“I want to find forever in every moment that we spend, ‘cuz when it’s gone it won’t be back again.” This is a line from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band that stuck with me this summer. There was a moment, a day actually, that was magical for my family. It was one of those moments that you realized how blessed you are, how happy, and resulted in that feeling that you never wanted that day to end. We spent the day on the shore of Shaver Lake, riding a jet ski, swimming and picnicking. The weather was perfect, as was the water. We were all present, and by that I mean that no one was using an electronic device. We talked, laughed, teased, and made silly dares. The highlight of this day was back at the campsite when a thunderstorm rolled through! We ate dinner sitting in the back of our hatchback vehicles, watching the lightning and huge drops of rain. Within an hour the sky was clear again. Magical. A forever moment. And, yes, you can still have them with adult children. I trust that you found some forever moments this summer as you spent time with your families.
It may be hard to believe, but we have butterflies in OUR stomachs anticipating the first day of school. From principal, to custodian to teacher, we share the excitement and anxiety that comes with returning to school and meeting new people. Nevertheless, it is our favorite time of year!
We have just a few staff changes this year. Our new speech teacher is Layla Olive, who joins us from Hermosa Beach School District. Mrs. Bergeson will teach our TK class. I taught with Mrs. Bergeson many years ago while at Soleado and am thrilled that she has joined our Voyager team. Her enthusiasm for learning and understanding of young children is truly an asset for Vista Grande. We also welcome Mrs. Pat Ingram who is teaching a class of special needs children through the LA County Office of Education located in Room 23.
As we return to school year routines, please remember these school protocols:
· Parking for parents is on the street
· There is no parking in the valet line; the curb is for stop and drop only!
· When pulling through the valet line, students are expected to leave the car on the curbside (not on the traffic side!)
· Parents are not to leave the car while in the valet line
· Everyone on campus is expected to come through the front office, sign in, and wear a visitor or volunteer badge. You may not walk onto campus to drop off a lunch, jacket , musical instrument or homework. These items may be dropped off in the front office.
· It is imperative that your child arrives to school on time. When they are tardy, they must come through the front office to receive a tardy slip.
· The best way to stay informed is by subscribing to our Monday Message.
Palos Verdes Peninsula is directing its focus toward student wellness this year. We are excited that two elementary counselors have been hired to serve our schools. Educators have long advocated for the emotional support of young students. At Vista Grande we will now have a school psychologist on campus two days a week and the elementary counselor one day a week. This new program will evolve as the school year progresses and I will keep you updated!
Another way that Vista Grande is participating in the focus on student wellness is by piloting new curriculum. During the first half of the year our teachers will pilot a mindfulness program called MindUp. This teaches children how their brain works, especially during emotional and stressful times. Children learn a variety of strategies to engage parts of their brains to help them deal with emotions and stress. During the second half of the year we will pilot a program called Second Step, with a similar focus. Research has established that social-emotional issues often interfere with learning. Therefore, it is important to teach children how to remove these barriers with skills that can carry them through the stressful days of high school. First grade teacher, Lisa Mack, taught MindUp when she taught in Hermosa Beach. She presented a sample lesson to staff members at Vista Grande and Montemalaga during our professional development day. We are excited to begin!
Most of you already know that I am an avid reader. One book that captured my attention this summer was A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger. I expected a treatise on the importance of asking the right questions, but what I found was a proposition that we need to reverse roles at school. Typically, teachers ask the questions and students answer them. As students advance through school, studies have shown that while kindergartners are a never-ending source of questions, by fifth grade few students will venture to ask any questions. And yet, those people who annoyingly persist in asking questions are our most successful adults. How do we encourage questioning? The book is filled with inspirational examples. During our professional development day, we spent some time generating questions around a controversial statement. The exercise required that only questions be asked; no answers or comments were allowed. The potential for student engagement in this exercise is exciting! You are not required to have an answer in order to participate. ALL questions are honored. We experienced what the author predicted: the more questions we asked, the deeper the questions went. And when students get to ask the questions, they want to find the answers.
An interesting example from the book described a young man who was not asked “what did you learn/do at school today?” Rather, his parents asked, “What questions do you have about today?” They asked him questions and encouraged him to ask questions. His parents never provided the answers. It was up to him to figure them out. He explained to the interviewer that at his high school in Maryland it wasn’t “cool” to ask questions. But he persisted. This young man, named Andraka, asked, “Why isn’t there a fast, inexpensive test for pancreatic cancer?” “He developed (at age fifteen, mind you) a paper sensor that detected cancer a hundred times faster than anything on the market, with four hundred times the sensitivity. It was also twenty-six thousand times less expensive that current tests…and 100 percent accurate.” (p.110)
Inspirational, right? It also relieves the pressure we adults often feel to provide all the answers for our children. They are naturally curious. We just need to encourage this as they mature.
What questions do you have?
· First Day of School Monday, Aug. 28th. Min. Day dismissal at 12:00
· Welcome Social: MPR Monday Aug. 28th
· Labor Day Holiday Monday, Sept. 4th
· Book Fair Week of Sept. 4-8 in the School Library
· Back to School Night Thursday, Sept. 7th 6-8 PM
· Minimum Day Friday, Sept. 8th; dismissal at 12:00
· Family Social: Luau Night Friday, Sept. 15th @ 5PM in Kindergarten Yard