What happens for children in our Lower School classrooms continues to thrill and amaze me. Program changes made over the last few years are helping the kids to think more critically, to be more adept in applying the skills they've learned, and to solve problems in many and varied ways.
However, much of the students' learning takes place beyond the classroom in an abundance of settings ranging from the informality of the playground to the serious responsibility of being Squires and representing the school in admissions events.
Over the course of the students' time with us at the Lower School, a stretch of education that might be the longest they'll ever experience, the kids are exposed to a rich array of organized and more casual events and activities that will help to shape how they interact with others and how they'll approach, consider and render decisions about the many choices they'll face.
From tentatively saying goodbye to mom and dad on the first anxious day of junior kindergarten, to participating nervously in their first dramatic production, to holding the microphone while speaking confidently to over 500 people as presidential candidates, a most miraculous transformation takes place within the nurturing walls of the Lower School campus... much of it beyond the classroom, and all of it so crucial to the development of these exceptional little people.
While defining the magic of the Lower School remains elusive, the evidence is abundant.
Chinese New Year Goodie-bag Sale
Please join us on Friday morning, January 31, to celebrate Chinese New Year and welcome the year of horse. You will also have a chance to get a goodie-bag ($3) filled with traditional Chinese New Year snacks and a good luck red envelope. The money will be used to help out a charity organization "The Storefront", San Diego's only emergency shelter program for the homeless, runaway and "street" youth, who can access the shelter with or without referral and be assured a safe place to stay.
Free Lower School SOCCER CLINIC
In an effort to create an all school Parker soccer event, we'd like to invite your child to a one day soccer clinic.
Come join the Parker varsity boys' and girls' soccer programs for a free soccer skills clinic and then stick around and celebrate Senior Night by watching the 6:00 boys' game versus divisional rival, The Pruess School.
WHERE: Francis Parker Upper School Soccer Field - 6501 Linda Vista Road San Diego, 92111
WHY: To promote school spirit and excitement for Parker soccer
WHO: All elementary ages (JK-5th grade)
COST: Free - Just please complete this google form so we get an accurate count
Athletes Saving Athletes
Remi Mooney (Class of 2015) writes:
... I am a junior this year and have volunteered to be the Francis Parker liaison for Athletes Saving Athletes... Athletes Saving Athletes (ASA) is a nonprofit organization that teaches athletes (and anyone else who is interested) how to perform CPR and other life saving techniques... In order to bridge the gap between having life saving trainers on campus as opposed to not, ASA teaches students how to not only treat injuries, but also how to spot and prevent further injuries from happening. Students CAN save lives.
...there is a fundraiser coming up on March 2nd that will help ASA continue to do all of the fantastic things that they do. There is going to be a classic walk/jogathon at Cathedral Catholic High School on their track field... At the event, they will be having free CPR teaching sessions, media coverage, and food trucks. Tickets range from $20-30, depending on when you register.
It would mean a lot to me (and to ASA!) if you would please help spread the word around your campus(es). Not only would students be supporting a great organization, but also learning life saving skills that they can use on any given day.
Where to register (copy and paste into your browser) :
This Monday morning, Mrs. Behrens and Mrs. Gray will be demonstrating more about our Singapore math program: Math in Focus. These interactive sessions have beenvery well-attended and received, and everyone is invited (you don't have to have a second-grader). The morning will give you a much better understanding of this program, and you'll leave with some new skills, well-primed to help your children.
Inter-campus Student Council Effort
The Middle and Upper School ASB representatives will join the Lower School student council this coming Tuesday in a joint meeting to discuss the creation of a Kindness Week. Later in the year, the LS student council will travel to the Linda Vista campus to finalize plans for this inaugural event.
The 3rd-4th graders will travel to Symphony Hall this coming Wednesday for a special program put on for schools by the San Diego Symphony. Over the years, the students' appreciation for music and awareness of our cultural treasures has greatly benefited from these excursions.
Exciting Events on Friday
The fifth graders will be taking on the roles of colonists this coming Friday as they dress the part and rotate through parent-designed and manned booths, activities and games typical of the Colonial period.
The senior-kindergarten students will enjoy a senior/kinder buddy lunch on the Linda Vista campus.
The Robotics' students will showcase their work for parents in the Scripps Lecture Hall beginning at 3:00 p.m.
The first graders will present the Fairytale Forest this Thursday for students and Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Szekely Auditorium for parents.
Afterschool Dance Survey
If you haven't had a chance to participate and would like to, please complete this very brief survey on the desire for an afterschool dance program:
Campus safety and security is always at the top of our list of priorities, and in support of doing the very best that we can to be prepared, the school has hired Mike Cain as Director of Risk and Asset Management, responsible for campus safety and security matters, environmental sustainability initiatives, and facility preservation and improvement projects. Mike is excited about joining the Parker family, and you can expect to see him regularly on the Lower School campus.
We'd also like to thank all of you for your great support of our accountability measures to keep track of students. The sign-out sheets, in particular, are really working well, and everyone has been very diligent in using them before children are escorted from campus.
A reminder that we practice regularly on fire, earthquake and lock-down drills to be ready for most any kind of emergency. We have a posted bell system: a series of 3 for fire, a series of 2 for earthquakes and 1 long sustained bell for lock down (finding a safe, secure, discreet place to wait until an outside threat is resolved). The students and teachers have become quite adept at carrying out the drills, and in most cases, we can evacuate (or provide cover) and account for over 500 people in under 5 minutes. After 23 years, I'm still amazed that whenever we run a lockdown drill, even at the height of one of our busiest days with students all over the campus, within seconds the place looks like a ghost town.
Please remember that, should the Lower School campus ever become unsecure, we would move the entire population to Pioneer Park, just 2 blocks to the south.
Here's hoping we're always prepared and practiced, but never pressed in the face of a real emergency.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we observe this national holiday Monday, I hope all of us take some time to consider Dr. King's message and to impress it upon the children. Fairness, tolerance and understanding reside in the heart of any just society where others are considered thoughtfully based on the content of their character.
Language and Culture Week
Language and Culture week is coming up (Feb 3rd-7th), and below you will find both the fine array of events and ways that you can become involved: happening where you can get involved and enjoy.
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 3rd. through the 6th. 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, please sign up by using our Google Doc http://tinyurl.com/k8fghmz. Please feel free to sign up for multiple classes/grade levels. If you have any questions, please contact any of the language teachers for additional information.
If you wish to have your child walk the red carpet in a cultural outfit on Friday the 7th, please sign in at:
Language and Culture Week is just around the corner (Feb. 3-7), and it is not toolate to get involved. P.E. classes have traditionally hosted local experts in various sports and other activities from around the world such as yoga, karate, cricket, and dance, This year we still have room for experts to come forward and contribute! We are gearing up for the return of yoga with Jim Kallet, an eagerly awaited return, and there are still slots left. Help us to give our students a diverse range of samplings. Join the fun and get involved!
Last week, I had the privilege of watching a short video of A Day in the Life of a Parker JK Student at the end of a presentation for prospective junior-kindergarten students' parents. I hadn't seen the production, but had witnessed some of the filming, so I was very curious to see the final cut.
I must admit that, once the video began, the unique perspective captivated me. Seeing our school and students so artfully portrayed, with the words of our own professionals narrating the many and varied activities of a junior-kindergarten day, even I had a new appreciation for the people, place and program that make Parker so special.
I turned to look at the faces of the parents in the audience, some with children in the school, most without, but all with a look of wonder at the idyllic scenes they were observing.
Admissions season has gone into overdrive, and not every scene on every day at Parker is completely blissful, but the aggregate is truly compelling and a story to which so many in our own greater community would like to contribute. And, we're certainly grateful that you have...
Spring Concert News
Our spring concert is morphing into the Spring Music Fest to be held in Crivello Hall on March 6 at 5:30-7:30 p.m. The inspiration came from our rained-out concert last year, during which we heard some amazing sound captured within the walls of the Szekely Auditorium. Following the theme, we thought we'd explore the idea of a true concert venue, and we hope to begin a tradition in March. At this point, the concert is scheduled on March 6 as follows:
5:30-6 1st/2nd grades and 3-5 chorus perform in Crivello (25 min.)
- 15-min. intermission
6:15-7:05 Band, recorders and strings perform in Crivello
- recorders and band perform (15-20 min.)
-10-min. intermission (band exits, strings enter)
- strings perform (20 min.)
Please mark your calendars! Details to follow.
Reminder to parents of 2nd & 3rd grade Showstoppers students --- You may order a DVD of the December performances by visiting www.francisparkerdvd.com
This Friday is a dress-down day, bbq and... we'll also have a bake sale in support of our Language and Culture Week activities. If the Chargers have win this Sunday, our dress-down day will have a Chargers' theme (or any other favorite sports team)... Otherwise (perish the thought), it will be a regular dress-down day.
We'd love to include your favorite baked treats in our bake sale, and the L & C organizers have created a Google sign-up link for this purpose. Enjoy creating your favorite treats, bring them this coming Friday, and enjoy the bbq when you arrive! Find out
Classroom and SpeciAL Teachers' Websites
Find out what's happening in your child's classes by searching this link to all regular and special teacher websites.
Teachers are working on report cards which will reflect the students' approach to work and achievement generally throughout this school year so far, and specifically since last reported in October conferences. The reports will be posted on Jan. 24 and mailed to parents the following week. We're also working on our first electronically-delivered report cards, planned for the end of this year.
All assessments will use the 4-point scale: 1- needs support, 2- approaching expectations, 3- meeting expectations, and 4- exceeding expectations. In most cases, students will be meeting expectations (as indicated by a "3"), demonstrated by evidence of their thorough understanding of concepts and application of the same. On rare occasions, the application of concepts will be so far beyond what is expected and deserving of a "4," indicating truly extraordinary accomplishments.
Put another way, a 100% on a series of response-to-literature assignments would merit a "3," as the student would be meeting expectations. A "4" would be given for that student who went above and beyond, not by volume of work, but by demonstration of a truly exceptional grasp and application of their learning. This fundamental shift in our assessment is changing the students' focus from simply attaining grades to diligently learning and improving.
Notes from Nurse Maggie
New Immunization Law: AB 2109—Personal Beliefs Exemptions
Starting January 2, 2014, there is a new California state law that requires a parent or guardian who wants to exempt their child from school or childcare immunization requirements to first receive information from a licensed healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of vaccinations and the risks of vaccine preventable diseases. The provider will sign a standardized form that the parent or guardian will also sign and then the form is to be turned into the school. The rationale behind the law is that unimmunized children are more likely to contract a vaccine-preventable disease and infect other children in their communities. The law identifies the following as authorized healthcare providers who can sign the form: Licensed Medical Doctors, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Naturopaths working under a licensed physician and Credentialed School Nurses (note: Nurse Maggie is a credentialed school nurse). Those students who currently have a personal exemption form on file at Parker do not need to fill out this new form. However, as students progress through school (especially students entering the 7th who need a Tdap booster), or students who are new to Parker, and wish to have a personal exemption from immunizations, must fill out this new form and have it signed by one of the aforementioned healthcare professionals. Questions? Please call: 619-717-9235 or email: email@example.com.
We'll start the new year off right with some well-earned thanks to all of our Lower School parents.
First, punctuality is on the rise! We're so grateful to have all of the students in their seats every day on time! We know that this requires superhuman effort some mornings, and we really appreciate it. Thank you.
Second, all rules were off on the last day of school in December (sugar ruled the day), but overall, we're seeing lots of healthy birthday treats. We are so pleased that so many are making the effort to support this initiative. The long-term payoff will be the health benefits our students will realize.
Third, your support of our Season of Giving was truly heartwarming. Our canned food drive fed lots of hungry San Diegans; our book drive was a tremendous success, bringing greater literacy to the Epiphany Preparatory School; and our toy drive for Rady Children's Hospital attracted 550 toys.
Thank you so much for your generosity, thoughtfulness, and care, and best wishes to all of you in 2014.
I hope you had a wonderful break! We'll begin school once again on Monday, January 6.
The second-grade parent mixer will be held this Friday, Jan. 10, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Scripps Lecture Hall. Come join other parents at this grade level for an agenda-free evening of good food, drink and company. Parents only!
Lower School Admissions
Testing for prospective JK - 4th grade students will take place this coming Saturday, Jan. 11, from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m.
Hot chocolate and Dress Down
This Friday, we'll have our first hot chocolate sale of the year ($1 per cup), and because the students exceeded their goal for the Toy Drive, we'll also have a dress-down day this Friday (by decree of the student council).
First Ban of the Year
The wearing of multiple bracelets was banned several years ago when they began to obscure children's entire arms (and become a major distraction), and... they're back! It will be announced at flagraising that wearing more than one (small) bracelet (per arm) is distracting and therefore not allowed.
Lower School Chorus
The Lower School Choral Students were a part of the televised "Songs For the Holiday Season" on KUSI television on Christmas Eve (December 24th) and throughout the day on December 25th. Congratulations to Darleen Herriman and our wonderful singers!
You might expect that I'd be jaded by the many human interactions that occur on and off our campus involving Parker people, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Last week, I had the pleasure of observing one of our newly-elected student council presidents spontaneously thanking all of the other fifth-grade candidates in front of the entire school.
I saw the sparkle in parents' eyes as Heather Gray, Sara Knox and I talked about a curriculum raising the level of students' thinking and achievement, even as we look for ways to make it better.
I watched a great turnout of parents at every grade level who were pitted (with delight) against their children in joyous games of teamball then treated to a bbq lunch and the company of friends and family.
I marveled, yet again, at the willingness of our parent volunteers to create magic moments like our book fair, and I reveled in the warmth and dedication of a wonderful faculty as we celebrated the holidays together.
Over the weekend, I (and so many other Parker people from across the years) said goodbye to two long-time friends who contributed so often to my Parker memories, and it occured to me again how fleeting is our time and how special and precious this place we call Parker.
Whatever your most special places might be, I hope you find yourselves there this holiday season in the company of dear friends and family.
Best wishes and happy new year!
Season of Giving
This week we conclude our toy drive for Rady Children's Hospital on Thursday, so there's still plently of time to brighten the holidays for those young patients. The student council will boost our collection with a trip to Toys 'R' Us on Wednesday, funded by past hot chocolate sales and this Friday's bake sale.
Friday is a dress-down day with a "holiday" purpose, so any festive colorful attire is acceptable. That afternoon beginning at 1:45 p.m., we'll gather for our annual Sing-Along in the courtyard, enjoying songs from around the world. Parents are welcome to attend and sing from songsheets.
This year, we moved conferences to October so that parents and teachers could connect much earlier to discuss the students.
Formal narrative reports covering the core classroom subjects and special teacher reports, covering all of the special classes, will be sent home in late January and June.
In between conferences and formal reporting, classroom and special teachers will be in touch with parents if students are not meeting expectations, and as necessary, requesting conferences to brainstorm strategies to help improve student performance.
Fifth-Grade Students' and Parents' Preview of the Middle School
On Jan 16th, the current current Fifth Graders will travel to the Middle School for a preliminary orientation to that campus. A week later on Jan. 23, the fifth-grade parents are invited to a parent coffee to visit Middle School. Mark your calendars, and stay tuned for more information.
Notes from Nurse Maggie
If errands, houseguests, meal planning and to-do’s seem to be overtaking your life this holiday season, try this simple tip from Dr. Andrew Weil to get your stress levels in check. It is called the 4-7-8 (Relaxing) Breath. Dr. Weil states it is simple, takes almost no time, requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere. Follow these steps:
1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count
3. Hold your breath for a count of seven
4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
5. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays against the ridge of tissue behind the upper front teeth. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. For more information, go to www.drweil.com.
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.