I hope your summer is going well and that any vacation plans you've made are unfolding seamlessly. Following is a bit of news to keep you current on Lower School goings-on:
Just to bring you up to date... in the wake of more than usual retirements, out-of-state relocations, and the exciting news that some of our associate teachers have been hired for their first full-time teaching positions in several local schools, we've been doing a lot of hiring. You'll see new faces in JK: teachers Joy Urtnowski and Jen Johnson; in SK: teacher Dr. Amanda Brown; in 2nd grade: teacher Laurie Buttaro; in science: teacher Lauren St.John Lopez; in music: Alia Jyawook; and still to come, a new Mandarin teacher, and associate teachers in science/design, p.e., SK (3) and 4th grade. Phew! Though we've been busy, we're so very excited for you to meet these new Lower School staff members.
We've been thinking about programming also, and we have some exciting new ideas. We're planning to introduce an organized game and tournament component to lunch recess so that students can choose to participate in frequent short competitions on a variety of teams playing a variety of sports. When we've done this in the past (mostly in the morning before school), the students have really enjoyed the activities.
Additionally, we're proposing to begin this year foreign language instruction in both Mandarin and Spanish for all students in grades JK-3. The benefits of learning a foreign language are further enhanced with the accquisition of multiple languages, and we'd like to make this a permanent part of our program in the 2017-18 school year.
This coming year, students could remain in one language, but we're hoping to encourage all of them to try this dual foreign language approach. Students would rotate between a Spanish teacher and a Mandarin teacher every quarter, thus receiving a half-year in each language. Additionally, the teachers in both languages would coordinate their instruction thematically so that they'd be studying the same topics but part of the time in Mandarin and part of the time in Spanish. In fourth and fifth grade, students would be able to choose to continue in one of the languages.
We are also introducing a musical component to our Design Thinking Initiative to give the students yet another avenue to express what they've learned, to create original compositions and productions, and to advance their understanding of musical theory. Alia Jyawook will be working closely with the entire design team and especially drama teacher, Letty Robinson, to elevate the performing arts element of our design approach to learning.
Finally, the ERB test results (our standardized testing instrument) have arrived, and they will be mailed out to last year's 3rd-5th grade parents in the next week. We took fewer tests this year in order to preserve time for the many projects and activities the kids and teachers were involved in, but we have secured solid information about students' reading comprehension and math computation achievement.
Generally speaking, we like to see students at the 5th stanine or higher in the independent school measure (norm). This would mean that they are achieving well and are right in the middle of the pack of all independent school students taking these tests. Historically, these students have done very well throughout their Parker journey.
Scores below the 5th stanine bear watching, and we always suggest that parents talk to the new teacher after a few weeks in the new school year to see if any additional support is needed for the child to thrive. If the teacher is seeing some weakness in the child's performance, we have a very quick referral process to secure some additional academic testing to shed light on any learning issues.
In any case, please don't hesitate to call me if you'd like more information or insights into the meaning of the test scores.
Homecoming (It's early this year!)
Homecoming is September 24 and we hope to see all of our Parker families in 2016 Spirit Wear for the big game. To get your Homecoming 2016 Spirit Wear in time for Homecoming week you must order this summer. Click on the Homecoming tab at http://parkerspirit.com
Spirit Wear orders close August 27. This deadline is firm. Homecoming Sprit Wear will not be available beyond the deadline so and order Spirit Wear for the whole family today.
All proceeds help support Parents Association events and activities. Questions? Please email Michele Joyce, PA Lower School Homecoming Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for your support!
"... I am an eleventh grade student on our High School FIRST Robotics Team, the W.A.R. Lords. We have gained international recognition over the past few years for our distinguished craftsmanship and innovation in our robot design.
"In order to help spread STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) ideals in the rest of our community, we are hosting a week long robotics camp for 3rd through 8th grade students, August 1st through the 5th. Our local San Diego community has taught us a lot and allowed us to flourish as a team.
"... I believe the lower school students of Francis Parker are great candidates for our program. By attending our camp, they will gain hands-on experience both as hardware and software engineers and compete with their robots against their peers. Our team website is team2485.org. Our instructors represent international championship winners from the Las Vegas FIRST Robotics Team 987 (team987.com), and world record holders from our own team.
I have attached a flyer (with more information) to encourage (students) to sign up ... for our camp. We expect it will be a great experience!"
That's it for now... I'll be back in touch with more information later in the summer.
As promised, the last week of school was filled with lots of action. The Variety Shows, Field Day activities, class parties, the all-school bbq, yearbooks, desk cleaning and class movies of the year's activities accelerated the pace of the week. And, on Friday, we promoted the Class of 2023 (with reluctance). The boys and girls of that particular class, many of them occupying the Lower School campus for 7 years, were a real joy for all of us, and we hate to see them go.
But go they must, and their ascension coupled with their love of learning buoys all of us, helping us to see that the changes we've made in the last few years are reaping great benefits in terms of student achievement, engagement and the much vaunted 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.
And so, we look to the classes that will follow, eager to share the lessons we've learned in working with their older peers, knowing of course that we'll all be learning even more next year, joyfully so.
Best wishes for a marvelous, refreshing summer!
Summer Math Practice
Looking for a way to stay sharp with your math skills this summer? Check out the following link for an array of opportunities: summer math resources
The Spring Lower School Book Fair was a success thanks to the work of Jennifer Irwin, Tori Haberman, Julie Barnes, Kim Kelley, many other parent volunteers and, of course, our librarian, Laurie Brae.
The book fair raised $11,870.75 in gross sales with $5276.97 benefiting the Lower School library. Also, many new and used books were donated to the Diamond Excellence Educational Partnership (a service learning project led by a Parker senior).
Thanks to everyone for your support!
After the teachers finish the final progress reports (which will be sent to you electronically), we'll send those as well as next year's class placements, ERB scores to rising 4th-6th graders (if they've arrived), as well as dates and times you'll need to be aware of.
Attention Fifth Grade Parents!!
Once again, Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion will be offered in the San Diego area. Three generations of Francis Parker families have participated in this program.
Your child would be part of a 63 year tradition of 6th grader’s attending this class throughout the county. The program is taught by Mr. Peter G. Benjamin.
The classes will start this fall, and go on an every other week schedule, ending in the spring. The class will be 1 hour, 7:30-8:30 pm.
Each class, the children are involved in topics pertaining to manners, thoughtfulness, and self-confidence. They also dance, in order for them to become more comfortable and self-assured in talking with others.
The cost for the 6 month program is $260. (A one time payment or a 3 payment option).
For more information, and to receive an invitation in late August, please visit www.mrbenjamins.com
Welcome back! Just 8 days remain in the school year, but there's a lot yet to do!
Before the year completely slips away, I'd like to thank all of you for something we've noticed over the last few years. As many of you know, I've often asked in grade-level coffees for your help in allowing our students to be "children" as long as possible. These years are fleeting, and once gone... they don't return.
Often, I've told the story of my own experiences where the evening ritual of stories and "I love you, Daddy," with my youngest, now turning 29, was suddenly and inexplicably walled off by pre-adolescence. Just like that, the childhood years had vanished.
Last Thursday, Heather Gray and I visited the fifth-grade students at Pali Mountain (the overnight camp they visit each year), and we saw children delighting in not only each other, but also the many and varied activities that had been planned for them, and the gleeful play that instantly elevates the spirits of those observing. They were curious, engaged and clearly reveling in that beautiful setting... with nary a hint of the social drama characteristic of those just a bit older.
So, here's my sincere thanks to the Parker Community, for such close collaboration; to the teachers and staff, for creating a program that fully engages our students; and to the students themselves, for exhibiting a joy for learning that inspires all of us to continuously improve.
SK Coin Celebration, Tuesday, May 31
The senior kindergarteners will travel to Crivello Hall on the Linda Vista campus this coming Tuesday to receive special Parker coins from their senior buddies. This ceremony, now several years old, underscores not only the relationship of our near-graduates and some of our youngest Parker students, but also the strong bonds created across our school divisions: two campuses, three divisions, one school.
Variety Show Tryouts
Variety shows will be held next week from 1-3 p.m. on June 6 (for JK-2 students) and June 7 (for 3rd-5th grade students). Students and groups interested in participating must "audition" this week during lunch recesses on any day to secure a spot and to ensure readiness for the shows.
Peace, Love & Books! Book Fair is this week from Wednesday to Friday!
Hop in your VW bus and travel back in time to the groovy 60s Book Fair! The book fair provides convenient one-stop shopping for all your summer-reading needs while also helping to fund the Lower School’s wonderful library.
We have a few shifts left to fill. Please sign up for a volunteer shift (or two) on a Google doc by following this link: http://bit.ly/1T8X6XX
If operating a cash register seems daunting or you need a refresher course, sign up for the optional volunteer training session on Tuesday, May 31st, from 2:45-3:00 pm or 3:00-3:15 pm by following this link: http://bit.ly/1TAb5QW
The Book Fair runs:
Wednesday, June 1 7:30 am-5 pm
Thursday, June 2 7:30 am- 5 pm
Friday, June 3 7:30 am-1 pm
See you there,
Book Fair Co-chairs
Used Uniform Sale
The Parents Association Used Uniform Sale will be held Wednesday, June 1 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the Linda Vista campus in the multipurpose room by the sports court. This is your chance to get gently used Parker uniform items at low prices.
Summer Program Update: The Summer Program office reminds Parker families that the final day for registration for upcoming Summer Program classes and afternoon activities without incurring a late processing fee isWednesday, June 1. The final day for registering for sports camps without incurring the additional processing fee is Wednesday, June 8.
1. There is excellent availability for most courses/classes offered in all three divisions at this time.
2. A course or an individual class section may be cancelled due to under-enrollment. Decisions on courses or class sections on the bubble will be made the weekend of June 10. Families will be notified immediately thereafter so the appropriate steps may be taken.
The uniform option of skorts is being eliminated at the Middle and Upper Schools next year, though "long-to-the-knee" skorts will be phased out over the 2016-17 school year. However, skorts will be retained as a uniform option on the Lower School campus.
Room Parent Thankyou Breakfast
The room parent thankyou breakfast will be held this Wednesday, June 1, from 7:45-10:00 a.m. If you're a room parent this year, we'd love to have you join us so that we can thank you personally for helping to make such a wonderful difference in our school and program.
Presidential Fitness Awards
On Friday, June 3rd, the PE department will be handing out Presidential Fitness Awards to your students in grades 1st through 5th. The awards will be presented during their PE times, except for 5th grade. Parents are invited to attend. Students will receive a treat of ice cream or popsicle after the presentation. Here is the schedule, should you wish to attend:
1st grade: 9 - 9:30am
5th grade: 9:30 - 10am
3rd grade: 10 - 10:30am
2nd grade: 10:30 - 11am
4th grade: 11 - 11:30am
The last concert of the year, Summer Pops!, will be held this coming Friday from 2-3 p.m. in the Lower School courtyard. Come see our SK-5th grade students perform selections of music they have been working on over the last 12 weeks in their music classes.
The Class of 2016 will graduate this coming Saturday, June 4, at 4 p.m. on the Linda Vista campus. Students, their families and friends, faculty and staff will celebrate this culmination of the students' studies... in some cases over the course of 16 years.
Attention 3rd grade and Showstoppers Parents---Don’t forget to order a DVD of the amazing 4th & 5th grade Showstoppers performances and the fabulous 3rd grade play “Let Freedom Ring” by visitingwww.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Also, it’s not too late to order your DVD of the 4th grade play “Oh California” or the JK Spring Program as well, or any of the performances from this school year or even past years.
This has been an action-packed year for sure, and a great deal of time this spring has been spent trying to find teachers who can approach the very high standards set by those who will be relocating and retiring. It's unusual for us to part with so many teachers at once, and we're all experiencing the bittersweet effects of these pending separations. We're excited for all of them as they begin the next chapters of their lives, but we'll miss daily the laughter, the comaraderie, the collaboration and the joy of working with people we've known, in some cases, for decades.
For each and every job posting, we've received a constant stream of resumes and letters of interest from around the country (we even had quite a bit of international interest), and we were grateful to be able to meet and consider so many wonderful candidates for these teaching positions. To date, we have hired 5 of the 6 teachers we need to fill the open positions, and we're still working on filling the music position (see below).
It's been challenging to update our own faculty on the many changes, so I can imagine that many of you are unaware of them as well. Below, I'll outline the personnel changes to this point as well as a few program changes we're still considering to bring better balance to our school year.
As you're reading this, we have only 13 school days left, and we hope to make the very best of each of them.
Summer Music Program
We're excited for our upcoming final music program, and we hope you enjoy the students' musical achievements.
Once again, we're hoping to streamline our musical presentation, Summer Pops!, so please note that the summer concert will be held on June 3 beginning at 2:00 p.m.
Memorial Day Holiday
This coming weekend is our Memorial Day holiday, and there will be no school on Monday, May 30. School will resume on Tuesday, May 31.
Summer Book Fair
The summer book fair will be held Wednesday, June 1, through Friday, June 3. Wednesday and Thursday hours will be 7:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., and Friday hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come stock up on those great summer reading books for your kids and even for yourself!
New Family Welcoming Committee
As summer quickly approaches, the Parents' Association is getting ready to welcome new Parker families to our community. In an effort to remain consistent across all divisions in regards to how new students and their families are welcomed to our school, there will be a few changes that we wanted to share with all of you. The first being the name of the committee, from New Family Mentors to New Family Welcoming Committee.
This Welcoming Committee will be made up of JK and SK classroom representatives who will send out important information and be the contact person for "all things Parker" throughout the summer to new families. The grade level playdates for both JK and SK during the summer will continue, but we will not be pairing families with mentors in these youngest grade levels.
For our new 1st-5th grade families, they will be paired with mentors, who are also a part of the Welcoming Committee. The mentor families will help introduce the new students and their families to Parker and answer questions throughout the summer as well as organize get togethers for students to start meeting each other.
If you are interested in being a part of the New Family Welcoming Committee as either a classroom representative or 1st-5th grade mentor, we would love your help! Please email@example.com your name and contact information.
Personnel and Program Adjustments for 2016-17
This year, Debbi Butler (JK), Julie Feori (JK) and Holly Panton (SK) will be retiring with nearly 100 years of Parker service among them. Additionally, John Heilman (Science), Annemarie Behrens (2nd grade), Shenelle Williams (Music) and Aislinn Deely (Science AT) will all be moving out of state to begin new adventures. Newly-hired are Jen Johnson (JK), Joy Urtnowski (JK), Dr. Amanda Brown (SK), Lauren St. John Lopez (Science), and Laurie Buttaro (2nd grade). Our search for a teacher trained as a music educator (as is Shenelle Williams) is still in process.
In preparation for next year, we're taking a critical look at how we balance our classroom and special subjects. We love the courses we've added, including the design lab, but we also need to ensure that with all of this additional enrichment, we are preserving our core classroom time.
Our music program, in particular, has been a wonderful element of the Lower School program, and we're working to ensure that students have a rich music education supporting musical literacy, including the ability to read music by the end of fifth grade. A well-integrated sequence of music education classes over the years will continue to lead to musical choice in the upper grades (4&5) with students selecting a musical genre for their full school year and perhaps on into the Middle and Upper Schools.
However, minutes allotted to each special subject, including music and p.e., will be recalibrated to allow adequate room in the schedule for the wide array of classes we offer outside of the regular classrooms while also ensuring enough time for each of those undertakings to be successful. For example, in the current schedule, Lower School students typically spend 6 hours on the playground (p.e. and recess), far more time than is given to any of our special subjects. One solution being considered is to split physical education and music classes, allowing for the potential of much greater differentiation in our music classes.
How would this work? As an entire grade level moved to the playground for p.e., a third of the students could be pulled for music classes 2 times in a 6-day rotation, and each of the groups being pulled could be working on different musical goals. This simple split would preserve the integrity of our p.e. program, allow for and support a range of musicians and achievement levels, but also return significant time to the regular classrooms, all without eliminating any of the special classes we've introduced over the years. Additionally, 4th and 5th-grade p.e. and music classes would be extended by 15 minutes, minimizing any lost time in either of those subjects.
We're also looking at the arrangement of lunch and recess, hoping to capture even more time by perhaps reversing the order of these events.
In short, we're trying to do it all well, in the time we have, without eliminating any of the wonderful elements of the Lower School program. I'll keep you updated as the puzzle pieces coalesce.
Our annual Variety Shows will be held from 1-3 p.m. on June 6 for JK-2 and on June 7 for 3-5. Forms must be turned in to the office and "tryouts" to ensure students' readiness will be conducted during lunch recess from May 31-June 3 in the Szekely Auditorium.
Dave Brittan and his student musicians will be presenting a performance of "Silent Movie" this Tuesday, May 24, from 2:15-3 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium. Mr. Brittan and his students will accompany a Buster Keaton classic, demonstrating their considerable musical achievements this school year. Join us if you can!
Last Day of School
The last day of school this year is Thursday, June 9. The day is a dress-down day, and it will also feature a giant bbq held during regular lunch rotation times on the playground. All are welcome to join us. Parents in attendance are welcome to take children home for the summer following lunch, though regular school hours will be observed, including afterschool care.
The fifth graders head off to camp this week, taking up temporary residence at Pali Mountain Ranch. They'll be studying environmental subjects, learning more about the great outdoors through hikes and experiments, and generally enjoying the company of one another, their teachers and camp staff in a beautiful setting in San Bernardino near Running Springs.
Attention 3rd grade and Showstoppers Parents---Don’t forget to order a DVD of the amazing 4th & 5th grade Showstoppers performances and the fabulous 3rd grade play “Let Freedom Ring” by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Also, it’s not too late to order your DVD of the 4th grade play “Oh California” or the JK Spring Program as well, or any of the performances from this school year or even past years.
As I walked through the halls this week, I couldn't help but notice many and varied arrangements of cardboard and tape as well as quickly-drawn sketches of visions for projects. On closer examination, I could see the students' intent... all kinds of inventions from all kinds of minds.
That's life on the Lower School campus these days. Inspired by their teachers to Dream to Do and to Try, students are taking more risks and making more mistakes (attempts) than they ever have. They're persevering through initial failures, coming back to tweak, refine and test again.
For me (and for all of those affected by it), the change has been revolutionary. Beginning with the adoption of a math program that forged a much stronger conceptual understanding of numbers and mathematical principles and properties, then moving on to a balanced literacy program which encouraged deeper connections with the written word, our students have developed a much, much stronger engagement with learning. This year's introduction of the Scripps Design Center seemed a natural, necessary extension, further opening the gates to original, critical thought, creativity, and problem-solving.
There are few things quite as beautiful to me as children legitimately and deeply engaged in learning for learning's sake. A peek into any of our learning spaces these days reveals busy, multiple purposeful activities, the steady hum of collaborative conversation, and the overwhelming sense that students have accepted responsibility for their learning.
As I write, the fifth-grade students and their teachers (virtually all of them) are in the final frantic stages of preparing their Design Showcase. Our oldest students interviewed their younger peers, asking them what changes could be made in their classrooms and around school to improve their experience. Following Parker's Design Thinking Process (Notice, Focus, Brainstorm, Design, Create, Test), the fifth graders then empathetically innovated solutions to the problems they had heard. Ultimately, the care, creativity, determination and intelligence they brought to their work resulted in some astoundingly effective products.
We're all very excited about the direction of the Lower School program, our very own design process, and we can't wait to iterate into our next school year.
For All Current and Prospective Room Parents!
Dear WONDERFUL Room Parents, please remember to respond to your invitation to the room parent thank you breakfast scheduled for June 1st. Didn¹t receive the evite? Email Noelle Ludwig & Julie Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org we will get it to you ASAP.
Are you interested in signing up to be a Room Parent for next year? Even if you¹ve never volunteered before WE WANT YOU! This is your chance to come out and have fun and be involved in your child¹s classroom. And if you are a serial room parent PLEASE apply again! You know we love your experience and continued enthusiasm year after year!
Fill out this brief Room Parent Application and HURRY, spots are filling up! WE NEED YOU to help make the school year a great one!
Late Start Day
This Wednesday, May 18, is a late start day. Children may be dropped off at their regular times, and buses will run on their regular schedule. Students may arrive as late as 8:55 a.m., and school will begin at 9:00 a.m.
Child Safety and Awareness
With summer, summer camps, and lots of outside activities approaching, it's important that children have an awareness of appropriate relationships with others and an understanding of what to do if they're not, particularly with adults. In a recent faculty meeting, Dr. Bridgett Besinger, the school's psychologist, discussed age-appropriate ways for teachers and parents to help children understand how to know what's inappropriate and what to do if they're ever in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.
This Friday, the third graders will entertain all of us with their play on U.S. government (really!). Our brilliant playwrite, Letty Robinson, debuted this musical last year to rave reviews, and we're all very excited for you to experience it. Students will see it this Friday morning and parents will see it Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium.
Summer Program Advisory/Reminder
With the start of Session I of Parker's Summer Program approaching on Monday, June 20, just a reminder that registration for all classes, afternoon activities and sports camps concludes on Friday, June 10.
Please note that save for a few Lower and Upper School courses, there are spaces open across the board, Lower, Middle and Upper School levels.
The long-awaited snow cone day will be held this coming Friday in the courtyard during the students' lunch rotation. Students earned the day as one of 3 student-council negotiated campus-wide prizes resulting from a gazillion tickets turned in at the Halloween Carnival in place of candy and trinkets.
The annual Parker fishing trip takes place beginning this Friday at 5:30 p.m. No experience is necessary, anyone is invited, and more information is available in the Lower School office.
Fifth-Grade Parent Mixer
Fifth-grade parents are invited to join others at their grade level in the Linda Vista campus' Nicholas Commons from 6-7:30 p.m. Cone enjoy an agenda-free evening of conversation, food and drink.
Attention JK and Showstoppers Parents---JK parents can order a DVD of the fabulous JK Spring Program and 4th & 5th grade parents can order DVD’s of the amazing Showstoppers performances by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Also, it’s not too late to order your DVD of the SK Open House or the 4th grade play Oh California as well, or any of the performances from this school year or even past years.
As Head of the Lower School and member of the Parker administrative team, Dr. Gillingham is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Mission Hills campus. In addition to overseeing curriculum and instruction, Bob also works closely with the school's Parents' Association in coordinating parent volunteers and campus activities. He also... Read more.