December 2016

Dear Walnut Acres Parents,

Practicing Our Values
During the months of November and December we focus on understanding the parameters of our CARING life skill. We have practiced gratitude, shared random acts of kindness, and sung songs about the power of hope. You are welcome to join us to celebrate the life skill of CARING at our Wednesday, 12/14, Sing-Outs, at 8:00 (upper grade) and 8:30 a.m. (lower grades) in the MUR.

Here at Walnut Acres we will continue to promote our life skills of Respect, Responsibility, Caring, Fairness, Trustworthiness, Citizenship, and Diversity Celebration across our campus and do our best to live up to the standards we endorse. As we articulate, role play, model, and practice these skills in collaboration with our parent community, we expect that our children will pursue these values. We will treat one another with respect and kindness, consistently problem solve challenges together, and celebrate diversity so that every child feels safe at school!

Our life skills are not meant to be just words on a page, a Sing-Out event, or an occasionally earned Bee award. Instead our life skills should consistently guide our interactions and our thinking about our world. If your child is feeling uncomfortable at Walnut Acres because we are not living our life skills, please contact me immediately so that we can address your child’s concerns.

Site Tech II Status Update
I’ve been asked about site technology support at our school while our Site Tech II, Patty Galindo is earning her teaching credential. Our amazing Mrs. Galindo is getting her license to teach in order to continue her real vocation as an educational technology specialist. While she has long fulfilled that role at Walnut Acres, she will soon have the formal paperwork to document her expertise. She is attending St. Mary’s College and student teaching on our site. Although Patty tends to work 6 days a week, officially she has always been a .8 FTE (full-time equivalency) employee. That means she works 4 days a week.

Currently, she is taking advantage of her assignment parameters to student teach one full day per week plus two partial mornings. In order to fulfill her time commitment as site tech, about 6 hours of her work is completed after school and on weekends. (For example, she has used her after hours’ time to format new devices, install new printers, and troubleshoot user equipment issues.) As with everything we do in working with children, there is some flexibility to that plan. (For example, Patty focused on the school wide International Hour of Code Week and technical support for the 4th grade performance last week so she did no student teaching. Conversely, she will spend more time student teaching in mid-January, when she takes over a class for 2 consecutive days.)

For her second student teaching experience, Patty is going to have a creative assignment. She will spend a day with each grade level in a round robin fashion. She will be rigorously learning the curriculum as SMC requires, but to our advantage she will focus on applying her deepening knowledge of each grade level’s core standards to further enhance our technology transformation. Any official hours that she cannot complete during the school day she will once again fulfill after school.

Teacher of the Year Nominations
If you would like to honor a teacher, now is the time to nominate a candidate for Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year. TK-12th grade teachers who have been teaching at least 8 years (not necessarily at our site) and who exemplify personal growth, commitment, personal attitude, and professional skills are being sought! Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) will select 2 representatives to participate in the County Teacher of the Year competition. Winners of each county competition will represent their counties at the state level competition.

Administrators, teachers, parents, and/or students may nominate classroom teachers who have demonstrated a passion for teaching, an ability to differentiate instruction to meet students’ needs, and teachers who connect with and support their school community. Below is a description of the Teacher of the Year process and the brief nomination form:
Teacher of the Year process
Nomination Form
Forms are also on our website under Current News.

Best Wishes for the Holiday Season
May you enjoy the holidays with family and friends, celebrating the beliefs and traditions that bind you. May you relish time with your beautiful children to laugh and hug and celebrate their uniqueness. And may you feel the joy of the season that one young student shared recently when he bounced across the playground to me, threw his arms open wide and proclaimed, “It’s the season of love!” Or as the less exuberant writer, Victor Hugo wrote, “You may give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.”

Here’s to a memorable season of love!
Colleen Dowd,
Lucky Walnut Acres Principal