MPCSD District Newsletter
May 22, 2019
Providing a world-class, community-funded education.
A Note from Superintendent Burmeister
In education we refer to the "100 Days of May" because everything seems to happen this month! For all the students who had state testing these past few weeks, thank you for the family support, and sending your children to school with a hearty breakfast and a positive attitude. May also brings spring concerts, school musicals, the Schoolhouse Rocks 5k, and Open Houses across the district. I hope you all have the chance to come to campus for one of our events and see the amazing things your kids and their talented teachers have been up to.

And of course, once it's May, thoughts really start turning to summer. Whether your summer is all booked up, or you are still trying to figure out what to do for ten weeks without school, my Sup'sOn blog has some suggestions for making the most of summer for your child and the whole family.
It's time for our annual Community Survey! Please share your feedback; it helps us plan for the future. Thank you! Take survey here.
Farmers Market June 2

It's a new tradition! Summer reading recommendations at our Farmers Market booth! One of our incredible reading specialists, Oak Knoll's Jacqui Cebrian, will bring her famous summer reading list and a table full of examples of some of the best books for kids to enjoy while out of school. Come stop by our MPCSD table at the Menlo Park Farmers Market on Sunday, June 2, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
In This Issue:

  • School Board Report
  • One Community Campaign
  • Transitions @ MPCSD
  • AIMS Program Spotlighted at County
  • Hillview Music Performs Well
  • MPAEF News
  • and more...
We have lots of great district news to share. If this newsletter is cut off in your email browser, please click the "View Entire Message" link at the bottom of this email.

If you have suggestions for stories you'd like to hear more about in future editions, please let us know at .
Remembering Monique Donecho
MPCSD lost a passionate and beloved educator on May 15 with the passing of Laurel art teacher Monique Donecho, following a stoic 15-month battle with Triple Negative Breast Cancer at the age of 37. After beginning her career at Menlo-Atherton High School, Monique settled in at Laurel in 2011, bringing her high expectations and boundless creativity to students in grades K-5. She believed even young children could grasp high level art concepts, incorporating key elements from artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Renoir, Van Gogh and a vast array of materials and techniques into her teaching. Monique was determined to bring out each of her young student’s unique creative expression, giving them all the confidence to find their own artistic voice.
Monique was a teacher who truly knew how to connect with children. Laurel School Principal Linda Creighton remembers Monique saying, " ‘There are not mistakes in art, only happy accidents.’ That meant the world to so many children.” Art in Action volunteer and Laurel parent Cathy Tokic believes that “Monique elevated the quality of artwork of Laurel students with her bold, can-do approach and collaborated closely with parent volunteers in her classroom to impact each student.” With art’s natural combination of other disciplines like math, science, history, and cultures, Monique understood that an arts education fosters bright, creative, and socially engaged students who will grow up to be the next generation of leaders, teachers, artists, and innovators. Her goal was to create a classroom environment for all students to fully engage in the artistic process, enabling them to learn critical life skills. An excellent teacher, she was also a valued colleague who will be remembered as much for her gift in the classroom as for her “wonderful, joyful laugh, which just bubbled up from inside of her,” according to fellow art teacher Christie Giacomozzi.
Outside of Laurel, Monique enjoyed life with her devoted husband Brian, whom she met at San Diego State University while studying Fine Art, and their two boys, aged 5 and 7. Brian recalls, “We would have long painting and photography classes together and get coffee afterwards on the way back to the dorms. It’s special because we have portrait drawings of each other before we were a couple.” Monique’s long battle with cancer brought everyone who loved her closer together. “What we’ve learned as a family is the importance of living in the present. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the worries of the past and future. Each day is a gift and we learned to make the most of our family time,” says Brian.
The Donecho family invites the community to attend Monique’s celebration of life service Friday, May 24, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Charles Church in San Carlos with a reception immediately following in Borromeo Hall.

There will be a paper crane making activity in memory of Monique that the whole district is invited to participate in. Please look for the activity table at your child's school open house over the next few weeks.
School Board News and Views
All Board meetings are open to the public and agendas are published here three days in advance. Public comment is always invited at meetings. School Board meetings are held at the TERC Board Room, 181 Encinal Ave., Atherton.

The next meeting is June 4 at 6:00 p.m. and will include our annual celebration of MPCSD Staff who are retiring, reaching a milestone with the district, or have received notable recognition in their careers. Please join us in thanking staff at this special meeting in the Encinal Small Multi, 195 Encinal Ave., Atherton. Desserts will be served.

June 11 at 6:00 p.m. is our last regular School Board meeting of the year. June 12, 6:00-8:00 p.m. is a School Board special study session on the topic of equity. All are invited to attend and share your thoughts at this meeting. Both of these meetings are in the TERC Boardroom, 181 Encinal Ave., Atherton.

You may reach your School Board any time at .
At its May 7 meeting, the School Board had the honor of recognizing the 57 English Language Learner students who have become reclassified this year as English proficient. These hard working students represent 15 different home languages, and now have the lifelong gift of being multilingual. Thank you to the supportive families that have helped these students along the way, and to our amazing English Learner Services team: English Language Services Coordinator Katherine Strach, teachers Emily Chen, Susan Hogan, Cheryl Marelich, Emily Smith, and Diana Torres. Congratulations!
The Board also received the first draft of the Vision for Outstanding Public Education . This document was developed over the course of this school year with a team of advisors that included teachers, staff, parents, and community members. The Board will now study the document and decide what next steps to take to incorporate the vision into the district's priorities.
One Community Campaign Coming This Fall
There are some exciting changes in store for this fall's annual fundraising campaign. After over a year of planning, the fall fundraising for your school's PTO and our district foundation, MPAEF, will be combined into one campaign.

One gift. One goal. One easy way for you to donate to support field trips, school events, smaller class sizes, art, music, library, science, counseling, and more! MPCSD is fortunate to offer a whole-learner, comprehensive education because of the annual support from families like yours.

Look for the One Community Campaign logo this fall and donate to our wonderful schools. Your donation will be shared between your child's school (or schools) and the MPAEF. Now it will be even easier to donate to keep our schools strong. If you have questions about One Community Campaign, please email .
Moving on Up: Supporting Grade Level Transitions
As another school year winds down, students, families, and teachers begin anticipating what's next. The excitement of finishing a year and starting another is palpable, but is sometimes also balanced with a healthy does of anxiety around the transition between grades, especially as children move from preschool to kindergarten, 5th grade to 6th grade, and 8th grade to high school. Here in MPCSD, our staff and teachers are thinking about these transition points all year, and many supports are built into our program to help students and families smoothly navigate the move between grades.

What are we doing? Here are some examples of transition supports:

Preschool - Kindergarten
The Early Learning Center takes advantage of its location on the Laurel campus to facilitate kindergarten readiness. The ELC program also provides:
  • Class visits to the Laurel library for a tour and storytime
  • Class visits to Laurel kindergarten classrooms in June
  • Pre-K students participate in school assemblies, such as Dia de los Muertos
  • Pre-K Lead Teacher and ELC Director meet regularly with Kindergarten team
  • Curricula and approaches to learning that are aligned with MPCSD's elementary schools, including Counting Collections, Handwriting Without Tears and Project Based Learning
  • "Are You Ready for Kindergarten" guide for ELC parents in English and Spanish
  • Parent-teacher conferences in December and June to discuss children's development and kindergarten readiness
  • Reading picture books about the transition to kindergarten and the first days of school that address children's fears and excitement

Incoming Kindergarten, from all Preschools
  • Kindergarten Information events for parents, held at all schools in January-March prior to fall start
  • School tours for incoming kindergarten parents
  • Kindergarten Welcome Events and playdates, starting in the spring after registration. Families and students can meet each other ahead of starting school. Each elementary school has its own schedule for these events.
  • Tours of kindergarten classes and teacher meet and greets just before the first day of school

5th Grade - 6th Grade
Perhaps the biggest transition that occurs within MPCSD is that from elementary to middle school. The 5th and 6th grade teachers have begun working much more closely to understand each other's curriculum, and help students be ready academically and socially for middle school. Bringing your 5th grader to musical events at Hillview, or the Open House in May, is another great way for them to experience the campus prior to being a student.

Students who make a connection with an adult at school do better academically and socially. Hillview's adult to student ratio is an amazing 1:13! This is made possible by the community and MPAEF support of our schools, including lower class sizes and full time counselors, psychologists, and a wellness coordinator. We invest in our staffing at Hillview to ensure that every child finds a caring and trusted adult to help them navigate their middle school journey.

Other ways we support the middle school transition:
  • All MPCSD 5th graders visit Hillview in the spring
  • Optional monthly shadow days at Hillview allow students to attend class in the morning with a student host, and parents and students hear from the Hillview principal at lunch
  • 5th grade to 6th grade transition meetings for students with 504 plans and IEPs
  • Hillview principal presents and meets with parents at elementary schools
  • 5th Grade Parent Evening at Hillview (spring): an opportunity to meet the 6th grade teachers and front office team, with an overview of the school's program
  • 5th Grade Parent Special Education Transitional Meeting - evening event to help parents understand what their services look like at middle school compared to elementary
  • Hillview New Parent Orientation (fall)
  • Camp Hillview/WEB (Where Everybody Belongs): This unique student orientation program brings 6th graders to school a day before the first day of instruction. 8th graders who have been trained to lead groups of 6th graders and orient them lead the incoming 6th graders in social activities, tour the campus, and get them excited for middle school.

8th Grade - High School
Hillview's counselors are instrumental in supporting the middle-high school transition by meeting with students to help plan courses and ensure that all middle school promotion requirements are met. Hillview staff provides information to families by hosting:
  • M-A Information Night: a presentation by staff and current M-A and former Hillview students on the M-A experience
  • TIDE Academy (SUHSD high school of choice) Parent Info Evening: this is a new small school with a focus on Technology, Innovation, Design & Engineering. It is a public option for all MPCSD families.
  • Summit and Everest High School Information Night: these public schools within SUHSD are alternate choices for MPCSD families wanting a smaller environment

If you would like more information about your child's transition, please reach out to your teacher or school counselor, or email to be connected with the right resources.
New Science Materials
MPCSD's science textbook adoption committee has chosen to pilot two new books next school year: TWIG Science and McGraw-Hill Science. Pilot materials will be displayed for the community to preview. To look at the chosen materials, please come to the District Office at 181 Encinal Avenue, Atherton.

As we transition to Next Generation Science Standards , MPCSD's own Science & Math Teacher on Special Assignment Alicia Payton has played an integral role in not only preparing our own teachers, but science teachers across the state. Alicia has served as a trainer for other teachers and co-hosted a webinar in March for California educators called   Beyond Awareness: The Next Steps in NGSS Implementation.
Hillview Music Notes
Hillview Performs in Disneyland
The Hillview Orchestra and Band will be performing in Disneyland's California Adventure Park this Saturday, May 25, at the Hollywood BackLot Stage. If you are in the area, please stop by and hear them! The band performs at 10:30 a.m. and the orchestra at 12:30 p.m. This is part of the Disney Magic Music Days program, and another great reason to consider joining the Hillview music program.

CMEA (The California Association for Music Education) Festivals
Thank you to the many student and parent volunteers who helped May 10-11 to make the CMEA Choral West Festival a great success! Hilview hosted over 1000 students and 22 choirs from throughout the Bay Area.

Congratulations to the Hillview Concert Band and String Orchestra on their performances at the CMEA Band/Orchestra Festival at the San Francsico Ruth Asawa School of the Arts on May 18. Both groups performed magnificently. The Band received a Unanimous Superior score, the first in over 20 years. The Orchestra received a composite score of Excellent. Keep up the incredible work, Hillview musicians, and thank you to Richard Vaughan for his leadership.
MPCSD Educators Present at County Meeting
The Hillview AIMs (Achieving Independent Minds) Team gave a spotlight presentation this week to the San Mateo County SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) meeting. SELPA is the decision making body for ensuring that students with special needs receive services to allow them to succeed. Hillview’s groundbreaking AIMS program focuses on teaching students skills and independence that will serve them throughout high school and beyond. Students learn functional academics like making purchases and using calculators. They learn how to navigate public transportation, and maybe ride a bike for the first time. They become adept at speaking and advocating for themselves, learning skills like cooking that can even lead to community volunteering or part time jobs. They are encouraged to join after school activities, and families are given resources to help their students pursue interests. One rising freshman just made the MA Cheer Team after a year cheering at Hillview.

Services in the AIMS program are designed to support students in finding their talents, interests and "super powers" while overcoming challenges inherent in their lives. Mini enterprises such as supporting the school store and activities and events throughout the school engage students with peers and provide life and social skills. Hillview’s two-year-old program is breaking boundaries by bringing these life-giving skills and confidence to students at the middle school level. AIMs graduates will take a “passport” of skills with them to high school, and there are no limits to what they can achieve in life.

The Hillview AIMS team (pictured left to right) includes Speech-Language Specialist Astrid Rieber, Special Education Teacher Angharad Musladin, School Psychologist Chris Arrington, and Executive Director of Student Services Stephanie Sheridan. By sharing the success of AIMS with SELPA, the great work of this team can be amplified and brought to students in other districts as well. Well done, team!
Sip Wine and Support Our Schools! Wine Walk on June 1 from 2-5:30 p.m.

Don’t miss this fun event - a great way to gather with friends and neighbors, sip wine, and support our schools. Check in at Fremont Park (Santa Cruz Ave. & University Dr.) and enjoy a fun, sunny afternoon of tasting, strolling, and shopping. Purchase a bottle from your favorite Santa Cruz Mountain Winery and then stay downtown to enjoy over dinner. All proceeds benefit Encinal, Laurel, Oak Knoll, and Hillview Schools.

Click here for more details and to purchase $49 advance tickets.
Celebrate Your Student or a Special Teacher - Make a Tribute Gift to Endowment for Excellence in Teaching

The end of the school year marks an important time in each student’s education - and a wonderful way to honor your child’s elementary through middle school experience is with a gift to Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation’s Endowment for Excellence in Teaching . Your gift can be made as a tribute to your student or to a teacher or staff member who made a difference in your student's life. Tribute gift honorees will receive a notice of your gift and we have found these are very meaningful to people being honored. The Tributes appear on the Endowment Donor Roll far into the future, and the gifts are invested into our Endowment to support the district for generations.

Click here to learn more and make a tax-deductible gift to the MPAEF Endowment for Excellence in Teaching today!

Lynn Eisner, Science & Algebra Teacher at Hillview Middle School, received a tribute last year, and here is what this gift meant to her:  “Receiving a tribute gift for the district endowment is definitely a special way for me to be recognized as a teacher. I love that families are able to show their appreciation by supporting what I care about most - kids! And, how awesome that donations in my honor will continue to serve students long after I retire.”
LunchMaster Data Breach
You may have seen news reports about the hacking of LunchMaster database by rival school lunch provider Choice Lunch. Approximately ten families in MPCSD were affected by this data breach. The data retrieved was many years old (some students no longer attend MPCSD), and all affected families have been notified. We believe there is no further risk to the families that use LunchMaster. MPCSD takes data privacy seriously, and will keep those affected updated as necessary. 
Laurel School's Upper Campus to Host Community Meeting

This is the next project for the SFCJPA and its partners – the cities of Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto and the Santa Clara Valley Water District and San Mateo County Flood Control District. The SFCLPA is hosting a public hearing to share more about the project and receive comments. The Menlo Park meeting is on Thursday, May 23, 2019, 7–8:30 p.m. at Laurel School's Upper Campus Atrium, 275 Elliott Drive. The DEIR is also available for review at the Menlo Park Library.
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent |
Governing Board
David Ackerman , President
Caroline Lucas , Vice President
Sherwin Chen
Stacey Jones
Scott Saywell