September, Message from the Principal

posted Sep 10, 2014, 7:03 AM by Jana Corral   [ updated Sep 10, 2014, 7:03 AM by PFC Webmaster ]

Hello Walnut Acres Parents!


Our 2014-15 school year is off to a dynamic start. Over the last two weeks our dedicated teachers concentrated on supporting our terrific students to create a learning family. They establish a safe, happy classroom community through the development of a positive tone, routines and procedures, team building, and behavioral/academic expectations. These efforts are crucial as the school year begins and they will continue throughout the year, but now we will focus on implementation of our academic program.  


You have heard, or you will soon have the opportunity to learn, about your child's specific academic program at our Back to School Nights. We are continuing our 21st Century transformation and that should be clear in each teacher's presentation. We are pursuing strategies that promote student ownership, choice, and deeper learning. Our 6 Cs (critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, global citizenship, and content mastery) with infused technology are the key to our efforts. Teachers are sharing their methodologies and programs with you during their presentations. Most notably, I am very excited that every Walnut Acres student will participate in Writer's Workshop. That means writing will be a pivotal component of every child's educational experience with the goal of developing each child's confidence and skill as a writer. Be sure to ask questions about our writing approach or any other aspects of our academic efforts at your Back to School Night. You will also want to listen for opportunities to volunteerso you can continue to learn firsthand about the activities in your child's classroom. (Give teachers a little time to get their schedules organized before they offer you specific times/dates for classroom volunteer duties.)


Speaking of volunteers, I am grateful to two parents who have stepped forward to serve on our School Site Council (SSC) - Cherise Khaund and Debbie Sullivan. I have asked them to share a little something about themselves and here is their input:


Mrs. Khaund  - "I have 2 daughters at Walnut Acres: Iris in 4th grade and Robyn in 1st.  I have a BS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford and a MPA from University of Washington in Nonprofit Management and Education Policy.  I am currently on the Board of a philanthropic women's group called Buena Vista Auxiliary that runs a literacy program for struggling readers at MDUSD low-income schools.  At Walnut Acres this year I am co-coordinating the science fair and I help our 1st and 4th grade girl scout troops."  


Mrs. Sullivan - "I have a 5th grader and twins in 2nd grade at Walnut Acres. I am a social worker by training and I now spend a lot of time volunteering in as many of the opportunities available to parents as possible. I enjoy the chance to interact with the staff and children of Walnut Acres, it is a wonderful learning community. I look forward to joining the Student Site Council to work together with other parents and staff to make Walnut Acres the best it can be for every child and family at Walnut Acres."


Please cast your votes for the new SSC members online by Friday, 9/12, at the "Current News" section on the front page of the Walnut Acres website. (We also have ballots in the office for those of you not online.) If approved, our new members, Cherise Khaund and Debbie Sullivan, will join Aramazd Dermardirosian, Erin Roeder, and Sharon Lund as parent representatives on our 10-member committee to monitor our School Plan and ensure that our budgetary expenditures support our school goals. We will meet every first Thursday of the month from 3-4:00 p.m. and our meetings are open to the public. (Our September meeting is on 9/18 so that we may officially have our new members with the team.) If you have comments, suggestions, or challenges for the SSC to consider, you are welcome to connect to a parent representative.


New school year activities began with our recent Jaguar Day. The event was a great success and I thank the PFC Executive Committee, our energetic volunteers, and Denise Calbeck, our phenomenal office manager, who all worked diligently and collaboratively to organize the occasion. I also thank all parents who have donated to the Jaguar Fund! We are able to provide the programs and support that we have because of your generosity and dedication to our school community. Your participation in our work is much appreciated!


Thanks also to the parents who helped our new community members feel welcome with new parent and student events. I hope that new and returning families will attend our upcoming Ice Cream Social taking place on Friday, 9/12. This relaxed, family fun experience from 6-8:00 p.m. is one of my favorite Walnut Acres events because it is an informal opportunity for community-building that is a treat for all ages.  


Also note that Picture Day is coming on Friday, 9/19. We have employed a new vendor, Creative Imaging, this year. This link will take you to the Creative Imaging site to view picture package options. Purchase your picture package online or get a package form from the office if you do not have online access. It is helpful, but not required that you send your package receipt (if you purchased online) or package form (if you have a hard copy of the package form) with your child on Picture Day. Your child's pictures will be sent to your home within about 3 weeks. 


Enjoy your child's learning year, work as a team with your child's teacher to build student success, and remember that I am available to support you as needed. Walnut Acres is a dynamic and growing learning community, and while we cannot claim perfection, we will resolve the challenges that arise if we communicate together and maintain the positive assumption that we all support the same goal -helping our children become all they can beAs Anne Frank so wisely noted, "Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!


Here's to working together in 2014-15 to create a community in which we put every child assertively and happily on the road to achieve their potential!          



Colleen Dowd, Principal