Lucille M. Nixon School
from the principal
May 31, 2021
Dear Nixon Families,
I write this final newsletter to you filled with gratitude and pride for all that we have accomplished together this year. It was possible, in part, because of what was in place at the onset of the pandemic. We are part of a school district that has resources, and decisions were made quickly to deploy these resources in response to the needs of the situation. Nixon has an active, committed community of families. You responded thoughtfully and generously to this crisis. We have a deeply knowledgeable and dedicated staff. Teachers faced each shift in expectations for how they were to teach and which students they were to teach with exemplary effort, perseverance and creativity through all the variety of challenges that arose. Succeeding with your children has been their motivation and their reward. Our classified staff – the office team, our custodial team, classroom aides, special education aides, lunch servers and supervisors have been flexible beyond anything we had the right to ask for. They have taken on new responsibilities, given more of their time than was compensated, contributed in essential ways to the problem solving needed to make this school year work. Our school psychologist and CASSY counselor have been tireless in supporting the mental health needs that have arisen for students. We have students who are delightful human beings open to learning. They have cooperated in ways we weren’t sure they would be able, and they have supported and cared for each other. The students have grown in their mastery of academics which is, of course, our purpose. They have also witnessed and participated in a response to a life-changing, world-wide problem. Learning alongside the trusted adults in their lives that they can do what is needed to contribute to the solution of a crisis may prove to be the most important outcome of this school year in their young lives.
Retirements and Other Staffing Changes
Nixon staff Mary Blazensky, Kathleen Bianchini, Sean McDaniel, Becky Brewer and I all wish to express our deep gratitude for all of the kind words, special gifts, yummy treats, lovely flowers and touching cards showered upon us at the Drive-through Retirement Celebration on Saturday, May 22. The gift of your presence from those who organized it and those who participated meant so very much to us. Thank You!
Mary Blazensky is retiring after having taught for 26 years, eleven of these years at Nixon in PAUSD. Mrs. B has loved, loved, loved teaching 2nd grade! There has been no student in any of her classes that she has not loved to teach. She has found the unique and delightful in each child. Her close collaboration with her grade level team has supported excellent instruction for all children. Mrs. B will be enjoying her retirement in the wine country of Paso Robles, running for miles and leisurely cooking and serving her family gourmet meals!
Kathleen Bianchini has the longest tenure of any teacher at Nixon right now, having taught at Nixon for 35 years! She has taught in multiple grade levels, most recently third grade. Mrs. Bianchini’s love of the natural world has infused her teaching at all grade levels. She has enjoyed teaching about the native Ohlone people of our region, raising crayfish for science activities and encouraging the curiosity and creativity of her students. She will be able to remain connected with the teaching profession in her retirement as she supports her daughter who is becoming a teacher. She will also have more time to pursue her love of gardening.
Sean McDaniel came into teaching as a second career. He has taught for 17 years at Nixon in 5th and 3rd grades. Mr. McDaniel’s teaching has always been punctuated with his quick sense of humor. His students have enjoyed at least a few jokes in every school day! His teaching is well-planned and highly organized, and he has helped his students grow their skills of organization. Mrs. McDaniel, who teaches at Fletcher Middle School, is also retiring this year, so they will be able to enjoy this next stage in life together, with more time for their children and grandchildren. They fully expect to find new ways to use their teaching talents in the not-too-distant future because they both love it so much!
Becky Brewer has been Nixon’s school secretary for 19 years after having worked the previous nine years in several other positions in the district. She has been the welcoming face of our school, the person with the answers to many parents’ and staff member’s questions and the organizer extraordinaire keeping the principal on track with what needs to get done! Becky has most loved her role as a nurturing support to the students of Nixon, no matter what their need. She has bandaged scraped knees, calmed tears, listened to frustrations and provided the space for children who needed to take a break. Nixon’s school office has been a safe and welcoming place for everyone because she has made it so. Becky’s family will now become the beneficiaries of her many organizational skills, and her yard will become even more beautiful as she has more time to spend gardening upon retirement!
Allison Alberda, our speech pathologist, will also be leaving Nixon, but continuing her work at a school in southern California due to a family move. Fourth grade teacher, Lucy de Anda, will be taking a leave for next school year and reading specialist, Melissa Beressi, is moving to a position at El Carmelo. We are also saying good-bye to long-time Nixon special education aides Clint Fletcher and Mikala Cox who will be moving from the Bay Area. Each of these Nixon staff members have helped our school to become what it is today and we are grateful for the impact that each has made. We wish them all the best with their new adventures in life!
Nixon is very fortunate to be welcoming Lee-Ann Taylor into the role of school secretary for next year. Mrs. Taylor has been our office clerk and has already demonstrated that she is more than able to maintain the warm, welcoming style of the Nixon school office while fielding questions from all directions and organizing everything in sight! Jennifer Koepnick will join the 3rd grade team next year and Ann Kwolek will again teach 2nd grade. Nixon will also be welcoming several teachers to the staff next August who are experienced teachers within PAUSD. Elsa Chen (3rd grade) and Dara Brady (4th grade) are coming to Nixon having worked this year in the PAUSD Full Year Distance Program. Both teachers reached out to me expressing their interest in coming to Nixon based on the positive reputation of Nixon within the district. Edie Lau, coming from Ohlone, will be sharing the role of reading specialist with Sue Chakos. They all come with strong recommendations from their present and previous principals, and I anticipate that they will quickly become valued members of the Nixon team.
As shared in my previous newsletter, Nixon will be led by Ms. Amy Sheward as your new principal next year. I ask you to support in her in every way that you can. Parents, please look for the ways that you can participate in school events, serve in our PTA, on our School Site Council. It may be possible to volunteer in classrooms and the library again. Your support makes a difference for your child and every child at Nixon. Together with Ms. Sheward and the amazing staff, you will continue the tradition of joyful learning at Nixon School!
I told many of you at the retirement event that it has been my great, good fortune to have been given the opportunity to serve as principal of Lucille M. Nixon School for these last 13 years. I could not have hoped for a more supportive community, more talented and dedicated staff or more engaging, delightful students. Thank you for all of the joy! I will carry it with me for the rest of my life!
With love and appreciation,
A Few Reminders
All students continuing in PAUSD, whether at Nixon or at another PAUSD school should keep their district laptop over the summer and continue to use it next school year. If your family is leaving our school district, please return the laptop to your child’s teacher. Distance students who are leaving the district can keep the laptop through Thursday, June 3 in order to attend class on Thursday, but should plan to bring it to Nixon on Friday, June 4, between 8:30 am and 1:00 pm to turn it in. Please label the laptop with your child’s name.
The first day of the 2021-22 school year for elementary students will be Thursday, August 12, 2021. You can expect to receive email during the summer which will update you on the timing for when class lists will be posted at Nixon as well as dates for beginning of school year events. Please watch for and read these emails. I urge you to download the PAUSD app for Parent Square, available for both Android and Apple phones. Parent Square provides the opportunity to receive communication in languages other than English.
All current PAUSD families should have received an email notifying them of the need to complete the Annual Data Update process by May 21. It is important for parents to verify student information annually through this process, and ensure that your child receives their class schedule in August. Thank you for working with PAUSD to get this process completed as quickly as possible.
Final Progress Reports for this school year will become available to parents through Parent Square on Thursday, June 4 at 2:00 pm. Directions for accessing your child's progress report can be found on our Nixon website.
Thursday, June 4 is a minimum day so school gets out 10 minutes early at 1:25 pm. ;-)