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Community Matters Quarterly

Winter 2019
World Class. Community Funded.
The Community Newsletter
of your Menlo Park City School District
From Superintendent Burmeister
Happy New Year! I hope this finds you well and you are enjoying the start to 2019. It may be a new calendar year but we are about halfway through the school year already! We have accomplished much and are looking forward to a wonderful second half. This newsletter shares many of our recent highlights with you.
Recently at our own Speaker Series, it was a privilege to host my friend Frank DeAngelis, retired principal of Columbine High School. If you missed the talk, I invite you to watch the video or read the Almanac's article about it. One of the things that struck me most in our conversation, is our collective need to re-engage and remain connected with our youth, our own children and our friends' and neighbors' children. I've addressed this idea of community parenting more deeply in my latest Sup'sOn blog which I welcome you to read.

Thank you for supporting YOUR community school district. You are always welcome to reach out with questions at [email protected] .

The first Sup & Sandwich lunch last fall was a success! Superintendent Burmeister will be hosting again on April 19 at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center in Menlo Park . Please join him for an overview of the state of our district, and plenty of time for questions and socialization with you. And we will provide a light sandwich lunch! We look forward to meeting and talking with you soon.
Dates to Note

All School Board meetings are held in the TERC Boardroom,
181 Encinal Ave., Atherton

February 2 - Laurel School hosts the 2nd Annual Dual Language Immersion mini-conference , "Together Increasing the Rigor of Our Instruction"

February 10 - Sup's On at MP Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

February 12 - School Board meeting, 5:00 p.m.

February 13 - Speaker Series : "The Science Behind Smartphones, Social Media and Protecting our Children's Mental Health" 6:30 p.m. Hillview PAC

March 12 - School Board meeting, 6:00 p.m.

March 24 - Sup's On at MP Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

March 27 - Speaker Series: "The Importance of Teaching Compassion to Our Kids" 6:30 p.m. Hillview PAC

April 9 - School Board meeting, 6:00 p.m.

April 19 - "Sup & Sandwich" community event with Erik Burmeister, Arrillaga Family Event Center, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. RSVP here

April 28 - Sup's On at MP Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
MPCSD Hosts Upcoming Education Events
Your School Board, Working for You
The MPCSD Board of Education made some changes over the fall as long-time members Joan Lambert and Terry Thygesen stepped down and Sherwin Chen and Scott Saywell took their oaths to became the newest members of the Board. Read more about members Chen and Saywell and their priorities in this Almanac article . Stacey Jones began her second term, and incumbents David Ackerman and Caroline Lucas round out the five seats. In its annual reorganization, Mr. Ackerman was elected president and Ms. Lucas vice president. Here are some of the other stand-out moments from recent meetings:
At the October 9 meeting, a preliminary report on the most current California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Summative Assessments was presented. See the  report here . Our students continue to perform well in Math and English Language Arts, and we are especially proud of the achievement gains made by many of our underrepresented groups.
At the November 14 meeting, outgoing school board members Joan Lambert and Terry Thygesen were acknowledged for their many years of service. The Board proclaimed their accomplishments with resolutions honoring each of them, which you may read here: Resolution Honoring Joan Lambert Resolution Honoring Terry Thygesen . Former Board members Gordon Lewin, Laura Rich, Deborah Fitz, Maria Hilton, and Jeff Child all made public statements of gratitude to Joan and Terry, and family members also attended in support.
Also on November 14 , fourth grade students from Amanda Bowers' class at Laurel shared their experience participating in an i3 classroom, particularly around learning math. The students appreciate the flexibility and ownership they have over their learning, choosing how to show mastery and the many collaboration opportunities with fellow students. Laurel's entire fourth grade is part of the i3 initiative. Read more about  i3: imagine + inspire + Innovate here .
At the January 15 meeting, students from the World Language Program at Oak Knoll attended with their teachers Tomas Ybarrola and Allison Ziff to share how meaningful their learning of the Spanish language is. The students said they appreciate the teaching because it stresses "understanding not memorizing," "hands-on activities instead of worksheets," and "cooking"! They even engaged in a mini-lesson, partnering with Board members, to show how easily they learn Spanish vocabulary with skits, word charts, props, and hand gestures. Board member Caroline Lucas commented that she visited the classroom and has never seen language students have such deep understanding in such a short amount of time. All MPCSD K-5 students receive 1-2 thirty minute Spanish lessons each week with a credentialed Spanish teacher.
The Board also presented retired Almanac News education reporter Barbara Wood with a Golden Quill Award in honor of exceptional journalism. This award is administered by the California School Boards Association and in its inaugural year was given to just 25 journalists across the state. MPCSD was pleased to nominate Ms. Wood for the award. For more information about the award please read this  recent article from InMenlo .

The School Board has also received the district's First Interim Budget Report , and continues its discussion, with input from the Menlo Park Educators Association, on the Teacher Compensation Philosophy . At its January meeting, the Board received the district's Technology Plan through 2022 and began reviewing the district's Homework Policy , that it intends to update over the course of the year.
Fall New Student Registration Opens February 1
Fall may be months away, but it's almost registration time! All NEW students entering MPCSD schools in Fall 2019 - kindergarten through 8th grade - may register starting February 1. To register a new student for Fall 2019, go to  starting February 1 and select the Enrollment link. 

Any parents interested in learning more about kindergarten and the full MPCSD program, who have not already attended an information session, are encourage to attend the information session at Laurel Elementary School on February 7, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Laurel's Lower Campus,  95 Edge Road, Atherton . Families interested in any of our elementary schools may attend this session.

Parents interested in  Spanish Immersion  must attend an information session. Please choose one of the following Spanish Immersion New Parent Information Sessions:
  • January 31, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. - Oak Knoll School-Library, 1895 Oak Knoll Lane, Menlo Park
  • February 7, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. - Laurel's Lower Campus, 95 Edge Road, Atherton
  • February 7, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Encinal School, 195 Encinal Ave., Atherton
  • February 27, 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. - District Office TERC Bldg, 181 Encinal Ave., Atherton
  • February 27, 10:15 - 11:15 a.m. - Encinal Kindergarten Immersion Class Visit, 195 Encinal Ave., Atherton

Help us spread the word with your incoming kindergarten friends! All prospective parents are welcome to attend and learn more about the MPCSD educational experience.
Pre-registration for the district's preschool, the Early Learning Center, continues through February 15 at the ELC webpage . Children who will be 2.9 to 5 years old at the beginning of the school year are welcome to apply. This amazing new preschool is staffed by phenomenal teachers and includes painting, music, world language, outside play, and age appropriate themes like learning about the human body or types of trees.

Please contact the ELC at [email protected] or 650-324-0186 ext. 8900 if you have questions or would like to schedule a visit.
Remember when? Checkout the District Timeline
MPCSD has grown and changed remarkably since its organization in 1880. From the one room school house to the elegant Central School to the modern and tech savvy campuses of today, we have responded to the evolving demographics and needs of our community. The year 2000 marked a milestone as a sustained period of unprecedented enrollment growth began, and the district became community funded as our local taxes were able to provide more funding to the district than state guarantees.
Click here  to take a closer look at the major events that have shaped the district we know and love today.
MPCSD Parent Education Speaker Series
MPCSD offers a high quality speaker series, presenting timely topics and expert speakers . There are just two community interest events left - please join us for one or both! View our full line up and event details here . All events are free and open to the public, and include refreshments and free childcare for potty trained children. Events are held at the PAC at Hillview Middle School, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park.
"How Social Media Affects Children’s Mental Health, and What We Can Do to Protect Them"
Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
Dr. Naama Barnea-Goraly, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and former Stanford brain researcher, tells us exactly what science has discovered about how social media affects our children and how they can use smartphones and social media without jeopardizing their well-being.
"The Importance of Teaching Compassion to our Kids"
Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 6:30 p.m.
This moderated discussion with Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, Kristen Gracia, Principal of Oak Knoll School, and Erik Burmeister, MPCSD Superintendent will present the importance of compassion and how MPCSD teaches and promotes compassion.
Farmers Market Connection Brings Vision Screening to Early Learning Center
Superintendent Burmeister and other members of the district's leadership team make regular visits to the Menlo Park Farmers Market. Among the flowers and fruits and veggies, MPCSD sets up a table with information about upcoming events (like Fall new student registration) or great summer book suggestions for all ages. We make ourselves available to get to know you, answer any questions you may have, and simply enjoy being part of the wonderful community that makes up our school district.

Since starting our Farmers Market tables in Fall 2018, we've met everyone from future students in strollers, to high schoolers who love to say hi to their former principals, to school board members from generations past who reminisce with us and share stories about MPCSD's history. And sometimes, we happen to make a connection that leads to a beneficial partnership for our families. Recently, Tina Morris, president of I CARE, a local volunteer vision screening initiative sponsored by the Live Oak Lions Club of Menlo Park, met Superintendent Burmeister at the Farmers Market table and started up a conversation that led to I CARE screening all 52 children in the district's Early Learning Center. I CARE volunteers use a hand held SPOT Vision Scanner that screens a child in as little as five seconds. The women volunteers are friendly and warm, and the children happily sit for their screening and even get to look at the pictures of their eyes. Three children were identified for further medical assessment, and one family was helped to obtaining a new pair of glasses for no cost. The camera screening is perfect for young children who don't yet know their letters to use traditional chart screening as found in most doctor's offices.

We love that our efforts to be present in community gatherings like the Farmers Market have generated such a great outcome, and we look forward to more partnerships.
MPCSD Makes Headlines
We are proud of our schools, staff, district, and alumni, and their stories have made headlines, too. Please enjoy these articles as seen in local publications:
Music Matters in MPCSD
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” So said Plato over two thousand years ago, and we know it to still be true. Opportunities for teaching and making music abound throughout MPCSD. While many California school districts have shrunk or eliminated their music programs, our community remains committed to offering music at all levels. The value of children learning music is borne out over and over in research connecting music learning to self esteem, collaboration, perseverance, language and math skills. Led by our many talented and specifically trained and credentialed music teachers, the MPCSD music program provides students with foundational skills in a variety of musical areas, and the opportunity to pursue music at higher levels in middle school.

MPCSD Community Gives Back
Every November and December the four schools of MPCSD provide the opportunity for families to give to others in need. Each campus hosts a different type of gift drive, but the generosity of our families is common across the district.

This year,  Laurel and Encinal  decorated giving trees with wish tags as part of their Caring and Sharing programs. The trees support over 100 local families with presents and gift cards to make their holidays bright. At both Laurel and Encinal, all the tags were fulfilled, with hundreds of presents and donations coming from many, many generous families. At  Oak Knoll , students were encouraged to do "Chores for Change" and donate their change to a drive supporting the Butte County Schools Fire Relief Fund, resulting in thousands of dollars raised. It was especially meaningful as students helped other students who lost their schools and supplies in the Fall 2018 Camp Fire. At  Hillview , the Associated Student Body (ASB) leadership students hosted a toy drive for children at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. With hundreds of Hillview students donating, over 200 toys, books, and games for children of all ages were collected. These will provide joy to patients throughout the year.

All in all, our families donated over $25,000, hundreds of toys and gifts, and countless hours shopping, sorting, and delivering. We thank the whole MPCSD community for its kind and giving heart; the community's willingness to share time, talent, and resources over and over is amazing. Our generous families are what make our schools so special all year long.
Community Connection - Engage with Us
Have more questions about MPCSD and its financial stewardship? Check out our Media Literacy & FAQ or use the Interactive Financial Portal OpenGov. Get the real facts about the district's finances.

We invite you to connect with MPCSD in person by attending School Board meetings, our Speaker Series, Farmers Market, student art show at the Menlo Park Burgess Library, and via our Facebook and Twitter pages: @goMPCSD.
Our Schools

Hillview Hawks, Laurel Squirrels, Encinal Eagels, Oak Knoll Otters. These mascots represent MPCSD's four award-winning schools that are the hearts of their neighborhoods and the pride of our community. As partners in educating our future, we welcome your interest, questions, and feedback at any time. Use the links below to access each school's website, or email [email protected] .
School websites:
Menlo Park City School District | 650-321-7140 | Email |
Erik Burmeister, Superintendent
Jammie Behrendt, Assistant Superintendent

Board of Education
David Ackerman , President
Caroline Lucas , Vice President
Sherwin Chen
Stacey Jones
Scott Saywell
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