Saklan Runs On Volunteers


One of the many strengths of the Saklan community is the base of volunteers we have to help us with everything we do. While the school could most likely operate without volunteers, we would seriously be half the school with half the program if we did not have volunteers helping us. On that note, the Parent Association would love additional support in the following committees. If you are interested or have questions, please email Sandy Lo at!  Thank you for your time and energy!

  • Uniform Exchange Committee – Need 2 more
  • Lower School Musical Parent Committee – Need 1 more
  • Middle School Musical Parent Committee – Need 2 more
  • Auction Committee – Need 3 more
  • Yearbook Committee – Need 2 more
  • Book Fair Committee – Need 1 more
  • Art Festival Support – Need 1 more


Saklan Doesn’t Run On Sugar


In conjunction with the Parents Association, Saklan is working to become more Sugar Aware.

What does that mean?

It means that when we as a school have events or parties, we will be more thoughtful about the sorts of snacks and treats we serve. We will also ask parents to be more thoughtful when they bring treats in for a class by making sure they are not loaded with sugar or unhealthy ingredients. To help with this, the Parents Association will begin posting recipes for classroom treats in their monthly newsletter that are healthier and less sugary. We appreciate everyone’s efforts in moving to a healthier environment here at school. To understand how sugar impacts the brain, click here.


West African Music

This year the Saklan West African Music program is embarking on an exciting and ambitious program. Each class is learning a different style of music from the Ewe speaking people of Ghana.

Ewe music is organized into different styles. Every style has its own set of rhythms, its own dance, and its own songs that are sung. Any one style could have countless drum patterns, choreographies or songs that are composed by master musicians. All these compositions fit within the style of music and are performed together.


The 4th grade is learning Agahu, a social dance that we performed at the Annual Spring Concert last year.


The 5th grade is studying Atsia, a social dance whose name literally means “style.”

The middle schoolers will learn a style called Tokoe which is a rite of passage dance performed by Ghanaian teenagers.

Each class will learn rhythms, choreographies and songs that belong to these styles throughout the school year. The students will improve their musicianship and build community. Saklan students also gain respect for other cultures and develop their listening skills.

Mr. Isaac teaches after school enrichment classes on Thursdays. Students can sign up for these classes if they are looking for more opportunities to learn and participate in the Saklan West African Music program.


Fourth Grade Bookworms

Fourth graders are off to a fantastic start as Bookworms! They have gotten to share their perspectives on our class summer reading book, “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” in our morning meetings.
They are sharpening their place value and multiplication skills through a variety of card games.
Did you know that California is located in the Northern and Western hemispheres?  Fourth Graders do!!!

ALL School Mural

The Saklan campus is getting a makeover! The old wall ball on the sports court is getting a fresh coat of paint that will catch everyone’s eye along the trail. The 5th-8th grade are currently working on brainstorming ideas with a powerful message and theme for the mural. They will draft drawn proposals to be given to the Art Teacher Ms. Natalie and Head of School Mr. O’Connell to decide which will ultimately become the final work of art. Once the artwork has been chosen, the whole school will help paint the mural.

A mural is any artwork that is painted on a wall. Looking back to the discovery of the Lascaux Cave paintings from the Paleolithic Era, the origin of murals provides us with knowledge that is still relevant of artists today. The inclination for artists to express themselves on any and all surfaces granted and available still exists. With muralists socially accepted and in high demand all over the world, I had to narrow down the history of murals I would teach the kids.

In the process of narrowing down content, Ms. Natalie chose Los Angeles (her hometown) and the Mission District of San Francisco. She grew up in awe of the scale and power these murals held in the City of Angels. The students will explore mural artists such as Judy Baca, Diego Rivera, the Oakland Mural Project, and community-based non-profit Precita Eyes Muralists in SF. These two regions of CA have a deep mural culture driven by social justice and providing space for people to tell the stories of history, not in the books. The painted walls provide much more than a pretty picture; they provide hope and power to the people.

The 5th grade is measuring out the mural space and finding the square footage.


Head’s Corner

Words Matter

As a person who went through teacher training, I was taught to set classroom goals with the language of “students will know.” We also framed our conversations about what we were doing in class that day using the “Today I am teaching…” phrase. Both emphasize the role of the teacher when it comes to education.


I bring this up because over the summer our teachers started reading a book called Leaders of Their Own Learning. The emphasis of the book is to help students own, assess and grow from their learning. This starts with how we talk about the process of education. There is a difference in how one thinks about the process when we ask ourselves  “What am I teaching today?” versus “What will students learn today?” One is something I do to students, the other is something they do.

You will start to hear us talking about learning targets and using “I Can” statements. When a teacher writes goals using “students will know…”, it sends a very different message than when we use the language “I can” followed by a specific target. The “I can” gives ownership to the learner. It allows the student (with help from the teacher) to learn how to self-assess their progress and set a new learning target.

And that is the goal of a true learner, is it not? One who can look at what they are doing, assess where they are, and figure out where they need to go next. Interestingly enough, the book points out that the root meaning of the word assess is “to sit beside.” Traditionally, assessment is something educators have done to students. Leaders of Their Own Learning gives us the opportunity to do it in partnership, with the goal that they will soon guide their own learning.


Responsive Classroom


This summer, seven Saklan teachers (Mrs. C, Ms. Puno, Ms. Prizeman, Ms. Rokas, Ms. Burton, Ms. Ivonne and Mr. Crabtree) attended a four-day intensive Responsive Classroom training seminar. For those of you who may not be familiar with Responsive Classroom, it is an evidence-based approach to teaching that merges engaging and challenging academics with the social emotional needs of each student. Much of what Responsive Classroom recommends are practices we already do and believe in at Saklan, but the training has enhanced our toolbox and solidified our approach to working with students. To discover more about Responsive Classroom please click here.


Middle School Advance


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At the start of each school year, the middle school teachers bravely take the entire group of middle school students to a conference center in the redwoods outside of Occidental. We call the experience an “Advance” as opposed to a retreat, as we are moving forward in our lives. The Advance is unique to Saklan and gives us time to start the year working on building relationships. This 3-day field experience pushes the students outside their comfort zone and it helps create a strong  community.


Ms. O to Meet Nobel Laureates in Stockholm

SASTA-VictoriaObenchainThe Saklan School is pleased to announce that Vickie Obenchain, Science Teacher, has been selected to attend the Nobel Teacher Summit in Stockholm Sweden this October. The Nobel Prize Teacher Summit is an international teacher conference held in Stockholm every year. Teachers from over 30 countries meet Nobel Prize Laureates, top scientists and peace activists around a theme of great importance in education. The initiative builds on the ability of the Nobel Prize to inspire people to seek out knowledge, to ask questions, and to attempt to understand and improve the world. This year’s theme is Climate Change Changes Everything.


During her week in Stockholm, Ms. O will work with some of the world’s most prominent speakers, including: Hiroshi Amano (Nobel Prize in Physics), Beatrice Fihn (Nobel Peace Prize), Mario J. Molina (Nobel Prize in Chemistry), Johan Rockström (prominent environmental scientist).

Please join us in congratulating Ms. O.

For more information about the Nobel Teacher Summit, please click here.


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