Head’s Corner

Saklan State of the School Recap

Thursday evening we held our State of the School presentation over Zoom with roughly 60 people in attendance.  The presentation lasted about 40 minutes, including time for questions from the attendees, and went well ( if I do say so myself).  

Like anything else, the product was good because the process was a well thought out collaboration between many stakeholders. I owe a debt of gratitude to Toshie Baba, Lori Anders, Jenny Choi, Mel Zippin, Geri Buhl, and Joanna Kauffmann for all the work they put into making the presentation excellent.

I also want to thank all those in attendance and the entire Saklan community for their continued involvement in their child’s education, and their investment in the success of our school.

If you missed the presentation, you can view it here.

If you are just interested in the slides you can view them here. 

If you have any follow-up questions, please reach out to me at doconnell@saklan.org.

The State of the School and the State of the Community is strong.


Pi Day Competition

This morning, Saklan held its annual Pi Recitation Contest, in celebration of Pi Day, which was March 14. Students who participate in the competition are challenged to recite as many digits of pi as they can from memory – no easy task!

For the first time ever this year, two Pre-K students joined in the competition. Congratulations to Anand and Elliott for joining in with the older students and stepping up to the microphone – we are so proud of you both!

Anand kicked off the competition on a high note by reciting an amazing 51 digits – a tough act to follow! The lower school was represented by Makena in first grade and Kaylah in third. From middle school, Ari in seventh grade and Isabel from eighth grade took their turn in the spotlight.

Each student did an incredible job, but we have to give a special congratulations to this year’s winner, Ari, who recited 101 digits from memory!

Thank you to all the students who participated and all the teachers who supported this year’s competition. We are so glad we were able to keep this annual tradition alive, and hope to be able to have a representative from each grade at a live assembly again next year!


Kindergarten Celebrates Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, and Saklan Kindergarteners celebrated with a musical tribute to one of our most noteworthy female signers – jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald!

While her career included many popular songs such as “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” “Cheek to Cheek,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” it was Fitzgerald’s version of the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” that first got her noticed and launched her into stardom. Saklan Kindergarteners worked with Ms. Chaffey in music class to learn this classic song, and debuted their performance during Friday Flag.

Enjoy the kindergarten class singing “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” below!


Second Grade Biographies

The second graders have been continuing to study people who make a difference, and have learned just how diverse that group can be. From sports stars to inventors to activists, there are so many extraordinary people who make an impact in our lives.

As part of their assignment, every student learned about six people who made a difference in their lifetime – people like Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie, Louis Braille, and Thomas Edison.

Then students picked one person to study in depth, and created a biography report about their lives. They included important dates, key moments from childhood and adulthood, and details about the person’s accomplishments and the legacies they left behind.

We hope learning about these amazing people will inspire our second graders, whom we know will go on to be people who make a difference themselves!


Welcome Emily Cashen

All of us at Saklan are pleased to welcome Emily Cashen to the Saklan community, in her role covering middle school Language Arts for Mr. P, who is on extended leave. As a teacher by training who educates with her whole heart, Emily is an incredible addition to the Saklan faculty.

Emily has been a professionally trained teacher since 2004, when she received her teaching credential from Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga. Throughout 10 years of teaching in the Orinda School District, Emily simultaneously continued her own education through Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

After leaving Orinda, Emily taught middle school math at East Bay Waldorf School, and considers working with those middle school students to be the highlight of her teaching career thus far. After taking some time off to help her daughters transition to new schools and distance learning, Emily is excited to be back working with the students, staff, and families that make up the Saklan community.

Since jumping into her new role, Emily has quickly put together a plan for the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade classes.

In sixth grade, the class will read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. As they read, the class will dive deep into learning about Malawi, and will align their learning with science class with Ms. O. Students will explore a variety of writing genres as well, and will practice the full writing process, including peer editing, citing evidence to support ideas, and composing bibliographies.

The seventh grade class will share the heartbreaking truth of the Japanese-American internment camps through the book Farewell to Manzanar. Reading discussions will align with Ms. Kim’s studies of Hawaii in Humanities class. Writing will happen in many ways, with a focus on fluency and peer editing.

Eighth graders will read Animal Farm by George Orwell, and will study the allegorical meaning of animals, not only in Orwell’s work, but also through shorter stories. They will learn about the historical context of Orwell’s work, as well as how he uses character development and language to get his points across.  Students will write in a variety of genres, with a focus on peer editing.

In all three grades, weekly book shares will help expose students to new genres and unfamiliar authors, and help to broaden their awareness of worlds other than their own.  

Please join us in welcoming Emily to the Saklan community in her new role!


First Grade Guest Scientist

The first graders in Ms. Maria’s class got a special treat when they were visited by a guest scientist…Saklan’s very own Meredith Avant! As part of the first grade earth materials unit, the class discussed how rocks are natural resources that can be used in many things. To wrap up the unit, they welcomed Meredith to their classroom to learn more about the unique drywall product she invented!

Most cement products are made by cooking the water molecules out of gypsum or limestone, and then adding water back in the desired shape of a wall board. This process takes an immense amount of energy. In 2008, Meredith’s company Serious Materials created Eco Rock, a drywall product made from recycled materials and different chemical reactions. The process she patented used just 20% of the energy needed for the typical drywall process. It’s no surprise that her product was named one of the 100 best inventions of the year by Popular Science magazine in 2008, and won the Green Tech Grand Award!

Thank you to Meredith for teaching the first graders that being a scientist rocks – sometimes literally!


Summer Fun at Saklan

Sign your child up for a summer of creative exploration during Summer@Saklan! Saklan’s summer camp offers children the chance to have fun learning new languages and cultures, creating art projects, playing games, meeting special guests, and more!

This year, Saklan is offering two, four-week sessions for both Mini Campers (ages 3-5) and Explorers (ages 6-11), with both Spanish and Mandarin options. Camp days run from 8 a.m.-12 p.m, and feature activities including on-campus field trips, fun workshops taught by members of the community, and projects designed around art, music, language, science, engineering, tech, and more!

A smaller camp size this year means more opportunity for your child to engage in deep learning and creative, outdoor play on the Saklan campus.

More information, including session dates and rates, can be found here.

For fun, engaging learning and play, there’s no better time or place than Summer@Saklan. Join us!


Saklan State of the School

On Thursday, March 18, join Head of School David O’Connell, along with other members of the Saklan faculty and community, for the 2020-2021 State of the School presentation.

The State of the School presentation is an opportunity to hear updates on Saklan’s admission statistics and financials, as well as stories from throughout the school year that provide insight into everyday life on campus. The State of the School presentation also looks forward to the year ahead, sharing lessons learned and strategic initiatives.

This year has obviously been full of unique challenges, with parents and family members unable to enter campus and many special events put on hold. The State of the School address provides an opportunity for the community to learn more about how the year has progressed, and will conclude with time for questions from the audience.

Saklan State of the School
Thursday, March 18 and 7:00 p.m.
Join via Zoom
Meeting ID: 868 3525 0995
Passcode: Saklan


Saklan Students Shine in Lamorinda Idol

A huge congratulations is in order for two Saklan students, Anna Tanner (4th) and Levi Kim (8th) who have advanced to the final of Lamorinda Idol Winter Edition!

Lamorinda Idol is put on by the Lamorinda Arts Council each year, to recognize outstanding singing performances from students in kindergarten through 12th grade who live or attend school in Contra Costa County. Singers can submit performances as soloists or as part of a group, and we’re proud to have Saklan students who have done both!

Anna is currently in the finals for the 3rd-5th grade soloists. Levi is a finalist in both the 6th-8th grade soloist category and the 9th-12th grade group category, as a member of L.A.M.E. 2020.

You can view Anna’s video here, and Levi’s videos here and here.

Winners will be announced this weekend, and on behalf of the entire Saklan community, we are wishing Anna and Levi the best of luck!


Yearbook Dedications

Saklan’s 2020-21 yearbook is in progress, and we’re so excited for all Saklan families to see what this unique year has looked like on campus. We also want to make all families aware of the opportunity to place special, personalized notes in Saklan’s yearbook.

You may design your dedications digitally or they can be handwritten. Special pictures, drawings, and notes are welcome and encouraged!


  • Be sure to include who the dedication is to and from.
  • If handwriting the dedication, please use BLACK INK only; a fine line marker works best.
  • Digital dedications can be submitted to yearbook@saklan.org. If you prefer to submit a non-digital dedication, we can scan it for you.  
  • Please use high quality photos as much as possible.
  • All files must be in JPEG or PNG format at 300 dpi with a total file size of no more than 12 MB.
  • Be creative and have fun!


Dedication pricing :
$25.00 – Quarter (¼) page
$50.00 – Half (½) page
$100.00 – Full page (8 x 10.5)

Payment can be submitted to the front office, along with any non-digital dedications.

Questions? Please email jkauffmann@saklan.org

Thank you for your continued support of Saklan!