September 2017 Message from the Principal

posted Sep 19, 2017, 10:59 AM by Vice President Communications   [ updated Sep 19, 2017, 10:59 AM by PFC Webmaster ]

Dear Parents,

With our community-building Ice Cream Social behind us, we have completed our initial school-opening events and we are happily settling into the new school year. In classrooms, teachers have set the foundation for a continually developing learning family, established routines, and organized procedures. They have also completed baseline testing using Running Records, i-Ready, ESGI, a CO Math Screener, authentic work products, and observation. Data from these multiple measures will be used as pretests to help us establish growth over the first 10 weeks of school.

Expectation-setting and relationship-building will support our students as the teachers now focus on curriculum implementation using instructional strategies that will promote student choice, deepened thinking, and ownership of learning. Our newly collected data will help us to differentiate learning for groups and individual students.

As a staff we have also reviewed the results of the Spring 2017 CAASPP state tests as another measure of student progress. Here is the link to the CAASPP website for you to review the latest Walnut Acres assessment data:

In appreciation

Thank you for joining us at our Back to School Nights and for your support of all our educational efforts! We appreciate those of you who have signed up to volunteer, those who are donating to the PFC Jaguar Fund, and those who are making our fieldtrips possible. Our school is most effective when school personnel and parents work in concert.

Likewise, I thank those of you who are establishing a routine to read at home with your children, ask them consistently about their school day, and encourage their persistence. Our children will be most successful when every parent works in tandem with a child’s teacher to promote student success.

School Site Council

A vital Walnut Acres collaborative working group is our School Site Council (SSC), which is composed of 5 parents and 5 school personnel. The group meets monthly to develop, approve, monitor, and evaluate the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA), which is our blueprint to support school goals and improvements. The SSC also establishes the budgets to support plan implementation. Members are responsible to collaborate with Advisory Groups such as ELAC (English Language Advisory Committee) and PAC (Parent Advisory Committee), while encouraging parent, family, and community involvement. All SSC meetings and minutes are posted on the board on the south end of A wing and on the school website. Community members are welcome to join us, as all SSC meetings are public. We meet on the first Thursday of each month from 3:00-4:00 p.m.

This year our parent members are Chad Bounds, Catherine Canillas, Melanie Mitsch, Shakeya. St. Julian Garcia, and Dara Buzzard. Thank you for voting our new members to the council. If you have a concern, a question, a celebration, or a suggestion, you are welcome to share your input with one of our members, who will bring your feedback to SSC.


Our first Sing-out is on Wednesday, 9/27, at 8:00 a.m. and again at 8:30 a.m. Parents are welcome to join in the fun, but please remember that our Sing-outs are designed to be an engaging, life skill celebratory experience for students, rather than a performance for parents.  Our first Sing-out will focus on the life skill of Respect.

A Recycling Experiment

WA parent William Jahnke has offered to expand the recycling routine he established with our kindergarten families. Last year he organized the collection of CRV-labeled materials and successfully earned money for kindergarten classroom libraries.

This year he will lead the collection of CRV-labeled materials (largely plastic bottles and aluminum cans) across our site. Here’s the plan: Every first week of the month parents are invited to drop off bags of recycling when you drop off your children in the morning. The recycling will be exchanged for cash at a recycling center. If successful, funds will be used for recycling club materials and activities as well as recess supplies.

We will begin our recycling collection during the week of October 2-6 at drop-off.  

Walk & Roll to School Day

Our first walk/bike to school day on Wednesday, 10/4will also be an opportunity to recognize our community spirit! Students can join together to safely ride or walk to school and collect prizes for participating in these fun, healthy, and environmentally sound practices.  City council members and our mayor are invited to help hand out prizes at Walnut Acres between 7:40-7:55 a.m. to Walk & Roll Day participants.  At 8:20 a.m. there will be a brief ceremony in front of Foothill to commemorate the new road safety measures in place around Walnut Acres and Foothill. All interested parents and community members are invited.

District Communication

Please enjoy reading the new issue of MDUSD Connections, Mt. Diablo Unified School District's newsletter containing news, events, and informational items from the district, as well as items that might be of interest to you in areas that touch education and family. Feel free to forward stories, events, pictures, or feedback to to be included in future newsletters. 

MDUSD would like to inform 5th grade parents that Family Life Education instruction is included in the 5th grade Spring curriculum. Materials being used for instruction are available for inspection and preview at the Instructional Media Center, C-2, Willow Creek Center, 1026 Mohr Lane, Concord, Monday–Friday, 10/2–10/6 from 8:00 a.m. –4:30 p.m. and 6:00–8:00 p.m., and Monday–Friday, 1/22–1/26 from 8:00 a.m. –4:30 p.m. and 6:00–8:00 p.m. (Education Code 51937, 51938, 51939).

Dr. Nellie Meyer wrote a compelling message to the community following the recent CAPS vote at the County. You may view her letter here. Whether you were for or against the new district plan, I hope we can all appreciate and participate in Dr. Meyer’s invitation to “…accelerate (the momentum in the district) by continuing to engage and include ideas and input from the community. What’s working? What’s not working so well? How can we do things better for kids? We will listen, and ask questions, and ask that you hear us too.”

Feeder Pattern Community Meeting

You have an opportunity to hear about MDUSD updates and share your thoughts about the needs and celebrations of the Northgate community with Dr. Meyer at her first community meeting of the year on Wednesday, 9/27, at 6:00 p.m. in the Walnut Acres MUR.

Pleasant Hill Tinkers & Thinkers Faire
I don’t usually comment on broader community events, but I do want to invite you to check out the new Tinkers & Thinkers Innovation Faire. The fair is designed for “inquisitive minds with curiosity about all things STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.) It is a free family event on Saturday, 9/16, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. at Pleasant Hill Park. Click to the website here for further information. 
Collaborative Believers

We will continue to work diligently to support your child’s learning at Walnut Acres and we are fortified that we have your support as we proceed. We realize that your generous volunteerism, your participation in our school community, and your collaboration with us are grounded in your belief in the potential of our children. As Matthew L. Jacobson aptly noted, “Behind every young child who believes in himself [or herself] is a parent who believed first.”  As educators we are believers too, and we are honored to collaborate with you as we help our children become the best they can be!


Colleen Dowd

Lucky Walnut Acres Principal