social and our upcoming Carnival. Accolades to those who recently volunteered independently, including the entire Rigau family who pruned foliage, and Tammy Roake, who coordinated the first annual Walnut Creek Community Service day at our site. She was assisted by wonderful community volunteers, including Walnut Acres parents, and our own scout troop!

Our WAEF participation rate may not yet reflect the dynamic community that thrives here at Walnut Acres, but I have high hopes that it will. I encourage you to contribute at a level that is comfortable for you if you have not already done so. I thank you for the unending and awesome work you do as parents to model community spirit and the value of education, and I wish you a happy autumn as we continue to help our children grow.

I’ll close with another insight from Edison, “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” Here’s to our collaborative efforts to help our children astound themselves!


Colleen Dowd, Principal