June 12, 2015

Stay in the Loop

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Teachers, please place the purple folders and sketchbooks in a box in the conference room. Separate out the students that are not returning. The folders and books will be sorted by the new classroom rosters during the summer.

...as per tradition the Upper I folders just stay in the classrooms with those teachers in preparation for their Upper II year. All of the the culminating Upper I student folders are pulled and packed up with the culminating Upper II folders and get stored in the basement. (thank you Kevin)


A Star is Born

Please click on the link below to see our very own TV star...



This is it. We made it! I know many of you used the "Stop! Look! Listen!" method to manage it all! This was written with the intent to go out last week…better late than never…


You're one person and there's only so much you can do. If you're feeling overwhelmed, STOP and ask yourself: Does this need to be done before the end of school? Does it need to be done at all? Can I delegate it to someone else? If not, can I ask for help? If you still need to cross that task off your list, STOP and take a deep breath to help you energize and power through.


When things get tight and you feel like peace is still too many days away, LOOK at all of the amazing projects, artwork and writing the children have created this year, LOOK at how they've grown under your care and guidance, and LOOK at how you yourself have grown. Take a deep breath and LOOK around at this place and the people in it, and know that together you make incredible contributions to making our world better every day.


It's a crazy time for everyone, bringing its own set of sound effects! LISTEN through the chaos to the kids' laughter. LISTEN when your body's getting tense or tired and go for a walk if you can; if you don't have time, stretch in place or just breathe deeply. LISTEN to the parents' true appreciation for all you've done for so many hours over so many days and months. LISTEN to each other and let's help each other with whatever we can to end the year strong, together.

Together, this community of educators, communicators, health providers, office managers, executive assistants, coordinators, developers, researchers, financial planners, problem solvers, operations conductors, leaders, friends, mentors and colleagues, has made it through yet another year. A year where each and every one of us has touched and affected the lives of others in a positive way. Be proud of what you do and the sacrifices you make…we are catalysts for change.

Have a wonderful summer!


Tech Team (not pictured here)

Your support, flexibility and dependability is so appreciated!!!

Mental and Physical Health...and a Little Someone Hiding in the Background

What is there to say about these three....taking care of us all!!!

Oh, yeah, hey Kate....we see you hiding there. I think we can speak for all of us, YOU, have been an incredible asset to our school...a doer, a champion and no-nonsense.

Teacher Assistants...(Kylie representing all of you :)

Without you are the quality of our work would not be the same, you support our students, and teachers in and out of the classrooms. You are the adult that many of our children trust, you are the rocks!!!

Professional Development Share-Out

We are introducing a new section to Admin News to share information from professional development opportunities that were attended by staff and faculty. Please feel free to send a brief summary of PDs attended so that it can be shared in Admin News.

Being Different is Normal - New School West presentation + exhibit at Pedagogical Institute on May 27, 2015

From Laila:

The Physical Space

A genuinely cordial welcome to the gathering place-workspace that is P.I. made this first-timer feel instantly at home. It was impressive in its space plan (more so than its decoration, which was nevertheless homey) because it called into question the assumption that a teacher lounge and a teacher meeting room need to be distinctly separated (even as they are stipulated by some of our unions to be so). Here there was a freedom of movement between the two functions which created an environment conducive to natural conversation. I wonder why do schools think we need to replicate a traditional business boardroom/conference room for our planning-problem solving-reflection meetings when being at ease to perform to our potential is ultimately achievable when we are ‘at ease’ together?

The Pedagogy

Two New School West teachers presented their age 4-5 students' ongoing inquiry into what and who they are within the natural world. That is my clumsy paraphrasing of their deep and lovely work with their children. The following notes on what was presented include some headings of my own.

Their Research Question: How will investigating our external selves support the children in building relationships with their internal selves?

"How do the leaves speak for the tree? How do the hands speak for ourselves?"

Goal: Children build connection with their external selves and come up with theories about how and why they are unique.

Starting point: They took many walks to ask what is their connection to, place in & relationship to nature?

Premise: By building an intimate knowledge of self the children are able to know and connect others.

Examples of hundred languages: Students mixed paints to match their skin color, then chose a name with a word from nature included... One used her color to paint onto a leaf ("I'm just like fall leaves. You see my hand is a little dark and look -- it also has a little bit of light.")... Without teacher direction students moved to clay to model hands and then their own faces, and then in 3D their heads.

Teachers wondered: Why are children so delighted to discuss their differences?

And further: What role does the teacher and socialization play in children's identity formation? How can children influence the world and how can children influence you?

I’m always impressed when an expert or presenter confesses, “I used to think ___, but now I believe ___!” For example here, the adults found in their teaching practice they were always using the word ‘unique', while the children used the word ‘different'. The adults learned that ‘different’ is not a scary term until we make it so. But anecdotes led to their larger conclusion that when children say something that to us rings biased (toward a race or gender), we need to look further to be sure we understand the context that led to the expression because it is likely we (mis)interpreted it through our own hypersensitive lenses. Well that's fine, but not satisfactory for me; so when it ended I went aside to the presenters and politely challenged this as somewhat inconclusive on the implied topic. My point was that in fact we do need to be prepared to address our children’s actually-biased expressions because they perpetuate oppression. Fair footnote: these thoughtful teachers agreed this remains our challenge to learn to handle well.

The Documentation

Teachers shared closely-sourced artifacts and were able to present the work in vivid detail. We saw slides and video, heard children’s conversations as well as teacher and student reflections, all presented in a chronological narrative to highlight the evolving discoveries made by everyone involved.

Additionally, the school engaged their parent partners - particularly those from the design professions - in the process of documenting and producing a multi-sensory exhibit of this inquiry which is displayed in P.I.’s central space.

I recommend you look for an opportunity to visit this exhibit!

2940 Nebraska Avenue, Santa Monica, 90404

CODE.ORG: Nation Wide workshops for elementary school educators, free of charge

Code.org is offering 1-day workshops to prepare educators and content-area teachers (librarians, tech-ed specialists, etc.) to introduce computer science basics in a format that's fun and accessible to the youngest learners (grades K-5). The workshops will cover content for our elementary school curriculum, and teachers will receive the supplies they need to teach the courses - at no cost. Not only is this an opportunity to increase your knowledge and confidence in facilitating an engaged computer science classroom, it's also a chance to connect with other educators in your area who are working to bring computer science to their schools. A wonderful group of our staff and faculty jumped at this opportunity.


For those interested in building your Spanish vocabulary one word at a time, we will publish a word or phrase in Admin News, use it in a sentence, and provide the English translation. Today’s Spanish word of the day:


Have a wonderful vacation.

Que tengan unas vacaciones maravillosas.


Together Through Music and Dance

There truly are no words to describe the inspiration of a day spent celebrating through music and dance. Waiting in anticipation for next year!!!


Your are at the core of how we teach and nurture the development of many, many of our students. Thank you for the care, the community, the trust you build year after year!!! Families had a blast eating, laughing and playing together at EDP's In and Out evening.

Primary: Flash-Bang

Our Primary students and teachers delved deep into discovery of light and sound. They constructed a sound and light booth, complete with a sound activated replica of the Staples Center. Students explored sound by constructing instruments. An entire underwater habitat was created to show light and sound underwater. Bravo to the interdisciplinary work surrounding your inquiry learning.

EC I: Squirrel Café

Students in Rooms 17 and 16 have spent most of the year learning everything and anything about squirrels. They culminated their work by hosting a Squirrel Café, raising over $700 to purchase materials to build squirrel homes, and scare-squirrels to protect their garden boxes. The remaining funds will be donated to Squirrel Refuge, a non-profit organization that cares for orphaned and injured squirrels. Ms. Jane Parkes is now and forever our resident squirrel expert!!!

Intermediate: State Fair

Our intermediate students were able to select 3 boys and 3 girls they were interested in working with to plan their State Fair project. As a group they selected 3 categories they were most interested in from a list (Flora & Fauna, History, Geography, Conservancy, etc). From there, they had to think specifically about what they wanted to teach the EC and Primary students about that category. They created a game booth around their chosen topic. The factual information used was a culmination of the inquiry learning students had done all year. What a blast!!!

Rooms 7/8 Special Visitor

As part of their non-fiction unit, they studied César Chávez and his role as a social activist. It was then that they discovered that the grandfather of one of their students was close to César Chávez. They jumped at the opportunity to learn first hand about Edward J. Olmos' involvement in social issues and overall experiences (especially the hunger strike which he continued after Mr. Chavéz' ended it).

EC II: The Time Has Come

Bitter sweet for our EC II teachers, families and students as they end their time on the North Yard. It was evident, even on the last day of school, the lifetime relationships and connections that have been nurtured throughout this year. Kudos to our EC II teachers and their students.

Upper Culmination and the Changing of the Guard.

What a beautiful ceremony. A true culmination for Upper I and II students. A magical representation of our entire faculty and staff's collaboration and commitment to each and every child and family that enters our doors. Inspirational!!!


Elena Perez

Elena Perez will be joining our community as part of our Learning in Two Languages, Upper team. She is a spirited and knowledgeable educator who cares deeply about her students and the school community. Elena began working with children over fifteen years ago as a mentor and tutor for young teens in the San Fernando Valley while she was attending Pepperdine University as Bill Gates Scholar.

After graduating from Pepperdine with a double major in Political Science and Sociology and a minor in Spanish, Elena was accepted as one of two college graduates in the nation to intern at the Supreme Court of the United States. This was a major accomplishment and would have been a steppingstone for her next step: Law School. However, Elena soon realized her true passion was working with young people and helping them meet their social, emotional, and educational needs and wanted to pursue her passion and involvement in education. She deferred from attending law school and earned a graduate degree at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, as well as teaching credentials.

From 2005 to 2008 Elena taught at the Multicultural Learning Center in Canoga Park, a K-8 Spanish Dual Immersion independent charter school with LAUSD. From 2008 to 2011 Elena served as the Literacy Coach, Spanish director, and taught grades 1-3 at MUSE School, a Reggio inspired project based learning school. Since 2011 she has been at BRIDGES Charter where they adhere to the Whole Child Philosophy, which ensures that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and academically challenged. At these schools Elena was able to share her passion for languages, constructivist and progressive education.

Early in Elena’s career her commitment to diversity and languages inspired her to start a Full Immersion Spanish Summer Camp for children ages 4-12. The program incorporates teaching the whole child while being fully immersed in the Spanish language and applying these skills to everyday situations. She strongly believes that bilingual education is a vital component when serving and interacting in today’s diverse society.

Elena is also passionate about literacy and inquiry. She has trained with Lucy Calkins at the Reading and Writing Institute at Columbia University since 2005 and continues to attend workshops. Throughout her professional career she has also attended several coaching institutes at UCLA Lab School, including Critical Thinking and Readers and Writers Workshop.

Elena’s classroom is infused with a strong sense of community and mutual respect. She invigorates her students with her natural joy for life and curiosity. She is a lifelong learner who lives a life of purpose, service, and leadership. Her educational philosophy is one that encourages students to become lifelong learners and instill in them a joy of learning, resilience, self-esteem, respect, commitment to their community, school, natural environment, and the world they live in.

Questions... Comments... Put Ups...

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, comments, concerns, celebrations, at our Newsletter email: admin@labschool.ucla.edu.