September 19, 2014

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Parents who have items to contribute to Backpack Notes: Submissions are due Saturday at midnight for publication the following Friday. Send items to

Parent Handbook 2014-2015

Each year the Parent Handbook is reviewed and revised to reflect updated policies and procedures. We encourage returning parents and new parents alike to become familiar with the handbook.

Media Release Forms Due

If you have not submitted a media release form for your child, please submit it right away. These forms are separate from the research consent forms. Download the form from the Parents Page, or click:

Childcare Cancellation

We are sorry to announce that childcare will not be available on the following Pupil Free Days on Wednesday, Nov. 26, and Monday, Jan. 5.

Please make alternative arrangements for these two days. We will have childcare for all the other Pupil Free Days posted. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this change may cause. Payments received will be refunded or transferred to your tuition account as a credit -- contact Sara Hernandez in the Financial Services Office, 310-206-1135 or

Instrumental Music Classes

Our instrumental music program begins the week of September 29. We still have a few open spots for flute, clarinet, sax and trumpet. To register, please visit:

Community Party Book

The UCLA Lab School Community Party Book is coming soon! This will be an opportunity to attend social gatherings hosted by UCLA Lab School families. Kids, grown-ups, alumni and families in our community will be able to share interests and have fun while raising money to support the Fall Carnival. Look for more information in the coming weeks. If you have questions, please contact Lisa Smelkinson ( or Kimi Bui (

Family School Alliance (FSA)

The FSA is YOUR link to the school. All are welcome to our monthly meetings, usually the first Wednesday of the month, always 8:30-9:30 a.m. in the Conference Room. Find out about all the wonderful activities happening this year and how you can join the fun and participate! A full description of volunteer opportunities can be found by clicking 2014-2015 Events & Activities on the Parents Page.

Online FSA Contributions and Orders

The FSA has launched online orders! Access the system via the link on the Parents Page, or directly at the website: Purchase yearbooks and DVDs, and make your annual FSA contribution online (suggested amount $25 per child).

"Do Nothing" Fundraising - Support Our School While You Shop

Every time you shop at, Ralphs or Target, a percentage of what you spend can go directly to supporting our school! Last year the FSA received $2,600 from and $1,500 from Ralphs, and this with only a small percentage of our families enrolled.

- - Just go to the Parents Page and click on the logo before you shop. Bookmark the link and use it whenever placing an order. Those making business orders, please note!

- Ralphs – Link your Ralphs Rewards Card to UCLA Lab School. Existing members must re-enroll every September. Go to for details.

- Target – Link and use a Target credit card and you’ll send 1% back to the school plus save 5% on all purchases, every time you shop.

Next Two Weeks

Events are also listed on the Parents Page Calendar:

(Username: parent; Password: @labschool)

Monday, Sept. 22: Coffee and Conversation with Laurine DiRocco

8:20 - 9:30 a.m. (Conference Room)

Information: 310-306-5119 or

Tuesday, Sept. 23: Middle School Night

6:00 - 7:30 p.m. (Gregg G. Juárez Community Hall)

This is an important meeting for parents whose children will be entering middle school next year. Information about how to prepare for middle school admissions will be thoroughly explained and demystified. Child care is available. For reservations, go to or contact Sylvia Vallejo at 310-825-1557 or

Thursday, Sept. 25: Pupil Free Day

Students have the day off. Child care is available for those who sign up in advance.

Friday, Sept. 26: Yearbook Committee Meeting

8:15 - 9:15 a.m. (Conference Room)

The yearbook is one of the best ways to frame the precious memories of our kids at UCLA Lab School. We need YOUR help to make that happen! Please come to this meeting if you are interested in being a photographer for your room or at all-school events. We will also discuss the responsibility of the yearbook committee coordinator in each rom and share with you some tips to make the kids shine in our yearbook photos. If you have questions, please contact Jane Chang at:

Monday, Sept. 29 - Wednesday, Oct. 1: Upper II to CIMI

Upper II takes a 3-day field trip to Catalina Island Marine Institute in support of their science curriculum

Wednesday, Oct. 1: FSA Meeting

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. (Conference Room)

All are welcome!

Wednesday, Oct. 1 and Thursday, Oct. 2: Picture Days

Thursday, Oct. 2: Coffee & Conversation with Laurine DiRocco

8:20 - 9:30 a.m. (Conference Room)

Save the Date

Monday, Oct. 6: Coffee & Conversation with Laurine DiRocco

8:20 - 9:30 a.m. (Conference Room)

Thursday, Oct. 9: Cool Tools Workshop - An Introduction for New Parents

8:30 - 9:45 a.m. (Gregg G. Juárez Community Hall)

Safe School Coordinator Laurie Ramirez will talk with new parents about the language and process of Cool Tools.

Monday, Oct. 13: Coffee & Conversation with Laurine DiRocco

8:20 - 9:30 a.m. (Conference Room)

Monday, Oct. 13: ISEE Review for Upper II Students Begins

3:00 – 5:00 p.m. (Rooms 3 & 4)

Upper II students who sign up can attend these literacy and math classes in preparation for the ISEE.

Tuesday, Oct. 14: Safe School Workshop – Solving Problems With Students

8:30 - 9:45 a.m. (Gregg G. Juárez Community Hall)

For all parents. Safe School Coordinator Laurie Ramirez will talk with parents about the mediation process and Sort-It-Out policies.

Oct. 15: Parent and Principal Circle

8:15 – 9:30 a.m. (Conference Room)

Principal Norma Silva will meet with parents to check in on school issues, news and events. Also: Nov. 19, Jan. 14, Feb. 18, April 8, May 20

Friday - Sunday, Oct. 17 - 19: Community Camping Weekend

KOA Ventura Ranch in Santa Paula


Monday, Oct. 27: Tea & Transitions

8:30 - 9:30 a.m (Conference Room)

Join Laurine DiRocco, former demonstration teacher, and Laurie Ramirez, Safe School specialist, for a discussion on issues of interest regarding your child’s transition to middle school. The discussion will be geared to parents of children in Upper I and Upper II, but all parents are welcome to attend. This is a special time to come together as your child moves on from the UCLA Lab School environment to the new environment of middle school. Also: Nov. 3, Nov. 20, Apr. 6, Apr. 16, May 11, June 4

Wednesday, Oct. 29: LTL Padres en plática con la directora

8:30 - 9:30 a.m. (Conference Room)

Join Principal Norma Silva for a discussion regarding the LTL program.

Also: Feb. 11, May 27

Sunday, Nov. 16: Fall Carnival

11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Blacktop Playground)

Bring the whole family for a day of fun and games! Activities: Games and Prizes, Inflatables, Gear Store, Entertainment and much, much more!

Good To Know

Parents Page Offers Helpful Resources

Check out the Parents Page for information on school policies, a calendar of events, FSA projects, and more. A recent post is the PE Philosophy and Content Standards:

(Username: parent; Password: @labschool)

Meet Our New Faculty and Staff

Shelley Brown, Director of Finance and Operations

In this newly created position, Shelley oversees budget and financial management as well as administrative operations for our school. She brings extensive knowledge in navigating the world of financing at UCLA. Most recently she was Chief Financial Officer for the UCLA Police Department, where she managed the department’s $15 million operating budget and human resources for 106 full-time employees. Before that she was Executive Officer for UCLA Corporate Financial Services for 11 years. In that position she managed the administrative and clerical operations for the Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor/Controller; she participated in the strategic planning process; and she created and implemented incentive and morale-boosting programs to increase employee satisfaction and productivity.

Shanna Cohen, Physical Education Demonstration Teacher

Shanna has been teaching Physical Education and Health for over seven years to children and teens ages 3-18. Before joining UCLA Lab School, she taught PE and health at a middle school near downtown Los Angeles. Shanna is passionate about fitness, health and sports and says she makes them an integral part of her personal routines. Her passion as a teacher is helping students build confidence and seeing each one grow into a strong and independent person. Shanna received her master’s degree, with honors, in cross-cultural education. This year she looks forward to working with John Wooden's Pyramid of Success and teaching students the fundamentals of sports and fitness as well as how they can implement the principles of the Pyramid in their own lives.

Teresa Gomez, LTL Early Childhood II Demonstration Teacher

Teresa joins ECII and the LTL program after teaching at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Burlington for 8 years in both Kindergarten and first grade. She has a bachelor's degree in social work from CSULB, and earned her master's degree in urban education at UCLA. She has presented best practices in both Readers and Writers Workshop at the California Association of Bilingual Educators National Conference, as well as the Camino Nuevo Annual Success Conference. In 2013, she was chosen Colleague of the Year for the Camino Nuevo Burlington campus. She says she enjoys teaching young children because the world is so full of wonder for them, and she enjoys facilitating their process of discovery. She says this year she is eager to get to know students and families and learn more about the UCLA Lab School community. Teresa and her husband, Ernesto, have three children – Sofia (9), Benjamin(6) and Vincent (3) - and enjoy taking family road trips with them.

Renata Gusmão–Garcia Williams, Assistant Principal

Renata has learned and taught in two states, three continents and four countries. An educator for the past 19 years, she has taught children from pre-school through fifth grade as a classroom teacher, a reading specialist and an English language development coach. Her passion is focused on researching and developing a reflective feedback system for teachers. She would like to see schools use a system of assessment that carefully celebrates what teachers do well and guides them to reflect on what needs work. Renata is a National Board Certified Teacher. She has a master's degree in educational leadership and a bachelor's in dramatic arts. She says that this year and many to come will be an adventure in supporting, guiding and participating in UCLA Lab School's leading edge mission.

Jane Parkes, Early Childhood Inquiry Support Teacher

Jane joins the Early Childhood team after receiving her masters degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank Street College in New York. In her new role she is working with EC I teachers and directly with the 4-year-olds in inquiry in science and social studies. She is also supporting the EC II classrooms in the afternoons with documentation. Previously, Jane worked as a teaching assistant in EC for two years to gain practical experience before going to Bank Street. During her student teaching practicum, Jane worked in a variety of New York City schools and with children of different ages ranging from Pre-K to fourth grade. With deep experience in progressive early childhood education, Jane listens to children’s ideas and will work collaboratively to plan an emergent curriculum that fosters the five C’s — creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and community. Jane received her B.A. in literature from Yale University in 2010 and is a UCLA Lab School alumna (‘00). She credits the Lab School for fostering her love of learning and passion for education and says she could not be more excited to be back.

Kelly Peters, Primary Demonstration Teacher

Kelly has taught for four years at both the kindergarten level and with older children. Most recently, she taught transitional kindergarten at Para los Niños Charter School in Downtown Los Angeles. Kelly became interested in becoming an educator because she believes children are capable people who have full rights as humans, and they should be given opportunities to participate in decisions about matters that affect them. She says progressive education aligns well with her desire to be an advocate for children and social justice. Also a believer that family relationships are essential to quality education, she says she looks forward to building community with families in the Primary level. Kelly enjoys traveling and spending time with her family. This summer she became an aunt and spent several weeks in the Bay Area visiting her sisters, her brother-in-law, and her tiny niece.

Kelly Serrano, LTL Intermediate Demonstration Teacher

Born and raised in Ecuador, South America, Kelly moved to the United States when she was 18. After earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration and working for a Fortune 500 company for three years, she realized that teaching was what she was really meant to do. “I truly wanted a meaningful career where I could not only influence children academically, but also as individuals,” Kelly says. She then earned a teaching credential at Florida International University and her master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. That background, plus 7 years teaching at an arts based school and later at a dual language charter school, led to her understanding that teachers need to value students’ perspectives and students should be at the center of all teaching objectives. Kelly’s passion for education inspired her to start her own blog where she shares her experiences as a dual-language teacher. She is also a freelance writer with regular contributions to other parenting/educational blogs. When she's not teaching or writing Kelly enjoys spending time with her family and her dogs (Sharky and Rokki), traveling, learning about other cultures and cooking.

Laila Taslimi, Intermediate Demonstration Teacher

Laila joins UCLA Lab School after teaching at McKinley Elementary School in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District since 1997. Also at McKinley she was an RTI (Response to Intervention) reading teacher and an advisor to student council. Among her leadership roles, she served as a member of McKinley’s professional development leadership team, charged with yearlong staff development planning and implementation. She coached new and experienced teachers in Readers and Writers Workshop and Words Their Way. She also has served on two district-level committees: the Teacher Evaluation Study Group, charged with researching and re-designing the disrict’s system for evaluating all teachers, and the Health & Safety Committee, an advisory council to the school board. Laila is National Board Certified in literacy. She received her master's degree from the Teacher Education Program at UCLA, and holds a bachelor's degree in theatre arts, also from UCLA. Prior to teaching, Laila had careers in general contracting in Los Angeles, and in theater direction, primarily in Slovenia.

Quotation Corner

"For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth." — Plutarch (Greek thinker and writer, 46-120 A.D.)