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September Message: Welcome back to a new school year!

September 5, 2018

 

Dear Friends,

I am so pleased to welcome our families back for another school year!  We have terrific activities planned at each of our schools, as well as engaging lessons delivered through proven and innovative teaching techniques. But we know that best practices are only one part of the equation. It’s our relationships with students — how we reach out to the children and how they respond — that lie at the heart of effective teaching.

This year, we consulted the real experts — the children themselves — to learn what behaviors they especially appreciate from their teachers. One student said she does best when the teacher offers an encouraging smile. Another liked it when the teacher told a funny story to cheer up a classmate. One boy said he appreciated being challenged to try new things. No two answers were the same, but there is one message we heard loudly and clearly in every child’s statement: when it comes to working with children, every interaction matters.

Our recent interviews with the children served as a good reminder that our work is not just about sharing knowledge and building skills. It’s about helping children see their own value and develop a belief in their potential to grow and learn. Our children remind us that we must listen to students with both our ears and our hearts, and respond with our compassion as well as with our voices because daily interactions have consequences. They help shape what children believe about their personal value, potential, and learning ability.

Our teaching team and support staff launched the year with a professional development workshop designed to illustrate how we can incorporate mindfulness practices into our daily work with children. Through this type of professional development, as well as community partnerships with organizations like Acknowledge Alliance, whose focus is on helping teachers build positive relationships with their students, we are learning to employ strategies that help us build the most beneficial relationships with children — the kind that help them see their importance, to know their feelings matter, and to recognize their vast potential for growth. In this way, we hope to make the most of every precious moment we have to engage with your children and to make every interaction a positive one.

Just as we know that our interactions matter, we also know that the physical state of our schools matter too, and we in the Sunnyvale School District want to continue the good work that has been taking place on this front.  Please note that Measure GG, a school facility bond, will appear on the November 6 ballot.  Measure GG will provide funding to complete the master plan for the modernization of all our schools and provide ongoing maintenance funding. With 10 schools and more than 400 classrooms, there is always more to do.  Please watch for more information on this important initiative.

I wish you a wonderful school year!

Benjamin H. Picard, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools