Taft Community School Newsletter, August 7, 2023
From the Principal's Desk
Dear Taft Families,
On behalf of the faculty and staff of Taft Community School, I would like to welcome everyone to the 2023-24 school year! My name is David Camarena and I will be serving as your new principal. I am very excited about my new role and I look forward to meeting you and getting to know our students and school community. As we finish our summer, we are excited to welcome all our new and returning families. Our staff is excited to start the year, and we all look forward to getting to know all of you.
I have been a principal at the middle school level and an assistant principal at the middle and high school levels. This is my 9th year as a school administrator and prior to becoming an administrator, I taught Spanish for nine years. I have worked in private, charter, and public schools. I am fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and can communicate in German as well. Because my wife is of Indian descent, I have learned some Hindi. My wife and I have been married for seven years and have two boys ages five and three. In my free time, I enjoy reading, cooking, traveling, biking, and spending time with my family.
As we begin this school year, communicating with you will be important. I will send e-newsletter messages biweekly to update you on school events and news. This newsletter will also be available on our Taft website. Our Assistant Principal, Karina Arellano, and Family Center Coordinator, Elsa Aispuro, are also here to support you and our students.
Maze Day is quickly approaching. On Maze Day, students and families receive the school calendar, bell schedules, emergency contact form (please complete and return to the front office), a hard copy of this principal welcome message, information about our family center and other important information. We highly recommend that you attend. This will be a good opportunity for you and your student to familiarize yourselves with our campus and meet our staff.
We look forward to seeing everyone soon.
David J. Camarena
Taft Community School
Our New Amazing Assistant Principal
My name is Ms. Arellano, and I am thrilled to be your Assistant Principal at Taft Community School.
Like many of our students at Redwood City, I am an immigrant and one of the first in my family to go to college. I received both my Bachelor's Degree and a credential in bilingual education from California State University, Long Beach.
I have been part of the Redwood City School District for eleven years now, and I have taught 4th grade and Kindergarten. I went away for a couple of years to teach Kindergarten and Spanish I and II in High School, but I came back to Redwood City since then, spending the last two years as the MTSS Coordinator at Taft.
My goal is to support our dedicated staff, families, and students at Taft Community School. Our students are the reason why I am here and I want them to know that they can succeed regardless of where they are from. It is important for me to empower our students to always try their best and to offer them the support they need when they need it.
I invite all of our Taft families and staff to continue supporting the school and to continue working together in harmony and dedication in order to ensure that all students receive a quality education.
Meet Our Awesome Community School Coordinator!
Welcome back Taft Families,
I am the Community School Coordinator and I have been part of the Taft community for eight years.
Over the years, I have enjoyed working with our teachers, partners, and families to build community and support for all students. This year, I am excited to welcome our new Principal and Vice Principal and work as a team to continue to support our students and families.
My role as a Community School Coordinator is to support and coordinate access to various programs and services. I work collaboratively across teams and programs to provide resources. My goal, this year, is to continue focusing on centering the voice of students and families.
For those who are new to our school, a bit of background: I graduated from UC Davis in 2013 and shortly after joined the Redwood City School District as an AmeriCorps. After two years with AmeriCorps, I worked on building the SparkPoint program before I transitioned to the Community School Coordinator role.
I am a first generation and first in my family to attend college. From a young age, my parents embedded in me the importance of an education and always made sure I had access to books. I still love to read and prioritize spending time reading with my one year old son.
I look forward to working with our student leaders, teachers, families, partners and leadership team to make it a successful year. As always, we encourage parents/caregivers to participate and actively engage in their child’s education.
Please stop by the Family Center for any questions!
The Redwood City School District has been sending out reminders to complete the First Day of School registration packet. These forms are digital.
We need 100% of all Taft families to complete these forms by August 16th.
The First Day of School packet includes emergency contact information, parent permission forms, state funding for district services, and district policies.
This school year, the Student Benefit Form is embedded in the First Day of School Packet. Completing this form is very important for our school as it will determine funding for our after-school program. The Student Benefit Form determines resources and services for our students in a variety of areas in addition to children having access to healthy and nutritious meals at school. Depending on the number of families who complete the survey, it will determine several other services and resources such as school library services, school funding, internet access, and teacher grants.
If you need assistance, we will be available at Maze Day to assist families. Maze Day dates are listed below.
First day of school is August 16, 2023, Minimum Day.
Maze Day 2023
Maze Day is a chance for students and families to learn more about Taft and its partners. Families will enter through the front gate and into the courtyard where the amphitheater is located. You will have the opportunity to learn more about our Family Center, the Boys and Girls Club, PAL, Second Harvest and much more! Visiting these tables is not required, but I do suggest you spend some time learning about the variety of supports and extracurricular activities we have at Taft. Listed below is the Maze Day schedule.
Tuesday, Aug 8, 9 am 1 pm A-L, 2 - 7 pm M-Z
Wednesday, Aug 9, 9 am -12 pm M-Z, 1-3 pm A-L
Maze Day Packet
A digital Maze Day packet has been created for your convenience. It includes my principal welcome letter, QR Codes for our Family and Student Handbook, calendar, bell schedule, emergency contact form, cell phone policy, family center info, and reminders about attendance
You can find the Maze Day packet by clicking below. Hard copies will be available at Maze Day upon request.
Our staff and programs continue to grow! Please join us in welcoming our new teachers and staff.
Jeri Ramilo, Preschool Learning Center (PreK LC)
Adelina Pelino, Preschool Learning Center (PreK LC)
Zaira Viadero, Transitional Kindergarten (TK)
Melissa Lopez, Kindergarten (K)
Charlene de la Peña, K-3rd Therapuetic Learning Center (TLC)
Samantha Trump, 3-5 Specialized Learning Center (SLC)
Nicole Alger, 4th Grade
Paul Torres, 3rd-5th Newcomer
Gemma Ureña, Guest Teacher
Benjamin Titus, ELD TOSA & Opportunity School Teacher
Lauren Abrahams, Lead Mental Health Counselor
Kaela Alvarado, Opportunity School ESS Counselor
Gagan Bains, Effective School Solutions (ESS) Counselor K-3 TLC
Jilska Chandrasena, Vision Specialist
Sonia Kurusamy, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Christina Pearsall PreK-5 Psychologist
Christy Picetti, Speech Language Pathologist
Cassidy Ritter, PreK Special Education Intake & Assessment Psychologist
Isabella Shearer (Carino), PreK Special Education Intake & Assessment Speech Language Pathologist
Jody Wong, PreK Special Education, Teacher on Special Assignment
Jennifer Barahona, Paraeducator 1:1
Xiaoxu Chen, Paraeducator - K-3 Therapuetic Learning Center (TLC)
Beillin Cui, Paraeducator - K-3 Therapuetic Learning Center (TLC)
Rosario Gonzalez, Paraeducator - PreK Learning Center (LC)
Phillipa Kunze , Paraeducator - 3-5 Specialized Learning Center (LC)
Dannaer Jiasidabieko, Paraeducator - 3-5 Specialized Learning Center (LC)
My Next Update
I will send my next newsletter by Tuesday, August 15.
The next two weeks will be very busy. Teachers will return on Wednesday, August 9. We will try our best to respond to emails and phone calls as quickly as possible. One of our top goals next week is to ensure that Taft's staff's needs are met so we are ready to instruct your students on Wednesday, August 16th.
Have a great week. We will see you at Maze Day.