About UsAdmissionsAcademicsCampus LifeAthleticsAlumniParentsGiving

Lower School Blog

Jan. 26, 2015; Vol. #23, Issue # 19

 Dear Lower School Parents:


Creative thinking abounds and imaginations soar on the Lower School campus these days.  Challenged to solve societal and environmental problems and to present historical concepts in new, engaging ways, students and teachers are jumping into project-based, design-thinking lessons with huge enthusiasm but also rigor sufficient to ensure that legitimate learning is taking place.

We've taken this leap before, years ago sweeping away some of our traditional approaches in favor of those we felt would elevate our students' abilities to think independently and flexibly in solving the many and varied problems that came their way.  Singapore Math and Balanced Literacy have effectively shifted the focus from the curriculum to the individual student, and we can all see a tremendous difference in the students' engagement, enjoyment in learning and willingness to persevere when the going gets tough.

As we navigate this path, I must say that I've never seen our faculty and staff quite so energized about the possibilities, and their willingness to explore and try new approaches for the benefit of the students warms my soul.  They are an amazingly dedicated group, and collectively they are helping us to leverage every advantage of the independent nature of this school.

Imagine working in a place where you are limited only by your imagination...


Bob Gillingham


First-Grade Play


One of our most delightful plays will be staged this week when the first graders present "Fairy Tale Forest."  The kids have been memorizing their lines and rehearsing their parts for some time, and the excitement is sure to build this week in anticipation of the performances on Thursday for students and on Friday for parents in the Szekely Auditorium at 1:30 p.m.  Don't miss it!


Design Thinking Road Trip


Design Thinking, a learning approach now sweeping the school and elevating students' creativity, thinking and engagement, will be the focus of a professional development trip this month.

A group of 12 Parker faculty will receive two days of individualized hands-on guidance planning a design thinking project, lesson or unit. While being immersed in a making environment, they will test and troubleshoot the lesson or project, and they will leave with a project example that they make themselves. They will learn about and observe examples of meaningful integration of design thinking into classrooms and curriculum. They will learn new skills and technologies (including 3-D printing, laser cutting, and electronics).

The goal is for participants to feel empowered to implement the lesson and/or activity that they created in their classroom practice, to investigate how to make their practice more student centered, and gain comfort with design thinking integrated curriculum. 
It's an exciting time for education and the future of our students and teachers.  Representing the Lower School will be:
Blair Spearn, fifth-grade teacher
Sophia Dalton, Mandarin teacher
Chris Watson, fourth-grade teacher
Joan Anderson, third-grade teacher
Upon their return, the teachers will share what they have learned with the rest of the faculty, and undoubtedly, they'll be implementing in the Lower School program the knowledge they've gained. 

Parent Nutrition Forum

Culinart will present their second Parent Nutrition Forum (open to parents from all 3 divisions) on the Mission Hills Campus in the Szekely Auditorium on Tuesday, February 24, from 8:15-9:15 a.m.  Bring your questions and suggestions, and hear both how Culinart has incorporated our community's requests as well as their plans for the future.

Second-Grade Math Morning


This Monday morning, immediately following flagraising, Mrs. Behrens will host an interactive math session in the Considine Library for parents wishing to know more about Singapore Math.  Parents at all grade levels are welcome, though the main focus will be on the second-grade curriculum.


Kindness Week Schedule

Parkers' students are among the 1,964,683 in 3,639 schools participating in the Great Kindness Challenge this week.  Following is the schedule and activities:

Monday, Jan 26:

  1. Dress down day:  Students to wear white (not necessarily solid white) in honor of peace and kindness.

  2. Great Kindness Challenge: Students will be given bracelets as reminders of kindness and checklists of activities they may follow to show kindness

  3. Students will decorate their classroom doors with a kindness theme, and the Student Council will judge the doors on Thursday for an overall winner.

  4. Kind-Hearted Hands: Students will trace, cut out, and then decorate both of their hands on construction paper, incorporating a kindness theme, kind words, as well as the student's first name and grade. One of the decorated hands will be used to link together with Middle School & Upper School students, as well as Parker faculty and staff to create a chain of Parker hands on both campuses (to be created Tuesday morning together by LS student council and US ASB). The other decorated hand will be collected and sent with similarly-decorated hands from around the country to attempt to set 'The Guinness Record of Most Kind-Hearted Hands as part of The Great Kindness Challenge. Please join the fun and decorate your own traced hands, as well!

Tuesday, Jan. 27

  1. 8:00-9:00 a.m.- Student Council members meet with the Upper/Middle School ASB in the Szekely Auditorium to connect the kind-hearted hands that were created on Monday.

  2. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students may fill out compliments and thank you notes for teachers, faculty, and staff.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

  1. Upper School ASB students will read stories of kindness (grades JK-2) and hold discussion groups (grades 3-5). 

  2. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students will have an opportunity to visit the Hug/High-Five station & chalk drawing kind words or messages on playground.

Thursday, Jan. 29

  1. The Student Council will judge the kindness-themed decorated doors.

  2. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students will be able to visit the ‘Kindness Rocks!’ painting kind words or messages onto river rocks for Parker’s planters.

  3. All-school assembly at 2:45p.m. to watch a kindness-themed movie thread created by LS students and to announce the winner of the door decorating contest.

Friday, Jan. 30

  1. Kindness station at lunch recess:  Students may make a Kindness Pledge & use chalk to draw kind words or messages on the playground.

Many thanks to Spanish teacher Jamie Herold, the Student Council, and Lower School parent Charity Byrnes for their great efforts in this second-annual Kindness Week.

Notes From Nurse Maggie

Disease-Preventing Vaccinations

Click here to read a timely article about the importance of vaccinations and the school's responsibilities.

Lower School Menu

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday January 24 at 11:23AM
0 comments get link

Jan. 20, 2015; Vol. # 24, Issue #

 Dear Lower School Parents:

Our observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is especially poignant this year.  King's struggle to bring equal rights and freedoms to citizens of this country, no matter their color, belief or origin, was a fundamental, powerful expression which resonated deeply with all who cherish liberty.  Its echoes or perhaps those of other freedom fighters have surfaced in remarkable ways in recent days, born of horrendous and despicable acts.  But, not unlike seeds sown from the heat of a tremendous forest fire, the human spirit has flourished in astounding ways, manifesting in unprecedented displays of support and unity, most notably in Paris.

As a community, we enjoy unparalleled levels of liberty and personal choice rooted in a respect for the individual, a lesson deeply embedded in Colonel Francis Parker's philosophy and the mission and program of the school he would inspire.   Yet, that privilege hinges on a responsible, educated citizenry who truly understand what Martin Luther King meant when he said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we heed his vision that, "...one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,' "  and we recommit to the educational program that will prepare our students to make a meaningful, positive difference in the world.


Bob Gillingham

Thoughts to Ponder...


Following is a  great article which captures both our approach to and philosophy about teaching and learning.  A parent was kind enough to forward this to me, and though it's a bit lengthy, I think you'll enjoy it immensely.


Three-day Weekend

There is no school on Monday, Jan. 19, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. School will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Student Council

The student council meeting this week will be held 10 minutes earlier on Tuesday at 7:50am in Senora Herold's room.

Colonial Faire

The fifth graders have been studying American colonists, and next Friday... they'll be able to experience the colonial lifestyle for themselves.  They'll arrive at school in Colonial garb, experience their classroom instruction under the strict supervision of their newly-transformed Colonial teachers, and enjoy a range of activities typical of Colonial days in the library patio.  

Many thanks in advance to the many volunteer parents who make this day come alive for the students.

Late Start Wednesday

This Wednesday, Jan. 21, is a late-start day.  Students are welcome to come to school at their regular times, though the bells will not ring until 8:55 a.m.  Buses will run at their regular times, and the playground will be supervised beginning at 7:15 a.m.


Admissions Testing


The second admissions testing session for prospective junior-kindergarten through fourth-grade students will take place this coming Saturday, Jan. 24, beginning at 8:30 a.m.  Interested families should contact Sara Knox at sknox@francisparker.org.  The deadline for application for the 2015-16 school year is Jan. 30.


Kindness Week

Parker's Kindness Week (January 26-30), a student-council sponsored event, will take place on both campuses and across all three divisions. Kindness Week will incorporate The Great Kindness Challenge, and national initiative designed to help create a culture of kindness on campuses around the country during the same week.

Currently, there are 1, 876,939 students in 3,355 schools nationwide registered to participate in The Great Kindness Challenge. Parker will become a "Kindness Certified School" at the conclusion of our Kindness Week as part of The GKC.

Students, faculty, and staff are asked to perform as many kind acts as possible throughout the week. Additionally, a variety of campus activities throughout the week will help keep the students aware of and engaged in the simple, fun, and caring ways to show genuine kindness on campus and in our community.


Parker Pays It Forward


We're having a community service event, Parker Pays It Forward, on March 21 from 8-12pm at the Serra Museum. It is a site clean up open to alumni, parents and students. We have a waiver for the students who are 17 years and younger listed on our website. 
For more information, visit this link: Parker Pays It Forward website 
We are calling for volunteers and supplies. The contact is Lizzy Bendrick '07 atlbendrick@francisparker.org
Posted by ls-newsletter on Sunday January 18 at 04:47PM
0 comments get link

Jan. 12, 2015; Volume #24, Issue # 17

Dear Lower School Parents:


2015 unfolded as if we had never left.  I was struck by how happy the students and teachers were to see each other, and an hour into the first school day, the campus was humming and clicking at full speed.

Administratively, it was a bit of a slower week, so I took the opportunity to wander through our classrooms.  In every space, I found great engagement... students genuinely interested in what they were doing while working independently, in small groups or in discussion with their teachers.  It occurred to me that time was being used so purposefully, and everyone seemed to know just what to do.  

And, at the very end of the week, in sort of a harbinger of things to come, John Heilman, our upper grades science teacher, came running in to the office holding a tray of his fifth-grade students latest creations.  He was so excited, I thought the room wouldn't contain him.  

The students had created machines of all kinds powered by electrical circuits they'd learned about.  The results of their conceptual applications were right in front of my eyes, and I was amazed at the engineering marvels they'd pieced together in just 60 minutes.  It's important to note that there hadn't been a blueprint... the kids noticed, focused then brainstormed before designing, creating and testing the most delightful machines, all of them different, and all of them purposeful.

2015 is right in front of us, and it's great to know that we're out of the blocks, off and running toward even greater achievement.


Bob Gillingham

Proper Shoes and Outerwear

Colder weather is encouraging the wearing of boots of all kinds which are great for warming young children's feet, but really bad for running laps in p.e.  If 1st-5th grade students want to wear boots, that's fine, but they must also bring and change into a pair of sneakers (running or tennis shoes) for p.e.  JK and SK students must wear proper shoes all day, as the time to change back and forth is prohibitive. 
Also, we have been experiencing this year a wonderful run of students wearing only Lands' End uniform garb, including outerwear.  However, the increasingly cold weather and the drastic change in temperature during the day (from really cold to really hot) has led to a much more robust lost and found box and many non-uniform "substitutes" for Lands' End outerwear when it can't be found.  Please remind your children that outerwear must be Lands' End uniform garb.

Language and Culture Bake Sale and T-Shirts

As we jump into a new year, we quickly get back to business here at school with our first bake sale of 2015!  We are asking for parents to bring yummy treats to school on Friday, January 16th at drop off or at 11:00am to support Language and Culture Week. This year we are focusing Lower School student awareness on global initiatives being undertaken by our Middle and Upper School students as they embark on their global trips in February. 

With the proceeds from the bake sale, the students will be purchasing specific animals (chosen by the student council representatives) to help change lives in parts of Africa (by helping familes to be self-sustaining), and contributing to the purchase of important supplies, including wheelchairs, which our Upper School students will be sharing with people they meet and help during the course of their global trips. 

 With all of our efforts, this bake sale can be a big international success!

Here is the link to sign up:


Please note that we'll also be sending home Language and Culture t-shirt order forms in the Monday envelopes, but they're also available here.  All forms are due back to the Lower School office by this coming Friday, Jan. 16.  Students may dress down throughout Language and Culture Week if they are wearing Language and Culture shirts from any year we've followed this tradition.

Thank you so much!

Romina Kelly & Camille Dunbar L&C Chairs 2015

 Admissions Open House


This coming Thursday, the school will host its second Admissions Open House of the year. Prospective families are invited to visit the school that afternoon beginning at 3:15 p.m.

This Coming Friday

Friday, we'll be having a dress-down day and bbq, and everyone is invited to join us in the courtyard during the regular lunch rotation times.  We'll also be enjoying a bake sale (see above).  

The day will also feature our last grade-level coffee for Junior-Kindergarten parents, beginning at 8:20 a.m. in the Considine Library.  Join us for a visual tour of the school, students and program, and we'll share lots of insights about our youngest students.

That evening, the 2nd-grade parents will gather for a parent mixer on the Linda Vista campus in the Nicholas Commons, from 6-7:30 p.m.  The agenda-free event is a great way to get to know other parents at the same grade level.


Parker's Summer PRograms

Information on Parker's summer programs can be found on the school's website, but you can also find it here:  http://www.francisparker.org/page.cfm?p=1746.  Check out the many exciting offerings in store for summer 2015.

Parker's summer program will also include a full dramatic production this year, the musical 13.  If you are interested in finding out more about this production, just visit this link:  http://www.francisparker.org/page.cfm?p=1983



The school will be observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Jan. 19, and there will be no school that day.  School resumes on Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Notes from Nurse Maggie:

Measles Outbreak: According to the California Department of Public Health, nine people, including one from San Diego, who visited Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim between December 15th and December 20th have contracted measles. Six of the nine confirmed cases were in unvaccinated individuals.

Measles is an infectious, highly contagious airborne disease that is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or coming in contact with an infected person. Measles generally begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. Within a few days a red rash appears, usually on the face then spreading down to the rest of the body.  If you or a family member develop symptoms of measles, contact your healthcare provider. Remember, the best way to prevent measles and the spread of the disease is through vaccination (for children, 2 doses of MMR at ages 15 months and 4 years). 

Please contact Nurse Maggie with any questions: 619-717-0235 or mwest@francisparker.org.


Showstoppers and JK Holiday Program DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- If you’d like a DVD of the 2nd/3rd grade Showstoppers plays or the JK Holiday Program, the order deadline is Friday, January 16.  For orders or questions please visit www.francisparkerdvd.com Thanks you very much!!!

Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of Jan. 12

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday January 10 at 04:34PM
0 comments get link

Jan. 5, 2015; Vol. # 24, Issue # 16


Dear Lower School Parents:


Happy New Year to all of you!  Weren't we just talking about Y2K? Amazing...

Before we leave 2014 too far behind, and on behalf of the the faculty, staff and students of the Lower School, thank you to all of you who helped us realize a very successful Season of Giving.  Your good spirits, your many contributions of time and treasure for those less fortunate in our San Diego region, and your attendance at all of our December programs and celebrations meant the world to us.

We'll be jumping right back in to our program, and teachers will be spending considerable time and energy working on comprehensive narrative comments regarding every aspect of your child's learning during the first semester of our 2014-15 school year.  It will be our goal to mail those out to you in the first part of February.

I hope that you were able to spend some fun, refreshing time with your loved ones over the break.   We (my wife's side of the family this time) celebrated my mother-in-law's 90th birthday in Las Vegas.  And, while generally wild horses couldn't drag me to that part of the world, it turned out to be an amazing way to honor a terrific woman who's been a part of my life for nearly 40 years.

As we move in to 2015, the faculty and I wish you and your families every success and happiness.

Happy New Year!

Bob Gillingham


School Resumes


January 5, 2015, marks our return to school and a regular schedule.  We'll see everyone bright and early on Monday morning.


Admissions Testing


This Saturday, Jan. 10, we will hold our first admissions testing of the year for prospective JK-4 students.  Families interested in participating in the testing should contact Sara Knox, the Lower School Director of Admissions at sknox@francisparker.org. 


Language and Culture Week (Feb. 2-6)


As part of the Language and Culture Week celebration, the Language Department at Francis Parker Lower School would like to invite parents, relatives and friends to share their cultural backgrounds and experiences through short presentations from February 2nd through the 5th. The students will enjoy learning about cultures and languages from around the world. Suggestions are: teaching numbers, colors, greetings, songs, poems, and riddles, playing games, looking at books, traditional artifacts, clothes, posters, videos, and tasting food.

If you are interested in giving a presentation, kindly return the attached letter to school by January 12th or sign up by using our Google Doc (http://tinyurl.com/np5puvr). For your information, please find attached the Spanish and Chinese classroom schedules.

For further questions, please call Liliana Batelman at 619-298-9110 ext. 6225.


Lower School LEAP Program

LEAP! Introduces “Drop-In” Day Childcare Service

Beginning in January, Parker families can use LEAP!’s after-school childcare service on a day to day basis. Service may be scheduled in advance or last minute arrivals will be accepted. LEAP! is offered every school day from 3:30pm- 6:00pm with oversight provided by experienced staff.

$15 per day/per child

$10 for siblings participating on the same day

To use LEAP!’s Drop-In Service please do one of the following:

1)    1) Complete a Drop-In form available in the office and return to the LEAP! mailbox.

2) 2) Email Whitney Norton wnorton@francisparker.org a completed electronic version of the form found on the Francis Parker School website under the Extended Day tab.

***Existing after-school policies: Using childcare in unanticipated situations will not incur a charge so long as such use does not exceed three (3) occurrences annually. Use of this childcare service in excess of three (3) times annually will automatically require enrollment in the program with charges at the appropriate level of use.


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of Jan. 5-9


Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday January 2 at 08:24AM
0 comments get link

Dec. 15, 2014; Vol. 24, Issue # 15


Dear Lower School Parents:


The pace of this year has certainly picked up... and I'm a bit stunned that I'm writing the last newsletter of 2014!  In any event, it's been a wonderful year to this point, and all of us are looking forward to even more rewarding teaching and learning when we return in January.

I'd like to thank you in advance for your support of our Student Council's community service efforts.  They have been very excited about making a real difference for real people through their various fundraisers and drives, and we certainly hope that this inspires in them a desire to continue this spirit of philanthropy throughout their lives.

As we bid adieu to 2014, the faculty, staff and I are grateful for the many blessings we've received, including the privilege of working at such a remarkable school with such a great school community, and we pledge to continously improve in 2015.

Happy New Year!

Bob Gillingham


News From Parker's Food Service Department

Parker's Food Service has begun adding organic items to the menu at the Mission Hills Campus.  Like the Linda Vista Campus, they will be offering "Organic Wednesday" on their menus.  At the salad bar, they have switched to organic spinach, organic mixed greens and organic kale.  Occasionally, they will be offering other different organic vegetables as well. Examples are organic golden honeydew, Suzie's farm sugar snap peas, Blue Heron Farm's sweet potatoes and squashes.  Hopefully, everyone will enjoy the variety of local and organic produce being introduced.  


Season of Giving


Calling all Season of Giving "Givers" and "Bakers"!!!!

The Season of Giving began on December 1st and will be finishing up on Dec. 19th.  We have so much to be thankful for in our lives...  good health, warm homes, and nourishing food, and here at Parker, an incredible education for our children.  We are reminded, especially at this time of year, that others aren't as fortunate and how important it is to give to those in need.

Our theme this year is "Giving from the Heart," and students have been doing just that...  creating heart-themed artwork to share with the community and to display on our Giving Tree in the courtyard and in the school hallways, and last Friday morning, selling hot chocolate to generate funds to buy toys for boys and girls at Rady Children's Hospital.  However, the bulk of our "Giving" begins Monday of this week with charitable drives for canned food and new or gently used blankets and gloves running through Thursday, Dec. 18th, and a holiday bake sale on Friday, Dec. 19th (during lunch and the holiday sing-along) to generate additional funds to purchase toys (in a special early morning student council shopping trip to Toys 'R' Us) to donate to Rady Children's Hospital.  

The canned food drive will benefit the San Diego Food Bank and the blanket and glove drive will benefit the San Diego Rescue Mission, a facility that houses 85 homeless people a night, where nearly half are children in need.  Collection bins will be set up in the hallway outside the front office.

We all have a million things going on this time of year, but in addition to all the holiday fun this weekend and next week, please consider:

• Purchasing or rounding up from your pantry the following: canned meats, peanut butter, canned soup, canned or dried fruit, canned vegetables, dried beans, rice & cereal, dried pasta, powdered milk, infant formula, and packaged nuts and seeds (please no glass jars including baby food, home canned goods or baked goods).

• Bringing in a new or gently used blanket and gloves for a family in need

• Baking holiday treats for the bake sale (if time permits, bake and freeze this weekend!)

 We need everyone's help to make the Season of Giving a success!  Please use the following link to access the Season of Giving Holiday Bake Sale Google Doc to sign up to bring items to the bake sale or to volunteer to help with set-up or sales:

Bake Sale Volunteer Opportunities!

Thanks in advance for your generosity and support!

Anne Dixon McManus

Season of Giving Chair


This Friday


This Friday is a holiday dress-down day, but it will also feature a junior-kindergarten holiday program at 9:00 a.m. in the Szekely Auditorium, a bake sale, and of course, the Sing-Along beginning at 1:45 p.m. and running to the end of school.  We invite everyone to join us for this festive tradition... a great way to kick off the holidays.


Grandparents' Day and Thanksgiving Program DVD's

(Extended Deadline)

Attention Parents and Grandparents--- If you’d like a DVD of the Grandparents Day performance which includes the JK concert in the auditorium as well as classroom activities which followed immediately after, the order deadline has been extended untilDecember 12 because of the Thanksgiving holiday.  Also, the deadline for the Thanksgiving Concert DVD is now December 19.  For orders or questions please visitwww.francisparkerdvd.com


Notes From Nurse Maggie


The cold and flu season is upon us!  Read this informative article to make sure that you're prepared.


Menu for the Week of Dec. 15

Lunch Menu for Mission Hills

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday December 13, 2014 at 02:00PM
0 comments get link

Choose groups to clone to:

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.

Links & Resources

Lower School Calendar

  See more events>>

Get informed, E-mail, Watch





Mission Hills Campus
Lower School
4201 Randolph St.
San Diego, CA 92103
  Linda Vista Campus
Middle/Upper School
6501 Linda Vista Rd.
San Diego, CA 92111

  Follow us on social media:


© 2014 Francis Parker School | A JK-12 preparatory school committed to sustaining a diverse, family-oriented educational community.

Home | Contact Us | Privacy Policy

email page print page small type large type
powered by finalsite