February 2017

Happy February, Walnut Acres Parents,

Your voice is requested!
IT’S TIME TO COLLECT YOUR INPUT about how well Walnut Acres is activating the 6 C’s (collaboration, communication, critical and creative thinking, global citizenship and content mastery), implementing the instructional practices we have been learning, and creating a safe, nurturing, and challenging learning environment!
Please take a few minutes to complete the survey by clicking here or go to the front page of our school website under Current News. If you don’t see the survey, do a search for ‘survey’ on the search icon. (We have been having compatibility issues, but the survey is there!) Your opinion matters, so give us your input by 3/3/17. We will also be collecting opinions from our students and teachers.
The data results will inform our progress analysis. Grade level teams, the School Site Council, the Safety Committee, and the Innovation Team will analyze the results of the parent, student, and teacher surveys and use the insights to inform their next steps. This year, for example, the first grade team modified their newsletters to include more information about curriculum activities. Meanwhile, the Safety Committee decided to focus on enhancing our emotional/ social support system for 2016 based partially on results indicating teasing/bullying at school.

As we do each year, the survey results will be shared graphically on our website this spring for stakeholders to view.

Your student may get an extra recess if you take a few minutes to complete the survey! Here’s the way it will work… sign the leaf or leaves your child(ren) brings home after you complete the parent survey. Send the leaves back to school and we will place them on our survey tree. The grade level that returns the most leaves with parent signatures, will earn an extra recess!
Your survey input will be valuable data as we analyze our achievement, define our needs, and target next steps toward our 21st century transformation to become a dynamic, student-owned, challenging, nurturing, 6 C learning community.
The superintendent wants to hear from you, too!
The State Department of Education is requiring all districts to identify a local indicator for assessing school climate and parent engagement. So MDUSD has developed a district survey to gather information from all parts of the community. At this point you should have received an email from the district inviting you to go online to complete the parent survey. The survey link will close on 4/1/17. There are also hard copies of the survey in the office in both English and Spanish if you do not have internet access.

Safety matters…
The most basic aspect to our successful learning community is to establish safety at school. To that end, an updated safety plan has been approved by the School Site Council and is now being reviewed by district officials. Once approved it will become a public document. Within the plan, there are 2 categories of goals – those related to The Social Climate, People, and Programs and those that fall under the heading of the Physical Environment. We have written 3 goals within each category. In the area of Social Climate, goals focus on enhancing student emotional safety, creating a welcoming environment to parents and other visitors, and maximizing student choice and ownership. Physical Environment goals center on AED (automated external defibrillator) upkeep, classroom safety checks, and safety plan sharing.

Our 2017 Safety Plan is designed to set the foundation for a physically safe and emotionally nurturing environment for all community members. Our character focus enhances that groundwork and events such as our upcoming Sing-out on Wednesday, 2/22/17, help us promote the traits of respect, responsibility, caring, fairness, trustworthiness, citizenship and diversity celebration. We work to infuse these traits every day, and though we are definitely not perfect, our safety plan goals and our character trait activities provide guidance and direction.

Embracing inclusiveness…
As we live our character traits we welcome and include every student. We prize diversity and believe that all students benefit from the rich cultural perspectives we can share with one another. Conversely, we denounce bullying behavior, setting consequences for it and assessing cause(s) for such conduct, so that underlying needs can be addressed and bullying behavior can be extinguished.

We realize that federal and state laws mandate that state and local educational agencies provide all children with access to public education. Title IV of the Civil Right Act of 1964 prohibits state and school districts from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Nor can a student be denied equal access to free public education based on the student’s or parent’s citizenship or immigration status (Plyer vs. Doe (1982) 457 U.S. 202.)
We abide by these laws and intend to move beyond simple access to treasure all of our unique and beautiful children as we promote tolerance, kindness, and inclusiveness at Walnut Acres. We will continue to seek your input to gauge our successes and challenges, in this and all areas of school activity.

I’ll close with a recent message from our State Superintendent of Schools, Tom Torlakson, confirming California’s concern with safety and inclusion. “I want to let all of California’s 6.2 million public school students know that keeping them safe from discrimination and bullying at our great state’s 11,000 public schools is a top priority. In California, diversity is strength. Our students come from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, languages, and religions, and they all come together to learn on their way to success in 21st century careers and college. California already has, and will always maintain, strong legal and state constitutional protections against any and all kinds of discrimination, regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identity. And I want to tell young women and girls that they will always be safe, be respected, and be protected at school. As the proud father of two daughters, I know that girls can achieve anything, succeed at anything they choose, and earn the respect that they deserve every day at school, in the workplace, and in our communities.”

Yours in making Walnut Acres the best school it can be to serve all our students,
Colleen Dowd, Principal