Lucille M. Nixon School
from the principal
May 27, 2020
Dear Nixon Families,
Hope you have some strategies for keeping cool at your house. I am feeling slightly melted by this heat wave! We’re in the final stretch and really want to end this school year helping our students to feel proud of the many ways in which they have met the challenge of learning from home. Each child is unique, and you know better than we do what was easy and what was hard for your child during these months of distance learning. Don’t forget to offer your student a heartfelt compliment. You can use language like, “I noticed how much effort you put into ______.” “You didn’t give up when ________ was hard for you.” Wow! Have you noticed how much better you are now at ________!” You can also encourage them to take some time and think about what they are proud of and then share this with your family and their teacher.
In our efforts to end on a positive, spirited note, Mrs. Lajeunesse is putting together a video of the Nixon community with theme, “Whatever the weather, dolphins swim together.” When we share this video with the students next week, I think they will be very happy to see themselves in the video. All you have to do is snap a photo of your student or your family with the theme somehow in the picture. The simplest way is to write it on a piece of paper and hold it up. If you are not comfortable with your child’s face being in the photo, have him hold the paper in front of his face. Your child will know it is his sign, even if his face doesn’t show! Send the photo to Mrs. Lajeunesse’s email (email@example.com ) or you can submit it to her in Schoology if your student knows how to do this. Please send by this Friday, May 29!
Picking up/ Drop off of student materials
Becky sent an email to families about our schedule for drive-through drop-off and pick-up of student materials next week. The schedule is Monday, June 1, 12:00 – 3:00 pm -Kinder and 2nd grades; Tuesday, June 2, 11:00 am – 1:30 pm – 1st and 4th grades; Wednesday, June 3, 12:00 – 2:00 pm – 3rd and 5th grades. Thursday, June 4, - 12:00 - 1:30 pm -leftovers ;-) . Please drive into the main entrance at Nixon. Here are ways that you can help us be efficient with your time:
· Please try to come during your child’s grade’s assigned time if at all possible. Families who have more than one child at Nixon may choose to come only once on the later/latest of the days that are scheduled for your children. If the designated times won’t work for you, please email Becky (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will help problem solve.
· We must ask families to remain in their cars. We will ask you to pop open your trunk from inside the car, if possible.
· If you are not returning to a PAUSD school next year: Bring any laptop or iPad that belongs to us along with power cord and charging block (iPads). Put these in your vehicle’s trunk. Students returning to PAUSD (no matter which school) may keep their devices over the summer. You will be expected to have them at the start of the school year.
· Non-working laptops or iPads or devices that you do not want to keep over the summer may also be returned. Please include the power cords and charging blocks.
· Please put books from our school library (These are stamped inside with “Nixon Library” and have bar codes on the cover.) in a separate bag from classroom library books (may have teacher name, or level letter or nothing at all). If you have books from Ms. Sue or Ms. Debbie, please also put these together in a bag and label. Put all bags in the trunk of your vehicle.
· We will put the bag of materials for your child directly into your trunk for you. Even if these have already been distributed to you by your classroom teacher or aide, we still need you to come and drop off Nixon library books as well as classroom books or books/materials from Ms. Sue or Ms. Debbie.
· There will be three stopping points on your route – one for dropping off electronic devices, one for picking up bags of materials left in the classrooms and one for dropping off library and classroom books, etc. These will all be in the bus circle and will be labeled.
We really do look forward to seeing you, even if it is just through the car windows!
Field Day Activities for Home
For as long as I have been an elementary principal, I have known that a critical component to our success is volunteer power! As things stand right now, we won’t be allowed to have parent volunteers at school at least at the start of next school year. But we are still going to need parent volunteers! PTA, PiE and Nixon School Site Council are all organizations which impact our students’ school experience every single day, and which rely entirely or at least significantly on parent involvement.
Nixon School Site Council is probably the organization about which you know the least. It is composed of 10 members, five of whom are parents. The site council reviews student progress data, considers school priorities for improvement in academics, social and emotional learning and safety in order to develop plans for continued growth. Nixon parent Jeanne Tsai shared recently, “Site Council is a wonderful way to learn about (and help shape) Nixon's larger goals and plans for our children's academic and socioemotional development and well-being. It's also a great way to share your experiences with Principal O'Connell, the teachers, and staff. I've learned so much from being part of this committed group of teachers, staff, and parents, and I'm going to miss being part of the council next year! I really encourage you to participate---Site Council will be one of the many happy memories I have of Nixon.” We need several parent to join site council next year. If interested, please contact Yuree Yoon, 2019-20, site council chair at email@example.com. Other parents on site council that you might know include Jeanne Tsai, Tania Bhatia, Gaby Ledezma, and Thomas Varghese.
Partners in Education (PiE) is our Palo Alto education foundation which raises funds to provide our amazingly valuable classroom aides, art teachers, music teachers, and counselors for our elementary schools. Everyone wants these programs for their children, but someone has to help organize the fund raising efforts. We have three parents already willing to help at Nixon for next year and need a couple more to step up! Could that you be you? Please contact Nixon parent Julia Hartung (Julia.Hartung@stanford.edu) to learn more.
Our PTA is the largest parent organization at our school and we will need their ongoing support as we make further adjustments to provide the best possible education to your children during this pandemic. Many of you provide hours of support at school each year, but since this will not be possible next year, you could instead consider stepping into an open role in our PTA. Please contact Nixon parent Manisha Gupta (firstname.lastname@example.org) , who has been leading the PTA Nominating Committee or Kat Barnett (email@example.com), our continuing PTA President to find out what is needed.
I know everyone is so busy that they sincerely hope that someone else will step into these roles. Ask yourself if next year is perhaps your turn to get more involved. At a recent zoom PTA meeting I looked around and realized that there were five – yes, five - working physicians in leadership roles in our PTA. I mention this only to point out that roles can adjust to fit the time people have to give. Thank you for considering this request.
Staffing Changes for 2020-21
As is the case each year, there will be a few shifts in the teachers who will be teaching at some grade levels. Beryl Deremigio is retiring this year. Mrs. Deremigio has taught nineteen years at Nixon, nearly all at 5th grade. Despite having decided back in February that this would be her last year in teaching, Mrs. Deremigio accepted the challenge of our present circumstance and learned to use new technology in order to make teaching videos and meet with her students on zoom. Her “OK, let’s do it!” attitude impressed her colleagues and me. I appreciated her quiet determination to master new skills and share her successes with the 5th grade students. What an example she has been for her students! Clearly she will be able to take on whatever awaits in her next chapters in life. We will miss her, so please join me in wishing her many screen-free adventures!
Katie Ellenberger will move from 4th to 5th grade which she had been teaching for two years before switching to 4th grade this year. Anne Kwolek, always ready to step in where needed, will teach first grade for us next year, and Jen Koepnick will take an exciting step into 4th grade. Thanks to each of these teachers for their flexibility and genuine interest in stretching and growing by learning to work with children across the grade levels. Your children are in good hands in every grade level!
Making class groupings for next year is full of challenges this spring due to the array of unknowns facing us. I assure you that it is on our minds how very much the children are missing contact with their classmates. We do this work with great care and, more than ever, need your trust.
Whew! Quite a long update this week. Thanks for making it to the end. I’d also like to thank you for completing the district parent survey. Your feedback is helpful to us as we continue to plan for whatever is ahead! I am looking forward to our online promotion event for Nixon 5th graders at 9:30 am on June 4. More details will be sent by 5th grade teachers. Let's all keep practicing our social distancing while helping our children to socially engage! See you next week at Nixon’s drive through!