Charter News  • December 6, 2019

“It is never over, though we are in December!”
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah


Dear Charter Families,


I have really enjoyed walking into the classrooms the last week; all the students have been busy with their work, asking questions when needed to both their teacher as well as their table partners, respectfully managing their own conversations and noise levels so that their peers could work.  There was definitely a stronger sense of classroom cohesion in every classroom I visited, and plenty of caring language between each other. The students' active and respectful listening is getting better, thus the classroom discussions are getting deeper and more thought-provoking. Quite nice.


And speaking of nice, our annual Winter Craft Fair once again was a fabulous occasion. This is a voluntary event, with the participants primarily enrolled in one of our K-8 hybrid-homeschool programs and a smattering of crafters from Nature Academy and CRHS. Each class also created a product whose proceeds become donations to their classrooms.  Once again this year, the CRMS class sold their Healthy Redwoods Organic Lotions, QHHS made one of a kind buttons, QHIA made Floating Ink Coasters and Tiles, FCHS had some tie-dyed shirts, and several programs also sold lunch food; yummy soups and chili and homemade breads. New this year is that the 6th-grade Nature Academy students came over during their elective period to participate in viewing and perhaps some purchasing and we also had the pleasure of hearing four songs from the 6th grade Nature Academy Band.


This event is more than just a way to support students and their families working together to create a craft or food to sell, it is also a great community builder for our families. They get to share with each other about their unique crafts and to praise each other's skills, students gain marketing, money and bartering skills. This event has been happening for nearly 20 years!  A huge thank you to every parent who sat alongside their child and helped them prepare for and run their table during the event, for all those who brought their crafts to share and sell, to the food makers, to the District Office staff who come every year to participate, and of course to teachers Amber W. for being the point person, and to Katie P. for helping with the setup and takedown and to all the many parents, grandparents, and friends who made it so wonderful and rich.


Please read on to hear from our Mental Health Counselor, our Nurse, as well as tidbits from the Charter Programs.


Thank you for sharing your children with us.





FROM OUR COUNSELOR: “Oh, the places our behaviors will go!”


Hello families!  

This month we will dive into the third portion of the “Me” in “Me, You and the World” and talk about identifying our behaviors. It’s difficult to talk about behavior without looking at the connection to our thoughts and feelings.  This month the students and I will discuss the relationship between all three: thoughts to feelings to behaviors.  We will discuss the difference between REACTING and RESPONDING behaviors. We will look at different types of reacting behaviors, including “The 4 Horseman - 4 types of reacting behaviors that tend to end relationships - (1)judgemental attitude, (2)oppositional behavior, (3)denying responsibility and (4)shutting down.  Sometimes it helps to have simple categories for this complicated information so students can pause and reflect...thinking things such as, “hmmm...maybe I’m reacting with one of the 4 horsemen!”


We had an interesting discussion in one of the classrooms today about how this applies to social media and digital communication.  You could ask your students if they feel it’s easier to simply react (rather than thoughtfully respond) when they are on social media/texting.  What makes it easier to slow down and think carefully about how to respond? Talking to a friend or adult? Journaling? “Sleeping on it”?


So far, I’ve been so impressed with the students’ engagement with this topic.  Many are so open to talking about their thought patterns and how far they go before checking in, pausing and reflecting on the facts.  Most importantly, we learn to laugh at our mistaken judgments (myself included) and build a spirit of acceptance and non-judgemental support in their communities! This inspires me most of all.


Behavior concepts/tools to consider discussing with your children at home: 

  1. When your child comes to you with a behavioral or emotional problem, consider being a “detective” to weed out the opinions from the facts.  We need to distill the story down to its most basic parts. Often we have thrown in a few opinions which change the story.  This can send the entire chain of events in a different direction.
  2. How did your child interpret these facts?  Could there be many other ways to look at it? Is this black and white thinking (coming from emotional mind instead of wise mind)? The answer to the second question is almost always a big YES. The key here is to find the grey area.
  3. What were the feelings following the thoughts/interpretations? 
    What behavior followed.  Was it a reaction or a response? If there was judgment, shutting down, denying responsibility or downright oppositional behavior, we need to go back and look closer at how we are framing this. 
  4. What is an alternative thought/interpretation?  See how this changes the way we feel and behave?  Can we come up with a response rather than a reaction?
Some tools to consider for working with reactive-type behaviors:
  1. The 4x4, or what I call “breathing in a square”.  Take a small “break” from the problem.  Sit in a relaxed but open position and breath in for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 4, breath out for a count of 4 and hold it empty for a count of 4. Imagine you are following the perimeter of a square as you are doing this, taking a count of 4 for each side.  Some people like to trace the square with their finger as they’re doing it. I like to use this one when I’m stuck in traffic!
  2. Opposite Action.  Some people like to call this tool “first thought wrong”.  Taking opposite action can sometimes break up that oppositional or defiant behavior that’s getting us stuck.  We don’t necessarily have to use a lot of brainpower to come up with something better to do, we simply do the opposite of the difficult behavior (sounds kinda weirdly simple, but it’s super powerful. Try it!).
  3. Radical Acceptance.  Ahhhh...this is my favorite tool.  The more we practice acceptance, the freer we become!  Take a moment….just sit quietly and see if you can practice accepting every single thing you can think of!  It can be pretty hard, but you might find that you have shifted something that you’ve been stuck on for a while!  I felt this when I watched the movie, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood last week.  There’s one scene when he asks someone to pause for a moment and then he looks right into the camera as if asking the audience to do the same.  I felt radical acceptance in that moment. Acceptance doesn’t always mean being passive. It can be the first step towards big action steps!
  4. Willing, open hands.  When you find yourself shutting people out and you really don’t want/need to, imagine yourself with willing, open hands - this can often lead to apologies, forgiveness or releasing judgment. Imagination is a great tool for producing powerful new thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
I’m looking forward to taking all that we’ve learned and applying it to friendships, family relationships, classroom and teacher dynamics, communities and ultimately our place in the world!
Have a wonderful month and a winter break with your families.  I hope you all get a chance to set some boundaries, practice self-care and also enjoy those sweet little moments we have with our children, family and friends over the holidays.
Happy Holidays!
Robin Bates, LMFT
PARENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE: IMPORTANT PARENT INVOLVEMENT: Next meeting will be December 10, at 10 am in the Fall Creek Charter Office  Topics will include Further discussion of move possibilities, Charter renewal and WASC preparation, potential district bond.
These meetings are designed to ensure we have parent input into critical documents that are the backbone of the Charter.  Yearly this committee gives input to our Local Control Accountability Plan (includes our school goals and funding) School Safety Plan, Annual Parent Survey, as well as our 5 year Charter Petition Renewal and Accreditation review.
A NOTE FROM OUR NURSE: Kids and the Cold & Flu Season
Dear SLVUSD Families,
The 2019-2020 cold and flu season is upon us. We are starting to experience a notable rise in “ILI’s” (influenza-like illness) at all of our school sites. We are asking for your help in preventing the spread of colds and flu!
Please check your child before school for signs of illness (runny nose, cough, no appetite for breakfast). Any temperature of 100 or greater indicates illness, and your child should not come to school. They should remain home until they have been free of fever for a full 24 hours WITHOUT fever-reducing medicine. The same rule applies for vomiting and diarrhea! So.... if your child has vomited and/or has a temperature of 100 or at 9am on Monday morning, they should not be at school on Tuesday, even if the fever breaks or they are feeling better during the day. This is important to prevent the spread of illness to other students.
In addition, please be sure to report any communicable disease to the office as soon as possible, including head lice. Be assured that we handle these reports with complete confidentiality. A few more tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • Get a flu shot annually - County Public Health officials are advising that it is time to receive your annual flu vaccination 
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (best) or hand sanitizer
  • Frequently wipe down regularly touched surfaces with an antibacterial wipe (doorknobs, sink knobs, keyboards, desktops)
  • Avoid the sharing of beverages and utensils
  • Teach your child to cover their cough with a tissue or their sleeve (not their hand!)
  • Stay home if you are sick! (must be free of fever and/or vomiting and/or diarrhea for 24 hours)
  • Avoid touching your eyes or face. This is one-way germs are transmitted
  • Check with your physician if you become ill with influenza-like symptoms. Antiviral medication may be prescribed to reduce the length and severity of illness
  • As always, encourage your students to get good rest and nutrition.
If needed, please contact the District Nurse for assistance accessing medical care. Thank you for your help in keeping our students healthy during this cold and flu season!
Sarah Dahlen, RN, PHN, BSN – District Nurse, SLVUSD
What’s Going on in Our Charter School?  ..little snippets of some of our programs. 
CRHS: CRHS students will be joining thousands of students nationwide to participate in the Close Up Foundation’s week-long Presidential Inauguration program in Washington, DC.  Students will be attending the program on January 16-22, 2021. Students will have the opportunity to: Witness the Presidential Inauguration on the national mall and attend a student Inaugural Ball, meet students from all over the country and make new friends, experience D.C: monuments, memorials, museums, neighborhoods, and some hidden gems. Participate in simulation and debates on key issues and visit Capitol Hill for Walking Workshop.
Our Academic counselor, Mary Zilge, is working with students college application deadlines, financial aid and student support.
CRMS: We worked on lotion making and the kids took roles and practiced following written instructions, following lab norms, practicing good hygiene, weighing, measuring volume and temperature, melting, emulsifying, bottling and labeling as we made our first batch of lotion together this year. Students worked on writing based on a selection we read from, Animals Make Us Human, by Temple Grandin about pigs to help inspire further character and plot development in their stories. The kids worked with their partners to prepare and serve their three-ingredient potluck offering.  All the offerings were very tasty! We were treated to three ancient technology presentations on; wheels, chariots, and ceramic pottery. Our school counselor led a discussion with the group on self-defeating thought patterns.
Nature Academy: 6th- We are moving into Proportional Reasoning, students will be working with ratios. We will start our Ancient Egypt unit in social studies. Students are working to write quick drafts of argumentative essays using characters from their books and reflect on other student's work. We are moving into a mask-making elective. In PE we are still in our basketball unit.  Field Trip next week to Gazos Creek with Tim Cocoran. 7&8th-Students will continue working on their individualized ALEKS math, and, as a class, we will be slowing down and diving even deeper in into proportional reasoning.We are also working Weekly on MARS Tasks. History: a deeper dive into the significance of the House of Burgesses through simulations and analysis of official laws passed, and starting our 13 Colonies Research Project Science: Students will be learning how to identify fossils based on their distinguishing features. Language Arts: Students will continue working with dialogue rules in a short story. Fahrenheit 451: we’ll be finishing the novel this week and beginning the prewriting phase of the response to literature essay. Electives/Genius Hour: Our new electives session starts this week. Also, just a reminder that there are two more weeks to finalize Genius Hour Projects (families, please make sure you check in with your child). PE: PE this week is weather dependent. 
Quail Hollow Integrated Arts (QHIA): We finished our Capoeira unit with a huge, celebratory class. Pabiba brought two other teachers to help demonstrate the expert levels of play, and to take turns playing with all of the kids. We also focused on gratitude, watching a short film, “The Science of Gratitude ”This is one of many meaningful and community building activities we enjoy doing with our students. They are an amazing group of young people. Our mental health counselor, Robin, came by for our monthly workshop. This time we focused on self-assessment in regards to our behaviors. Marie and I, in our grade-level groups, gave the students math MARS tasks, which focus on critical thinking and real-world applications of math concepts. We will continue to use these in our math independent study time and have students discuss strategies as a group. Finally, Cayden shared a slideshow and presented it to us with details from his trip to New Orleans.
Quail Hollow Homeschool: It was great to check-in and share about our Thanksgiving breaks. We discussed our booth for the Winter Holiday Craft Fair - and made a class "booth" frame out of PVC Pipe. Robin came in and shared about Behavior and how it is the action of Feelings and Thoughts (which she has discussed with the class already). She gave a strategy to help with this. 4-5th grade worked on painted rock plant labels with Melanie for a rainy day garden activity. 1st-2nd grade friends worked on hidden pictures with 100 chart and 3rd graders worked on reteach lessons on odd and even numbers. We talked about the Rise of Industrial America and specific reasons people came to the US.  We added the events 4th and 5th-grade friends came up with that were significant to our timeline and then brainstormed what we know of Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny.
Fall Creek Homeschool: We each made a table loom by hammering the frame together and then nailing 42 nails into it to hold the warp threads. Students strung their looms with the warp (vertical strings) and wound yarn around shuttles made from popsicle sticks.We listened to the book Sylvester Jones and the Voice in the Forest about a boy who knows his forest well and learns the difference between quail calls from different species. We made a page for our botany notebooks on dendrochronology – the science of telling a tree’s age by counting its rings. We listened to Peter S. play “Waltzing Matilda” on the violin and heard a bit about the history of the song. 
Dates to Remember: (Please refer to your program’s newsletter for greater detail regarding dates and details specific to your program’s Field Trips and class events.)
  • December 23-January 3: Winter Break
  • January 6: School resumes
  • January 20: NO SCHOOL - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Friday, January 31: NO SCHOOL - Professional Development Day
  • Monday, February 10: NO SCHOOL
  • Monday, February 17: NO SCHOOL