October Message from the Principle

posted Jan 16, 2014, 6:26 PM by Jana Corral   [ updated Jan 16, 2014, 6:26 PM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents,


WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF OUR 21ST CENTURY TRANSFORMATION THUSFAR. Do you see signs of our growth? Are you happy with our efforts?Please complete our Walnut Acres School survey on our website (click here) by 11/1/13. Your input is needed as we continue to grow as a 21st century learning community. This survey went out last year, but our response rate was abysmal. I know it was because the end of the year craziness was upon us all. Let's try again. Please take the time to share your thoughts and know that your perspective matters!


If our playground appears a little more colorful, you are noticing our newly painted checkerboard and our US map. Both upgrades, along with an inviting area across from A-6 to relax and wait for students, and attractive planters at our front entrance, come to us thanks to the volunteers of Walnut Creek Community Service Day! We appreciate the efforts of both adults and children, including local scout troops, to support our school, and we thank Mrs. Denman for her organizational leadership!  


There are many opportunities to practice creative leadership on behalf of our students. If you are interested in supporting our feeder pattern with your management and strategic skills, know that PEAK (Parents for Educational Achievement K-12) is looking for volunteers to grow the educational foundation that supports all schools which feed into Northgate High School. PEAK (click here) is NOT requesting funds from parents, instead they collect monies from local businesses and community groups. They are eagerly seeking volunteers who would like to give their energy to growing the K-12 "Northgate feeder pattern" Foundation. Our feeder pattern includes Foothill, Valle Verde, Bancroft, and Walnut Acres. Last year, PEAK donated $4877 to Walnut Acres with monies earned through participation in the Walnut Creek Turkey Trot. Call 627-4243 or e-mail www.peakwalnutcreek.org for further information.  


Speaking of other schools within our district, please be aware that 1st-5th grade intradistrict transfers are being accepted between 10/1/13-1/15/14. Forms submitted after 1/15/14 are late. The last day for kindergarten intradistrict transfers is 2/28/14.   

Educational history was made last week. Assembly Bill (AB) 484 became law which means that STAR testing is now defunct, with the exception of science tests which will be given to our 5th students. For further information about AB 484,click here. In lieu of STAR testing, schools will pilot portions of the new second generation assessment, known as Smarter Balanced assessments. The assessment process will be fully implemented during the 2014-15 school year. To view an example of an assessment click here.


The STAR test was jettisoned a year early to encourage all education personnel in California to focus on implementation of Common Core Standards. For further information about the Common Core standards check out the CDE website (click here.) This focus to learn and implement the Common Core Standards is part of our Walnut Acres plan, but it is gratifying to know that we will not have to subject our students to the outdated STAR assessment.  


Information about the new assessment system is part of the Common Core parent presentation offered by MDUSD SASS (Student Achievement & School Services) leadership. If you missed the first two presentations, you will be happy to know that two more remain.

  • 10/15/13 from 6-7:00 p.m. at El Dorado Middle School
  • 10/29/13 from 6-7:00 p.m. at Riverview Middle School

While it is crucial to prepare our students for Common Core and energizing to share with you the upgrades to our facility, safety is more foundational than either of these topics. Everyday our beautiful children come to us to learn and grow. The most basic obligation we have as a learning community is to keep them safe while they are here.


We have policies and procedures in place to support safety at school and we review those policies throughout the year. I ask you to please follow safety regulations to keep children safe in transit to school and home. We would all be heartbroken if a serious accident, such as that which occurred in Byron recently, happened here at Walnut Acres. I have asked the Walnut Creek Police Dept. to be a frequent presence at drop-off and dismissal to encourage safe driving and pedestrian choices around our school.


Once our students are physically safe we also want them to feel emotionally secure. Our Peace Path is evolving as a wonderful addition to our program to help children feel empowered and capable of solving the inevitable interactional challenges they face every day.  (Click here for further information.) Parent Orientation for our school peace path process is 10/22/13, at 6-8:00 p.m. in the MUR. Please plan to attend in order to learn about the Peace Path, Tools of the Heart, and how to apply these strategies at home. Our very own WA Day Care will offer childcare during the meeting. The cost is $20 and permission paperwork should be submitted to WADC by 10/17/13. Permission forms are in our office and at the daycare office.


On behalf of the Walnut Acres staff, I welcome you to the beginning of a busy holiday season. Our season starts with our Book Fair this week followed by our wonderful Walnut Acres Carnival on Sunday, 10/20/13. The Auction Team will offer the first opportunity to purchase your tickets in advance and enter the "Celebrity Treatment" raffle. Please click here for more details. Hope to see you there!


Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author, wrote that, "Only where children gather is there any real chance of fun!" Come see for yourself...



Colleen Dowd

Walnut Acres Principal