What is the Ideal Saklan Graduate?

Before the start of the year, I asked teachers to write down words that described the Ideal Saklan Graduate. I then did the same with The Saklan School Board of Trustees and the 8th grade class. What was rewarding to see was the consistency between the groups and the type of traits that came into focus. It was those hard-to-measure but ever-important “soft skills” (confidence, empathy, curiosity, etc.) that were highly valued across our community.

Schools have traditionally seen their primary task as getting students ready for success in high school and college. Unfortunately, this was often translated to mean high grades and SAT scores. I do not want to be quoted as saying those things are unnecessary, but they are also a poor predictor of success in life. Research going back to the 1950s tells us that academic success is a small part of the picture of what makes success in life. 

Word Cloud from Staff, Student & Trustee Ideal Graduate Answers

University of Massachusetts Psychology Professor Seymour Epstein found that success in life has more to do with soft skills than raw intellect (see word cloud). His 10-year study of valedictorians showed that those with high academics had average success in the real world.  While that may be counterintuitive to what we think we know, part of the issue Epstein saw was that these valedictorians lacked those critical soft skills mentioned above.  

One of the things that drew me to Saklan five years ago was the emphasis on helping parents raise “confident, compassionate, good people.” I am so proud to be a part of a school that values the skills that will serve our students well into the future.

With Gratitude,


Comments, questions, thoughts? Email David at doconnell@saklan.org.


Work of Hydrologists

Our fifth grade students met Susan Levenson, an educator with Friends of the San Leandro Creek, in Chabot Park last week to learn about four water quality measures. Susan led the class in collecting samples of creek water to test; students predicted and then measured pH, Dissolved Oxygen, Turbidity (clarity), and Temperature levels.

The class was divided into groups, and then each group chose roles for conducting the tests, including recording and presenting their results. Discussing and allowing for human error, the results from each group were almost identical, showing that their tests were valid and the creek water is very healthy for supporting life! 

For the second experiment, groups chose from given materials to plan an effective filtration system, creating two models.  They were thrilled to see clear-ish water come out of one of them, and clearer water out of the other!  Students’ field work connected them with the actual equipment and processes hydrologists use.  In addition to the scientific process, it opened a window through which students might envision a career in the sciences.  


Fall Festival This Sunday

Join the Saklan Parent Association in celebrating the fall season. Bring the whole family for food, fun, and prizes!

The festival will feature food trucks, three-legged races, face painting and more. Please bring your reusable water bottle with you. Refill stations will be available.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Fall Leaves

The Owlets have welcomed the fall season by making observations about nature. They’ve noticed the weather changing as well as some of the leaves on campus beginning to change color and drop. The class read Wonderfall by Michael Hall and Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Elhert. The Owlets strengthened their fine motor skills by using eye droppers to drip fall colored watercolor paint onto giant coffee filters.

Once the coffee filters were dry, the Owlets practiced using scissors, as they cut the colorful paper into leaves to create a classroom tree.

Upcoming Open Houses

The 2023-2024 admissions season officially kicks off next week! Saklan has several Open Houses planned:

  • Middle School Virtual Open House: Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, 9a.m. – RSVP
  • Lower School Virtual Open House: Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, 9a.m. – RSVP
  • Preschool/Pre-K Virtual Open House: Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, 9a.m – RSVP
  • Middle School Open House: Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, 8:30a.m. – RSVP
  • The Parent Perspective: Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, 12:00 p.m. – RSVP
  • Lower School Open House: Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, 8:30a.m. – RSVP
  • Kindergarten Virtual Open House: Friday, January 20, 2023, 11:00a.m. – RSVP

All prospective and current parents are invited to attend them. Feel free to invite friends or family members to join these events as well.

We encourage Pre-K families to join one of our K-5 Open Houses and for our 5th grade families to join one of our Middle School Open Houses, to see what’s ahead during your child’s experience at Saklan.

If you can’t join us for one of our Open Houses but are interested in learning more about Saklan, we will gladly give individual tours at a mutually convenient time. To schedule a tour or more about the admissions process, please reach out to the Saklan Admissions Office at admissions@saklan.org.


Last Friday morning there was much excitement on campus as we kicked off our learning buddy program for the year! Learning buddies are a purposeful way to encourage cross-grade friendships, help students develop a sense of responsibility and practice mentorship, and make learning fun!

During the first meeting, the buddies took time to get to know each other and did some reading together.

The older buddies marvelously modeled good reading behaviors by reading with expression and fluency for their younger buddies. Some of the older buddies were also honored to listen to their younger buddies read too.

The younger buddies thoroughly enjoyed getting to know their learning buddies, and are already asking when they get to meet with their buddies again!

#SaklanBuddies #SaklanCommunity

Celebrating Creativity, Courage and Collaboration

On September 15th, the third graders celebrated International Dot Day! International Dot Day is a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, inspired by Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot. The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark.” 

The students celebrated dot day by reading and discussing the book together as a class. Then the third graders worked together to create three collaborative dot paintings!  Check out their creations below.


Parent Ed on Tuesday

Let’s foster some superhero behavior in our kids! Join the Saklan Parent Association on Zoom September 27, 2022 from 7-8 p.m. for a Parent Education session full of tips on how Saklan families can take small, attainable steps to make a difference and improve our environment. Our presenter, fellow Saklan parent Scott Cashen, is an environmental scientist who will provide information and extend some challenges that we can all accomplish. The students will have a chance to be recognized at school throughout the year as they meet the challenge goals. Join us to learn about small steps we can all take and support the students’ success! 

The Zoom link for the event can be found in the September 22nd Next Week at Saklan email.

Hoot Owl Houses

The Hoot Owls have been talking about the differences between home and school. They read the books Home by Carson Ellis and The House that Jill Built by Phyllis Root. They then reviewed the shapes square, rectangle and triangle, and math terms like small, medium and large, and then talked about how they could use the shapes and sizes to construct an image of a house.

Some Hoot Owls made realistic houses while others chose to use their imagination and create a pretend house. Students who are getting the hang of writing chose to write either the word “house” or “home” on their artwork. Next students were asked, “Who lives in your house?” This led many Hoot Owls to draw their families inside their homes.

Have Old or Outgrown Sneakers?

The sixth grade students will be learning about human environmental impact and how they can help in science class this year. As part of their study, they will have the opportunity to participate in service learning projects. Service learning is an educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide learning opportunities that help tackle real-world problems that help one’s community.

The sixth grade has partnered with GotSneakers, an organization that helps keep sneakers out of landfills by recycling and reusing them. Each pair donated can earn their class money, which they are going to use to combat the human environmental impact by putting it towards species conservation. Examples may include:

  • Donations to wildlife centers 
  • Symbolic species adoptions
  • Materials to build bird boxes

Please help the sixth graders by donating any size sneakers you no longer want.

A bin will be placed in the breezeway during the last week of every month. Please place your unwanted pair of sneakers in the box during that time. Any size and brand of sneakers are welcome. But, sneaker-style shoes only, please!


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