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Community Update

February 2018


From the Superintendent


Where have the months gone? We are already planning for the 2018-19 school year. We are reviewing enrollment numbers, identifying staffing needs, beginning the budget process and planning for Summer School.


As we prepare for the upcoming school year, our curricular focus areas for 2018-19 will continue to include writing, reading, mathematics, technology and the Next Generation Science Standards. This year, we have continued to offer our successful Parent Education Series at both sites which have included the following topics: a discussion with Devorah Heitner, author of "Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World" and most recent, a documentary, "Angst: Breaking the Stigma Around Anxiety." We have been very pleased with the parent/community participation in these events and will plan for more.


Our campuses are "buzzing!" Our students are participating in the Science Fair, preparing for Band and Musical Performances, honing their skills for the upcoming Latin convention and working on their "masterpieces" for the annual Art show.


As we complete major construction projects on both of our school sites, our Board is considering putting another bond measure on the June 2018 ballot. The Bond Measure of 2013 was never intended to complete all of our projects. We hope to be able to replace electrical, heating and air conditioning systems, outdated fire alarms, security alarms and exterior lighting to improve campus security and safety; upgrade classrooms, educational facilities and play equipment to meet current health and safety codes; repair aging and leaking roofs; make seismic upgrades and improve school and classroom accessibility for students and adults with disabilities. Passage of  a new bond will enable us to invest in continued renovation of our existing facilities to maintain the safe, quality classrooms for our children. The Board will consider a potential ballot statement at its next meeting on February 14th.


LLESD is continually striving to raise the bar in its effort to provide students with increased educational opportunities. To quote an overused statement, "It Takes a Village," we are on the path to guiding our students to become thinking, caring and contributing citizens. I want to extend my appreciation to our village of dedicated teachers, staff, our school board, our parents and our community for actively supporting our education program and contributing to its success.





Reading Recovery

Las Lomitas is proud to celebrate its 25th year as a Reading Recovery School. Reading Recovery is an outstanding, international intervention program devoted to specifically teaching the lowest achieving first grade readers. We highly value the love of literacy at Las Lomitas and know we are lucky to have the support of such an effective and data driven reading intervention program. 


When Reading Recovery first started at Las Lomitas, we had one reading teacher. In recent years, we have grown our capacity and currently have 10 highly qualified teachers (including our Assistant Principal) at Las Lomitas who are also trained Reading Recovery teachers and who attend regular professional development to stay abreast of the best and current teaching practices. Reading Recovery Teachers teach individual students in one-on-one lessons, every school day, 30 minutes a day for 12-20 weeks. As soon as students meet grade-level expectations and demonstrate that they can continue to work independently in the classroom, their lessons are discontinued, and new students begin individual instruction. The knowledge our teachers gain from the professional development component also transfers to larger reading groups and to the classroom every year, reaching a multitude of students in the school.


Jump Rope Queen

A favorite tradition at Las Lomitas is to be visited by the Jump Rope Queen, Rene Bibaud. She comes every 2 years and is graciously funded by our PTA. She not only comes out to teach our students jump roping skills, amazing new tricks and show off her own skills, but she also teaches some important life skills and characteristics such as perseverance, dedication and competing against yourself and not others. Rene also encourages a growth mindset that continues to inspire the lessons taught in PE, such as "Everyone makes mistakes, just pick up where you left off!" and "Don't worry about how others are doing. Work to improve your own skills." This year, the Jump Rope Queen came and spent 2 days with us not only giving amazing assemblies, but working with our students at recess and in P.E. Ms. Hedges and Ms. McGhee also get the added benefit of professional development which they greatly appreciate.
Professional Development

The greatest impact on student learning in any school is providing quality, highly trained teachers and staff in the classroom. At Las Lomitas, we are fortunate to have teachers who have a voracious appetite for professional development. They know and believe that their ongoing learning is pivotal in supporting the students of Las Lomitas. 


Training in Readers and Writers Workshop has been and is continuing to be provided for teachers. We have also had coaching and training in the Singapore pedagogy and our Math in Focus curriculum. While many teachers have traveled all over this great nation for professional growth, they also participated in quality learning here in November. Teachers spent November 21 and 22 participating in a district wide scoring calibration in writing, while specialists participated in content specific training. Teachers also had grade level time to collaborate and plan and were led in technology training by none other than our onsite Tech Coach, Stacy Olson. Following in our quest to provide an academic setting that provides students with a well-rounded education in the Cognitive, Psychomotor, and Affective Domains, our teachers also received training from Molly Henricks, Crisis Coordinator at the County of San Mateo Health System, and took part in an online exercise, Kognito. Kognito is a training module that has teachers respond to situations that are presented by avatars dealing with various social emotional issues.





A new movement has been taking shape at LE. Student leaders from the middle school were selected to participate in a group to promote kindness throughout our campus. The group has been meeting with our counselors and administration to strategize ways to encourage our school community to be up standers and to let everyone know they are safe and welcome. The W.O.K.E. club is supervised by our staff advisors, counselor, Mrs. Montalvo, and 7th grade PE teacher, Mrs. Davies. The first order of business was to create a name, and the students came up with W.O.K.E. - Warriors of Kindness Everyday. The club began their campus climate efforts by promoting a No Complaining Challenge, wearing purple bracelets to remind the wearer that casual complaining only creates negativity. 


The club members piloted the No Complaining Challenge for two weeks before sharing with the rest of the community. After the pilot, bracelets were offered to anyone who wanted to experience the challenge. Many found this challenge to be informative about their personal habits and inspired many to curb casual complaining. Following the No Complaining Challenge, W.O.K.E. hosted Unity Day on October 24 2017. Unity Day is a day to promote anti-bullying practices and promote kindness, acceptance and inclusion. Students and staff were encouraged to wear orange on the 24th to demonstrate unity against bullying and mean behavior. The W.O.K.E. members hosted a lunch rally complete with lunch time activities. Many students and staff participated in this important event, helping to bring awareness to stop bullying and promote kindness and inclusion. We look forward to seeing how W.O.K.E. will continue to create events and initiatives to support a positive and inclusive campus environment. W.O.K.E. student leaders have organized the W.O.K.E. Lounge at lunch, where any interested students may come to hang out, do crafts, and participate in the positivity. Currently, W.O.K.E. is focusing on grades 6-8. Their next charge will be to strategize their expansion to the 4th and 5th grade classes.
Tolerance Talks 

Along the theme of empathy online, we are focusing on fostering empathy within our community. In late October, staff from LE and LL traveled to Los Angeles to visit the Museum of Tolerance. There, we were given a tour of the Holocaust exhibit and took part in thought-provoking discussions to help us reflect on the meaning of tolerance and to embrace the human spirit. We pushed ourselves to understand and learn from history and moved on to discuss how current events in the world keep us aware of how some people are still mistreating others.  A couple of months ago, we were truly disheartened to discover a hate symbol that surfaced on campus. We encourage you to discuss with your student the impact and meaning of how such actions can cause so much pain to others. To help bring awareness to how our actions affect others, Principal Jones has been visiting all Core classrooms to discuss tolerance and empathy with our students. During his empathy discussions, Mr. Jones engages students in discussions about how we can strengthen La Entrada as a safe and inclusive space where every student feels valued. At the end of his visit, Mr. Jones asks every student to write down three things they will commit to in order to help make La Entrada safe and inclusive moving forward. The middle school students have all been addressed, and the 4th and 5th grade classes will be visited in the coming weeks. This important message about empathy has also been a key focus during our recent staff meetings.

The weeks leading up to the holidays were bustling with events for our school community. We celebrated the various talents of our LE students at our annual talent show. The event packed Jensen Hall with a large audience who were treated to everything from entertaining comedy acts to impressive dance performances. Performers and ASB students worked diligently at practices leading up to the performance night under the direction of Leadership teacher, Teagan Webster, and counselor, Jennifer Montalvo. In addition to this show, we also had a wonderful Winter Band Concert at Hillview Middle School's Performing Arts Center, thanks to Music teacher, Tony Lanzino. The band sounded amazing, and it is exciting to see how our music program is flourishing. Further, we wish to extend a special thank you to our PTA who continually support great events such as the Used Book Fair and the Winter Fair. This year's Winter Fair featured crafts that brought an international theme to the event. Students visited stations to create and decorate Danish fabric stars, Korean bookmarks, Chinese keepsake paper books, Liberian Queah games, and Mexican clay pots.There were also two service stations - a station where students could create appreciation cards for firemen and police officers and a station where students could fill up a pair of socks with soap or shampoo to be donated to a homeless shelter.
Math Information Night

On November 14th, parents/caregivers were invited to attend a Math Information Night. The audience learned about the Singapore Math philosophy and ways to support children in their Math in Focus curriculum.  Adrienne Philippe, Assistant Principal, La Entrada, and Kate Cook, Mathematics Coach and Teacher on Special Assignment, discussed how parents can support children in developing habits of great mathematicians. They focused on how parents can use questioning to deepen math understandings and to encourage their children in problem solving. Parents had the opportunity to solve challenging word problems, in particular, some that illustrate the connection between model drawing and algebraic thinking. 
Our most recent K-5 Mathematics Informational Night was held at Las Lomitas in Cano Hall on February 6th. Parents were given a brief introduction to the history of Math in Focus/SingaporeMath along with a few statistics. We included information about the basic tenets of the curriculum (CPA, problem solving, metacognition).
Professional Development

Our teachers and staff are fortunate to have many opportunities to grow professionally.  So far this year, teachers have participated in a variety of workshops that focus on supporting student learning. Teachers took part in professional development sessions that provided an in-depth look at the Singapore method of teaching math for mastery and continued to strengthen their work in Reader's and Writer's Workshop, to name a few.

In addition to taking part in these valuable workshops spanning from San Francisco to New York, we also had some quality learning experiences during our November Professional Development Days right here at our site and at Las Lomitas Elementary. Teacher from both La Entrada and Las Lomitas participated in analyzing student work from writing prompts. The discussion and analysis that ensued helped teachers reflect on best practices and next steps. Later that day, our School Resource Officer, Mary Ferguson, came to talk to our staff about emergency preparedness. On November 22nd, both staffs met at Las Lomitas to rotate through a menu of sessions that focused on behavior, IEPs and 504s, positivity in the workplace, and socio-emotional learning. Afterwards, the La Entrada staff continued the work with socio-emotional issues by attending a presentation by Molly Henricks, Crisis Coordinator at the County of San Mateo Health System, and by working with the Kognito program. This simulation program provided role-plays for teachers to practice working on their interactions with students in various socio-emotional scenarios.



Student Services


The Student Services Department is responsible for overseeing a number of important areas in our District. Some of these areas include: Special Education Programs, Health, Wellness and Nursing Programs, Home/Hospital Instruction, Education for Homeless Students, Attendance and Discipline.


Wellness News


These days, the subject of student, staff and community wellness is of critical importance in relation to the education of our children. This year the Student Services Department was very fortunate to receive a grant from the Sequoia Health Care District for the specific purpose of creating a Coordinated School Health Care model in the District. The implementation of a coordinated health care model addresses the areas which are most important for a healthy school environment. A healthy school campus leads to optimal conditions for learning. The components of the Coordinated School Health Care model include: Nutrition, Physical Education, School Safety and Climate, Mental Health and Counseling Services, Nursing Services, Family and Community Involvement and Staff Wellness.


Our Wellness Coordinator, Maynell Palmer and the Wellness Committee, comprised of stakeholders from across the District (nurses, teachers, parents, counselors, administrators, classified employees), have worked hard over the past year to begin implementation of the coordinated school health model. A comprehensive School Health Index (SHI) survey was given to help identify primary areas of need in the District. The Wellness Committee used feedback from various sources to determine wellness priorities for this year.


The three priority areas are:


• Supporting and enhancing student mental health services

• Supporting employee wellness

• Increasing family/community involvement


Wellness Committee accomplishments this year are impressive.  


The committee offered workshops and trainings for teachers regarding mental health issues pertaining to elementary/middle school students in San Mateo County. Topics included trauma-informed practices, risk factors for suicide/self-injurious behavior and methods for fostering resilience.


The team applied for and received a Safe Routes to School Grant. They worked with "Parents for Safe Routes" liaisons to ensure safety around student transportation to/from school, especially concerning the major construction projects on campus.


The California Healthy Kids Survey in 5th and 7th grade was administered. The survey collects student data on factors related to academic success such as school connectedness, physical activity, nutritional habits, and bullying. The committee will carefully examine the survey results in the spring.


Finally, the Wellness Committee introduced staff fitness classes on campus to promote employee wellness. They also collaborated with Stanford's Health Improvement Program to offer a wellness-related workshop on Professional Development Day.


Kudos to our new Wellness Committee for their important work in LLESD!


Special Education News


As we all know, the Las Lomitas Elementary School District has a long and successful history of providing highly effective and innovative programs for all students. This year, and every year, the special and general education teachers across the District collaborate together to develop innovative programs that truly benefit ALL students.




Are you familiar with the term "Inclusion"? It is frequently bandied about in education. Inclusion embraces the concept that all students should have the opportunity to learn and grow together. In Special Education, it means that students with differing abilities have the chance to learn alongside their general education peers.  Las Lomitas firmly believes in equity and providing our students with the support they need to be successful lifelong learners. 


While truly inclusive classrooms are often discussed, very few truly exist.

This year, a very successful full-inclusion program was opened in Las Lomitas. Our Special Education Preschool Program (called Strategies) merged with the private Preschool Program on the Las Lomitas Campus (Champions). The two programs are sharing a room and curriculum; the preschool teachers are collaborating and co-teaching as a team. The littlest ones are growing and thriving in the inclusion setting!

The seeds of the preschool plan were planted months ago. A great deal of planning and training has gone into making the blended classroom a model program. Congratulations go to all involved with this special inclusion classroom. The Las Lomitas Elementary School District continues to be on the cutting edge of innovative and successful educational programs for all students.

Also this year, we have taken our inclusion program a bit further and have incorporated co-teaching in one of our third grade classrooms. This model of inclusion allows both students with special needs to learn alongside their typically developing peers while being taught by two teachers with the support of an instructional aide. Along with being excellent peer role models, the typically developing students build leadership skills, empathy, and compassion for students with special needs. Las Lomitas has had a history of supporting all students at our schools. From our award winning Strategies Program, to more push-in services provided by our RSP and Language Lab teachers, we continually look for ways to minimize the impact of lost instructional time due to transitions in and out of the classroom. This also allows greater exposure to grade level content.



Curriculum and Instruction


New CA Accountability Dashboard


The California Department of Education recently launched an update of the California School Dashboard, a key element of the States' new school accountability system. The California School Dashboard (http://www.caschooldashboard.org) is an online tool designed to help communities across the state access important information about K-12 schools and districts. The Dashboard is just one step in a series of changes that have raised the bar for student learning, transformed testing, and increased the focus on equity.


In the past, accountability systems for districts and schools relied heavily on test scores. But one test taken on one particular day doesn't provide a complete picture of all the ways schools are helping students succeed. The Dashboard shows how well students within a district or school are performing on a variety of indicators, including test scores, chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, suspension rates, English learner progress and college/career readiness. The indicators are color-coded - blue is the highest rating and red is the lowest. While LLESD's Dashboard highlights many success stories, for example, we maintained blue and green performance levels in English Language Arts and Math achievement and suspension rates, our next steps are to dig deeper into the data by subgroup and use the information to strengthen our programs to ensure the success of ALL students. The CA Dashboard data will be used to develop our Local Control and  Accountability Plan (LCAP) and programs based on solid information about student needs. The LCAP will include academic and non-testing accountability measures which indicate how we are providing services.


CAASPP Achievement Results


The 2017 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System includes online summative assessments: Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments-English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics and California Alternate Assessments-English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics. The summative assessments are comprehensive, end-of-year assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and are taken each spring by all 3rd - 8th grade students. The results are released in the fall and used for local program accountability and are part of the California School Dashboard published in December each year. In spring 2017, 85% of LLESD students were proficient in ELA and 81% proficient in Mathematics. This was an improvement over the 2015 and 2016 scores. In addition to our overall improvement, we showed academic improvement by Students with Disabilities and of our Ethnic subgroups in ELA.  


Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)


The LCAP is a three-year plan that describes the goals, actions, services, and expenditures to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities. The LCAP provides an opportunity for local educational agencies (LEAs) to share their stories of how, what, and why programs and services are selected to meet their local needs. We are in the process of updating our LCAP based on the Spring CAASPP data, local achievement data and the California School Dashboard.  Our 2017-18 Plan can be reviewed at https://llesd-ca.schoolloop.com/.  There will be opportunities to contribute to the 2018-19 planning during our stake holder engagements sessions being held this spring.


Hour of Code


Code.org is an organization dedicated to exposing more children to computer coding education.  Dec 4-10 was Code.org's Hour of Code week when over 1000 students across LLESD joined tens of millions of students in 180+ countries in practicing coding exercises. We kicked off the worldwide event with a family coding night. Over 250 participants came together to learn more about computer science and the Hour of Code and to hear from special guest speakers, Haley Rosen and Hala Keilany  (VR in sports optimization and Socio Emotional Learning) https://vhil.stanford.edu/projects/ and https://strivr.com/ Emmie Tze Thomas: creator of KNOWJI, http://www.knowji.com/apps/. The students practiced a variety of coding through multiple apps and explored the world of Virtual Reality with the support of parent, teacher, and student volunteers.


La Entrada and "Tech for Good" Hour of Code Theme Brings Silicon Valley Industry Leaders During Hour of Code Event December 4, 2017

We live in a world surrounded by technology and it continues to evolve.  We know that whatever field our students choose as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly depend on understanding how technology works and how to use it wisely.

That's why our district has joined one of the largest learning events in history: The Hour Of Code. The Hour of Code is an event that has reached more than 100 million students in 45 languages worldwide! Our school participates in Hour of Code Computer Science Week every year.

Our yearly participation in Hour of Code is making a statement that Las Lomitas Elementary School District (K-8) is ready to teach these foundational 21st-century skills. Our school district provided families and the community an Hour of Code Event on December 4, 2017 at La Entrada School which included coding activities in our computer labs, elementary robotics, a virtual reality (VR) lab sponsored by STRIVR and HTC VIVE/ SVP and Rikard Steiber, unplugged activities, and a Ted Talk format where we invite Technology Industry Leaders in the Silicon Valley to inspire students with a snapshot of their journey with technology and their careers.

Our theme this year during our Hour of Code Event was "Technology For Good." Our speakers this year taught our students about how technology can be used for good.  Emmie Tse Thomas, founder of  KNOWJ I spoke about her struggle as an immigrant in NYC's Chinatown as a child and how, though she became a successful business executive, decided to develop a vocabulary app which soon became an award winning product. Haley Rosen and Hala Keilany, professional athletes and employees of STRIVR  recommended by Stanford VHIL and Jeremy Bailenson spoke about how VR is being leveraged to help pro athletes improve skills as well as to provide empathy training for medical professionals. These technology industry role models gave students a snapshot of how balance in their online, and offline tech lives and how dreams and passion can fuel a successful career!



Parent Education Series


We are excited that Las Lomitas and La Entrada are partnering to provide a quality Parent Education program for our district. Last year, we hosted the documentary Screenagers, had former Stanford Dean and author, Julie Lythcott-Haims speak about her book,

How to Raise an Adult, and Dr. Stuart Brown share with us the importance and science of play.


This year, we have had author Devorah Heitner discuss her book, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World, and presented the documentary, Angst. We look forward to presenting The Well Balanced Child through Challenge Success-Stanford.  


At this year's first Parent Education Series in collaboration with Director Charlene Margot, we hosted Dr. Devorah Heitner, the nationally acclaimed author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World. She provided insight and advice to help families navigate the digital realm with empathy. The technological advancements in social communication tools can be both enticing and confusing, and as a result, common etiquette can often be lost in all of the excitement. One take-away message from the event was that adults need to serve as role models in how and when they use technology, as adolescent minds know no boundaries without guidance. The goal is to help mentor children to become the best people they can be, both face-to-face and online.