Head’s Corner

Everywhere we turn we are getting reminders about how important gratitude is – how it changes our outlook, the way our brain is wired, and our overall disposition. During a year where stress and uncertainty have taken the front seat, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on many of the things for which I’m grateful.

To the ECE teachers – thank you for paving the road for in-person learning, for your diligence and patience and positive attitude when we didn’t have all of the answers. Lastly, thank you for sharing the space that was once all yours!

To the K-8 teachers and specialists – for working your tails off to make distance learning an integrated, full day experience for our students and families. And now for completely starting over with in-person learning, distanced, masked, hoarse voices to be heard through masks – all the while continuing an engaging curriculum. As much as we may want to, we will never forget this year of teaching. Thank you for your patience with schedules, duties, and juggling a truly challenging time. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed.

To the parents – for your support during distance learning, for your commitment to staying safe outside of school so that we could pivot back to in person learning, for being willing to take your children to get a COVID-19 test, for waking up each morning to fill out the Renweb prescreening, for understanding that you cannot come on campus, and for trusting us with your cherished children. We are so happy to have most of the students back on campus this week; their energy and presence has invigorated us all.

To Javier – for your long hours, for transforming the campus so that we could have a safe campus from which to teach, for your always positive attitude and humor, for always being ready to help no matter what. 

To my admin team – for stepping up and taking things off my plate, for being supportive and rolling with everything that has come our way, for keeping me accountable and telling me when I am wrong, for handling the details, for trying to anticipate things before they happen.

To the COVID-19 Task Force – for many long hours of information sharing and conversation, for your expertise, for your honesty, for your commitment to Saklan and our students. To the endless rewrites of policy and dealing with the endless changes to what we know about COVID-19. This has been a long, hard journey, but it has been necessary and immensely helpful.

To the Board of Trustees – for your support, trust and time, for ad hoc meetings and grappling with issues that have no good answers. To your dedication, confidentiality, and ongoing commitment to the success of our teachers and our children.

In gratitude,



Square Pumpkins

Have you ever heard of a square pumpkin? Mrs. C’s Kindergarten class has! The Kindergarteners have been exploring 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes. They built shapes using playdough and toothpicks, played shape BINGO and the shape game, “I Have Who Has.” Then, the students listened to the story, The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, where pumpkins are cubed, triangular and rectangular shaped. Later, the children painted their own square pumpkins. The Kindergarteners thoroughly enjoyed this hands-on exploration of shapes that incorporated math, language arts and Halloween!


Squiggle Stories

Creativity is an important part of learning at Saklan. Every two weeks the second graders free-write their own adventure stories based on drawings they create. The drawings are based on the inspiration of a shape they are given. This allows students the freedom to create a piece of their own original, artistic work.

After students have drawn the picture and written the story, they review it for grammar, structure and content. Once reviewed, the second graders read their stories to the rest of the class, and provide feedback on what they liked about the stories to their peers.

The students read their latest round of stories to the class on Tuesday, October 13. Feedback given to the authors included:

“I liked all the sequencing words you used.”

“The drawing had lots of detail and showed lots of things that happened in the story.”

“You read that with lots of expression.”

“It was creative.”

“It was funny, and I like funny things!”

“Your story was very descriptive.”

Check out pictures of the second graders reading their latest squiggle stories below!


Positive Parenting

The first Parent Ed talk of the 2020-2021 school year was held on Wednesday night with Dr. Chelsey Hague-Zavaleta from Positive Parenthood. Thank you to all those who attended! The topic was “Managing Big Feelings During the Pandemic,” and attendees walked away with some great parenting tools and new perspectives. 

In case you missed it, here are some bullet points:

  • STAY CONNECTED to your child through their big feelings.
  • PRAISE and PRESENCE are the two most effective ways to make a connection and therefore get your child to cooperate. Look for the things they are doing RIGHT and comment authentically. Put your phone down and be in the moment with your kids. 5 minutes of uninterrupted time is more valuable than 30 minutes of getting up to change the laundry or checking your phone.
  • As adults, we need to take responsibility for the emotional landscape; children respond to our state. This means we need to TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES!
  • Don’t try to fix big feelings. Instead, join them. Be present, and validate your child’s feelings.
  • Practice “3 yesses” to connect with a child who is having big feelings. Say 3 statements that you know they will agree with. “You really wish you were still playing video games” or “You were really looking forward to seeing your friend today.” 
  • About 80% of what we tell our kids on any given day are directions or corrections. Try to focus on having 80% of your interactions with kids be praise/connection.
  • There is no perfect parenting. We make mistakes, and then we repair – it’s important for our children to learn that.

Visit Positive Parenthood’s website for more information. Positive Parenthood also has a Facebook page where Dr. Hague-Zavaleta often posts videos with scenarios and reminders; it is a great resource for any parent. Ask to join and Dr. Hague-Zavaleta will include you in the conversation!


World Food Tour

To show gratitude for all that the teachers and staff are doing to create virtual and in-person learning opportunities for Saklan’s students this year, the Parents Association is providing lunch for the Saklan employees once a month. This monthly lunch is known as the World Food Tour, featuring a different cuisine from a local Lamorinda business each month.

The inaugural World Food Tour lunch was held on Wednesday, October 14. The first stop on the tour was Italy, with a menu featuring seasonal pizzas, pasta, salad and focaccia bread prepared by Town Bakery Café. The food was delicious!

First stop, Italy!

A huge thank you to the PA for a wonderful lunch, and for all their support of the entire faculty and staff. We are so lucky to be part of and supported by such a wonderful community.


Name Graphing

Eighth graders in Mr. Zippin’s Geometry Class recently used DESMOS online graphing software to graph their names. The project was part of a unit about relations and functions and was used to illustrate how changes in variables result in transformations of functions. The students practiced using the equations of lines, curves, and circles as well as domain and range to write the letters in their names. Check out two of the name graphs below.


1st Grade Community Study

The first grade class recently completed a study on different types of communities. The students learned about rural, urban, and suburban communities from stories such as Town Mouse and Country Mouse.  The first graders also compared communities of two characters named Miss Rumphius, who lives in an urban community, and Miss Arizona, who lives in a rural community. Using Venn diagrams and drawings, the students demonstrated their understanding of the differences and similarities of the two communities.

The first graders also enjoyed learning about producers and the goods they make, including food, toiletries, toys and cars. Each student made a book documenting how they themselves are producers, giving examples of the things they produce, such as cookies, tacos and paintings. They also drew pictures of the items they consume in their daily lives. Additionally, the first graders learned that many community members provide services to their community, including dentists who clean teeth, firefighters who fight fires, and builders who build houses.

For their final activity in the community study, the students created books about the type of community they would like to move to, showcasing their new understanding of the different types of communities and the types of resources that can be found within them.


Wind Research

The Hoot Owls and Owlets in Ms. Jessica’s class noticed that it has started to get windier outside. The call decided to do some research after one Hoot Owl asked “Where does wind come from?” They learned that research is a good way to learn more about something, and that there are many different ways to do research. The class found a book from the library about weather, as well as a video from the internet featuring an expert. Both resources were helpful in teaching the students that wind is a result of air changing temperatures combined with the way the Earth rotates.

After finishing their research, the class made windsocks. Using paper and streamers each student created a tool to help them see which direction the wind is blowing. The Hoot Owls and Owlets enjoyed testing out their windsocks on the play yard!


Tectonic Plates and Earthquakes

The sixth graders have been learning about tectonic plates, their movement and the immense power the plates have when they move; causing earthquakes and tsunamis. In doing so, each student researched a historic earthquake and examined the influence the occurrence had on different areas of the world. The students then produced news reports to showcase the facts they learned about the earthquake they studied. Their research, acting and directing skills are quite amazing. Below are a few of the news reports for you to check out!

Report of the Great Kanto Earthquake
Report of the Great Peruvian Earthquake


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