About UsAdmissionsAcademicsCampus LifeAthleticsAlumniParentsGiving

Lower School Blog

May 9, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #35


Dear Lower School Parents:


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 Testing


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.
We appreciate all of your help and support!

Design Showcase


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.


Variety Shows

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.

DVD Orders


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.
Thank you very much!


Lower School Menu

Menu for the week of May 9



Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday May 7 at 08:11AM
0 comments get link

May 2, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #34


Dear Lower School Parents:


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!)


Bob Gillingham


ERB Testing

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.

E-Waste Recycling


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.

Snowcone Day

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.

Adopt-a-Pet Artwork

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


DVD Orders


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.
Thank you very much!


Lower School Menu

Mission Hills Menu

Posted by ls-newsletter on Sunday May 1 at 08:29AM
0 comments get link

April 25, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue # 33


Dear Lower School Parents:


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.


Bob Gillingham


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:

  • AV Equipment
  • Batteries
    • Rechargeable (Li-ion, Ni-Cd, Ni-MH, etc)
    • Alkaline
  • Battery Back – Ups
  • Cameras (film, digital, antique, etc)
  • Cell Phones
  • Chargers and Cables/Cords (all variations)
  • Circuit Boards
  • 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
Junior Kindergarten
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 through 2:30 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!


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of April 25

Posted by ls-newsletter on Saturday April 23 at 02:34PM
0 comments get link

Aprll 18, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue #32


Dear Lower School Parents:


It did seem this year that it took our Spring Break a long time to arrive, but the surprising news is that there are only 38 days left in the 2015-16 school year.  Brace yourselves... the pace will be fast and furious, but also packed with a lot of fun and fulfillment...

For example... This coming Friday, in keeping a promise made by our first-term student council for massive amounts of win tickets collected during our Halloween Carnival , a teamball game will be held during each morning p.e. rotation. Parents and staff are encouraged to join the fun during students' regular p.e. times, and to sweeten the deal, the day will be a dress-down day with a bbq.

Welcome back!


Bob Gillingham


Black & White Ball Auction Preview

Click here for a preview of  all the amazing silent, premium and live auction items up for bid at the Black & White Ball. Bidding opens up for silent and premium items on April 24 and concludes during the Black & White Ball on May 7You can bid on and win items even if you are not attending the Ball. For  those of you not attending the Black & White Ball, you will be able to register to bid remotely on April 24 when the silent and premium auctions go live. For those of you attending the Ball, watch for an email later this week with your bid number so you can also begin bidding on April 24.  


Late Start Day


This coming Wednesday, April 20, is a late start day.  Students are welcome to be on campus as early as 7 a.m., but they may also choose to arrive as late as 8:55 a.m.  Buses will run on their normal schedule.


Town Hall Meeting


This coming Thursday, April 21, Kevin Yaley will host a Town Hall Meeting in the Considine Library from 8:30-9:30 a.m., and everyone is welcome to attend.


This Friday (Earth Day)


Just back from break, we're looking forward to a bbq and dress-down day this coming Friday.  It also happens to be Earth Day, and the student council is challenging everyone not only to save as much water as possible, but to generate as many ideas for doing that as possible.  How many can you and your children think of?

Parker Blood Drive


Whose life will you save today? Will it be your co-worker? Someone's sister, wife or child? You never know who you will save. Please donate at our blood drive.

Francis Parker School

Upper School Commons

6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA, 92111

Wednesday Apr 27, 2016
8:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Sponsor Code: FPS
Click here to make an appointment

All donors must show picture identification.

Appointments honored first. Walk-ins are welcome.

Thank you!

Program DVDs

Attention Parker Parents---4th grade parents can order a DVD of the 4th grade play “Oh California” and SK parents can order a DVD of the all of the “SK Open House” activities and performances.  Please place your order as soon as possible by visitingwww.FrancisParkerDVD.com 
Also, it’s not too late to order your DVD of the fabulous 5th Grade Environmental Plays as well.


Lower School Menu

Menu for the Week of April 18


Posted by ls-newsletter on Sunday April 17 at 11:15AM
0 comments get link

April 4, 2016; Vol. #25, Issue # 31


Dear Lower School Parents:


Many thanks to the army of parents (and our very own staff) who helped to make Language and Culture Week such a success.  Under the skillful guidance of Lower School VPs Noelle Ludwig and Julie Turner, and especially L&C chairs Romina Kelly and Camille Dunbar, we all enjoyed fabulous presentations from so many parents, grandparents and friends; joyous opening and closing ceremonies featuring countries and cultures from around the world; musical performances in multiple languages; a great fashion show; and an unbelievably bounteous array of food from so many different countries. Most importantly, there was a great feeling of family as so many people came together in mutual appreciation.

Also, as if to test both our family mettle and appreciation of water, the city let us know that our water would be turned off last Tuesday. We prepared, we communicated, we problem-solved and ultimately, the water was never turned off.  Nevertheless, we learned some important lessons about our community, its positive resilience, and its amazing ability to eat pizza... 1,500 slices in 90 minutes! 

The week proved another reason that I and so many others are grateful to be members of the Parker Community, where all of us can learn and grow.


Bob Gillingham


SK and 5th-Grade DVDs

Attention Parker Parents--- don’t forget to order your DVD of the fabulous 5th Grade Environmental Plays and SK parents can now order a DVD of the all of the SK Open House activities and performances.  Please place your order as soon as possible by visiting www.FrancisParkerDVD.com
Thank you very much!

Fourth-Grade Play

The fourth-grade play, "Oh, California," will be performed in the Szekely Auditorium this coming Friday morning for students and Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for parents.

What You Miss After Your Child Learns to Read

Long-awaited milestone may subtly shift family dynamics, bedtime rituals; no more spelling ‘ice cream’

Annalee Svoboda, 7, cracked the code around Thanksgiving. Before then, she would sit on the couch next to her mom, struggling to sound out every T, H and E of the word “the.” Her mother, Andrea, described the process as “painful.”

Then one day, it clicked. Annalee read on her own. She started bringing home from school small chapter books, with characters and stories. At bedtime, she said good night and settled under the covers on her own with her favorite “Elephant and Piggie” series book.

“Part of me likes their independence. We can say ‘OK, it’s time for bed. If you can’t sleep, read for a half-hour,’ ” says Ms. Svoboda, of both Annalee and her older brother Adam, 9. “Part of me misses the snuggling up and being able to cuddle and read.”

The day a child learns to read independently is among the most anticipated and important childhood milestones. Parents who have been reading aloud to a child since birth, and sometimes before, have been eagerly waiting to see him or her develop the confidence and understanding to read on their own. When that moment finally arrives, however, many parents are caught off guard, and feel a little melancholic. Rituals change as their children’s horizons broaden.

Most children can read independently, if slowly, by the end of first grade. Once they do, many parents quit reading to them. Nearly one in four parents of children ages 6 to 17 stopped reading out loud to their children before they were 9, saying their child was old enough to do so independently, according to Scholastic Corp.’s Kids & Family Reading Report, released in 2015.

The survey, of 2,558 parents and children, found many children wished the parents hadn’t stopped. Eight in 10 children ages 6 to 17 said they loved or liked being read aloud to because it is a special time together with their parents. Among children ages 6 to 11, 40% wished their parents would continue.

“There is nothing a child of any age wants more than a parent’s total attention,” says Mary Brigid Barrett, founder and president of the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance in Wayland, Mass. She read to her three grown children until they were teens, sharing the adventures of Harry Potter.

Once children can read, they begin picking books that interest them on their own. Sergio Ruzzier, an author and illustrator of young children’s books, struggled to read as a child and preferred comic strips and picture books. He remembers being embarrassed when a bookstore salesman told him and his mother that Sergio, then about 6, was too old for a picture book he requested. His mother, he recalls gratefully, bought the book. “There are so many reasons why a child might like a book,” he says.

The Svobodas, Andrea and Nathan, have fond memories of their parents reading to them as children. Ms. Svoboda recalls books from her childhood, such as the “Grandma’s Attic” series, about a grandmother who has many treasures in her attic, each with a story. “I remember sitting for hours and listening to my mom read those books,” she says. Mr. Svoboda, home-schooled by his mother, remembers her reading the entire “Little House on the Prairie” series out loud.

They began reading early to all of their children, starting with Adam. Ms. Svoboda went to garage sales, bought books by the boxful and loaded up the bookshelf in their basement. They covered Adam’s walls with murals from “Fidgety Fish” and “The Little Engine That Could,” his two favorite books, and savored the special one-on-one time, book in lap, son at side, together turning pages filled with whimsical images and words.

She took him to the library frequently. “With the first, you go to the library all the time. You’re desperate to get out of the house. It’s free and there are other mothers there with cranky children,” she says. She did that less with Annalee and even less with her youngest, Reesa.

When it came time for Adam to learn to read, he preferred sitting with his mom and taking turns–she read a page and then he did. At the beginning of second grade, when he realized he could read 90% of “Diary of A Wimpy Kid” on his own without stopping to ask what certain words meant, he took off, reading all types of books.

One of his favorites, “The World Encyclopedia of Locomotives,” inspired a book of his own, consisting of 21 loose-leaf pages with pencil drawings of trains and locomotives. “I’ve been working on it since the beginning of school,” he says.

His dad smiles. As a boy, he recalls, he would stretch out in his top bunk, a small night light on his bed, and read the “Hardy Boys” series, along with a collection of 30 nonfiction paperbacks on obscure subjects like Rasputin. “I remember reading a lot as a kid, and I’m excited that he enjoys it,” he says.

Wanting to be like her brother, Annalee picked books that were above her reading level, says her mom, which was frustrating for everyone. “When I had to learn to read the words, it seemed really hard, but it ended up being easier and got funner,” Annalee says. She loves Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie characters and her “Big Picture Story Bible.” Annalee knows the stories, but never tires of it. “I go back to read it again because I can’t keep all those words in my head,” she says.

Her new skill makes her feel big. “Say I want to read this book,” she says, picking up “I Love My New Toy” from the dining room table. “I can do it. I’m not a little kid.” If friends have trouble reading the instructions in math, she says she can help them.

Life for their parents has changed, too, in unexpected ways. They find themselves spelling “ice cream” and “movies” faster, hoping Annalee can’t keep up and figure out the surprise. Driving along highways, Ms. Svoboda cringes at billboards with ads for adult bookstores. Mr. Svoboda no longer has to read prompts like “Press A to jump” on their videogames.

Annalee can play word bingo without help and read a silly book about belly buttons to her little sister, Reesa, 3, mixing exaggerated tones and whispers to make Reesa laugh.

The Svobodas now let their children pick out their own books, but often read through them, too, and talk to their children when some characters aren’t respectful and are mean to siblings. “As much as I would love to have them snuggle on the couch with me forever, for them to grow and mature, they need to be independent,” Ms. Svoboda says.

Though Adam and Annalee love reading on their own, they turn to their parents for special books and at special times. Their parents, they say, read with more feeling and can make the story come alive. “When I read, I’m just reading silently in my brain. I can’t hear myself use expression,” says Adam.

He disappears and returns with “The Book with No Pictures,” by B.J. Novak, and hands it to his dad. “Daddy, I want you to read this book,” he says. “You have to read every word. Make sure you do the last page. That’s my favorite.”

Mr. Svoboda begins. “Kids know this is a book that makes grown-ups have to say silly things and make silly sounds,” he reads. Annalee, Adam and Reesa lean toward their dad, their gaze fixed on him. Although they have heard it countless times, they burst out laughing when their dad says “Blaggity blaggity” and “Glibbity globbity.”

After especially long days, when it is time to go to bed, Annalee and Adam ask their parents to read out loud. “I just don’t feel like reading but want to have a story read to me,” says Adam. “I kind of like being close. It’s easier to fall asleep.”


Lower School Menu


Posted by ls-newsletter on Friday April 1 at 04:27PM
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

© 2015 Francis Parker School
Mission Hills Campus
Lower School
4201 Randolph Street
San Diego, CA 92103
619 / 298-9110
Linda Vista Campus
Middle/Upper School
6501 Linda Vista Road
San Diego, CA 92111
858 / 569-7900
Follow us on social media:

email page print page small type large type
powered by finalsite