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.
This past Wednesday, the Lower School faculty and staff felt like Kings and Queens (that is... even more than usual). All of our classrooms and offices were filled with gorgeous floral arrangements, and everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch in a beautifully-transformed Szekely Auditorium.
We are all most grateful for your kindness, and we apologize profusely if your gardens suffered unduly for our benefit! Nevertheless, there were smiles everywhere on campus (even more than usual), and each and every one of our teachers and support staff felt your sincere appreciation.
We appreciate you, too, and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with you to help your kids become the best possible versions of themselves.
Bob Gillingham and the Lower School Faculty and Staff
ERB (Educational Records Bureau) standardized testing will take place this week in grades 3-5. Students will be demonstrating their achievement in reading and math, and the results will be mailed out to students' parents in mid-June along with information to interpret the scores.
Dress-Down/BBQ/Halloween Bake Sale
This coming Friday, we'll enjoy a free dress-down day, a bake sale** supporting our Halloween Carnival in the fall, and a special bbq featuring carne asada... with an invitation extended to our fifth graders to join that line! This tradition, inviting the oldest students on this campus to join the adult line, extends back over a decade.
** Don't be scared - it's not Halloween yet, but we're already planning next year's Haunted House!
There will be a bake sale during the BBQ this Friday, May 13, to support the Lower School's Spooooktacular Haunted House! Next year's 5th grade class will build and manage this darkly delightful attraction at the Halloween Carnival.
All baked items will be priced at $1, so send a dollar or two with your student if you'd like him/her to have a spooky treat and support the 2016 Haunted House!
If you are interested in helping us with our Spooky Springtime Halloween Bake Sale, click on the link below and sign up to bring a devilishly good treat. (Nut-free, please!) We ask that ghoulish goodies be individually wrapped. We will have volunteers at tables near the field to collect your items at drop off that morning.
This week, the fifth graders will be displaying their innovative work in a design showcase. You're invited to see the results of the students' research into societal (Lower School) needs they learned about while interviewing students at various grade levels. Come see the great creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of our fifth graders from 8:30-9:30 a.m. this coming Friday.
The Lower School Variety Shows will be held this year on June 6 for JK-2 students and on June 7 for (3rd-5th grade students). If your child is interested in participating, this form must be filled out and returned to the office no later than June 3.
Lost and Found
We have a lot of lost clothing that we'd dearly love to be found. Please remind your child to check the lost and found box on the playground, and do know that you're always welcome to sift through the many treasures yourself to see if there are any that you recognize.
At this point, the L&F bin has been emptied. All clothing identified with children's names has been returned to them (it always helps to see complete names; initials make it more difficult). Please use indelible ink or name tags (e.g.www.namebubbles.com) to label clothing, and we'll do our best to return it.
Parker wear and non-Parker wear without names has been bagged up and parents can come to the office to claim them.
Traffic and Parking
In consideration of our neighbors and for the safety of everyone, please drive carefully and park legally around the school. A reminder that Randolph north of the school is very narrow, and we've asked that no one park on that stretch of road to allow easier access for emergency vehicles.
Attention Parker Parents---4th grade parents don’t forget to get your DVD of the amazing 4th grade play “Oh California”, and JK parents can order a DVD of the fabulous JK Spring Program. Please place your order as soon as possible by visitingwww.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Also, it’s not too late to order your DVD of the 5th Grade Environmental Plays or SK Open House as well, or any of the performances from this school year or even past years.
Just inches from my face, yet another junior-kindergarten student tried her very best to convince me that the canyon playground needed more "san toise" (sand toys)... Though it promised to be a very busy day full of conferences, phone calls and countless emails, any thoughts of such things melted away in that moment.
I had been invited to visit Mrs. Blick's classroom to see how her students had turned their frustration over broken and missing playground implements into persuasive pleas for assistance. One after another the students shared their efforts with me, proudly holding up and reading (or interpreting) everything from pictures depicting shattered shards of well-loved toys to full-on complete sentences.
While not a complete revelation, the experience did nevertheless underscore for me the heart and purpose of our work with these students. Thinking for themselves, they had crafted original written expressions about a matter of great importance to them because they were convinced that they could make a meaningful difference in our world (or at least the canyon playground). And, as I was further drawn into this precious moment, I was reminded, yet again, not only of the enormous responsibility we have as educators to assist the full and complete development of these young minds, but also of the immense privilege of being able to do so.
Thank you to all of you for the opportunity.
(By the way... the toys have been ordered!)
Next week, students in grades 3-5 will be taking standardized tests known as ERBs (Educational Records Bureau). Teachers request especially good rest, breakfast and punctuality this week so the students perform at their peak.
Teacher appreciation flowers and Lunch
This Wednesday, the Parents' Association is sponsoring a much-beloved and appreciated flower and lunch day for our faculty and staff. Speaking on behalf of the faculty and staff, I can say that everyone is most grateful for these lovely gestures, and we are grateful to our Parker Community.
This coming Wednesday, May 4, Parker will be working in conjunction with USD to recycle electronic waste. This is your chance to rid yourself of old electronics by simply bringing them to the front of the school from 7:30-8:30 a.m. that morning.
Middle School Global Trips visits
Middle School students will be visiting the Lower School this week on Wednesday from 8:30-9:00 a.m. to share stories of their recent visits to foreign lands with students in grades 1-4. This has been a big hit in the past, and our Lower School students have both learned a tremendous amount about other cultures and countries but also become quite enchanted about the idea of traveling themselves.
In fulfillment of the final "award" negotiated by the student council and given as the result of students earning and donating thousands of Halloween tickets (in place of candy and trinkets), we'll all enjoy snowcones in the courtyard during the lunch rotation. Haven't had a snowcone in a while? Come on by, and we'll treat you to one!
The school's annual gala is this coming Saturday evening. The Black and White Ball (and all of the other galas preceding it), have been a tremendous support of our financial aid and faculty professional development programs. In fact, much of the curriculum taught today for the benefit of our students was inspired by opportunities afforded our faculty through gala fundraising efforts. We are grateful for your participation and excited about this upcoming event.
Blue Dog and adopt-a-pet artwork created by the 2nd and third graderis now on display at the San Diego Department of Animal Services in Linda Vista. It will be there for the next few weeks. Please feel free to stop by and see the amazing artwork the kids did to promote animal adoption and of course to check out all of the adoptable pets!
The shelter is located at: 5480 Gaines St, San Diego, CA 92110 Hours: Tues.-Sat, 9:30-5:30 p.m.
Traffic Safety and Courtesy
line up single-file on Montecito heading east to west for quick pick-up
don't park in red or block driveways
Attention Parker 4th grade parents-- don’t forget to get your DVD of the amazing 4th grade play “Oh California”, and JK parents can order a DVD of the fabulous JK Spring Program. Please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Also, it’s not too late to order your DVD of the 5th Grade Environmental Plays as well, or any of the performances from this school year or even past years.
Three weeks ago, I met with the student council to discuss what we might do for Kindness Week. I was immediately struck by their outward-looking suggestions about recognizing and helping others. After some deliberation, we decided to honor our wonderful maintenance staff who often toil in the background, but who ensure that our campus is beautiful and working well. A special lunch will be provided for all of them this Tuesday.
The students were also intrigued by the possibility of helping our Upper School students in their quest to help the less fortunate they'll encounter in their global trips. After a quick vote, it was established that we'd gather all our gently-used sports gear and donate it so that others might enjoy it as well. The idea was particularly compelling given the free transport we'll have with Upper School students' luggage.
And, in a wonderful continuation of a practice begun last year, Upper School students will visit Lower School classrooms this coming Wednesday to share stories of kindness and to further strengthen our JK-12 connection.
This inclination to serve others, in an out of our school community, is a wonderful manifestation of our school program, our close collaboration with all of you, and a clear early indication that our students will in fact make a meaningful difference in the world.
JK Spring Program
The junior-kindergarten spring program will be presented this coming Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Lower School courtyard. Come join us for this absolutely delightful event and welcome spring in in style!
Parker/USD E-Waste Collection
The Upper School ASB has arranged to partner once again with the University of San Diego Electronics Recycling Center to offer an E-Waste Recycling Event on both Parker, campuses.
We will be doing the collection on Wednesday May 4th, from 7:30-8:45am on the LV campus and 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. on the MH campus.
The acceptable items have changes slightly and for the first time we are going to collect alkaline batteries.
Here is the new list:
Rechargeable (Li-ion, Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, etc)
Battery Back – Ups
Cameras (film, digital, antique, etc)
Chargers and Cables/Cords (all variations)
Computer Accessories (mice, keyboards, etc)
Computer Parts (boards, drives, power supplies, etc)
Computers (desktops, laptops, servers, etc)
Gaming Systems (play station, x box, wii, etc).
Hard drives (digital storage devices, etc).
Home Entertainment (DVD/VHS players, cable boxes, receivers, speakers, etc)
Lab Equipment (certificate of decontamination may be required)
Annual Parker Fishing Trip
The annual Parker fishing trip is coming up on May 20. No experience is necessary, but plenty of fun is ready to be had. If you're interested, check out the details and find the registration form here.
Final Class Creations Auction
Class Creations Artwork Auction
April 25, 2016 - April 29, 2016,
in conjunction with the J.K. Spring Program
Artwork from the students of our Junior Kindergarten is being offered for auction. All 3 of these wonderfully framed pieces will be on display in their respective classrooms beginning Monday, April 25, 2016.
Class Creations is a unique project. It allows for the students at Francis Parker Lower School to develop and express their artistic talents. Each year, the art captures a moment of time in our children lives. Each work is priceless by virtue of its exclusive nature.
Yet, there is more to Class Creations. Class Creations is one of the events associated with Francis Parker School’s yearly Gala. The program allows our children to participate in the advancement of their school community. By creating these pieces and giving them over to auction they help raise funds which go directly and completely to supporting student scholarships and faculty fellowships.
The J.K. team has come up with a new and unique art concept for 2016. Keyed after classic pastoral motifs, these original works celebrate the joy of the simple innocence of our JK students, and by presenting the collective Artistic Expression of each child, these art works are of irresistible appeal.
Bidding is Silent Auction opening at 8 a.m.Monday, April 25 through2:30 p.m. following the end of the JK Spring Program on April 29, 2016. List your offer on the bidding sheet next to the art.
Your Bid Matters!
Middle School Transition Meeting
This Monday, Dan Lang and Christie Cole from the Middle School will meet with fifth-grade parents in the Szekely Auditorium from 8:30-9:15 a.m. to talk about issues related to the fifth-grade students' exciting move to the Middle School. Course choices, schedules, orientations and all kinds of valuable information will be shared... and questions answered.
Fourth-Grade Parent Mixer
Fourth-grade parents are invited to a non-agenda parent mixer to enjoy good food, drink and the company of others at the same grade level this coming Friday from 6-7:30 p.m. in Nicholas Commons on the Linda Vista campus.
Gently-Used Sports Apparel Drive
Time to clean out those sports closets...
This June, Upper School students will be traveling to South Africa, eventually working with children in schools there. We've learned that there is a real scarcity of sports apparel (e.g., sports jerseys, shorts, cleats, sweatshirts), so the student council is sponsoring a gently-used sports apparel drive this week (April 25-29) to support our Upper School students in their journey and mission. Any clothing (and sports shoes) in good condition will be gratefully accepted. Tables will be set up next to the office doors. Thanks for helping us out during Kindness Week!
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.