The countless hours our teachers spend supporting and motivating our students create in the teachers' minds certain understandings about the boys and girls they teach. In the waning days of the school year, it can be difficult to change one's perspectives, constructed as they are over hundreds of hours of daily contact in the classroom.
Imagine our delight, then, when on our first trip to Pali Mountain with the fifth graders years ago, they changed many of our assumptions in the course of just 3 days. In one memorable experience, a child who had always shied away from physical activity bravely climbed ropes to ascend to a target he had been challenged to touch. Every one of his classmates and teachers was caught up in the drama, and they collectively abandoned what they were doing to cheer him on his quest. For him, and all of us, the moment was truly transformative.
The story has played out in many different ways over the years through individual and group accomplishment, and it just may again this week when our oldest Lower School students leave to experience one of their last traditions as elementary school students.
For us, these last moments of the school year are certainly bittersweet. We've thoroughly enjoyed our time with these fine boys and girls, and we'll be sad to see them go. However, we know that an even bigger transformation is just around the corner for all of them, and if history is any teacher, we can't begin to imagine the many, varied and exciting paths they'll travel.
The fifth graders leave for Pali Mountain in San Bernardino this Wednesday. They'll be staying for two nights in a beautiful forest campground where they'll engage in hands-on science activities, hiking, challenging ropes courses, campfire activities and just plain fun in the wilderness.
The third grade will present their Greek plays this Friday in the Szekely Auditorium in the morning for students and in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for parents. Refreshments and a Greek pottery display will follow the parent performance in the courtyard.
Lower School Parent Volunteer Breakfast
We are immensely grateful to our Lower School volunteers, and we'd like to invite all of them to a thankyou breakfast this Friday from 7:30-9:30 a.m. in the Scripps Lecture Hall.
Memorial Day Weekend
This coming weekend is a three-day weekend in honor of Memorial Day and those who have honorably served this country. Have a wonderful, relaxing long weekend! See you on Tuesday, May 28th
Please don’t forget - If you would like a DVD video of the 4th and 5th grade Showstoppers plays from May 9th, you may order your copy by either calling 619-488-1797 or online at www.francisparkerdvd.com
Ipad Information for Parents of Rising 6th graders
It seems like just yesterday that we were right in the middle of the school year, and suddenly, there are only 23 days left! What had been a very long stretch from our spring break to the end of the year is rapidly closing in on the finish line, but there are still a lot of precious moments yet to be experienced.
One such experience happened to me on Friday. Following the impassioned entreaties of one of our past student council presidents to help him fulfill his snow cone promise to the students, I found myself staring at a tiny, blue snowcone machine that seemed wholly inadequate to the 500-snow-cone task that lay before it (the rental picture had made it look much more substantial). I was already mentally calculating how I was going to explain its failings to the students who didn't get snowcones when, with a final sigh, we plugged it in, loaded it with ice cubes, and it began to spew snow... in surprisingly large quantities.
Soon, I was surrounded by delighted student council volunteer snow-cone makers, as well as Sara Knox and Heather Gray... all of us learning the art and science of creating the perfect snow cone assembly line, and certainly the first at the Lower School.
It occured to me at some point (probably when I was figuring out how to hold a snowcone, pour juice on it, collect money, answer a question (or two), and not step on any children) that the kind of whole-hearted engagement, responsibility, learning and leadership I was seeing in the many children who were helping was exactly what we're beginning to see with increasing frequency in all of our classrooms through project-based learning. And, the fact that we were in the very same courtyard where this same kind of hands-on learning happened 100 years ago made me smile... at least until an ambitious student's whole-hearted pull on the arm of the snowcone machine rocketed snow at my face!
This Tuesday, our 1st-3rd grade science fair will be held in the Gooding Courtyard (library patio) from 8:15-9:15 a.m. On Wednesday, the 4th and 5th graders will feature all of their investigations and discoveries, also from 8:15 to 9:15 a.m. Come on out and see what our young scientists have been thinking and hypothesizing... you'll be amazed and delighted!
New Family Gathering
There will be a new family gathering and ice-cream social this Thursday at 3:15 in the Gooding Courtyard for families joining us for the 2013-14 school year.
Girls' and Boys' Science
This Thursday marks the last meetings of girls' and boys' science, both convening at 3:30 p.m. Many thanks to our volunteer Upper School students, teachers, staff and parents for making these opportunities available for our students.
Boys Science Club will be taking a field tripto the Upper Schoolto visit the Robotics Workshopon Thursday (this is inlieu of our regular meeting in the Lab). Please contact Kerri Gutekunst atKerri@gutekunst.com toobtain a consent form and for further details.As a note, this will be theclub’sfinal meetingfor the school year. We will resume the club-open to any Third, Fourth or Fifth Grade boy-in the Fall.
This Friday will feature:
• Bike to Work/School day (see more information in the next section below)
• A faculty-staff/student teamball game (held during the students' p.e. classes in the morning)
• A dress-down day (with a sporting spirit) to accommodate all of the above activity
• "Kids and Skids" assemblies in the afternoon conducted by Officer Tim Zetterlund, our SDPD safety patrol advisor.
Street Safety Week
Street Safety Week takes place on the Lower School campus this week. The 5th Grade Girl Scout Troop, for their Bronze Award project, is promoting safe bicycling and walking. Activities include a Skids and Kids assembly with SDPD, video/ quiz in ethics classes, poster contest and a take home flyer for you to review with your child (special prizes if they bring it back signed). This is a great opportunity to reinforce street safety information.Please join us on Friday for Bike to School Day (leaving from Presidio Park at 7:40AM-drive to the park) or if easier, Walk to School (leaving from the LS at 7:45AM on a round trip journey). Look for more information coming home in your Monday envelopes.
Story Laboratory - Reading Gives You Super Power!
The Spring Scholastic Book Fair is heading our way. Please mark your calendars for May 29th-31st as our Scripps Lecture Hall will be transformed to our very own Story Laboratory.
Please help unleash the power of reading this summer by visiting the fair at the hours listed below.
Wednesday, May 29th - 7:30am - 5pm
Thursday, May 30th - 7:30am - 5pm
Friday, May 31st - 7:30am - 1pm
If you would like to volunteer, please click on the link below or email Jennifer Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The faculty began their professional development day last Monday in Crivello Hall (on the Linda Vista campus) focusing on the notion that, while we're doing a fine job moving our students through 14 grade levels and we have much to be proud of, we can always improve. Head of School, Kevin Yaley, underscored this message by citing many of this year's successes in the arts, athletics and academics, but also reminding everyone in attendance that "... excellence is a way of being, not a destination."
From all indications, the faculty and staff have embraced this philosophy in both thought and deed. Working together last Monday, they explored new technologies, new teaching strategies, and better ways of communicating and collaborating for the benefit of our students. Collectively, they understand that in order to help our students grow and thrive in an increasingly complex imformation age, they also need to be learners.
Critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration, often termed "21st-century skills," are changing the ways we educate students and ourselves, and Parker will make sure that our students are well-prepared. This educational journey will be an exciting one, with the only limitations being "... as far as the (our) mind(s) can see."
On behalf of the faculty and staff, I'd like to thank all of you for a most wonderful week of good wishes, flowers, cards, coffee drinks, and remarkably-good food... Lower School VP's Erik Keskinen and Kate Smith and an army of parents made our Lower School employees feel like Kings and Queens all week, and we are all most appreciative.
Third, fourth and fifth graders will be engaged in standardized testing this week and perhaps the following Monday. These nationally-normed tests give us information about the progress of individual students and grade levels, helping us to shape our curriculum and instruction to advance everyone. Homework loads will be greatly reduced, and we ask that students are well-rested and fed, giving them every chance to demonstrate their true achievement.
Dress-down Day, Lemonade and Possible SnowCone Sale
As a special treat, following many weeks of healthier agua fresca (water with actual fruit for flavoring), the students will carry out the trimester 1 and 2 presidents' promises of lemonade and snowcone sales (pending location of a machine) this Friday at the BBQ. All items (lemonade or snowcones) will be one dollar, and funds raised will be donated to charities identified by the student council.
The day will also be a dress-down day, and our fifth graders will be invited to enjoy carne asada, along with their parents and teachers.
This Wednesday, the Showstoppers production will be presented to the afterschool students at 4 p.m. Students must have parent permission (in the form of a permission slip) to attend. On Thursday, the same production will be performed for parents.
FPN (Francis Parker (Video) News)
Click here to see the 3rd edition of the 5th-grade-produced FPN featuring an interview with Mr. Heilman.
Notes from Nurse Maggie...
Nurse Maggie says: Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel of a mole. Most melanomas have a black or black-blue area. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole that may be black, abnormal, or “ugly looking”.
Parker is fortunate to have Dr. Edward McClay, MD, presenting an important and informative talk on sun-safe practices and how to protect children from the dangers of melanoma Please plan to attend this very important discussion on Thursday, May 9th at Crivello Hall. Refreshments are at 6:00p.m. with the talk starting at 6:30p.m. Please invite friends and family to attend this event!
Thoughts to Ponder
Following is a great (albeit long) article on parenting that should be a "must read" for all moms and dads:
Thank you for your overwhelming support of our Movie Night, the Lower School faculty's contribution to this year's Gala. Despite a few audio glitches (chalk them up to joyous children dancing en masse in front of the 32 foot screen on the sound cables), everyone had a great time.
I've resisted the suggestions to organize the afternoon and early evening time, mostly because this event is so reminiscent of the old drive-in movie days where children are running around having a great time creating their own fun waiting for the sun to set. True to form, as soon as it became dark and the movie began, the activity level went from wild to captivated... it never fails.
While everyone was having fun on the playground, some of our selfless parent volunteers were stealthily transforming the courtyard area in a tribute to teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. And, some of those same individuals, and many others who accompanied their children to the movie, also appeared Saturday morning in Liberty Station to participate in the MS Walk to support the fight against this disease and those affected by it, especially in our own community. Parker had nearly 70 people there, and I believe we won the "spirit" award (probably because of the day-glo visors designed by Margo Sharpe!).
As always, we are both amazed by and grateful for your support.
No School Monday
This Monday is a professional growth day for our faculty and staff, and there won't be any school for students. We'll see you Tuesday.
Second-Grade Math Morning
If you're still curious about how Singapore Math is taught in our primary levels, come on by this Tuesday morning for a look at how it works in our second-grade program. This hands-on interactive presentation will leave you feeling very confident about our program and your own ability to help your kids at home.
Boys' Science and Girls' Science
Both boys' and girls' science afterschool classes meet this week, boys in Mr. Heilman's room and girls in Mrs. Imbimbo's room at 3:30 p.m. this Thursday.
This Friday from 8:20 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in the Scripps Lecture Hall, former fifth-grade parents and students will address current fifth-grade parents to share their insights and to answer questions about the transition to the Middle School and beyond. This format was very well-received the first time it was offered, and you simply don't want to miss the pearls of wisdom these veteran Parker parents and students will share. Come on by, learn and enjoy!
Though Francis Parker didn't live long enough to see the manifestation of his educational dreams in a school bearing his name, his influence lives on... now more than ever. Curiously, after almost 100 years, the more sophisticated our educational tools and the more innovative our educational strategies, the closer we return to our experiential, progressive roots where children are thoroughly engaged in work that matters.
It was my pleasure today to see boys and girls in p.e. classes flying around the playground, challenging themselves to improve their physical fitness. On a visit to the kindergarten, I was surrounded by excited students, all of whom wanted to tell me (simultaneously) what they had learned and written about snails in their "snail circus." Popping in to a Spanish class, the students were narrating (with impeccable Spanish pronunciation) ipad movies they had made about a range of animals. Second-grade students and their teachers had captured the library amphitheatre for a mock trial of characters in Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs, and one of our fifth-grade classes was preparing to leave for an overnight journey aboard the Surprise, role playing sailors serving during the Revolutionary War.
Later in the week, the fourth graders presented Oh, California, an historical interpretation of the settling of this glorious state, and our senior kindergarteners were off flying kites, forging lasting connections with their senior buddies. After school, students were able to extend their hands-on learning by engaging in a range of activities and learning adventures supported by so many volunteer parents and teachers including science, math, Lego and robotics clubs, theatrical experiences, musical and sports lessons, and even botanical adventures.
I love to describe my perspectives on the Parker journey when I'm meeting with groups of parents, sometimes as an educator and sometimes as a father (and, perhaps as a grandfather one day) but common to both is the observation that Parker students develop so many interests and they become truly interesting as the result of the many exposures afforded them at and away from school.
The latest iteration of our mission statement suggests the notion that our students will be well-equipped to deal with the challenges and opportunities that await them, post-Parker, and that the fact of their being will make the world a better place... I really love this idea, particularly because for us it's an attainable goal, and I can only imagine the Col. Parker would have loved it, too.
One More Outage...
Time Warner will be performing the final part of the upgrade for the Lower School on Monday, April 22 at 4 PM. They are calling it "maintenance" as it will only require about 15 minutes of down time. From approximately 4:00 to 4:15 there will be no internet or phone service. This is for the Lower School only. If you need to reach the school during this time, please feel free to call Bob Gillingham's cell phone at 619-318-9978.
Les Miserables Update...
It would appear that all of the Lower School students participating in the production of Les Miserables will be performing on:
June 7th, 7pm June 8th, 2pm June 9th, 2pm June 14th, 7pm June 20th, 7pm June 21st, 7pm
E-Waste Collection Opportunity at the Lower School
In support of Earth Day/Week and in partnership with USD, the Lower School branch of the Kids EcoClub will be gathering e-waste this Wednesday in front of the Lower School. Smaller e-waste donations will be collected along the drop-off sidewalk in front of the school on Randolph Street. Larger items will be directed for drop-off at the end of the block, by the library entrance.
Some of the items you can bring are listed below:
- All appliances including dishwashers, ovens, stoves, microwaves, etc.
- TVs: Big boxy ones and flat screens
- All computer-related parts
- Vacuums, garden tools, and old exercise equipment
- Cell phones and any type of pda or tablet
- DVD/VHS players and any audio/visual equipment
- Printers, fax machines, copy machines, scanners
- Gaming consoles (and any games, cd's, floppy disks, etc.
- Any wireless equipment
Things you can't bring include:
- Tires, paint, light bulbs, and alkaline batteries (lead batteries, car batteries or cell phone batteries are fine)
Francis Parker (Video) News
A few of our fifth graders have taken the next step in Lower School journalism, creating an electronic version of the weekly news. Take a look at this 98 second clip, and you'll get a sense of how quickly (and effectlvely) the technological age is permeating our curriculum:
This Friday is PJ Day and Movie Night. Students are invited to wear their PJs to school on Friday, stay after school, enjoy a bbq at 6 p.m., then to kick back with all of their teachers and many of the staff to watch The Lorax on a giant screen on the playground. It would appear that the movie will begin at 7:45 p.m. (when it's dark enough to see it) and end at 9:15 p.m.
Parents looking for a "date night" are welcome to leave their children at school where they will be well-cared-for throughout the afternoon and evening. However, parents and extra siblings are also welcome to join us. Chairs, blankets, coats, etc., needed for the movie viewing (from our location on the playground turf) may be brought to school early in the day and will be stored along the fence until movie time.
It's not too late to sign up, and it looks like it's going to be a big, happy audience! Hope to see you there!
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.