May 2017

Happy May Walnut Acres Parents,

Upcoming Events

We are closing out the year in high gear with each grade level planning end-of-year activities, all teachers assessing student mastery of CA Standards for report cards, 3rd-5th grade teachers completing state testing, and everyone preparing for our upcoming Open House Festival!

Here are a few highlights of upcoming events…

Bike or Walk to School Day –will take place on Wednesday, 5/10. Last week we had an assembly about bike safety and the bike day experience will be a format to practice new or reviewed skills discussed at the assembly. We hope the assembly, brought to us by Street Smarts, will also serve as a valuable reminder to summer bike riders!

New Parent Meeting – New parents are invited to attend an informative 6:00 p.m. New Parent Meeting prior to the 7:00 p.m. Parent Faculty Club (PFC) meeting on 5/16. Parents new to Walnut Acres are welcome to attend to learn more about PFC’s role and have their questions addressed. Of course, you are most welcome to stay for the 7:00 p.m. PFC meeting immediately following the New Parent Meeting.

Open House Festival – We hope you will join us for this lovely community experience on Thursday, 5/25 from 5-7:15 p.m. It is an opportunity to enjoy a picnic meal with family and entertainment, thanks to our PFC volunteers. It is also a chance to have your child tour you through our specialty rooms, including the Colab, the Science Lab, and the library, before visiting your child’s classroom and perhaps popping in to check out the classrooms in the next grade level!

Student Council Fundraiser– Our student leaders will host a student participation fundraiser from 5/10-6/1 designed to raise money for supplies to support work at our site during the 10/14 Walnut Creek Community Service Day. For every 25 cents donated, students will add a post-it to their class wall in the MUR. The class with the longest list of post-its, will earn otter pop treats.

Recycle Club Challenge – On 5/26, our recycle leaders will lead the student body to meet the challenge of a Zero Waste Lunch Day! The Challenge will demonstrate how students can reduce the amount of waste they produce. Students will be encouraged to bring their lunches in reusable containers, and create as little waste as possible. Recycle Club members will weigh and compare landfill bags generated on challenge and non-challenge days with the goal of improving our diversion rates. Recycle Club members have been playing a game with students in each class to reinforce our compost/waste/recycle knowledge in preparation for the Zero Waste Challenge.

Grade Level Rotation Event – While you have an opportunity to visit various classrooms during our Open House event, students will have more formal visits to the next grade level the week of 6/5. Our goal is to enhance student knowledge of what is to come and thereby reduce stress. As we did last year, students will spend a little time with a teacher at the next grade level, but this year students will spend about 15 minutes with each of the next grade level teachers. They will also have an opportunity to return to last year’s grade level to enjoy a visit, remind themselves of all they have learned, and leave a note of advice for a new student.

Summer Activities at our Site

We will remain busy during the summer months. We will have three programs at our site.

  1. Camp Galileo will return to provide innovative, hands-on design thinking experiences for our children. Weekly camp sessions will be held from 6/19-8/7.
  2. Curtains Up! led by our beloved Mrs. Ryken will have two shows this summer. Sessions will be in the afternoons from 6/12-6/30 and 7/11-8/4.
  3. Walnut Acres Children’s Center will offer their always engaging, active summer program from 6/12-8/11.

Along with these programs, Measure C funds will be used by MDUSD Maintenance & Operations to complete a variety of valuable facility projects this summer:

* Full remodel of Wing C Restrooms

* Renovations to Wing A restrooms

* Door repair

* Hardscape Repair (About 1000 square ft. of miscellaneous concrete repairs)

* Playground and play structure repair

And as we plan for next school year…

Graphic artist skills requested 

We would like to add some personality to our school jaguar around campus. If you have some artistic skills and would be willing to share them with us, please let me know! For example, perhaps our jaguar could be wearing a “Save Our Earth” shirt and winking at readers as he recycles next to our ‘Be Responsible’ sign in the MUR. The Climate Team is looking for a volunteer who can give our jaguar some pizzazz throughout our campus. Call 925 939-1333 or email dowdc@mdusd.org if you are interested in helping with this project.

Site Council members needed for 2017-19

Three new School Site Council (SSC) parent members are needed to serve for the next two years! Would you like to help shape our School Site Plan and our Safety Plan, discuss our school vision as well as our successes, then brainstorm ideas to enhance our growth? We meet every first Thursday of the month from 3-4:00 p.m. Please email me at dowdc@mdusd.org or call 925 939-1333 if you would like to commit for a two-year stint as a SSC parent representative.

Parent Survey results to help chart our course

The first order of business for SSC when we return in the fall will be to look at our parent and student survey results and discuss our strengths, needs and goals. The survey results are now available for you to peruse under Current News on the front page of our website. Thanks to Mr. Khaund for creating a 2013-2017 longitudinal comparative chart of each parent response!

Personnel

Mrs. Young, our 4th and 5th grade music teacher, is going to retire at the end of the year. We thank her for her passionate teaching and for sharing her love of music with our children. We will miss Mrs. Young and we wish her happy adventures in retirement!

I am asking PFC to consider funding a new position as a pilot for the next school year. I would like to hire a part-time specialist to provide Tier 3 math intervention for our students. If fully funded, the specialist would provide service to students 4 mornings a week. The Strategic Planning Committee has recommended the plan, and the PFC will vote on the position at their next meeting (Tuesday, 5/16, at 7:00 p.m.)

Closing thoughts

With Mother’s Day around the corner I want to weigh in to wish a very happy day to all of you who lovingly support children old and young. One of my favorite psychologist mentors, Erich Fromm, wrote that, “Mother’s love is bliss, is peace, it need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. If it is there, it is like a blessing; if it is not there it is as if all the beauty had gone out of life.”

And for those of you who take the all-important role of mother without having given birth, remember these wise words from Robert A. Heinlein, “Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.”

To all of you who unconditionally love a child, I salute you! Enjoy your special day!

Respectfully,

Colleen Dowd