June 7, 2017 La versión en español
Dear Old Adobe Union Families,
What an amazing year! Our staff cannot thank you enough for your tremendous support of the Old Adobe Union schools, the teachers, and of course your children. We know how busy life is in the 21st century and we appreciate all of the time you give to communication, special events, classrooms, school volunteering, and daily interaction with your child about school. I hope you have a moment to read this “wrap up” of the year.
Math has really taken off in Old Adobe Union in the last couple of years. This year at grades K-5, teachers worked collaboratively at each grade level in four key planning sessions spaced throughout the year while 6th grade teachers shifted to a coaching model with their lead coach from CPM. Both programs were stronger and more consistent as our year 2 internal measures showed over a year’s growth for the average student. Students are gaining skills in problem solving, articulating mathematical thinking, understanding deeper concepts, strategy and numeracy in math games, working collaboratively, and basic math numeracy. When math presents itself this summer feel free to put your children on the spot. Math is all around us and it can be quite motivating for students to see how much it impacts our daily life.
With nearly 500,000,000 words read this year, Old Adobe Union students are reaching new heights in independent reading. Every school in the district set a new “high score”. In addition to independent reading, we also began a new program this year to increase work in non-fiction (newsELA) and an early reading program for K-3 students (Lexia) that shows great promise in accelerating and supporting our readers. In 2016-2017 we experimented more with writing, pushing it into other academic areas and expanding our Write Tools pilot. This work will continue next year and I expect you will see more writing than ever.
We hope that you agree that your children are having quite a bit of fun along with all of this hard work. 2016-2017 was year 3 of our revitalized music program. I had the pleasure of attending music concerts from across the district and progress has been impressive. Several long time members of the community commented that this is the strongest it has been in over a decade- and we are just getting started! This year was also the third year of our outstanding physical education and Healthy4Life program. With SPARK training and materials and a great team approach, our PE techs work with all Old Adobe Union students for about 100 minutes a week. We are also proud of our running clubs, Zumba classes, and culminating Eastside Relays event. Our fabulous and fit students should be ready for an active summer.
I will also proudly say that we LOVE field trips. With our teachers’ passion, our terrific transportation department, our curious and well behaved students, and our super chaperone parents, we took advantage of learning opportunities throughout Petaluma and beyond. In the upper grades this included some overnights including the unmatched Old Adobe Union 6th grade outdoor education camp. Field trips, visual arts, libraries- we’ve got it all and will continue to build on these strengths next year.
As you are probably aware, Old Adobe Union has been adding students rapidly. Our rise from about 1,650 students in 2013-2014, to over 1,900 in 2017-2018 means additional classrooms at two of our schools (Loma Vista and Old Adobe) this summer. This facilities work follows the modernizations at Loma Vista (2013), La Tercera (2014), and Miwok Valley (2016). In the past couple of years we have also added solar power to four sites, play structures to three sites (the other two, Old Adobe and Sonoma Mountain, will have new play structures this summer/fall), asphalt work in several areas, and other projects. We appreciate the community support for the facilities bond which made it all possible, and the cooperation with which all of the work has proceeded.
Speaking of the bond, it also supported technology in Old Adobe Union and 2016-2017 was another banner year for our tech work. On the infrastructure side I can highlight our transition to an internet based phone system which, over time, will save us thousands of dollars every year. In the classrooms 2nd grade became a 1:1 environment (one Chromebook for every student) and we added touch-screen Chromebooks to 1st grade. Each year teachers improve their ability to use technology as an accelerator- this year using Lexia to drive early reading, newsELA to improve nonfiction reading skills, and expanding the use of Google docs for writing, slides, and collaborative work. I bet your student speaks highly of their technology based learning time. It is fun, personalized, and productive.
Throughout this letter I have shared many aspects of Old Adobe Union and how we work together, but we also have focused on developing unique programs at every school in the district. This began with the launch of the “in district” charter schools several years back and has accelerated the last three years. We now have developed the first STEM elementary school in Sonoma County (La Tercera), an outstanding TK-6 Dual Immersion school (Loma Vista), an excellent Music and Arts showcase school (Sonoma Mountain), an Ecology and Arts school with a world class garden (Old Adobe), and the only Expeditionary Learning (EL) school in Sonoma County (Miwok Valley). These focus areas offer choice for families, but also an opportunity for the staff and parent community to focus on something unique and special to build learning around during the elementary years. We are having fun with it and the progress has been impressive.
While two full pages is not nearly enough to brag about all of the great work of this amazing staff, it is more than enough for this letter. Thank you for reading! We hope you have a summer filled with friends, family, fun, and, of course, lots of learning.
Jason Lustig Yamashiro