Thornhill Elementary PFC Newsletter

Volume 27, Issue 30, March 24, 2020

Quick Notes

OUSD Board Meetings

All members of the community are invited to watch/participate in OUSD Board Meetings, which are now online. The next one is on Wednesday, March 25 at 4pm. The agenda and Zoom link can be found here:

Auction Recap

And that's a wrap - sort of. Thank you to everyone who participated in our Together - but Alone Auction alternative. We had to hold back many of our best "experiences," sports tickets, and hosted parties but hope/plan to offer them in the future. Until then, we made lemons of of lemonade and cracked ourselves up in the process. In the meantime, we have several signups still live (PUZZLES! COOKBOOKS!) and are collecting donations to the PFC through the auction website.

Won things? We will be at the school, 6 feet apart, this Friday, March 27 from 2-5pm, weather permitting. Drive up and pick up. So easy!


Given the extraordinary circumstances we’re living in, we thought we’d do something different for this week’s newsletter and hear from our wonderful Thornhill faculty and staff about what they’ve been doing and feeling in the past week since we’ve all been apart, trying to keep our families safe at home. Below they share thoughts on what they’re grateful for, how their families are doing, and some of the brightest and most fun moments in an otherwise uncertain time. We’re so lucky to have them and we can’t wait to see them again--though we’re sorry they won’t be able to “mute all” when we return (Editor’s note: I wish I could do this at home).

Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter to see how to support local businesses that have supported Thornhill this year.


From the Office and Library


I am thankful for many things: My wife Jessica, who puts up with me working late into the night...with ZOOM calls taking over all areas of the house. I am happy to be in good health and that my family is as well. And then there are: Friends who make everything easier. I do have to mention how much we love our cat Sasha. Animals are such great friends who are always there for you and even though you come home hungry, tired and cranky....they are happy to see you. In truth, I would love a horse or dog but that's another story...

But in truth, the thing I am most grateful for is the awesomeness of the super dedicated Thornhill Staff who have sacrificed a lot in their families and lives to ensure we have opportunities for your kids to continue their education. They have been doing everything possible to maintain some semblance of normalcy for our Thunderbirds. We know our teachers love their kiddos! And we are so grateful to be such a positive team! All of our teachers are committed to supporting all of their students. You can't have that without a dedicated faculty who has gone ABOVE and BEYOND the requirements of the teaching profession. I am so grateful for this staff!

I am grateful for music. I am lucky to be in love with music and able to play a few instruments. The cool thing about music is that it can never be taken away from you. When you learn an instrument you are friends forever! Lastly, nature is always there for me and you too. Enjoy the outside… 6 feet apart!

Take good care and know we miss you,

Mr. Daubenspeck


I am most thankful that my family is safe and healthy. My brother and 89 year-old mother live in the same house so it has been comforting to have them around. I have not been able to see my kids or grandchildren as they are all sheltering in place. It has been fun seeing them all via FaceTime. On Sunday, we were able to share lunch together via video. I visited with my kids and all 3 of my brothers at the same time. Even though I missed them sitting around my table, I was grateful that I didn’t have a lot of clean up afterwards. My husband works for the Golden Gate Bridge and is an “essential” worker so he reports to work everyday. My brother works for Kaiser Permanente and has also had to work. He and I ride share so I have been taking him to work every morning. Such a peaceful ride. Time to think and get fresh air.

I am thankful for the staff I work with. They are an incredible group. Technology has been key in touching base with them and making sure they are all ok. Mr. Daubenspeck, Ms. Zettie and myself check in daily via Zoom or Google to make sure everything needed by the teachers has been taken care of and school business is in order for our return. I am busy working with the Student Welcome Center getting our new students for next year all set.

While I have been home, I have had lots of time to work on my favorite hobby which is quilting. I have completed 5 quilt tops. Netflix and Disney+ have become my friends. Have been able to catch up on all those movies and shows on my “list."

Please take care of yourselves, stay safe and healthy. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER. Looking forward to seeing everyone back.

ZETTIE RUANE - Attendance

This is one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me! It all started when we were in Los Angeles and there was NO TRAFFIC! Unheard of! By the time we got home everything up here had been closed down and we retreated into our little house to see what would happen. Amazingly wonderful things have been happening despite everything. My family is all home together and we are all getting along. We are all eating dinner together again and doing joint projects when we have time. Surprisingly I have been busy with Thornhill work this whole time. It turns out there is more to do than just count who is in attendance each day and I have been kept busy each day with odds and ends I hadn’t thought much about before I had to do them at home.

My neighbors have all been out walking with their families and walking their dogs. I have seen bunches of our Thornhill families, which makes me very happy! Everyone is smiling at each other and stopping to chat (from a safe distance of course!). I receive emails from neighbors everyday, sharing ways that we can all stand together and help each other through this unusual event. It seems like the goodness of humanity is shining through. I am thankful for the family I am home with, for all the sweet smiling faces I see everyday, for the birds singing in the trees and the apple blossoms that are ready to burst.

I am thankful for the wonderful Thornhill community that has pulled together so quickly to make the best out of the completely unknown. I am so thankful I live so near to many of our families, that I still get to see you (I miss everyone very much!) every now and then. I am thankful for kind, sweet next door neighbors who chat over the fence so we aren’t so lonesome. I am thankful for friends that practically live with us so we get to have company now and then and I am so thankful that at the end of it all I get to come back to YOU! I hope you are doing well and that we are back on the playground having fun again soon.

MARIE FOX - Librarian

I have been so grateful to be with my family during this time, and am thankful and proud to be a part of the Thornhill community of educators. My three daughters (Grace (TK), Kaya (2), and Lucy (5)) have been adjusting to life at home and all miss their friends from school. Their teachers have done a wonderful job being present for their students and building this distance learning as we go. As a family, we have started some new traditions and aim to make it fun as much as possible. We got all dressed up for dinner one night and had a tea party another day. I loved seeing many students on my Zoom storytime last week and look forward to more of those. Take care everyone!

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From the TK and Kindergarten Teachers


I am most thankful for the way our school community has come together to support each other during these challenging times. I am discovering online resources to keep my TK students engaged (thank you Maureen (Ms. Whalen!), for telling me about Mystery Science). My three-year-old grandson keeps all of us on our toes here at home. His daycare is closed right now and he misses his friends. Singing from my front steps with my neighbors living on either side of us at 5:00 is the most fun thing I’ve done. We began Thursday and sang ‘Yellow Submarine’ by the Beatles. Today we sang ‘This Land is Your Land’ by Woody Guthrie. Tomorrow’s song? Take Me Out To The Ball Game!


I have embraced remote learning as a new challenge to overcome. My students and I have fun using SeeSaw - it is a great way for kids to stay connected with each other and to share the things that they are doing. I am lucky to have a supporting partner-turned-cinematographer in my household and two cats that (mostly) stay out of the way during video time. My advice to all of my families is to go easy on yourself and have a bit of fun! It won’t be perfect, and what matters most is that we continue to make learning enjoyable for our students.


I am thankful for the technology that allows me to keep in touch with friends and family during this time of isolation. I am a social creature by nature so it’s been hard for me to be stuck at home, but I am enjoying all this time with my two sons (Jesse, 7 and Griffin, 4) and my husband. Our highlights so far have been planting in our veggie boxes and family Monopoly battles. Jesse wins everytime! Grrr! I hope you are all staying healthy and sane!


I’m in AWE of the Thornhill staff and how we have all come together to share our strengths to prepare for and roll out distance learning opportunities. A truly amazing group of educators!! I am uplifted each day when students send me pictures or videos of what they are up to--from playdough monsters, to Lego forests, to card games, to singing the Popcorn Tree song! Mostly, I love seeing families spending quality time together. I have certainly enjoyed cooking, walking, talking and snuggling with my husband and three boys. Looking forward to “virtual” parent teacher conferences this week!


From the First Grade Teachers


I am so grateful to be part of this amazing Thornhill community during such a strange time! Teaching remotely has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I’ve enjoyed figuring out all the tools available for connecting with my class. I’ve loved seeing what students are up to at home through SeeSaw, and doing “live teaching” over Zoom has been wonderful! It’s been great seeing my students and their families face-to-face, and having even just a little time each day together as a class has been so healing and uplifting for me. I’ve also enjoyed extra time for cooking, reading, and talking with friends and family. I miss you all and hope you are all well!


Hi all, I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. I am so thankful for technology right now and its ability to keep us connected. My Zoom read alouds with my students are the highlights of my days. I have been enjoying my long walks with my dogs and spending quality time with my wonderful family. I am looking forward to trying out new recipes. I hope my family survives my experimental cooking. Stay healthy! We’ll get through this together!

EMMA STEINHEIMER (for Ms. Townsend) - 1

I am thankful for the resources that I have access to during this time that others may not. I feel lucky to have a computer, internet connection, an excess of books, and family nearby. I am grateful and so impressed by the many parents learning how to homeschool their kids while simultaneously juggling working from home. I have been spending the majority of my free time cooking….I’ve made kombucha, kefir, and hard cider and kombucha are coming up next! I’m excited to log in to Seesaw every day to see what my students have to say. I miss seeing my students every day but I know we are all doing the very best we can in this strange situation and that is all we can really ask for!


From the Second Grade Teachers


I have been getting a lot of help from my furry friends! Baxter has a lot to say during our class meetings. He would really like to meet Humphrey (from The World According to Humphrey). He believes having Humphrey as a friend might be easier than his two kitty friends! A bit less sharp in the greeting. Baxter assures me he would surely understand Humphrey’s “Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!” quite well!

Bitty is always wanting to add some fine writing to my lesson plans. He has been reminding me to add links in and to double check that they are correctly aligned! He has been catching waggling mistakes and errors (I am afraid Humphrey would not like him much). Mitzi wishes to help out in the activity design! She has been double checking my number lines and making sure I am adding when it has a plus symbol and subtracting when it has a minus symbol.

Rosette (spider near the sponge) is contemplating all the wonderings going on and looking at it from a philosophical point of view. She gives serious leg waves to express pedagogical suggestions when needed. She did mention how much she missed her second, third, fourth and fifth grade friends! She also informed me she only calls students by the names they wish to be called, nothing like “Speak-Up-Sayeh” as Humphrey addresses his students! Her urticating hairs were actually raised about that!

I am missing all Thornhill students! I hope to see you soon!


As I’ve said to many people (and shouted it out loud at some point), I am so grateful to be part of the Thornhill community and among a group of fantastic and dedicated educators. (I’m especially thankful for my texting group of teachers who are keeping me sane and laughing). My daily Zoom meetings are a highlight as I get to see all my students’ sweet little faces. It’s also AMAZING to be able to “mute all” in our meetings. (“Maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh” - Has anyone seen the The Muppets movie with Jason Segal and Amy Adams? I highly recommend it.) I’m just working along with other parents trying to figure out how to work and homeschool my own first grader. We got this, folks! One day at a time. I don’t use Twitter, but I’ve started my own hashtag list of #silverlinings. While the sky is gray (literally), there are a lot of silver linings and I wanted to share with you a few of mine.

Ms. Whalen’s #silverlinings List (in no particular order)

  • People are smiling at each other again as we pass in the street

  • I’m stuck inside with two of my favorite people in the world - my husband and our daughter

  • I talk to my parents every day (not that there’s much new to say)

  • Still seeing my students daily but get to “mute all”

  • My 30-minute lunch breaks can be naps

  • “Family meetings” at the parklet in front of my house with my husband (Matt), daughter (Aria), my sister-in-law (Molly), my nephew (Eli), and my fur nephews (Reggie & Milo) - staying 6 feet away from each other, of course

  • Texting and giggling with co-workers

  • Learning about new technology and online learning platforms

  • Getting to do exercise classes through Zoom with some of my favorite Zumba/dance teachers

  • Having time...simple as that


From the 2/3 and Third Grade Teachers


I appreciate the support from the Thornhill community. We will get through this together. I love being able to mute everyone during our Zoom meetings! Ismael and I have been branching out and playing a lot of new games. I highly recommend UNOcorns (Thanks Sutton & Family)!


Hello families! I’m mostly thinking about things I’m grateful for. I am fortunate to work with an incredible group of people. We are supporting each other and making things work that we didn’t even dream of just a few short weeks ago. Reading and music are my anchors in off-hours, along with walking. I’m keeping in close touch with my daughter in Boston and with friends all over the place. Thankful for the technology to do that! I’m also thankful for the strong Thornhill community spirit that will carry us through this uncharted time. I miss my students very much...I’ll see you on Zoom sometime this week!


Hi all! As for many of you, this has been overwhelming and unknown, but we are for sure #bettertogether! I am finding a better work-life balance and my favorite part has been zooming my students as well as my online workouts! I had to get used to my cat being part of my zoom meetings….Miss you all!

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From the Fourth Grade Teachers


Wow! What an inspiring and intimidating experience this is. I am inspired by the generosity of friends and strangers working together to respond to and support the needs of our students and community. I am intimidated and sometimes anxious about the changes ahead, but have been using that as fuel to find new ways to engage and teach. There is so much to be grateful for right now and that has made it possible to enjoy many beautiful moments in this time of tremendous change.


What a crazy time we are in! I am extremely thankful for the amazing group of staff and parents that I get to work with. I have felt nothing but support all around, as I try to navigate being a full-time parent of two and a virtual teacher of 31. I have loved connecting with most of my class (that I miss SO MUCH!) on FaceTime or Zoom meetings, and I have loved seeing my three-year-old son Bennett teach his little sister how to play with cars. It’s been challenging but also so rewarding. We are all in this together, and I know we are all doing the very best we can. Stay kind and patient with each other. And eat lots of chocolate. : )

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From the Fifth Grade and Art Teachers


Hello, friends! These are uncharted waters we’re sailing, but we will get through this together. I am incredibly grateful for my amazing and loving husband, my family, my friends, as well as the entire Thornhill community. We are strong. We are resilient. We will muddle through somehow. As for what keeps me sane, long walks and fresh air does a body good. Cooking delicious homemade meals and drinking wine doesn’t hurt either, despite my ever expanding waistline and overconsumption of quarantine snacks. I’m enjoying classroom meetings via Zoom, albeit frozen screens, poor bandwidth, mere silhouettes of my students, and random mic cutoffs make for interesting, zany and hilarious sessions. Stay safe and be well, everyone.


Hi, everyone! I’m thankful for the ever-present camaraderie of the Thornhill staff and community. We instinctively embrace each other with support and positive direction. At home, it’s non-stop baby action, 24/7. Our daughter Kahleia, now 10 months old, has declared herself leader of the household. We humbly submit to her powers, and appreciate the sleep we’re sometimes granted. I’m in awe of my students! We Zoom. We Google Meet. They are deciding to work hard; they’re motivated; they’re inspired to keep learning! True Thunderbird spirit!


While we shelter at home, know that your imagination can run free. Go outside and draw or paint what you see. Take your home’s cast-offs/recyclables (I call it treasure!) and create a sculpture. Treat any paper in your home to the endless possibilities of origami. Fold a frog then another and another. Now those frogs need an illustrated story or comic strip to make them come alive. Don’t forget to construct or draw a wonderful frog habitat! Our self-portraits are caught in a time warp, so start again at home. Look in the mirror and draw what you see. Remember how unique and wonderful you are. Remember also to challenge yourself and be kind & loving to yourself. Teach your family members an art activity you’ve learned. I am spending time looking through photo books with my 93-year-old mother; we’re recording her stories. Ask your parents and grandparents for their stories. Next I am going to repaint a room; paint brings instant positive change. That’s what I need now. Stay well and calm and creative.
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Support for Local Restaurants & Businesses

A number of local restaurants support the Thornhill PFC each year with donations of food and cash. One thing you can do to support local restaurants is to buy gift cards now to use later. Some local restaurants that have supported Thornhill recently include:

Homeroom, Flavor Brigade, Paulista, Pattys & Buns, Zachary's, The Star on Grand, Golden Squirrel, Fentons, Red Boy Pizza, Monaghan's, A16, Rocky's Market, Bellanico -- many of these are currently offering curbside pickup, take out, delivery, and/or online gift cards.

Also, try a virtual fitness class through Dailey Method (who has donated to our auction), and order books from Mrs. Dalloway's (who have supported author events at Thornhill).


About the Thornhill Newsletter

The Thornhill Parent-Faculty Club (PFC) eNews team publishes this weekly newsletter each Tuesday in the school year to communicate school, PFC and OUSD news, events and information.

Email submissions to our Newsletter Chair, Evie Nagy, at by 8 p.m. Thursday for approval—nothing sent after this will be included in the following week’s newsletter unless there are extremely compelling extenuating circumstances. It’s fine to include text in the body of the email with links and no formatting, and attach photos preferably as 150 x 150, 72 dpi JPG or GIFs only (not embedded in email or Word file). Submissions may be edited for spelling, grammar, brevity and clarity. Advertising and items not related to Thornhill are not accepted, as we need to keep the newsletter focused on need-to-know info for the community.

THANK YOU to everyone who submits articles and to PFC Board Members, Teachers, VP of Communications Erin Proudfoot, PFC President Rex Crum, and Principal Steve Daubenspeck. Member of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).