Portola Valley School District
News & Views
Eric Hartwig, Interim Superintendent
In This Issue
4575 Alpine Road
Portola Valley, CA  94028
(650) 851-1777
Eric Hartwig
Interim Superintendent


Caitha Ambler   Trustee

Gulliver La Valle  Trustee

Tim McAdam  Clerk

Karen Tate  President

Jennifer Youstra  Trustee





Portola Valley

Working together to achieve common goals.

Being consistently honest and trustworthy.

Having regard and concern for yourself and others while accepting individual differences and the right of others to hold divergent views.

PV Town Center Master Plan
Your Input Requested!
The Town of Portola Valley invites you to join and participate in its Town Center master planning process. For the details,  click here . You can also visit the official site for providing input by  clicking here .

Friday, September 30, 2016
Dear Parents and Families,

Tis Autumn...we are six weeks into the new school year and I'm happy to say that teachers and students have been hard at work. See below (Summer Highlights) for more details on what teachers worked on over the summer.

We have also started work on our Facilities Master Plan, with the help of Cody Anderson Wasney Architects. This will be a year-long project which involves assessing current facilities, projecting future needs, and defining optimal learning environments for our students. We will be seeking input from parents, students, and educators and we will seek broader community input through forums and surveys. So keep on the lookout for invitations to workshops and presentations on this topic.

Corte Madera families are familiar with the many projects and activities that are carried out by Dean Kristen Shima. Even a casual observer can see that she is a person who wears many hats....so many, in fact, that from here on out she will be known as Assistant Principal Shima. At its last meeting, our Board of Trustees approved her promotion to the role of Assistant Principal, acknowledging that she has already been fulfilling many of those functions. Kristen will continue with all of the duties you're familiar with, and there is no plan to fill the vacated position of Dean.

-- Eric
New Ormondale Principal
The search for Ormondale School's next principal is complete. Lynette Hovland was appointed the next Principal of Ormondale School at the September 28th School Board Meeting.  Her first official day of work will be October 6th. Sue Sartor and Lynette will work together beginning on the 6th, allowing Lynette plenty of time to explore the school, meet staff, and become familiar with programs before Sue says adieu.

Want to meet Lynette? Come to the ORM Courtyard this Friday, October 7, for coffee and chat, 7:45 - 10:00.

This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Ormondale School, and I know you will join me in welcoming Lynette into the Ormondale and PVSD family. Click here to read the Almanac story on Lynette's appointment.
Summer Highlights
Thanks to a generous grant from the Portola Valley Schools Foundation, the district was able to enroll 8 teachers this summer in a weeklong institute at Columbia University. The institute focused on building capacity in Reader's Writer's Workshop implementation in the classroom. Teachers learned and networked with teachers from all over the country who are also undertaking similar curricular deployments.

The founder of Workshop was a speaker along with other nationally acclaimed trainers. The goal of this training was to strengthen enthusiasm and leadership capacity in these teachers to support their peers in effective reading and writing instruction. Some of the highlights and comments from teachers were:
  • How to use assessments to guide instruction, and implementing technology into lessons. The power of using student rubrics/checklists, when conferring with students. Learning how to begin building a writer's toolkit for conferences.
  • Learning how to pace better so that we can teach more units throughout the year. Making sure to have pieces of writing that are powerful in order to get more powerful writing from the students. Making sure I am keeping up with my conferencing with students.
  • Use of technology within Writer's Workshop structure, toolkits to use during conferencing and small groups, collaborating with educators from around the world, Keynote speakers, etc.
  • Gathering teaching techniques and strategies from the trainers!
  • After the training, I have created a writing center within the classroom, created tighter paced schedule to ensure timely instruction, added new tools to the toolkits and used them within conferences.
  • Conferring techniques, such as having students create their own "tools" (postits with strategies) to place in their books.
  • I have written two stories that are powerful from my own life to share with the students rather than using the ones from the book. It seems much more authentic. Also I am keeping a good pace and able to start a new unit next week for both reading and writing. I have a schedule and am moving around the room and supporting them more as writers and readers.
The district looks forward to continuing this momentum in training teachers internally and building life-long readers and writers across PVSD!

- Jason Borgen, Director of Learning and Innovation
"The Well-Balanced Student" Coming to PVSD
Over the past few years we have offered 'Parent Education' workshops on various topics. Last year parent input indicated a definite need to address anxiety, stress, and resilience among students in our community, understandable given the sad incidents that occurred within the PVSD community and our surrounding neighborhoods. Therefore, a few different parent workshops were held on topics such as anxiety, building resilience, and managing homework for which we invited different experts.

This year, in an effort to streamline these discussions about 'balance', we are working with experts from Stanford University to bring the Challenge Success workshops to the PVSD community.  The Challenge Success schedule for the 16-17 year includes: 2 Teacher workshops, 2 Parent workshops, and a student survey in the Spring. Parent workshops will be held after Teacher workshops, so that teacher insights, feedback, and concerns can be taken into consideration when presenting to parents.

The first of the Teacher workshops is scheduled for the afternoon of our October 10 Professional Development Day. The Parent workshop will follow on October 27, at 6:00 pm. Below is a brief description of content:

The Well-Balanced Student: How Educators Can Foster Engagement and Well-Being

In a high-stakes, high-pressure culture, parent and school expectations may have unintentional but damaging effects on students. Increasing demands on students may lead to unhealthy stress, resulting in burnout, disengagement, or debilitating physical and mental health symptoms. This workshop examines the tension that parents, students, and teachers often experience over issues such as homework, grades, and the culture of competition, and offers tools for creating a healthier school climate.  In this workshop you will:
  • Explore the latest research on student health, school engagement, and school reform practices
  • Examine how students today are coping - or not - in the high-pressure, fast-paced culture
  • Learn effective strategies to work with students and their parents to reduce performance pressure and stress without sacrificing achievement or engagement in school
Further information about Challenge Success can be found at  http://www.challengesuccess.org/.

-- Minoo Shah, Ph.D., Director of Student Services