Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

Our Director of Development, Carol Goldman, will be launching the Annual Giving Fund Campaign next week. In the next two months, you will be receiving requests to participate, and I urge you to support the work that the faculty and staff do here at Saklan. Our AGF allows us to achieve our goal of going above and beyond and accomplish things like our performing arts program, student leadership opportunities, and facility improvements like the new turf field. I can assure you that we are never short on ideas for improvement and, like all independent schools, we rely not only on tuition, but also donations to provide our students with the highest quality education. Each student at Saklan is in some way a beneficiary of the contributions that you give and all donations are tax deductible, unlike tuition.

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Please remember that school will be closed next Friday, October 20 for a professional development day.  This year all of our faculty will be attending a workshop on Improving Literacy Achievement at Saklan. This workshop will be led by Dr. Kathy Perez, an award-winning classroom teacher, administrator, and author who has worked with students from preschoolers to college graduates. Dr. Perez is currently a Professor of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California and is an acclaimed international educational consultant, author and motivational speaker, specializing in literacy, instructional strategies, and creative approaches to brain research, student engagement and leadership development. She will draw on material from her latest book, “200+ Proven Strategies for Teaching Reading in K-8,” to help our teachers in all disciplines make great strides in literacy achievement.

Have a great weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

AT Flag this morning, our first graders shared what they had learned from their study of Communities. One of the highlights of this unit was a field trip to the Moraga Safeway Supermarket, where they were able to observe and learn about goods and services. Each student shared an important idea that they had studied. For example, Maximillian told us that “communities are where people live, work and have fun.”  To make the presentation more interesting, the audience was treated to three short poems titled, ‘City, Suburbs and Country.’

2nd Grade Drum Circle
2nd grade drum circle at Flag

Next week, we will hold our first Parent-Teacher Conference Session of this academic year. This is an important opportunity for you to learn about your child’s progress and development at Saklan. To accommodate the conference schedule, school will officially end at 12:00PM on Thursday and Friday, with the afternoon dedicated to meeting with your homeroom teacher or advisor. Please note that there will be no hot lunch on these days. The school bus will leave school at 12:00PM and follow the regular route. Arrival times can be found on our website under Transportation. Due to the conferences, there will be no bus monitor in the afternoons. We will have extended day until 6:00PM as usual, and there will be no enrichment classes on these days. All parents coming to the school for a Parent-Teacher Conference will be offered coffee and snacks provided by our Development Office.

Please remember that school will be closed on Monday for a holiday.

Have a great long weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

This week, we had our first Family Group session of the year. Our ten Family Groups are made up of 7 or 8 students ranging from 1st to 8th graders. Each group is led by one or two 8th grade students, who are responsible for running the group activity for the session. The Family Group activity presents a wonderful leadership opportunity for our senior students, helps to build a cohesive school community, and is a vehicle to promote the themes of our SEL program. In this session, the activity was focused on self-regulation, which for students is defined as recognizing or identifying that you need to help yourself to achieve a goal, task, assignment, or being able to get yourself back on track. The Family Groups did a number of activities around this theme and each group produced a poster with suggestions and tools on how to handle a variety of common issues that students are confronted with in school.

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Please have a look at these posters that are displayed on the bulletin board in the entrance way. Here are some samples of what our students came up with:

If you have problems with focus – have a good night’s sleep.

If you have problems with stress – meditate.

If you have problems with silliness – take a deep breath.

If you have problems with anger – walk away and talk with a friend.

If you have problems with giggles – relax and drink some water.

If you have problems with regulation – stop and count to ten.

I was able to visit many of the Family Groups and was highly impressed by the leadership abilities of our 8th grade students. Part of the activity involved taking the Family Group through a tour of the Moraga Community Gardens which is located just down the street from us. Our 8th grade leaders did an outstanding job in describing the organization of the gardens and showing good communication and leadership skills.

This was a great way to start our SEL program for the year. Compliments go to Vickie Obenchain, who is our Family Group Coordinator, and all the teachers who supervised the Family Groups. Our next theme is perseverance and I look forward to seeing how this theme is presented over the next month.

Have a great long weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

Last weekend, we again participated in the Walnut Creek Twilight Parade. On what turned out to be a beautiful warm late summer evening, we had a good showing of parents, staff and friends marching with the Saklan contingent and showing our great community spirit. A particularly big thank you to Christine Kuckuk, our Director of Marketing, for organizing this event and for offering each participant a free Saklan t-shirt. For those who were not able to attend, the t-shirts will be available for purchase starting next week. We will be sending home a flyer and order form soon.

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This Saturday we will have a booth at the Moraga Pear Festival which takes place at Moraga Commons. We will also have a group of students participating in the Moraga Got Chalked Event. If you are at the Pear Festival don’t forget to drop by our booth.

Have a great weekend!

Peter 

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

I was pleased to see an outstanding turnout for this morning’s Parent Association Education Talk on the Saklan Academic Edge. Our Science/STEM teacher, Vickie Obenchain, gave a very informative summary of the latest developments in the STEM program at Saklan and how the results of last year’s fund-a-need drive has resulted in dramatic improvements for the program. She was followed by our Middle School Dean, Kim Parks, who talked about Saklan’s curricular goals and review process. The slides from her presentation can be viewed here: Kim Parks 9.15.17 Saklan Academic Edge  In listening to these two outstanding and dynamic teachers, it is clear why our students love attending their classes. A big thank you to the Parent Association for sponsoring this talk for our community.

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Today, we are having the student council elections and all the candidates were able to give campaign speeches this morning at Flag. This year, we had a total of 10 middle school students running for office, which represents 27% of our MS enrollment. In what is ever more becoming the trademark of our Saklan students, all of the candidates made very well-thought-out, engaging, and often highly creative presentations. It was a delight to see all aspects of the school mission come into play in this event; the courage to run for office and make a speech, the creativity and confidence shown in the presentations, and the compassion of the entire community to support our students in their endeavors.  I am very excited about our middle school student body this year and after what I saw today, am thrilled about the leadership potential there is at Saklan.

Last night we had a great turn out for our Middle School Back to School Night. I would like to thank all of the Saklan faculty and staff for their efforts in making these important meetings productive and informative for our parent community. I would also like to give a special thank you to Stefany Wall, one of our extended program staff, who stayed late for both of the Back to School Nights to provide childcare.

This Saturday evening, we will again be participating in the Walnut Creek Twilight Parade which is a truly fun event for our students. Thank you to Christine Kuckuk, our Director of Marketing, for organizing the event. All participants will receive the new Saklan t-shirt. I hope we will again see a huge crowd of students and parents for this fun event.

Have a great weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

At today’s Flag, two of our Middle School Advisory groups shared the cheers that they had created while they were on the Advance. These were clearly full of the creative spirit and enthusiasm that is a trade mark of our Middle School program, and I commend Kim Parks, Saul Zippin, Vickie Obenchain and Grace Chaffey who are our Advisors this year.

The first theme for our school-wide social emotional learning program at Saklan will be Self-Regulation. A common definition of self-regulation and how it applies to education is, “self-regulation is not a mental ability or an academic performance skill; rather it is the self-directive process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills.” In an article on self-regulation by Joan and Greg Cook, authors of Child Development Principles and Practice, they maintain that:

“One of the most important skills that we develop in childhood is the ability to control aspects of the self. Without this ability we would have great difficulty accomplishing anything, regardless of how good we might feel about ourselves! Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control our own behavior, emotions, or thoughts, altering them in accordance with the demands of the situation. It includes the abilities to inhibit first responses, to resist interference from irrelevant stimulation, and to persist on relevant tasks even when we don’t enjoy them.”

You can download the entire article here.

Our teachers will be addressing this theme in the next month in a variety of different ways. For example, our 7th graders with Miss O will be discussing emotional self-regulation. They will identify various Zones of Regulation, (e.g. Yellow Zone includes frustration, worry, silliness, anxiety and excitement) and find tools to help with self-regulation. Please regularly ask you children what they have been doing around this topic and don’t hesitate to share with me or your teachers.

During this academic year, we will be introducing a number of topics and each will be the central focus of the Family Group sessions when they meet. Here is a schedule of the topics we will be working on this year:

  • Family Group Session No. 1 – Sept. 26 – Self-Regulation
  • Family Group Session No. 2 – Nov. 6 – Perseverance
  • Family Group Session No. 3 – Feb. 9 – Empathy
  • Family Group Session No. 4 – March 7 – Respect
  • Family Group Session No. 5 – April 20 – Responsibility
  • Family Group Session No. 6 – June 4 – Cooperation

Please remember that our Middle School Back to School Night is coming up next Thursday at 6:00PM.  Also, don’t miss next week’s Flag, where student candidates will be giving speeches for the upcoming student council elections.

Have a great weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

Today marks the end of our first full week of regular classes, and I have been very pleased to see how easily our students have gotten back into the routine of school and how quickly our academic program has gotten into gear. At Flag today, Saklan received a Wastebusters 75% Plus Award from the Central Contra Costa Waste Authority for our recycling efforts during the last school year. Under the leadership of our Science teacher, Vickie Obenchain, our entire faculty, staff and student body made a concerted school-wide effort to reduce waste and recycle, and in fact we achieved a recycling rate of 83%.  I was informed that only one school in Contra Costa surpassed us with 86%, so we now have a new goal for this year.

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The presentation of the Wastebusters Award was made by Roger Wykle of the Moraga Town Council. In addition to a nice plaque that will be displayed in the school office, we received a check for $1,500. A big thank you and congratulations to Vickie Obenchain, who is the driver behind our recycling program, as well as all of our faculty, staff and students for an outstanding community effort to address this important issue and demonstrate our mindfulness to the environment.

I would also like extend a big thank you to Kim Manning for again running the school uniform exchange. It was nice to see so many parents walk away from our BBQ with articles from the exchange, which are totally free. I have been very pleased with the excellent degree of adherence to the school’s dress policy. For your reference, this policy is articulated in the Parent Handbook which is available on Renweb, where you will also find the school directory. Please contact the office if you have not been able to log into Renweb, and please do not use the information in Renweb for any commercial purposes.

I look forward to seeing all of the PreK and Lower School parents at our Back to School Night on September 7.

Have a great long weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

Welcome to the start of the 2017-18 school year and to my first blog of the year. School has been in session now for only a couple of days, but already a lot has happened that indicates what a great year we have ahead of us. With 34 new students starting the year, a considerable number of school improvement projects completed over the summer, and a great sense of school spirit and positive energy, I could not be more pleased to see our doors open to this academic year.

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A big welcome goes out to all of our new students and families, and to the new faculty that have joined us over the summer. Our new Spanish teacher for Grades 4-8 is Ms. Ivonne Padilla, who comes to us after teaching last year at Bishop O’Dowd High School.  Our new Grade 5 teacher is Ms. Elizabeth Peters, who previously taught at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School in Orinda and was on the faculty at St. Mary’s College. And finally, we are very pleased to have increased our Extended Program team with the addition of Cameron Brandt and Stefany Wall, both of whom were instructors in our Summer @Saklan program.

While many of you were enjoying a well-deserved summer break from school, some interesting things were still going on at Saklan. Our summer camp grew by 23% and hosted a total of 287 students in three 3-week sessions focused on language and culture.  This proved to be a very successful program which once again won four Best of the East Bay Gold awards from Parents’ Press which were:

  • Best Academic Summer Camp
  • Best Foreign Language and Cultural Immersion Summer Camp
  • Best General and Traditional Summer Day Camp
  • Best Preschool Age Summer Camp

In addition to these awards for our Summer Camp, Saklan also won the following awards for our regular school program:

  • Best Independent Elementary School
  • Best Alternative Learning Styles Elementary School
  • Best Independent Middle School
  • Best Independent Preschool
  • Best Child Care

This summer we also ran our Culture and Language Trip to Japan. This was open to both parents and students in the upper grades and proved to be our biggest group ever with a total of 42 participants. A second summer trip for Saklan alumni involved a group of 13 participants going to the Global Leadership Summit in Paris. Next year, the trip goes to Germany and the Alps and we already have a good number of participants signed up.

A number of campus improvements also occurred this summer. These included installing a new water fountain, eliminating the trip barriers in the pre-kindergarten playground, adding a sink to the art room, and repairing the roof in the math room.  However, the biggest improvement involved our Fund-a-Need Project, which was the complete renovation of our old science room into a new STEM lab. Thank you again to all parents who helped fund this project.

It was so great to see the big turnout of parents for the Beautification Day and the Back to School BBQ, which is hosted by our Parent Association. The 2017-18 year has gotten off to a great start with much enthusiasm, and a determination to make this a great year at Saklan!

Have a restful weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

Today was our last flag of the school year.  It is amazing how fast this year has gone by, but equally amazing how many wonderful things have happened at Saklan. Our flag was hosted by two Kindergarten students, Arik Lopez and Narayani Chandra, who showed the confidence and courage to speak in public, which is a trademark of Saklan. At flag, we also recognized our student council and gave out student council awards. Our two Co-Presidents, Mikayla Perrin and Kylie Choi, have shown outstanding leadership this year, which is another trademark of Saklan students. A big thank you to our Middle School Dean, Kim Parks, for advising the student council and helping to develop the skills of leadership, community service and collaboration, which we have seen grow stronger in our student body.

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Another area where great leadership has been shown is in our Parent Association. The well-attended, well-supported, and well-organized community events this year, such as our stellar Family Fun Night, is due to the efforts of our Parent Association. A big end-of-year thank you to our PA Board, which is made up of:

Co-Presidents: Vivian Ma & Jen Cogen

Secretary: Sandy Lo

Treasurer: Jenny Park-Choi

Communications: Lori Anders

Room Parent Coordinator: Sandy Lo

Next week is our last week of school and on Monday, our students will have fun participating in the Family Group Field Day. This is the last event in our Family Group program and is one that highlights the sense of community and “being at home” which our students feel while they are at school.

Enjoy your weekend!

Peter

Head’s Corner

Dear Saklan Community,

This year’s Family Fun Night truly lived up to its name as there were lots of families and it was FUN. What a great idea to get us ready for the summer with an event that combines relaxing on our turf, a wonderful BBQ and a good movie. Many thanks to the Student Council and Parent Association for organizing this event and a particular shout out to Jenny and Mike Choi for providing the delicious barbecued pork.

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Thanks to our parents, their families and friends, The Saklan School has a long-standing history of being voted BEST OF in this annual contest put on by Parent’s Press which remains open until the end of May.  Please take a moment to vote for your favorite school and note that there are separate categories for: 1) Preschool  2) Elementary School  3) Middle School  4) Summer Camp. Just follow this link to vote. This is one of the easiest things you can do to benefit our school!

A big thank you to all of our families for spreading the word about Saklan to friends and neighbors. In reviewing our marketing data from this past year, we see that once again parent referrals are a big factor in attracting new students to Saklan, and we would like to hear your ideas on how we can best get the word out in your communities. We will be holding an open meeting on the topic of how parents can support the marketing of Saklan on Friday, June 2, at 8:45in the Library. This meeting is intended for everyone interested in sharing ideas on how to attract great new students to our school. Coffee will be provided.

All parents are invited to our Graduation Ceremony on Thursday, June 8 at 10:00AM at the Holy Trinity Cultural Center. Come and hear what our graduates say about their experience at Saklan and share their goals for the future. This is a great opportunity for our community to see what is in store for their children and celebrate the students that have graduated with a Saklan diploma.

Have a good long weekend!

Peter